A cellphone streaming live proceedings in a booth in Purbachal. (Shubham Paul)
Not just central forces, the Election Commission of India (ECI) relied on everything from technology to close-range monitoring to ensure the polls were free and fair this time.
Video and still-photography, web cameras and micro-observers were used across booths of the twin townships. Over 80 per cent booths in Salt Lake and 70 per cent in New Town had been declared sensitive this time and so the authorities ensured that at least one of the above was deployed at every booth of Salt Lake and almost all in New Town.
Micro-observers: These officers sat in booths and took notes on the identification process of voters, the recording procedures for the Absentee, Shifted and Dead (ASD) voters, application of indelible ink, the secrecy of the ballot etc. They were to look out for any malpractice and submit their reports to the ECI at the end of the day. The micro-observers were central government employees not below Group C and employees of public sector undertakings of the same category.
Video cameras: The ECI had deployed camerapersons to video record the goings-on at several booths. They had been asked to film any instances of intimidating or bribing voters, the identification of voters using their EPIC cards and the length of queues at 6pm, when polling came to an end. They were also instructed to record the sealing of EVMs once the polls got over.
Still cameras: Still camerapersons also roamed booths, capturing images of similar scenes. The pen drives, memory cards and CDs containing the pictures are now kept in the District Election Office.
Web-casting: Many booths were equipped with web cameras and tablets with cameras that streamed live footage of the polling process to ECI officers sitting in the control room at Bidhannagar Government College and the police commissionerate. The gadgets were placed in strategic locations inside the booth to capture the best view.
A staff reporter