WITH THIS, NUMBER OF LS SEATS UNDER POLICE OBSERVERS’ PURVIEW RISES TO 21
In view of the Opposition’s allegations of Trinamul strong-arm tactics, the Election Commission (EC) has brought 11 more Parliamentary constituencies in the state under the purview of the police observers.
The police observers will keep an eye on the functioning of the police in the run up to the polls and will finalise the deployment of security forces during the election, including that of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
The Commission had earlier on 21 March named eight police observers for nine Parliamentary constituencies in the state out of the total 42. On that occasion, while seven police observers were assigned one constituency each, one observer was given the charge of two constituencies, that is, the Burdwan East and Burdwan-Durgupar.
In its latest order issued on 1 April, the poll panel has now brought 11 more constituencies under watch but without raising the numbers of the police observers. The eight police observers named already, will now look after 21 constituencies spread over the nine districts of Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore, Hooghly and the South and North 24-Parganas.Post the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, most of these districts are considered Trinamul Congress strongholds and there have recent instances of the ruling party leaders issuing direct or indirect threats to the Opposition.
The Trinamul Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal asking party supporters to “poison CPI-M workers as is done to rats” and the Trinamul sitting MP from Dum Dum Saugata Roy advising party workers to capture poll booths and warn CPI-M cadres to refrain from electioneering, are two major examples.
The 11 new constituencies that have been brought under the purview of police observers are ~ Behrampore and Jangipur in Murshidabad, Bolpur in Birbhum, Arambagh in Hooghly, Asansol in Burdwan, Ghatal in West Midnapore, Bishnupur in Bankura, Mathurapur and Jadavpur in South 24-Parganas, Barrackpore and Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas. Of them, Bolpur is considered the fiefdom of Anubrata Mondal, while Saugata Roy is in the Lok Sabha poll fray from Dum Dum.With the latest changes, police observer Mr Indu Kumar Bhusan will now look after Behrampore, Mushidabad and Jangipur, Mr A Natarajan Bolpur and Birbhum, Mr Padmakar Santu Ranpise Hooghly, Burdwan East and Burdwan-Durgapur, Mr Kripa Nand Tripathi Ujela Purulia and Asansol, Mr Niket Kaushik Arambagh, Ghatal and Midnapore, Mr L C Bhartiya Bankura and Bishnupur, Mr A K Singh Joynagar, Mathurapur and Jadavpur, and Mr Arpit Shukla will be responsible for Bongaon, Barrackpore and Dum Dum.
The police observers will start arriving in the state from 5 April and send law and reports directly to the EC in New Delhi.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 4 April 2014.)