Gangtok: Two Researchers from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) have been detained overnight at Kaluk police station in Sikkim for conducting a post-poll survey in the state.
CSDS is one of the country’s leading social science research institutes and is based in New Delhi.
Prof Mukund Giri, the state coordinator for Sikkim for CSDS, and some of the students working as field investigators were conducting the post-poll survey when they were detained by the police on Tuesday evening. Giri also teaches political science at Government Sikkim College.
Sources in the police said that the researchers have been detained after a complaint was received by the sub-divisional magistrate of East Sikkim district. It was also mentioned that the team had not sought any permission for the survey. The authorities also maintained that any exit poll, opinion poll or political survey is not allowed without proper permission with the model code of conduct in place.
Meanwhile, officials of CSDS clarified that the survey was conducted 48 hours after voting and the issue has been raised after complaints were filed by some political workers. It was also mentioned that similar exercises are being carried in other northeastern states like Mizoram.
“Lokniti-CSDS wishes to underline that this post-poll survey is a research activity and it has no political affiliation nor does it work for any political party from Sikkim or any other parts of India. The post-poll survey that Lokniti-CSDS is currently carrying out in Sikkim is part of its National Election Study 2019 and similar studies have been conducted by Lokniti-CSDS since 1996. The findings of this study will not be published in any form until the election process is over at the all-India level. This being an academic exercise, we hope that 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,” reads an official statement by CSDS.
“During the post-poll survey, people are interviewed after taking their consent. Nobody is pressurised for the interview. This is written in the questionnaire. Questions related to voting are asked using a dummy ballot paper and ensuring confidentiality of the voters. It is just a coincidence that the colour of the dummy ballot paper is also pink as is the colour of the postal ballot. Party leaders of Sikkim Kranti Dal thought that the survey was being conducted on behalf of the ruling party creating this confusion,” said Sanjay Kumar, director, CSDS
Elections to the 32-seat Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat in Sikkim were held on April 11.