Tripura polls: EC appoints Special Observer, all borders sealed

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Agartala, Feb 17 (IANS) Hours before Sunday’s assembly elections in Left-ruled Tripura, the Election Commission has appointed a Special Observer while the authorities have sealed the international and inter-state borders with Tripura.

Tripura Police ‘pushed back’ an Assam minister from Tripura for violating election rule.

Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Sriram Taranikanti said that the Election Commission has appointed Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Director General R.K. Pachnanda as Special Observer to oversee the polling process in Tripura.

Pachnanda along with other senior officials on Saturday held meeting with district level officers including superintendent of police and Election Commission’s police observers through video conference.

He accompanied by other officers visited several parts of Tripura by helicopter and instructed the officials to act properly, an official of state election department said.

Pachnanda, an IPS officer of the 1983 batch West Bengal cadre, was the Kolkata Police Commissioner.

Tripura Police Chief Akhil Kumar Shukla said with the deployment of additional Border Security Force troopers, the 856-km India-Bangladesh border with Tripura has been sealed to prevent any intruder from across the borders.

“We have requested the Assam and Mizoram Police to tighten the vigil along the inter-state borders. We have also deployed additional security force along Tripura’s borders with Assam and Mizoram to foil any unauthorised entry into the state during the electioneering,” Shukla told the media.

Tripura shares 109 km borders with Mizoram and 53 km borders with Assam.

The police chief said that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were also installed in the entry points of Tripura’s inter-state borders with Assam and Tripura and some other strategic locations to closely monitor the situations.

“The Union Home Ministry has provided sufficient amount of security forces to conduct the elections freely and smoothly. A series of steps including installation of police help lines in all the eight district headquarters and police head quarters have been taken to thwart any attempt to upset the smooth polling,” the Director General of Police said.

Election Department official said that several helicopters have been pressed into service to supervise election management and an air ambulance has also kept standby to ferry any security and civil official in exigencies.

Meanwhile, Tripura Police on Friday night asked Assam Minister of State for Power Pallab Lochan Das back to go back to his state from Gandacherra in Dhalai district for violating election code of conduct that bars an outsider from staying in an election-bound state after the end of campaigning.

Dhalai district police Chief Smriti Ranjan Das said: “The minister along with a BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) leader was found at a tribal village in Gandachara area even after campaigning came to an end at 4 p.m. on Friday. We escorted him back from the area and asked him go back to Assam.”

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also lodged a fresh complaint before the Election Commission on asuspicious’ movement of an Assam Minister with “fake car permit”.

The CPI-M had earlier made several complained with the poll panel that thousands of BJP and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) workers of several other states have been staying in hotels, lodges, rented houses and BJP leaders’ homes “ostensibly to create troubles on the day of polling”.

On Friday night, police also detained three RSS workers from Damdamia Bazar of Simna assembly constituency in West Tripura district with a vehicle moving in the areas after the end of the campaign.

When asked about the outsiders, the Chief Electoral Officer and Director General of Police separately said that the authorities already asked the unauthorised outsiders to leave the state even as the police are conducting searches in all possible locations to identify the unauthorised outsiders and to deport them from the state.



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