GUWAHATI, Dec 22 (IANS): The Election Commission on Tuesday said it has asked district police chiefs and district magistrates in Assam to map all vulnerable places in the state so that free and fair polls to the legislative assembly could be held next year.
"Political parties have briefed us about the role money and muscle power can play in the upcoming elections. They also mentioned that the Election Commission should ensure that all state government officials involved in the election process should remain neutral," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said at a press conference here on Tuesday.
"The district magistrates and superintendents of police have been instructed to conduct intensive scrutiny of hooligans and criminals, who were found involved in violence, and all these people should be kept under watch.
CEC Zaidi was accompanied by Election Commissioners A.K. Joti and O.P. Rawat.
Zaidi said the commission will monitor all incidents with political overtones taking place before the assembly polls.
"We will try to cover the maximum polling stations with special forces. We will ensure that central police forces are deployed in all polling stations," he said.
He said district magistrates and superintendents of police have been asked to execute all pending non-bailable warrants, to start the arms deposit process and take action for seizing illegal arms from now on.
Observing that most of the parties were in favour of elections held before the Rongali Bihu festival in mid-April, Zaidi said they have taken note of the suggestions.
He said the poll panel assured that an effective mechanism will be put in place to ensure that the election was free and fair.
The commission, however, did not finalise the dates for the polls. It needs to complete the entire poll process by June 5 next year.
Stating that the poll panel lays stress on "error-free electoral rolls", he said they would work towards plugging the gaps between the census population and electoral roll population, and ensure that every eligible person was on the electoral rolls.
The total number of voters on the rolls was 1.92 crore approximately on October 12. This figure includes six lakh new voters of 18 to 19 years of age.
Emphasising on the elector's photo identity card (EPICs), the poll panel chief said they would plug the existing three percent gap in Assam and ensure that each and every voter gets the identity card.
He said the final electoral rolls will be published on January 11, but it would be subjected to continuous updating for those left out.