SOPs issued to ensure COVID-free DDC polls

From thermal scanning of voters to deputing special nodal health officers, the Jammu and Kashmir’s Election Commission is leaving no stone unturned to ensure safe conduct of first election amid COVID pandemic.

The first-ever District Development Council (DDC) elections, and the Panchayat by-polls shall be conducted in J&K from November 28. The last election in Jammu and Kashmir was held in November 2018 for Panchayat seats when J&K was a full-fledged state.

However, the election commission in order to keep COVID at bay has issued a list of dos and don’ts to be followed during the elections.

As per a notification issued by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), on polling days, the CEO has prescribed thermal scanning of the voters and the staff deputed at the polling stations.

“Thermal scanning of voters at entry point of polling station location, polling station, either by polling staff  or paramedical staff  of Asha worker,” the notification reads.

Sanitizers and use of facemasks have been made mandatory for the staff and the voters.

The election commission has deputed nodal health officer to oversee the arrangements and the preventive measures during the entire electoral process.

The CEO has directed all candidates to accompany three persons excluding security personnel while campaigning in their respective constituencies. “Subject to any other restrictions including extant Covid-19 guidelines, a group of three persons including candidate, excluding security personnel if any, shall be allowed for door-to-door campaigning,” the notification reads.

Similarly, the electoral officer has also limited the number of people in public rallies.

“Number of persons to accompany a candidate for submission of nomination shall be restricted to one and also the number of vehicles for the purpose of nomination shall be restricted to one,” the notification reads.

For meetings, the CEO has ordered for using large halls and open places to adhere to the social distancing norm.

Over 350 nominations have been received for 43 seats going to polls in the first phase of the DDC elections in Jammu and Kashmir — voting for which will take place on November 28, officials said on Thursday.

A total of 352 candidates have filed their nomination papers, they said.

Of the 43 seats, 25 are in the Kashmir Valley and 18 in the Jammu region.

For the Panchayat by-elections, the official said, 360 candidates have filed the papers for sarpanch seats, while 1,761 nominations were received for Panch seats.