By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, April 20 (IANS) The Election Commission has taken a slew of measures including appointment of four central police observers to hold the third phase of polling in the Tripura East Lok Sabha constituency, where election was deferred to April 23, citing an “unconducive security situation”, an official said here on Saturday.
In an unprecedented move, the poll panel has appointed three central police observers and a special central police observer to closely oversee the use of security forces in polling in the mountainous tribal reserved parliamentary constituency.
“Plenty of forces, specially the central forces would be deployed in all the 1,645 polling stations in 1,349 locations, spread across six districts under the Tripura East Lok Sabha seat, on April 23,” Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sriram Taranikanti told IANS.
Refusing to disclose the number of additional central forces coming afresh to the state, the official said that polling agents of all the political parties and candidates and if necessary voters would also be provided security to facilitate smooth polling and casting of votes by all the eligible 1,257,944 voters, including 620,291 women electorate.
He said that FIRs were being filed by the Assistant Returning Officers against Presiding, Polling officers and political activists who indulged in malpractices during the first phase of polling in Tripura West Lok Sabha constituency on April 11.
“The police have been asked to arrest people involved in offences during the polling. They were being identified by studying webcasting, CCTV footage, official documents and complaints of the political parties,” the official said.
Taranikanti returned here on Friday after submitting reports on the wrongdoings and recommendations to the Election Commission on the first phase of polling for the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat.
He said that restrictions would be strictly implemented on the movement of private vehicles and political activists in and around the polling stations in the Tripura East constituency.
“Senior EC officials are often holding video conference with the top election and police officials to study the preparedness of the third phase of polling in Tripura,” an Election official told IANS on condition of anonymity and said that the EC wanted to hold the balloting in the Tripura East seat with foolproof measures.
A senior police official said that Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla, who had visited some poll bound districts on Friday, and other top police officials would start camping a day before the polling in Tripura East constituency to supervise all aspects of security measures.
The EC after deferring the election to the Tripura East Seat had also replaced Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Rajiv Singh with V.S. Yadav. As Yadav is now on leave, Inspector General of Police (Crime Branch) Puneet Rastogi is looking after Law and Order.
The EC had deferred the Tripura East Lok Sabha seat polling following separate reports by the Chief Electoral Officer, Special Central Police Observer Mrinal Kanti Das (a former Director General of Manipur Police), Returning Officer Vikas Singh (also District Magistrate and Collector of Dhalai District) and other intelligence inputs.
Tripura has two Lok Sabha constituencies. Polling in the Tripura West seat was held on April 11 and the EC deferred the voting in the Tripura East constituency from April 18 to April 23, citing “unconducive security situation”.
The political parties and candidates in Tripura East Lok Sabha constituency had resumed their campaign on Wednesday after the EC deferred Thursday’s polling.
The fresh campaign would end at 5 p.m. on Sunday.