Monday, 30th October 2017

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Four state cops call vote shots

Central forces were absent at booth in what one poll official called a 'rare sight'

By Main Uddin Chisti in Cooch Behar
  • Published 12.04.19, 1:26 AM
  • Updated 12.04.19, 1:26 AM
  • a min read
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One of the four women constables checks a voter’s ID at a booth in Baxirhat on Thursday Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

Four Bengal police constables ensured voting in an Alipurduar booth was peaceful despite the absence of central forces in what one poll official called a “rare sight”.

The feat pulled off by Rupali Haldar, Ipshita Bairagya, Chinmayee Sadhukhan and Uma Sadhukhan at a primary school in Baxirhat, close to the Assam border, belied Opposition fears that state police would be ineffective and misgivings among polling staff who had demanded central forces in all booths.

When voting began, residents were surprised to see only the four cops, who had been brought from Nadia.

“We were a bit worried initially. In the rural elections last year, we voted for the zilla parishad candidate only as Trinamul candidates had won uncontested in the panchayat samiti and gram panchayat seats,” said Rashmita Burman.

The turnout at the booths was 91 per cent.

At one point, Uma was seen shouting at some youths near the booths: “Ekhane ki korchen? vote dite hole line-e daran. Vote hoye gele chole jaan… (What are you doing here? If you want to vote, stand in the queue. If you have voted, just leave the place).”

Plaudits came in thick and fast. “We never thought polling would be so peaceful in the absence of central forces,” said Prankrishna Das, a BJP polling agent.

Another pointer was the number of polling agents. “It was a rare sight. Agents of as many as seven candidates were present. The constables did not let in any unauthorised person. In last year’s panchayat elections, there were hardly one to two agents,” said a poll official.