Election time in Delhi is synonymous with a spike in demand for musclemen from akharas in Delhi and Haryana and the Delhi Police is working towards checking this trend.
Musclemen, who are often hired to manage unruly crowds in bars and discotheques in Delhi/NCR, are in high demand during elections as political parties allegedly hire them for campaigning, booth management and sometimes to influence voters.
Delhi has a number of traditional akharas and gymnasiums. Pehalwans (wrestlers), who train there have been asked to mark their attendance daily so that the police can keep a tab on their whereabouts.
Because many parties seek musclemen from Panipat and Sonepat too at election time, the Delhi Police have requested their Haryana counterparts to monitor attendance records in gymnasiums and akharas in the neighbouring state.
Election security was the focal point of an inter-state meeting held recently. Representatives of the police from neighbouring states participated in the meet.
“During elections, it has been seen that politicians hire pehalwans to influence voters. In Delhi, there are many traditional akharas but pehalwans from Panipat and Sonepat are in huge demand. We have asked the local police to maintain a register at the gyms and akharas and check on daily basis,” said a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
The police have also asked the head of akharas in Delhi to keep a watch on their members. “We have asked them to prepare a record of pehalwans with their contact details in a register.
The details will be shared with us. If anyone fails to mark his presence for two consecutive days, his family members will be contacted,” said the officer.
The police have also intensified checks on the state’s borders to ensure pehalwans are not allowed to enter Delhi around election time.
In addition to this, neighbouring regions like Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad have been asked to check liquor smuggling too. Police have requested district authorities to ensure that liquor shops are shut down near the Delhi border on December 4, the day of polling.
“We expect neighbouring states to support us in maintaining law and order during the elections.
Polling booths in the border areas will be categorized as sensitive and hyper-sensitive and extra security will be placed there. Apart from the main entry and exit points, there are several unmanned border entry points and state police have been asked to deploy additional staff there and conduct regular checking,” the officer said.