Spectre of violence looms as WB goes for first phase Panchayat polls

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Kolkata, May 10 (UNI) Shadowed by Nandigram violence and the Maoist threat in three districts, the first phase of Panchayat polls will be held in West Bengal tomorrow under heavy security.

Tomorrow's polling will be held in East and West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and Bardhaman districts.

Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said an 'extra security measure' had been taken to ensure smooth polling in the Maoist affected West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts while all efforts were being taken to maintain peace in Nandigram.

He said adequate number of state police and para-military force jawans were being deployed in all five districts going for polls, while helicopters would be engaged for surveillance during polling in West Midnapore.

''Armed security personnel would be posted in 85 per cent of the polling booths tomorrow while there will be adequate manning at all the strategic points,'' he told newspersons.

While polling personnel started reaching their destinations, those assigned for duty in 260 highly sensitive polling booths, had been asked to report tomorrow morning, he said.

District reports said the administration was taking no chance in the three Maoist-affected districts, particularly West Midnapore, which had witnessed a series of violent incidents in recent times.

However, tension continued to brew in the strife-torn Nandigram with regular clashes between the supporters of CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress-led Bhumi Uchched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) being reported over the past few days.

Though admitting that the Nandigram situation was tense, the Home Secretary said the polling would be peaceful.

The stakes are high for both the CPI(M) and the BUPC, clashing each other in Nandigram ever since trouble broke out over land acquisition for industries.

A team of city-based artistes and intellectuals, including film maker Aparna Sen, had to come back to Kolkata as police obstructed their movement towards Nandigram.

Under the banner of 'Swajan', the team was heading for Nandigram to monitor the situation during tomorrow's polls.

Polling will also be held on May 14 and May 18 in 12 more districts.


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