The Election Commission of India has decided to seize both licensed and illegal weapons before the Lok Sabha election and will reject requests from political parties for change of poll dates because of festivals in Assam.
It has also directed the polling officials and EC flying squads to gear up night vigil to prevent distribution of cash, blankets, mosquito nets etc. by political parties.
The Election Commission headed by the Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath made a two-day visit to the state along with Election Commissioner, H S Brahma and Dr Nasim Zaidi to review poll preparedness. They had meetings with all senior police and civil officials in Assam, Income Tax department officials and representatives of all recognised national and state political parties on Wednesday.
Given the security scenario in troubled Assam, the Election Commission has instructed the home department in Assam to take immediate steps to ensure deposit of licensed arms and seizure of all illegal weapons before the election.
Regarding requests for change in polling dates, CEC Sampath said, “We have been requested by political parties to review election dates on April 7 and April 12 on the occasion of Ashokastami and Ranagli Bihu. But we have found out that there is no restricted holiday on April 7, on the occasion of Ashokastami and April 12 falls two days before Rangali Bihu.
So, we have decided against any change in poll dates.” Election in Assam will be held in three phases on April 7, 12 and 24.
Voters’ photo identity cards will be introduced in Assam for the first time during the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. The CEC informed that PICs had already been issued to 90 per cent voters while efforts were on to issue another 4-5 per cent PICs before election.
On the demand for allowing voting rights to ‘D voters’ (doubtful voters), which is pending before the foreigners tribunals in Assam, the CEC said that since the issue was sub-judice the Election Commission could only ask the state authorities to expedite the process so that the cases related to “D voters’ were disposed fast.
About 1.43 lakh people in Assam were declared ‘D’ (doubtful/disputed) in 1997, during intensive revision of electoral rolls. The ‘D’ voters have been not allowed to cast votes in all elections held since then even as the cases are pending in foreigners tribunals in the state.
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