Poll Panel Rules Out Postponement In J&K

14 November 2008
The Hindu

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Friday ruled out postponement of the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls, scheduled for November 17, because of heavy snowfall in the Valley particularly in the election-bound segments. “The Commission has not taken any decision to postpone the first phase,” Deputy Election Commissioner R. Bhattacharyya told journalists here. He said the Commission had not received any request from any political party for postponement on grounds of snowfall. The Commission had put in place contingency plans to move election officials and staff on the day of polling.Shujaat Bhukari reports from Srinagar: However, National Conference president Omar Abdullah said the vagaries of weather would not permit the smooth conduct of the elections. In a statement in Srinagar, he said the electorate would not be able to exercise their franchise, nor would the parties be able to campaign in view of the snowfall in the upper reaches of the Valley and also in Srinagar city. He said the Commission should postpone the elections to March-April 2009. A PTI report said People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti asked the Election Commission to assess the ground situation before taking a decision. Earlier in the morning, there was heavy snowfall in the Valley. Normal life was disrupted and all flights bound for Srinagar, including those taking Haj pilgrims, have been cancelled. Gurez, the upper reaches of Bandipore, and Nobra in Leh, going to the polls in the first phase, witnessed heavy snowfall. Bandipore Deputy Commissioner Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad told The Hindu that the administration would not be able to ferry election materials and poll personnel to Gurez by road because of the bad weather.