Central forces beyond booths

The central forces’ inclusion is significant as they will be involved in tackling general law and order problems outside booths

  • Published 28.04.19, 12:42 AM
  • Updated 28.04.19, 12:42 AM
  • a min read
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The Election Commission's measure will be in addition to deployment of central forces at all 15,200-odd booths in the Behrampore, Bolpur, Birbhum, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Asansol, Burdwan East and Burdwan-Durgapur seats, spread across five districts. Picture: Prem Singh

The Election Commission will deploy central forces in quick-response teams — which so far had only state police personnel — to tackle trouble outside polling centres in the fourth phase of voting in eight Bengal seats on Monday.

The measure will be in addition to deployment of central forces at all 15,200-odd booths in the Behrampore, Bolpur, Birbhum, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Asansol, Burdwan East and Burdwan-Durgapur seats, spread across five districts. QRTs are formed on polling day and reach trouble spots as early as possible. Such teams in the first three phases were entirely made up of state cops.

The central forces’ inclusion is significant as they will be involved in tackling general law and order problems outside booths. The Bengal government opposes the measure, pointing out that law and order is a state subject.

“Although (central force) jawans will work under the state police, their inclusion in QRTs is significant,” said an official.

Sources said the step was initiated after a voter, Tiyarul Islam, was killed while returning home in Murshidabad in the third phase of polls on April 23. The incident took place a few hundred meters from his polling centre. “There were questions then why central forces did not intervene,” said a source.

Initially, it was decided that 559 companies of central forces — over 50,300 troopers — would be brought in for the fourth phase, allowing them to cover 98 per cent of the booths.

“On Thursday, the commission decided to deploy 580 companies (52,000 troopers) to ensure 100 cent per cent coverage. QRTs will also be formed with central force jawans,” said an official.

Birbhum police chief Avvaru Ravindranath said the district would get 128 companies (11,500 jawans). “Apart from covering all booths, some will be deployed in all 24 QRTs.”

Abhishek Modi, deputy commissioner of police in Asansol Durgapur, spoke of similar deployments.