Security tightened in Meghalaya ahead of PM's visit

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Shillong, Feb 21 (UNI) The security arrangements have been tightened in Meghalaya ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's visit to kick-off the party's election campaigns in the state for the March 3 Assembly polls.

Ms Gandhi is scheduled to arrive in Jowai on February 23 and later proceed to the Tura constituency, from which the Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) Chief Ministerial candidate Purno A Sangma is contesting the elections.

In the run-up to the previous Assembly elections, Ms Gandhi had addressed a public meeting at Resubelpara in Garo Hills. However, Congress candidate and former Chief Minister Salseng C Marak had lost the seat to NCP's Timothy D Shira.

After Ms Gandhi's visit, the Prime Minister is expected to arrive here on February 27.

''Elaborate security arrangments have been made to prevent any untoward incident during the campaign trails of the political leaders,'' state Director General of Police B K Dey Sawian told UNI here.

A team of the Special Protection Group, which looks after the security of the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson, had reviewed the security arrangements with the state police.

The state election department has identified 635 polling stations as 'hyper-sensitive' and 194 'sensitive', of the total 1,582 polling booths.

The Centre has sanctioned 50 companies of additional central paramilitary forces for smooth conduct of the polls. Most of these forces will be deployed in areas classified as 'hyper-sensitive' and 'sensitive'.

Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar have already launched their campaign trails in the state.

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