Even before announcement of the Assembly elections, the Central forces would start reaching the state from Saturday on wards with 125 companies being deployed by 25 February.
The ministry of home affairs has made the deployment “for peaceful conduct of elections” and sent a directive in this regard to state home department and CEO office today.
These include CRPF (60 companies), CISF (5), BSF (25), SSB (30) and ITBP (5). To begin with, the central forces will conduct area domination and route marches in sensitive areas. Later on, these forces would work in tandem with the state police for ensuring peaceful and violence-free elections. The respective SPs have been asked to make necessary arrangements for accommodation, transportation and other logistics.
The Opposition parties in the state, particularly the BJP, have repeatedly demanded that central forces should be deployed in Bengal immediately so as to put an end to the alleged political violence and terror.
According to sources, 12 companies of central forces would reach the state tomorrow. Of which, five companies would be stationed in Birbhum and will conduct area domination in different parts of the district from Sunday followed by route marches in sensitive areas. The district magistrate has already been informed in this regard.
The commission is considering deploying a record number of central forces during the upcoming Assembly polls as there is a substantial rise in polling booths this time. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, 649 companies of central forces were deployed in the state while there were around 6,000 booths. This time, the number of booths has increased to 1,01,790 due to the Covid situation.
The Election Commission has already indicated that it will “closely coordinate” with the Bengal government to thrash out an effective mechanism for deployment of central forces during polls. It will monitor deployment patterns and ensure optimum use of central forces.
“There is always an allegation that central forces are not properly used. The local administration has to work in close coordination with EC and central agencies regarding deployment,” a senior EC official said.
Sources said up to 75 per cent of the police personnel in state and Kolkata police could be used for ensuring law and order during the polls.