At least 125 companies of central security forces are scheduled to arrive in West Bengal by February 25, a senior official at the office of the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said on Friday.
While one of the five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) companies scheduled for deployment in Birbhum was expected to arrive on Friday night, 12 companies are scheduled to reach Kolkata on Saturday.
According to sources, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs decided to send the troops to Bengal to maintain law and order during the election campaign. The state has a history of political violence in the run-up to elections. The polls this time are expected to be held in April or May.
Over the past several months, both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the BJP have accused each other of killing their workers. Sources said the central forces want to begin route marches in the areas of their deployment to build confidence among people.
According to the poll official, among the 125, there will be 60 CRPF companies, 30 companies of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), 25 Border Security Force (BSF) companies, and five companies each of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Of the 125, 18 companies will be deployed in Jhargram and Purulia, while six will be stationed in Darjeeling district. Five companies each will be deployed in the Malda, Murshidabad, Purba Medinipur, Paschim Medinipur, Birbhum, Barrackpore, Chandannagar and Asansol-Durgapur police commissionerate areas. Three SSB companies will be stationed in Kolkata.
“The district-wise list of companies of the CAPFs [Central Armed Police Force] has been sent by the CEO of West Bengal. The SPs [Superintendents of Police] and the CPs [Commissioners of Police] have been advised to take necessary action regarding their accommodation, transportation, and other logistics. We have sent the requisite guidelines,” said the official from the CEO’s office.
The Union home ministry has requested the state government to make all arrangements, including accommodation, for the central forces in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines. A nodal officer of the central forces will soon meet the state administration to discuss matters related to the deployment of the forces.
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