District admn a worried lot
Criminal candidates rob officials of sleep
the Union Government’s decision to send five battalions of Central forces for the civic bodies’ election has failed to come as a big relief to an ill-prepared district administration as the demand-supply gap is likely to remain much the same.
The Thursday decision of the Centre apart, the fact is that the onus of manning polling centres will continue to lie mainly on lathi-wielding home guards. The decision has also put police officials in a piquant situation. Their worry is because of the sensitivity of civic poll and the large number of the criminals in the fray.
“How much effective the home guards will be it’s for everyone to assess and see. They are not prepared and trained to undertake such a big responsibility,” said a senior officer.
Highly placed sources told HT that the district administration had asked principal secretary (Home) to provide them with 25 companies of central forces. The authorities here were informed to manage “things” with home guards. Even the request to utilise the services of 12 companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) available here was turned down. The RAF was provided to the city police in view of Diwali and Id. The RAF personnel are slated to leave a day after the polling is held and the police authorities wanted to make use of their stay.
With no option in sight, the authorities have decided to allocate 20 home guards each to the police stations. Some police stations with sensitive polling booths have been given 25 home guards. In all, 3500 guards will be deployed at 1689 polling stations. Of these 629 booths are sensitive and 745 hypersensitive.
“The figures suggest that two home guards will be responsible for the security of a polling centre. This has never happened,” said another official. The officials here say the administration couldn’t get much time to plan action against criminals because of sudden announcement of the elections.
With a large number of criminals contesting the poll, there is every possibility that their active peers would indulge in foul play.
When Hindustan Times tried to contact District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava he was not available for his comments