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Kerala Assembly elections | Police steps up vigil in Thiruvananthapuram on final day of campaigning

Station house officers hold meetings with political leaders to solicit cooperation towards restrictions

Following the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s ban on ‘kottikalasham’ (or ‘kalashakottu’), the police in the capital district have geared up to prevent any attempt to organise the customary finale on Sunday.

The event, which typically involves party workers engaging in noisy revelry to mark the culmination of a high-voltage campaign, has been prohibited in view of the COVID-19 surge.

Station house officers of the city police held meetings with political leaders on Saturday to solicit their cooperation towards the restrictions. While surveillance will be undertaken by the local police units, additional deployment will be made from the Armed Police Battalions wherever there is a possibility of crowding, official sources said.

The police have cautioned political parties against gathering in public places in violation of the ECI order that could result in the offenders being charged under the provisions of the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020, as well as the norms laid down by the ECI. The measures assumed significance in light of the violations witnessed in the run-up to the local body elections when ‘kottikalashams’ were held at several places in spite of a similar preventive order.

Strike forces

The entire election machinery, comprising nearly 2,000 police persons and Central Armed Police Forces personnel, will be mobilised in the city on Sunday. Strike forces will be stationed at strategic locations. Besides, around five vehicles of law and order and group patrol teams will be constantly on the move. With control room vehicles also deployed in various parts of the city, the police expect to bring down the response time to attend to exigencies to as short as two minutes.

The tight security measures have been instrumental in reining in political clashes in the State capital that has been witnessing tantalising contests in various constituencies. The deft handling of the tensions that had prevailed after National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s candidate Sobha Surendran’s campaign was allegedly obstructed in Kazhakuttam prevented a full-blown confrontation between the BJP and the CPI(M) workers in the region.

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