JAMMU — Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and leader of National Conference, Omar Abdullah tweeted a report claiming the Congress button on an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch is not working and similar malfunctions have been reported in at least six voting booths in the state as the polling began on Thursday.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) April 11, 2019
The presiding officer of a polling station in Jammu’s Poonch district is heard saying in a video on YouTube, ” “There is no shortage of staff, we started the processes in time. The reason for the delay is that a button on a ballot unit is not working. There is no other problem… We can’t say the reason why one button is not working.”
When pressed further, he says, “The fourth button is not working… haath wala.” ‘Haath’ or hand is the election symbol of the Congress.
“If it was one or two machines we would have understood but there are reports of so many machines are malfunctioning,” a member of the crowd is heard saying.
However, the Poonch District Election Officer told news agency ANI: “There was an issue with Congress button in Shahpur, our staff replaced the machine. At another polling station BJP button wasn’t working, we changed that also.”
In Jammu, where 24 candidates are in the fray, the fight is mainly between the BJP’s Jugal Kishore and the Congress’ Raman Bhalla as the regional parties, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), decided not to field their candidates to consolidate the “secular vote” against BJP.
The separatists have called for a strike on Thursday to protest against the elections and the “NIA aggression” against Hurriyat Conference leaders and their kin.
The Jammu Lok Sabha constituency recorded 13 per cent polling in the first two hours after voting began at 9 am on Thursday, election officials said. Voting has been peaceful so far.