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Your vote is precious, CEC tells Kashmiris

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar | April 02, 2004 20:10 IST

Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishna Murthy today dispelled the fear that voters in the state would be prevented from exercising their franchise.

"We will ensure that nobody is prevented from coming out and voting," Murthy told a press conference in Srinagar in the morning. "We will not allow any person to interfere in the normal process of conducting elections."

Referring to the boycott call given by terrorist and separatist groups, he said, "We appeal to those elements ... not to be swayed by these consideration and to realise that the only way a change can be brought about in any democracy is by the voting process."

Replying to a question, he said, "A conducive atmosphere is being created for voters to exercise their right without fear.... This has been made absolutely clear in our meetings with senior state police and security force officers."

The CEC said central paramilitary forces would be deployed extensively in and around polling stations to remove any fear. "I would urge all the voters to realise that the vote is a precious right and should not be wasted," he said.

Representatives of various political parties met the full Election Commission in Srinagar yesterday. Krishna Murthy said they complained about violations of the model code of conduct in Jammu and Kashmir. "We have taken note of them," he said. "We have conveyed our concern. The officials have to be neutral."

Krishna Murthy said, "We will be mixing polling personnel from one district to another. With the monitoring by the special observers and the mixing of poll staff, the quality of the election will be good and even better."

He said facilities for migrant Pandits have been improved to enable them to cast their votes. The number of polling booths for them has also been increased.

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