Srinagar, Nov 9: Fearing that the Valley-based employees may not turn up for poll duty in the wake of election-boycott campaign announced by the separatists, the government has decided press non-local employees on poll duty for the upcoming assembly elections, as and when required.
Informed sources disclosed to Greater Kashmir that the non-local Urdu speaking employees would start arriving in the Valley from November 13. "A contingency plan this regard has been formed by the Valley-based chief electoral office," they said.
Sources said on November 13 and 14, about 700 non-local employees are arriving via several flights from New Delhi. The employees belong to various Indian states, particularly Uttar Pradesh. "On November 13, 331 employees from Bijnore, Buland Shaher and Meerut would be arriving to the Valley. And on 14 November, 191 from Ghaziababad and 92 from Muzaffar Nagar will reach here," the sources said, adding the government would be solely bearing their boarding, lodging, travel expenses and other incentives.
The employees, who would function as the polling officers, have been brought to man the elaborate, phase-wise polling in the trouble-torn state. The decision to import manpower was reportedly taken in an emergency meeting of the chief secretaries of various states of the country held last month.
It has been reliably learnt that two local and two non-local employees would be manning each polling booth. "Apart from shortage of staff, one of the main reasons for importing the outside staff is that the government fears that the employees may not turn up for poll duty due to unfavourable situation in the Valley," the sources said.
Sources said the apprehensions are despite "lucrative sops and cash reward" which the government has announced this time for the employees on poll duty. This includes Rs 1000 per employee per poll arrangement, Rs 10 lakh as insurance cover if he dies during the poll duty, Rs 2 lakh if seriously injured and Rs 1 lakh if partially disabled. More than 45,000 employees are being pressed into poll service in the Valley as presiding and polling officers.
Pertinently, the manpower from other states had been imported in 2002 elections when government servants in the valley refused to be a part of the poll machinery.
When contacted, the chief electoral officer, B R Sharma said, "I have no idea about the matter.