Election Commission set to replace state police with central forces inside polling booths of West Bengal in fifth phase

Amid widespread violence in West Bengal during the Loksabha elections, the election commission has decided to replace the state police with central forces inside polling booths for the fifth phase of the polls. Both public and opposition leaders have accused the state police of inactivity even when rules were allegedly before them.

The role of the state police will be limited to manning areas outside the polling booths.
Seven Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in the fifth phase that is scheduled on May 6.

State police will, however, be engaged in other poll booth-related duties like ensuring voters are lined up in queues and law and order is maintained outside polling booths. Besides this, 142 Quick Response Teams (QRT) of the central forces will be on standby to reach any place where there is a disruption of law and order in West Bengal.

Recent cases of violence on polling day:
Incidents of bombing and clashes between TMC and BJP supporters were reported in the fourth phase of polling for eight Lok Sabha seats of West Bengal on Monday. Clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured.

In Barabani, BJP candidate from Asansol and Union minister Babul Supriyo’s vehicle was vandalised allegedly by TMC workers outside a polling station, while in Dubrajpur area central security forces personnel reportedly opened fire in the air to disperse irate people who attacked them when they were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged central forces opened fire inside a polling booth in Birbhum. She claimed the BJP had “misused” the central forces to rig the elections.

News agency PTI reported that an EC official said that voters fled a polling station at Jemua in Bardhhaman-Durgapur constituency, where BJP leader SS Ahluwalia is in the fray, after being threatened by some people.