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Forces arrive for Bengal polls

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Union Finance Minister and West Bengal Congress president Pranab Mukherjee campaigns for a party candidate in Murshidabad district on Monday.
Union Finance Minister and West Bengal Congress president Pranab Mukherjee campaigns for a party candidate in Murshidabad district on Monday.

Indrani Dutta

KOLKATA: Nearly 35 companies of security forces have arrived in West Bengal to ensure the smooth passage of civic elections in the State, where 81 municipalities, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), go to the polls on May 30.

Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh told journalists at the Secretariat that 50 per cent of the 71 companies of police scheduled to arrive in the State have already come.

Of the 71 companies allotted to West Bengal, 62 will be positioned in the State municipalities spread across 15 districts, while nine companies will be reserved for the KMC area. In the districts, at least one of the municipality areas is with a Left Wing Extremism-(LWE) affected area, while some are in peripheral LWE areas where special precautionary measures are to be taken.

While on Saturday evening there was an incident of gunfire at a railway station in Bansberia near Jhargram, there was exchange of fire on Monday with some people being arrested when they were trying to lay mines in the Jangalmahal area.

Mr. Singh said that other than in Malda and Murshidabad, Central forces would be deployed in all the other municipal areas.

Only the State police will be stationed in these areas, where elections will be held in six municipalities in Murshidabad and in two in Malda, which will get new boards.

Mr. Singh said the decision was taken as per the directive of the State Election Commission (SEC), adding that along with the Central forces, 33,000 personnel of the State police force would be on duty at various booths.

To a query on whether there was any apprehension of communal trouble breaking out prior to the elections, Mr. Singh said he had no such reports and neither did the Centre.

The Left front had moved the SEC urging it to book main Opposition party Trinamool Congress with violating the election code of conduct by stoking communal passions when it said that the party had confidential information that efforts were on by the ruling party to engineer a communal disturbance ahead of the elections.


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