New Delhi: The Election Commission (EC) has formed a committee comprising three “eminent” members to assess the situation on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir before it takes a decision about holding the Assembly elections in the troubled state, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said on Sunday.
The three members of the committee who will function as the Special Observers are retired IAS officers Noor Mohammed (1977 batch) and Vinod Zutshi (1982 batch) besides A.S. Gill, a retired IPS officer of 1972 batch.
Noor Mohammad has been working in the area of election management for more than a decade and has been international expert and consultant to Afghanistan for many years. He is currently working as senior consultant in the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM).
Zutshi, who has served as Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Rajasthan and Deputy Election Commissioner for many years, has long experience in the field of election management and has been contributing to the Commission as national and international trainer.
Gill, a decorated officer, has served as the Inspector General and later as Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir. He is working in the field of security management.
There were speculations that Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the President’s Rule, could be held along with the Lok Sabha polls. But the EC has decided against it as of now.
The state Assembly was suddenly dissolved in November last year by Governor Satya Pal Malik after keeping it in suspended animation for over five months.
About holding simultaneous elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Arora said: “The Commission has been continuously assessing the prevailing situation in the state, requirement of central forces and other logistics for elections, requirement of the security for the candidates and preparedness of the state for the election on key factors.”
He said the poll panel had conducted several rounds of review meetings with Union Home Ministry and the state administration. The Union Home Secretary had sent detailed and specific inputs to the Commission regarding holding elections in the state.
“Based on the specific inputs and recommendation from the state government and Union Home Secretary, inputs from the political parties and other stakeholders, constraints of availability of central forces and other logistics, requirement of security forces for security of candidates in wake of incidents of violence in recent past and keeping other challenges in mind, the Commission has decided to announce only schedule of the parliament elections in the Jammu and Kashmir,” Arora said.
He said the Commission will be “regularly and on real time basis” monitoring the situation in the state and the decision of holding Assembly elections “will be taken soon”.