After the huge cache of drugs seized during the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2012 Assembly elections, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to focus on the issue for the upcoming poll season. Sources in the EC say that even though the code of conduct is yet to be imposed, a check is being maintained via close liaison with the state police force, state narcotics bureau as well as the national narcotics control bureau. The office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has also complied the data of the seizures of drugs and illicit liquor during the previous elections and the same was also part of the presentation made to the EC team which visited Chandigarh recently.
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EC officials say that while the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes will curb the use of black money in the electoral process to a large extent, the use of drugs and liquor to allure voters is an equally important aspect of the polls. “We cannot afford to slacken the grip over the use of liquor and drugs and this was also reflected in the meetings held by the EC team with Punjab government officials during their visit,” a senior official said.
Data accessed by The Indian Express shows that as much as 17,606 kg of poppy husk was seized during the 2014 general elections which was way higher than the 2,707 kg seized during the 2012 assembly polls. Similarly, while 23.54 kg Heroin was seized in 2012 polls the figures touched 155.75 kg in the general elections thereby showing an exponential growth. Drug power, better known as ‘chitta’ was also seen to have been in use at a much higher volume in 2014 polls with 43.50 kg of it being seized as compared to 18.31 kg in the previous assembly polls. The data also shows that apart from the hardcore drugs, there have also been high rates of seizures of over the counter drugs which are widely used as intoxicants by addicts. Nearly 1,31,537 capsules were recovered in 2014 while the figure stood at 88,296 in 2012 elections.
Similarly, 2,21,416 tablets and 4281 bottles of cough syrup were seized while being transported in 2014 elections as compared to 9,94,075 tablets and 4362 bottles in 2012.