India polls 2019 : Army Commanders ask Jawans to ” vote by Phone,” gets EC notice

Jammu And Kashmir

Srinagar, May 10 : In Modi’s rule, the Army has been dragged in politics and  the Opposition allegations got confirmation after the Election Commission has issued a notice to Army after a compliant was submitted that military officers posted in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh province have been accused of violating electoral norms by asking soldiers to specify their voting preferences by phone in the ongoing 2019 Lok Sabha Polls instead of adhering to the standard procedure of providing ballot papers.

A complaint has been submitted that commanding officers are telephonically asking soldiers (jawans) for their voting preference rather than supplying to them the ballot paper for casting votes  so that they can cast their vote on their behalf.
The army  categorically denied the charges, terming it as an attempt to “tarnish” its apolitical image and said the matter is being investigated by a Major General-rank officer heading the Leh Sub Area of the Force.

The notice said, ” The commanding officers are telephonically asking jawans for their voting preference rather than supplying to them the ballot paper for casting votes is a gross violation of “secrecy of voting” and a “malpractice that has the potential to invite strict legal action”.

A complaint in this regard was cited in a notice issued by Leh Election Officer Avny Lavasa to top army authorities today.

Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Defence PRO Srinagar said, ” Complaints were received form independent candidates Sajjad Hussain and Asgar Ali Karbalai regarding postal ballots to be cast by service personnel. No specific instances have been mentioned in the complaints.

A press release issued by the Leh Election Officer stated, “However, these have been brought to the notice of the Army authorities who have been requested for sensitizing the concerned officers about the procedures prescribed in this regard by the Election Commission.”

However, the army rejected the allegations. “Preliminary investigations indicate that the complaints are unfounded and appear to have been made to tarnish the image of the army. An in-depth investigation is on to ascertain the details in the most impartial manner,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Public Relations Officer (Defence) in Srinagar. “The army remains apolitical and we hold this core value in letter and spirit.”

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