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EC reviews byelection arrangement in J

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) The full Election Commission (EC) in meeting with Jammu and Kashmir's Financial Commissioner-cum- Secretary (Home) Director General of Police and Chief Electoral officer have reviewed the preparedness and arrangements for smooth conduct of byelections on April 24 in four constituencies.

Three constituencies -- Rafiabad, Sangrama and Pattan -- are in Baramulla district and Bhaderwah is in Doda district. The notification for these polls were issued on March 31 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations was April 10.

The Commission yesterday directed that all concerned should be sensitised to provisions of the model code of conduct and that it should be strictly enforced. Videography of critical events should also be done.

The EC reiterated that the polling personnel should be constituted after the due process of randomisation, instructions for which already exist.

No poll related official of specified levels who is a native of the district or who has worked for three years, out of the last four years, in the same district where elections are scheduled, should continue at that place.

The logistics for use of electronic voting machines for polling in all 376 polling stations of the four constituencies was reviewed and the administration directed to ensure that proper training is imparted to all concerned.

It should be ensured that the EVMs are prepared in the presence of candidates or their agents and that zonal and sector magistrates carry standby EVMs on the day of polling especially for stations located in far flung areas. The EC noted that EPIC coverage in the four constituencies ranged from 62 to 86 per cent and directed that voters possessing EPIC cards will be required to produce them to exercise their right to vote. For those to whom EPIC cards have not been issued, the EC has in consultation with the chief electoral officer permitted used of alternative documents for proof of identity to exercise their right to vote.

The commission also reviewed the arrangements for Kashmiri migrants to exercise their franchise through postal ballot and directed the chief electoral officer to ensure efficient and timely arrangements for despatch of postal ballots to Kashmiri migrant voters who had been declared as notified electors under the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act 1957.

The EC also directed that detailed communication plan and movement plan for men and material will be carefully worked out -- especially since there are a few polling stations in Bhaderwah constituency which have to be maintained through helicopters -- and therefore effective maintenance of communication network is also essential.

The commission reviewed the security arrangements for the poll and directed that contesting candidates should be provided appropriate and adequate security and safe accommodation. It also directed that effective and intensive security arrangements be made, including for the polling staff, in the four constituencies having 376 polling booths, a large number of which are located in militancy affected areas and are therefore highly sensitive.

The EC also stressed the need for intensive area domination by the security forces in the four constituencies, especially in the light of the call for poll boycott given by different groups, so that public have the confidence to exercise their franchise in a free and fair manner. The director general of police assured that adequate security arrangements are being made.

The commission has appointed eight observers -- four general and four expenditure -- to cover the bypolls.


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