Polling officials allege being left to fend for themselves

Srinagar: Hundreds of government employees posted at various polling stations across this capital city for the Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday said the authorities had left them without providing food and bedding and risked their lives due to inadequate security.
“We were brought to the polling station around 11:30 Tuesday night. The school, where the polling station was established was locked. We had to take cover in a dark lane for around 30 minutes, as stones rained at us. There was no deployment on the roads,” Hilal Ahmad, presiding officer of booth 55 Mirjanpora in the old city area of Nawa Kadal, told Kashmir Reader.
Hilal said that no food and bedding was provided to the 16 polling officials of the four booths established in the Shah-e-Hamadan School which was even without electricity. “We had to sleep on an empty stomach on the floor in the dingy rooms. It was a horrible experience,” he said.
Another polling officer of booth 56 Tengpora said the school was not sanitized by the paramilitary forces before the staff was brought there to perform election duties. He said the authorities misled the staff by assuring them of foolproof arrangements.
At a walking distance from the school, another polling station was established in the Sheikh-ul-Alam Model High School, Kawdara. The polling officials there also complained of poor arrangement.
“We were dumped here last night and left at the mercy of God. Since then, no one has turned up to provide us food or breakfast. Even the promise of providing sleeping bags turned out to be a hoax,” the polling officer said.
The polling staff at the Hindu High School, Kralkhud, where three polling booths for 2600 voters were established, also accused the authorities of causing them inconvenience.
“The officials told us that a physical verification has been carried out at the school where we had to perform our duties. However on reaching here, we found the school building without electricity. Even food and bedding was nowhere as promised to us. We feel cheated,” a presiding officer at one of the three booths established at the school, told Kashmir Reader.
Similar complaints were made by polling staff in other polling stations in Srinagar.