QRTs falter in sixth phase due to lack of state police officials
Kolkata: The presence of the quick response teams (QRTs) was allegedly not felt properly in the sixth phase of elections on Sunday, when eight Lok Sabha constituencies of Bengal went to polls.
In previous phases, the QRTs had moved quickly to the areas where incidents of clashes were reported. But in the sixth phase, QRTs were not as quick in their movement.
Various political party leaders alleged that the QRTs failed to turn up on time when there were incidents of violence in any of the eight constituencies. In previous phases of elections, the QRTs were led by state police officers as they were well acquainted with the locations of the polling booths.
After some allegations surfaced against the state police force, the Election Commission tried to adopt a separate method to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner.
Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey had decided to deploy Central Force officials to lead the QRTs, keeping the state police at bay. The QRTs had faced difficulties in identifying the polling booths where the clashes were reported from, as the Central Force commandants who were supposed to give them directions had no idea about the geographical locations of the polling booths. Most of the Central Force commandants were from other states.
As a result of this, clashes broke out outside various polling booths and the trouble could not be quelled in time. Keeping in mind the geographical locations of the districts which were once infested with Maoists, the Election Commission decided to deploy two QRTs in each police station area.
Each team comprised eight jawans. There were around 547 QRTs in the sixth phase of elections and 108 additional QRTs which were led by ad hoc commandants.
According to sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), the election officials in the state were not convinced with the idea of deploying Central Force commandants as the head of each QRT. The Election Commission has already submitted a report to the Election Commission of India in Delhi in this regard.