For vot­ers’ safety, poll panel may drop in­deli­ble ink in Maoist ar­eas

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ CON­TIN­UED ON P 8

NEWDELHI: Con­cerned about pos­si­ble reprisals by Maoist rebels against vot­ers in the Novem­ber as­sem­bly polls, the Ch­hat­tis­garh election of­fice has asked the Election Com­mis­sion of In­dia (ECI) to con­sider re­lax­ing a rule re­quir­ing the use of in­deli­ble ink in ar­eas where the rebels are ac­tive.

The semi-per­ma­nent ink is ap­plied to the fore­fin­ger of elec­tors to pre­vent them from vot­ing more than once un­der rules man­dated by the ECI . The stain lasts sev­eral days be­fore start­ing to fade.

Ch­hat­tis­garh has 14 ar­eas where left-wing ex­trem­ists are ac­tive. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials aware of the de­vel­op­ment, the chief election of­fi­cer of Ch­hat­tis­garh has asked the com­mis­sion to take a call on whether the use of the ink could be dis­con­tin­ued in these ar­eas. “The EC is ex­pected to take a call on whether this sug­ges­tion can be ac­cepted and re­lay the same to the law min­istry. If it is found ten­able, then it will re­quire a change in sec­tion 49(K) of the Con­duct of Election Rules, 1961,” said an of­fi­cial, re­quest­ing anonymity.

Maoists are op­posed to the elec­toral process and have in the past at­tacked peo­ple who voted. The use of in­deli­ble ink makes it easy to iden­tify peo­ple who turned up at the polling booths to ex­er­cise their fran­chise.

Polling to pick a new as­sem­bly in Ch­hat­tis­garh will be con­ducted in two phases. On Novem­ber 12, polling will be held in 18 con­stituen­cies that are lo­cated in ar­eas un­der the grip of left-wing ex­trem­ism (LWE).

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