Over 60,000 paramilitary personnel, state police in even greater strength and three helicopters fitted with cameras for surveillance, is but a part of the Election Commission’s plan to ensure free and fair voting in the final phase of assembly elections in West Bengal.
With more than 2.5 lakh voters reeling under a sense of insecurity in the 14 Maoist-infested constituencies that are going to polls on May 10, the EC is planning an unprecedented security.
The highest number of such voters is in West Midnapore. The number, in fact, is quite high compared to other phases. In the fifth phase, the figure was around 8,570.
In the last phase, the EC has also identified around 1,800 trouble mongers and intimidators, which includes Maoists, criminals and political cadres.
A senior official said even though there were politically sensitive polling stations in all the other phases, none were sensitive from the law and order point of view. In the sixth phase, there are several that are sensitive from the law and order point of view.
"We are replicating the Bihar model, but the number of paramilitary personnel per polling station would be 1.5 times higher than what was deployed in the Maoist-infested districts of Bihar," a senior official said.
In some of the constituencies, forces started moving in from Wednesday. The voting time, which was from 7 am till 5 pm in the other phases, would be reduced to 3 pm in the sixth.
"We would be making special security arrangements and if necessary, the intimidated voters would be escorted to the polling stations. The final plan would be chalked out a day before the poll," the official added.. The Maoists had initially claimed that they would not boycott the polls but they called for a poll boycott later.