Security to be beefed up for women candidates in Bengal

A couple of days after two women candidates – one from the BJP and the other from the Trinamool Congress – were physically assaulted during the third phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal, the Election Commission is thinking of increasing the security of the women candidates from the next phase of polling.

The commission has instructed all the district administrations to review the security aspects of the women candidates and increase their security if needed.

“The commission is worried over the security aspects of the women contestants in the ongoing polls. In the last phase, two women candidates were physically harassed. The commission has reviewed the situation and it is of the opinion that the security of the women candidates needs to be reviewed. The commission has instructed all the district administrations to review the security aspects of the women candidates and if needed, provide additional security to them,” said a senior official of the state poll panel.

The commission was referring to BJP candidate from Uluberia in Howrah district, Papiya Adhikary, and Trinamool nominee Sujata Mondal Khan from Arambagh in Hooghly district.

Adhikary was allegedly manhandled by a mob when she went to inquire about the health condition of an injured BJP supporter at the Uluberia sub-divisional hospital after he was attacked with swords by a group of goons in Uluberia.

In the other incident, Trinamool candidate Sujata Mondal Khan was allegedly heckled by a group of villagers, supposedly supporters of the BJP, at Arandi village in Arambagh in Hooghly district on Tuesday.

Mondal, who is contesting the elections from Arambagh, had said that saffron party men chased her and hit her on the head when she was out visiting polling booths in the Arandi area of the constituency, after having received reports that “voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise”.

Presently, the women candidates are provided with a security guard during the elections, but the commission has asked to review the situation and provide more security personnel to them if required.

The commission clarified that this security restructuring is applicable to all the candidates and it should not be restricted to the high profile or party nominated candidates.

“The commission has asked the district administrations to speak to the candidates personally and increase the security cordon. If they want, they can take one more security personnel and also women security personnel if needed. However, the commission has left it on the choice of the candidates,” the official added.