SRINAGAR: The inordinate delay in issuance of the electoral photo identity cards (EPICs) to people in the state is raising a question mark over the Election Commission’s promise of holding “fair” elections in Jammu and Kashmir as ‘fake voters’ are reportedly making hay during the polls.
Many polling and presiding officers in Ganderbal and Kangan constituencies expressed displeasure over the government’s failure to issue the cards in time, leading to chaos. “The government issued some cards in these constituencies, but not all. Had all EPICs been issued, it would not take us much time to identify a person,” said a polling officer, wishing anonymity.
He said the possession of an EPIC by a person saves time besides curb the illegal practice of bogus voting. “This time, we have to go through many records to see if a person is entitled to vote. The EPIC is a verified and authentic document. Its possession means that the voter is entitled to vote,” the official said.
Reports said that in the absence of voter cards, mobile voters were “active” during the first phase of elections, a charge refuted by the Chief Electoral Office. “The Election Commission has given a special concession to people of Jammu and Kashmir that they can use alternate official documents like passport, driving licenses, ration cards or any other government document during voting,” said the CEO, B R Sharma.
The EPICs, Sharma said, are being issued as per the priority. “The elections are taking place in a phased manner. So the cards are being distributed accordingly,” Sharma said, asserting that “no bogus voting was reported from Ganderbal and Kangan constituencies.”
Sources, however, said that there was confusion and lack of planning while preparing the cards. “There was jumbling of photos and spelling mistakes in the forms collected by the authorities. The exercise was not done in a planned manner. So it very unlikely that all voter would be getting the cards before the polls,” they said. They said the prime reason for delay was that it took a lot of time for the authorities to verify the photographs of the people.-SANA