Delhi Police looks to fill security ‘gap’ for poll day (Election Special)

New Delhi, April 6: With balloting in the capital days away, Delhi Police is a trifle concerned. It is wondering how to fill up the manpower gap of around 9,000 personnel with most of the paramilitary forces having been requisitioned by other states where elections are also being held.

Delhi requires around 50,000 security personnel during polls, as was deployed during the Delhi assembly polls in December. Delhi Police will deploy 40,000 personnel on poll duty on April 10, with seven companies (around 700 personnel) of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to help.

With Intelligence Bureau inputs of possible security threat from terrorist outfits like the Indian Mujahideen on polling day, Delhi Police are feeling the need for additional forces.

Two top IM operatives, Tehsin Akhtar and Waqas, were arrested along with two of their aides last month. Six other IM members were arrested from different states. They were planning to disrupt the general elections, police officials said.

“As their special target was Delhi, and they had recced the Red Fort and Akshardham Temple, we will need to deploy extra security forces at such tourist spots and around busy market areas,” a top police official told IANS, declining to be named.

This time paramilitary forces are being sent to Maoist-affected states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa as well as Bihar and Maharashtra where election is being held on that day.

Delhi Police have approached the union home ministry with a request to get additional forces from other states.

“We are planning to get forces from Himachal Police and Haryana Police to fill up the gap,” another senior police official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Himachal Police has some of its forces stationed in Delhi.

The security personnel would be deployed at the over 11,700 polling booths across the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi to maintain security and also prevent fights between political parties. They would also keep watch to ensure political party officials do not enter inside polling booths.

Delhi Police is a 76,000-strong police force. But they are unable to spare more than 40,000 for polling duty as the rest are on “VIP duty” and to man the various police departments, like traffic, police control units and the 181 police stations.

“We have over 76,000 police force, including senior officers, which is sufficient for the security of the capital. But half of them are deputed for several other tasks,” said a police officer.

During the Delhi assembly polls, the Delhi Police was assisted by 65 companies of paramilitary forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

“It will be a tough task for us to handle the election day security duty with the shortage of around 9,000 personnel. But, we are prepared to tackle this challenge,” said another officer.

Delhi Police is already hamstrung by shortage of personnel as many of them are deployed for security during the political campaigning by different parties, and for the security of candidates.

“With many of our personnel deployed for election-related duty, the remaining personnel doing routine work, like handling court cases, on night patrol and visiting crime spots are feeling over-burdened,” said an official.

Ahead of poll day, police will also have to keep a watch on smuggling of illicit liquor and use of illegal arms.

“The leave of all policemen has been cancelled. Now we are planning to take help from other Delhi Police security units, the Economic Offences Wing, crime branch, special cell and vigilance cell,” said the officer.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.k@ians.in)

IANS