Darjeeling DM bars leave for five months

Darjeeling DM Joyoshi Dasgupta
The Darjeeling district magistrate has issued an order that said leave should not be granted to employees of central and state governments for five months from March 1 in view of the coming general elections.
The directive issued by Joyoshi Dasgupta in her capacity as the district election officer led to resentment among a section of employees.
Although the DM had issued the order to heads of all central and state government offices in the Darjeeling district on February 16, the employees came to know about it recently when many of them were denied leave by their superiors.
“I came to know about the order as I had applied for leave next week for a family function. It is disappointing that even though the elections have not been declared, the district magistrate has come up with such a direction. It would only add to the inconveniences of hundreds employees like us,” said an employee in the state PHE department.
The order that has been sent to all subdivisions and blocks says an employee can be granted leave only for medical reasons, and that too, with the approval of the medical board.
“In view of the ensuing General Election, 2019, you are requested not to grant leave to any employee from 1st March 2019 to 31st July 2019, considering Election Duties, except on Medical Grounds, after approval of Medical Board,” reads the order.
Dasgupta said the directive didn’t apply to armed and paramilitary forces.
Another senior government employee in Darjeeling has raised questions over the time period mentioned in the order.
“We all know polls will be held on time this year as has been clarified by the Election Commission. It is unlikely that the election process will continue till the end of July. Then, why was a time period of five months mentioned in the order?” he asked.
Told about the resentment among employees, Dasgupta said: “We have come to know that a large number of applications have been submitted in various government departments for leave in April and May. Preparations for elections have started and the entire process cannot be hampered. That is why we have issued the order.”
She also said schoolteachers couldn’t be asked to attend election trainings on weekdays as it would affect studies.
“We have to arrange election trainings for teachers on holidays. Further, we want to make it clear that if everything goes right and the entire election process is completed without any problem, the order can be rescinded,” added Dasgupta.
Names deleted
District magistrates in Bengal have started the process of deleting names of nearly 50,000 absconding people against whom non-bailable warrants (NBW) are pending from the voter list following an instruction from the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The move, sources said, drops a clear hint that the poll panel has started taking stern steps to ensure “incident free” elections in Bengal, where election related violence became a regular feature in the past few years. “The district police have submitted names of about 3,000 absconding people against whom NBWs are pending… We have already started the process of deleting their names from the voter list,” a district magistrate told The Telegraph.
Another district magistrate said that they have sought the list of such people from the police and the process of deleting their names from the voter list would start as soon as the list is submitted to the civil administration.
According to sources in Nabanna, the issue of pending NBWs were raised during a meeting with the district magistrates, district police superintendents and senior ECI officials on January 31. It was found that nearly 1 lakh NBWs were pending till January 31 in the state.
"The district officials were asked to take initiatives to execute the NBWs with utmost urgency… But during a video conferencing on Friday, it was found that nearly 50,000 NBWs could not be executed as accused were absconding. The ECI then asked the DMs to delete their names from the voter list," said a state government official.
The move became a talking point in the political circle as these people usually get shelter from various political parties particularly the ruling parties in the state and the centre and they are used as tools to undertake different kind of electoral malpractices.
"They always remain as a headache for the administration during the polls as they create law and order problems during the polls. They roam around the polling stations citing they are common voters. If their names are deleted from voter list, their movement can be restricted easily," said an official.
Officials worked with the ECI in the past said that there was provision of deletion of names from the voter list if the NBWs were pending against them, but the authorities always aid stress on executing the NBWs instead of deleting their names from the voter list.
"Perhaps for the first time, the authorities were forced to use the option of deleting names from the voter list as a huge number of NBWs were pending," said a source.
A district magistrate said that the process of deleting one's name from the voter list is a lengthy one but it is expected that the process will be completed before the elections are held in Bengal.
"After getting the list of NBWs which were not executed till date, we will send notice to their addresses… We will have to conduct a hearing once we receive applications for deleting their names from the voter list (Form 7), which can be submitted any legitimate voter of the booth concerned before their names are omitted," said the DM.
Officials also said if an absconding person appears in the hearing after receiving the notice, the police can execute the NBW by arresting him and producing him before the court once the hearing is complete.


The Darjeeling district magistrate has issued an order that said leave should not be granted to employees of central and state governments for five months from March 1 in view of the coming general elections.

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