Calcutta HC demands requisition of over 82,000 Central Forces

HC slams West Bengal State Election Commission for inadequate Central Forces deployment for upcoming panchayat election

| Updated: 22 June, 2023 12:47 am IST
Calcutta High Court

KOLKATA: Terming ‘thoroughly inadequate’ the Calcutta high court on Wednesday directed the state election commission to requisition more than 82,000 central forces personnel within 24 hours.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam slammed the commission’s decision to deploy only 22 companies of central forces and told the State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha that “if it is difficult for him to take orders, he can step down”.

Citing the increasing number of districts and voters, the HC directed the commission to requisition more than 82,000 central forces within 24 hours.

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According to reports, in the 2013 panchayat election, which was held in five phases, the West Bengal government had to deploy 825 companies of central forces after the then State Election Commissioner Mira Pandey approached the Supreme Court.

Kolkata HC’s latest observation comes after the Supreme Court of India refused to interfere with the HC’s order regarding the deployment of central forces in panchayat elections. In response, the West Bengal state election commission asked the central government to send 22 companies of the central force for the entire state.

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The state government reasoned that the deployment of 22 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) was in accordance with the 22 districts in West Bengal. Each company of CAPF consists of 80 personnel. Incidentally, the 22 districts will have approximately 62 thousand booths.

Speaking to The New Indian, Dilip Ghosh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president, said, “The state government never wanted the central force to come here and help in conducting a peaceful election. After the Supreme Court’s order, they were compelled to ask for central force and they are doing it.”

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On asking about the deployment of central forces, Ghosh said, “We are not dependent on the central force, our aim is a fair and peaceful election and we demand that the central forces do that. People are not scared to come out and vote. TMC knows that people are no longer with them.”

Sujan Chakraborty, senior CPI(M) leader, stated, “The Election Commission is playing with people’s safety. They want to be obedient to the ruling party. Every district will have only one company, what does that mean? There are 6000+ booths in south 24 Parganas, where at least three have died during the nomination period.”

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“One leader of TMC got Z category security, which is equivalent to half a company for his security; Abhishek Banerjee had 2500 police during his Jono Joar Yatra which is equivalent to 30 companies; CM gets security, which is equal to 30 companies, but for 6000+ booths only one company. It is evident from here that the state government’s only concern is the aunt and her nephew. The state election commission has miserably failed,” Chakraborty said.

In West Bengal, elections were always a festival. Trinamool forces are polluting this very festival of democracy,” the veteran left leader observed.

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The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, stated that the state election commission never thought it necessary to deploy central forces.

Shantanu Sen, TMC Rajya Sabha MP, said, “Our state election commission never thought it was necessary because they were competent enough to hold the election peacefully with the existing infrastructure.”

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