THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Dealing a big blow to the Left-leaning Kerala Police Association (KPA), state police chief Loknath Behera on Thursday ordered a Crime Branch probe into the raging postal ballot controversy to find out whether there were any lapses on the part of department’s officers who were assigned the task of distributing the postal ballots.
Behera issued the directive to Intelligence ADGP T K Vinod Kumar, who additionally handles the charge of the Crime Branch. He has been asked to register a case before starting the investigation. The probe is a big setback to the ruling Left front, which is under scrutiny after its workers were seen casting bogus votes in the Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency.
There are about 20,000-25,000 police postal ballots in the state, with each parliamentary constituency having a little more than 1,000 postal votes for policemen.
The Crime Branch probe follows a preliminary report submitted by Behera to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Teeka Ram Meena on Wednesday which put the blame on the KPA office bearers.
Earlier, a voice clip of a policeman, who was deployed for security duty at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, had emerged in which he was heard speaking about the plans to garner postal votes from policemen. It is suspected the collected ballots were later polled by cops belonging to the KPA. The report submitted to Meena also contained suggestions by Behera.
The CEO later directed Behera to initiate action before May 15 and file a detailed report. Sources said action may be initiated against five policemen. One under the shadow of suspicion was earlier part of the Chief Minister’s security detail. Later he worked with Thomas Chandy when he was the Transport Minister.
“The top brass in the department is viewing the incident with utter seriousness as the police chief had earlier issued a circular warning the subordinates not to indulge in any manipulation related to postal votes,” sources said.
KPA general secretary P G Anilkumar rejected the allegations, saying the accused policemen were working in the Indian Reserve battalion where the association units are not functioning. “The association hasn’t deputed anyone to collect the ballot papers. It’s absolutely wrong to show us in bad light,” he said.
“It’s the trust factor which prompts them to do so. In police stations officers hand over ballots to the writer when they go on poll duty and post it on behalf of others,” he said.