Mumbai Elections: Cops guard polling booths, but can't vote themselves
While they ensure that the election process is completed smoothly, most officials from Mumbai Police are themselves unable to exercise their franchise. Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria himself voted through postal ballot yesterday, but his subordinates may not be as lucky.
Being busy on election duty, city policemen were unable to vote at booths. Those who applied for a postal ballot are still waiting for the ballot papers. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Nearly 33,000 cops are manning polling booths in and around the city, of which 30-40 per cent reside in suburbs like Kalyan, Dombivli, Thane, Virar, Vasai and Borivli. These people were unable to make it in time to vote in their own constituencies, as they were on duty far away.
“I stay in Kalyan and I told my wife while leaving home on Wednesday, that I would return on Thursday night. There is no question of voting,” said a police officer posted at the Shivaji Park police station. Even those posted nearby were helpless.
“I stay in the Lamington Road police quarters and am deployed at Colaba police station. Still, I was unable to go home. I have never voted in 16 years of service in the department,” confessed a constable attached with the Colaba police station.
Watching over the polls
A senior police inspector of a south Mumbai police station added, “My first priority is to carry out peaceful voting in my area. I stay in Borivli and am posted as the senior in this police station. How can I take the risk of going out for an hour to vote? If something untoward happens I will be held responsible.”
According to Mumbai Police figures, around 30,025 constables, 1,915 assistant police inspectors/sub-inspectors and 477 police inspectors manned 9,879 polling booths in Mumbai. They will be supported by 5,275 home guards and 19 state reserve police force battalions (SRPF).
Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria told the media on Wednesday, “Our first priority is to conduct fair, impartial, peaceful elections and we are very hopeful. I have myself carried out voting rights through postal ballots and my subordinates will also do so.”
Waiting to vote
Mahesh Patil, deputy commissioner of police and spokesperson for Mumbai Police, claimed, “We had issued in the police notice that everyone should fill up forms for postal ballots.
Accordingly, 8,000 have already voted.” However, cops claim that postal ballot never really materialises. Several policemen say they have applied for the facility, but are yet to receive the ballot paper.
“Candidates who come to campaign in our colonies know that barely 50 per cent of the people will be able to vote. Others will be busy on election bandobast. So, they never do any development work in our areas quickly,” revealed a constable.
Number of cops deployed on election duty in Mumbai