Two additional companies of CAPF (central armed police forces) should be deployed in Tripura “as expeditiously as possible”, the Supreme Court said this morning, amid claims by opposition parties that workers of the ruling BJP were harassing and intimidating voters in the northeastern state.
Tripura is holding civic body polls today, voting for which began at 7 am.
However, the opposition, including the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) have alleged BJP workers are bullying their candidates, as well as not allowing all voters to enter polling booths. Gangs with masked faces are going door to door warning voters to stay home, the parties alleged.
One video tweeted by the Trinamool shows a man in a black shirt brazenly walking up to a woman trying to vote. He leans over the cardboard screen that is supposed to give the voter privacy, and seems to press a button on the EVM, after which the woman just walks away.
“In such circumstances we direct the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) to deploy 2 additional companies of CAPF (Central Armed Police Force) as expeditiously as possible, having due regard to the fact the polling has commenced, so polling can take place without disruption,” the court said.
“SEC shall ensure every polling booth is manned by sufficient members of CAPF armed personnel to ensure free and fair elections,” the court added.
Earlier, senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan said: “Voting has started (and) in the last two-and-a-half hours itself we got several videos showing outsiders barging inside booths.”
“What is going on is absolute terrorism. I have videos to prove what I am saying. But I am not in a position to show the videos to the bench…” he said.
Mr Shankaranarayanan requested the court to order the deployment of additional forces.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani (appearing for the Tripura government) said: “Polling going on absolutely peacefully. Only hindrances are the petitioners and the intervenors.”
“Instead of doing the anti-mortem and post-mortem now, we’ll now direct MHA to immediately deploy 2 additional companies of any central armed forces,” the court declared.