SEC Says Candidates in Kashmir Not Barred From Canvassing

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State Election Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir, K.K Sharma

‘Arrangements In Advance Stage For DDC Polls’

Srinagar: Two days after People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) chairman Dr Farooq Abdullah shot a letter to him complaining that the amalgam’s candidates were being whisked away and barred from canvassing, the State Election Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir, K.K Sharma, on Monday said that putting up candidates in cluster accommodations for their security and safety no way means that they are being prevented from holding election campaigning.

Addressing a news conference here on Monday, Sharma said that SEC believes in providing equal opportunities to every contesting candidate and shall not bar any candidate from going anywhere he wishes to go for campaigning.

He said that preparations are in advanced stage for smooth and hassle-free conduct of 8- Phase DDC elections, ULB and Panchayat by- elections in all 10 districts of Kashmir .

SEC,as per an official spokesperson said that adequate security arrangements are being put in place and deployment of additional 165 CAPF companies is being ensured for maintaining peaceful law and order situation, area domination, security of candidates and polling booths for incident free polls in Kashmir. He said that keeping the weather conditions into consideration, most of the vulnerable areas have been taken up for polls in phase -I.

“SEC said that snow clearance machinery and required manpower has been kept in ready gear in all snow bound areas for hassle- free conduct of elections in these areas. He said that General Observers and Expenditure Observers have been designated for all districts to keep check on the expenditure process by contesting candidates,” the official spokesperson said.

Terming DDC polls as historic, SEC, as per official spokesperson said that these elections being held for the first time are important for the development and strengthening of democratic set up in the UT.

“He said that all DCs and SSPs have been instructed to ensure comfortable campaigning of all candidates besides providing them adequate security arrangements during their visits to their areas,” he added.

Earlier, SEC chaired a meeting with DCs and SSPs of all districts through videoconferencing which was also attended by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole and IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar.

“SEC said that all arrangements are being put in place to ensure conduct of polls in a free and fair manner across the UT. Moreover, he said that the goal of SEC is to ensure safe elections are held in the UT,” he said.

Emphasizing on providing adequate security arrangements to all participating candidates whether party based or as independent including star campaigners, SEC instructed DCs to ensure proper transport arrangements, heating facilities and other related arrangements are made available for polling staff for their comfortable stay and smooth to and fro movement during the election process.

According to the official spokesperson, Sharma said that there has been an enthusiastic atmosphere prevailing in Kashmir as encouraging nominations particularly youth participants are coming forward to participate in these elections for promotion of democracy. He said the DDC polls which are being held for the first time in the UT are important and shall ensure district level leadership to the people and give a boost to the developmental process in all districts.

“He said that special arrangements of postal ballots are being made for various categories of people which includes senior citizens, Covid- 19 positive to remain in isolation and others to ensure everyone who can’t turn up to the polling booth is given opportunity to exercise his/ her right to franchise,” the official spokesperson said.

SEC, he said took a district wise review about the arrangements being made regarding elections like printing of ballot papers, migrant postal ballots, absentee voters, dispatching of material, finalization of polling staff, setting up of control rooms, media centers, poll day arrangements, communication plan, details of canvassing candidates, uncontested candidates, constituencies and Covid related arrangements.

“SEC instructed DCs to ensure people to strictly follow all Covid related SOPs including use of face masks and hand sanitizers while participating in the election process. He also asked them to ensure availability of thermal scanning, face masks and hand sanitizers at all polling booths,” the official spokesperson added.

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