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Punjab

Posted at: Sep 15, 2018, 1:51 AM; last updated: Sep 15, 2018, 1:51 AM (IST)FEAR OF VIOLENCE

Staff seek exemption from poll duty

DCs receiving hundreds of applications

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 14

Apprehending violence during the zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls, government employees are running from pillar to post to get exemption from poll duty.

Teachers in many districts alleged that they had to suffer due to the poll-related duties as they had to attend two rehearsals on their off days. Studies would suffer in schools as they had to prepare for teaching students the next day, but would not get enough time for preparation.

The Deputy Commissioners in various districts of Punjab, who are the District Electoral Officers, are dealing with hundreds of such applications. With applications in hand, employees are queuing up outside offices to somehow escape the poll duty.

Sample this: Pain in heart, birthday of daughter, a sick relative, skin allergy, taking care of an infant, cooking for parents, attending to a pregnant wife. These are some of the excuses government officials are citing to seek exemption from the election duty.

A majority of District Electoral Officers (DEO) have “almost decided to sanction leave only in case of death”.

The offices of Additional Deputy Commissioners and the Deputy Commissioners-cum- District Electoral Officers are flooded with applications. “I have received 130 applications, while there are 50 messages in my phone. Everyone wants exemption from election work,” an IAS officer said.

An official in Patiala wants to keep away from the polling duty, citing pain in the heart, which is yet to be detected by doctors, while another wants to look after his visiting relatives from abroad. In Ludhiana, an official wants to help his ailing father in taking care of his fields, while another wants to attend to his pregnant wife.

And to ensure that applications are not turned down, officials are exploiting their “connections” in the police, political circles and even in the bureaucracy. Sources confirmed that employees with backing from Congress MLAs or senior leaders were being exempted from poll duties on priority, though senior officials deny this.

Women officials want to stay away from poll duties, apprehending violence, while others fear repercussions for any lapse on voting day. “In the previous elections, the EC had served a notice on my friend after he gave a clean chit to a liquor distributor against whom a complaint was filed. He is still fighting to save his skin,” said a teacher tasked with election duty this time. “I am still trying to get an exemption, but have no connection with any Congress leader, who can help me in that,” she said.

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