KOLKATA: Lalbazar is pulling all stops to ensure that polling in south Kolkata passes off peacefully. Home to CM Mamata Banerjee and several top ministers of the state, the cops have decided to arrest some of the biggest names active in the south Kolkata – with special focus on the chief minister’s constituency Bhowanipore – area before clamping section 144 across the nine constituencies that goes to polls on Saturday.

Joint CP (crime) Debasish Boral said they have arrested Vinod Rai alias Vinny, a criminal active in the Sambunath Pandit Hospital area located close to Bhowanipore. Police sources claimed Vicky – the most active strongman of the area who is close to some local Trinamool leaders – have been put under house surveillance along with a few others like Jishu and Munna Pandey. More importantly, over 150 warrants – pertaining to Bhowanipore, Kalighat, Chetla and Tollygunge – has been executed.

Sources said that the police is putting several polling premises – barring those in Ballygunge, Rashbehari and Behala – under 24 hour watch from Thursday. Sources also insisted that the Port constituencies along with Bhowanipore, Jadavpur and Kasba will see deployment of an unprecedented 102 companies of central forces along with over 6000 cops on direct booth and peripheral area duty. Special focus will be on the river banks since both Kolkata Port area and Hooghly will be voting on the same day.

So why this scaling up for Kolkata phase II elections? Sources have said that Commissioner Soumen Mitra has told his officers that since the EC has told them that this phase will be under their special watch, no one will be spared. “The call is clear – forget who the person is, follow the rule book. The Salt Lake election was even better conducted than north Kolkata. We are planning the south Kolkata elections on similar lines,” said a source. The fact that DC (south) Murlidhar Sharma is touring all police stations himself is a clear indication that there will be no slip-up.

But a section of police officers questioned if all the measures taken at the eleventh could have been started a little earlier. They quote the arrests carried out in the Bhowanipore by-election in 2011 that Mamata Banerjee won with a huge margin. According to officials, 1,169 non-bailable warrants were executed and 447 people have been rounded up under various sections of the CrPC. Altogether, 26 unlicensed arms, 23 cartridges and 16 explosives have been seized ahead of the elections. About 111 licensed arms have also been deposited to the police in 2011.

“We are not looking at the past anymore. Our target is not to let the voters and the EC trust us just like the polls in north Kolkata,” said an IPS officer.

Source: TOI-Kol