DESPITE THE demonetisation, the Election Commission feels cash would play a big role in the upcoming Punjab polls, with detection of around Rs 200 crore of black money having already been made. According to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Naseem Zaidi, the EC anticipates that besides cash flow, there would be a huge movement of money through banking channels and foolproof arrangements were being made to monitor these transactions. “Huge clandestine currency exchange along with deposits in benami bank accounts is being monitored,” said Zaidi.
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Giving details, the CEC said the investigation wing of the Directorate of Income Tax, in coordination with adjoining states, has already carried out nine surveys, four search and seizure operations and cash interception in 26 cases and inquiries in 200 cases, leading to the seizure of Rs 10 crore and detection of black money worth Rs 200 crore.
To monitor the movement of cash through aerial routes, air intelligence units (AIU) have been made operational in Mohali, Bathinda, Ludhiana and Amritsar. “We appeal to the citizens of the state to send complaints to the income tax authorities if they come across any evidence of illegal activity and they will take immediate action,” said the CEC.
Other measures being taken to monitor the movement of cash includes directions to the DCs to coordinate with banks to adhere to standard operating procedures for movement of cash and also for ATM use. The DCs have also been told to upload affidavits filed by candidates quickly so that the I-T carries out real-time monitoring of the same.
Besides cash, the EC has also supervised a crackdown on the supply of drugs and intoxicants in the state and since the code of conduct was enforced on January 4, a huge amount of seizures has been made. The EC flying squads and static surveillance teams have seized 25 kg heroin worth Rs 62.5 crore, 3,777 kg poppy husk worth Rs 1.5 crore, 37 kg opium worth Rs 37 lakh, 14,273 litres of liquor worth Rs 14.27 lakh and cash worth Rs 3.39 crore.
The commission has also instructed that strict vigil must be maintained to check the cross-border smuggling of drugs, liquor and other illicit items from neighbouring states to induce voters.
Taking a strong note of the recent incidents of stone pelting, shoe-throwing against political personalities and inciting speeches, the CEC said the commission would be very strict with all political parties about such activities.