Karnataka police gear up for two-phase polling in state

March 26th, 2009 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, March 26 (IANS) The police in Karnataka are gearing up to ensure a free and fair poll in two phases next month, the state’s police chief said Thursday.
Polling in 28 parliamentary constituencies of the state will be held April 23 and 30. Voting will take place in 17 seats in the first phase and 11 seats in the second.

“About 60,000 police personnel will be deployed across the state to maintain law and order, ensure smooth conduct of polling, prevent distribution of liquor or cash to induce voters and prevent misuse of official machinery, especially vehicles,” state director-general of police (DGP) Ajay Kumar Singh told reporters here.

In addition, about 50 companies of paramilitary forces will assist the state police on both the polling dates. Adequate forces will be deployed in each constituency, especially at polling booths, which number 29,039 for the first phase and 18,426 in the second phase. Mobile squads will patrol the areas going to polls.

“We are in the process of categorising the polling stations into normal, sensitive and hyper sensitive. Deployment or reinforcements will be proportionate to the requirement and sensitivity of the area,” Singh said.

Since the poll notification March 2, the police have registered 1,974 cases and arrested 3,597 people under the Excise Act for attempting to distribute liquor in several areas across the state. The quantity of liquor seized is valued at Rs.65 lakh (Rs. 6.5 million) till Wednesday (March 25).

“Similarly, two cases have been registered till date for distributing cash equivalent to Rs13,635,00 (Rs. 13.6 million). Drive against distribution of liquor or money will be intensified to curb the menace in the run-up to the D-day,” Singh noted.

In a related development, the police have Thursday detained one man identified as Suresh Pujari at Padubidri in Udupi district for carrying 350 kg of gelatin and 1,500 detonators without licence.

“Pujari was held while transporting the explosives from the small town. He is being interrogated to ascertain the purpose of the goods. We will file an FIR (First Information Report) against him and take him into custody if it is found to be illegal,” Singh added.

The police have set up a toll free facility (1800-4250-100) at the state control room for gathering or disseminating information pertaining to general elections.

Singh has warned Maoists of stringent action, if they are found distributing handbills asking the people not to campaign or vote in the elections.

“We are also keeping a strict vigil on anti-social elements, habitual offenders and criminals to prevent untoward incidents. In view of the terror threat perception, intelligence gathering and combing operations are in full swing,” Singh added.

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