KOCHI: Come election time — assembly or parliament — the Election Commission (EC) seizes large quantities of illegal cash and other freebies meant to check the circulation of black money. The seizure of cash, liquor, narcotics and freebies by the flying squads and surveillance teams recorded a three-fold increase in the state in this assembly election when compared to the 2016 polls.
In 2016, the total seizure was worth Rs 26.13 crore, while the same rose to Rs 82.84 crore this times. According to the commission, Rs 22.64 crore in cash, precious metals worth Rs 49.21 crore, 812kg of drugs, and liquor worth Rs 5 crore were confiscated till the poll day.Taking the intelligence inputs that more money and liquor were expected to be used to woo voters who have been severely hit by the pandemic-induced economic crisis seriously, the EC maintained extra vigil, said an officer.
Distribution of cash, gifts, liquor or any other items is not permitted when the election model code of conduct is in force. It comes under the definition of ‘bribery’ — an offence under Section 171 (B) of IPC — and Representation of the People Act, 1951, according to officials. In this poll season, 40 expenditure observers were deployed in the 140 constituencies across the state to coordinate and monitor the flying squads, static surveillance teams, and video surveillance teams.
“The agencies concerned will initiate investigation into the seizures and the motive behind the transportation of cash and other items. The inquiry is mainly on whether they were intended for distribution among voters,” said B Surendran Pillai, Additional Chief Electoral Officer.
Coming to narcotics, 812.01kg of drugs worth Rs 4.05 crore was seized in the state and thereby overtook its neighbouring poll-bound Tamil Nadu, where only drugs worth Rs 2.22 crore were confiscated. The market value of liquor seized was pegged at Rs 5.1 crore, while in Tamil Nadu, liquor worth Rs 5.24 crore was confiscated. However, in the case of the value of precious metals and cash seized, Tamil Nadu is top with Rs 176.22 crore and Rs 236.52 crore, respectively, among the five poll-bound states.In April 2019, Rs 28.79 crore worth of cash, drugs, alcohol and precious metals were seized from the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.