The Haryana Police Sangathan, an association of serving and former police personnel in the state, has claimed that thousands of its members’ ballots for the Lok Sabha elections were “stolen” and that they were deprived of a free and fair vote, reported The Wire on Wednesday.

Polling in all 10 parliamentary seats of Haryana took place on May 25.

Police personnel who are deployed on duty on polling day vote by the postal ballot system. This is done by filling out a formal application called Form 12, which allows public servants to send in their votes by mail.

However, police officials across Haryana were allegedly called to their district police superintendent’s offices or their district’s police headquarters and asked to submit their Form 12 along with unstamped ballot papers, Haryana Police Sangathan president Dilawar Singh told The Wire.

“The standard practice should be to fill out Form No 12 along with our particulars and to cast our votes individually, in the presence of the election candidates, or election agents,” Singh said.

The police body has alleged “manipulation” of their postal ballots and their right to franchise by senior police officials in the administration, Singh told The Wire.

The association, which has a strength of nearly 50,000 retired and serving police officials, has asked the state Election Commission to look into the matter.

In its complaint to the poll regulator, the association alleged that senior police officials in Haryana had colluded with the state administration in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as well, due to which several police personnel in state had refused to vote this year, Singh told The Wire.

“We were made to deposit our forms, Aadhaar cards and voter IDs at the SP’s [superintendent of police] office,” he said. “That’s not a free and fair vote. This time, out of the strength of 2,125 policemen in Rohtak district alone, only 148 have voted. The others have chosen not to. Why will they vote when the SP’s office is collecting and handling their papers?”

Ahead of voting in the state, the superintendent of police in Mahendragarh district Arsh Verma had denied the existence of any letter asking the police officials to deposit their Form 12 along with their particulars, reported The Tribune.

“Rest assured, there will not be any impediment to free and fair casting of votes by police personnel,” Verma had told the newspaper.