Moment of truth: Three-tier security to keep vigil as counting of votes kicks off today
Kolkata: The counting of votes for all 42 parliamentary constituencies will be conducted amid three-tier security arrangements across the state on Thursday.
There has been a total deployment of 82 companies of Central Forces outside the strong rooms where the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) have been kept after the conclusion of the polling process.
The Central Force jawans will be manning the first tier of innermost security ring, where the counting stations and strong rooms are situated. Section 144 of CrPC will be implemented within 100 metres of the counting centres on Thursday.
A tight security arrangement has been made at all counting centres to ensure round-the-clock check. According to the Election Commission officials, the middle-ring security will be manned by the state armed police while the outer ring will be manned by police personnel from the local police stations.
"There has been a total deployment of 155 counting observers in the state, to conduct the counting process smoothly. As many as 25,000 personnel would be involved in the counting process on Thursday. Video recording will be done during the counting," said a senior official at office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
The EVMs will be taken to the counting stations from the strong rooms amidst tight security. The Central Force jawans will escort the EVMS, VVPATs and other poll material.
The EVMs will be opened in the presence of counting observers, returning officers and the candidates who were contesting the elections from their respective constituencies. Counting will start with the postal ballots at around 8 am and the service voters' ballots will be counted subsequently.
The counting of EVMs will begin later. Only authorised personnel with valid passes will be allowed inside the vote counting centres. Carrying mobiles into centres has been strictly prohibited.
The EVMs will be counted first and randomly selected VVPATs will be counted later. VVPATs from the 35 booths of an Assembly segment would be chosen for counting. All the VVPATs will be counted if there is any irregularity found in the EVMs.
There will be a separate enclosure for the election agents of various candidates contesting the elections, situated close to the table where the EVMs will be counted. The number of counting observers has been increased this time, compared to the number in the previous elections.
The EVMs of the Kolkata North parliamentary constituency have been kept at the strong rooms inside Khudiram Anusilan Kendra and the counting will be done at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. The security arrangements have already been put in place.
The counting of EVMs from Jadavpur constituency will be conducted at the Vijaygarh Jyotish Roy College, whereas the counting for Kolkata South will take place at Vivekananda College in Thakurpukur, St Thomas Boys' School on Diamond Harbour Road, Sakhawat Memorial Government School, Ballygunge Government High School and West Bengal University of Teachers' Training, Education Planning and Administration.
Guard rails have been kept at approach roads to the counting centres across the state to prevent any vehicle from getting close and pickets have been set up outside the strong rooms with sandbags and armed personnel of Central Forces to keep a strict vigil.
It may be mentioned that the Election Commission has decided to keep around 200 companies of Central Forces in the state till May 27, to tackle any incident of violence after the results come out.