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PUCL Bulletin, July 2004

Election iIrregularities in Dantewada district Of Chhattisgarh

From Chhittasgarh PUCL

We had come to know from various sources and from press report that intensive electoral fraud has been taking place in different areas of the Bastar Division. In order to assess the real basis of these reports, the Chhattisgarh branch of the PUCL constituted a fact-finding team. On 20th April, the day of polling, this team conducted extensive field investigations at the Dornapal area of Dantewada Districts.

The facts that we found on the ground are quite shocking. In those places declared to be polling booths, polling booths were found to be non-existant. The people of these villages stated that they had never seen polling booths operating in their villages. Therefore, votes supposedly caste at these booths have been counted.

The villages we visited are as follows: Palamadagu, Jagavaram, Kollaiguda, Dabbakonta, Pentapad, Gachchanpalli. Out of these villages, Gachchanpalli, Kollaiguda and Pentapad were declared to be the sites of polling booth. But after a careful tour of the entire village including the school, where the polling both is usually situated, we didn’t find any sign of a polling booth at any of these three villages.

In the 36 km. distances that we traveled in the course of our inspection, we didn’t encounter a single Govt. servant; on enquiring from the villages, we were told that in this area, there is no Guruji, no health worker, no Patwari and no Policemen. It seems as though in this part of India, the Indian state is neither present nor does it own any responsibility. This is in spite of the fact that welfare programmes, such as education, public health or the public distribution system have never been opposed by the Naxalite organization, People’s War Group, which is active in this region on the other hand the People’s War Organisation does have a policy of boycott of elections and we found that this policy enjoys wide support. In spite of this, the government and election authorities have been claiming successful conduct of elections in these areas. The question that arises is: when in many villages the polling booths are not functioning, and people are not participating in the electoral process, who is showing successful conduct of elections in these areas? It seems as though the entire election machinery is involved in this fraud. This is a big blot on Indian Democracy.

It is also worth noting that during this entire period, the small town of Dornapal was turned in to an encampment of the paramilitary forces. Heavily armed soldiers, including some with mortars, were found walking freely in the streets. But from the findings of this team, it seems that the ultimate result of this civic exercise, that is the Elections, is zero.

The question is that in how many more places the election apparatus is engaged in perpetrating this fraud?

 

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