GUJRAT: To ensure a fair and peaceful re-election in NA-75, Daska constituency, the Punjab Election Commission has assigned Pakistan Rangers the task of safe transportation of presiding officers and the polling material to and back from the polling stations to the office of the returning officer, besides ordering other measures.
To make the conduct of the April 10 re-poll transparent, close-circuit TV cameras are also being installed at 47 highly-sensitive polling stations, out of a total 360. These polling stations will also be manned by Rangers and police personnel.
The atmosphere during the re-poll is expected to be highly-charged given the violent incidents occurring on the polling day on February 19 claiming lives of two persons.
A tough contest is expected between Ms Nosheen Iftikhar of the PML-N and Ali Asjad Malhi of the PTI.
A candidate of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Khalil Sandhu, is also in the run.
Meanwhile, Punjab Election Commissioner Ghulam Israr on Thursday held separate meetings with the commander of Rangers, Sialkot deputy commissioner, district police officer and the candidates in Sialkot where overall arrangements for holding the re-poll in a peaceful manner were reviewed.
Gujranwala Divisional Election Commissioner Majid Sharif Dogar and of Lahore Mr Abid Hussain Sargana, who is also the district returning officer (DRO) for NA-75, besides Returning Officer (RO) Athar Abbasi, also accompanied Mr Israr.
Sialkot DPO Abdul Ghafaar Qaisrani briefed the provincial election commissioner that four SPs (three from Lahore) would monitor the law and order situation in the constituency to quickly respond in case of any law and order situation.
In addition to police, at least 70 quick response force (QRF) teams comprising Rangers personnel will also patrol the sensitive areas.
The ECP has decided that the presiding officers will sign the Form 45 (final results) inside the polling stations in the presence of polling agents of the respective candidates before they leave the premises, while no political figure would be allowed to meet the RO while receiving the election results.
Later, talking to the media, Mr Israr said the staff at the controversial polling stations had been replaced and the training of new staff was complete.
He warned that no voter should be stopped from exercising his/her right to vote on the pretext of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), adding that the administration had been directed to not even stop the voters residing in Younisabad, a locality that was under Covid-19 lockdown.
The ECP has provided thermal guns and sanitisers for the polling stations, said another official of the ECP and added that the candidates had also been told to ensure the implementation of Covid SOPs during the polling.
Meanwhile, taking notice of a firing incident in Kassowal locality in Daska Sadar police precincts on Thursday, the RO has sought details of police action taken against the culprits.
As per sources, some PTI supporters allegedly resorted to firing after exchange of words with PML N workers who had invited some former lawmakers of the party to the area.
Police said Daska DSP was investigating.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021