India deploys 100,000 police as volatile state goes to polls

Source:AFP Published: 2018/11/12 21:58:40

Tens of thousands of armed police were on duty Monday as a restive Indian state wracked by violence went to the polls.

Militants have unleashed a string of deadly attacks ahead of the vote in mineral-rich Chhattisgarh, one of India's poorest states, killing 13 people in recent weeks.

Hours before voting began, insurgents blew up an improvised explosive device in Kanker district on Sunday, killing a police officer.

The militants, who say they are fighting for the rights of local tribes and poor farmers, have put up posters across the state urging voters to boycott the polls.

The vote - one of five state elections this month and next ahead of 2019 general elections - is staggered because of the violence, with a second round on November 20.

"Some 100,000 security personnel, including central paramilitary force, have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling in the first phase," said senior police officer D. M. Awasthi.

Election officers were airlifted to the most volatile areas where landmines planted by militants are a common threat, he said.

The state has been governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 15 years.

Chief Minister Raman Singh is seeking a fourth term and has blamed the rebels for impeding development projects in the state, home to around 25 million people.

Those militants are believed to be present in more than 10 states across India.

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