Polls: Seizures worth Rs 290 cr made so far
Kolkata: The Election Commission's special emphasis on curbing the menace of money power is paying rich dividends with the seizure figures for illegal cash, narcotics, liquor and freebies surpassing the number of seizures made in the recent elections.
The different agencies engaged by the Commission, since the announcement of poll dates on March 26, have already seized cash and other articles worth over Rs 290 crore. According to the Commission officials, this seizure is the highest in any election in the state so far. The data released by the Commission shows that the 13 agencies engaged by the Commission have recovered cash worth Rs 47.8 crore, liquor worth Rs 28.3 crore, narcotics worth Rs 118.2 crore, gold and silver worth Rs 11.8 crore and freebies worth Rs 84.3 crore.
"The election has not yet concluded but the huge amount of the seizure made by the agencies shows that there has been a huge amount of involvement of money and other illegal things involved in this election. These are mainly used to influence the voters," a senior Election Commission official said.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, there was a cumulative seizure of Rs 177.5 crore including recovery of Rs 65.9 crore cash and liquor worth Rs 111.6 crore. In the last Assembly election in 2016, there was a seizure of only Rs 8.2 crore in the entire election.
Among the 294 Assembly Constituencies in the state, the Commission has identified 46 ACs as expenditure sensitive, which have contributed to Rs 111.64 crore seizure. Chowrangee AC in North Kolkata leads the list with Rs 48.62 crore, followed by Siliguri with 24.59 crore and Jorasanko in North Kolkata with Rs 8.15 crore. Though not in the category of sensitive ACs, Entally has accounted for seizure worth Rs 35.49 crore.
The state police have recovered Rs 131.19 crore. Besides, Commercial Tax of Rs 49.66 crore has been recovered , Income Tax of Rs 38.76 crore, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Rs 37.508 crore and Excise Rs 25.386 crore.
The district-wise seizure has revealed that Kolkata North has recovered Rs 93.005 crore alone followed by Darjeeling with Rs 38.020 crore and Nadia with Rs 11.238 crore.
"Kolkata North has led to the highest seizure because it is the central business district in the state with areas like Burrabazar, Posta located there. Siliguri being the gateway to the seven sister states has also accounted for good seizure," a senior official in the state EC office said.
Interestingly, in the categories of freebies certain surprising items have been recovered that include Hilsa fish, Mobiles, Sarees, Readymade Garments, Tobacco and Pan Masala and some other sensitive items. The recoveries mainly seized along the Bangladesh border show that these items were brought into the country to appease the voters.
"The different agencies have separate laws when it comes to the prosecution of the offenders in these cases," the official added. Since the announcement of the election on, Bengal Police, Kolkata police, State Excise Department, Income Tax Department, DRI, Narcotics Control Bureau, Flying Squads, Static Surveillance Teams and other regulatory agencies have been working round the clock to detect any suspicious movement of cash, liquor, valuables, narcotics among other contrabands across the poll-bound state.