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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Taking no chances in Amritsar, Cong seeks two-layer CRPF ring

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 13, 2014
First Published: 11:28 IST(13/5/2014) | Last Updated: 12:02 IST(13/5/2014)

In the high-stakes poll battle in Amritsar, Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh wants to take no chances. Amid apprehensions that the fight between him and BJP’s Arun Jaitley may hinge on a narrow margin, the former chief minister’s team on Monday requested the Election Commission (EC) for deployment of two layers of central security forces at the counting stations.


Amarinder’s campaign incharge Rana Gurjit Singh submitted four request in this regard from Amarinder’s election agent Karanpal Sekhon to the Punjab chief electoral officer (CEO).

As per EC guidelines, the first layer is manned by personnel from central security forces such as the CRPF, the second by special police forces of the state — the Punjab Armed Police in this case — and the third and final layer by state police personnel.

The Congress alleged that the Amritsar district retur ning officer had let the local unit of CRPF man strong rooms on the first night after polling concluded on April 30, and it was only following a complaint from the party to the EC that an outside state battalion was moved in that night.

The party also expressed its apprehensions on the presence of state government employees inside the counting stations saying they are “susceptible to pressure” of the SAD-BJP alliance.

“We have demanded presence of only central government employees in counting stations as the state government staff is likely to be influenced through allurements or threats by the state government.

After the attack on advocate Vineet Mahajan, who had exposed nearly 7,000 forged votes in Amritsar North segment of BJP minister Anil Joshi, including the MLA’s own and those of his family, we foresee that they (SAD-BJP) can do anything on the counting day,” Rana Gurjit Singh said after meeting state CEO VK Singh.

In a letter to the EC, Amarinder’s election a g ent Karanpal Sekhon said there were reports of ad hoc employees of the state government being deputed for counting at Amritsar “with a lure that they will be regularised if they favour the BJP candidate”.

The party also demanded videography at all counting stations in the constituency. VK Singh, when contacted, said all strong rooms are already protected by the CRPF and they would continue to protect the counting hall till results are announced.

“Adequate CRPF companies were retained for this purpose, and the PAP and local police will secure the complexes from the outside,” he said.

On the demand for only central employees at polling stations, the CEO said as per standard rules every table will have a central government officer as a micro-observer.

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