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Extra poll security in KLO belt

March 7: The Jalpaiguri district administration will deploy additional security personnel and beef up vigil from next week for the Lok Sabha elections keeping in mid the presence of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation in the area.

The district has two Lok Sabha seats — Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri — which will go to polls on April 17.

Kunal Aggarwal, the superintendent of police of Jalpaiguri, today said: “Additional security measures will be taken up during the poll season throughout Jalpaiguri district, particularly in areas where militant activities have been reported earlier. Vigil will be kept on the Bhutan and Bangladesh borders during the polls without hindering the regular movement of citizens across the boundaries. Further, we will intensify patrolling and keep a check on highways and other roads in certain sensitive areas.”

He didn’t specify the sensitive areas where enhanced security arrangements would be made ahead of the polls.

“We are not specifically mentioning the areas but we would like to say that any locality where activities of the KLO have been witnessed during the past five years will be considered a sensitive area. All booths located in such areas will be considered as extra-sensitive booths,” said Aggarwal.

He was addressing a news conference in Jalpaiguri, along with district magistrate Pritha Sarkar.

Although such enhanced security measures are routine during the poll season, a senior police officer said the steps would be introduced in Jalpaiguri district from next week.

“In other areas also, increased security arrangements will be made during the polls. But they are taken two-three days ahead of voting. However, in Jalpaiguri, we will have heightened security from next week as the KLO has been active in the district of late. Besides, there will be more security personnel for the district,” said the police officer.

According to intelligence sources, Assembly segments such as Jalpaiguri, Mainaguri, Rajganj and Dhupguri in the Jalpaiguri Parliament seat are known to be sensitive areas. “In Alipurduar Lok Sabha segment, Kumargram, Falakata and Alipurduar Assembly seats are sensitive from the security point of view because of the KLO’s presence. The Tufanganj Assembly seat in the district which is part of the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat is also sensitive,” said an intelligence officer.

A bomb blast had killed six persons at Bajrapara, Jalpaiguri, on December 26.

A CID bomb squad member died when he was trying to defuse a bomb without wearing a protective suit in Alipurduar on August 29. A bomb exploded in a bus parked near the Bengal-Assam border at Barobisha on August 18, injuring eight.

All the attacks were suspected to be the KLO handiwork.

“We are keeping our eyes open and are not ready to take any risk. That is why the district police chief has spoken of additional security arrangements to prevent outfits like the KLO from carrying out subversive activities ahead or during the polls,” said the intelligence officer.

Along with the Parliament polls, bypolls will be held to Kumargram and Mainaguri Assembly seats also on April 17. Aggarwal said the Jalpaiguri police had held talks with their counterparts in Dhubri and Kokrajhar districts of Assam early this week.

“On March 11, there will be a meeting with officials of SSB which guards the India Bhutan border. Another meeting will be held on March 12 with BSF deployed on the India-Bangladesh border,” Aggarwal said.

The district magistrate said pet elephants would be used to ferry polling personnel and material to booths in forest areas. “Also, boats will be used to transport polling personnel to remote areas located in the banks of rivers,” said Sarkar.