SHILLONG: The Meghalaya election office today sought 10 more companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) for the troubled Garo Hills region of the north-eastern state after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Jonathone N Sangma was killed in an IED blast last night.
The NCP demanded that the probe into the killing of its Williamnagar candidate be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Sangma and three others were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by militants in the Samanda area of East Garo Hills district last night.
Three others, who were critically injured in the attack, are being treated in Guwahati.
The 60-member Meghalaya Assembly is scheduled to go to the polls on February 27.
Polling for the Williamnagar Assembly seat has been countermanded as per the Representation of the People Act, District Election Officer R Kumar said.
''We have sought the deployment of 10 more companies of CAPFs in areas sensitive to armed militant activities,'' Meghalaya's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) F R Kharkongor told PTI.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had approved the deployment of 100 companies of CAPFs in poll-bound Meghalaya and these forces have arrived in the state in batches.
The CEO said of the 3,083 polling stations in the north-eastern state, 536 were categorised as "vulnerable", 444 as "critical", 67 as "vulnerable and critical" and the rest were normal.
Kharkongor admitted that "quite a number'' of polling stations in East Garo Hills district, where the attack took place last night, were vulnerable to militant activities.
State Director General of Police S B Singh has proceeded to the Garo Hills to review the security situation in the area and intensify the combing operations in the vulnerable pockets.
A deputy inspector general-level officer will be stationed at Williamnagar to supervise the ongoing operations against the militants, state political department commissioner and secretary said in a statement.
''The district deputy commissioners and superintendents of police have been advised to review and properly assess the security requirements of all the candidates and the intelligence machinery has also been geared up so that such incidents can be prevented,'' the statement read.
''The case related to the murder (of Sangma) should be handed over to the NIA,'' state NCP working president Vijay Raj told reporters here.
He added that a complaint was also lodged with the CEO, demanding adequate security to all the candidates of the NCP, which had fielded 21 nominees, including Sangma, for the February 27 polls.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who was the first to confirm the killing of the NCP candidate, had tweeted last night saying the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to book.
Echoing the NCP, the BJP also claimed that the law-and-order situation in Congress-ruled Meghalaya had failed and sought an increased deployment of the central security forces so that the vulnerable segments of voters were protected from any threat.
''The BJP notes with great concern the unprecedented and first in the history of the state's electoral politics the blatant use of violence to eliminate a political leader,'' the party's national spokesperson, Nalin Kohli, told reporters here.
Meghalaya Congress president Celestine Lyngdoh and working president Vincent Pala, in a joint statement here, said, ''We vehemently condemn the dastardly act, resulting in the death of NCP candidate Jonathone Sangma from Williamnagar and three other persons accompanying him.
â The Congress believed that violence could never be the answer to any problem and that participating in the democratic process was the only solution if one wanted to serve and work for the growth and development of society and the state, they added.
''The attack is an assault on democracy and freedom of the people of Meghalaya," National People's Party (NPP) president Conrad K Sangma said in a statement.
Other parties too condemned the killing.