Almost 1 lakh security personnel have been deployed to Chhattisgarh ahead of the first phase of elections which will be conducted in Maoist-dominated areas, PTI reported on Sunday. DM Awasthi, Chhattisgarh’s Special Director General (anti-Maoist operations), said the measures have been taken to ensure peaceful polls.

Earlier on Sunday, a jawan of the Border Security Force was killed in a suspected Maoist attack.

On November 12, voters will elect candidates for 18 seats spread over eight Naxal-affected areas. The second phase of elections will be held on November 20, and the results will be announced on December 11.

“All counter measures have been taken to thwart attempts by Maoists to disrupt the poll process,” Awasthi said.

Maoists have called for a boycott of the polls and have conducted several attacks before the elections.

The official said a total of 650 companies (almost 65,000 security personnel), including the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and forces from states have been deployed. “The challenge is to escort all polling parties safely to their destination in Naxal-affected areas and later to conduct polls and bring back them safely,” Awasthi said.

The BSF jawan killed on Sunday died after Maoists allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device in Kanker district. This is the fourth blast of an improvised explosive device in the state in last 15 days.

The attack follows the deaths of a jawan of the Central Industrial Security Force and four civilians in a suspected Maoist attack on a bus on November 8, and the killing of a Doordarshan video journalist along with three policemen in a Maoist ambush – both in Dantewada district.