Thursday, October 11, 2007

Prohibition before polls in East Sikkim

Gangtok, Oct. 10: Partial prohibition has been clamped on Sikkim as part of the preparations to ensure free and fair panchayat polls.
The East district collector, Vishal Chauhan, who is also the returning officer for the district today told reporters that prohibitory orders restricting certain activities like the use of firearms, knives and khukuris have already been imposed. A restriction on the number of vehicles for campaigning has also been enforced.
Chauhan said the state excise department has issued a notice declaring three days — October 25, 26 and 27 — as dry days. All liquor shops, bars and pubs will be closed on these days. The state goes to polls on October 26 while the counting will be held on October 29.
He said returning officers and assistant returning officers across the state had convened meetings with the candidates and the agents on election procedures and on the model code of conduct. The candidates were also apprised of the electoral offences.
The East district is the most populated in the state and has the maximum number of candidates contesting the polls. Of the 243 gram panchayat seats, there is a contest in 122, while the rest have been bagged by the ruling party. Of the 27 zilla panchayat seats, 17 seats are being contested.
In a separate order issued by the director-general of police, C.M. Ravindran, announced that all arms licences across the state will remain suspended till the election is over. The firearms will have to be deposited at the respective police stations, he added.
Chauhan said restrictions on printing of pamphlets have also been imposed under section 127(a) of the Representative of Peoples Act and if there is any election material to be printed, a copy has to be given to the district panchayat election officers for record.
A training session for polling officers and assistant polling officers will be held at Chintan Bhavan later this week, sources said.