New Delhi: Following threats by poll personnel in West Bengal that they won't conduct elections in West Bengal unless central forces are deputed for security here, the Election Commission on Wednesday decided to replace state police force at all polling booths here for the remaining three phases of Lok Sabha election 2019.
West Bengal has seen poll-related violence in each of the four phases of voting that have taken place so far. While a large number of locals had threatened to boycott elections unless central forces are deployed, poll officials too demanded that security be assured for a peaceful election here.
Now, as many as 660 companies of Central Armed Police Force will be on duty to maintain law and order across polling stations in West Bengal for the remaining three phases of voting. It is further reported that this number may be increased to 700 - the highest ever in West Bengal's history for a single phase. A number of CAPF companies will especially be deployed in constituencies in Maoist-infested/western zone districts of Bengal like East, West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia & Jhargram which goes to polls in the sixth phase. This is to prevent any pre-poll violence in the area.
While voting has so far been peaceful in almost every state, West Bengal has seen unfortunate incidents of violence. In the most-recent phase of voting last Monday, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party cadre clashed in Asansol. BJP accused TMC goons of preventing its polling agents from leaving their homes while TMC hit back by saying it was BJP that was undermining the elections.
Deploying central forces for the remaining phases of polling in the state is being seen as a rebuke to the state government under Mamata Banerjee as many feel she has been unable to ensure security of not just voters at large but also polling personnel.
(Reporting from Kolkata by Pooja Mehta/Zee Media Bureau)