Election Commission of India

With General Elections 2024 underway, the Election Commission of India is on track for the highest-ever seizures of inducements recorded in the country's 75-year history of Lok Sabha elections.

Enforcement agencies have made a record seizure of over Rs. 4650 crores in ECI's resolute fight against money power even before the first phase of polling for the 18th Lok Sabha elections commences on Friday.

This marks a sharp increase over Rs 3475 crores seized during the entire Lok Sabha election in 2019. Significantly, 45% of the seizures are of drugs and narcotics, which are under the special focus of the Commission. The seizures have been possible by comprehensive planning, scaled-up collaboration and unified deterrence action from agencies, proactive citizen participation, and optimal engagement of technology.

Sharing details of recoveries in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the ECI stated that it has seized cash, liquor, drugs, and freebies worth Rs 4 crore in Jammu and Kashmir and that it will continue its drive ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Cash worth Rs 1.24 crore has been seized, while 23964 liters of liquor costing Rs 63,00,640 was also seized in Jammu and Kashmir from March 1, 2024, to April 13, 2024.

Shockingly, during the same period, drugs worth Rs 2.35 crore were also seized by the teams deputed by the Election Commission of India

The seizures are a critical part of ECI's resolve to conduct the Lok Sabha elections free of inducements and electoral malpractices and to ensure a level playing field.

The ECI states that the Commission has always emphasized that there will be multi-pronged surveillance on all modes of transport – check posts and nakas for road transport, Coast guard for coastal routes, and DMs and SPs alongside agencies for air routes including checking of helicopters and non-scheduled flights.

The ECI stated that in January and February 2024, the months preceding the official announcement, countrywide seizures totaling another Rs 7502 crores were recorded in the form of cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals, and freebies.

This brings the total seizure to over Rs 12000 crores so far, with six weeks still left in the election period, the ECI said.

J&K Police

Increased focus on drug menace in society

According to ECI, there was a substantial focus on drug seizures, which accounted for approximately 75% of the total seizures in January and February 2024. Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar had emphasized the importance of agencies' efforts in seizing drugs and narcotics during his visits to nodal agencies.

He highlighted that, besides the risk of dirty money being used to influence elections, drugs pose a serious social menace with the potential to harm communities, particularly youth.

The Commission has also collaborated with the Directorate General of the Narcotics Control Bureau and its senior officials to identify key routes and corridors for drug trafficking and ensure effective countermeasures are in place.

Over the past few years, significant seizures have been made during elections to State Assemblies, including during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct in States like Gujarat, Punjab, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Mizoram.