CHENNAI: Taking unprecedented steps ahead of the crucial by-election to RK Nagar Assembly constituency, the Election Commission of India (EC) took a series of measures on Saturday that effectively took away the conduct of the poll from State government officials and reposed it in officials from outside, including Central armed forces.
In an order on Saturday night, the commission transferred all top officials — revenue, police and civil — in the constituency, directed that central forces alone will guard all polling booths, and fielded tahsildars and deputy collectors, who have knowledge of Tamil, from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, to man the flying squads.
These tightening measures came following a report submitted by an EC team led by deputy election commissioner Umesh Sinha, which studied the ground situation in RK Nagar on March 30 and 31, and met representatives of various political parties.
As per the order, officers from the rank of assistant returning officers and below in the revenue side; police officials from inspector to additional commissioner of police looking after or working in the constituency; and corporation assistant engineer to executive engineer have been replaced.
After deputing five more observers in the constituency, the EC decided to deploy micro observers to move in small lanes of the constituency on motor bikes and assist the observers.
Cameras should be set up in all streets to monitor movement, all incoming roads to the constituency apped and check posts erected, additional teams of Flying Squads deployed - now 10 in all - and work round the clock in three shifts.
These squads will be GPS enabled and manned by staff from Central government departments. To strengthen them, tahsildars and deputy collectors who know Tamil would be requisitioned from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Inside and outside the booths and proceedings outside the booth can be seen by general public. Services of IAS/IPS. Official sources said 10 companies of central armed forces have been allocated, to limit the role of local police to the booth’s periphery.
CISF companies have already arrived and assumed duties of flying squad and surveillance teams. In all, 800 personnel of central forces would be pressed into election duty in RK Nagar.
EC has issued special instructions that no government vehicle belonging to any department, political leader or minister should be allowed to move in the constituency. Vehicles should be subjected to check without any arrangements made, action taken in regard to complaints etc. Similarly, on a daily basis.