Over 670 companies of Central Forces along with 22,000 state police personnel will be deployed for the Phase IV elections which are schedule to take place in 49 Assembly constituencies in North 24-Parganas and Howrah on April 25. There are 33 Assembly constituencies in North 24-Parganas and 16 in Howrah.
Considering the sensitivity of some areas in the two districts, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has directed the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to conduct patrolling by the Central Forces during night. So far the route march had been conducted during the day time but this is for the first time the Commission has decided to carry out surveillance at night also. Section 144 of CrPC has been enforced in the two districts from Saturday night by virtue of which gatherings will not be allowed. According to additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar, the Commission has decided to carry out night patrolling at various pockets of the two districts depending on the sensitivity of the areas. Surveillance will also be carried out along the river in the two districts. Among the companies of Central Forces, 445 will be deployed in North 24-Parganas and 227 in Howrah. Around 257 Companies of Central Forces will be deployed at Barasat subdivision, 137 in Barrackpore commissionarate area and 51 companies in Bidhannagar commissionarate areas in North 24-Parganas. It was learnt that the Commission has directed the CEO office to make special security arrangements in Salt Lake. In Howrah, 75 companies of Central Forces will be deployed in the city part while 152 companies will be for the rural areas. There will be three police observers for North 24-Parganas and 2 police observers for Howrah. A total of 1,08,17,000 electors will exercise their franchise in the phase IV elections among which 72.20 lakh voters are there in North 24-Parganas and 35.96 lakh in Howrah. Around 345 candidates are contesting in this phase of the elections among which 202 are from North 24-Parganas and 143 are from Howrah, while the total number of booths in the two districts is 12,454. There are 643 vulnerable hamlets in Howrah whereas in North 24-parganas the number stands at 2,323. There will 544 CCTVs in various polling stations in Howrah and 841 in North 24-Parganas. “Contingents of central forces have already started reaching their respective places from Friday, while some others will reach the districts on Sunday. The forces have already been deployed in far off areas in the districts. Forces have already reached at 70 polling stations of Sandeshkhali Assembly constituency and at 100 polling stations in Hingalgunj Assembly constituency in North 24-Parganas,” Sarkar said. ECI spokesperson Dhirendra Ojha said that the Commission directed the entire election machinery including police authorities to curb violence at all cost and ensure free, fair and peaceful elections in all the polling stations where election are yet to take place.
Prior to the poll day, as part of vulnerability mitigation strategy, confidence building measures were being undertaken by large number of Central Police forces.