Prohibitory orders imposed in Nandigram constituency ahead of second phase poll

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(Adding detail) Kolkata, Mar 31 (PTI) The Election Commission has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in entire Nandigram assembly constituency in West Bengal on Wednesday, a day ahead of the high stakes election there in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a contestant.

A senior official of the poll body said the EC has also conducted air surveillance in the area with the help of a helicopter in view of the sensitivity of the area and people who are not voters of Nandigram are being barred from entering it, the official said.

'Nandigram is a sensitive constituency with high profile candidates like Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari (of BJP). We want to ensure that the law and order situation is not compromised and people can vote freely without fear,' the official told PTI.

The order will be valid till April 2 midnight, he said.

'The assembly of five or more persons excluding poll personnel and voters is prohibited within 200 metres of the polling premises. No mobile phones and wireless sets will be allowed within 100 metres of the polling premises, except by persons on election duty,' the official added.

Twentytwo companies of central armed police force have been deployed in the constituency, which has a total of 355 polling booths, 75 per cent of whom will have webcasting facility, the official said.

The central forces along with the state police have already started naka checking at crucial junctions in the constituency, he said.

'Vehicles are being thoroughly checked before they are being allowed to enter Nandigram. No outside vehicles are being allowed in,' the official said.

Anybody found trying to create disturbance will be dealt with strictly, he said.

On Thursday the EC will also deploy a 22-personnel quick response team and has also constituted a team of officials who will supervise the proceedings in Nandigram on the day of polling, he said.

The poll body has instructed local authorities to execute all the pending arrest warrants by Wednesday night and take those accused in various cases into custody, he added.

Nandigram wore a deserted look during the day with only a few shops open. Vehicles such as e-rickshaws and autos were mostly unavailable with people choosing to stay indoors.

'We want peaceful polling and no disturbance here on April 1. There should be a peaceful environmment so that people can cast their votes without any fear,' a resident of Sonachura said.

Meanwhile, the CEO has decided to have webcasting in at least 5,535 polling booths in the four districts where polls will be held on Thursday.

Webcasting will be done in 1802 booths in Paschim Medinipur, in 1611 booths in Purba Medinipur, 1390 in Bankura and in 732 booths in South 24 Parganas districts, the official said.

There will be 3,049 CCTVs and 1,915 micro observers.

All eyes are on battleground Nandigram where the chief minister is engaged in a fierce contest with her protege- turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.

In phase two of the state election polling will be held in 30 constituencies of the four districts where a total 171 candidates are in the fray. PTI SCH KK KK KK