The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big brother watching
Video army to look for election code violation

Calcutta, April 10: A week before the kick-off to polling in the state, election officers continued to step up the heat on politicians.

The chief electoral officer today decided to provide video camera crews to personnel looking for evidence of violation of the model code of conduct. The observer for the Calcutta district trashed a list of sensitive booths in the city compiled by police.

At a meeting with police officers led by the city police's additional commissioner (I), Goutam Mohan Chakraborty, observer P.K. Chowdhury said: 'First tell us on what basis you've categorised these booths as sensitive. Once you give us this list along with the justification, we'll see if these reasons are sufficient and consider the list again.'

Five divisional deputy commissioners of police and all 21 returning officers and the three district electoral officers of Calcutta were among those present at the meeting.

The list of sensitive booths will now be finalised by the observers, returning officers and the police in another meeting the day after tomorrow.

'The cameras will enable observers to keep documentary evidence of the violation of the code of conduct. This will ensure that the candidates adhere to rules during their campaign,' chief electoral officer Debashis Sen said.

The observers are now touring the districts, reviewing their poll preparedness and monitoring the campaigning.

If a complaint is lodged against a candidate, the video evi- dence would help the observer establish the charges.

The 2006 elections have seen many firsts, with the poll panel pulling out all stops to ensure that the elections are free and fair.

From send- ing central ob- servers to monitor the revision of electoral rolls to deciding to instal cameras inside sensitive booths and keeping watch on the movement of polling agents, the commission has been cracking the whip all along.

In Calcutta, the police today proposed to declare about 25 per cent of the 750 booths as sensitive, where 70-odd companies of central forces should be deployed.

But the commission representatives rejected the selection of booths.

Deputy election commissioner Anand Kumar today met top police officers and Sen to chalk out how the paramilitary would be deployed.

Soon after, Kumar left for a tour of Purulia and Bankura along with Sen.

Around 238 companies of central paramilitary forces have already arrived in Bengal from across the country, while another 350 companies are scheduled to come from Assam on Wednesday.

Camps are being set up along the Jharkhand and Orissa borders and arrangements being made to seal them at least three days before the polls.

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