Guwahati: Nagaland Police chief Rupin Sharma has expressed concern over drugs being used as “a sort of bribe for elections” in the Northeast state.
At the same time, the Director General of Police (DGP) asserted that the police is not suggesting involvement of any political party or politician in supplying drugs to voters, but it is “an inducement for whom liquor is not a substitute”.
His statement came a day after he drew the media attention to the changing nature of poll inducement, at the inaugural session of the Nagaland Police Hotel check-in system website in Kohima.
“Liquor is no substitute for some who are used to drugs. There is prevalence of drugs in the society. Drugs are an allurement and inducement for anyone addicted to it — if they get cash, they will buy drugs. It is readily available, and is being used,” Sharma told ThePrint over the phone Thursday.
Nagaland will vote on 27 February, and the results will be out on 2 March.
While the Naga People’s Front (NPF), a regional political party, asserted it would never resort to such means, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) felt that the DGP made such comments on the basis of “credible inputs and information”.
On Wednesday, the DGP told the media that the police department cannot give the exact number of people found involved in drugs during elections, but the prevalence of drugs as an inducement cannot be ruled out.
Preliminary investigation points to narcotics entering the state from Manipur and Assam, while liquor routes were mostly detected in Assam, he said.
As many as 54 cases were registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in the past 15-20 days. There have been two hauls of cash and drugs in the past five-six days, the police said.
In Kohima, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Sandeep M. Tamgadge said that liquor seizure in this election season is much higher than the last period in 2018.
“If we compare the confiscation of liquor till 14 February, we had already seized almost 66,000 litre, way more than the whole election process of 2018,” Tamgadge told media.
A release from the Media Cell of the Chief Electoral Office, Nagaland, as reported by The Morung Express, reveals that the monetary value of drug and hauls from the date of announcement of polls till 14 February stands at ₹39.18 crore. The confiscations were reportedly made by both central and state enforcement agencies.
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Social activist Kevitho Kera told ThePrint that the distribution of drugs, if true, to induce voters is worrisome.
“I think this is a big statement coming from our DGP. If it is true, then it is really sad. It is an accepted fact that liquor flows freely during elections in Nagaland, and our liquor prohibition act is a joke. However, drugs being used to induce voters is really worrisome to me. The Naga society is dystopian if it has really come to this,” she said.
But, Clean Election Movement convenor Villo Naleo said it was far-fetched as the Naga society is strongly against drug abuse.
“The society goes crazy when elections come. Yes, there were cases of drug addiction and selling. But politicians using it to win favour, that’s unthinkable. I don’t think our politicians are that vile to use drugs for votes,” said Naleo, who is also a member of Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC)
“The DGP may have some other ulterior motive to project himself differently when it comes to drug abuse. I will rely more upon our civil societies than the police department.”
The NBCC has called for a Special Prayer Day in Nagaland on 19 February for the Assembly election and persecuted Christians. The Council has urged people to abstain from any influence or succumb to intimidation while voting.
Meanwhile, NPF secretary general and spokesperson Achumbemo Kikon told ThePrint that they don’t believe in buying votes through money or muscle power, or drugs.
“The DGP’s statement has nothing to do with us. There could be some candidates of other political parties resorting to such things that are not only illegal but unethical. We don’t believe in any form of inducements — muscle, money or others. We have been appealing people to vote for our party on ideologies that we stand for — Naga identity and good governance,” he said, adding that politics should not be reduced to that level.
“It’s about building the future and creating hope for the youth, not destroying them with drugs or other means.”
BJP in-charge for Nagaland, Nalin Kohli told ThePrint that the DGP as the senior most police officer must have made the observation on the basis of credible inputs and information. “We all need to join hands in making Nagaland and the entire Northeast drugs free and defeat the nefarious designs of those who are behind it,” he added.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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