Army officers ask soldiers for voting preference in Leh, DC says ‘violation of election practice’

Photograph by Bhat Burhan for The Kashmir Walla
JK Bank

The deputy commissioner and the district election officer for Leh, Avny Lavasa, wrote to the general officer commanding of the HQ-14 Corps highlighting a ‘massive violation of election practice’ on 10 May, after allegedly Indian army officers were telephonically asking soldiers about their voting preference.

Picture source: Twitter

In the letter addressed to the Indian Army, Lavasa wrote, “A complaint has been received from the contesting candidate for the 4-Ladakh Parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha elections, 2019, wherein it is alleged that there are malpractices on the part of various commanding officers of the Indian Army in the electronic postal ballot system. It is alleged that the commanding officers are telephonically asking jawans for their voting preference rather than supplying them the ballot paper for casting his vote.”

The letter further added that this practice was a gross violation of the secrecy of voting, while also being and malpractice that had the potential to invite “strict legal action”.

In this context, Lavasa requested, that all the concerned officers should be sensitized about the issue so that “the sanctity of the election process maintained”.

However, New Delhi based media house, NDTV quoted Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Public Relations Officer (Defence) in Srinagar saying, “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.”

“The army remains apolitical and we hold this core value in letter and spirit,” he added.

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