KOLKATA: The Election Commission has decided to deploy 11,415 state police personnel in addition to 684 companies of central forces for the first phase of polling in West Bengal on March 27.
Only central forces will be present inside polling booths while state and central forces will cordon off booths from outside. District police superintendents have been asked to complete the police deployment process by 7pm on March 23.
Earlier, it was planned to have only central forces within a radius of 100m from a booth but it has now been decided to have only central forces within booths. Trinamool Congress had opposed the move. Even for maintaining queues, state police would help central forces.
In a note to ADG (law and order) Jag Mohan, chief electoral officer Ariz Aftab had written on Friday that central forces should not be deployed on any static duty unless it was part of deployment strategy. The CEO wrote that out of nine sections of the company of a central force, eight sections were to be used in guarding poll booths while the rest were to be used for QRT (Quick Response Team).
Aftab also asked for special attention in LWE areas and for policing arrangements to be made in consultation with the police observers. He wanted one platoon of central force to guard EVMs. One platoon of striking force would be with the SP and SDPO.
In his note to SPs of five poll-bound districts, Jag Mohan has asked for deployment of policemen keeping in mind that none should be posted in the home district and for randomisation to be done before deployment. He also sought a nodal officer for each district.
Purulia will have maximum central forces at 185 companies, followed by Jhargram at 144, East Midnapore 148, West Midnapore 124 and Bankura 83.
For tackling Maoists as well as troublemakers, both central forces as well as state police will coordinate around booths and in quick response teams. QRTs will have a commander from the central force and an SI or ASI of state police. The SI or ASI is to help QRT as state police have a better understanding of ground-level situation and are aware of the locality and local language.
QRTs would be trained to speedily reach trouble-prone zones with the help of GPS tracking. Central forces would be deployed depending on vulnerability of the area, for which the number of policemen in a poll booth can be four and go up to 10 per booth in LWE areas.