Atri writes to CEO on 'excess action' by Central Forces
Kolkata: State Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya has written to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Bengal Ariz Aftab on Monday, pointing out excess action on the part of Central Forces during elections in the state, to the extent that they have 'sometimes appeared to intimidate voters'.
He has requested the CEO to take steps to sensitise Central Forces to the needs of voters who are exercising their franchise, so that the perceived need to resort to physical force by the jawans get reduced.
"There have earlier been complaints about CAPF using excessive force to maintain law and order, to the extent that they have sometimes appeared to intimidate the voters," the letter stated.
Bhattacharya has also pointed out in his letter that there had been five incidents of firing at places like Gopiballavpur, Bishnupur, Moyna, Bhagawanpur and Sabang on the part of Central Forces, in the sixth phase of polls in the state on May 12.
He also stated that there were reports of Central Force jawans behaving roughly with voters in queues and even resorting to lathicharge without apparent justification.
The letter further states that Central Force personnel had fired in Parui and Dubrajpur of Birbhum and also beat up members of the public in places like Thanapara and Haringhata in Nadia district in the fourth phase of polls in the state.
It also points out the incident of Central Forces using force on sitting MP Prasun Banerjee in Howrah during the fifth phase of election. "CAPF personnel carrying arms have also entered booths in contravention of the Model Code of Conduct. This has been brought to the notice of their senior officers, with the request to brief them more thoroughly about their duties during the conduct of elections," the letter stated.
Bhattacharya has also pointed out delay by Quick Response Teams (QRTs) in reaching places of disturbance due to the presence of only Central Forces in the teams in the sixth phase and urged the Commission to revert back to its decision of including state police in QRTs.
It may be mentioned that the Commission has already taken lessons from their experience and has announced that at least one civil constable will be deployed in each QRT in the seventh phase.