Security beefed up in 6 Maoist-affected constituencies in West Bengal

KOLKATA, Apr 18 - The Election Commission Friday declared six West Bengal assembly constituencies as Maoist-affected, saying that security arrangements would be stepped up there to tackle any violence during the Lok Sabha polls.

The decision came in the wake of Maoist attacks that killed at least 19 people in the first phase of polling in neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Bihar.

‘The security arrangements will be heightened in all six Maoist-affected areas - Jhargram, Bandwan, Jaipur, Balarampur, Bagmandi and Tinpur,’ West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Debashis Sen told a press conference here.

The Maoists are mainly active in three south Bengal districts - Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore - which go to the polls April 30.

He said that confidence building measures would also begin in all these six Maoist-hit pockets.

‘We’ll seal all the inter-state borders two day before the polling date. The central paramilitary force will also carry out flag-march in these areas to maintain the law and order situation during election,’ Sen added.

Considering the vulnerability of these segments, the Election Commission has also decided to cut short the polling time by two hours. The voters will have to exercise their franchise between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

‘There will be several checkposts in and around the Maoist affected areas to stop entry of undesirable elements,’ he said.