Heightened security arrangements in Bengal for sixth phase

Security personnel seen in a truck ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls duty,

Kolkata,  A total of 770 companies of central paramilitary forces are being deployed in West Bengal’s tribal heartland as well as the seats in Junglemahal, once a hotbed of Maoists, where stringent security arrangements are in place to ensure fool-proof voting in the sixth phase Lok Sabha polls on Sunday, officials said.

The Election Commission has already said plans were afoot to use satellite phones and drones in the Junglemahal region.

Eight parliamentary constituencies – Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram (ST), Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur (SC) – will vote in the penultimate round of the Lok Sabha polls from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Asked about special measures taken for Junglemahal area, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Basu said: “The security arrangements have been made as per the instructions of the Election Commission and sufficient armed forces have been deployed”.

Special Police Observer Vivek Dube had earlier mentioned that “770 companies of central forces has been deployed for 100 percent coverage of polling stations”.

A total of 743 companies will be used for guarding the booths and area domination. The remaining 27 companies will look after the strong room where EVMs are kept.

As per the sources in the CEO office, the forces have been instructed to wear bulletproof jackets, helmets and carry sufficient ammunition.

Though there has been no Maoist activity in the last few years, the commission feels it is a challenge to ensure maximum turnout and peaceful vote in these areas.

Forces deployed in Junglemahal have been briefed not to move in vehicles to avoid improvised explosive device (IEDs). They have also been asked to check all the culverts – probable places of planting IEDs much before their movement, the source said.

Senior sector officers are personally briefing the officers of the Quick Response Teams and CAPF officers about the sensitivity of the constituencies and previous reports of violence, attacks and intimidation of voters.