Manipulation of postal votes: Cop suspended, probe ordered

Kerala Police Vote

Thiruvananthapuram: A cop has been suspended in connection with the alleged manipulation of Lok Sabha postal votes of police officers.

The Kerala police chief had on Thursday ordered a detailed probe into the charges.

The suspension of Vaisakh, a cop in the IR Battalion of Kerala Police, comes after the Crime Branch registered a case. The investigation was ordered by DGP Loknath Behera after Kerala Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena directed him to conduct a detailed inquiry into the charges.

Thrissur SP Sudarshan will be in charge of the case carried out under the supervision of IG S Sreejith. Crime Branch will also be investigating if there had been wrongdoings in past elections.

A detailed report will be presented by May 15.

Behera had earlier forwarded a report prepared by the Intelligence chief on the alleged manipulation of the postal ballots of the police officers, to Meena.

"Prima facie it seems like there are issues in the postal ballots. The role of the Police Association also has to be probed," Meena told reporters Thursday. An official press release stated Behera had asked the Crime Branch chief to register a case and probe into the matter.

Media reports had alleged that some pro-LDF police association office-bearers had collected the postal ballots and distributed it to the policemen who were on election duty and voted in favour of the left candidates.

Congress demanded probe

Kerala voted on April 23 to pick 20 Lok Sabha members. A preliminary probe had revealed bogus voting in the postal ballots of police officials in Kerala. Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, had complained of 'foul play' in the matter. Kerala Congress Committee President, Mullapally Ramachandran, demanded a judicial investigation into the issue.

Following an audio clip of two police officials speaking on postal ballots surfacing in the media, Behra ordered a probe by the intelligence wing into allegations of irregularities by CPM-backed office-bearers of the Kerala Police Association. The association consists of 58,000 police officials and is led by those said to be close to the CPI-M.

A four-page report submitted to Behra points at foul play and has recommended action against two police officials besides calling for a comprehensive probe.

Vaisakh, once a member of CM's security team

Vaisakh was once a member of the chief minister’s security team. He was removed after five months. Vaisakh is a close relative of a police association district leader.

It was Vaisakh who posted a voice message announcing association directive to collect ballots in WhatsApp group. But he told a special branch that the decision was his own. Four others from Thrissur IR Camp will also face action in the case.

Postal votes

Should it come to light that there are been serious repercussions, postal votes would be considered invalid. Another round of postal votes to replace them would not be practical nor is it possible to remove the ones cast by policemen, the Election Commissioner informed. Election Commission is also empowered to make special provisions on occasions.

The result of the elections will be announced on May 23. Should any candidate lose by a small margin, it is expected that they will point to the postal case to seek judicial help.

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