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Journalists ‘barred’ again from entering polling booths

Journalists ‘barred’ again from entering polling booths
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Once again policemen acted as 'presiding officers'

Srinagar: While the Chief Electoral Officer issued ‘Authorization letters’ to the scribes to cover the ongoing elections, the required directions have not been passed down the line to treat the letters as passes to facilitate the entry of scribes into polling stations.

During the phase-I of the ULB elections journalists and photographers were not allowed to perform their professional duties at many places and on Wednesday during the second phase the same attitude of forces was witnessed as journalists and photographers were disallowed to discharge their duties.

At Batamaloo, policemen said that they have not been informed regarding the issuance of passes by the Chief Electoral Officer to the journalists and that nobody is allowed to enter the polling stations.

“No, we have not been directed regarding the same, so I cannot let you in,” a police officer told photographers and reporters.

However, a policeman offered to provide the details regarding the number of votes cast and the total number of votes in the ward, while further impeding the movement of scribes.

“There is really no need to go inside. I can provide you with all the details that you need here,” said a policeman at Govt Boys Higher Secondary School, Suthraashahi.

Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra did not respond to repeated calls and text message from this reporter to include his side of the story.

“What is the fun of issuing the passes when the authorities have not issued the directions regarding the same, this is akin to making fun of us,” said a photojournalist who was not allowed to perform his duties during the day.

Similar incidents have been reported by the journalists from Sumbal, where apart from police, they were stopped by locals from filming the proceedings throughout the day.

“It was again a tough day, at Sumbal people confronted us and threatened us at the same time, so we came back empty handed,” another photojournalist said.

Another journalist said that he had to take pictures from a distance, which was equivalent to nothing, “one can make policemen understand, what can one do when people act in such a way,” he said.

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