Preparation on for polling in Lalgarh: poll official

April 15th, 2009 - 12:52 am ICT by IANS  

Ram Vilas Paswan Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) The Election Commission Tuesday said it was making all preparations to conduct the general elections in West Bengal’s troubled tribal-dominated Lalgarh region April 30.
“We’re making all preparations for carrying out elections in Lalgarh. We’ll wait till April 18 and call them (PCAPA members) for a meeting after that,” state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Debashis Sen told a press conference here.

Representatives of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocity (PCAPA), Tuesday held a meeting, which remained inconclusive. The members of the committee decided to meet again April 18 to take a decision on allowing or not allowing police and paramilitary forces to conduct the election in the region.

Sen said: “I don’t think it’s a bottleneck. Even if we are allowed to enter Lalgarh just 48 hours before the scheduled poll date, it will be enough for us to make adequate arrangements there.”

PCAPA leader Chattrodhar Mahato had earlier said his organisation was in favour of allowing the general election but it would not allow the state police or the central forces to enter the area.

“We are not going to allow the state police. We have invited the CEO to visit the area. We can also do the work done by the police. We can ensure security for the polling personnel. But we are opposed to the state administration entering Lalgarh,” he said.

Mahato had also suggested police from other states be brought in for the polls and members of the civil society and intellectuals be deployed as observers, and turned down Sen’s proposal for deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

Trouble erupted in Lalgarh last November after the police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women following a landmine blast on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada near Bhadutala area.

Lalgarh residents have been protesting police “excesses” and resisting a planned government crackdown against Maoist rebels ahead of the elections.

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