Security beefed up to counter Maoists

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Bankura, May 6 : Authorities in West Bengal have made elaborate security arrangements to counter the Maoists ahead of the three-phased panchayat polls in the state beginning this weekend.

Additional forces are being deployed in Purulia and Bankura Districts, which border Jharkhand.

The authorities have declared 700 out of 2447 polling booths in Bankura District as highly sensitive, while another 900 booths have been declared sensitive.

Bankura Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Singh said that armed police personnel would be deployed at all sensitive and super- sensitive booths.

"Our first priority is Naxal areas affected by Naxalite Maoists. There, we will be deploying sufficient number of forces. Every polling booth will be covered by more than 10 armed police personnel," said Singh.

Areas under Maoist influence would be patrolled by personnel equipped with radio communication sets and equipment for anti-mine operations, he added. The local body polls in West Bengal will be held on May 11, 14 and 18. The counting will take place on May 21 and the results will be announced thereafter.

Locals expressed enthusiasm about the elections and said they would cast their votes.

"All our requirements have been met, so we will vote for the one whom we have always supported," said Rita Chandra, a voter.

The 100-days employment scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is the main issue during these polls, followed by facilities for irrigation, drinking water, sanitation, education and medical services.

Poll experts say that the upcoming polls could probably be a referendum on the ruling Left Front Government's land acquisition policy in the backdrop of Nandigram and Singur industrial land row controversies.

ANI

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