Varanasi, the high-profile election battleground that goes to polls on Monday, has virtually turned into a fortress.
The state police, central teams, 25,000 army personnel are guarding the constituency with 16 lakh voters.
Superintendent of Varanasi, Rahul Raj, says they are all here to ensure the entire process goes off smoothly.
The district police have deployed 12,000 security personnel and paramilitary forces, says Raj. There are 12 companies of paramilitary forces and nine companies of the Rapid Action Force, he further pointed out. “We have the situation under control. If needed more forces can be brought in,” adds Raj.
A major part of the security is deployed around polling stations where several parties, especially the BJP have complained about possible rigging. The security forces are also checking the credentials of all visitors to Varanasi. Hotels have been told to check the credentials of their guests and note down the purpose of their visit. The police do not want any outsiders in Varanasi as they suspect they may cause trouble ahead of the polls and tracking them will become difficult.
The police have also been directed to take strict action against anyone indulging in clashes. The police will also impose Section 144 later in the day to prevent a gathering of more than three persons.
The tight security follows series of allegations from the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party against the ruling Samajwadi Party for rigging EVMs and capturing the polling booths.
Another cause of concern is repeated clashes between supporters of different parties, especially those of the BJP and the AAP. Consequently, the AAP office in Benaras has been provided with an extra layer of security cover.
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