Thursday, June 4, 2020
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DEO- Leh urges army authorities to observe inviolability of electoral process, receives complaints from two contesting candidate

Leh(Ladakh), May 11,(Scoop News)-The district election officer-Leh has written to army authorities to maintain sanctity of electoral process after two contesting candidates alleged that officers were voting on behalf of soldiers posted away from their unit headquarters.

“A complaint has been received from a contesting candidate for the 4- Ladakh Parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha elections, 2019, where in it is alleged that there are malpractices on part of various commanding officers of the Indian Army in the electronic portal ballot system. It is alleged that the commanding are independently adding jawans for their voting preferences rather than supplying them the ballot paper for casting his vote,” wrote, Avny Lavasa, the deputy commissioner- Leh, who is also the District Electoral Officer (DEO) for the parliamentary constituency, in a letter to the Corps Commander, 14th Corps, on Saturday.

The concluding paragraph of the letter mentioned “This is a gross violation of voting and a malpractice that has the potential to invite strict legal action. In this context it is requested that all the concerned officers may be sensitized about the issue and the sanctity of the election process maintained.”

The copies of the letter had also been endorsed to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)-J&K for kind information, Senior Superintendent of Police- Leh for information and Commanding Officer, LSRC- Leh for information besides all concerned candidates.

Informed sources said that the letter to the army authorities was issued on the basis of verbal and written complaint of contesting candidates. “Letter sent to army authorities is a precautionary measure and not confirmation of any electoral malpractice,” said the sources, wishing not to be named.

Meanwhile, Public Relation Officer (PRO- Defence), Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said that preliminary investigation indicate that the complaints are unfounded and appears to have been made to tarnish the image of the army.

“Some political candidates appear to have complained regarding the postal ballot process to be cast by service personnel,” he said adding that no specific instances have been mentioned in the complaint. However, the matter has been brought to the notice of the Army authorities who have been requested for sensitizing the concerned officers about the procedures prescribed in this regard by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the PRO said.

The army spokesman said that in depth investigation is on to ascertain the details in the most impartial manner. “Army remains apolitical and we hold this core value in letter and spirit,” he added.

Four cornered contest in which Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Congress and two independent candidates are contesting for Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency, two each from Leh and Kargil district.

Asgar Ali Karbalai, a rebel Congress leader who is contesting the election as an independent candidate from Kargil district, through his chief polling agenta wrote a letter to DEO and complained that superiors in the army were voting on behalf of soldiers who were not present at the headquarters of their respective units. The soldiers are being asked on the telephone about their voting preference and voting is done by superiors.

“This is against the norms and the constitution. This needs to be corrected immediately as the service voting would continue till start of counting,” the letter mentions. “You are requested to kindly intervene in the matter and ensure that the service voters get their voting slips and vote according to their own choice and freedom,” it stated.

While justifying his complaint, the Congress candidate, Rigzin Spalbar, alleged that BJP and its allies had captured polling booths and rigged the elections in Zanskar area and they can go to any extent to win the elections.

Dismissing the allegations against the party, the BJP candidate, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, said the opposition parties particularly the Congress have realized their defeat and were indulging in useless actions only to have an excuse for their defeat.

“They have acknowledged their defeat and are now harping on some lame excuses,” he said adding that the complaint filed by the opposition is ‘sheer propaganda against army.’

BJP candidate said Indian army is a disciplined force which will never involve itself in any illegal activity.

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