Following the killing of NCP’s Williamnagar candidate Jonathone K Sangma, the Meghalaya Election Department has sent a report to the Election Commission of India on the killing and sought 10 additional companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to be deployed in Garo Hills especially in militant-infested areas.
The additional CAPF companies have been sought to ensure a free, fair and peaceful conduct of the Assembly polls slated to be held in Meghalaya on February 27.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Meghalaya, FR Kharkongor, has informed that 10 additional companies of CAPF if approved by the Centre would be deployed in militancy-hit areas in Garo Hills as well as in some areas in West Khasi Hills district bordering Garo Hills.
The decision to seek more security forces was taken during a high-level meeting which was chaired by Additional Chief secretary (Home), MS Rao in Shillong immediately after the NCP candidate’s killing in Garo Hills.
A total of 80 companies of CAPF which have already been sanctioned for Meghalaya would arrive from Tripura this week, said Kharkongor.
He also informed, “Intensive combing operations have already been initiated in the area where the incident took place and the State DGP has also rushed to the spot and is personally supervising the anti-insurgency operations.”
The Meghalaya CEO also stated that in addition to the DIG (Western range), another DIG level officer will also be permanently stationed at Williamnagar till the election process is over.
He also informed that the candidates can contact the District Election Officers or the Superintendents of Police regarding any kind of security concerns for providing necessary security as and when the need arises on a case to case basis.
Kharkongor also informed that five companies of the Special Force- 10 who are specially trained in tackling militancy would be deployed for election-related duties to ensure security of people and to instill confidence among the people which will also strengthen the security arrangements in the area.
A high-level intelligence review meeting was also convened by the state chief police nodal officer involving all Central and State intelligence agencies in the context of the recent developments.
Regarding the status of polling in Williamnagar constituency due to the demise of the NCP candidate, Kharkongor said that a report on the death of the candidate has been sent to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The Commission will take a call and decide fresh date for conducting the election in Williamnagar, said Kharkongor. He also added that the District Election Officer of East Garo Hills will also send a report to the ECI in connection with the incident.
When asked whether enough security was provided to the Williamnagar’s NCP candidate, Kharkongor said that two personal security officers (PSOs) were provided to the candidate in view of the threat perception especially after a complaint was received from some individuals on February 16 where miscreants had pasted posters in villages like Damagre, Nengkhra, Jisobibra, Chimagre, Samanda and Dolwarigre under Williamnagar constituency warning people not to vote for the NCP candidate.
Stating that Williamnagar and other constituencies in East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills are militant-infested, Kharkongor said that security measures have been taken to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polls.