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Plea to clip voting hours

Patna, April 7: The state administration has requested the Election Commission of India to reschedule polling hours for the six parliamentary constituencies, which would go to polls in the first phase on April 10.

Chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha said on Monday the Election Commission had been requested to reduce the polling by an hour in Karakat, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui as the polling booths were located in Red-hit areas. “We have urged the commission to hold polling between 7am and 3pm, instead of the scheduled polling hours from 7am to 4pm. A formal request has already been sent to the commission in this regard,” he told reporters in Patna on Monday.

Sinha said the early polling hours would help the personnel as well as the security men to complete the process on time and reach their destinations with electronic voting machines (EVMs). All the seats where the elections would be held have been identified as Maoist-hit, he clarified.

Referring to the security arrangements, the chief secretary said 237 companies of security forces, including 163 those of the central paramilitary forces, would be deployed. Two army choppers would be pressed into service.

Giving break-up of the forces, Sinha said 35 companies of Border Security Force, 45 companies of Central Reserve Police Force, 31 companies of Sashastra Seema Bal, 15 companies of Railway Protection Force, five companies of Central Industrial Security Force, 12 companies of Indo-Tibetan Border Police and 20 companies of Rapid Action Force would be deployed.

In addition, 74 companies of Bihar Military Police and 22,000 home guards would also be put on the job. A total of 46,000 security personnel have been drafted for the elections during the first phase, he said, adding that all the polling booths would be manned by armed forces.

To a query, Sinha said special arrangements have been made for the voters belonging to the weaker sections. “The administration has identified hamlets where the voters belonging to weaker sections have expressed apprehension of intimidation,” he said.

As preventive measures, 36,686 people have been arrested. Of which, 14,213 arrests have been made from the districts where elections would be held in the first phase. A total of 5,763 licensed weapons have been deposited, 167 weapons seized and arms licences of 216 people cancelled.