Security across Uttar Pradesh has been stepped up to prevent any violence on Friday when the results of the Lok Sabha elections are to be announced. A high alert has been sounded in 20 districts, including those in the western parts of the State that have been identified as “sensitive” following intelligence reports of a threat to law and order.

Central paramilitary forces in the State will remain stationed at their places of deployment till May 18, while the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) will be deployed till further orders. A three-tier security arrangement will be maintained, as per the Election Commission’s directives.

Victory processions after the counting of votes have been banned by the Election Commission. On Wednesday, State Chief Secretary Javed Usmani directed officials to enforce ban orders. Mr. Usmani directed that a vigil should be maintained in all the districts for at least 15 days, or more, after the announcement of results.

An official spokesman said the Chief Secretary directed the officials to ensure that supporters of rival parties were not allowed to gather at the counting centres and the entry of vehicles restricted before 100 metres from the centres.

Principal Secretary (Home) Anil Kumar Gupta directed the District Magistrates that the three-tier security arrangement be reviewed with the police officers before the counting begins at 8 a.m.

Given the high-voltage campaigning for the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the State, the government is not taking any chances with the maintenance of law and order. The intelligence agencies have said strict vigil should be maintained in places where there is a mixed population of different communities. Here, the revelry associated with the victory processions could be used by anti-social elements to create law and order problems, they said.

The districts identified for close watch include Muzaffarnagar, Meerut — which witnessed communal violence over the weekend — Rampur, Moradabad, Budaun, Aligarh, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Mau, Gorakhpur and Kanpur.