Flying squads to monitor elections in Meghalaya

SHILLONG: The Election Commission has approved a proposal to constitute flying squads, which will be armed with magisterial powers, to monitor the entire pre-electoral procedure in all constituencies of East Khasi Hills District.

"The ECI has approved the proposal that other state senior non-magisterial officers appointed to head the flying squads will have the magisterial powers to compound sitting legislators and the aspirants for any violation of the norms laid down by the Election Commission", deputy commissioner and returning officer Sanjay Goyal said.

He added that the magistrates will monitor the constituencies throughout the district and senior officers have been put in place to make the flying squads effective. There are already 62 sectors in East Khasi Hills, he said.

"Besides the magistrates assigned to monitor the activities of the parties, candidates and their supporters, video recordings will also be carried out to ensure free and fair polls," he said. Besides monitoring activities of political parties and independent candidates to ensure fair play in the February 23 elections, the flying squad will supervise the actual expenditure of legislators and sitting MLAs.

On Monday, a meeting was held with political parties wherein the 'dos and don'ts' had been illustrated, Goyal said. He warned that stern action will be taken against any erring candidate or party supporter. He said such action will be taken up due to the "enforced law and not out of personal choice".

Such squads have also been formed in other districts of the poll-bound state to monitor misuse of "money and muscle power".

On the other hand, East Khasi Hills DC Goyal has issued a showcause notice to state NCP president and deputy speaker Sanbor Shullai for his alleged violation of the model code of conduct. Goyal has directed Shullai, a sitting legislator from the erstwhile Laban Constituency, to submit his reply on or before January 17.

Shullai had distributed several utility items, including blankets, plastic chairs and tables under the MLA Scheme, to beneficiaries of his constituency at Raid Laban College a day after the Election Commission announced the poll dates in Meghalaya and enforced the election code of conduct.

The DC iterated that action would be initiated against anybody found violating the code of conduct in the run up to assembly elections scheduled on February 23.