Bengal govt writes to five states for more police forces
Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government on Saturday sent letters to as many as five states including Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab seeking additional police forces for providing security to as many as 58,467 polling booths where the forthcoming Panchayat elections will be held on May 14.
"We have written to five states seeking additional forces," a senior official of the state Home department said stating that the personnel from other states will be used as "back up".
It may be mentioned that as per requirement of the State Election Commission (SEC) there should be one armed personnel per booth. Added to this, there are 341 blocks out of which election is being held in 330.
"The SEC wants to have one company per block, that is around 3,3000 armed forces for patrolling duty, quick response and circle office, in case of emergency. Hence, as per SEC's requirement of armed forces, we need to have 91,467 personnel. Our strength is 46,000," an official in the state Secretariat said.
"The shortfall stands at 45,467. We are trying to arrange for the additional forces from the five states to which we have already written," he added.
It may also be mentioned that as per the government's proposal sent to the SEC a few days ago, there would be one armed police per premise and one constable per booth. The government had assured that they would make up for the shortfall with Home Guards and civic volunteers whose strength is around 1,10,000.
Meanwhile, the BJP has decided to go to court on Monday over alleged inadequate security for the elections. It took the decision after the meeting of Opposition parties' representatives with State Election Commissioner Amarendra Kumar Singh over security concerns on Saturday.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) have already decided to move court on Monday on the ground that the State Election Commission allegedly announced the election date without discussing security arrangements with the Opposition parties as per the Calcutta High Court's order.
"The outcome of the meeting was a zero. The State Election Commission does not have any concrete plan on security on the polling day. It is strange that the State Election Commissioner just inquired about our demands but did not divulge any details about his own planning," alleged BJP vice-president Joy Prakash Majumdar.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Rabin Deb complained that the Commission couldn't provide them with the figures of security personnel that would be deployed. "Our candidates were forced to withdraw the nomination and water connection and power lines were snapped in those areas. We demand action against them," Deb said.