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ECI to deploy more QRTs in seventh phase to prevent tension in areas away from polling booths in West Bengal

Kolkata : Given the incidents of poll-related tension and violence in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, mainly in areas far from polling stations, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to deploy more Quick Response Teams (QRTs) in the seventh phase on June 1.

Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal said that during the sixth phase on Saturday there had been reports of candidates being chased, harassed and surrounded by opponent party activists in several places mainly in Tamluk, Ghatal, Medinipur and Jhargram Lok Sabha constituency.

“At Jhargram, BJP candidate Dr Pranat Tudu suffered a head injury after stones and bricks were pelted on his vehicle. All these events took place at a distance from the polling stations. So keeping this factor in mind the ECI is giving more stress on formation of a higher number of QRTs and their effective deployment in the seventh phase.

“As per plans, as of now a total of 2,000 QRTs will be deployed in the nine constituencies that will be going for polls on June 1,” said a CEO office insider.

He also said that the average response time for the QRTs to address such matters in the seventh phase has been fixed at 10 minutes from the time of receipt of information.

The nine Lok Sabha constituencies that will be going for polls on June 1 include Kolkata Dakshin, Kolkata Uttar, Jadavpur, Jaynagar, Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas and Basirhat, Barasat, and Dum Dum in North 24 Parganas.

CEO office sources said that in the seventh phase the two constituencies that will be under the scanner of the ECI include Basirhat and Diamond Harbour.

Basirhat is a sensitive constituency because Sandeshkhali is one of the seven Assembly constituencies under it and Diamond Harbour has a history of poll-related violence.

Already 1,020 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are deployed in West Bengal.

As per plans, 978 companies will be deployed for polling duty in the seventh phase, while the remaining will be kept on reserve.

In the sixth phase on May 25, as many as 919 companies of the CAPF were deployed.

However, CEO office sources said that since polling for all other states except West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is over, the possibility of roping in additional CAPF personnel from other states a couple of days before June 1 cannot be ruled out.

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