11 more police observers to be deployed for Bengal assembly polls: Official

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Kolkata, Apr 15 (PTI) The Election Commission has decided to deploy 11 more police observers in West Bengal ahead of the fifth phase of the assembly polls on April 17, as a precautionary measure to avoid any Sitalkuchi-like incident where four people were killed in CISF firing, an official said on Thursday.

Currently, 55 police observers are working in the state for the ongoing elections, he said.

'The EC has decided to deploy 11 more police observers ahead of the fifth phase of polling on April 17 in 45 assembly constituencies. We do not want a repetition of any Sitalkuchi-like incident,' the official said.

Four people were killed in Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi on April 10 as central forces opened fire amid polling for the fourth phase allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles', police had said.

Following the violence, the Election Commission put in place restrictions, including extending the 'silence period' from 48 hours to 72 hours, for the fifth phase of polls, and barred the entry of politicians in the district for 72 hours from April 10, to prevent any possible law and order flare-up.

Altogether, 33 general and 16 expenditure observers have also been deployed for the ongoing elections in the state, the official said.

A total of 1.13 crore electors are eligible to cast their votes in the fifth phase to decide the fate of 342 candidates, including Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, state minister Bratya Basu and BJP's Samik Bhattacharya. PTI SCH BDC BDC