Once polling ends, govt dumps staff, EVMs become prized possession

SRINAGAR: Once the fate of the candidates is sealed in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the government employees who oversee the process are left to fend for themselves, dumped soon after handing over the machines, with no security for their safe return home.
This attitude, according to the employees, has resulted in the killing of one of their colleagues Zia-ul-Haq who died after suspected militants opened fire on a vehicle carrying polling party after the elections were over at Nagabal, Shopian. The attack also left five people injured, including a polling staff member identified as Zubair Ahmad Indrabi.
On Thursday, Kashmir Reader team visited many polling stations in Pulwama district to cover the polling, and the poll staff lamented how they were left to fend for themselves.
“It is hell of a job,” one of the Sectoral Magistrates, had told Kashmir Reader. “In reality they don’t provide security to us or any other polling staff, but the polling material,” said the official, who was supervising ten polling stations in Tral area.
He said the prized possession of the government machinery is these EVMs after elections and the government overlooks the safety aspects of the polling staff.
The officer said that two security covers were being provided, one by the state police, along with Paramilitary forces (CRPF), and the outer ring cover by army’s Rashtriya Rifles (RR).
The process had been too cumbersome where in even poll staff had to face the security hassle, the official said. “We all here and elsewhere on our feet to see our day ends peacefully. Not only this but also we want to hand over EVMs and other polling materials at the earliest.”
“Once we handover machines they dump us and leave us without any security and other facilities. And most of times we are being left without food and lodging facilities. EVMs become more precious than our lives,” he said.
“But what can be done? We are government employees and have to oblige the government’s orders,” he added.