BANKA: The Banka district administration faces a daunting task as more than 500 polling booths fall in the Maoist-hit areas. There are 1,321 polling booths in the district and Maoist threat looms large over more than 40% of them. The district goes to the polls on October 12. The district election and local administration officials have also sent a report about the Maoist threat requesting the Election Commission to reduce the polling period by at least one hour. The normal polling period is from 7am to 5pm whereas the district administration wants it between 7am and 4pm only. Banka district comprises one subdivision and eleven administrative blocks of Banka (Sadar), Amarpur, Shambhuganj, Belhar, Fullidumar, Katoria, Chandan, Bounsi, Barahat, Dhoraiya and Rajoun. Barring Banka (Sadar) and Barahat, the other nine are Maoist-hit.
The five assembly segments in the district are Banka, Amarpur, Katoriya (ST), Dhoraiya (SC) and Belhar. Former minister Ram Narayan Mandal (BJP) represents Banka, Janardan Manjhi is JD(U) MLA from Amarpur, Girdhari Yadav of JD(U) represents Belhar, Sonelal Hembrom is the BJP sitting MLA from Katoria and Manish Kumar of JD(U) represents Dhoraiya. Besides some parts of Banka assembly area, all the other four segments are Maoist-affected. Intimidation, poll boycott, influencing the poll outcome, clandestinely helping some or the other candidate in the election, charging levy for allowing electioneering are some of the likely issues that the administration has to tackle, sources said.
They said 293 booths in Belhar alone are hit by ultra-Left besides 220 in Katoria and 28 in Banka. The district administration has launched a crackdown against the Maoists in the affected areas for ensuring peaceful electioneering and polling. Measures like demining operation with the help of landmine and metal detectors in Maoist-hit forest areas, bike-checking and keeping a tab on antisocial elements are precautionary steps the district administration has already taken. Banka SP Satya Prakash said stringent measures have been taken in Maoist-dominated areas and security personnel are conducted flag march in many areas to instill confidence among the electorate.
Security forces are also conducting raids in forest areas like Bhitiya, Geratekar, Sabaijor, Naratari, Barmasia, Gobardaha, Guraidih, Ekchatti, Suiyaa, Satletwa-Sarkanda, Chithuntjor, Laharnia, Lakraha, Alkusia, Jogidih, Lilabaran besides more than a dozen areas where the possibilities of Moaists taking shelter are high, the SP said. Banka DM Nilesh Deore said CPMF and CRPF will be deployed at polling booths. “We have identified the vulnerable polling booths in the district,” the DM said adding adequate security forces would be monitoring the Maoist-affected areas. “We have requested the EC to reduce the polling time by one hour in areas under Maoists threat,” Deore said.