JAMMU, Mar 12: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora, two Election Commissioners—Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra and other top officials of the Commission today met three Special Observers appointed for Jammu and Kashmir elections and had detailed inter-action with them.
All three Special Observers including AS Gill, Noor Mohammad and Vinod Zutshi, who are retired IAS and IPS officers, would shortly travel to Jammu and Kashmir to oversee smooth conduct of Lok Sabha elections and work out modalities for the Assembly polls, sources told the Excelsior.
The Election Commission’s decision to depute three Special Observers to Jammu and Kashmir came amidst criticism by some political parties including Congress, National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, National Panthers Party, CPM etc for delay in conduct of Assembly polls while holding Lok Sabha elections in the State.
Sources said the Election Commission briefed the Special Observers about their role in Jammu and Kashmir elections and their terms and conditions will be issued before they undertake their first visit to the militancy-infested State.
The Special Observers including Noor Mohammad, the former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, had served as Secretary of National Disaster Management Authority and Deputy Election Commissioner of India and had monitored elections in Afghanistan while Vinod Zutshi had served in the Election Commission for seven years as Deputy Election Commissioner before being elevated as the Union Secretary of Tourism. AS Gill had retired as Director General of CRPF and remained posted as IGP CRPF in J&K from 1995 to 1997.
An official statement issued by the Election Commission said the Special Central Observers met with Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra at ECI Headquarters in New Delhi today.
Arora welcomed the Special Central Observers and thanked them for having accepted this onerous and delicate assignment, which entails assessing the situation of J&K on real time basis.
“The Commission will be regularly and on real time basis monitoring the situation in J&K and will also be taking inputs from all necessary quarters and decision regarding holding Legislative Assembly elections in J & K will be taken soon,” the Commission had said on Sunday.
During the meeting, it was requested to the Special Observers that they visit the State at the earliest, a suggestion which was accepted by them. Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioners also briefed them during the interactive session which lasted almost two hours.
Deputy Election Commissioner Incharge of the State, Sandeep Saxena briefed the observers about preparedness of election in J&K and gave other details regarding the State. The Commission discussed with them about their roles and responsibilities. The three Central Observers would be required to visit the State and make a real time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stake holders.