Police too behind bogus voting in Kerala

Police too behind bogus voting in Kerala
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Thiruvananthapuram: With CPM already in the dock for bogus voting in the Lok Sabha elections, reports have surfaced that police association chiefs hijacked the postal votes of police personnel for vested interests. Allegedly, a majority of the ballot papers were seized by the police association chiefs for bogus voting. Those who refused to oblige were prevented from excercising their franchise. Around half lakh police personnel excercised the postal ballot in the elections conducted on May 23.

This allegation comes amidst the Election Commision's confirmation that three women were involved in bogus voting in Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency. The Chief Election Officer Teeka Ram Meena had directed the police to slap cases on the three women, polling agents of political parties and polling officials for impersonification, abetment of bogus voting and dereliction of duty. The three women are present and former members of the CPM.

Following the line of events, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran had complained to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Kerala in writing, who sought an explanation from the DGP.

What happened

About 90 per cent of the 55,000 policemen in Kerala use postal ballot to cast their votes. The police personnel usually gets their ballots prior to the election by applying to the collectorate directly. However, additional SPs designated as nodal officers collected the ballots this time. It has been alleged that most of these ballots were seized by leaders of police associations and bogus votes were cast. The policemen who opposed this move were apparently threatened with transfers.

DGP Loknath Behra has asked Intelligence ADGP TK Vinod Kumar to submit a report after a quick inquiry. Stringent measures will be taken if anyone is found guilty, DGP said.

This allegation was reported prior to the polls in state by Manorama. The issue was then brushed aside after the authorities sought explanation from top police officers.

Behra had denied any foul play saying the allegations were unfounded.

Though DGP has ordered a probe, CEO’s stand is still unclear. Many policemen believe an internal inquiry will be biased.

The KPCC - Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee - is now preparing to file a complaint with the Central Election Commission with a copy of the previous complaints attached. The Congress has raised serious charges against the CPM with visual proof, citing multiple instances of bogus voting reported from polling booths, especially in north Kerala.

Organisations of cops owe allegiance to different political parties and increasing politicisation of police has been a matter of concern of late.

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