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Robust strategy to prevent use of money and drugs in Punjab: CEC

Robust strategy to prevent use of money and drugs in Punjab: CEC
The Election Commission on Tuesday said a “robust strategy” would be prepared to prevent distribution of drugs, liquor and cash in poll-bound Punjab, while asserting that the body has “strong will power” to deal with the menace.

“We will not allow anybody to influence the election process with the distribution of drugs, liquor and money. If anybody is found playing such a role, we can assure you that legal action will be taken against him,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said at a press conference here.

“We have discussed several issues related with income tax, drug distribution etc with all enforcement agencies, including income tax department, state narcotics, central narcotics, excise, transport department and banks. “We have asked the departments concerned to prepare a robust strategy by November 15. It will be activated before the code of conduct comes into play, so that we can contain their misuse to a large extent during elections,” he said.

The Chief Election Commissioner said the Commission was “committed, determined and has strong will power to minimise these things.” Zaidi said the Commission had met with all stakeholders, including political parties for ensuring smooth and fair state Assembly polls, scheduled next year.

He said the parties pointed out the alleged nexus between the police and local politicians.

The Election Commission is also closely monitoring local police officers and police stations, which are under influence of politicians.

Zaidi added that political leaders cutting across party lines expressed their apprehension over the “menace of drugs in Punjab and the possibility of their misuse in the coming elections”.

“All stakeholders have brought out this issue of drug problem. You are already aware of the multifaceted dimension of this problem in the state. So, the Commission has taken a serious note of the feedback given by parties that drugs might be distributed during election process.

“The matter is being discussed with relevant enforcement agencies,” he said.

The official said Punjab Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) have been asked to ensure that no official connected with the election process, was under any external influence. He also warned of taking strict action if any official was found “biased”. The Chief Election Commissioner said it was crucial to monitor police stations during election times as “it is here that threat, intimidation or influencing of the election process by anti-social elements takes place.” 

“Therefore, we have created a database of police stations and we are determining which police stations are ‘sensitive’, or which police officers are working properly and which police officers or stations are under the influence of local politicians. All of this will be on our radar,” Zaidi, who was flanked by Election Commissioners Achal Kumar Joti and Om Prakash Rawat, said. Zaidi said the Commission would continue to assess the performance, background, competence and merit of civil and police officials in order to ensure that they remain unbiased during the election process.

Political parties demanded from the EC that postings of local, civic and police officials be strictly reviewed.

The CEC said adequate Central police force would be provided to Punjab for the upcoming elections.

“Political parties have requested us that rather than local police, Central forces should be deployed at polling stations. We have conducted elections in five states and 100 per cent Central forces were deployed at polling stations. We will provide adequate police force so that the nexus at local level to influence (elections) cannot bear fruit,” he said.
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