A flood of drugs, liquor in dry Gujarat
A fresh haul of narcotics in Gujarat has taken the total seizures before the upcoming polls to 28 times that of what had been seized in the 2017 elections.
The police’s anti-terrorist squad raided a factory near Vadodara on Tuesday night and seized Rs 478 crore worth of mephedrone — a recreational drug.
In August, mephedrone worth Rs 1,125 crore had been seized by cops in the same district.
The total seizures of drugs, illicit liquor, unaccounted precious metals and suspected freebies to bribe voters is now Rs 768.94 crore since the model code of conduct came into force.
There is no evidence if all or even most of this is to be used in the election campaign.
The significance lies in the quantum of seizures by cops in a dry state — at a time when the model code of conduct reduces political pressure on liquor hauls and focuses surveillance on suspicious financial transactions.
More than 4 lakh litres of liquor have been seized.
A raid in Ahmedabad revealed liquor even in a milk truck. The ATS and the GST unit raided around 150 places in the state for tax evasion last month.
The Election Commission said in a statement: “On 23rd November, 2022, Commission had interacted with Chief Secretaries, DGPs, Excise Commissioners, DG (Income Tax) and other senior officers of Gujarat and its neighbouring States and UTs — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Daman and Diuand Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
This was held to review law and order situation and coordinated participation for conduct of free, fair and peaceful polls.
“Speaking on the occasion, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar, strongly directed effective and strong measures to be taken till the poll day to curb cross-border movement of cash, liquor, freebies from neighbouring districts of border states. He also directed Chief Secretaries and DGPs to do state-wise analysis of seizures and take appropriate action. The Commission also conveyed to ensure action on illicit liquor and narcotics at the originating place.”
Silent on Shah
The poll panel has been silent on the complaints against Union home minister Amit Shah for saying, purportedly in reference to the 2002 Gujarat riots, that the BJP had brought “permanent peace”.
Former IAS officer E.A.S. Sarma and academic Jagdeep Chhokar had asked the Election Commission to defer polls and initiate a probe against Shah for his speech.