The State Police had made record sezures in this elections as compared to 2017 assembly elections and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Kundu.
With less than two weeks before Himachal goes to polls, cash is floating everywhere in the state. Himachal Pradesh Police along with Central forces is keeping a hawk’s eye on the sensitive China-Himachal border and the borders with other states from where large caches of alcohol, cash, drugs have been recovered.
The State Police had made record seizures in these elections as compared to 2017 Assembly Elections and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Kundu.
Kundu, a 1989 batch IPS officer has been the DGP of the state police since 2020. In a candid interview with the The New Indian Executive Editor Anand Singh at police headquarters in Shimla , he says polls will be carried out without any fear and influence and his force being one of the most professional forces is committed for free and fair elections.
The New Indian: Election is taking place on November 12. So how has Himachal Pradesh Police prepared to conduct the polls in the state?
Kundu: Elections are being held under the guidance of the Election Commission. And the EC has stayed here for three days to check the preparedness. Elections are distributed in three phases — pre polling, polling day and post polling day.
For pre-polling day, we are doing our work and even CAPF companies have arrived in the state, what is area domination, we put check Nakas, borders are sealed, we keep vigil on distilleries. So in the pre-polling phase we are doing our work and we have our force deployed. We are working under the mandate of the Election Commission.
The New Indian: During elections liquor and cash are transported to influence the voters. So what is the preparation of the police for the same?
Kundu: We have three mandates. One to conduct free elections, second to conduct fair elections and third to conduct the election without any influence. Cash, liquor, arms and goodies all these are the means to influence the elections. The check posts, the SSTs and flying squads keep on checking vehicles entering the state. And we have seized cash to the tune of Rs 3 crore. One of the largest seizures of cash to the tune of Rs 2 crore from Nurpur Damtal region. And everyday we are seizing cash, recently we also seized cash worth Rs 5 lakh in Chamba. Liquor also has registered record cases.
And if we compare the last two elections, whether 2017 assembly polls or 2018 Lok Sabha polls, we have made record seizures whether it is cash, liquor or drugs. We have seized heroin in record quantity. And even 90 per cent of arms have been deposited. We are also focusing on illegal mining as the Election Commission and SC pointed out that the money from illegal mining is used to influence votes. So we have recovered approximately Rs 30 lakh and that has been deposited in the state treasury. We are also doing area domination.
The New Indian: Himachal Pradesh is a border area and it also shares borders with China. What kind of special arrangements have been made as those areas are far flung and isolated areas.
Kundu: On the international borders Central agencies are already deployed there. They have heightened security and vigil in those areas. And we also support them. Besides the International border, we share a 350 km border with Punjab, 200 km with Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, 170 km with Uttarakhand, 2 km with Uttar Pradesh and about 50 km with Haryana. On the access points on the borders of the state we have put check posts with CCTV cameras installed there. And most of the seizures have been done from those areas. And we have a tight vigil on borders, so that no one can influence the election process, threatening so that free and fair elections take place here.
The New Indian: Shyam Saran Negi, who hails from Kalpa village in Himachal Pradesh is one of the oldest voters of India and he is also known as a symbol of democracy. So what you have to say about him as elections are in the state on November 12.
Kundu: The Election Commission and our Chief Electoral Officer, as we have our own orchestra named Harmony of the Pines, was commissioned to promote voting and encourage people. So we made a video to vote in elections. On October 24, CEC Rajeev Kumar and SC Pandey released the video and within a week it got more than 1 million views. The government officials are also encouraging people to come forward and vote. Even the poll panel has made special arrangements for senior citizens above 80 and those who are physically disabled.
The New Indian: Himachal Pradesh being a hilly state and most often the areas are covered with snow and many areas inaccessible. So what is the planning of the police?
Kundu: When the Commission came to Himachal, we requested them to conduct elections before November 15, as traditionally snowfall takes place after that and roads get closed. We thank the commission as the dates of elections are November 12 when there will be no snowfall. And results will be announced later on December 8, by which the poll process will be completed smoothly.
The New Indian: You have been associated with Himachal Pradesh Police for a long time. How has your experience been so far?
Kundu: My experience has been very good. We have got a professional force and we have also got Presidential colours award and we have also received several awards from the central government’s Inter Operable Criminal Justice system in which we are number one in India.
In Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS )we are number one among the hilly states for the last two years. And even in monitoring of rape and POSCO cases we are on top. Tracing missing and children we are on top among the states. And without fear and favour we will conduct the elections so that people here vote without any fear or influence.
The New Indian: Dharmashala is an important place, the Dalai Lama also lives in the state. The ED carried out searches in Himachal Pradesh and even the Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested an alleged Chinese spy in Delhi, so how much challenging it becomes when such an espionage case comes to the fore?
Kundu: This question is out of my mandate and the agencies will only comment on the same. But Himachal Pradesh police is a very professional police and whatever challenge comes will deal with it.