With the likelihood of underworld money and muscle-power playing a big role in the forthcoming civic polls, the crime branch is gearing up to counter both.
Days before the poll dates were announced, the crime branch seized a cache of 15 sophisticated firearms from a notorious gunrunner from Uttar Pradesh in the last week of December. The police had specific intelligence that the underworld was arming itself for fights during the elections.
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy, said though probable recipients of the seized arms are still to be traced, “the underworld threat certainly looms large in the run-up to the polls. These local elections are keenly fought as compared to Assembly or Parliamentary polls. These contests, at times, result in violence”.
He said the crime branch on its part would be concentrating on the pumping in of underworld money through hawala operators and fielding of candidates with mafia backgrounds. “We are in the process of identifying hawala operators working for different gangs. We will also be identifying candidates with shady backgrounds once the lists are out. Action will be initiated to bring them to book,” he said.
He said instructions have been issued to all 12 units of the crime branch as well as special units like the Criminal Intelligence Unit and the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) to gather intelligence about possible underworld intervention in the poll scenario.
Additional commissioner of police, crime, Deven Bharati said crime branch sleuths would fan out in the Central and Western suburbs, traditionally considered to be the epicentre of underworld activities.