EC asks to review vulnerable locations in poll-bound Assam

The Election Commission has directed the authorities in Assam to review "vulnerable locations" and prepare the poll security plan from the grassroot level keeping in mind the weaker sections.

PTI| Updated: Mar 22, 2016, 19:18 PM IST

Guwahati: The Election Commission has directed the authorities in Assam to review "vulnerable locations" and prepare the poll security plan from the grassroot level keeping in mind the weaker sections.

Assam goes to poll on April 4 and April 11.

District and state level officials had been directed to "comprehensively review and reassess vulnerable locations" which will be under focus of the Commission, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters here today.

The main intention of the Commission is to protect the weaker sections so that nobody could intimidate or influence them with money or threat, he said.

"The authorities have already identified vulnerable areas. These places will be covered by central police forces, which have been deployed in the state since March 15 in a phased manner," Zaidi said.

Zaidi, who was on a two-day visit to Assam along with the other members of the Commission to review the poll preparedness, met political parties, district authorities and senior state government officials.

He said the Commission was overall satisfied with the state election machinery and the law enforcing authority, but it is "not complacent" and trying to fill the gaps, if any.

Asked about the biggest challenge in holding elections in Assam compared to other states, Zaidi said, "There are many geographical and social issues, besides security and law and order of the state."

"Along with these complexities, the state has extremism, political rivalries and formation of groups as other challenges. We have taken note of these," he said.

Assam usually has a history of high turnout of voters, of around 80 per cent, Zaidi said and hoped that this time it would be "highest ever".

The CEC said the political parties raised issues like seizure of illegal arms and deposition of licensed arms, specially in identified areas, check in movement of cash and liquor, containing possible intimidation and threat to voters and strict action against violators.

The political parties also requested the Commission to check usage of black money and distribution of gifts, especially in tea garden areas, Zaidi said.

The authorities have seized cash worth Rs 7.12 crore and five lakh litres of liquor so far across different places.

"We have formed 389 flying squads and 364 static teams and set up 355 check posts," he said.

Out of 32,003 licensed arms in the state, 23,797 have been deposited and 514 have been impounded, while process for deposition for the rest is on, Zaidi said.

"Over 3,000 non-bailable warrants have been executed till today and around 4,556 are still pending, which will be executed soon.

DEOs and SPs have been asked to identify criminals, hooligans and anti-social elements. All such persons should be kept under close watch and preventive actions should be taken," he added.

With a focus that no voter should be intimidated, the ECI has asked authorities to take action against any possible instances of paid news cases, Zaidi said.