ECI: Mindful Of Security Challenges in Kashmir

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JAMMU — Election Commission of India on Tuesday said it was “mindful” of the specific challenging law and order situation in the State, especially in certain Assembly segments “given their location and concerns.”

Chief Election Commissioner of India, Sunil Arora also said that all the political parties in the state are broadly in favour of holding Lok Sabha and Assembly elections together in the State. 

Addressing media persons in Jammu this evening on the culmination of the two-day visit of the State, the CEC said that all the political parties wanted early formation of a democratically elected Government in the State. 

CEC said that no political party vehemently objected the use of EVMs in the forthcoming elections in the state, though one or two parties did raise the issue. 

He said that the Commission is aware that Elections have been conducted in the past under trying circumstances in the State adding J&K elections do attract global and national attention more than any other State.

With respect to Security Arrangements, CEC said that representatives from all Political Parties emphasized that adequate security be provided to voters and candidates so as to instill confidence in them about the conducive environment for forthcoming elections. 

Regarding Security Concerns, the Commission is indeed mindful of the specific challenging law and order situation in the State of J&K and especially in certain Assembly segments given their location and concerns. Commission will look into due security arrangements while deciding on the timing and phasing of the elections. Commission does as a matter of practice keep in mind local festivals, geographical conditions and related needs while deciding the schedule of election dates. The Commission would also keep in view the sentiments voiced by the representatives with respect to need for restoring democratically elected government in the State. The Commission is aware that Elections have been conducted in the past under trying circumstances in the State. J&K elections do attract global and national attention more than any other State.

With respect to security arrangements, he said, representatives from all Political Parties emphasized that due security arrangements be made to provide adequate security to voters and candidates so as to instill confidence in them for conducive environment for forthcoming elections. “Some political party members desired that adequate security should be continued for ex-Ministers and candidates even after actual election process is over.”

The CEC said that an effective mechanism is being fine tuned for smooth conduct of the electoral process.  

In view of the escalation in Indo – Pak tension, CEC said that district officers of various border districts which are prone to infiltration have expressed their readiness to hold elections in their respective districts.

‘Conducive atmosphere must for elections’

Conducive atmosphere is must for free and fair elections, Election Commission of India (ECI) headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sunil Arora said as the commission wind up a 2-day visit to J&K.

The full-bench ECI arrived on Monday for consultations with various political parties, state administration and other stakeholders on the forthcoming election.

On the second day of visit, the ECI held parleys with the delegations of various political parties here and sought their views on the coming Elections.

Election Commissioners, Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, Deputy Election Commissioner, Sandeep Saxena, Director General ECI, Dilip Kumar, ADG Sheyphali Sharan, Director Nikhil Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer J&K, Shailendra Kumar were also present during these deliberations.

National Conference (NC) delegation was led by senior leader and former MLA Devinder Singh Rana. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegation was represented by former Minister Ch. Zulifkar Ali.  Indian National Congress (INC) delegation was led by senior party leader Mula Ram. Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) delegation was led by State Secretary, Rajinder Sharma and former Deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta. CPI (M) delegation was led by Om Prakash. National Panthers Party (NPP) delegation was led by former Minister, Harshdev Singh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) delegation was led by its State President, Som Raj Majotra, CPI delegation was led by State Secretary, Naresh Munshi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) delegation was led by its State General Secretary. They put their views before the ECI on the coming elections.

The ECI also held a marathon review of preparedness in the Jammu division with the civil and police officers, including Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Kumar Verma, ADGP, Law & Order, Muneer Ahmad Khan, IGP Jammu, M K Sinha, IG CRPF,  Zulfiqar Hassan, Deputy Commissioners and District Police Chiefs of Jammu division.

In his brief address to the Officers, Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora said that it is the endeavor of the Commission to hold free and fair elections across the country with maximum participation of people. He said for holding the elections, it is the primary duty of the Commission to ensure security and safety of the people and a conducive atmosphere is must for that.

The Commission asked the state authorities to  create inducement-free and intimidation-free atmosphere by ensuring sufficient number of security persons on ground. He called for synergized efforts by various departments to achieve the common goal of holding peaceful elections in the State. He urged upon the officers to plug the gaps, if any and take all necessary steps as per the ECI guidelines issued from time to time. He also called for stepping up of awareness campaign to educate the masses about the importance of election and to ensure larger participation of people in the electoral process.

In a separate meeting with the State Nodal Officers of various departments, the ECI reviewed the general preparedness of elections and asked the concerned authorities to ensure minimum assured facilities at polling stations for the voters like provision of electricity, road connectivity, drinking water, transport facility, communication facility, ramps, wheel chairs so that they don’t face any difficulties in casting their votes. The issues related to logistics like transportation of EVMs, polling material to the booths and deployment of staff for election duty also figured prominently during the discussions.

The Commission called upon the state authorities to draw a well-knit action plan to monitor the MCC violations and election related expenditure by candidates during the election process to prevent unlawful activities.  Strict action must be taken against those indulging in various unlawful activities during the elections with regard to the inducement and illegal gratification to voters.

Later, the Commission also held separate meeting with the Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam and DG Police, Dilbag Singh and reviewed the overall election preparedness.


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