The CPI-Maoist attack in Dumka’s Sikaripara on Thursday evening has brought to the fore serious questions about the nature of deployment of central forces while exposing the state police’s claim that it is close to self-sufficiency.
Primary analysis has revealed that there were serious lapses in observing the Standard Operating Procedure which began at the level of the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police. However, concerned officials are in a bind as to what action can be taken against them, as both DC Harsh Mangalam and SP Nirmal Kumar Mishra are perceived to be close to Chief Minister Hemant Soren, also the MLA from Dumka.
The attack came at the end of a relatively peaceful three-phase polling in the state which saw no LWE-related casualties, provoking Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar to say, “We had ensured peaceful elections by keeping strictly to the SOP. We will have to examine what went wrong here.” Examining the violations to the SOP would be opening a Pandora’s Box: the Tata Magic that was fired upon and the mini bus that the IED tore through on the Sarsajor-Palasi road were not supposed to be there in the first place. The poll officials were to walk back with the EVMs.
Fingers will be pointed at Lambodhar Mahato, the sector magistrate travelling in the Magic who allegedly took the bus to booths 100 and 101, located at Primary School, Jamkandar and Upgraded Middle School, Asma respectively. However, one wonders where he got his orders from. “At the moment, it would be wrong to point fingers at the DC as there is nothing that suggests that he gave the orders for those particular booths. However, we have to find out why officials who walked to the booth took a bus back,” said Jharkhand’s Chief Electoral Officer P.K. Jajoria, who also said that two sets of EVMs were damaged in the blasts; there would be a re-poll. A source in the state police said that the SOP was violated everywhere. “The DC is new; he does not understand the risks. In order to complete the polls early, he allowed the bus to go in,” said a senior officer.
The sector magistrate’s mistake could have been corrected by security personnel posted at the booths, who could have insisted that they walk back. Howeer, while CRPF personnel – posted at booth 100 – walked, district police personnel boarded the bus. “The CRPF personnel even asked at least one ASI-ranked officer of the district police to walk, but he did not pay heed,” said an officer of the state police.
As a result, no CRPF personnel was continued…