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Scrutiny time for wrestlers

Elections are a good time for wrestlers to flex their muscles and make a quick buck.
PTI | By Yogesh Kumar (Indo Asian News Service), New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 30, 2004 12:08 PM IST

Elections are a good time for wrestlers to flex their muscles and make a quick buck.

So police here have got cracking on wrestlers and other musclemen - often hired by candidates to intimidate voters and rivals - ahead of the general election in Delhi on May 10.

A list of over 100 'akharas', or traditional wrestling schools, across the city has been prepared. "Wrestlers are under the police scanner to ensure they don't create any ruckus during elections," said a senior police officer.

Sources say wrestlers from adjoining states like Haryana come to the capital and offer their services to contestants.

And not just wrestlers; even criminals from neighbouring areas make their way to the city to throw their weight behind contestants.

Another senior police officer said wrestlers usually serve contestants who are fighting as independents candidates.

"Arrangements like transport and lodging for wrestlers are made in advance. They are briefed about the campaigning and their job by aides of contestants," the policeman said.

The main task of wrestlers is to provide security cover for a contestant at election meetings. Wrestlers step in if and when someone tries to play spoilsport.

Wrestlers are often also entrusted another task - demoralising workers of rival groups.

"Wrestlers pick up fights with party workers of rival groups to make them panic. More significantly this throws the rival party's electioneering out of gear," the police officer said.

In the last Delhi assembly elections, police arrested dozens of wrestlers who were working for a contestant in the outer Delhi area.

The police officer said wrestlers start roaming residential areas a day before polling and, at times, frighten the people including polling agents.

Several wrestlers have been arrested in the past fortnight. To intensify the drive against them, Delhi Police is coordinating with the authorities in other states.

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