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ECI May Increase Security Personnel in Bengal to Hold Assembly Polls Peacefully

File photo of Election Commission of India.

File photo of Election Commission of India.

The full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is currently in the state to review preparedness for the assembly polls due in April-May, is also thinking of deploying personnel of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) on a massive scale.

Eyeing to conduct the coming assembly polls in West Bengal peacefully, the ECI is mulling the option of deploying around 25 per cent more security personnel than that used in holding the 2019 Lok Sabha election, an official of the Chief Electoral Officers office said on Thursday. The full bench of the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is currently in the state to review preparedness for the assembly polls due in April-May, is also thinking of deploying personnel of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) on a massive scale, he said.

"The number of polling booths has jumped from 77,247 to 1,01,733. There are indications that the Commission is thinking to deploy approximately 25 per cent more security personnel compared to what was used in the last Lok Sabha elections. This is also to ensure peaceful polling," he said. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajeev Kumar held detailed discussions with senior officials of paramilitary forces such as the BSF and the CRPF on the availability of personnel in the state during the polls.

Earlier in the day, the ECI held a meeting with the nodal officer of the state police, ADG (Law and Order) Gyanwant Singh, and expressed discontent with the execution of non-bailable warrants (NBWs) as well as the law and order situation. "The full bench said that it is not at all satisfied with the law and order situation in the state as well as the execution of the NBWs. The ECI asked Singh of the state to follow its directives effectively," he said.

Singh informed the Commission that the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan created hindrances in proper execution of NBWs. However, the police executed nearly 12,000 of the pending 50,000 NBWs in the last four days.

"The Commission wanted it to be complete by the end of this month. The ECI also wanted Singh to contain the scale of violence before the announcement of the dates for the elections," the official said. At the meeting, the IPS officer presented a list of criminals who can create trouble even from inside correctional homes.

The ECI full bench also met district magistrates and superintendents of police and asked them to identify those who had created disturbances during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and put them behind the bars, he said. The official said that the Commission also directed them to keep air ambulances and helicopters ready in remote areas to address emergency cases during the pandemic.

On Friday, the ECI is scheduled to meet Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Home Secretary HK Dwivedi, DGP Virendra and other senior officials.

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