Election centres in areas that recently witnessed communal tension are likely to be declared “sensitive” in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections. While the process of assessing the sensitivity of the areas has been already set in motion, it will be formally conducted once the election dates are announced, Delhi Election Commission sources told Newsline.
While elections dates are likely to be finalised in the second half of December, Delhi is expected to go polls in the first half of February, sources said.
Pockets in Trilokpuri that witnessed communal clashes in October, Bawana that was simmering with communal tension around Muharram earlier this month and Northeast Delhi’s Babarpur where no violence took place but communal sentiments were aroused after the carcass of a cow was allegedly found in the area, are expected to be among designated sensitive or hypersensitive polling stations.
During the December 2013 Assembly elections, 426 of the 12,010 polling station across 2,537 locations in Delhi were identified as “critical polling booths”.
According to Election Commission sources, the exercise of assessing areas is being conducted de novo. Along with greater security deployment, the sensitive booths will also have enhanced CCTV surveillance, webcasting and continuous videography.
“The exercise will be carried out in a professional manner with visits by officers and inputs from intelligence agencies. Areas that have recently witnessed violence as well as those which can be potentially tense will be identified. This exercise was carried out during the last election as well, but this time we will be more guarded,” an official said.
Citing the example of Trilokpuri, sources said, an entire area cannot be declared sensitive. “Pockets were unrest was reported will be studied, and depending on the findings, a certain number of polling stations may be designated as sensitive,” a source said.
Sensitive booths will be protected by Central forces apart from the local police.
Besides communal tension, the Election Commission will take into account conflicts between different communities, castes and will also check on disproportionate voting from particular castes while building its security deployment plan.