Till April 11, 7.303 kg of gold worth Rs. 17,08,000 and silver worth Rs. 11,47,200 have been confiscated by the EC machinery.

Ktaka polls Use of gold and liquor on the rise nearly Rs 10 crore cash seizedImage for representation
news Karnataka 2018 Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 10:26

In view of the upcoming Karnataka elections, the Election Commission (EC) has been keeping a strict vigil and has deployed the entire state machinery to ensure that the model code of conduct is strictly adhered to. 

Considering that all the three major political parties, Congress, BJP and JD(S), are going all guns blazing to swing the elections in their favour and no party has a clear advantage as of now, the state EC’s role in ensuring free and fair elections has become all the more important. To this end, it is cracking down on all illegal activities in the state, meant to influence voters.

An analysis of the press releases by the State Election Commission throws up interesting numbers. The commission has deployed 1,156 flying squads and 1,255 static surveillance teams (SSTs), alongside the police department and Excise department. Using all these resources, it has removed 19,403 wall writings, 25,642 posters and 10,254 banners from public and private properties till April 11. Over 60% of these violations are related to public properties.

Political analysts have expressed concerns over the increasing use of cash in Indian elections to gain unfair advantage and Karnataka elections seem to follow the trend. SSTs have seized Rs. 4,16,95,070 in cash till April 10 but the number shot up to Rs. 8,75,11,130 till April 11, meaning seizures of Rs. 4,58,16,060 in just one day (April 11). Flying squads had seized Rs. 59,32,250 in cash till April 10 but ended up seizing Rs. 56,01,100 in cash in a single day on April 11, taking the total to Rs. 1,15,33,350. After including cash seized by the police department, the total comes to a mind-blowing Rs. 9,97,44,480 till April 11. The upward trend shows cash seizures of Rs. 5,14,17,160 in just one day, i.e. April 11.

Precious metals and jewellery have always been used to divert money and is primarily an indicator of ill-gotten wealth. Clearly, demonetisation has not slowed down this practice, contrary to the claims by the Union government. Till April 11, 7.303 kg of gold worth Rs. 17,08,000 and silver worth Rs. 11,47,200 have been confiscated by the EC machinery since the model code of conduct came into effect on March 27.

The menace of alcohol distribution in Indian elections is again being witnessed in Karnataka as Excise Department and SSTs are seizing thousands of litres of Indian Made Liquor (IML) and other forms of alcohol. While SSTs have seized liquor worth Rs. 1,32,32,772 till April 11, Excise Department’s seizures are worth Rs. 61,80,645. Flying squads have confiscated liquor and other items worth Rs. 13,00,72,980, which includes cooker boxes, pamphlets etc. They have also confiscated 37 vehicles worth Rs. 1,00,96,560 and 160 laptops till April 11. Excise Department seized 234 vehicles till April 11, with 39 vehicles being seized on April 11 alone. Other items like sarees, bags, cheques, note books, LPG stoves, T-shirts etc have also been confiscated.

The election machinery is also busy filing cases against offenders and taking preventive measures to ensure no untoward incidents take place during the elections. While the flying squads have registered 245 FIRs (29 on April 11 alone), SSTs have registered 56 FIRs till April 11, taking the total of such FIRs to 301. Excise Department booked 77 heinous cases on April 11 alone, with such cases booked by it adding up to 552. The  election machinery has also confiscated a total of 64,126 arms that have been got deposited till April 11. It has also booked 11,182 cases under preventive sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC), bounded over 9,881 persons and executed 19,785 non-bailable warrants till April 11. It must be noted that it booked 645 such cases, bounded 1,014 persons and executed 1,868 such warrants on April 11 alone.

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