Secret Punjab Police directive seeks out ’smugglers, criminals’ for pollsSeptember 1st, 2008 - 12:55 pm ICT by IANS
Chandigarh, Sep 1 (IANS) A “top secret” Punjab Police circular seeking information about “important smugglers and criminals with a vote bank” so they can help the ruling Akali Dal (Badal) win the coming Lok Sabha elections has stunned officials in the state. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has dismissed it as “baseless”.In the communiqué sent out to intelligence heads and officials of the department in the state, a copy of which is with IANS, Punjab’s intelligence chief has included a ‘performa (sic)’ meant for field officials to make them gather information that could benefit the Akali Dal in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll.
The proforma includes a separate column for information regarding “important smugglers and criminals with vote bank” in the state. With a long border with Pakistan, Punjab is home to many smugglers, many of whom wield a lot of clout in the communities and areas they hail from.
The communication is from the additional director general of police who heads the intelligence wing of the Punjab police. The proforma was sent out in July.
The communication asks intelligence officials across the state not only to submit hard copies of the duly filled ‘performa’ in English but also to supply CDs of the information they gather.
Interestingly, though the covering letter is in Punjabi, the official language in which all government work is supposed to be done under law, the ‘performa’ is in English. The information to be gathered and supplied has also been sought in English. This has raised many eyebrows here.
According to a reliable source, field intelligence officials were asked to collect election-related information for the ruling party after a meeting of senior police officers held here recently.
Chief Minister Badal appeared to be clueless when he was asked about the “top secret” police communication. But he quickly recovered and dismissed as “baseless” allegations of help being sought from smugglers and criminals to win elections.
“These are baseless allegations. We cannot even think of using smugglers and criminals for political gains. Punjab is a small state. We know every person in the state. We don’t need their help,” Badal said last week when asked about it.
Although such “top secret” communications from the police are rare, this is not the first time the police in Punjab have been roped in to help the ruling party come on top in the state.
The Akalis chargesheeted former Punjab director general of police S.S. Virk and suspended him on charges of helping the previous Congress government with intelligence inputs from the Punjab Police for political mileage before the February 2007 assembly elections.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a junior partner to the Akali Dal, seems to be in the dark about the police missive.
“If the government and the police have information on these smugglers and criminals, why don’t they go and arrest them instead?” a BJP minister in the Badal government told IANS on condition of strict confidentiality.
The intelligence wing has also been asked to supply information about religious ‘deras’ (sects) and gurus with substantial support among the people in the state.
They have also been asked to provide information about NRIs with considerable influence in different areas.
Former chief minister Amarinder Singh was quick to react.
“Akali Dal politics has hit a new low. Such things are being resorted to by Badal and Badal da munda (Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir). They are misusing the state machinery to serve their interests,” Amarinder Singh said.
The ‘performa’ distributed even wants intelligence officials to gather information on “SAD(B) leaders who need to be activated or won back to the party fold”.
They have also been asked to prepare “details of dissidents, disgruntled, sidelined and ignored leaders of various political parties” in respective constituencies.
Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha and 117 assembly constituencies. The Akalis and the BJP won eight and three seats respectively in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, which was in power at that time, got only two seats.
Intelligence officials have also been asked to provide details of various Akali Dal panchayats (village bodies), BJP panchayats and Congress panchayats in the state.
They have been asked to furnish details about Congress leaders “who can support the SAD(B)/BJP covertly or overtly”. List of all religion, caste and social status based communities have also been sought in detail.