Security siege on poll day - 61 companies of paramilitary forces to be deployed in 1196 booths of Darjeeling district

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  • Published 26.04.06

Siliguri, April 26: Sixty-one companies of central paramilitary forces?about 5,000 men ? will be deployed in the Darjeeling district for the May 8 elections.

This is probably the first time that the strength of the paramilitary forces in the poll booths of the five constituencies of Darjeeling will be more than that of local police.

The inspector-general of police, north Bengal, K.L. Meena, today told The Telegraph that the forces ? comprising the BSF, CISF, CRPF, and RPF ? would be arriving here on May 4 and on the same day they would be deployed in all the 1,196 polling stations of the district.

?This time, we are paying equal attention to all the booths. No stone will be left unturned to ensure free and fair polls,? he said.

According to the police chief, adequate local police personnel, including senior and efficient officers, would also be deployed in the booths so that, if necessary, they can assist the paramilitary forces. ?Usually it is the other way round. Paramilitary personnel help the local police in the booths,? said a senior police official.

Darjeeling superintendent of police Rajesh Subarna said all arrangements for the central forces have almost been made. Some 300 vehicles have been arranged for them. ?Each company would be given two buses, two trucks and a small vehicle,? said the district police chief.

?Though initially we found it difficult to accommodate them (paramilitary forces), later we could arrange most of the amenities like water, electricity and vehicles with the help of several government departments,? he added.

In the meantime, the local crime rate in the district has suddenly dipped, following the announcement of the polls. According to the district police chief, special drives organised by the police before the elections is the reason for the decline in the crime graph.

The inspector-general of the BSF?s northern frontier, S.R. Tewari, however, had a word of caution.

?With the security strength that we have currently, a peaceful election can be expected. But Maoists and disruptive forces might attempt to shatter the peace during the polls,? said Tewari.