Prodded by Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Qureshi during his last visit to West Bengal in January to seize all illegal arms in the State in the run-up to the Assembly elections, the authorities in the State's 19 districts have reportedly seized 227 illegal firearms till January 31, according to the State Election Commission.

Senior State Election Commission officials observed that the number of arms seized during the period was a “marked improvement” in comparison to number of arms confiscated in the earlier periods.

The Hooghly and South 24 Parganas districts top the list of districts wherefrom the highest number of arms has been seized. Thirty-four arms have been found from each district.

Incidentally, the South 24 Parganas district administration handed over a list of 11,300 non-bailable warrants waiting to be executed – highest among all the districts - to Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi when he held meetings with them last week here.

The North 24 Parganas (31), Murshidabad (28), Bardhaman (23), Paschim Medinipur (17) and Birbhum (15) districts follow the two aforesaid districts closely on the list.

During his meeting with the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of the 19 districts on January 8, Mr. Qureshi had asked them to start seizing illegal arms, destroying illicit liquor dens, executing non-bailable warrants and taking preventive actions against identified habitual troublemakers.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has received a list of 26,352 ‘ critical' polling stations across the State from the respective district administrations out of total 70,000 polling booths.

Sources in the State Election Commission said that while the three Maoist-affected districts have reported an approximate 5,000 critical polling booths, more than 4,500 critical booths have been identified in North 24 Parganas district itself.

The sources, however, said that the number is set to decrease as several of these polling booths will be struck off from the ‘critical' list after studying them under the five-point-guideline laid down by the Election Commission to assess how critical a booth actually is.

Second EC team visit

Meanwhile, members of the special team of observers sent by the Election Commission for a second visit to the State for assessing the law and order situation started coming late on Wednesday night.

The team is expected to visit places mentioned in a list given by the Left Front to the Commission.

Under the leadership of Bihar's Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, the team will hold meetings through video-conferencing with the DMs and SPs of six south Bengal districts and Darjeeling district on Friday before individually visiting the places.