Lok Sabha polls: CRPF, BSF personnel leave Manipur for West Bengal

The Union home ministry is preparing a blueprint for poll deployment

central-forces-salil Central forces patrolling the streets in Kolkata, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections | Salil Bera

Nearly five thousand central armed police personnel of CRPF and BSF will finally exit Manipur after months of deployment during the unabated violence that began in May. They will now be on poll duty in West Bengal, which has witnessed political clashes in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The state will see the highest deployment of central forces during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections season.

On Monday, the home ministry wrote to the police chiefs in Manipur, West Bengal and central armed forces asking them to coordinate with the state government and railway board for the deployment of the central forces. The 50 companies of CAPFs coming from Manipur are part of the deployment of additional 100 companies (55 of CRPF, 45 of BSF) being sent to the state as requested by the Election Commission for smooth conduct of polls.

The deployment of central security forces for VIP security and election duties gains significance as clashes between workers belonging to various political parties has often led to blame game between the Centre and state governments.

While the CRPF is asking the West Bengal police to finalise the deployment of the additional 100 companies, it is also approaching the railway board for immediate arrangement of special trains and coaches for immediate deployment in the state.

As many as 177 companies of CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB and Railway Protection Force (CRPF - 33 companies, BSF - 97 companies, CISF - 17, ITBP - 10 companies, SSB - 15 companies, RPF - 5 companies) are already deployed in West Bengal for area domination, confidence building measures and ensure free and fair polls.

Meanwhile, the MHA is putting in place an action plan to address the short term and long term concerns in Manipur by suspending the free movement regime on the India-Myanmar border as well as not extending the suspension of operations agreement with some of the armed insurgent groups in the state.

More than 200 companies (nearly 2,000 personnel) of central armed police forces along with 175 columns of Army and Assam Rifles were on the ground in Manipur since last year, especially at hotspots in the valley and hill areas where violence has been taking place every now and then.

The day-to-day lives of people were thrown in disarray, with many of them in shelter camps, as military jeeps, armed personnel roamed the streets. This has been one of the worst ethnic clashes witnessed in the state in recent times as armed insurgent groups, vested interests, cross border routes added to the complete breakdown of law and order.

But, as the poll season kicks in, the MHA is reworking the deployments to meet immediate requirements for poll duties across phases till June as people of Manipur wait to breathe a sign of relief.

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