Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh (centre) inspects trunks containing EVM machines at Sector III in Bokaro steel city on Friday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Ranchi police have requisitioned the Election Commission for 50 companies of paramilitary forces to ensure free and fair Lok Sabha polls, the number three times more than the existing strength of personnel deputed in the district.
Out of the 50 companies sought, 25 are from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 15 from Border Security Forces (BSF) and 10 from Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB).
The requisition was sent a week before the announcement of poll dates on Wednesday.
“Police get into election mode much before the official declaration of election dates. The request was made after proper assessment of the ground reality as a large chunk of booths in the district is located in Naxalite strongholds,” said Ranchi senior superintendent of police (SSP) Prabhat Kumar.
Of the total number of 2,358 polling booths in Ranchi, 1,576 are earmarked as supersensitive and 579 sensitive.
“A majority of supersensitive booths are in the forest areas of Bundu, Tamar, Sonahatu, Rahe, Silli, Mandar, Lapung and Karra besides other places. Thus, properly trained security personnel are required to keep a vigil at these places during the election,” the SSP added.
A police officer from Bundu justified the demand for more central forces, saying that sensitive booths are located in 272 establishments like schools, colleges, panchayat bhavans and so on. Supersensitive booths are in 1,050 establishments.
“As each building has to be well-fortified, a huge number of security personnel equipped with proper arms and ammunition is required,” he said.
The district already has 15 companies of paramilitary personnel involved in anti-Naxalite operations in forest areas. But with Maoists known to changing their strategy during elections, police don’t want to take any chances.
“Maoists resort to various tactics to terrorise voters and disrupt the polling process. They give poll boycott cry, paste posters on polling booths, carry out landmine blasts, abduct candidates and kill their supporters besides setting campaign vehicles on fire. Hence, more hands are needed to check their violent activities and complete the democratic exercise properly,” a senior police officer said.
The district has over 18 lakh voters spread across the parliamentary segments of Ranchi, Lohardaga and Khunti. The number includes over 51,000 first-time voters.