Inquiry finds returning officers responsible for rigging in Daska by-election

By: News Desk      Published: 02:36 PM, 5 Nov, 2021
Inquiry finds returning officers responsible for rigging in Daska by-election
File photo of clashes between rival political workers during Daska by-election in February this year.

An inquiry report into the disappearance of polling staff in the Daska by-election has held the returning officers responsible for the rigging, saying that the voting process was sabotaged due to their incompetence, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The 24News TV channel obtained a copy of the inquiry report into the disappearance of 20 presiding officers during the NA-75 Daska by-election held in February this year, blaming district returning officer and returning officer for undermining the polling process. 

PML-N's Nosheen Iftikhar had won the high-stakes Daska NA-75 by-poll, defeating PTI's Ali Asjad Malhi by 16,642 votes. The PML-N candidate had bagged 110,075 votes, while Malhi received 93,433 votes.

The NA-75 seat fell vacant after the death of PML-N MNA Syed Iftikharul Hassan alias Zahry Shah in August 2020. The by-poll was delayed for six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The April by-election was the second in less than two months that the constituents of NA-75 Daska had voted to elect an MNA. Last time, the ECP had withheld the results of the February 19 by-poll due to violence, rigging and the disappearance of over 20 presiding officers and later had ordered a re-election in the entire constituency. The order was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

The inquiry report has recommended that the inept district returning officer and returning officer should not be given any administrative posts in the future as they lacked the capacity to take on-time decisions.

The report said the police and the administration were aware of the incidents happened on the polling day but they did not do anything concrete to stop them. The police failed to fulfil its responsibilities, it added.

The inquiry report further said that the Education Department employees deployed on election duty were also involved in the incidents. CEO Education Sialkot Maqbool Ahmad Shakir had also failed to fulfil his duty as he demonstrated incompetence and partiality, the report said and recommended action against Maqbool Shakar.

The report said it had been established that Deputy District Education Officer Farkhanda Yasmeen was responsible for arranging ‘illegal’ meetings at her house. The report proposed criminal proceedings and departmental action against her.

Police officers and personnel were heads over heel involved in illegal activities as they fully tried to ‘influence’ the voting process. They had committed violations of Police Election Commission’s code of conduct, the report said.

The police officers, the report said, were also responsible for shifting 20 presiding officers to some ‘unknown’ place instead of RO’s office and were involved in forcing them to change the results.

The report also recommended disciplinary action against all the people involved in the rigging. Criminal proceedings were also proposed against the police officers nominated by the presiding officers and departmental action against police officials deployed at the 20 controversial polling stations, the inquiry added.

The report also divulged that some people did not cooperate with the inquiry people and returning officers also banked on lies while answering their questions.

After CDR report, the presiding officers admitting going to some other place instead of RO’s office.

Reporter Usman Khan