New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The Centre has decided to step up security in West Bengal for the eight seats going to polls in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Sunday with 602 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (the CRPF, BSF, CISF, SSB, ITBP, RPF, RAF) besides that of state armed police being deployed for election duties.
Home Ministry sources said that the additional forces are being deployed as the Junglemahal, which covers three Lok Sabha seats of Purulia, Bankura and Jhargram, is Maoist-affected and there have been incidents of violence on the eve of polls as also on the polling day.
They said that various confidence-building measures like route marches, long-range patrols, and cordon and search operations are being undertaken in all the eight constituencies to instill confidence among the voters.
The sources said that steps have also been taken to ensure safety of polling parties, voters, electronic voting machines, candidates, polling agents and other poll-related officials on the day of polling.
All ad hoc commandants and Company Commanders of CAPFs have been briefed by senior officers about the sensitivity of the constituencies and other issues. Besides presence of forces at all polling booths and the mandatory Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs), 547 Quick Action Teams (QATs) and 108 additional QATs have been instructed to be on the move.
The sources said that QATs have been briefed “to be on wheels” in their designated areas and ensure immediate action whenever they receive any complaint from the district polling official, polling magistrate, voters, candidates or the control room.
QATs and additional QATs will be in touch with each other to ensure prompt and effective action without loosing much time, they said, and added that heads of the teams have been asked to report the action taken immediately.
Forces deployed in Junglemahal have been told not to move in vehicles to avoid Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) and check culverts and other probable places for IEDs much before their movement.
Personnel deployed in the area have been advised to wear bullet-proof jackets, helmets carry adequate ammunition and have been alerted about the risk to polling parties during their movement.
“All these measures are being taken to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections and also to encourage and motivate voters to go and cast their vote without fear,” a source said.
Besides Purulia, Bankura and Jhargram, five other constituencies – Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Medinipur and Bishnupur – will go to the polls on May 12.