Jawans of CRPF’s 133rd battalion keep vigil outside a Pandra Market godown, housing sealed EVMs, in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
After fair polling, time for firm control.
Paramilitary jawans — armed with AK-47s, X-95 carbines and night-vision binoculars — are guarding the Pandra Market where six godowns have been turned into EVM strongrooms for the Ranchi parliamentary seat. Three closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are adding electronic might to human sixth sense. These will be monitored 24x7 till the May 16 Verdict Day.
The sanitised strongrooms, where even power connection has been snapped to avoid a fire mishap, was sealed on Friday in the presence of EC observer Prakash Govindaswamy, a 2000-batch IAS officer from Tamil Nadu. Also present were Ranchi deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer Vinay Kumar Choubey and representatives of all 28 candidates.
“Armed CRPF jawans are on guard. We have left no stone unturned in ensuring foolproof security to the EVMs until next month,” said Choubey. SSP Prabhat Kumar nodded in support.
They added that CCTV footage would be constantly monitored from a control room manned by two officials. To ensure that no candidate is able to allege foul play later on, each party is being allowed to deputy a maximum of half a dozen of their own men in what can be seen as a second-tier security arrangement.
A CRPF jawan, standing guard some 50 metres away from the strongrooms, vouched their preparedness in dealing with untoward incidents. “Till the results, unauthorised entry is strictly restricted,” he said matter-of-factly.
“There will be round-the-clock vigil at every post — on the roof and on the ground — on this market premises. We will be on sentry duty every two hours by turns. Each one of us gets an hour’s break after every two hours. That is to prevent fatigue. But, no one leaves the establishment. Food will reach the posts,” he added.
Incidentally, a law and order situation had arisen in Hotwar on Thursday night after the rumour spread that some EVMs from Silli and Rahe booths had been shunted to Khel Gaon instead of being sent to Pandra.
Supporters of many candidates assembled in protest, prompting a mild lathi-charge by police. In the melee, JVM candidate Amitabh Choudhary and his BJP rival Ram Tahal Choudhary, besides mediapersons and passers-by, were injured. Choubey confirmed the ruckus.
Are you satisfied with the EVM security cover?