The Election Commission bosses in New Delhi are maintaining a 'dawn to dawn' vigil on the law and order situation in Bengal with direct and daily liaison with the district administration, driving down the graph of political violence in the districts.
EC is directly keeping a tab on the districts, through the chief electoral officer of the state. Reports are being sent from 6 am to 6 am for a period of 24 hours, daily to the EC office.
"We seek reports from each district of Bengal everyday. We have a detailed format, which records the smallest of incidents, apart from arms haul and executing non-bailable warrants. We are also keeping a watch on media reports on a daily basis," Vinod Zutshi, deputy chief election commissioner told HT over phone from Delhi.
EC's grip on the situation has come as a pleasant surprise in a state that was sliding down the violence graph fast in 2010 with a few deaths everyday from political violence.
In fact, the spectre of a blood bath before and during the elections was so widely felt that blood banks were advised to store blood in excess so that they could be used before and during the polls.
The turnaround has been so dramatic that the chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi lauded the administration on March 23 for the performance.
In early January Quraishi had met all the DMs and SPs and highlighted three points for emphasis – seizure of illegal weapons, preventive arrests and execution of non-bailable arrest warrants.
"Through sustained pressure EC has been able to instill a sense of fear among the political parties and administration for the first time in Bengal," said a bureacucrat in Writers' Buildings.
Already 200 companies (about 20,000) of central paramilitary forces were deployed in West Bengal more than a month ago. In January while the administration asked for about 20-25 companies, the EC ordered 100, and then added another 100 in the next month.
One such confidential report in the possession of HT highlights the details. The report of March 2, of Burdwan district report details the illegal arms and explosive seized, number of persons under preventive detention, execution of non-bailable warrants and the number pending.
The report also highlights incident of violence with full details. Each incident of violence in dealt in separate sheets. Even whether onlookers or others are injured has been recorded. Significantly, political and communal affiliations of the persons involved are also highlighted.
"EC officials are taking to tasks anyone, be it DM or SP if ones fails to carry out its directives. On regular occasions, a number of them have been pulled up. The Delhi officers are often getting directly in touch with us," said a police super of one of the South Bengal districts.
Recently, the Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti, Kolkata Police Commissioner was removed, after EC pointed out that he has spent over three years in the same post.
Before EC took the law and order situation in its grip, even Governor M K Narayanan had repeatedly expressed his concern for the deteriorating law and order.