Campaigning ends for Baramulla LS seat, voting on Monday

Lok Sabha Election 2024 in Jammu and Kashmir

SRINAGAR — Candidates made a last-ditch effort to woo voters as campaigning for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat ended on Saturday.

There are 22 candidates in the fray including former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference (NC) Vice-President Omar Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) chief Sajjad Lone, Er Abdul Rashid Sheikh and Peoples Democratic Party’s Mir Fayaz.

Around 17,37,865 electorates would be casting their ballot in 2,103 polling stations established across the Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency during 5th phase of ongoing Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held on Monday.

“These total 17,37,865 lakh voters enrolled in phase V included 8,75,831 male and 8,62,000 female voters besides 34 third gender electorates. There are around 17128 Persons with Disability and 527 persons above the age of 100 years who will be exercising their franchise”, read a communiqué received from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K.

The communiqué added that around 2,103 polling stations have been set up in the fifth phase across 4 districts of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and parts of Budgam. The election staff including Presiding Officers will be stationed in every polling station. In total, more than 8,000 polling staff, including reserves, will be deployed on duty on the polling day. Besides, there are 28 border polling stations in Kupwara and Baramulla districts.

The communication said that the voting will take place from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm and before that, there will be a mock poll in the polling stations in the presence of the polling agents. Also, the voting will continue even after 6:00 pm, if the voter’s queue is still there in the polling station premises to exercise their right to vote.

Every polling station will be provided with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMFs) like drinking water, electricity, toilet, ramp, furniture, and verandah/shed besides wheelchairs will also be provided to the needy. The ballot unit will also have a list of contesting candidates in braille script. Wherever required, there will be separate queues for senior citizens and specially-abled persons facilitating them in every polling station. Additionally, there will be a voter help desk, manned by the concerned Booth Level Officer (BLO).

There will be 18 polling booths managed by women (also called pink polling stations), 17 polling booths manned by specially-abled persons and 18 by youths. Also, there will be 21 green polling stations in order to spread messages about environmental concerns. The purpose behind these special polling stations is to spread awareness among sections of society like women, specially-abled, first-time young voters to come forward and exercise their right to vote.

Aimed to facilitate voter identification and increase voter turnout ratio, all voters have been provided with voter information slips with all requisite information like polling station name, date and time of the poll, serial number of voter in the list, his full name, QR code but not the photograph of the voter. Hence, the voter Information Slips will not be allowed as proof of the identity of voters.

Also, the citizens can view details of the Polling Station, and Parliamentary Constituency and get the contact details of the Booth Level Officer, and Electoral Registration Officer among other services, through the Voter Helpline App (VHA). This mobile app is available on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

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In addition to the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), 12 types of documents will also be allowed to verify a voter and allow him for vote. EPIC cards are not mandatory for voting. The requisite documents included Aadhaar Card, MGNREGA Job Card, Passbooks with photographs, Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of the Ministry of Labour, Driving License, PAN Card, Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR, Indian Passport, Pension document with photograph, Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/StateGovt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies, Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs and Unique Disability ID (UDID) Card, issued by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.

With the aim of spreading awareness among the voters, Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) emerged as a comprehensive programme aimed at reinforcing voter education and promoting active participation in the democratic process.

During the last few months, through various modes, SVEEP activities were held in every nook and corner. Various activities like appeal messages in print, electronic and social media, through hoardings, banners, radio jingles etc were carried out. Street plays, and the use of social media influencers and icons were also done. Because of all these, the voter turnout is expected to be higher than the last Lok Sabha election. From the snow-clad hills of Gulmarg to PS-1 SEEMARI in AC-1 Karnah, the district administrations carried out an exhaustive exercise to ensure maximum voter participation.

More than 40% of home voting for above 85 age and disability was held at doorsteps for all those who applied.
The communiqué further read that more than 600 journalists and cameramen of print, electronic and social media platforms have been provided with a pass to cover the polling process without compromising the secrecy of the vote and causing any inconvenience to the democratic exercise.

Besides, the Voter Turnout App will be used to display the estimated provisional voter turnout details of each Parliamentary Constituency entered by the RO. The media can also use the same application to capture estimated voter turnout data. Approximate voter turnout data for each phase of the elections will be displayed through this app.

There will be two hourly reports of voting percentages from 9:00 am to the end of the poll. The concerned ARO and RO will share the data with the media accordingly. Even the updated figures will be placed in the voter turnout app. These figures are always subject to, normally upward correction as the final confirmed figures are collected after receiving the statutory forms from all the polling stations. So, till these final figures are known, figures on voter turnout app are to be tentative always.

All 2103 polling stations of Baramulla PC in phase 5 will have CCTV cameras for live webcasting in total 4206 cameras and 50 additional CCTV cameras at the main entrances of the polling stations. The poll day will be monitored through 24X7 Integrated Command and Control Rooms established at the CEO level with the latest technologies and all the polling stations will be monitored throughout the day by a tech-savvy team.

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Also, control rooms have been set up at RO/DEO offices for parallel monitoring. There are few polling stations which fall in communication shadow areas. Suitable alternate arrangements by providing Satellite Phones, Wireless sets and Special Runners have been put in place around a few polling stations which fall in communication shadow areas.

Candidates/political parties need to obtain prior permission for campaigning purposes by seeking online permission on the Suvidha app. To date, election officers have accorded permission for 1859 applications and rejected 300.

In the entire Union Territory, from the date of announcement of the election till date material/cash of around Rs 89.44 crore has been seized by various enforcement departments. Besides, cash, liquor, drugs and other freebies have been seized by various enforcement departments like the Police Department, valuing Rs 85.66 crore, the Income Tax Department valuing 32 lakh, the Excise Department around 92 lakh, and the Narcotics Control Bureau seized drugs worth 2.32 crore.

As per the communication, the public campaigning in areas of the Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency has concluded at 6 pm here today on the 18th of May, 48 hours before the conduct of the elections. No one, including citizens, journalists, or politicians, would be allowed to partake in any election campaign-related activity. Holding public meetings, conferences, and interviews has been stopped to give the voters a peaceful break from being influenced by campaigns so that they may make a considered decision while voting.

Besides, political advertisement in print media can only be done after prior clearance from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC). The sale of liquor, even from licensed shops, has also been banned. To date, 139 grievances have been received on the C-VIGIL app and more than 60% resolved in time and others are under resolution.

For filing Model Code of Conduct Violation cases by the citizens, the C-VIGIL app provides time-stamped evidentiary proof of the Model Code of Conduct/Expenditure Violation by empowering every citizen to click a photo or video using his or her Smartphone.

To monitor various election-related activities and also check MCC compliance, a Command and Control Room has been established at the CEO office, Jammu, another Srinagar Smart city and a similar mini control room at every RO/DEO office which functions 24×7.

Apart from looking for MCC violations, the control room gets live feed from more than 100% of polling stations and GPS vehicle tracking of all vehicles being used for poll parties. The Social Media Monitoring cell and media monitoring comprising IT personnel will address fake news, misinformation, disinformation against EVMs, poll process, ECI etc and also a violation of MCC and expenditure-related things.

The communication also added that as per the latest instructions of the Election Commission of India Special Polling Stations have been established for Migrant Voters of the Kashmir division. A total of 26 Special Polling Stations have been established with 21 polling stations in Jammu, 4 in Delhi and 1 in Udhampur district respectively. Special Polling Station-wise extract voter list will be with BLOs.

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