Congress candidate from this Lok Sabha seat, Vivek Kumar Singh, has complained to Election Commission that dacoits in the region are terrorising villagers to vote for a particular party amid reports that bandits are calling the shots in Banda.
However, the poll panel said it has found no merit in the claim.
According to Singh, a sitting MLA from Banda Sadar constituency, dacoits like Sudesh Patel alias Balkharia have been terrorising villagers in the Patha region of Banda, which borders Chitrakoot district.
"Dacoits like Balkharia, who were earlier in the gang of the dreaded dacoit Dadua, are terrorising people in Patha region, asking them to vote for a particular party. I have complained about this," Singh told PTI.
He said that in his complaint he also wrote about the "dubious" role being played by some government and police officials in the region and requested the EC to deploy paramilitary forces in 135 polling booths in the area.
If that is not possible, he has sought postponement of the elections by a week.
"I have written three other letters to the commission on this dacoit menace and the role of government officials following which the district magistrate and superintendent of police were transferred," he claimed.
The Patha region has about 156 polling booths from Kalinjar to Manikpur.
When contacted, Banda District Magistrate and District Election Officer Sheetal Verma said, "According to the complaint, dacoits have been terrorising people in the Patha region. For the past 2-3 days I have surveyed the region and met the villagers there. They have denied receiving any such threats," adding, "video recordings of villagers' comments have also been made."
However, social and political activists in the region do not agree with Verma's observation.
Ashish Sagar, an RTI activist in Banda, said the region has always been facing threat of dacoits, especially during elections.
"Dreaded dacoits like Dadua and Thokia had been terrorising people in this region. It was during the rule of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that both these dacoits were eliminated. This time it is Balkharia," he added
A few days ago, the gram pradhan of Bandhua Kalan village in Manikpur district of Banda constituency was brutally assaulted by dacoits on the issue of voting in elections. He has been admitted at the government hospital in Allahabad, Sagar said.
Another social activist, Sudhanshu Bhushan Dwivedi, said that the menace of dacoits and their participation in elections goes back to over two decades.
"Lack of infrastructure for law enforcement agencies, police stations and check-posts in the region compound the problem. Another issue is the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, which the dacoits cross easily," he said.
Raja Bhaiyya, a worker at NGO Action Aid, said that in Naugawan village in Naraini tehsil of this district, many families have migrated due to the fear of dacoits.