Elections for the Lok Sabha in 2024: increased security in Maoist-affected Gadchiroli

Ahead of the first round of voting on April 19, over 460 poll workers have been airdropped into “sensitive” and “hypersensitive” booths in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha seat in the Vidarbha region. The scene is reminiscent of the movie “Newton,” in which actor Rajkumar Rao’s character is sent to oversee elections in a sensitive Maoist-affected area. In Maoist-affected Gadchiroli, election authorities and state police have stepped up security and mobilized 15,000 men for action.

Midday reports from the Gadchiroli police indicated that security has been increased by 30–40% in comparison to the last elections in the area, which is noted for having a large number of very sensitive voting places. Unprecedented security measures include real-time drone monitoring and helicopter overhead observation.

Midday was informed by Superintendent of Police (SP) Gadchiroli, Neelotpal, that “detailed security arrangements have been made in advance of election day.” Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have 87 companies this year, each with 100 troops; this is an increase over the 74 companies that were active in security during the last election. Of them, forty more will be deployed with outside support, leaving 47 companies already deployed.

In addition, 1,750 house guards and 1,500 more police officers have been sent in from other regions of the state. A total of 15,000 people will be deployed on election day. 948 voting places (150 in urban areas and 798 in rural areas) make up the constituency, according to SP Gadchiroli, of which 361 are deemed crucial and 587 are considered normal. “CAPF deployment will occur at all 361 critical polling stations,” he said.

Neelotpal said, “A total of seven aircraft—six Mi-17 helicopters and one dedicated air ambulance—are engaged in aerial surveillance.” Only three airplanes were used on election day in the previous elections. Helicopters will service 35 base camps, with an estimated 180 sorties planned. A fleet of 130 drones will also be used for aerial surveillance.

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