Chennai, May 6 : Unprecedented security cover has been thrown in Tamil Nadu to ensure that the much-awaited May eight Assembly elections pass off peacefully.
Police sources said over one lakh security personnel, including 196 companies of paramilitary forces and state police, had been deployed throughout the state.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Naresh Gupta said deployment of 196 companies, including armed forces, was a big rise over past polls.
In the 2001 Assembly elections, 111 companies of para-military forces were deployed, while in 2004 Lok Sabha poll, it was 125 companies.
The companies included forces from the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Reserve Police personnel from neighbouring states.
These security personnel, accompanied by armed forces, had already been deployed in the districts and had taken up position in areas identified as ''sensitive'', police said.
Apart from this, hundreds of homeguards, ex-service men and retired police personnel were also summoned to assist the forces in providing security cover, the police added.
The sources said the 'high security drill' would commence from today and continue till counting of votes was completed on May 11.
The election authorities and police had identified 60 of the 234 constituencies as sensitive all over Tamil Nadu. In the city, 302 of the 5,928 polling booths were identified as sensitive and extra security cover had been provided in these booths. Police took out flag marches in a number of places to infuse confidence in people.
In the city alone, about 12,000 local police personnel and 1,500 from paramilitary forces had been pressed into bandobust duty.
Apart from this, a sizeable number of strike and commando forces were also being kept in readiness to meet any eventuality on polling and counting days.
The authorities had formed 360 patrolling teams and earmarked eight teams per constituency to escort officials, who would carry electronic voting machines and other materials to polling stations in the city. For the city and surroundings, with 19 Assembly constituencies, security measures were being monitored by an Assistant Police Commissioner of Police.
Round the clock security would be provided from tomorrow at the four counting centres in the city at Anna University, Presidency College, Loyola College and Queen Marys college, sources added.
More than 5,000 anti-social elements including criminals against whom arrest warrants had been issued by various courts had been taken into preventive custody.
As part of security measures, the authorities ordered the closure of all the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) retail outlets and bars attached to them from 1700 hrs today to 1700 hrs on May 8, and for the whole day on May 11, counting day.