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In village of dreaded Maoist leader in Bastar LS seat, residents stay away from voting

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SUKMA, April 20: While the residents of several remote villages in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar Lok Sabha constituency defied the poll boycott call given by Maoists and exercised their franchise on Friday, people from Puvarti village, the native place of a hardcore Naxalite leader, chose to stay away from the electoral process.

Puvarti, a Maoist-stronghold in Sukma district bordering Bijapur district, is the home village of dreaded Naxalite leader Hidma, who is believed to be the mastermind of several deadly attacks on security forces in Bastar region.

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Polling was held in the Bastar Lok Sabha seat on Friday and a voter turnout of 67.56 per cent was recorded there.

“No voters from Puvarti village exercised their voting right during polling on Friday,” Booth Level Officer (BLO) of Puvarti polling booth Java Patel told PTI.

Some officials said the villagers did not cast their vote out of fear.

The Puvarti polling booth (No. 4), meant for voters of three villages – Puvarti, Tekalgudiyam and Jonaguda – was set up in Silger village, around 20-25 kms away from Puvarti.

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The number of voters in Puvarti is 332, Tekalgudiyam 158 and Jonaguda 157  – which comes to a total of 547 voters for Puvarti booth, he said.

Total 31 voters cast their votes at Puvarti polling booth, but none of them was from Puvarti village and were from Tekalgudiyam and Jonaguda, he said.

In Bastar Lok Sabha seat, Konta assembly constituency which covers Sukma district recorded 54.31 per cent turnout.

Jagargunda area committee of Maoists had put up banners in Puvarti in adjoining villages appealing people to boycott polls.

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In February this year, the Chhattisgarh police set up its camp in Puvarti and the move was termed as a major achievement for security forces in the fight against Left Wing Extremism.

Located in a dense forest around 150 km away from Sukma district headquarter, Puvarti has been deprived of development works and basic facilities due to the Naxal menace and geographical circumstances, officials had said.

Setting up of security camps in remote and highly Naxal-affected areas like Puvarti will help thousands of villagers to get rid of the Maoist menace and get benefited with development works and welfare schemes of the government, they had added.

Notably, Puvarti is the home village of former commander of Maoists’ PLGA (people’s liberation guerilla army) battalion number 1 Hidma and incumbent commander Barse Deva.

Maoists’ Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) battalion no. 1 formation has been instrumental in carrying out several deadly attacks in south Bastar.

Ahead of setting up a camp in Puvarti, security forces had set up their camp in Tekalgudem, a few kms away from Puvarti, in January, during which an encounter broke out between security personnel and Naxalites. Three CRPF personnel, including two commandos of its elite jungle warfare unit CoBRA, were killed and 17 others injured in that incident. (PTI)






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