Central forces reach Bengal as poll preparation begins

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Kolkata, Feb 20 (PTI) At least 12 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) reached West Bengal on Saturday morning as the state prepares to go to elections, officials said.

Two companies of the central forces reached Durgapur by train, one company got down at Burdwan and five companies reached Dankuni in Howrah, they said.

Another four companies reached the Kolkata railway station in the Chitpore area by train, officials said.

'The forces were brought in from Jammu and Kashmir.

They will be heading towards the areas where they have been assigned to,' a poll panel official told PTI.

At the railway stations, senior officers of the CRPF and the West Bengal Police were present to welcome the forces.

The Election Commission has decided to deploy 125 companies of central forces in West Bengal by February 25 for the upcoming assembly elections.

Sixty companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 30 companies of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and five companies each of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will reach the state in the next few days, officials said.

'The idea to deploy central forces now is to ensure that there is no problem when campaigning for the elections starts. This deployment is also to build the confidence of the voters. Stress will be on area domination by the forces, especially in the sensitive zones,' the official said.

Apart from route march, the central forces will also be patrolling in the night, he added.

The Election Commission has decided to deploy three companies of SSB in Kolkata, four companies of CRPF in the neighbouring Howrah Police Commissionerate area, and two companies in Howrah's rural area for the time being, the official said.

A maximum of nine companies of CRPF each have been planned for Purulia and Jhargram districts.

The security personnel will send daily reports to the Chief Electoral Officer by 8 pm.

Elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely in April-May. PTI SCH SOM SOM