An unprecedented security cover has been thrown across politically sensitive Nandigram with 15000 central forces deployed to man just 176 polling booths ahead of the assembly by-poll on Monday.
District magistrate and returning officer, Choten Dhudup Lama said 7 companies (each company 1000) of BSF and 8 companies of CRPF have been deployed in Nandigram I and Nandigram II blocks, which translated into 85 central force personnel per booth.
Besides, 2000 policemen have also been deployed, she said adding all the 176 booths in the area were declared sensitive.
A visiting PTI reporter found central forces and police were maintaining logs of all vehicles plying in the area and interrogating drivers. Central forces were deployed in all the rural market areas.
"All our arrangements are complete and we expect free and fair polls. We will allow nobody other than polling agents and voters inside the booths," she said.
Lama said as all the booths have been declared sensitive the polling process in all of them will be recorded on camera. Each booth would have a micro observer and six senior observers would monitor them. The DM would personally supervise the polling process.
The by-poll has been necessitated following the resignation of CPI MLA Muhammad Ilyas following a sting operation which exposed his involvement in a corruption case.
The by-poll, scheduled on December 30 but postponed due to security considerations, will decide the fate of six contestants. The main contenders are Parmananda Bharati of CPI and Firoza Bibi of Trinamool Congress, which led the agitation against the acquisition of farmland for industries in 2007.
There are 135 booths in Nandigram I and 41 in Nandigram II and the total electorate is 1,79,416 with 108000 in the former.