Nax­als kill 5 a day be­fore Modi, Rahul’s poll ral­lies in Ch­hat­tis­garh


Three days be­fore Ch­hat­tis­garh’s Bas­tar re­gion goes to polls, four civil­ians and one per­son of the Cen­tral In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force (CISF) were killed on Thurs­day by Left-wing Ex­trem­ists (LWE) in Dan­te­wada dis­trict.

Nax­als also at­tacked a team of Congress work­ers, which in­cluded Ch­haven­dra Karma, the son of Salwa

Judum founder Ma­hen­dra Karma, who was killed in an am­bush in 2013.

The at­tack comes a day be­fore Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi are sched­uled to ad­dress ral­lies in and around Bas­tar, in­clud­ing Jag­dalpur.

Work­ers of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have stayed away from the vil­lage clus­ters in the in­te­ri­ors of Dan­te­wada and Sukma, in the face of the threats by Nax­als who have called for a elec­tion boycott through posters, leaflets and graf­fiti.

“There are 212 vot­ing cen­tres, of which we can’t cam­paign in 62 be­cause the po­lice have warned us against it. The Nax­als have is­sued shoot-at­sight or­ders against all BJP cam­paign­ers. In Sukma, we can’t even use loud­speak­ers

BAT­TLE­GROUND 2018 be­cause ev­ery­one is on the Nax­als’ hit list. All we can do is qui­etly go and put posters and flags here and there,” said a se­nior BJP leader in Sukma, re­quest­ing anonymity.

BJP work­ers at an elec­tion cen­tre in Sukma scram­bled to wrap up elec­tion-re­lated work be­fore sun­down, to avoid be­ing tar­geted by Nax­als, de­spite two gun­men pro­vided by the state pa­trolling the area.

In 2013, Nax­als had killed the en­tire state lead­er­ship of the Congress in Jeeram Ghati, which is halfway be­tween Jag­dalpur and Sukma. The in­sur- gents stabbed Ma­hen­dra Karma 78 times.

Karma’s wife, Devti Karma, is the Congress can­di­date from the Dan­te­wada con­stituency. How­ever, she is forced to stay within city lim­its. “We can­not reach the peo­ple be­cause we have been warned by the se­cu­rity forces that we are likely to be gunned down if we step out of this two-kilo­me­tre ra­dius. In ar­eas such as Katekalyan and Kuakonda, peo­ple can’t even vote be­cause there is a com­plete clam­p­down by Nax­als,” she said.

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel, who have been con­duct­ing aread­om­i­na­tion ex­er­cises to en­sure that there are no im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices (IEDS) in the area and also to keep Nax­als at bay, say that the LWES have upped their ante in the guerilla war­fare.

“The Nax­als’ tac­tics in­volve lay­ing down spikes, pres­sure bombs and IEDS on roads, de­ploy­ing short ac­tion teams of 2-3 peo­ple to take down small groups, psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare through false pro­pa­ganda, and tar­geted am­bushes against forces. We are try­ing to sen­si­tize peo­ple on these is­sues and hope to out­smart the Nax­als,” said Ab­hishek Pallav, the Dan­te­wada su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice.

A Congress rally in Dan­te­wada last week saw low at­ten­dance.

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