May 2019 News

Army Probe Finds No Violation Of Secrecy In Ladakh Voting

11 May 2019
The Tribune

Jammu: A day after Ladakh Returning Officer (RO) Avny Lavasa wrote to the Army to maintain the sanctity of the electoral process, the latter on Saturday said it had conducted a preliminary inquiry wherein no violation regarding secrecy of voting had been reported. In response to the letter, the RO has virtually given a clean chit to the Army, saying 'the receipt of your letter is acknowledged herewith wherein you have stated that a preliminary inquiry was conducted and no violation has been reported. The contents of the letter are found to be satisfactory. Any further requirement will be communicated, if required'. On Friday, Lavasa had written a letter to the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 14 Corps, requesting him to ask Army officers to maintain the sanctity of the electoral process and sensitise them about the procedures prescribed by the Election Commission regarding casting of votes by service personnel. The Returning Officer was responding to a letter of US Mankotia, Colonel, General Staff, on behalf of General Officer Commanding, 14 Corps. She wrote the letter following the complaints filed by two Independent candidates, Congress rebel Asgar Ali Karbalai and Sajjad Hussain Kargili, who was backed by the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and the influential Islamia School, Kargil. It was alleged that there were malpractices on part of various commanding officers of the Army in the electronic postal ballot system. It was alleged that the officers were voting on behalf of soldiers posted away from their unit headquarters. They alleged that ballot papers were not being provided to the soldiers who were posted away and instead, officers were voting on their behalf after consulting them over the telephone. The Army, however, rebutted the allegations, claiming the complaints by political candidates were unfounded and appeared to have been made to tarnish its image. 'An in-depth investigation is on to ascertain the details in the most impartial manner. The Army remains apolitical and we hold this core value in letter and spirit,' the Army Public Relations Officer had said.