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October 1, 1999


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Tight security for the fifth phase

Army launched air surveillance in Assam, police seized more than 300 country-made bombs in Nasaraopet, paramilitary forces planned a flag march in Bihar and the border with Bangladesh was sealed in West Bengal as an electorate of 133 million readied to go to the polls on Sunday in 118 Lok Sabha constituencies and several assembly constituencies in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The fifth phase of the 13th general elections will cover all the 42 constituencies in West Bengal, 31 in UP, 12 in flood affected northern Bihar, 13 in Assam, 11 in Orissa, two each in Madhya Pradesh, Arunacahal Pradesh and Tripura and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Lakshadweep.

Polling will also be held for the 32-member Sikkim assembly, 60-member Arunachal Pradesh assembly, seven assembly segments under Nasaraopet Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh and five assembly seats in Karnataka.

Bihar Home Secretary U N Panjiyar said 147 companies of central paramilitary forces, over 100 companies of the Bihar Military Police, 26,000 district police and 30,000 home guards would be deployed in the third round of polling in Bihar. Inter-state and inter-district borders would be sealed before the polling day to prevent movement of ''anti social elements and firearms,'' he said.

Altogether, 40 people, including more than 20 security and polling personnel, were killed in the first phase of the polls in Bihar, while 15 people were killed in the poll and post-poll violence in the second phase.

The constituencies which would go to the polls in the third phase in the state are Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Madhubani, Jhanjharpur, Rosera, Samastipur, Saharsa, Madhepura, Araria, Kishanganj, Purnea and Katihar.

The polling for the remaining four constituencies of Rajmahal, Purnea, Bhagalpur and Khagaria, which were scheduled to go to the polls on October 3, has been extended to October 28 in the wake of heavy floods and water logging.

Polling in Kadwa and Manihari assembly segments under Katihar Lok Sabha constituencies has also been postponed to October 5 for the same reason.

As many as 150 companies of provincial armed constabulary and about 110 companies of central forces would be deployed in 31 constituencies in uttar pradesh. In addition, about 100,000 police personnel, about 80,000 home guards and other allied forces would be pressed into service in 44,825 polling stations, 8772 of which have been identified as sensitive and more than 10,000 as hyper-sensitive, an official spokesman said in Lucknow.

Special emphasis would be given to Lucknow, Amethi, Rae Bareli and Ballia parliamentary constituencies. The eleven hyper-sensitive districts identified in Uttar Pradesh are as follows: Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Ballia, Ambedkarnagar, Azamgarh, Balrampur, Ghazipur, Gonda, Gorakhpur and Mau. The sensitive one include Baharaich, Barabanki, Deoria, Faizabad, Jaunpur, Kushinagar, Maharajganj and Sant Kabirnagar.

The army has launched air surveillance throughout Assam with MI-17 helicopters in addition to river and normal patrol as part of its efforts to foil any attempt by the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom to disrupt the poll process.

Intelligence agencies and the army intelligence have confirmed that the ULFA instead of terrorising the voters, as in the past, would target the candidates this time. They have information that at least three candidates are in the ULFA hit list.

Following the killing of the BJP candidate Pannalal Oswal near Dhubri on Friday, the police have increased the security of each candidate.

State DGP, P V Sumant, said security of each of the candidates has been reviewed and special instructions given to the police not to leave the candidates alone under any circumstances.

GOC-in-C of the 4 Corps, Lt Gen D B Sekhatkar, has said the ULFA has changed its modus operandi this time and will go for softer targets to spread fear, ''I know the Bhutan-based ULFA militants will come down in a bid to disrupt the polls. But let me tell you that I am not going to allow them to return to the camp,'' he said.

The army has divided the Brahmaputra valley into four rough zones for aerial surveillance. ''These bases will be at Kokrajhar, Rangia, Missamari and Dinjan,'' General Shekhatkar said.

Although the dreaded National Democratic Front of Boroland has eased the pressure by avowing non- interference, the ULFA has promised a bloody election.

More than 8,000 police personnel have been deployed in the volatile Narsaraopet Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh.

Simultaneously, polling would be held for seven assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha constituency, which is spread across Guntur and Prakasam districts.

The polling, which was originally scheduled to be held in the first phase on Septmeber 5, had to be postponed to October 3 following a bomb blast in the residence-cum-nursing home of Andhra Pradesh Panchyat Raj Minister Kodela Sivaprasada Rao on August 29 in which four people, including an independent candidate, were killed.

While as many as 4,500 police personnel have been deployed in four assembly segments falling under Guntur district, an additional 3,600 securitymen will be positioned in three assembly constituencies in Prakasam district.

Guntur District Superintendent of PoliceV S K.Kaumudi said his department had made a huge haul of 300 bombs in the recent past. In Narasaraopet sub-division alone, about 200 bombs were seized.

Police also recovered 42.5 kg of explosives from two grocery shops in Vinukonda a few days ago and two businessmen were arrested in this connection.

For West Bengal's 42 constituencies, 250,000 security personnel, including 150 companies of central forces comprising BSF, CRPF, CISF and state armed policemen from Gujarat, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh would be deployed. Apart of them, about 58,000 state armed police jawans, about 16,000 home guards and nearly 4,000 Calcutta policemen would also be pressed into service.

The state government has ordered sealing of the entire Indo-Bangladesh border in different districts to prevent any infiltration from across the border before or during the poll.

In Orissa's 11 constituencies in addition to the state police personnel, a total of 19 companies of cisf, two companies CRPF and 72 platoons of the Orissa State Armed Police would be deployed.

The highest number of security personnel - one company of CISF, one company of CRPF and nine platoons of OSAP - would be engaged in Naxalite infested Gajapati district.

Of the 16,091 polling stations in the state, 5781 have been identified as sensitive.

Airforce helicopters have been pressed into service in Tripura to supervise counter-insurgency operations, movement of security personnel and polling personnel.

The Border Security Force too has been asked to tighten its vigil along the 856 km long Indo-Bangla border to prevent cross border movement of militants and unauthorised persons, the DGP said.

Director General of Police L C Amarnathan said all check posts on the inter-state border between Sikkim and neighbouring Darjeeling hills are being double checked to detect any entry of unwanted elements.

The DG said, "We have doubled all security arrangements for the October 3 simultaneous polls in the state. Special attention is given to west Sikkim bordering neighbouring Darjeeling hills. We have doubled deployment of security forces in the district and certain parts of south Sikkim, including the trading towns of Jorethang and Nayabazar."

Necessary arrangments have also been made for deployment of forces in all districts of Arunachal Pradesh for the smooth conduct of simultaneous polls.

Official sources said that over 3,000 security personnel, including six companies of crpf and one company of Special Security Bureau will be deployed in the state.

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