The personnel of the Central forces have been authorised to shoot, even without orders, in the case of an armed attack meant to disrupt the May 10 polls in the ultra-red belt of West Bengal.
“The final phase of polls is the most crucial and we are not taking chances,” said TB Rao, Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “In case of an armed attack, even the constables have been empowered to shoot. They will not need orders from their superiors for self defence or to protect government property.”
West Midnapore, where the seven constituencies of Gopiballavpur, Midnapore, Shalboni, Garbeta, Jhargram, Nayagram and Binpur go to polls, is the epicenter of the high-level security arrangements.
“Never in the history of elections in India has this been done,” said Rao. “West Midnapore alone will have 360 companies, which is a record. The entire poll process in Assam needed 360 companies.”
Altogether, 1 lakh securityforces will be present in the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.
The number of securitymen deployed at each polling station will be six times larger. Instead of just four armed personnel as in the past, each polling station will have a platoon -- a minimum of 24 armed men,” said Rao.
Eighteen companies of Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), specialised in combating Maoists, have also been deployed in the forest areas of Jhargram and Lalgarh. Two helicopters from Kalaikunda airbase will keep vigil from the air.
According to officials, Central forces were ordered to show restraint in the five phases of elections and they did a commendable job. But now that they are facing the Maoists, it was necessary to change the rules.