All five polling stations in Shaheen Bagh put under 'critical category': Delhi CEO

The area has become the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the national capital and the agitation has been thrusted by political parties into a poll issue.

Published: 06th February 2020 09:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2020 09:21 AM   |  A+A-

Shaheen Bagh protests

Protesting against Citizenship Act, women at Shaheen Bagh block the road. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: In view of the ongoing anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, the Delhi poll body has put all five polling stations in the area under the "critical" category, a top official said on Wednesday, while asserting that confidence-building measures are being undertaken to reassure voters.

Addressing a press conference here, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said the area is under "tight vigil" and "there is no obstruction" in areas where poll activities will be conducted, so voters will face no problems.

Singh, accompanied by the district election officer and nodal police officers, had visited Shaheen Bagh area on Friday to assess the situation and preparedness ahead of the February 8 Delhi Assembly election.

"In view of the ongoing protests in Shaheen Bagh, we have declared all five polling stations in the area as critical polling stations. There are about 40 booths encompassing those five stations. All these booths are therefore under critical category," Singh told reporters on Wednesday.

Besides police security, polling stations falling in the "critical category" get paramilitary cover.

Activities will be monitored through webcasting, he said.

Police and election machinery are on "extra vigil" and assessing the situation all the time across the national capital, he added.

Shaheen Bagh falls in the Okhla assembly constituency.

The area has become the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the national capital and the agitation has been thrusted by political parties into a poll issue.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been protesting since December 15 at Shaheen Bagh against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens.

The protesters have blockaded a busy thoroughfare in south Delhi and have been demanding that the CAA be repealed.

Polls for the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on February 8.

The counting of votes will be taken up on February 11.

Singh said security personnel carry outmarches and patrolling in the area to boost the confidence of voters and "I see no reason to worry".

"During my visit on Friday, the pulse I got from the local people was that there is no fear in their minds and the ongoing issue and the protests have not affected their psyche.

We are quite hopeful that voters in the area will come out and exercise their franchise without any fear," he said.

The Delhi CEO also said that no complaint has been received from local people of Shaheen Bagh about any safety issue for the polling day.

There are 13,750 polling booths, besides one auxiliary booth, located at 2,689 locations across Delhi.

Singh said 1,47,86,382 people are eligible to vote in the Delhi polls, including 2,32,815 in age group of 18 to 19.

"As far as critical polling stations are concerned, there are 516 locations and 3,704 booths in that category," he said.

Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) Praveer Ranjan, on the sidelines of the press conference, said 190 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will be deployed as part of the security measures.

This is nearly four times the number of CAPF personnel deployed during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he added.

On the FIRs filed against political parties under the model code of conduct (MCC) norms and the Delhi Defacement Act, Singh said 30 FIRs have been filed against the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) -- three-under MCC category and rest under the Delhi Defacement Act.

Four FIRs have been filed against the BJP under the Delhi Defacement Act and one under the MCC category, while for the Congress it is one for MCC violation and eight for defacement, he added.

Officials said 27 proposals were received for holding programmes or other events, out of which 16 were approved by the Election Commission and nine by the CEO.

For video vans, 191 applications were received and 185 granted and six rejected, Singh said.

Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) Cell has received 217 applications so far, out of which 188 certificates have been issued, six applications are pending and 23 rejected for amendment, he said.

The Delhi CEO said cash worth over Rs 10 crore has been seized by poll authorities till date and bullion worth Rs 31.66 crore has been seized.

Over 6.47 lakh posters, banners and hoardings have been removed since January 6, when the poll code came into force, the officials said.

Over 1.47 crore voters in various categories include males (81,05,236), females (66,80,277), service voters (11,608), third gender voters (869), and senior citizens (aged 80 and above) voters (2,04,830), they said.

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