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Delhi elections: Over 3,000 public complaints of defacement

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Delhi elections: Over 3,000 public complaints of defacement
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New Delhi: With the Delhi elections over a month away, posters and graffiti by political parties and their supporters have begun cropping up on public property and civic infrastructure - in violation of the law. The state election commission has so far received over 3,000 complaints of defacement since the model code of conduct came into effect Oct 5 and now will employ flying squads to check the menace.

"We have received 3,052 complaints of defacement of public property so far," a Delhi state election commission official told IANS.

The putting up of posters or writing on walls goes against the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007. The act carries a fine of Rs.50,000 or one year imprisonment. But no one has been arrested so far.

"We get complaints of posters, pamphlets and wall writings defacing roadside walls, school walls, flyovers, and other public areas. These are not just limited to crowded areas like Kashmere Gate and Paharganj, but also in areas like ITO, Civil Lines and even outside government offices," said the official.

He felt the situation would "prevail for a while and when the election date nears the party workers will abstain from indulging in such activities."

Elections to the 70-seat Delhi assembly will be held Dec 4.

"Our effort is to protect monuments and public places from defacement in all the 70 constituencies," the official added.

"In order to keep vigil over such violations we have constituted a group of three flying squads, one executive magistrate, one supervisor of municipal corporation of Delhi, four policemen and one video grapher in all the 70 constituencies. They keep patrolling the area to locate any defacement," he said.

"All the nine district election officers in Delhi have been ordered to submit day-to-day status reports of such violations so that it comes to our notice and we take action," the official added.

According to another official, most of the complaints have been registered on receiving complaints from people of different constituencies.

"To make the entire initiative inclusive, the people have been asked to take pictures of the posters, banners and wall writings and register a complaint at the district election office," Ankur Garg, the chief nodal officer, told IANS.

He said the work of electoral officials at the district level is vital. "They are the ones who need to work at ground zero to tackle the problems," he said.

Manish Verma, senior divisional magistrate (Elections), southwest district, said election officials are also keeping vigil at night, as workers of political parties take advantage of the darkness to put up their posters and graffiti.

"We have interacted with political parties, imparting to them proper understanding of the model code of conduct and the rules they have to follow," Verma added.

He said political parties agree to the provisions of the model code of conduct, but their workers continue to deface property in their constituencies.

"In such situations we are left with no option but to take strict action against such candidates," Verma told IANS.

Damodar Singh Meena, sub-divisional magistrate (Elections) south district, said though defacement of property carries a fine of Rs.50,000 or one year imprisonment, hardly any of the offenders are punished.

"If it is to act as a deterrent strict action should be taken in all the over 3,000 cases reported," he added.

IANS

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