EC focus on 13 border Assembly segments in last two phases

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 9: Following successful conduct of three phases of Assembly elections covering 49 Assembly constituencies in the State, focus in the Jammu region has now shifted towards 13 Assembly constituencies, bordering Pakistan and PoK spread over four districts that would go to polls in fourth and fifth phases of the elections on December 14 and 20.
Of 13 Assembly constituencies, seven fall in Jammu district and two each in Samba, Kathua and Rajouri districts.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Election Commission of India has accorded mandatory permission to the District Election Officers (DEOs), who happened to be the Deputy Commissioners, to relocate polling stations, which fall in firing range of Pakistan Army and Rangers within five kilometers radius in safer zones in case of any firing from across the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) on the day of polling.
“The Election Commission of India has given the permission to change polling stations in case of any eventuality on the polling day within five kilometer radius and relocate them in safer zones so that the polling went on uninterruptedly,’’ they said, adding the DEOs had to keep the State Election Department informed about relocation of polling stations.
Sources said a decision on relocation of vulnerable polling stations will be taken on day of polling if there was any mischief from Pakistan side. However, they added, a decision can be taken in advance if there was any firing from Pakistan well before the day of polling.
The Assembly constituencies identified by the Election authorities, whose polling stations fall along the IB and LoC, included Rajouri and Nowshera (Rajouri district), Chhamb, Akhnoor, Domana, Marh, RS Pura, Suchetgarh and Bishnah (Jammu district), Samba and Vijaypur (Samba district), Hiranagar and Kathua (Kathua district).
Barring two Assembly segments of Rajouri districts (Rajouri and Nowshera) and two of Jammu district (Chhamb and Akhnoor), rest all fall along the International Border. The four constituencies of Rajouri and Jammu districts were located along the LoC.
Samba district will go to polls in fourth phase on December 14 while Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts will vote on December 20 in fifth and final phase of polling in the State.
Sources said the DEOs of all four districts have identified 54 polling stations falling within the firing range along IB and LoC, which would require relocation if there was firing from the Pakistan side. The lists of these polling stations along with the buildings within five kilometers radius, where they will be relocated in safer zone in case of any eventuality by Pakistan, have been submitted by the DEOs to the Election Department.
The Election Commission has approved the relocation of polling stations if there was any firing from Pakistan side on the day of voting, sources said, adding that it was mandatory on part of the DEOs to keep the Commission informed about lists of both vulnerable polling stations, which would require relocation in case of Pakistan firing and the venues where these stations will be relocated.

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