Four-Tier Security at six Kolkata counting centres storing EVM’s
Kolkata: The EVMs, which hold key to the political fortunes of several candidates in Kolkata North and Kolkata South, have been locked up in the strong rooms in six counting centres across the city and the area around them have been fortified with four-tier security arrangement and round-the-clock vigilance. While all the EVM machines from Kolkata North have been kept at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra (counting will be next door at Netaji Indoor Stadium), counting for Kolkata South will take place at Vivekananda College in Thakurpukur, St Thomas Boys’ School on Diamond Harbour Road, Sakhawat Memorial Government School, Ballygunge Government High School and West Bengal University of Teachers’ Training, Education Planning and Administration. Till May 23, when the counting of votes is scheduled, only authorised personnel of the central forces and authorised Election Commission officials can go anywhere close to strong rooms where the sealed EVMs have been kept. Even officers in the lower rung of Kolkata Police and the state’s reserved police will be restricted to providing security for the outer most layer. Guard rails have been kept at approach roads to the counting centres to prevent any vehicle from getting close and pickets have been set up outside the strong rooms with sandbag and armed personnel of central forces to foil any attempt to snatch EVM machines. There are strict instructions not to let any unauthorised person inside the counting centres. The drivers and other staff engaged by central forces have been allotted space away from the strong rooms where EVMs have been locked up.
TOI had to seek permission from some senior central force personnel to gain restricted entry into Ballygunge Government School which is the counting centre for Rashbehari assembly segment under Kolkata South. There was nobody inside except central force personnel and authorised Election Commission officials. A monitor was being set up to view the visuals from several CCTV cameras on the premises. Armed personnel were standing guard behind the pickets near the strong rooms. “There are four layers of security around the premises where EVMs have been kept. The outermost layer is by the Kolkata Police to prevent any unauthorised person from getting close to the counting centre. It is followed with a security layer by the armed police just outside the entry points to the counting centres. Armed personnel of the central forces are guarding the gates while the innermost ring is around the strong rooms where the EVMs are kept. Eight to ten armed personnel are guarding the strong rooms round the clock,” said the commandant. Rotating CCTV cameras with a complete view beam images to a monitor in the control room. “We have CCTV cameras in the strong rooms too but nothing can be seen since the lights are off,” said personnel at Sakhawat Memorial Government School. No workers of any party were allowed anywhere close since Section 144 has been imposed in and around the counting centres.
Bomb Hoax Letter to Chief Electoral Officer creates Panic
Chennai: Panic gripped the office of the Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer in Secretariat after someone sent a bomb threat letter on Monday evening. However, despite thorough checks no bomb was found. After receiving the anonymous letter, the officials immediately informed the Fort police station and the police control room. Police personnel reached the spot with sniffer dogs. The people in the office were sent out while the checks were being carried out. The letter, written in Tamil, said a bomb will go off in the office soon, the police said. When the police were carrying out the search, Sahoo was in a meeting with district electoral officers (DEOs) and returning officers (ROs). Based on a complaint, police are trying to trace the address of the sender. CCTV footages are also being scanned to find out who had come to drop the letter. “The letter did not mention anything else other than saying that a bomb would go off soon,” said a police officer. “We did not want to take any chances. So a thorough check was carried out,” he said.