2,000 Tripura security personnel, posted in Delhi and Chhattisgarh, declared ‘service voters’

Agartala, April 3 – The Election Commission, for the first time, has allowed around 2,000 personnel of the Tripura State Rifles (TSR), deployed in Delhi and Chhattisgarh, to exercise their franchise as “service voters” for the state’s two Lok Sabha seats and an Assembly by-election, election officials said on Tuesday.

Two TSR battalions, comprising around 2,000 personnel, including officers, have been posted in the national capital under the Delhi Police’s authority since 2019 and in South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) in Chhattisgarh since 2022.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer, Tripura, S. Bandopadhyay in a letter to the state’s Leader of OppositionJitendra Choudhury said that the matter of the enrolment of the TSR personnel, deployed outside the state, as service voters’ was taken up with the Election Commission.

“The ECI accordingly confirmed their eligibility for enrolment as service electors and advised us to take the initiative for their enrolment. Thereafter, all such TSR personnel are being facilitated to be enrolled as service voters. A report indicating action taken in this regard has been received from the State Police Nodal Officer,” he said in his letter.

TSR personnel, posted outside the state, could not cast their votes in last year’s Assembly elections as they were not treated as service voters then.

Choudhury, also the CPI-M state Secretary, had in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar earlier, said that 2,000 jawans of two TSR battalions deployed in Delhi and Chattisgarh for security duty in various government establishments belong to Tripura and their names have been enrolled in the updated electoral rolls.

“While we boast of the democratic system of our country as an ‘inclusive democracy’, it is indecent to leave such a big number of electors deprived of the right to franchise in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, only because they are performing noble duty for the interest of the country,” he said and demanded providing scope of postal ballot or arranging designated centre of polling in their respective place of postings both in Delhi and Chhattisgarh.

Currently, the TSR has 14 battalions. Apart from the two in Delhi and Chhattisgarh, one battalion is providing security to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s drilling sites in Tripura.

Tripura’s two Lok Sabha seats – Tripura West and Tripura East -– would go to polls on April 19 and April 26, respectively, while the by-election in the Ramnagar Assembly segment would be held on April 19.

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