ECI observers arriving in Kashmir today

Amid growing criticism of the election commission of India’s decision to withhold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, three “special observers” appointed by the poll-body will arrive in Srinagar on Thursday to “assess the ground situation” for holding the state elections.

The itinerary of the observers is similar to the two-dayprogramme of ECI team which had visited the state days before announcement ofthe schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on March 10.

Chief electoral officer Shailendra Kumar confirmed toGreater Kashmir that the central observers are arriving on Thursday to interactwith representatives of mainstream political parties and district electionofficers.

“They will reach Srinagar tomorrow (Thursday). They willhave a similar itinerary on Friday in Jammu,” he said, adding that the panelwould also meet the chief secretary and director general of police.

On March 10, the ECI had appointed former IAS officers VinodZutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observersto assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. As per their mandate, theobservers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meetingpolitical parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders.

Meanwhile, mainstream political parties have decided tolodge a strong protest with the special observers over delay in holding theassembly polls in the state.

“What is the justification for delaying the assemblyelections when they are holding the parliamentary elections? This is subversionand mockery of democracy,” National Conference general secretary Ali MuhammadSagar said.

He said they would strongly push for early assemblyelections in the state.

J&K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said there is nojustification for delaying the assembly polls.

“Delaying the assembly polls beyond six-month period afterthe dissolution of the Assembly is a violation of the Supreme Court directives.The governor’s rule is a short-term arrangement and it cannot continue for alonger period,” he said.

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