Polling time reduced in 'Maoist' Junglemahal
Synonymous with the Maoist movement for years, when a culture of guns and explosives ruled, the Junglemahal region, cutting across the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore in West Bengal, goes to polls under a heavy security blanket on Wednesday.
To ensure there are no untoward incidents and voting is conducted safely in even the remotest parts of the region, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to reduce polling time by two hours, till 4 pm.
The EC has also decided to deploy more than 300 companies of Central paramilitary forces for the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.
While security has been strengthened in the six parliamentary constituencies covering Junglemahal on May 7, Jhargram, one of the most populated townships of the region, is looking like a veritable fortress, with gun-toting security personnel dotting the roads.
The EC is also pressing into service two helicopters for aerial surveillance and emergency evacuation, besides six anti-landmine vehicles. The 300 companies of Central troops, which consist of around 30,000 personnel, will be joined by another 25,000 personnel from the state armed police. The joint forces will be deployed in Jhargram, Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur, with additional personnel at Asansol in Burdwan district, which is also going to polls on the same day.
Special measures are being taken for around 1,600 booths that are located in the government-notified Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected Assembly segments of Jhargram, Binpur, Bandwan, Balarampur, Baghmundi and Joypur.
Sources in the state EC’s office said all LWE-affected polling booths would get at least one section. “Steps have been taken so that only around half-a-section of Central forces can be deployed in polling booths that are not critical or affected by insurgency,” said an official.