Strongrooms to have CCTVs, district officials warned against laxity, strict watch being kept on paid news, informs CEC
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 22: The Election Commission (EC) of India has decided to install CCTVs inside strongrooms and put a display outside so that agents of political parties can a keep tabs on it round the clock. This is being done to ensure that post-poll allegations of EVM tampering inside strongrooms are not raised this time around. Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, Chief Election Commissioner Dr sim Zaidi informed this on Tuesday.
During their two-day visit to the State, the full bench of ECI comprising the CEC and two Election Commissioners also held meetings with all stakeholders to ensure a free and fair election,
Expressing satisfaction at poll preparedness in the State, Dr Zaidi said, “The authorities will not get complacent and we will continue strengthening the mechanism to bridge all gaps.”
Speaking about challenges before the ECI in conducting free and fair polls in Assam, the CEC said, “There are challenges of terrain. Complexities like extremism, political rivalry and social formations are also there. The administration has been asked to deal with all these.”
Stating that enforcement of model code of conduct was being done in strict manner, Dr Zaidi added that it was below expectation in some outlier districts, warning that any official found lagging in this respect will face strict action.
Informing that district officials have been asked to do fresh review of vulnerable areas, specially tribal belts, SC domint areas and economically backward areas, the CEC said, “The Central police forces will visit these vulnerable areas to boost the confidence of voters and ensure that they are not intimidated or influenced in any manner.” He added that deputy commissioners and superintendents of police will be persolly responsible to ensure that no voter intimidation takes place.
Dr Zaidi also said that all polling booths in rural areas and maximum numbers in urban areas would be covered by Central police forces.
The CEC expressed satisfaction that action has been taken in most of election-related offences during 2011 State polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, saying that the focus areas for the ECI till the polling concludes this time would be to ensure deposit of licensed arms, seizure of illegal arms and explosives, execution of non-bailable warrants and preventive action against known offenders and crimils, among others.
Dr Zaidi also expressed satisfaction with deposit of over 23,000 out of 32,000 licensed arms in the State and execution of over 3,000 non-bailable warrants since the CEC’s visit to the State in December.
Over Rs 7 crore cash has been seized so far, which is much higher than the amount seized in any election in the State earlier. Over 5 lakh litre of illegal liquor has also been seized.
Dr Zaidi also informed that the EC has been keeping a strict watch on paid news.
To ensure maximum turnout of the 1.99 crore voters in the State, the CEC said steps are being taken to set up 250 model polling stations and provide special facilities for physically disabled voters, blind voters and senior citizens, among others.
Informing about the concerns and demands raised by political parties during their meeting with the ECI team yesterday, Dr Zaidi said the parties have urged it to expedite deposition of licensed arms, seizure of illegal arms and liquor and identification of possible intimidators in identified areas.
Appealing for maximum voter participation and ethical voting, the CEC said, “We hope that Assam will set a new benchmark to take the election process forward.” Dr Zaidi was accompanied by Election Commissioners AK Joti and OP Rawat.