Local police can’t order around Central forces during polls,says EC

The Election Commission of India has asked its West Bengal unit to convey to the state government that in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls,the Central forces would act on their own without interference from the local police.

Written by Bidyut Roy | Kolkata | Published: February 19, 2009 2:00 am

The Election Commission (EC) of India has asked its West Bengal unit to convey to the state government that in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls,the Central forces would act on their own without interference from the local police.

The stringent directive comes in the face of allegations against the state police of bias.

The ruling party leaders have often insisted that the Central forces be kept in reserve and should act under the directions of the local police.

During the May 2008 panchayat polls in the state,CPM MP from Tamluk,Lakshman Seth,was said to have shouted at CRPF DIG Alok Raj on phone,asking him to take orders from the state police. Raj was commanding the CRPF personnel deployed in and around Nandigram,where the ruling party was faced with electoral reverses.

Through a communiqué,the EC has now said that while the district magistrate and the superintendent of police of a district will be consulted before the deployment of Central forces,they will be required to abide by the directions from commandants or officer-in-charge on the day of polls. The directive made it clear that the local police would have no role in the operational part of Central forces on the day of polls.

“I have already communicated the order accordingly to the top officials of the state police,” said Debasish Sen,the chief electoral officer of West Bengal. “The Central forces should not be treated as a reserve force kept in police stations,” Sen said,quoting the EC order.

According to the electoral officer,Central forces will be deployed on static duties to guard booths on the polling day and will be given charge of cluster of polling stations. Ten police stations comprising 10,000 voters will create a cluster.

“A day before polling,Central forces will stage a flag march inside villages and will not be accompanied by the local police,” Sen said,adding that “it is an order that everyone would have to follow”.

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