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Election security plan, randomisation of forces to be vetted by observers: EC to states

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New Delhi Mar 03: Special, general and police observers will jointly clear the election security plan and randomisation of state police and central armed police force personnel prepared by a panel of chief electoral officer, state police nodal officer and state CAPF coordinator, the Election Commission said on Wednesday.

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In a directive to all states and union territories, the poll panel said it had already instructed that a committee of state chief electoral officer, state police nodal officer and state CAPF coordinator will jointly decide the 'election security plan' and randomisation of state police and CAPF personnel.

'State deployment prepared by the state committee will be vetted by special, general and police observer(s) jointly wherever they have been deputed by the commission.

'In case any modification in the deployment plan is suggested by the special or police observer(s), the state deployment plan will be accordingly modified,' it said.

Similarly, deployment plan prepared by district election officer and SP jointly for district will be vetted by senior-most general or police observer jointly, it said.

In case any modification in the deployment plan is suggested by the general or police observer, the district deployment plan will be accordingly modified, it noted.

The poll panel had on February 26 announced the schedule for assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Separately, addressing a briefing meeting for observers to be deployed for the assembly elections, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora warned them that the commission will act 'swiftly and ruthlessly' in case anyone is found to be lax in performing their duties.

'The ECI shall not tolerate any willful lapses,' he reiterated.

Arora asked the observers to visit polling booths to check due facilitation to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and women voters to ensure the commission's commitment to principle of inclusive elections,' an official statement said.

Addressing the gathering, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said that in the forthcoming elections, more than 18 crore voters would be exercising their right of franchise.

Accounting for social distancing norms, more than 80,000 polling stations have been added. He said observers need to ensure proper direction to field-level officers so that EC's constitutional mandate is scrupulously fulfilled.

He called upon the observers for their active interventions and presence which could build confidence among the voters, especially in vulnerable areas, and make all efforts to curb money power or vices of liquor and freebies with complete involvement of all enforcement agencies.

Addressing the officers, Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar reminded the observers that their own conduct would be under scrutiny by the people, media and political entities.

The observers need to ensure exceptional conduct so that legitimacy and sanctity of the election is kept intact at any cost.

He said accessibility and visibility of observers, quality and timeliness of response has to be ensured to establish credibility.

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