The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No cover for Kashmiris on poll duty

New Delhi, Sept 20: Kashmiri government staff deployed for election duty, in the first phase of the elections on September 16, were denied bulletproof jackets and headgear distributed to polling officials brought in from Uttar Pradesh.

As the Uttar Pradesh polling officials were escorted into encampments of security forces and briefed on the routine to be followed for the polls, many of them were afraid. But at least they had safety gear their less fortunate counterparts from within the state were denied.

The bulletproof jackets and headgear put on them by the CRPF and BSF personnel served to heighten the sense of insecurity. The polling officials were instructed not to stray out of the encampments and move around unescorted. The Uttar Pradesh officials were also given insurance cover.

But many of the Kashmiri staff were denied these “privileges”.

Election Commission officials on duty in Srinagar said this was because of a shortage that the authorities were trying to make up by the second phase of polling on September 24.

Each booth had four polling officials — two from outside the state and two locals. The presiding officer was usually from outside the state.

About 2,000 polling officials had been flown in and then escorted in buses for duty.

The Election Commission used officials from outside Jammu and Kashmir as a measure to ensure fairness during the balloting.

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