Tripura civic polls: SC ordered deployment of additional forces after oppositions complained of voter harassment

News Desk: Two additional companies of CAPF 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 to deploy 2 additional companies of CAPF 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.

Earlier today, Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), and the Trinamool Congress alleged that workers of the ruling BJP are going around on motorcycles and intimidating their candidates.

The CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress also alleged not all voters were allowed to enter polling booths.

Gangs with their faces masked and wearing helmets have gone door to door warning voters to stay home, the opposition parties alleged.

“Information has been pouring from… several wards of Agartala Municipal Council that large number of miscreants are intruding into those areas at the behest of ruling BJP and indulging into terrorising the opposition supporters with dire consequences, with the threat not to move to the polling stations on November 25” the CPI(M) said in a statement.

The Trinamool Congress in a video tweeted on its official handle alleged a man in a black shirt was seen ‘voting’ for others.

Voting is taking place in 644 booths in 13 civic bodies in Tripura – the most keenly watched fight being the Agartala Municipal Corporation. In its last tenure, the CPI(M) was in control of the civic body. The BJP is making a determined bid to snatch it through unfair means, the opposition alleged.