• Friday, Jun 05, 2020
  • Last Update : 08:02 pm

Armed forces set to begin polling duties from Monday morning

  • Published at 06:24 pm December 23rd, 2018
A toddler watches members of Bangladesh Army patrolling in front of a polling centre in Dhaka during a parliamentary elections in January 5, 2014 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The army will work in 389 designated areas and the navy in 18

Armed forces personnel are already on the move and set to begin their 11th general election duties as part of the mobile/strike force across the country starting from today.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Election Commission’s Joint Secretary Farhad Ahmed Khan said that about 400-450 platoons of the armed forces would be deployed in 389 upazilas in 270 constituencies across the country on the morning of December 24.

“The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate will officially brief the media about it soon."

However, no armed forces personnel would be deployed in the same areas as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Bangladesh Navy, he added.

There are at least 50 bordering upazilas where BGB is on duty and about 18 upazilas that would be under the navy’s supervision, Farhad said.

There will be four teams of the army in each of the constituencies, with each team consisting 10 to 11 members, he added. Although there will be separate vehicles for each team, two of them will be on patrol at all time.

Once deployed, the armed forces will maintain their position at designated places till January 2, the commission’s Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed had said on December 13, after a meeting with all security forces.

The army will also be in charge of operating the electronic voting machines (EMVs) to be used at 845 voting centres in six constituencies – Dhaka 6 and 13, Chittagong 9, Rangpur 3, Khulna 2, and Satkhira 2

However, they will not be allowed to carry firearms and ammunition inside the EVM booths during voting on December 30. Without the permission of the returning or presiding officers, army personnel will also not go inside the vote casting or counting rooms to take charge.

ISPR Director Lt Col Alamgir Kabir told the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday that armed forces personnel have already been sent to 389 points of deployment, including districts and upazilas.

He said navy personnel were also sent to 18 points of deployment, including coastal districts and upazilas.

“Army and navy personnel have already been deployed and they will be on duty from Monday morning,” he said.

Also Read- EC: Armed forces to be deployed from Dec 24

Lt Col Alamgir added that the ISPR would issue a press release soon on how many platoons and personnel will be on election duty.

Since December 18, 1,016 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have been deployed nationwide to maintain law and order.

Each team of the armed forces will have an executive magistrate with them. The troops in accordance with "Aid to the Civil Power" policy of the Defence Ministry, will work and provide necessary aid to the civil administration, similar to the January 5 election in 2014.

Security forces budget

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has allocated a total of Tk392.93 crore for law enforcement agencies that will be on election duty.

Of the amount, Tk60.37 crore has been allocated for the armed forces, Tk102 crore for police, Tk53 crore for BGB, Tk163 crore for Ansar and VDP, Tk13 crore for Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and Tk1.56 for others.

Confirming the amounts, Senior Assistant Secretary of the commission, Enamul Haque, told the Dhaka Tribune that Tk60.37 crore was sent to the armed forces on Sunday.

“Earlier, we also sent the allocated money to all law enforcement agencies. It is our last budget for them,” he added.

EVM duty

Election Commission Joint Secretary Md Abdul Baten also said on Sunday that around 3,300 army personnel would provide various types of technical support, including training in using 4,750 EVMs, at the 845 voting centres in six constituencies during the December 30 polls.

EVMs are going to be used in a general election for the first time in Bangladesh, since their introduction in 2010. The machines have thus far been used in different local government elections only.

Baten said two control rooms have already been set up, one at the commission’s office in Dhaka’s Agargaon, and the other at the Armed Forces Division (AFD), to ensure smooth functioning of EVMs.

A total of 51 army officers and personnel will monitor the 845 polling centres dividing into 17 teams in coordination with assistant returning officers or upazila election officers.

File photo of an electronic voting machine (EVM) | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Technical support teams consisting of three army personnel, one corporal and two lance corporals/sainiks or equivalent rank, will provide technical support at each polling centre. A total of 2,535 army personnel will provide technical support at 845 voting centres.

He added that  mobile technical teams, each consisting of three members, one sergeant and two corporals/lance corporals or sainik equivalent, will be engaged to collect information from the technical support teams of five polling centres. A total of 507 army personnel will be involved in the task.

Mobile monitoring teams, each consisting of three members – one junior commission officer (JCO), two sergeants/lance corporals or equivalent – will collect information from 15 voting centres.  A total of 169 army personnel will carry out the task.

Other teams consisting of three members each – one major/captain/ lieutenant, one JCO, and one corporal/lance corporal or equivalent rank – will monitor the activities of 50 polling centres.

A high-powered team consisting of five members – one major, two captains/lieutenants, one JCO, one sergeant, one corporal/lance corporal or sainik – will monitor all polling centres in one constituency.

A total of 30 officers and personnel in six teams will also monitor the activities of all other teams. They will discharge duties in coordination with the respective returning officers as well.

Additional reporting by Arifur Rahman Rabbi

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