Keeping in mind the killing of four persons in CISF firing in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district during the 2021 Assembly elections, the State Election Commission (SEC) has decided to not deploy CISF personnel in north Bengal for the July 8 panchayat polls. Instead, Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel would be deployed in north Bengal districts, sources in the SEC said.
“This was to avoid any further embarrassment and possibility of violence,” a senior SEC official said.
On April 10, 2021, CISF personnel allegedly fired several rounds near booth 126 of Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar district, killing four persons. The incident led to tension in the area and an inquiry was subsequently ordered.
“During the 2021 Assembly elections, the CISF jawans not only opened fire in Sitalkuchi, many also questioned their quality of maintaining law and order situation as this Central force is basically deployed for guarding important installations and monuments in the country. As a result, this time the number of CISF personnel deployed is less, and most of the 822 companies of Central forces comprise personnel from CRPF and BSF,” the official added.
Sources in the SEC said that all the 35 companies of CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), sent to West Bengal by the Centre, will be deployed in Murshidabad district.
Out of the 822 companies of Central forces that will be deployed for the panchayat elections of July 8, only around 60 companies of CISF have been sent to the state.
In the first installment of 315 companies of Central forces sent by the Union Home Ministry, there were 25 companies of CISF. They were deployed in Bankura, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Purulia districts.
In the second installment of 485 companies of Central forces, 35 were from the CISF.
“In the first installment, the decision on deployment of Central forces was taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the Commission had refused to do so. But in the second installment of 485 companies, the decision was taken by the Commission,” the SEC official added.
A day ago, the Calcutta High Court had ordered the deployment of Central forces at all the polling stations in West Bengal during the panchayat elections.