Post-poll violence under scanner, more central forces in Bengal: EC

Kolkata: Iterating its commitment to a free and fair election process, the Election Commission on Thursday said it is viewing incidences of post-poll violence in West Bengal “seriously” and announced as many as 800 companies of central forces will be pressed into service from the second phase of the assembly polls in the state.

“Close to 400 companies have arrived after finishing polls from Assam. Close to 400 were already there during the first phase and now close to 800 will be pressed into service. They will be there on April 17 and will remain there,” said Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.

The full bench of the Election Commission of India held day-long meetings with police and administration officials and also met delegations from various political parties ahead of the next phase of the state assembly polls scheduled for April 17.

Zaidi stressed on “active” discharge of duties by the central forces.

“All polling locations will be manned by central police forces. 1,500 central police forces (mobile teams) will be deployed. Central forces will be discharging their duties at booths in a very active manner. They will be keeping a close watch on the groups inside the booth and anyone indulging in malpractices will be brought to book,” he said.

Stressing on CCTV coverage and webcasting in booths in sensitive areas, Zaidi also highlighted the role of the central forces in preventing clashes between political party workers.

“Deployment of central forces (teams) will also be displayed by flexiboards all around the vehicles. Communication of complaints from all sources will be relayed to central police forces mobiles and they will ensure the areas outside the booths, far-flung areas are sanitised, and political workers are not allowed to assemble outside the polling booths and they do not indulge in any kind of clashes,” he said.

The poll panel has directed “all district magistrates and superintendents of police to hold meetings with political parties to receive the list of their areas of concern where forces must travel and must march and to keep the political parties briefed about the areas where the forces are marching”.

“Movement of bikers will be restricted and strict action will be taken against violators,” Zaidi said.

Responding to complaints that some of the EC observers were not available on mobiles, Zaidi said strict instructions have been issued to them in the regard.

Iterating it aceviews seriously all incidents of post-poll violence”, Zaidi informed the Commission held a detailed review with the director general of police and he has been asked to fix responsibility of officials in each post-poll incident.

“And he has also been directed to ensure legal action in each and every FIR that has been filed related to poll day and post-poll violence cases. DGP will also ensure that the appropriate provisions of the law of the land are invoked against such persons who are trying to instigate so that we can drill fear in the minds of such persons and generate confidence among voters.

“Poll panel will also not hesistate in prohibiting some instigators and limiting their movements and participation in public. The Commission is committed that violence of any sort, anywhere and any time, will be met with appropriate legal action.”