The capital witnessed the ‘quietest’ and most hassle-free polling on Thursday despite the estimated odds and a high voter turnout, Delhi Police and Election Commission (EC) said.
Delhi going to polls on the same day as four of its neighbours had been quite a concern for both agencies. The Delhi Police took control of the capital’s security and did not take any intelligence input from other security forces.
As a result, senior police officials told HT, the capital fared better in terms of election-related law and order issues during the 16th Lok Sabha elections compared to Delhi Assembly Elections held in early December last year.
According to Delhi Police statistics pertaining to both elections, the total number of calls received by their Central Police Control Room (CPCR) had been more or less the same — the usual average of around 24,000 calls out of which around 5,000 were distress calls.
The difference lay when it came to calls pertaining to law and order issues at polling booths.
“The assembly elections, which were held in December, had generated 986 election-related calls a majority of which were to report minor scuffles and arguments at polling booths. On Thursday, not even a single call pertaining to law and order issues at polling booths or centres was received,” said a senior police officer.
In Delhi, an estimated 35,000 security personnel divided into four separate kinds of reserves with four platoons, were deployed across each of its eleven districts in addition to Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) and hundreds of flying squads.
Many voters whom HT spoke to said they were pleasantly surprised with the evidently helpful attitude being exhibited by police personnel who were on duty.
From holding mobile phones for voters who forgot that these weren’t allowed inside polling station to taking care of children as their parents exercised their franchise, police personnel were seen helping voters across the capital.
“They were very courteous; especially to women and senior citizens,” said Asma Qureishi, 30, a housewife at Jamia Nagar near Okhla. “This is one face that the Delhi Police don’t usually exhibit in our area.”
“There was a head constable on duty at my polling station,” said Sanjay Sharma, 68, from New Rajinder Nagar. “He was helpful from the moment I entered the building to the time I had voted and had been escorted out by him.”
Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vijay Dev said the courteous behaviour of police personnel deployed at polling stations was due to the training and sensitisation given to them prior to the electoral process. “I met the commissioner of police and we decided that every police official, from the top brass to the SHOs, will get training. We will continue the process,” he said.
Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law & order) who formulated and ensured the deployment plan was executed to satisfaction, however, was unavailable for comment.