Mumbai: With nearly 1.66 crore voters set to exercise their franchise on Thursday in the state`s Vidharbha region plagued with Naxal menace, tight security has been put in place with armed Maharashtra police keeping a hawk-eyed vigil to ensure peaceful, free and fair first phase polling.
"After ensuring no untoward incident during the campaign for the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections at 10 seats in Vidarbha region, we are ready with elaborate and foolproof security arrangements to conduct peaceful, free and fair polling," Additional Director General (Law and Order) KL Bishnoi told PTI.
A strategic system has been designed to avert and foil any possible disturbance during polling by Naxals in Gadchiroli, Gondhia, Bhandara, and Chandrapur, which have the most sensitive booths, he said.
"Naxals, who get perturbed by democratic process as seen in earlier cases, might strike this time too. So we are well prepared to tackle and give them a befitting reply," said another official on condition of anonymity.
Besides the armed Maharashtra Police, contingents of Central Industries Security Force, Rapid Action Force, State Reserve Police Force and Home Guards have been deployed, Bishnoi said but refused to give the figures saying it would compromise security.
"Flying squads will keep an eye on polling to keep malpractices at bay," he said, adding that, "We have sufficient deployment at highly sensitive areas, particularly in Gadchiroli district."
The leaves of police personnel across the state have been cancelled, the senior official said.
According to police, there are about 150 highly sensitive areas across the state but police could not provide exact figure in the Vidarbha region.