Security beefed up to ensure free and fair Tripura polls

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Agartala, Feb 21: With 25,000 armed personnel, including 200 companies of central paramilitary forces, aerial surveillance, electronic monitoring and micro-observers in place, Tripura gets ready for its Assembly polls under an unprecedented security cover. As a part of the security measures, aerial surveillance has started from today. According to Director General of Police K T D Singh, besides aerial surveillance across all remote places, about hundreds of check gates along the border of all 60 constituencies and at strategic points have been installed. The extensive checking and operations at the ground as well as the exercise of air surveillance by helicopters would start with the campaigning ending at 4pm today, Mr Singh said.

"About 25,000 men in uniform, including central paramilitary personnel, have been deployed across the state. But we cannot disclose the number of booths considered vulnerable and very vulnerable for strategic reason," Mr Singh ssaid and added the central forces would be deployed in all 2391 polling stations. There would be massive security arrangements in and around the polling booths as well as on the roads for movement of voters to and from the polling booths. There would be no scope for voters to complain later that he or she has not gone to the booth for fear of security, he pointed out.

As many as 200 companies of additional central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state for providing foolproof security to the voters about a week before to ensure no pre-poll violence and the forces would remain till counting was over, Mr Singh informed. In addition, the micro-observers of the commission would be posted in front of polling booths and they will be working under the central observers and in fact 12 micro-observers each were already assigned for the 60 assembly constituencies to keep a close watch on the polling booths.

According to Chief Electoral Officer Dr G S F G Ayyangar, this is the first time that micro-observers have been deployed in any state to ensure smooth and peaceful polling. He also pointed out that the movements of inter-constituency would be restricted for all the people, including the candidates and party leaders from this afternoon and escort vehicles of the candidates would be withdrawn at the same time.

Special search teams have been made to identify and remove suspected outsiders from the state to ensure trouble free elections, he informed and added that vehicles without a pass from the competent authority would be seized from tomorrow. "For smooth conduct of elections we required 3000 improvised EVMs, but we already have 3600 in stock," Dr Ayyanger said.

Meanwhile, to overcome the communication problems between polling booths and administrative centres, ECI has made some special arrangements for uninterrupted communication on the polling day. All polling booths have figured in a common statewide network through landline telephone, Wireless Local Loop (WLL), mobile telephony or wireless sets and there would be no polling booth not connected to the election department headquarters at Agartala.

"In addition we will have free and authorised access to the communication network of CRPF, BSF and police and BSNL authority have already been given 600 cell one SIMs, which would be provided to the polling parties," Dr Ayyanger underlined. Altogether 14 polling parties-- seven in Dhalai, five in North and two in West Tripura district-- had started today, a day before the scheduled departure.

UNI

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