Saturday, June 22, 2024

Election crackdown nets record ₹9,000 crore haul amid narcotics surge


In an unprecedented nationwide crackdown, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has confiscated ₹8,889 crore worth of cash, drugs, liquor and precious metals ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls – obliterating previous records as seizures continue to mount daily.

Seizures shatter all previous records

In a statement on May 18th, the poll body revealed that the seizure figures have already far surpassed the ₹3,475 crore recovered during the entire 2019 Lok Sabha elections cycle. With over a week until the final phase on May 28th, the ECI stated the ₹9,000 crore mark would soon be crossed, setting an all-time record for any parliamentary or assembly election in India’s history.

Drugs dominate staggering haul

While cash seizures totalled ₹849 crore and liquor valued at ₹815 crore, the biggest component was a shocking ₹3,958 crore worth of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances – comprising nearly 45% of the total haul. Precious metals like gold and silver cumulatively worth ₹1,260 crore were also recovered.  

The ECI highlighted the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad, Narcotics Control Bureau and Indian Coast Guard making three high-value drug busts in just three days, netting contraband worth ₹892 crore.

New monitoring tool strengthens enforcement coordination

Investigation efforts are enhanced by the newly-introduced Election Seizure Management System (ESMS) – a real-time shared intelligence platform bringing together 20 enforcement agencies like the Police, Income Tax, Excise, Customs, and Anti-narcotics units.

“The ESMS prevents duplication of seizure data while fostering seamless coordination between different agencies. It’s a force multiplier in our crackdown on malpractices like distribution of inducements that influence polls,” an ECI official stated.

Several states emerge as narcotics consumption hubs  

Significantly, the ECI noted a disturbing trend of several traditional transit routes transforming into full-fledged consumption hubs for narcotics. Officials attributed the exponential rise in drug seizures to improved monitoring capabilities coupled with rising substance abuse levels nationally.

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