At least ten helicopters of the Indian Air Force will be pressed into service for swift movement of security personnel in each phase of upcoming general elections.
The issue was discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami and attended by chiefs of paramilitary forces and senior Home Ministry officials. The service of the IAF helicopters will be required as no Mi-17 helicopters of BSF are serviceable and will not be available for election duties. Similarly, Dhruv helicopters are deployed in Naxal affected states and will not be withdrawn for polls duties.
“Therefore, the entire requirement of Election Commission of India will have to be met by IAF helicopter during general election 2014. Ministry of Defence may be requested to keep the sufficient IAF helicopters in readiness with effect from March 15, 2014 as per requirement of ECI,” an internal note of the Home Ministry says. During 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the IAF had made available 14 helicopters to provide air support to the security forces.
Meanwhile, in order to stop the inter-state movement of naxalites, militants or anti-social elements during poll days, the Centre has directed all state governments and central paramilitary forces to increase the area domination and extra vigil on the inter-state boundaries especially in the Maoist-hit areas to prevent the criminal or Naxal activities during the elections.
Around two lakh central paramilitary force personnel, besides state police forces, will be deployed during the multi-phased general elections expected to be held between mid-April and mid-May. The Home Ministry has asked border guarding forces like BSF, ITBP, SSB and Assam Rifles, to increase vigil along the international border against movement of fake Indian currency notes, narcotics, drugs, liquor, arms, ammunition and criminal elements.
The Central government also ordered sealing of international border at least one day prior to the day of poll in the border areas and the Home Ministry will hold consultation with the Defence Ministry and request Assam Rifles and Rashtriya Rifles to ensure effective area domination in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, respectively.
India shares international borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
To prevent illegal and criminal activities through coastal areas during the general elections, the Home Ministry will soon approach the Defence Ministry to sensitise the Coast guard and Indian Navy to increase the extra vigil in coastal areas during the Lok Sabha polls.
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal have coastlines.