Hours after the first phase of local body polls started in Kerala, a polling officer was removed from duty in Kollam district over complaints that the officer wore a mask with the symbol of the CPI(M). The incident took place at Velankonam Johns Cashew Factory booth of Kottamkara panchayat in Kollam district. The action was initiated by the Kollam District Collector reportedly following complaints from UDF workers in the region.
In the images of the polling officer which has come out, the woman can be seen wearing a white mask printed with sickle, hammer and star in red colour on one of the sides. The officer was removed from duty following a preliminary inquiry, Kollam district administration said in an official release. Collector B Abdul Nasar has also ordered Revenue Divisional Officer Sikha Surendran to conduct an inquiry and submit a report on the matter. Once the inquiry report is submitted, action will be taken based on that as per the election law, District Collector said.
The first phase of local body polls in Kerala began on Tuesday. Polls are being held to local bodies of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki districts in the first phase. The second phase of polling will be held in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad districts on December 10. Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Kannur will go to polls in the third phase on December 14. 88,26,620 voters including 46,68,209 women, 41,58,341 men and 70 transgender people would cast votes through the 11,225 polling stations in the five districts. 56,122 election officials have been deployed for duty.
High voter turnout was reported in the majority of the districts from Tuesday morning itself in the five districts. It has been strictly advised to follow COVID-19 protocols like physical distancing, wearing masks and usage of sanitisers. Voters have been advised to use santitisers as they enter into the polling booth and while coming out. Meanwhile, reports have also surfaced that physical distancing is not properly implemented at least in certain polling booths.