A team of poll officials board a bus to Dumaria block in East Singhbhum on Sunday. Picture by Srinivas
Jamshedpur, Dec. 12: The East Singhbhum administration has heavily deployed forces at the Jharkhand-Bengal border along Ghatshila, Dalbhumgarh and Dumaria blocks in the rebel stronghold of Ghatshila sub-division in East Singhbhum, ahead of the third phase of the panchayat polls tomorrow.
Apart from the polling booths and cluster points in all three blocks, paramilitary forces have trooped into the forest areas as well to avert any dangers from the rebels.
The Jharkhand-Bengal border has been sealed since the last 24 hours. Further, policemen in plainclothes are keeping a close watch in the interiors of Ghatshila to keep the rebels at bay during the polling.
Ghatshila sub-divisional officer Sandeep Bakshi said the polling parties have reached the cluster points in all three Naxalite-hit blocks. He added that the poll officials would set out to their booths early morning on foot.
“We have given strict instructions to the polling officials and the security personnel to not use any vehicles in the red zones. As a result, they will have to walk an average of around 5km to reach the polling booths from their cluster points, where the officials are being provided tight security,” said Bakshi.
The sub-divisional officer said arrangements were made to provide foolproof security to the officials along the roads, including jungle stretches, that they would take to go to and return from the booths.
“We have asked the election officials to not use vehicles under any condition, as there are always chances of a landmine explosion,” he said.
Seventy per cent of the 108 polling booths in Dumaria are considered sensitive. Similarly, 62 per cent of the 107 booths in Dalbhumgarh are recognised as sensitive.
In Ghatshila, despite a lower percentage (51) of sensitive blocks, 25 per cent of its 224 booths are bracketed super-sensitive.
According to an intelligence source, the rebels have planted landmines at a number of places in Ghatshila block, especially in areas close to the Bengal border. The lives of the poll officials would be in danger if they used any vehicles, the source added.
Several Naxalites are also said to be taking part in the panchayat polls despite their calls for election boycott at a number of places.
The administration has made security arrangements for the electorate and the candidates as well.
Similar to the first two phases, polling in the three blocks will begin at 7am and continue till 3pm. “However, polling might be a bit delayed at some of the booths, as the officials have been told to walk their way to the booths,” said a senior administrative official.