Millennium Post

Central Forces at 90 percent booths for third phase

Kolkata: The Election Commission is all set to deploy 324 companies of Central Forces for the third phase of elections in Bengal on April 23. The five Lok Sabha constituencies of Malda North, Malda South, Balurghat, Jangipur and Murshidabad will go for elections on the date.

Special Observer in Bengal Ajay V Nayak held a meeting with Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey in presence of senior officials of the office of Chief Electoral Officer (Bengal) on Friday, to finalise the security deployment.

"About 90 percent of the booths during the third phase of the elections will have Central Forces as static posts," said Dubey.

As per earlier plans, the Commission had decided to deploy 274 companies of Central Forces for the third phase, which should have covered 79 percent of the total 8,528 booths.

"We have sought another 50 companies of Central Forces from the Election Commission of India and they have agreed to dispatch the additional force. This will take the total count of Central Forces to 324 companies. The political parties, particularly the Opposition in the state, have been demanding Central Forces for elections in Bengal. We are hopeful that from the third phase onwards, there will be hardly any complaint regarding the deployment of adequate Central Forces," a senior official in the CEO's office said.

The Election Commission had already finalised the deployment of 274 companies of Central Forces that were scheduled to be available. The highest number of sensitive booths as per the map of the Commission is in Murshidabad. So, the maximum deployment has been planned for the seat.

"The extra forces that will be available, will be used in the sensitive booths and also for maintaining vigil in the strong rooms and route

march to boost the confidence of the voters," an EC official said. The final deployment pattern is expected to be finalised by Sunday or Monday morning.

"We want to ensure a free and fair poll, where people can go to the booths and exercise their franchise without any fear," Nayak said at the CEO's office.

It may be mentioned that with the advancement of phases, the Election Commission has substantially increased the deployment of forces. In the first phase, there were just 83 companies, which was enough to man only 38 percent of the booths.

In the second phase it was upgraded to 195 companies that covered more than 76

percent of the booths and in

the third phase, the Commission is gearing up to deploy Central Forces in almost all the booths.

Meanwhile, the Commission has sought a report on the violence in Chopra during the second phase of polling, where some people alleged that they were not allowed to cast their votes.

"The officials have already reached the spot and they are investigating into the matter. We have sought a detailed report on the Chopra issue. Once they submit it, we will send it to the Election Commission," Additional CEO Sanjoy Basu said.

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