Come and vote without any fear, CEC to J

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Srinagar, Nov 12 (UNI) Urging voters to cast their votes without any fear, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India N Gopalswami said nobody can prevent people against taking part in the democratic process.

Talking to mediapersons after day-long meeting with officials and leaders of different political parties here this evening, Mr Gopalswami said, ''We will provide secure and conducive atmosphere tovoters so that he or she can vote fearlessly in the polls.'' About the poll boycott call given by the separatists, majority of whom have since been arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA), the CEC said it is the law enforcing agencies, who has to deal with them.

However, he said, ''Nobody can prevent anybody from exercising his or her right to vote. Preventing anybody from voting is an offence.'' In reply to a question about the participation of people in the polling Mr Gopalswami said the duty of the commission is to hold free and fair elections. ''We are not to force anybody to vote or not to vote, but we are only to provide a voter safe and secure environment for taking part in the polling,'' he added.

To another question he said it the political parties, who have to encourage the voters to come out and vote.

Our only concern is that polling should take place in free and fair manner, he said.

He said the commission was not concerned who is voting and who is not voting. Vote or not to vote is somebodys own right, he said.

Mr Gopalswami, when asked if he was briefed about the ground situation in Kashmir, said, ''I have got a detailed brief about the overall situation.'' But, he said, he will not share the information with the media.

Expressing satisfaction over the arrangements being made by the officials for conducting the polls, he said the arrangements are good. All the departments have done a good job, he said.

About the role of the security forces in the polls, he said they have told in clear terms that no interference will be tolerated.

The security forces are there to provide secure atmosphere to voters, he said.

About the general complaints made by the political parties, he said there were allegations from some parties that their candidates were not being provided proper security by the authorities. I have directed the concerned to look into these complaints and attend them on priority, he said.

About the complaints that Photo identity cards not being supplied to voters in some constituencies, Mr Gopalswami said there are other documents which could be used for identification during the polling.

He said adequate security arrangments will be in place for holding free, fair and peaceful polls.

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