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No Central forces for UP poll duty

india Updated: Oct 21, 2006 21:49 IST

Unarmed home guards to take on criminals

UNARMED HOME guards will take on the might of the mafia and criminal gangs during the urban local bodies poll as the Central government has expressed its inability to provide Central Para-Military Forces (CPMF) for election duty.

Communication regarding this by the Central government has set alarm bell ringing in the State Election Commission as well as the State Home Department.

Fearing violence during the election, the state government had written to the Centre to provide 25 companies of CPMF for deployment in the sensitive districts.

The state police are already under pressure as a large force has been deployed in the districts to maintain law and order during the ongoing festivals and fairs.
Now, the state government has been left with no other option but to fall on the home guards for election duty. Over 85,000 home guard jawans would be deployed in the districts for all the three phases of poll. These unarmed and poorly trained jawans would be deputed at the polling booths, on roads manning the movement of vehicles and at the spots where ballot papers would be counted.

The mafia and criminal gangs, armed with sophisticated firearms, have already jumped into election fray supporting one candidate or the other contesting for mayor, chairman and corporator posts. In several districts, rival gangs are not seeing eye-to-eye and the poll panel fears violence on the poll day. In such a situation it would be a Herculean task for these jawans, armed with just a baton, to counter the threat of the mafia, said a senior police officer. Few jawans are trained to operate firearms but they might have forgotten it as, after recruitment, they have not undergone any further training, he said.

It may be mentioned that even Governor TV Rajeswar had directed the poll panel to ensure deployment of CPMF in sensitive districts, including Etawah, Meerut, Aligarh, Moradabad, Varanasi, Bareilly, Kannauj, JP Nagar, Mau, Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Mirzapur, Mainpuri, Gonda, Basti, Etah, Kanpur Nagar and Ferozabad.

State Election Commissioner Aparmita Prasad Singh said the poll panel had written to the State government to requisition CPMF from the Centre but the Centre has refused to give them. On Saturday, Joint Secretary (Police), Government of India, BN Gaur told the State Election Commissioner that no CPMF would be provided to UP. Gaur told Singh that the Centre does not provide CPMF for local bodies election.

Police Department officials said the Centre has assured to provide 12 companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF). These forces would be not deployed on election duty but would be stationed as a reserve force in sensitive districts, the officers said.

The state is left with 102 companies of PAC and district police. Out of this 74 companies have been placed under the charge of various DIGs, Range and seven companies under IGPs of various zones. To meet the crisis the police department has decided to depute 581 inspectors and 135 sub-inspectors, who are undergoing training, on election duty.