With no end to the stand-off between alliance partners -- the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- over sharing of seats for the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, the Mumbai police seem to be prepared to handle any eventuality that may arise out of a failed truce.
Highly placed sources in the Mumbai police told HT a special election cell of 12 policemen, headed by a deputy commissioner of police (DCP)-level officer, has been set up to ensure seamless communication with the municipal corporation and the election commission in the run-up to the elections.
Mumbai police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe said that DCP Ravindra Davade, from the quick response team (QRT) - a commando unit - has been asked to head the cell. “Davade is being assisted by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP), 4-5 officers (inspectors and sub-inspectors) and constables,” Dudhe said.
He, however, dismissed suggestions that the turf war between Sena and BJP was the trigger for the formation of the special cell. “The police will do its part to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections, irrespective of the political undercurrents,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources said the election cell has been given the responsibility of collating information from 93 police stations across the city on a daily basis and sending the report to the director general of police (DGP) office. “They will report all matters relating to the election -- from violation of the model code of conduct by parties/candidates to incidents of violence related to the elections -- to the DGP. The DGP’s office, in turn, will send the reports to the election commission,” sources said.
Sources, however, made it clear the duty of the cell is restricted to preparing reports and it cannot initiate action for violations. “As usual, the police stations will initiate action in case of violations or violence,” sources said.
The cell will act as the nodal agency for the Mumbai police’s communication with the corporation. “They will be in touch with officials from the corporation for election updates,” sources said.
Sources, meanwhile, said the internal vigilance mechanism of the police has been strengthened in order to prevent allegations of bias during the elections. “It has been conveyed across ranks to desist from leanings and strictly adhere to the rule book. Any deviation will not be tolerated,” sources said. “Everyone is under supervision,” Dudhe said, confirming the development.
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