Poonch, Nov 18: In a first incident of its kind, there has been “theft” of 25 votes for election to a Sarpanch and the Deputy Commissioner Poonch has requested the Chief Election Officer J&K to conduct polling afresh for the post in the mountainous district in Jammu region.

In this regarding, the Deputy Commissioner has written a letter to the CEO, submitting details for seeking the re-polling at Upper Sanal of block Surankote in the district.

The election in Panchayat Upper Sanal was held in the first phase on November 17and polling was done smoothly.

All the polling parties reached at the office of Returning Officer where the counting centre was established.

As per the letter, a copy of which lies with GNS, the deputy commissioner said that as reported by the Returning Officer, he had completed the counting of Panchayat Sanal Lower peacefully and declared the results accordingly.

However, lastly he had started the counting of Panchayat Sanal Upper and the counting of all the remaining wards also ended peacefully. However, during the counting of votes of Sarpanch constituencies of Panchayat Upper Sanal, a person namely Irfan Ali entered the counting centre and Introduced himself as an employee of Rural Development Department and has been deputed for the collection of information of counting for onward submission to higher authorities.

Returning Officer also reported that the person found access to the counting table on the pretext of getting some information and be seated next to the counting table. The counting staff took notice of the incident and he was removed from counting centre Immediately after that it was noticed that one bundle containing 25 votes of Sarpanch was missing.

The counting staff tried hard to reach out to the person, Irfan Ali (GRS) and brought him back in the counting centre with the help of village Chowkidar, the Deputy Commissioner said in the letter.

On the enquiry, it was revealed that the GRS is the real nephew of a contesting candidate and his indulgence in the disappearance of 25 votes cannot be ruled out.

“In this regard, registration of FIR against Irfan Ali GRS and Niaz Ahmed GRS has also been recommended and both the officials have also been placed under suspension.” Moreover, additional Deputy Commissioner, Pooch have also been designated as enquiry officer who will conduct the enquiry into the matter and submit the detailed report within a week’s time, the deputy commissioner said. “Difference of final vote tally of both the candidates is 13 i.e. less than 25,” the deputy commissioner said, adding, “

On the basis of facts, it is recommended that re-polling for Sarpanch at Upper Sanal of block Surankote may kindly be ordered for conducting the election on November 29 with Phase-V of block Lassana.”