At least 125 companies of central police forces — CRPF, SSB, CISF and ITBP — will be deployed in West Bengal by next week, senior officials of the Election Commission said today. The announcement follows West Bengal minister of state for labour Jakir Hossain’s injury in a bomb attack in District Murshidabad. The commission will announce poll dates for the state soon.
“Usually, central forces are deployed after the election dates are announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force. But this year the first few batches of central forces are being deployed even before the dates have been announced,” said a senior official of the election panel.
With polls around the corner, clashes have been frequently breaking out between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its principal opponent and challenger the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The opposition parties met the poll body officials in January and expressed their concerns over the alleged rise in political violence and deterioration of law and order in the state.
“We had an in-depth interaction with political parties. Most had concerns about the law and order situation. They spoke of high voltage electioneering which could precipitate into political violence and threaten to vitiate the electoral process,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had told the media in January, adding, “central forces shall be deployed and shall be deployed in advance.”
However, at least 12 companies of central forces are expected to reach the state over the weekend this year. Another 113 companies are expected to reach by 25 February.
A senior poll panel official said, the first batch that is expected to be deployed by next week will include 60 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 30 companies of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), 25 companies of BSF and five companies each of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), he said.
While at least nine companies each would be sent to two districts of Jangalmahal, in Birbhum at least five companies would be stationed. In Kolkata at least three companies of SSB are likely to be deployed. Five companies each would be sent to Barrackpore, Asansol and Chandanagar while Howrah and Salt Lake would get around four companies each.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the first few companies of central forces were deployed five days after the election dates were announced.