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Since 1st March, 1999
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Home boss on poll recce
- Top cop says 200 companies of paramilitary force needed for Bengal

Malda, March 3: Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen and the director-general of police, A. B. Vohra, arrived here this afternoon to oversee arrangements for the general elections in the district that has two Lok Sabha seats.

The duo, who flew in here on a helicopter from Calcutta, went straight to the old circuit house where they sat for discussions with top officials, including Malda district magistrate Sridhar Ghosh, inspector-general of police (north Bengal) K. L. Tamta and district police superintendent Satyajit Banerjee.

Ghosh and Banerjee placed a report on the arrangements required for the third phase of polling before the home secretary and the DGP.

Ghosh said there would be more than 2,000 polling stations in the two seats in the district and more than 97 per cent of the people on the electoral lists had their voter identity cards. “In our report, we have pointed out the requirement of polling personnel and security arrangements,” he said.

A senior official in the district administration said there was an apprehension that adequate number of polling personnel would not be available to conduct the elections. In the 2006 Assembly elections, polling personnel had to be brought in from Nadia, Murshidabad and South and North Dinajpurs, the official said.

The report also said the Sujapur by-election last year had passed off without any untoward incident. However, the report underscored the fact that there was no fencing along 80 per cent of the 172-km border with Bangladesh.

After the meeting, Vohra said 200 companies of central paramilitary forces would be required to hold free and fair polls in the state. “All 52,000 polling stations will have central as well as state security personnel.”

The home secretary said that 18 police stations had been declared sensitive in the Maoist-affected areas of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. “We have approached the election commission for a helicopter that will be deployed in these areas,” Sen said.

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