The Election Commission imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Nandigram Assembly seat in West Bengal’s East Medinipur district on Wednesday, a day ahead of the second phase of the polls in the state, reported PTI.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against Suvendu Adhikari, her former aide who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in December, for the high-stakes Nandigram seat.

“Nandigram is a sensitive constituency with high-profile candidates like Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari,” an Election Commission official told PTI. “We want to ensure that the law and order situation is not compromised and people can vote freely without fear.”

The prohibitory orders will last till Friday night, the official said. “A person who is not a voter of Nandigram will not be allowed to enter the area till polling is over,” he said, adding that the order prohibits the assembly of five or more persons, besides other restrictions. Nandigram has 355 polling booths.

The constituency wore a deserted look on Wednesday as only a few shops were open. Transport services such as autos and e-rickshaws were also mostly unavailable.

Meanwhile, prohibitory orders would also be imposed in Haldia constituency till Friday, the sub-divisional magistrate said, reported ANI. Haldia also goes to the polls on Thursday.

“Assembly of five or more persons, excluding people on election duty and voters entitled to vote in designated polling stations is prohibited within 200 meters of polling premises,” the subdivisional magistrate said. The officer also said that cellphones will not be allowed within 100 meters of the polling premises except by persons on election duty.

22 companies of central forces being deployed in Nandigram

The Election Commission official also told PTI that 22 companies of central forces were being deployed in Nandigram.

The official said that the security forces, along with the police, were conducting checks at crucial junctions. “Vehicles are being thoroughly checked before they are allowed to enter Nandigram,” he said. “No outside vehicles are being allowed in.”

He said that people trying to create a disturbance “will be handled strictly”. The poll panel official told PTI that the Election Commission has also decided to deploy a 22-personnel quick response team in the region on the day of the election.

He added that the poll panel has also constituted a team that will supervise the proceedings in Nandigram on April 1.

Elections in West Bengal are being held in eight phases. The first phase of the elections was held on March 27. The state recorded an approximate voter turnout of 84.3%.