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Poll process begins in Assam

Jorhat, Jan. 24: The chief electoral officer of Assam, Vijayendra, has asked the administration in all districts to prepare a list of government officials who have completed three years in that district and of those posted in their home districts.

The directive, issued recently, stated that the list should include officials who would be directly or indirectly connected in the conduct of the parliamentary elections, and such lists should reach the CEO office by February 10. The move is aimed at transferring officers who have completed three years in a district and those who have been serving in their home district. The instruction was issued following a directive sent by the Election Commission to the CEO and the chief secretary earlier this month.

Quoting the Election Commission’s order, the CEO directive said in order to hold free and fair general elections, all officials who will be completing three years in a district on or before May 31, 2014, and those posted in their home districts “should not be allowed to continue in their present district postings”.

The Election Commission has set February 15 as the deadline for states and Union Territories to send the lists of officials who will be eligible for transfer from their present postings.

The CEO letter said the list should include officials entrusted directly with the conduct of the poll process like district election officers, deputy election officers, returning officers and assistant returning officers. It also asked to include other district officers, like additional district magistrates, sub-divisional magistrates, deputy collectors, block development officers or any other officer to be deployed in election work.

The directive stated that police officers who will be covered by the Election Commission order include inspectors-general or deputy inspectors-general in charge of a range, commandants of state armed police, senior superintendents of police, superintendents of police, additional superintendents of police, deputy superintendents of police, sub-divisional police officers, inspectors and equivalent ranks who are responsible for deployment of police force in a district during elections.

The instruction stated that sub-inspector-level police officers should not be posted in their home Assembly constituencies during the poll period and should also be shifted out of an Assembly constituency if they have completed three years there with May 31, 2014 as the cut-off date.

However, police officials posted in certain branches like special branch, computerisation and training will not come under the condition set by the Election Commission, it added.

The communiqué stated that any official against whom the Election Commission had recommended disciplinary action, or who had been charged with lapse in any election-related work in the past or against whom a criminal case is pending in a court of law, should not be assigned in any election-related duty.

The process of first-level checking of EVMs has started in the state. Official sources said EVMs have started reaching the districts after being brought from outside Assam and the CEO has prepared a schedule for demonstration of functioning of the machines.

Such a demonstration was held in Dibrugarh district in Upper Assam yesterday in the presence of representatives of various political parties and government officials. Testing of the EVMs will be held in the district headquarters and sub-divisions in the coming days, sources added.