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Rocket launchers' poll debut

X95 assault rifles with night vision, mortars and anti-landmine vehicles have turned the Maoist-dominated areas of West Bengal into a theatre of war. HT reports.

india Updated: May 10, 2011 00:04 IST
HT Correspondents

“We are taking no chances. Nothing has happened till now, but that does not guarantee peace … There is high chance that after the polls there will be attacks on our forces … A large number of mines have been put up,” said TB Rao, inspector general, CRPF.

His point is vindicated by the fact that rocket launchers are being used for the last phase of the elections on Tuesday — the first time in West Bengal.

The AK-47 seems like an ordinary weapon now.

X95 assault rifles with night vision, mortars and anti-landmine vehicles have turned the Maoist-dominated areas of West Bengal into a theatre of war.

A total of 65,500 central paramilitary troopers have been deployed to secure 3,534 polling stations, where 2.657 million voters are supposed to elect 14 candidates out of 97.

As many as 1,049 polling stations (almost one-third) have been identified as critical.

“Our personnel would not need orders from superiors or anybody to exercise his right of self-defence or minimise damage to government property,” Rao added.

The security forces do not believe the Maoists, who are saying they have no intention of disrupting the polls.

“Till now we have got no instructions from above to carry out subversive activities in Lalgarh (160 km west of Kolkata). However, I must tell you we are fully prepared to take on the security forces and cause maximum damage,” said Srikanto, squad leader in the area close to Lalgarh, 160 km west of Kolkata.

Srikanto replaced Sidhu Soren when he was killed by the security forces last year.

“You and the security forces have no clue regarding our strength here. We are present and prepared. I think we are following the Andhra model here,” said Srikanto.