FROM OUR STAFF CORRESPONDENT
SHILLONG, Oct5: Amidst the fretfulness of a section of people on the distant possibility of having a free democratic battle to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) scheduled on October 12, the authorities bank hard on the role of the political parties in ensuring participation –free from threat, intimidation and other aspects of disturbances. This is a part of the security mechanism that will be put in place.
Six days are left for the district council polls to the turbulent five districts of Garo Hills. Besides the spate of kidppings and recent killings of two policemen in five districts, the opposition to non-tribal’s participation by indigenous tribal groups has been the focal point in the past two weeks.
Returning officer of the elections Pravin Bakshi told The Sentinel over phone, “We are committed to ensure free and safe polls and our concern have already been listed to the higher ups for necessary actions.”
Stating, ‘optimum force will be used to create a polling atmosphere, free from fear and apprehensions’, Bakshi further informed that additiol central paramilitary forces will be deployed in all hyper sensitive and sensitive areas.
Out of the 788 polling booths, 255 have been considered as hyper-sensitive and 108 as sensitive. However, there is no official confirmation on how many additiol companies of central paramilitary forces that will add up to the existing companies already operating in the strife torn Garo Hills district.
The worrying aspect is on the participation of the non-tribal’s in view of the strong opposition by the frontal NGOs of Garo Hills, who have been questioning the validity of the non-tribal’s in the election process which they perceived as ‘exclusive’ and as enshrined by the sixth scheduled of the Indian constitution.
While the campaigning has been a low key affair in most parts of the five districts in view of the current situation, there are 587717 eligible electors who will determine the seats in the 30 member GHADC on October 12.