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State govt seeks 119 companies of paramilitary forces for Assembly Elections

SHILLONG:

As the state is gearing up its preparation for the upcoming 2023 assembly polls, the government has sought deployment of over 119 companies of paramilitary forces to ensure a free and fair conduct of the elections

The government has identified over 700 polling stations as “vulnerable” while 300 plus as “critical” polling stations.

Speaking to reporters on January 10, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) FR Kharkongor said, “The preparation for the upcoming general election in the state is going on in full swing. In terms of the central armed police force (CAPF), we had projected a requirement of 119 CAPF companies consisting of BSF, CRPF and other central paramilitary forces.”

“Against this projected requirement, the ECI and Ministry of Home have been kind enough to deploy 40 companies (of which) 30 companies have come in the first batch initially and another 10 we have just received information. These 40 companies will be there for area dominance and we are expecting that the remaining companies will also be coming close to the poll dates,” he informed.

Sensitive polling stations: We have already done the exercise. We have about 700 plus vulnerable polling stations and about 300 plus critical polling stations but that figure is a dynamic situation, it is an evolving situation, so that will be changing as we head into the polls

But as of now 700 plus vulnerable polling stations are there and about 300 plus critical polling stations are there.

The CEO said that many rounds of review meetings with the deputy commissioners (DCs) and superintendents of police (SPs) have been held recently.

He informed that the various DCs and SPs have also been having coordination meetings with their counterparts in Assam throughout the month of December.

“All the districts which were having borders with Assam have already held meetings and I also believe that the state government from the chief secretary and DGP will also be having meetings with their counterpart Assam’s chief secretary and DGP either through face-to-face mode or VC mode,” Kharkongor said.

“If there is any shortage in terms of polling officials, the districts of Garo Hills traditionally depend on Assam for vehicles. So they have been in touch with Assam counterparts and they will be making the necessary arrangements to meet the requirement for the polling parties,” he added.

In terms of training for polling officials, he said that three-four rounds of training have taken place for all the poll officials starting from the presiding officers down to the first, second and third polling.

Further, the CEO informed that the numbers of polling stations have gone up to 3,482 from 3,082 in 2018 Assembly polls.

“This is because of the Covid protocols that we cannot have too much overcrowding in a polling station and also to increase the accessibility and to improve voters’ reach for polling stations,” he said.

He said of the 21.61 lakh electorate, the female electorate at 10.92 lakh is higher than the male electorate at 10.68 lakh while adding that “one positive sign is that in terms of electorate it has registered at 2.36% increase from the draft electoral roll.”

He further added, “It is also very significant that in the 18-19 age category, we have about 81,000 plus enrolled and this also accounts for 3% plus of the total electorate. So all efforts are being taken to ensure that these young people will get a first chance to exercise their democratic franchise.”

Stating that over 7,400 plus people with disabilities (PwDs) have enrolled in the state, Kharkongor said, “…provisions are there like Form 12D which was introduced in the last 2 years whereby these PwDs will get the option to exercise their franchise in Form 12 D. Once they exercise the Form 12D then they can opt to vote from home as well.”

“Apart from other regular facilities like wheelchair and poll volunteers will be helping them, we have also instructed all the DCs that they should give them priority voting, PwDs and senior citizens above 80 should be given prior voting,” he said.

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