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11 Nov 2018 | 09:28 PM UTC

India: Polls open in Chhattisgarh Nov. 12 as Maoist group continues attacks /update 2

Violence claims two lives in Chhattisgarh state ahead of state legislative elections on November 12; further attacks possible

security
IND

Event

Voters will head to the polls on Monday, November 12, in southern districts of Chhattisgarh state for legislative elections as Maoist insurgents continue to launch attacks. Two people were killed on Sunday, November 11, in violence between suspected Maoist insurgents (or Naxalites) and security personnel. A series of six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonated in the Koliyabeda area of Kanker district around 08:30 (local time), targeting a Border Security Force (BSF) patrol. One BSF officer was killed in the explosions. Additionally, one suspected insurgent was killed in a shootout with paramilitary units in Bijapur district.

Security authorities deployed 100,000 additional personnel to southern Chhattisgarh to assist with peacekeeping efforts during the November 12 elections. State legislative elections will be held for 18 constituencies in southern Chhattisgarh for the following districts: Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagoan, and Rajnandgoan. The rest of the state will vote on November 20. The Naxalite group has called on citizens to boycott the elections. Further violence in southern Chhattisgarh is possible on Monday; attacks cannot be ruled out in northern Chhattisgarh in the weeks before the November 20 election.

Context

Maoist insurgents staged a similar attack in Dantewada district (Chhattisgarh) on November 8, killing five people. The insurgency has been active for several decades in rural areas of the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Odisha, Bihar, and West Bengal, as well as in the border region around Andhra Pradesh. An estimated 6000 people have died in the past 20 years, though activities have decreased recently due, in part, to a security crackdown. Restrictions on the movement of foreigners are in place for some rural areas of eastern India, including parts of Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh is set to hold its statewide legislative elections this November, with southern areas voting on November 12 and northern elections held on November 28.

Advice

Individuals in Chhattisgarh state are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid polling sites and public demonstrations due to the risk of violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. travel restrictions). Remain vigilant for potential militant activity, particularly if planning on traveling to rural areas of the abovementioned states.

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