With 18,094 proclaimed offenders (PO) in Punjab roaming free, ensuring peaceful and fair elections to 13 parliamentary seats has become a challenge for the state government and police.
The state election commission has been regularly getting report from the director general of police (DGP) on arrest of POs, who may become a threat to law and order during the elections.
The DGP has also issued strict instructions to the district heads to nab the POs and put them behind bars to ensure fair elections.
Before the announcement of elections, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had also asked the police to launch a special drive to nab POs within six months but nothing much has come out of the directions.
As per a list on the website of the Punjab chief electoral officer, 3,024 criminals are on the run in Jalandhar police commissionerate and it tops the list of the 27 police districts.
Ludhiana police commissionerate is on the second spot with 2,493 POs and Amritsar commissionerate third with 1,546 POs.
As many as 6,424 criminals have been declared POs under Sections 82/83 of the CrPC Act, while 12,002 have been declared POs under Section 299, CrPC Act. As the police brass is burning midnight oil to nab POs, 106 more have been added to the list since the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into force on March 5.
Some POs are on the run for three decades and have been absconding after cases pertaining to murder, attempt to murder were registered against them.
The police have also shared the information about offenders with the police officers of the neighbouring states so that the accused can be arrested.
The heads of PO cells have initiated a drive after the election commission issued instructions to nab POs and put them behind bars.
Chief electoral officer VK Singh said, “The commission has already issued strict orders to the state police chief to arrest POs as they may create problems in holding fair elections.”
“We are monitoring the situation with the DGP on daily basis and till date the results are okay,” Singh added.