At 60,000, visiting personnel outnumber Gujaratís own
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Nearly 60,000 personnel have been roped in from Central paramilitary and other states' armed forces for the Gujarat elections. The huge, unprecedented number outmatches the state's own police strength.
The total of 640 companies includes 493 companies from the BSF, the CISF, the CRPF, the Sashastra Seema Bal, the ITBP and Rapid Action Force (RAF). Besides the paramilitary forces, the Centre has also sent 147 companies of state armed police from MP, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala and the Northeast. Of the 640 companies, two batches of 50 and 140 have arrived and two of 400 and 50 are in the process of reaching Gujarat.
The 2007 elections had only 370 companies of the RAF and CRPF. These were not deployed in all districts but restricted to protecting communally sensitive trouble spots.
"The Central forces have come for securing the elections," chief electoral officer Anita Karwal said. "Each SP is chalking out a plan to deploy these along with local police at all booths."
"The Gujarat police had sought paramilitary forces and armed forces of other states in such strengths, probably due to the insufficient strength of the state police," said a senior official with a Central force in Gandhinagar. "The home ministry approved the request for such a huge strength mainly to keep up the confidence of voters."
The Gujarat police have over 40,000 personnel, all of whom will be on poll duty. The state's own armed police force of 99 companies (leaving aside 30 per cent for routine duties) and Chetak commando forces too will be deployed during the polls.
DGP Chitranjan Singh said, "Our force has been working for the elections for several months and we have ensured the security of every candidate, including the high-profile ones. The reason for having such a huge force of Central forces can be explained only by the Centre and the Election Commission."