R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, April 17 - Holding of the Lok Sabha elections in Assam in three phases has been immensely beneficial for the police and security agencies as forces can be relocated after each phase. Meanwhile, all security agencies are maintaining close coordination to ensure violence free polls and so far, the process has been trouble free.
Highly placed police sources told The Assam Tribune that though the Centre provided 33 companies of additional forces to Assam for the elections, it could not provide forces as per requirements of the State and holding of the elections in three phases ensured that the forces can be relocated as per requirement. It may be mentioned here that around 168 companies of Central forces were deployed in the State before the elections and just before the polls, 33 more companies were provided.
Sources pointed out that because of the gap between each phase, it was possible to redeploy the forces as per requirement and the area domination could be possible as per requirement. Moreover, the State police personnel could be shifted from one district to other, while, supervision by the senior officers also improved to a great extent. Because of these factors, the incidents of violence during the poll process were much lower this year, sources added.
Sources admitted that the upper Assam districts , particularly the areas bordering Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland were vulnerable because of reports of movement of militants in those areas. But heavy deployment of forces for area domination, elections in those areas passed off peacefully. For the next two phases also, detailed security plan has been chalked out and police and security forces are confident that the elections will pass off peacefully without any trouble.
Replying to a question on the threat perception in the next two rounds of polls, sources said that Dhubri district has a long international border with Bangladesh and the possibility of elements of anti-India forces trying to sneak into the State to create trouble cannot be ruled out. The Assam Police is maintaining close coordination with the Border Security Force (BSF) to ensure that the international border is properly secured.
Sources said that Kokrajhar district has a history of poll violence. So far, the campaigning in the district has been by and large peaceful but the police and security forces are maintaining a close watch on the situation. The Superintendents of Police of the districts falling under Kokrajhar Lok Sabha constituency have been directed to ensure that all the members of the militant groups under cease fire agreement are confined to the designated camps. Strong action will be taken against any such person if he or she violates ground rules of cease fire agreement.
Though Army does not have direct role in the elections, Army personnel are engaged in area domination in vulnerable places and counter insurgency operations are also on. A few elements of NDFB(S) are still inside Assam, while, a group of ULFA(I) men may also try to sneak into the State from Garo Hills area of Meghalaya where they are taking shelter with activists of the GNLA. These threats are also kept in mind while formulating strategy to ensure violence free polls.