As the Election Commission (EC) announced the dates for one of the longest phase of Lok Sabha polls ever, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also pitched in Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Ministry of Railways, so that the security forces have a smooth run.
To ensure that forces are “not harassed for time”, their movement has been sketched meticulously with plans to keep a track of them through GPS devices and also use UAV’s in areas affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
Apart from local police and battalions already deployed in the states, at least 12,000 central forces will be on the move for 72 days during which elections will be held between April 7 and May 12.
The EC has already said that all LWE-affected districts in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh would go to polls simultaneously on April 10, 17 and 24.
The DoT will give 2,000 closed user group (CUG) SIM cards to company commanders to tide over communication problems when the forces move. These would be “permanent numbers that would be active for the election period.”
“We have decided to customise the kind of arms and weapons to be carried by security personnel. As the forces will not face the same kind of hostility on the ground everywhere, so the number of weapons being carried by the men will also be rationalised. For example, forces in Gujarat will not need to be equipped with the kind of assault weapons that they will require in a Maoist-affected Chattisgarh,” said Dilip Trivedi, DG, CRPF.
Railways have also been asked to reserve train berths for the jawans. Different strategies have been chalked out for LWE areas, Jammu and Kashmir and north-east parts of the country.
“For rebel-hit areas, forces who have already worked in such locations and are familiar with the terrain and operational requirements will be deputed. Pre-induction of forces in the difficult areas has already started,” said the officer. He added that during the last Lok Sabha elections, the most common grouse of the forces was transport, accommodation and food.