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Andhra post poll violence: EC suspends police chiefs of Palnadu, Anantapur

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Amaravati, May 16 (IANS) Taking serious note of post-poll violence in Andhra Pradesh, the Election Commission of India on Thursday suspended the Superintendents of Police of Palnadu and Anantapur districts and transferred the District Collector of Palnadu and the Superintendent of Police of Tirupati. The Commission, which summoned the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to New Delhi to personally explain reasons for the failure of the administration to contain post-poll violence, directed them to take strict action against culprits. The poll panel also directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to retain 25 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF) in Andhra Pradesh after counting to prevent any further violence. At a meeting held at Nirvachan Sadan with Chief Secretary K.S. Jawahar Reddy and DGP Harish Kumar Gupta, the Commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, conveyed its displeasure over the post-poll violence. During the briefing, Jawahar Reddy and Gupta shared their assessment of negligence and lack of supervision on the part of officials in the violence-hit districts. The Commission approved the proposal of the state government to initiate departmental enquiry against Palnadu Collector and the SPS of Palnadu, Anantapur, and Tirupati. It also approved the suspension of 12 subordinate police officials in Palnadu, Anantapur, and Tirupati districts and the initiation of departmental enquiry. Without mincing any words, the Commission directed the Chief Secretary and the DGP to ensure that such violence is not repeated and all SPs to be tasked to take pre-emptive measures to avoid such a situation in future. The Commission reviewed the cases and directed both officials for strict supervision, to ensure appropriate decisions on the timely filing of charge sheets against the culprits, as per law, preferably within the model code of conduct period. A Special Investigation Team will investigate the matter and submit an action taken report to the Commission within two days in each of the cases. FIRs will be updated with additional appropriate IPC sections and other relevant statutory provisions. The state has requested to retain 25 CAPF companies for 15 days after counting to control any possible violence after the declaration of results, and the Commission directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to comply.Several incidents of violence were reported in Anantapur, Palnadu and Tirupati districts on the polling day and post-polling day. Incidents were also reported before the poll involving assault, setting the property/office of the opposite party on fire, threatening, damaging the campaign vehicles, stone pelting etc. Most of these incidents happened in the districts of Annamaya, Chittoor and Palnadu and a few in Guntur, Anantapur, Nandyal etc. Polling for the 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state was held on Monday. –IANS ms/vd

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