EC to strictly enforce prohibitory orders during Bengal polls

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Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Assuring strict enforcement of prohibitory orders in the final two phases of the West Bengal assembly polls, the Election Commission on Thursday asserted it won’t hesitate to respond to violence of any sort and take appropriate legal action irrespective of the perpetrators’ political affiliation.

“Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC would be promulgated on poll day and enforced strictly to ensure that any unlawful assembly etc. is effectively curbed.

“The Commission will not hesitate to respond to violence of any sort, anywhere and anytime and take appropriate legal action irrespective of their political affiliation,” EC director Dhirendra Ojha said in a missive.

The EC’s directions came in the wake of the opposition — Congress, Left Front and the BJP — jointly alleging that the Trinamool Congress was resorting to violence and electoral malpractices.

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Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been up in arms against the EC over imposition of prohibitory orders and even accused the central security forces of “torturing” people.

The EC also directed district and police heads and the central security forces to keep a strict watch on the law and order and the “culprits causing intimidation, creating fear or causing harm to citizens must be brought to book on top priority unhesitatingly”.

“The Commission strongly reiterates that entire election machinery including police authorities shall curb violence at all cost and ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in all the polling stations and areas falling under assembly constituencies in upcoming phases,” said Ojha.

The EC has ordered several measures for ensuring law and order which include directing the BSF to enhance surveillance at the international border, night patrolling by central forces, check access of anti-social elements through riverine route, adequate deployment of riverine police with search lights.

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“The Commission in consultation with police and other stake holders, has identified anti-social elements and will be under strict watch.

“All the clubs where likelihood of outsiders assembling and intimidating the voters are identified and they have been brought under strict vigilance including vigil during night time,” added Ojha.

While 53 constituencies spread across the districts of South 24 Parganas, Kolkata and Hooghly go to the polls on Saturday for the fifth phase, polling in 25 constituencies in Cooch Behar and East Midnapore districts will held on May 5 for the sixth and final phase.



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