ECI Issues Fresh Guidelines to States to Ensure Free & Fair Elections

The key points of the new directives were discussed in a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Mr. Gyanesh Kumar and Mr. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, and attended by top officials from States/UTs and central agencies guarding the borders
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The Election Commission of India today convened a crucial meeting with all States/UTs to review and assess the law and order situation, prevention of illicit activities, seizures and strict vigil across inter-state and international borders in the ongoing General Elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies 2024 for a free, fair, peaceful and inducement free elections. The purpose of the combined review was to bring all concerned stakeholders together on the same platform for a seamless coordination and cooperation amongst officials of the neighboring states/UTs along with central agencies guarding the borders. The Commission, in detail, reviewed critical issues pertaining to each State/UT.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Mr. Gyanesh Kumar and Mr. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, was attended by top officials from States/UTs and central agencies guarding the borders.

CEC Rajiv Kumar in his opening remarks underscored the Commission’s commitment to ensuring free, fair, peaceful, and inducement-free elections, and called upon all stakeholders to work together seamlessly to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and ensure level playing field. He directed States/UTs to ensure that every voter can exercise their right to vote without fear or intimidation. CEC Shri Kumar called on all States/UTs and agencies to convert their ‘resolve’ into concrete ‘actions’ for a free, fair, peaceful and intimidation-free elections.

Key issues discussed during the meeting included the need for enhanced coordination among neighboring States/UTs, diligent deployment of CAPF provided adequately in all States/UTs; logistical support for movement and transport on CAPF personnel in bordering poll going State/UT; identification and monitoring of  flashpoints in border areas that may have ramifications on the election process; preemptive measures to address communal tensions based on past experiences, and the imperative of securing porous borders against illegal activities. The Commission underscored the importance of strict vigilance to curb the movement of contraband items, including narcotics, liquor, arms, and explosives across international borders, and directed for identification of exit and entry points for movement of liquor and cash along the borders, and curbing of illegal ganja cultivation in some states.

The Commission reviewed support from Indian Air force and state civil aviation department for sorties to ferry polling teams in challenging regions of 11 states like Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra.  Directions were given for adequate security measures to safeguard political functionaries and candidates based on threat perception, particularly in states like Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir. The recent violence and turmoil in Manipur and ramifications in conduct of peaceful elections were also addressed, with the Commission urging swift action to assist Internally Displaced Persons and ensure their participation in the electoral process.

The following general directions were given:

Law & Order related

  1. Integrated check posts at International and Inter state borders for strict surveillance
  2. Sharing of Intelligence on criminals and antisocial elements between bordering districts
  3. Sealing of inter-state borders for preventing bogus voting during last 48 hours
  4. Regular inter-state coordination meetings of border districts
  5. Intensify patrolling on inter-state border districts by state police
  6. Additional nakas to be set up at strategic locations in coordination with bordering states.
  7. Seal inter-state border on poll day
  8. Excise Commissioners of bordering states/UTs to ensure checking of genuineness of the permits, surprise checks of liquor shops especially in border districts.
  9. Timely deposition of licensed weapons and execution of Non- Bailable Warrants
  10. Action against absconders, history sheeters, criminals involved in election related offences
  11. Adequate security cover to political functionaries/ candidates based on threat perception

Expenditure Monitoring:

  1. Plugging the inflow of illicit liquor, cash, drugs along inter-state and international borders.
  2. Strengthening monitoring at checkposts with CCTV Camera installation
  3. Joint checking and operations by police, excise, transport, GST and forest department
  4. Strict vigil along helipads, airports, bus stations and railway stations
  5. Strict action against liquor and drug kingpins; curtail flow of country made liquor; establish forward and backward linkages to plug it systemically
  6. Mapping of sensitive routes for transport of liquor, cash, drugs and freebies

Directions to Central Agencies

  1. Strict vigil along Indo-Myanmar border by Assam Rifles; Indo Nepal Border by SSB especially in areas having porous border with Nepal; Indo- Bangladesh border and western borders by BSF; Indo-China border by ITBP, and in states with coastal area by Indian Coast Guard.
  2. Assam Rifles to hold regular joint security coordination meetings with State Police, CAPF, etc.
  3. SSB to keep strict watch over international borders with Nepal and Bangladesh for any illicit activity, specially before 72 hours of poll.
  4. Ensure area familiarization for newly inducted CAPF companies in coordination with civil administration.
  5. Establish Joint Check Posts in coordination with State Police

Chief Secretary, DGP, Principal Secretary (Home), Pr Secretary (Excise), Chief Electoral officer and State Police Nodal Officer of all States/UTs. Heads of Central Agencies involved in guarding borders namely Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border Police and Coast Guard along with heads of CRPF, Central CAPF nodal officer, Additional Secretary MHA and representatives from M/o Defence and Railways attended the review meeting.

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