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Chhattisgarh Assembly polls: IAF choppers made 404 sorties to ferry polling staff in Naxal-hit Bastar

The first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections concluded on November 7. The remaining 70 of the total 90 assembly seats in the state will go to polls in the second phase on November 17. The results will be declared on December 3.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 Raipur Published on: November 11, 2023 10:58 IST
Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, IAF
Image Source : PTI Polling officials leave for poll duty from left-wing extremism-affected areas of Dantewada

The Indian Air Force conducted 404 sorties with eight MI-17 choppers for six days to carry polling parties along with voting machines in Naxal-affected Bastar division in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls on November 7, a senior election official said. 12 constituencies of the Bastar division were among 20 Assembly segments in the state that went for elections in the first phase that recorded a voter turnout of 78 per cent.

“Defying all challenges, the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted 404 sorties with Eight MI 17s, securely ferrying 853 polling team members to and from 43 locations, enabling a successful electoral process in a tough LWE-affected region. Salute to the India Air Force,” Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral Officer posted on X on Friday.

Details of the sorties

Over 860 polling party members were flown through MI-17 helicopters to 156 polling stations in five districts of Bastar division – Sukma, Bijapur, Kanker, Dantewada and Narayanpur – from November 4 to 6 for voting on November 7, Inspector General of Police Sundarraj P said.

All the presiding officers along with the EVMs and members of the polling teams were taken to the respective district headquarters over the next three days, after the voting. The exercise was completed by November 9 evening, the official said.

According to the action plan, the local administration or police or security forces had made the arrangements to accommodate the polling personnel in nearby security camps and other appropriate places during polls, he said.

The IG expressed his gratitude to the Air Force for its 6-day-long effort to contribute to the smooth conduct of the polls.

Instances of Naxal attacks

There have been several instances of Naxal firings on helicopters in Bastar, Dantewada and Sukma districts of the region in the past.

In the 2008 assembly elections, Naxalites fired on an IAF chopper soon after it took off from Pedia village in Bijapur with voting machines and personnel. Flight engineer sergeant Mustafa Ali was killed in the cockpit in the attack. The aircraft’s captain, squadron leader T K Choudhary, managed to take off despite bullets partially damaging the chopper’s rotorcraft and landed in Jagdalpur.

The remaining 70 of the total 90 assembly seats in the state will go to polls in the second phase on November 17.

(With PTI inputs)

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