EC team to take independent assessment on law and order in WB

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) The spurt in politicalviolence in West Bengal will come into sharp focus when ahigh-level Election Commission team makes an independentassessment of the law and order situation in the state aheadof the Assembly polls there.

A team of six Special Observers, led by ChiefElectoral Officer of Bihar Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, will be inKolkata tomorrow to make a first-hand assessment of thesituation in the poll-bound state.

The team will visit different districts there to makean on-the-spot assessment and submit a report to theCommission on its return.

Other members of the team are Zaki Ahmad and P R KNaidu, (both DIG, NCRB), Jharkhand''s ADG D K Pandey, AndhraPradesh DIG B Shivadhar Reddy and Orissa DIG P S Ranpise.

The decision to send a team has been taken in the wakeof representations from several political parties, who met theEC officials here and in Kolkata recently and media reports onthe political violence in the state.

"Maintenance of law and order is crucial to theconduct of free and fair and peaceful election," theCommission said.

In a strongly-worded letter to West Bengal ChiefMinister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on December 22, Home MinisterP Chidambaram had said the killing of activists of politicalparties point to a "virtual collapse" of law and order there.

Later, in another letter Chidambaram invitedBhattacharjee to New Delhi to discuss the issue and agree uponthe way forward and the Chief Minister is likely to visit thenational capital on January 18.

The unabated political violence in the state also cameinto focus with Governor M K Narayanan asking the top stategovernment officials to take immediate steps for maintaininglaw and order.

West Bengal is witnessing a spate of violence in thepast few months, including Maoist violence and clashes betweenTrinamool Congress and Left parties.

Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi had duringhis visit to West Bengal a few days ago voiced serious concernover the law and order situation there.

The Assembly polls in West Bengal are due by May-Junealong with those in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.

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