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Picket & patrol clinch poll process peace

About 100 policemen, eight surveillance cameras and strict no entry for outsiders ensured hitch-free filing of nomination for the student union elections at Harimohan Ghose College in Garden Reach on Thursday.

The trigger for the bandobast was last year’s murder of Calcutta police sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury outside the college when he was trying to pacify Trinamul and Congress supporters feuding over filing of poll nomination forms.

“The process was peaceful today,” said deputy commissioner (port) V. Solomon Nesakumar. What made the difference? Metro takes a look.

Strict security

Armed police — with baton in hand and revolver in holster — patrolled the premises. Around 100 men in uniform, some in mufti, from the four police stations in the port division — Rajabagan, Nadial, Garden Reach and Metiabruz — took position much before candidates arrived to fill in and submit nomination forms.

The police tracked movements inside and outside the college and broke any huddle of more than two persons. Traffic cops on roads near the college were told to remain “extra” alert. Joint commissioner (administration) Mehboob Rahman and deputy commissioner Nesakumar monitored the proceedings till the end.

Had the arrangements been like this on February 10 last year, sub-inspector Chowdhury wouldn’t have died, a witness said. In 2013, armed personnel were missing, constables stood some distance away from the campus and the forces did not intervene before supporters morphed into a mob.

The incident prodded the security establishment to come up with a plan for this year’s college polls, making deployment of armed police mandatory on campuses and outside.

Video vigil

The police hired a private agency to install and operate eight CCTV cameras placed on and outside the campus. There was one inside the room where nomination forms were submitted. On January 3, when forms were distributed, four cameras were operated.

“We placed six cameras at the entrance and the adjoining areas… one in the corridor leading to the college building and another in the form submission room. The videotape would help us nail any offender,” said an officer in the morning. CCTV surveillance will be in place on election day (January 16) too.

Last year, the police had to rely on footage of private TV channels to identify the shooter of Chowdhury.

Outsiders out

Outsiders — even Trinamul or Congress leaders — were not allowed to assemble outside the college. Identity cards were checked before allowing students to enter the premises.

Cut to 2013. The borough XV chairman and Trinamul strongman, Mohammad “Munna” Iqbal, was present outside the college apparently to marshal Trinamul supporters. His alleged turf war with Sheikh Mukhtar, a Congress muscleman, led to the shooting.