The Sikkim Police have reportedly detained the state coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and several field investigators on Tuesday night for conducting a post-poll survey in Gangtok, reports said. Lokniti CSDS, a leading social science research institute in India, released a statement stressing that its research work is not affiliated to any political party.
Mukund Giri, the detained official, said he did not seek permission to conduct the survey as none is required to do so. “We have carried out such surveys in the past,” The Hindu quoted Giri as saying. “We do not require any permission. The authorities are alleging that we are violating the norms of secrecy of elections.”
Giri told The NorthEast Today that students affiliated to the organisation were conducting a survey at Airthang in East Sikkim. The students were then taken to a police station.
Meanwhile, Sikkim Chief Electoral Officer R Telang said that the poll body has demanded a report from the East Sikkim district returning officer on the matter.
An unidentified official said the researchers were detained at the Gangtok Sadar police station since Tuesday evening based on a complaint received by the sub-divisional magistrate. “There were some protests by locals about the survey and two people have been taken under preventive detention,” the officer told The Hindu.
Officials have insisted that conducting any exit poll, opinion poll or political survey is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
Lokniti CSDS said that the post-poll survey conducted in Sikkim is part of its National Election Study 2019 and similar to the studies it has been conducting since 1996. “The findings of this survey will not be published in any form until the election process is over at an all-India level,” the organisation said. “This being an academic exercise, we hope political parties will not have any objection to it and that local authorities in Sikkim will take this into account and release our colleague and the students at the earliest.”
Elections to the Sikkim’s 32-seat Assembly and for its one Lok Sabha seat were held on April 11.