New Delhi: The phase-wise deployment of security personnel across India for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls begins on Wednesday, with the Indian Railways reserving 1,000 coaches for the job.
Six hundred special trains, an increase of 90 from the last general elections, are going into service to carry over 1.5 lakh security personnel, including those belonging to the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Railway Protection Force to various polling stations.
Besides trains, several paramilitary units will be travelling by road as well as part of the massive deployment of security forces during the seven-phase elections beginning April 11.
The first batch of forces will board about a dozen special trains on March 13 for induction duty in 20 states including Bihar, Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Odisha among others, sources in the Railways told The Wire. Forces will also be deployed in the Northeast starting today.
While the entire deployment and movement of trains carrying security personnel would be closely monitored by the home ministry, a concerned official from the ministry involved with the operation would be stationed at the Control Room of Railway Board, leaving nothing to chance.
All special trains are being equipped with catering service, which is to be provided by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation – a railways PSU – as part of the arrangement. Each train will carry about 14 companies of paramilitary forces with one company consisting of 125 personnel.
As far as the Railway Protection Force – the railways’ own security wing – is concerned, about 7,600 personnel would be pressed into service for election duty.
After elections, they can also be deployed for guarding strong rooms as per requirement.
All the 91 Lok Sabha seats, which are spread across 20 states that are slated for the first phase polling on April 11, will be gradually covered under induction duty.
Induction duty will be followed by de-induction, involving the same batch of force to be dispatched to other places for the next phase of elections on April 18. The induction and de-induction processes would continue until the seventh phase, the last one, on May 19.
Deployment of the security personnel will be heavier on certain key constituencies, including sensitive ones.
“Some seats including those in Naxal-affected areas considered to be prone to violence will have adequate forces,” sources said, adding: “Those areas have been identified and accordingly steps are undertaken to deal with the situation.”
Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.