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Security Forces on Alert As Areas Of Junglemahal, Once Dominated by Maoists, Go To Polls

Junglemahal, known as the Maoist belt, comprises five Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. But today, it is seen as a peaceful area, with no recent incidents of Maoist activities reported.

Prema Rajaram | News18.com

Updated:May 8, 2019, 8:36 PM IST
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Security Forces on Alert As Areas Of Junglemahal, Once Dominated by Maoists, Go To Polls
Representative Image.

Kolkata: The eight constituencies of Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur will go to polls in the latest phase in the state. Of these, a few are the once-dreaded areas populated by Maoists.

While Birbhum voted in the fourth phase on April 29, Purulia, Bankura, Midnapore and Jhargram will vote on Sunday.

However, currently only Jhargram constituency is categorised as Maoist-affected after the central government removed 44 such districts, including West Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura and Birbhum, from its list last year.

The red corridor now comprises 90 districts in 11 states as opposed to 126 districts earlier. Junglemahal, known as the Maoist belt, comprises five Lok Sabha constituencies. But today, it is seen as a peaceful area, with no recent incidents of Maoist activities reported.

However, this does not mean that security forces have lowered their guard in the upcoming elections.

“With 22 years work experience in Left-Wing Extremist (LWE) areas, and having conducted several elections in these troubled parts, I can say that the forces should be on high alert on the eve of polling day and on D-day,” said Raveendran Sankaran, Inspector General of Police of CRPF, West Bengal sector. “Just because nothing has happened in the past few years, one cannot afford to be complacent. If you are complacent, the enemy shall strike. An undercurrent does prevail along the borders of Jharkhand, Odisha and Bengal.”

According to the official, there is pressure as arms and ammunition have been recovered and Maoist leaders arrested by the Jharkhand Police and central paramilitary forces over the last two years. In a bid to escape, the Maoists try to enter West Bengal, keeping security forces on alert.

At least 638 companies of central paramilitary forces from across the country are being deployed in the sixth phase. They will be briefed by local security personnel, including superintendents of police of the areas under their jurisdiction.

“My area of jurisdiction is the triangular belt of Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. We are alert and working with the state police to prevent an untoward situation. Apart from ensuring free and fair elections, my other concern is the safety of polling parties and security forces,” added Sankaran.

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