Bengal Police helping TCM rig counting, alleges BJP

A day before the votes for the Lok Sabha elections are counted, the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party today alleged that the State police was trying its best to undermine the vote counting process in order to give an unfair advantage to the Trinamool Congress. Senior BJP leader Shishir Bajoria, who coordinates […]

A day before the votes for the Lok Sabha elections are counted, the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party today alleged that the State police was trying its best to undermine the vote counting process in order to give an unfair advantage to the Trinamool Congress.

Senior BJP leader Shishir Bajoria, who coordinates with the Election Commission on behalf of the party, submitted a document allegedly containing lists of police officers who would infiltrate the counting centres in plain clothes in order to “intimidate counting agents of rival parties”. He claimed that the list had been given to his party by “honest police officers.”

Bajoria said that during the meeting with the Election Commission, he highlighted the “post-election violence and the non-adherence to rules” in engaging the workforce for counting by the Trinamool Congress Government. He claimed that there was evidence that the State administration was engaging “casual staff” in the vote counting duties, which is against norms.

“We are getting news from some constituencies that in complete disregard of the guidelines, there has been large-scale empanelment of such non-permanent/ casual employees,” the BJP said in a representation to the CEO.

In Sandeshkhali where Section 144 was imposed immediately after the polls on June 1, the State Police, along with platoons of Rapid Action Force and Central forces, raided the houses of local BJP leaders. Women in the Sarberia area protested vehemently and alleged that the police had been torturing the menfolk of the villages, due to which the men had run away.

“The police action is forcing the men to go underground. The aim is to ensure that the BJP is not able to put up its counting agents,” BJP’s Basirhat candidate Rekha Patra told The Daily Guardian.

The police action on the women of Sandeshkhali prompted the National Commission for Women to write to the Election Commission, seeking its permission to go to Sandeshkhali for a spot inquiry.

Lawyer and BJP leader Priyanka Tibrewal approached the Calcutta High Court and the Election Commission to seek protection for the Sandeshkhali women from the State police.
“The State police have acted as agents of the ruling party and at Bermajur in the said area of Sandeshkhali, the police entered the houses of some of the victims late midnight and conducted “search” led by local goons.

“On account of the aforesaid incidents and partisan approach adopted by the state police, locals of the said area have lost confidence in the local police to protect their life and property. There is grave apprehension that there will be further violence post elections in the said area and the local police will remain mute spectators.

“There is grave urgency in the matter since the aforesaid egregious acts of violence and intimidation by the goons of the ruling party aided by the state police are continuing till date.

Hence, I request you to deploy Central Armed Police Forces in the said area to prevent any untoward incident and any further incident of violence post elections,” Tibrewal said.
The BJP and the Left Front both approached the Calcutta High Court today highlighting apprehensions of irregularities in the counting process.

BJP candidates Pranat Tudu from Jhargram and Rekha Patra from Basirhat approached the Calcutta High Court to seek protection from any coercive action since the State Police had filed cases alleging that the candidates had attacked on the polling day. On polling day, Pranat Tudu was attacked by Trinamool Congress supporters. His security personnel sustained injuries.

“The police have filed a false case against me. I was not even present at the spot,” said Rekha Patra.

After the Calcutta High Court granted protection to both the candidates, the BJP’s Leader of the Opposition wrote on social media site X: “The West Bengal Government under the TMC regime is becoming quite a champion in getting slaps from the Hon’ble Courts. Today they made a hat-trick of getting slapped from the Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta when their evil attempts to harass and implicate Dr. Pranat Tudu (BJP candidate; Jhargram), Smt. Rekha Patra (BJP candidate; Basirhat) and the BJP counting agents of Tamluk Lok Sabha Constituency in false criminal cases for influencing the counting were foiled by Judicial intervention. As rightly argued for the petitioners’ Advocate that there is no more Police inaction in this State but Police excess. I heartily welcome the orders passed by the Court for salvaging Democracy from the clutches of the errant State and its Police machinery.”

Election Commission officials said counting for the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal would be conducted in 55 centres under a tight security cover of 92 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces. Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal, said that these 55 centres would have 418 counting rooms. The total number of counting tables would be 4,944.

The average counting rounds in these 55 counting centres will be 17, with the maximum and minimum number of rounds to range between 9 and 23. A three-tier security layer in and around the counting centres in West Bengal has been put in place.

The innermost tier of security within the counting centres would be managed only by the Central Armed Police Forces personnel and one company of CAPF would be deployed at each such centre. The second and third tier of the security layer will be managed by the State police forces, poll panel officials said.

They said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 would be imposed in an area of 200 metres of radius. CCTV cameras have been installed at each counting centre, including the counting halls.

The footage of these CCTV cameras would be preserved for possible counting-related irregularities in future.

The CPIM leadership also urged the Election Commission to ensure that under no circumstance anyone could enter the counting centres by producing fake identity cards. The party has also requested the Commission to ensure the security of the counting agents within the polling station.

CPIM State secretary Md Salim also met the CEO along with party candidates and asked him to ensure that the counting of votes was fair and there was no rigging, “as what happened during the panchayat elections” in the State.

“The election officers should ensure that no outsider is allowed in the counting halls and all IDs of counting staff are checked thoroughly,” Salim said.

To manage post-election violence, nearly 400 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) companies, consisting of more than 40,000 personnel, would remain in West Bengal until June 19, sources said.


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