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Security alert for phase 6

The West Midnapore district administration is not taking any chances with security arrangements for the last phase of polls scheduled for Tuesday. Koushik Dutta reports.

india Updated: May 09, 2011 15:40 IST
Koushik Dutta

The West Midnapore district administration is not taking any chances with security arrangements for the last phase of polls scheduled for Tuesday. Every road, forest area, market, apart from polling booths will have armed security personnel.

“We are taking all possible measures to have a peaceful and fair election,” said Surendra Gupta, district magistrate.

To ensure free, fair and peaceful election in the seven assembly seats in the district is a challenge for the district administration and Election Commission. As the areas are declared to be LWE (Left Wing Extremists)- affected assembly constituencies and the state has seen Maoist activity here in the last two years, the administration is making foolproof security arrangement.

The administration has declared 470 booths out of 1,783 in the district as sensitive. Apart from the booths, the administration has also arranged for patrolling by mobile teams in the area. At least, one helicopter will hover over the area.

“Booths have been labelled alphabetically, according to sensitivity, for security arrangement,” said an official.

The Election Commission has already announced that polling in Jangalmahal will end at 3 pm, instead of 5 pm.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, three polling personnel died in a landmine blast in Kushbani forest, near Jhargram, on their way back from Belpahari. As a precaution, the forces have started patrol and search operation in the entire area, particularly in the hill regions of Belpahari.

“We are also arranging medical team and ambulance, as well as rapid action team and high-frequency-radio squad. There will be more than 1000 micro-observers,” said another senior administrative officer in the district. In case of any eventuality, a special squad with a deputy magistrate will rush to the area.

Election Commission has also made extensive security arrangements for the 14 Maoist-affected seats spread over three districts for the sixth and final phase of West Bengal assembly election on May 10. “Based on reports from intelligence and other agencies, we have prepared our strategy. We have worked out a security system and made it full-proof,” state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta said.

A large number of satellite phones and modern anti-explosive devices provided by home ministry and other agencies, capable of detecting and defusing improvised explosive devices and landmines, will be used.

(With agency inputs)