Election Commission of India cracks whip on poll violence in Andhra

Poll panel suspends SPs of Palnadu & Anantapur, transfers Palnadu district Collector. Additionally, the ECI ordered suspension of 12 subordinate police officers in Palnadu, Anantapur and Tirupati
During a cordon & search operation at Pinelli village in Palnadu district, police seized 55 country-made bombs in the houses of five villagers
During a cordon & search operation at Pinelli village in Palnadu district, police seized 55 country-made bombs in the houses of five villagers Photo | Express

VIJAYAWADA: Cracking the whip on officials for their alleged failure to contain poll-related violence in the State, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday suspended Superintendents of Police of Palnadu and Anantapur districts, transferred Palnadu district collector, and SP of Tirupati district. The poll panel ordered a departmental enquiry against them. Additionally, the ECI ordered suspension of 12 subordinate police officers in Palnadu, Anantapur and Tirupati and initiation of departmental enquiry against them as well.

Taking note of the violence that erupted in parts of the State, the ECI ordered the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe and submit an action taken report in each of the cases to the Commission in two days. “The FIRs (already registered) should be updated with additional appropriate IPC sections and other relevant statutory provisions,” the poll panel directed the government.

During a cordon & search operation at Pinelli village in Palnadu district, police seized 55 country-made bombs in the houses of five villagers
Andhra Pradesh poll violence: ECI summons Chief Secy & DGP

The development comes as Chief Secretary Dr KS Jawahar Reddy and Director General of Police (DGP) Harish Kumar Gupta called on Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar in New Delhi on Thursday after they were summoned to explain reasons for the failure of the administration to contain post-poll violence. During the briefing, the CS and DGP shared their assessment of negligence and lack of supervision on the part of officials in violence-hit districts, following which the ECI approved the proposals of the State government.

In a press note, ECI joint director Anuj Chandak said CEC Rajiv Kumar, and Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu conveyed their displeasure over the post-poll violence in Andhra Pradesh.

“Without mincing any words, the Commission directed the CS and DGP to ensure that such incidents of violence do not repeat and that all SPs be tasked to take pre-emptive measures to avoid such a situation in future.”

Reviewing the cases, the Commission directed the CS and DGP to strictly supervise the situation and ensure appropriate decision on timely filing of chargesheet against the culprits, as per law, preferably within the period when the Model Code of Conduct is in force. On the State government’s request, the poll panel directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to retain the 25 CAPF companies in Andhra Pradesh for 15 days after counting of votes to control any possible incidents of violence.

Taking cognisance of the violence reported in Anantapur, Palnadu and Tirupati districts on the day of polling and the next day, the ECI said, “Incidents were also reported before the poll, involving assault, setting the property/office of the opposite party on fire, threatening, damaging of campaign vehicles, stone pelting etc. Most of these incidents happened in the districts of Annamayya, Chittoor and Palnadu and few incidents in Guntur, Anantapur and Nandyal.”

It may be recalled that several villages in sensitive areas of Palnadu, faction-ridden Tadipatri and Tirupati witnessed incidents of violence after polling. Vehicles were set on fire, contenders were attacked and supporters of the YSRC and TDP engaged in pitched battles, leading to tension.

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