6 December 2018, Thu, 12:44

64pc polling centres risky

Dhaka div has highest number of such centres, say police

Sixty-four percent of the polling centres across the country are vulnerable to violence, with the highest number of such centres in Dhaka division, and police have finalised an elaborate security plan giving importance to those.

Out of the 40,273 polling centres for the December 30 national election, police have identified 25,827 as “important”, according to a police assessment.

“As a law enforcement agency, we don't use the word 'vulnerable' because it may send a negative message to the people about our security arrangement. So we have used the term 'important' and prepared our security plan giving importance to those centres,” a top police official said.

Five policemen will be deployed in each risky centre while three in each “normal” centre. Besides, there will be members of other law enforcement agencies, officials said.

Usually during polls, 20 members of the law enforcement agencies and Ansar are deployed in each vulnerable centre and 15 in each normal centre.

The police prepared the security plan and categorised the polling centres after taking opinion from the field level police and intelligence officials across the country.

As per the plan, 1.23 lakh policemen will carry out their duties at the field level while around 50,000 officials will be involved in election-related activities, officials involved in security planning told The

Daily Star yesterday.
Besides, there will be 2,226 “mobile teams”, 767 “striking teams” and 356 “standby teams” to ensure peaceful atmosphere for the election.

The Election Commission estimated that around 6 lakh law enforcers would be deployed on election duties.

Of the 25,827 “important” centres, 24,195 are in plain land and 1,632 in “special” areas (remote and hilly areas and Chittagong Hill Tracts).

In Dhaka division, a total of 5,679 polling stations out of 9,872 are vulnerable and 28,395 police personnel will be deployed there.

Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of police at the Police Headquarters, yesterday said, “Police have taken necessary preparations for a fair and peaceful election. We have special measures for 'important' polling centres.”

As part of its security plan, the police have already formed two monitoring bodies to oversee the security arrangement during the election. The bodies are Law and Order Monitoring and Coordination Cell and Law and Order Monitoring and Coordination Committee.

Under the cell, eight top officials -- ranging from additional inspector general of police to superintendent of police -- will monitor and coordinate law and order, dividing the country into four zones.

On the other hand, the six-member committee, led by IGP Mohammad Javed Patwary, will monitor and coordinate the overall law and order in the country.

Police have already intensified its drive against illegal arms, listed criminals and wanted accused after the announcement of the polls schedule by the Election Commission on November 8, officials said.

The law enforcers didn't give the specific number of listed criminals. However, police statistics of June show that around 2.42 lakh GR warrants (cases filed with police stations), 1.49 lakh CR warrants (cases filed with the court) and 27,485 conviction warrants have been issued by courts.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Chittagong Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mahabubor Rahman said, “Although we conduct drives against illegal arms and wanted accused and criminals round the year, drives have gained momentum after the announcement of polls schedule.”

Humayun Kabir, commissioner of Khulna Metropolitan Police, also made similar comments about their activities.

Besides, 100 police teams, formed in September to monitor social media to prevent rumours and fake news, recently started conducting “cyber patrolling”, a top official at the Police Headquarters said.

“The teams are actually monitoring whether anyone is spreading rumours and misleading information using the social media ahead of the election,” he said wishing anonymity.

A Social Media Monitoring and Cyber Crimes Prevention Committee at the Police Headquarters was closely working with the teams and giving necessary directives to them, the official added.