Cash, liquor seizures in Odisha before polls raise serious concern

Rourkela/Kalahandi/Bhubaneswar: With multiple incidents of cash and liquor seizures reported in Odisha just before the elections, concerns are being raised over free and fair conduct of polls across the State.

A special flying squad for elections on Wednesday recovered cash worth Rs 27.49 lakh during inspection of vehicles at Mahapani chhak in Bisra area of Rourkela. The seizure took place after the driver of a luxury car abandoned the bag with cash and fled the scene along with the vehicle.

On the same day, the Election Commission’s flying squad seized unaccounted cash worth Rs 2 lakh from the vehicle of BJD’s candidate from Lanjigarh Assembly constituency, Pradeep Dishari, near Jayapatna area in Kalahandi district. A whopping Rs 34.24 lakh was found in a car on April 3 in Bisoi area of Mayurbhanj and on April 4 cash worth Rs 9.57 lakh was seized from a car in Dhenkanal.

Not only cash but huge amount of liquor has also been seized from various locations across the State which has been confirmed by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar. According to sources, liquor worth nearly Rs 3.32 crore and cash worth Rs 2.31 crore have been seized till Tuesday.

“There are static surveillance teams, video surveillance squads, flying squads, expenditure observers, general observers and police observers on the field. Anyone carrying more than Rs 50,000 cash will be interrogated,” Kumar said.

Senior journalist Dilip Satpathy said, “As long as there is no awareness regarding the sanctity of the voting process among people, distribution of cash and other activities will continue.”