ECP hears missing bags case in NA-75 by-election | The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday heard the case pertaining to the “missing polling bags of 23 polling stations” during the NA-75 Sialkot by-election.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presided a five-member bench hearing wherein the returning officer of the NA-75 made his arguments.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and PML-N on January 20 claimed victory in the NA-75 by-elections even though ECP stated that results of 20 polling stations in the constituency were “feared compromised”.

During the hearing, Punjab Assembly Member Altaf Qureshi inquired whether the presiding officers had sought location from the mobile companies. On which the Returning Officer said that the DPO number was blocked and he could not be contacted.

The Chief Election Commissioner inquired that whether he was nervous when he contacted the electoral body.

“You said that your lives were in danger. Did the administration not cooperate with you?”

In response, the returning officer said that slogans were being chanted in the RO’s office where as the political workers had scaled walls.

“The crowd was so large that we panicked,” the RO added.

The ECP directed to submit the RO’s report to the respective parties.

In a press release last week, ECP expressed its displeasure over ‘no response’ by the Inspector General Police (IGP), Commissioner and Deputy Commission when ECP informed them about the Presiding Officers who had gone missing.

“Later ECP contacted with Chief Secretary Punjab at 3am who ensured to trace the missing officers and polling bags but later he [chief secretary] was not available.

At 6am, the POs along with polling bags were brought before the ECP officials.

During the hearing, the NA-75 RO prayed that it was not possible for the presiding officers to be alone with the police whereas the results of three polling stations were found late on WhatsApp.

“The weather was also bad that night,” he added. “The police could not be reached.”

Read more: PTI claims victory in NA-75 as ECP fears ‘compromised results’ from 20 polling stations

The ECP chief RO whether he tried the wireless communication system.

“By 3:37am, results from 337 polling stations had been collected in Result Management System (RMS),” RO said adding that results of base polling station were not available.

He further maintained that 20 PO could not be reached whereas except for one presiding officer, no one was calling back.

“All 20 polling stations are within a 30 to 40 km radius,” the RO said.

Regarding results, the RO said that there was no difference in the result of polling stations 9, 47, 50 and 140.

“Of the 20 suspected polling stations, four are clear and signed by the presiding officers. The result given to the agents turned out to be correct,” he said.

However, there were no thumbprints of PO’s in the results of some polling stations, the returning officer said.

Punjab Assembly Member Altaf Qureshi inquired whether the presiding officers had sought location from the mobile companies.

On which the Returning Officer said that the DPO number was blocked and he could not be contacted.
The Chief Election Commissioner inquired that if he was nervous when he contacted the electoral body.

“You said that your lives were in danger. Did the administration not cooperate with you?” the ECP asked. 

In response, the returning officer said that slogans were being chanted in the RO’s office whereas the political workers had scaled walls.

“The crowd was so large that we panicked,” the RO added.

The ECP directed to submit the RO’s report to the parties.



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