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EC bolsters security for 2nd phase of polls

EC bolsters security for 2nd phase of polls

Kolkata: The Election Commission is deploying 195 companies of Central Forces for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state scheduled on Thursday, April 18, with the Commission sanctioning one company on Tuesday. Till Monday evening, the number of companies available for the polls in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Raigunj was 194.

According to sources in the Commission, out of the 195 companies 83 will be deployed in Darjeeling, with another 63 companies for Raigunj. The rest of the forces will be deployed at Jalpaiguri.

There was a last minute change in the security pattern at Raigunj after the visit of Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey at the constituency on Tuesday.

"Previously, it was decided that 44 percent of the booths in Raigunj will have Central Forces. But after Dubey's meeting with police observers and top election officials in the constituency, it was decided that the number of booths to be manned by Central Forces will be increased from 44 percent to 76 percent. Now, there will be Central Forces in 1,234 booths instead of 650," an EC official said.

Dubey took stock of the security arrangements and all the political parties individually met him and gave their proposals in writing regarding the polls. "We are taking all possible arrangements for free and fair elections," Dubey said. He will leave for Darjeeling on Wednesday.

The Commission has also made changes in the security pattern in the Assembly segments of Darjeeling that are in the plains. There are altogether 1,025 booths in Matigara-Naxalbari, Chopra, Phansidewa and Siliguri, of which 431 (42 percent) booths were scheduled to have Central Forces. The Commission has now decided to deploy Central Forces in nearly 635 (62 percent) booths.

As decided earlier, the three Assembly constituencies in the hills Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong have a total of 874 booths, among which 674 have been identified as very sensitive by the EC. The deployment of Central Forces will cover all these highly sensitive booths. 65 companies of Central Forces will be deployed for the elections in the Hills of, which 32 companies will be deployed for manning the booths. As per sources in the Election Commission, the Darjeeling seat alone has 80 percent of booths which are highly sensitive. The security arrangement for Jalpaiguri will remain the same, with the number of vulnerable hamlets being 237, which is much lesser than Darjeeling and Raigunj.

In the first phase of elections that was held on April 11, Central Forces were available only in 51 percent of the booths. But in the second phase, over 80 percent of the booths will be covered by Central Forces.

"There will be sufficient deployment of state armed forces in the rest of the booths, so we are hopeful of holding peaceful elections in the second phase," an EC official said.

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