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|September 20, 1999||
Bihar governor will apprise President of poll violence
Bihar governor B M Lal arrived in New Delhi today to apprise President K R Narayanan of his assessment of the law and order situation during the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in the state on September 18.
At least 34 people, including 22 policemen, were killed during the elections in the state on Saturday. Justice Lal, who is the chief justice of Patna high court and the acting governor, had yesterday also asked the Election Commission to change the controversial civil and police officials and deploy adequate force in sensitive and super-sensitive areas for peaceful polls. The governor had also made an oblique reference to his previous letter written to the commission directing it to ensure free and fair polls. The letter was written after the controversy over duplicate ballot boxes surfaced.
Meanwhile, the Bihar government has demanded 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces in addition to the 132 existing companies for covering all the sensitive and hyper-sensitive booths during the second phase of polling in 19 Lok Sabha constituencies on September 25.
Talking to newspersons in Patna today, chief secretary S N Biswas said all efforts would be made to hold free and fair elections during the next two phases in the state. He confirmed that 38 people, including eight CRPF personnel and 14 state policemen, were killed in the extremist attacks, mostly in the two districts of Palamau and Hazaribagh, on the first phase of polling. He said at least 600 companies of paramilitary forces was required to provide security in all the booths in the extremist -dominated districts.
''We had done whatever we could do with the forces available with us,'' he added. State director general of police K A Jacob said there was no concrete method to detect the landmines and ''we can only do it by intensifying patrolling in the vulnerable areas, training the drivers and avoid travelling through the kuccha roads.''
Reiterating that the state police was prepared to hold free and fair elections in the second round, he said 90 per cent of the booths in the state capital would be manned by armed policemen.
Jacob said the state government had informed the Union home ministry and the Election Commission about the possible use of landmines during the elections. He said the state government had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2.5 lakh each to the securitymen killed. Recommendations had been made to hike it to Rs 5 lakh.
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