ANI Photo | Chhattisgarh polls: Polling booth established for first time in Chandmeta, naxal-affected village of Bastar

The first phase of voting in Chhattisgarh is going to be held on November 7. Voting will be held on 20 seats in the first phase, out of which 12 seats fall under the Bastar division. Conducting voting in the interior areas of Bastar has been a big challenge for the Election Commission (EC) and security forces. The Maoist organization has always been boycotting elections.
Amidst all the challenges, unprecedented progress is taking place this year. A total of 126 polling booths have been built in 40 interior villages of the division where voting is to be held for the first time. Earlier these areas were under the control of Naxalites. Due to security reasons and complex geographical conditions, polling stations could not be established in these villages.
Under the alternative system, polling booths were established in safe areas several kilometres away from the village. On the other hand, orders were given to the villagers by the Naxalites that whoever voted would have their fingers cut off. As a result, the villagers were not able to vote. But now circumstances have changed. In the last 4 years, more than 60 security force camps have been established in the interior areas of Bastar. Roads have also been constructed to the interior areas. The area of Naxalites has also become limited.
Madanlal Nag, Booth Level Officer (BLO), Mundagaon said, “Right now I am distributing voter slips. Since Sunday I have distributed slips door-to-door to 512 voters out of 638 voters. This time the villagers have become more aware than in the last 10-15 years. They are also asking whether it is Lok Sabha or Assembly elections. So we inform them that assembly elections are being conducted. So there is a lot of enthusiasm among them. Earlier people were hesitant to vote because this was a Naxal-affected area. For the first time, all the men and women aged 18 years who are eligible to vote have come and got their names registered and will vote for the first time this time.”
Chandameta is a village of Darbha block in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state. There are 335 voters in this village. For the first time after the country’s independence, a polling station has been established here. Until a few years ago, even a road did not exist to reach this village. The polling centre of this village was built in Chhindgur village, 7 kilometres away from the village. There was daily movement of Naxalites here. Under pressure, the people of the village had also joined the Naxalite organization.
“During elections, orders were given to the villagers that whoever voted would have their fingers cut off. The villagers did not go to vote. The picture of the area changed with time. A security force camp was set up here. In the beginning, Naxalites attacked these security forces several times. Development of the village started under the vigilance of security. Roads were built. Schools, electricity, drinking water and health facilities were also provided. Confidence started rising among the villagers. Naxalites gradually moved away from this village and started joining the mainstream of rural society. Now for the first time after independence, a polling booth has been established in this village. The new school built in the village has been made a polling station,” BLO Madanlal Nag further added.
Dozens of elderly people will vote for the first time in their lives in this Naxalite-prone area.
Raju Wagh, Camp Commander Chandametta said, “The camp was built in April last year. It’s been about a year and a half now. The situation was such that earlier it was completely known as Naxalite ground. Naxalite training used to take place here. There were a lot of challenges. But with time, as development occurred, roads and electricity came, and schools opened. People’s trust in CRPF increased.” (ANI)

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