Patna: Stung by Monday`s landmine explosion at Aurangabad, which killed three CRPF men including a Deputy Commandant and injured eight others, security forces have launched a massive de-mining exercise in Naxal-affected areas of south Bihar that are going to polls in the first phase of elections on April 10.
Additionally, the state government has decided to increase the strength of security forces including central paramilitary and Bihar Police personnel to 53,000 from 46,000 to ensure smooth polling.
"Several teams and sniffer dogs have been pressed into de-mining process. We have also decided to deploy 53,000 security personnel for the first phase of elections in the state," Bihar Police Additional Director General (ADG) (Law and order), SK Bhardwaj, told a news agency today.
Six Lok Sabha (LS) constituencies - Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada, Jamui, Sasaram and Karakat - are going to polls on April 10. All these seats fall in Naxal-affected areas and have seen several incidents of violence over the last few months.
Sources said routine de-mining exercise by the Bihar Police and CRPF had already been going on for the last few days in these six LS constituencies and over 100 landmines of various capacities were recovered from different places. These include 27 landmines planted in a series on half-a-kilometre-long road stretch at Imamganj in Gaya district.
"The Aurangabad landmine explosion that happened yesterday was an accident during the defusing process. The Maoists had planted three `pressure-sensitive` Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). One exploded, while the other two are being defused today by Bomb Disposal Squads," said Bhardwaj.
The CRPF is considering IEDs as the biggest threat, especially during the election season when the movement of forces goes up manifold. Sources aver that the Maoists have planted a number of them to disrupt the polls.
"IEDs planted on the roads are the number one threat to security forces. The Maoists have made their stand clear regarding their plans to disrupt the general elections. We are trying to pre-empt it by a massive de-mining exercise in areas south of Grand Trunk Road (NH-2)," CRPF DIG Chiranjeev Prasad told a news agency.
Though Maoists are known to plant landmines on metalled roads as well, it is the non-metalled or kuchcha roads which give ample scope of hiding explosives beneath the surface, thereby making it difficult for the CRPF to detect them, Prasad said.
"Detection of IEDs has become difficult due to the bad condition of roads in Maoist-affected areas. We are not able to trace them easily. Cemented or concrete roads are difficult to drill and place the explosives," Prasad added.
Meanwhile, helicopters from the Indian Air Force and BSF have been requisitioned to provide air cover and area dominance support to the security forces on poll day.