Sri Lanka deploys 68,000 security personnel for Prez poll

Amid widespread concerns over escalating violence in the run up to Tuesday`s presidential polls, law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka have geared up for elections deploying over 68,000 policemen near polling centres.

Updated: Jan 24, 2010, 15:55 PM IST

Colombo: Amid widespread concerns over escalating violence in the run up to Tuesday`s Presidential Election, law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka on Sunday geared up for elections deploying over 68,000 policemen and warning against public gatherings near polling centres.
Under the Presidential Election Act, 1981, any person indulging in rally or meeting would be dealt with immediate affect, senior DIG of the police elections unit Gamini Navaratna, said.

Over 68,000 police personnel have been selected to carry out election duty in connection with the January 26 Presidential Election, police officials said.

The police will be supplemented by additional support from member of the armed forces.

All police teams have been given strict orders to arrest people gather within a 500 metres radius of any polling centre and also to apprehend any person found to be intimidating voters.

The police have warned that they will be compelled to shoot on sight if any group or individual ignores the law and attempts to incite violence during the Presidential Elections.

If the police warning to anyone attempting to create law and order problem like damaging property at a polling booth goes unheeded, then the personnel will have orders to open fire, Navaratna said.

Navaratna also said there are no immediate plans to have a police curfew during the elections as, according to him, they do not expect any serious mass scale incidents to break out, a local media reports said.

Special additional security arrangements have been put in place in the north and eastern provinces, Inspector General of Police Mahinda Balasuriya told reporters.

Meanwhile, campaigning for crucial Presidential Elections, which is expected to be a most closely contested one, ended midnight yesterday.

Election secretariat has instructed removal of the posters and cut outs of all candidates contesting the January 26 elections.

Since November 23, a total of 889 incidents of election related violence has been reported and 351 people have been arrested in connection with these acts.

Besides four deaths, many people suffered injuries during the weeks of election campaign related violence.