For the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, 29 companies of the Central forces are being moved from Jangalmahal area to North Bengal. In total, 49 companies of Paramilitary forces will be deployed in the first phase, a highly placed source told The Indian Express on Thursday.
“As many as 49 companies of central forces will be deployed in the first phase, while 29 companies of the Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) are being moved from Jangalmahal area to North Bengal for the first phase of the elections,” said a senior official, who is involved with the Bengal Lok Sabha elections.
The 29 companies of the CRPF will be moved to North Bengal in a phase-wise manner. Forces will be withdrawn from places like Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore and Jhargram districts, which together form the Jangalmahal area.
A CRPF personnel posted in the Jhargram area said they were informed about the decision at a very short notice. A portion of the paramilitary forces from the Jangalmahal area will reach North Bengal by Friday, said a source.
However, the West Bengal government fears that the withdrawal of central forces from these areas may create problems, as in their absence there are chances of Maoists entering Bengal from Jharkhand border areas, and which might have an impact during the election, said sources.
They added that there was a huge requirement of paramilitary forces during the polls, and they needed to move constantly from one place to another. Apart from Bengal, several other states are going to polls on April 11, and where adequate number of forces are required as well.
As per reports, a few days ago the Ministry of Home Affairs had written to the state government to pull out central forces from Jangalmahal area to use them for election duty.
The state government fears that the move may re-ignite Maoist problems in the region. West Bengal will have election in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, the highest number of phases along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
This is for the first time that election will be held in seven phases in Bengal. Lok Sabha elections have previously been held in a maximum of five phases in 2009 and 2014.
Bengal is going to polls in seven phases because the state required more central forces.
“The Election Commission knew this state needed more central forces, hence, a seven-phase election was declared for Bengal, unlike Telangana and Andhra Pradesh,” Vivek Dube, special police observer, had said earlier.
He had said a longer poll schedule would make it easier for the central forces to move.