Panel, not DGP Behera, to oversee police deployment for assembly polls

Thiruvananthapuram: A three-member committee will oversee the state and central police forces to be deployed for duties during the forthcoming Legislative Assembly election in Kerala.

The committee consists of Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena, ADGP of the Armed Police Battalion A Padmakumar and election nodal officer and ADGP (police headquarters) Manoj Abraham.

The management of law and order as well as the deployment of the state and central police forces will be under the direct control of the three-member team right from the announcement of the polls to the completion of the entire election process.

The Election Commission of India had earlier rejected the Kerala Police recommendation to appoint a senior police officer of the rank of DGP or ADGP as in-charge of election. On the recommendation of the state government, ADGP Manoj Abraham had placed the proposal before the Commission.

The EC felt that there was no need for implementing the state government’s proposal. Subsequently it announced the setting up of the three-member committee.

The committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday. As directed by the Election Commission, the committee will prepare a detailed security report besides examining the deployment of central and state police forces for the previous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

During the last election 120 companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed in Kerala. The state government has sought 150 companies for the forthcoming poll considering the number of sensitive booths and the need to guard strong rooms where the EVMs would be kept.

Loknath Behera
Loknath Behera

No burden for Behera

The incumbent state police chief Lokanath Behera will have no role in the conduct of the assembly election as the panel will take up the control of police forces. The government was keen to have an indirect control over the election management through its favourite police officer, Behera, who is set to retire soon.

While the central paramilitary forces arriving in the state for poll duties will be under the control of ADGP Padmakumar, the Kerala Police will be under the charge of Manoj Abraham. The officers will take a call on deployment of central and state forces during elections after examining joint requests from the respective district collectors and district SPs and also based on the intelligence reports from the ground.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had convened a meeting of district police superintendents and collectors during his recent visit to Kerala to discuss the law and order issues and other arrangements to be made for the assembly polls. The state police chief, chief secretary and ADGP law and order were not involved in the meeting.

Apart from Padmakumar and Manoj Abraham, the IGPs in charge of law and law and order in north and south zones respectively, took part in the meeting.

EC's other decisions

The Election Commission also decided to prevent any disciplinary action by the government against officials who are entrusted with the responsibilities of monitoring and conducting the elections. The EC move is to check the needless disciplinary action against such officials after the polls.

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