In the wake of the recent deadly ambush by the Maoist ultras in Chhattisgarh, the Election Commission (EC) is planning to use state-of-the art satellite phones as well as mobile telephony in West Bengal’s Left-wing extremism-hit (LWE) districts to stay in touch with the poll officials as well as security forces. And the move by the poll panel was also prompted by the intelligence tip-off on likely bid by the extremists to disrupt the polling process. However, the main hurdle faced by the EC in implementing the plan was the region’s poor mobile connectivity. Hence, a meeting of the mobile service providers was convened and they were asked to do the needful to provide seamless coverage in the shadow zones.
“We held meetings with all the mobile service providers and asked them to ensure smooth communication and mobile telephone coverage in all parts of the state. They will identify the shadow zones and we have asked them to take adequate steps,” said Amitjyoti Bhattacharji, Assistant Chief Electoral Officer. “We have also asked senior district officials to assess the situation both in terms of law and order and also mobile connectivity. Information from polling stations is communicated through text messages and as such mobile connectivity is very important,” he added. Besides, the EC is planning to obtain permission from the Department of Telecom (DoT) for providing the satellite telephones to its staff as well as the senior security officials during polling.