PwDs to be seen exclusively manning some Polling Stations in Ladakh

Polling Staff, security personnel at many booths to be women only
*Helicopters to be used for inaccessible areas
Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Mar 31: Several Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Ladakh will give loud and clear message to everyone that their physical impairments are no barriers for them to facilitate the normal voters in exercising their democratic right and for strengthening of the democracy they can contribute like any other human being.

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Notwithstanding the announcement of the Election Commission of India that the Persons with Disabilities (not less than 40% of a specified disability) can avail home voting facility, several specially-abled Government officials will be seen acting as normal human in exclusively manning some Polling Stations during the election to Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency.
These Persons with Disability will perform all the duties without any sort of assistance right from bringing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to the Polling Stations, ensuring maintenance of record, smooth functioning of machines, checking names of the electors on the voting lists, applying of indelible ink on the fingers of the voters etc.
No doubt, they have been provided training on handling different duties at the Polling Stations but the most encouraging aspect would be in the form of their overcoming physical impairments in facilitating each and every voter who will turn up for exercising democratic right. These Persons with Disabilities will perform the duties of Presiding Officer as well as Polling Officers.
Lankore is such Polling Station in Kargil district and Skaynos-B in Leh district and these Polling Stations have substantial number of electors, said officials, who are making arrangements for the elections, adding “it is really encouraging that instead of availing the provision of casting vote from their respective homes these Persons with Disabilities have come forward to contribute like normal Government servant in facilitating electors in exercising democratic right”.
“We witnessed their enthusiasm in exclusively manning Polling Stations right from the day they were shortlisted by the concerned authorities for training. Definitely they will be sending loud and clear message to everyone that their disability is not an obstacle in performing any duty”, officials further said.
Moreover, during election for Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency more than 50 Polling Stations will exclusively be manned by the women officials. Right from facilitating voters in casting votes by acting as Polling Staff and Presiding Officers to ensuring security at these Polling Stations every duty will be performed by women only.
As per the officials, four such Polling Stations will be in Kargil district and more than 45 in Leh district and proper training to women officials selected for the task has also been provided on the instructions of Chief Electoral Officer of Ladakh Union Territory Yetindra M Maralkar.
“No doubt women employees generally perform the duties along with the males during the elections but exclusively manning several Polling Stations by women employees is a different thing planned by the concerned authorities in Ladakh this time”, officials said.
Meanwhile, aligning with the mandate of the Election Commission of India, the CEO Ladakh is dedicatedly working to ensure that no voter is left behind despite various constraints and challenges posed by Ladakh’s vast geographical expanse and harsh climatic conditions.
In order to facilitate voters in inaccessible areas the administration has decided to use helicopters to station polling staff well in time. There are five Polling Stations in Zanskar and Sankoo Sub-Divisions of Kargil district which are very difficult to reach from the last road connectivity point.
Covering distance on foot to reach these Polling Stations will take 24 to 48 hours as such decision to use helicopter has been taken. These Polling Stations are Ralkung with 33 voters, Phema with 14 voters, Shun with 134 voters, Shaday with 46 voters and Itchoo with 120 voters.
Similarly, for around 10 Polling Stations in Leh district helicopter will be used for dispatch of Polling Staff and EVMs.

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