Shillong, Nov 22 (IANS) The Election Commission Thursday promised adequate security arrangements to ensure free and fair assembly polls in Meghalaya, especially in the insurgency−ravaged districts of the state. The northeastern state is scheduled to go for polls February−March 2013.
"We reviewed the poll preparedness, including the law and order and the election department will ensure that the 2013 state election is fair and free," Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla told journalists here.
He, however, refused to reveal the number of companies of para−military forces to be deployed in the insurgency−ravaged Garo Hills region saying: "I cannot divulge anything right now."
Shukla held a closed−door meeting with state home and election department officials and deputy commissioners of 10 districts and discussed state's preparedness of conducting the assembly elections.
Thursday's meeting assumed significance in the wake of jailed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) chief Champion R. Sangma's declaration that his outlawed outfit would support the ruling Congress in the upcoming assembly polls in five districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.
When asked about the outlawed GNLA declaring support to the Congress, Shukla said: "We (Election Commission) have taken cognizance of any type attempt to disrupt the process of election and will takes adequate steps to ensure a free and fair election."
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the Congress does not need the support of criminals.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), a key ally in Meghalaya's Congress−led coalition government, had accused some Congress leaders of hobnobbing with the outlawed GNLA and has decided to take up the issue with the central government.
"The party (UDP) has taken serious note of some of the Congress leaders' complicity with the outlawed GNLA," UDP spokesperson Paul Lyngdoh said.
Champion, whose outfit is fighting for a separate Garoland in five districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya, was arrested July 30 near the India−Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. He was accused of waging war against India.
"The decision of the GNLA to support the Congress in the state assembly elections to be held in 2013 reflects the desperation of the Congress to come to power at any cost," the opposition National People's Party state−unit president W.R. Kharlukhi said.
GNLA rebels, who number around 100, unleashed a reign of terror in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills in the last one year and killed over 35 people, including security personnel.