January 5, 2009

Unmatched security cover marks Nandigram by-poll

Nandigram, 4 th January, 2009 : An unprecedented security cover has been thrown across politically sensitive Nandigram with 15,000 Central forces deployed to man just 176 polling booths ahead of the assembly by-poll on Monday.
District magistrate (DM) and returning officer Choten Dhudup Lama said seven companies (each company of 1,000) of the Border Security Force and eight of the Central Reserve Police Force have been deployed in Nandigram I and Nandigram II blocks, which translated into 85 Central force personnel per booth.

Besides, 2,000 policemen have also been deployed, she said, adding that all the 176 booths in the area were declared sensitive. Central forces and police were maintaining logs of all vehicles plying in the area and interrogating drivers. Central forces were deployed in all the rural market areas.

“All our arrangements are complete and we expect free and fair polls. We will allow nobody other than polling agents and voters inside the booths,” Lama said. She said as all the booths have been declared sensitive, the polling process in all of them will be recorded on camera. Each booth would have a micro observer and six senior observers would monitor them. The DM would personally supervise the polling process.

The by-poll has been necessitated by the resignation of the Communist Party of India (CPI) member of legislative assembly Muhammad Ilyas following a sting operation exposing his alleged involvement in a corruption case.

The by-poll, scheduled for 30 December but postponed due to security considerations, will decide the fate of six contestants. The main contenders are Parmananda Bharati of the CPI and Firoza Bibi of the Trinamool Congress.

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