Calcutta HC doubts adequacy of security arrangements

The Asian Age.

Metros, Kolkata

CPI (M) lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya vehemently opposed the security arrangements.

Calcutta High Court

Kolkata: Expressing its surprise, the Calcutta high court has questioned the adequacy of the Mamata government’s security arrangements for the panchayat elections after the state government submitted its report detailing the deployment of police personnel.

On Tuesday, state advocate general Kishore Dutta filed the report before the division bench of Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee, informing that the government would provide 71,500 cops for the rural polls.

Each booth will be covered by an armed policeman and another carrying stick.

Mr Dutta told the judges that around 61,000 would be armed police personnel while 10,000 cops would be in the rank of sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inpsectors along with 500 inspectors. They would be assisted by 81,000 civic volunteers who would also be deployed for poll duty.

He elaborated that there would be 2,000 police personnel drawn from other states. According to him, a total of 80,000 police personnel would carry sticks for protection during the panchayat polls. CPI (M) lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya vehemently opposed the security arrangements.

He argued that the police strength was not sufficient for a peaceful poll in view of the violence in the nominations phase.

Hearing both sides, the bench asked Mr Dutta if he considered deployment of 71,500 cops in 47,100 booths was enough. The bench asked whether one armed cop and one cop carrying stick would be adequate for a booth.

The bench then wanted to know from the West Bengal State Election Commission’s lawyer Shaktinath Mukhopad-hyay whether the state poll panel was satisfied with the force strength and deployment and if the state poll panel would seek the central para-military forces for deployment.

Mr Dutta reasoned that providing security was the task of the government and the state poll panel. Mr Bhattacharyya countered him saying that all parties should be consulted for the security arrangments. The division bench will hear the matter on May 10.