132

Government Plans To Provide Insurance Cover To Encourage Greater Participation In Local Bodies’ Polls

New Delhi: Officials fear the growing militant presence, including those of locals, in Kashmir and the killing of 16 sarpanches (Panchayat heads) and panchs (members) over the last four years could deter people from contesting the polls. So the Centre is planning to provide an insurance cover to encourage greater participation in the local bodies’ polls amid growing militant threats in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that fewer contestants are being expected even for the panchayat elections unlike in the past. The elections were due in January. But they were deferred after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government told the Centre the situation was not conducive for them. Then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had called an all-party meet before warning the Centre that there could be serious “law and order problems” especially in south Kashmir, if the elections were held.

131

Confusion Prevails At NSKs In Assam To Collect Review Forms; People Asked To Come Other Day

New Delhi: Confusion prevailed in over 2,500 National Register of Citizens Nagrik Seva Kendras (NSKs) in Assam on August 10 as people who have been excluded from the list made a beeline to collect the review forms, but were asked to come back on another day. Even the forms to request a correction were missing from the NSKs.

There were many like Ashish Das, an executive with a pharma company, who were upset and disappointed on the first day of filing claims, objections and corrections in the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam as the requisite forms were not available. The only form they got was to know the reason for their exclusion from the NRC that has left out more than four million, said locals who visited the NRC centres.

130

Defence Ministry Comes Up With A ‘Standard Protocol’ For Closing Down Roads In Cantonments

New Delhi: The defence ministry on Friday said that factoring in the “emergent security needs” of the army, it had come up with a “standard protocol” for closing down roads in cantonments under the provisions of the Cantonment Act, 2006.

The protocol was devised in consultation with the army headquarters. The local military authorities can initiate the process of closing roads by providing reasons and following the method laid down under the Act and the ministry’s orders dated May 28, said a ministry release, reiterating the government’s position on the matter.

152

Election Commission Calls All-Party Meeting to Discuss Vulnerability of EVMs Before Lok Sabha Polls

New Delhi: Election Commission of India (ECI) has convened an all-party meeting on August 27 to discuss preparations for the Lok Sabha polls due next year. The issue of vulnerability of EVMs is likely to be the focus of the meeting.

Sources in the poll panel said the meeting is not restricted to the issue of electronic voting machines but is part of its annual calendar to meet stakeholders. “Since elections to the Lok Sabha are due next year, it is pertinent that EC meets parties ... the agenda includes paid news, model code violations, inflammatory speeches ... the EC will also inform parties about the progress made in procuring latest EVMs and paper trail machines ahead of general elections,” said an EC functionary.

151

SC Observes New Restrictions Imposed On Dance Bars In Maharashtra Seem To Be Moral Policing

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India observed on August 9 that the new restrictions imposed on dance bars in Maharashtra seem to be an attempt at moral policing by the state government.

The oral remarks by a bench of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan came while it was hearing pleas of hotel and restaurant owners challenging the Maharashtra government’s new rules on the functioning of dance bars in the state. The rules, petitioners say, makes it virtually impossible to get a licence to operate the bar.

“This appears to be a case of total moral policing. You have not issued even a single license and rejected all. It’s inconceivable that the authorities are under the apprehension and working with a bent of mind that the dance at the bars is obscene in nature,” Justice Sikri said, amused at the stringent laws.