Elect our candidates or boycott Panchayat polls: Naxals to villagers in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, Chhattisgarh

Shaken by Chhattisgarh Police’s intensive combat operations, the Naxals are trying to rebuild their base ahead of the panchayat polls by threatening the villagers to either support their candidate or boycott the elections.

According to police, the Naxals have been holding meetings in the interiors of Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur and Narayanpur districts of Bastar division from last month following the declaration of the four-phase panchayat polls in the state scheduled to begin from January 28.

The cadres of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) have scaled up their visits to the villages and are holding big meetings of villagers, including candidates, in areas where they had faced severe setback due to aggressive combat, patrol and surrender during past couple of months, police sources said.

During the meetings, the rebels are appealing to the villagers to expand the base of ‘Janatana Sarkar’ (self-styled peoples’ government of Maoists) by helping their candidates in polls or refraining from taking part in the electoral process, a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.

They have also threatened the villagers with dire consequences if they go against them, he said.

“Though the Naxals don’t have faith in the democratic process, they apparently feel that by capturing seats of village head in the remote areas would certainly help them to mobilise tribal masses in their favour,” the official said.

“There are several factors which influence the local polls. However, we are aware of every situation (Naxals holding meetings) and have beefed up the operations to foil their evil bid,” Additional Director General of Police (anti-Naxal operations) RK Vij told PTI.

During the previous panchayat polls in 2010, as many as 181 sarpanch (village head) and 10,980 panch were elected unopposed in Bastar division.

The highest number of 63 sarpanch elected unopposed last time was in Dantewada (now divided into two districts Dantewada and Sukma), followed by Bijapur (55), Bastar (30), Kanker (20) and Narayanpur (13).

In view of the situation, security forces have been directed to keep a close vigil on the movement of villagers in dense forests as well as Maoists near the villages, a police official said.

The security forces are also constantly trying to win the confidence of villagers by assuring them full security during polls and urging them to enthusiastically take part in electoral process, the official added.

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