The spilt of party alliances has not only created ripples in political circles, but also raised security concerns among forces. This year, the Election Commission (EC) has also roped in the railways to allocate personnel for poll duty.
Polling officials with Electronics Voting Machines (EVMs) during election duty in Thane during the Lok Sabha Elections 2014. File Pic
According to railway officials, they have begun allocating their security forces for the forthcoming Maharashtra elections. “We will deploy 20 companies for the state,” said AK Singh, chief security commissioner, Central Railway. Each company is a team of around 130 policemen hailing from different railway zones across India. Sources in the railways said that, for Maharashtra, the RPF from Central Railways will coordinate the security arrangements on behalf of the railways. The Indian Railways have deployed over 40 companies of police force for the elections across the country. Sources added that these rail security forces will be part of the overall security force provided at various polling booths in Mumbai, its Metropolitan region and rest of the state.
“The Western Railway will contribute at least two companies from the Mumbai division,” said a senior railway official from WR.
The railways have also asked their administrative staff to be part of the election duty. “We will put around 800 members of CR staff on poll duty,” said Narendra Patil, chief PRO, Central Railway. The Western Railway, too, will provide over 200 personnel who will help in counting and checking of EVM machines, inspecting the poll booths, checking voter lists and other related works.
The Government Railway Police — the security force appointed by the Maharashtra state government — too, is expected to appoint more than 60 per cent of its workforce toward poll duty. “At least 2,000 GRP personnel were appointed for election duty the last time. We expect the same number to join poll duty this time, too,” said a GRP official, on condition of anonymity. The GRP, however, has not received official communication on the number of personnel required during elections.
The EC has also asked the railways to make special announcements at railway stations regarding elections. “These announcements will mainly encourage people to vote,” said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway. The WR will also put up hoardings at stations displaying the same message.