NEW DELHI: With two more phases to go in the Lok Sabha elections, security forces in Naxal- affected districts of the country are not leaving anything to chance and have stepped up combing operations, with a focus on tracking down improvised explosive devices (IED).
Jharkhand, where left wing extremism is rife, is set to vote on 12 May.
The move follows heightened attacks by Naxalites in the “red corridor" of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, with the latest attack in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district killing 15 security personnel of the C-60 commando unit on 1 May.
Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Bhima Mandavi from Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada was killed in an IED blast while returning from campaigning 9 April.
According to a status report accessed by Mint, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has recovered 37 IEDs in Chhattisgarh alone this year until 30 April, followed by 22 in Jharkhand, and seven in Maharashtra. “IEDs are the cause of maximum fatalities among security forces in the south Bastar regions of Dantewada, Sukma, Narayanpur and Bijapur. We have got sniffer dogs and anti-mine vehicles and have been conducting area sanitisation activities in all left wing extremism areas in the country," said a senior Union home ministry official, requesting anonymity.
While IEDs are of various kinds—including pressure IEDs and radio frequency IEDs—security forces stated that Naxals mostly used pressure IEDs.
“Pressure IEDs are cheaper to make and the Naxals steal the explosive materials from nearby mines and factories and assemble these landmines. These IEDs are then triggered either by a thread that connects the detonator or is triggered the instant there is slight pressure on foot or by a vehicle. We have equipment that now traces pressure IEDs so we can defuse it before it goes off," said a senior security force official, speaking on condition of anonymity.