April 2017 News

Polling Staff Bears Brunt Of Hostility

9 April 2017
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Budgam: Amid civilian killings, election boycott and protests, the polling staff had to bear the brunt of the hostile environment. Nisar Ahmad, a teacher from Chrar-i-Sharief posted for election duty at Nasrullahpora booth-A, was hit in the head when the polling booth was attacked by protesters. Four of his fellow election officials were also injured. Talking to Rising Kashmir, traumatized Nisar said, 'There was no proper security and the polling booth had no doors and windows. Nobody has taken me to the hospital.' Meanwhile, one of the electronic voting machines of the booth was allegedly taken by the mob and burnt while its presiding officer Muzzafar Ahmad was admitted in another hospital. At polling Station A and B of Panzan area of Chrar-i-Sharief constituency stationed inside Government Higher Secondary School Panzan, the polling staff had closed shutter of the premises and also locked the gate of the polling booth after a mob forcefully entered and made them erase the only two votes cast since morning. The polling staff at the school said they couldn't sleep in the night and had reached the booth at 2.45 am during the night after facing protests in the adjoining areas. Farooq Ahmad, a lecturer posted as presiding officer at the booth, said, 'The administration has left us to die here. There is no food to eat. Nobody to protect us. These four security personnel here have been sitting with us reeling under the fear of the mob.' Farooq said the villagers had assured them of safety 'but then they also told us that they can't control the mobs from other villages'. The poll staff at Panzan said though the administration had assured them of evacuation with security escort, they still feared for their lives. Commenting on the attack on polling staff, Bikram Singh, one of the candidates for the parliamentary elections said, 'The administration shouldn't have involved teachers or should have at least provided proper security to the staff.' Meanwhile, the presiding officer at Galwanpora, Manzoor Ahmad said the CRPF men who were stationed inside the booth for protecting them 'surrendered before the mob' and all the machines were damaged. Noor Mohammad, driver of a bus ferrying the polling staff, was hit by a stone. 'I was sleeping when the bus was attacked inside the compound. Although the mob didn't try to hurt me but then I was inside the bus and was hit in the head. I haven't eaten anything and suffer from severe headache,' Noor added.