Maoist affected area in West Bengal goes to polls

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Lalgarh (West Bengal), Apr 30 (ANI): The trouble torn Maoist infested Lalgarh area in West Midnapore District in West Bengal is voting, albeit slowly, in the first phase of polling in the state on Thursday under stringent security measures.

Even as the paramilitary forces carried out route marches in the area and took up positions on rooftops with heavy artillery, voters are afraid to come out and exercise their vote.

Committed voters like Kashinath Jana of Netai village, cycled all the way to the booth in Lalgarh to cast his vote instead of waiting for the bus promised by the Election Commission.

"I have come from Netai by cycle to vote in Lalgarh. We used to have a polling booth in the village, but due to the trouble here, this time there was no booth in the village," said Kashinath Jana, a voter.

However, majority of the villagers in this are have decided that they would not be traveling to Lalgarh to cast their vote. The buses sent by the Election Commission were seen leaving with only a handful of voters.

However, polling has remained largely peaceful in West Midnapore District.

Paramilitary forces are enforcing stringent security measures both at the polling booths and the routes to ensure voter safety.

Addressing the news persons in Kolkata, the state Election Commissioner described the entire security arrangements made by the Commission to prevent any mishap as satisfactory.

"220 companies of paramilitary forces that have come, that is being deployed all over the first phase districts. But a pre-dominant majority is on. These 1000 booth areas, certainly in Lalgarh area also paramilitary forces has been used," said Debashish Sen, State Election Commissioner.

Maoist violence marred the first stage of the general elections when five election officials were killed in a landmine blast in Chhattisgarh. Eleven policemen were killed across the central and eastern 'Red Belt'.

Jharkhand had also witnessed incidents of Maoist violence during the second phase of polling. They had also hijacked a train with about 500 passengers on board, which they released later. (ANI)

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