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Centre to deploy over 71,000 security personnel to ensure violence-free polls on May 12 in West Bengal

Polling will be held in Tamluk, Kanthi, Gathal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur constituencies on Sunday.

Centre to deploy over 71,000 security personnel to ensure violence-free polls on May 12 in West Bengal

New Delhi: The Centre will deploy over 71,000 security personnel to ensure violence-free elections in eight Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal on May 12, Home Ministry officials said on Thursday.

Polling will be held in Tamluk, Kanthi, Gathal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur constituencies on Sunday.

To avoid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Maoist-affected Jangalmahal area of Bengal, security personnel have been directed not to move in vehicles, they said. 

The officials said 713 companies or 71,300 security men and women are being deployed for election duties in Bengal for the May 12 polls.

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There will 602 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces -- CRPF, BSF, CISF, SSB, ITBP, RPF and RAF -- and 111 companies of the state armed police. 

A company has about 100 personnel.

The decision has been taken considering incidents of violence in previous polls, incidents on the eve of polling and sensitivity of areas in Maoist-affected zones, the officials said.

To instil confidence among voters, various measures like route marches, long range patrols, and cordon and search operations are being conducted in the eight constituencies, they said.

The adhoc commandants and company commanders are being briefed by senior officers of the West Bengal sector about the sensitivity of the constituencies, previous incidents of poll-related violence, incidents like attacks on polling parties, candidates, polling agents and security forces, and instances of intimidation of voters.

In addition to deployment of forces at all polling stations and mandatory Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs), 547 Quick Action Teams (QATs) headed by company commanders have also been instructed to be on the move, the officials said.

The QATs have been told to be in vehicles in their designated area and to ensure immediate action, whenever they receive any complaint from district polling officials, polling magistrates, voters, candidates and control rooms.

The heads of the QATs and additional QATs have been briefed to be in touch with each other to ensure prompt and effective action without loosing much time, the officials said.

To avoid IEDs, forces deployed in the Janglamahal area have been told not to move in vehicles.
 
They are also briefed to check all culverts -- probable places of planting IEDs -- before movement, they said.

Forces deployed in the Janglamahal area shall wear bullet proof jackets, helmets and carry adequate ammunition, the officials said.

These measures are being taken to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls and also to encourage, motivate people to go to polling station to cast their votes without any fear, they said.