Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) [India], April 18 (ANI): Fifteen thousand security personnel will be deployed in the naxal-affected Gadchiroli district for the first phase of polling tomorrow, a senior official said on Thursday.

Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Neelotpal told ANI that elaborated security arrangements that have been made in the district to avoid any untoward situation. Surveillance is being maintained through drones in sensitive and highly sensitive areas.

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He also appealed to the villagers to come out and vote without any fear.

"We have done a lot of preparation in the last 6 months. 15,000 security personnel will be deployed for voting tomorrow. There are a total of 206 booths. 6 Mi-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force will be present. Heli-dropping of EVMs and polling parties has been done in sensitive and highly sensitive areas. Apart from this, we have a fleet of 130 drones that will keep an eye on them from the sky," Neelotpal said.

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While there are barricades and police checkpoints at major roads, care is being taken to ensure that the public is not inconvenienced.

"We have appealed to the villagers to come out and vote without any fear and help us in making the elections peaceful and successful," he said.

Earlier, on April 14, to encourage voting among the people, police launched a public awareness campaign in the naxal-hit Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

Taking about the drive, Sub Inspector Govind Khating said, "The objective of this awareness campaign is to encourage the voters to fulfil their duty to keep our democracy alive. The voting which is going to take place on April 19 in the upcoming polls will be a victory for democracy. We have deployed a huge force in the area so that voting can be conducted safely and smoothly."

Elucidating the fear in the minds of the people in the Naxal stronghold, the SI said, "There is only one fear in the minds of the people that the Naxalites may launch blasts or attacks on them if they go for voting."

Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the second-largest after Uttar Pradesh. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 23 out of 25 seats it contested in alliance with the undivided Shiv Sena.

Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra will be held in five phases on April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13 and May 20. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The undivided NCP, part of the opposition alliance, contested 19 seats and won four. Following the split in 2022, the Shiv Sena, which had earlier formed a coalition government with the Congress and NCP, saw Eknath Shinde break away from the party with his loyalists and align with the BJP.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP emerged as the largest party with 23 seats, followed by the Shiv Sena with 18 seats. (ANI)

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