Letter written by West Bengal government to CEO on Tuesday. Photo/ANI
Letter written by West Bengal government to CEO on Tuesday. Photo/ANI

WB govt writes to EC, asks to reconsider decision of not having local officer in charge of QRTs

ANI | Updated: May 14, 2019 18:09 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 14 (ANI): The West Bengal government on Monday wrote a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Aariz Aftab, asking for the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the state for 7th phase of Lok Sabha elections. The government further requested him to re-examine the decision of "not having a local officer in charge of Quick Response Teams (QRTs)".
"You will agree that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are deployed as reinforcements and extra resources in the joint effort for conducting free and fair elections. They need to have with them the local officers who know the locality and the situation, and can communicate with the voters whose democratic rights are to be protected," the letter written by Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary to Government of West Bengal read.
"I would, therefore, request that the decision for not having a local officer in charge of QRTs be re-examined. I would also most earnestly request that the CAPF officers and personnel be sensitised to the needs of the voters who are exercising their franchise, which would reduce the perceived need to resort to physical force against them," it added.
The letter stated that in the sixth phase of polling when QRT teams were not led by local officers there had been multiple lathi charges and firing by the central forces and goes on to state that there are rules which go against such deployment.
"The point to be noted is that multiple lathi charges and firing by the CAPF occurred during the sixth phase of polls, the only phase where no local officers led the Quick Reaction Teams. You may recall that we have already discussed the provisions of law and the specific directions of the ECI, which rule against such deployment. I would further place to you that apart from the rules and laws, forces from outside the State find it practically difficult to discharge their duties without the leadership of a local officer of the police," it read.
The letter then points out at the various instances where the CAPF had allegedly resorted to violence when it was not necessary.
"You will be aware of the incidents of firing by CAPF during the polls on I2th May i.e. yesterday. There were 5 such incidents (at Gopiballavpur, Bishnupur, Moyna, Bhagawanpur, and Sabong). In addition, there were reports of CAPF personnel behaving roughly with voters in the queue and in fact lathi charging them without apparent justification. There have been earlier complaints about the CAPF deployed using excessive force in maintaining law and order, to the extent that they have sometimes appeared to intimidate the voters."
The letter further reads, "Available reports indicate that during the 4th phase of polls, the CAPF opened fire in Panrui and Dubrajpur of Birbhum District, and also, without clear provocation, beat members of the public in places like Thanapara and Haringhata in Nadia District."
"During the 4th phase in Karimpur, Nadia, personnel of the 78th Battalion also charged at and beat voters who were standing more than 200 meters from the election booth. During the 5th phase, in Howrah Parliamentary Constituency, CAPF personnel used force upon a sitting Member of Parliament," it added.
The letter said that the CAPF personnel carrying arms have also entered booths, in contravention of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC)
West Bengal saw voting in six phases of the Lok Sabha elections and will vote in the seventh and the final phase on May 19 as well. The counting of votes will begin on May 23. (ANI)