Raipur/New Delhi: Five years after Naxals killed three Congress leaders and 25 others attending a political rally in Chhattisgarh, the state is on tenterhooks once again as it gears up for assembly elections to be held in two phases on 12 November and 20 November.

Anti-Naxal wings of intelligence units and security force officials operating in Chhattisgarh have warned of heightened Naxal activity in the state especially in Dantewada, Sukma, Bijapur and Narayanpur, in the run-up to the elections.

“The Naxals are planning attacks that are designed to target election rallies. From now, when Chhattisgarh is about to go to polls, till the time the 2019 general elections conclude, it will be a very volatile time in Chhattisgarh because the Naxals step up attacks during elections," said a senior intelligence official from Chhattisgarh, requesting anonymity.

Chief minister Raman Singh said all candidates had been apprised of the risks.

“The Naxals always carry out a big operation during every election and they protest against every election, whether it is the panchayat election, state elections or the general elections. They are against any process that is democratically carried out. This time also, there will be opposition from them and we go by the assumption that their activities go up during elections. So, it is important to be more cautious," Singh said in Raipur.

However, Singh said despite the threat that loomed large over the electoral process, voter turnout in the Naxal-affected areas had been increasing, because of the safety cover provided by security forces, adding that the voter turnout in the interiors was significantly better than the towns and cities.

“Voter turnout in the Naxal-affected areas is much higher than in the cities. If you look at the last three to four elections, there has been greater voter turnout in the Naxal-affected areas than in Raipur, Durg and Bhilai. Just prior to the elections, when the security forces go into the interiors and safeguard those regions, voter turnout increases, despite the pressure from the Naxalites," Singh said.

The chief minister said that the Union home ministry is providing additional battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to the state, while ministry officials added that extensive planning would be put into safeguarding elections in states affected by Left-Wing Extremism.

“We have operational and intelligence details of how and where the Naxals can strike. We are pulling out all the stops to ensure smooth elections now and in 2019, by providing candidates and voters adequate security," said a senior home ministry official, requesting anonymity.

“A deployment plan is being chalked out for all constituencies, keeping several factors in mind, such as the number of voters in that area and the number of polling stations. With that in mind, we will deploy forces on the ground, along with anti-mine vehicles and carry out sanitization exercises before any such election," said a senior CRPF official, who is familiar with the developments, on condition of anonymity.

There are a total of 90 assembly constituencies in Chhattisgarh, the Election Commission said on Saturday.