KARACHI: With NA-246 electioneering by-poll coming to an end on Tuesday, the security responsibility of more than 213 polling stations in the constituency was handed over to Rangers.

While a local holiday is going to be declared in Karachi’s central district for the day of polling i.e. April 23, the Sindh government also imposed a ban on pillion-riding in the city for 72 hours, which came into force from midnight.

Officials said that the Sindh home department imposed the pillion-riding ban for a “better security environment before and after the by-election”.

“The home department under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code has imposed a complete ban on pillion-riding of motorbikes from April 22 to April 24 in Karachi,” said an official. “Women, children below the age of 12, senior citizens, journalists, personnel of law enforcement agencies and employees of essential services are exempted from the ban.”

Parties contesting the by-election, however, opposed the move saying that the ban would deprive many voters in the constituency of the transport facility on polling day.

“Karachi central district should be exempted from the pillion-riding ban on April 23,” said Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate Kanwar Naveed Jameel in a statement. “Motorbikes always remain a preferred ride for the poor and middle class segments of Karachi. The decision would not harm anyone but voters of this constituency. So we appeal to the authorities to review the decision.”

Meanwhile, the Sindh information technology department almost completed the installation of over 300 surveillance cameras at more than 200 polling stations in accordance with a Rangers proposal.

“Each polling station also has a monitoring facility while there would be a central command and control centre, where live video surveillance would be monitored by the law enforcement agencies,” said a police official.

“There are total 213 polling stations in the constituency and each is equipped with a set of closed-circuit television cameras, which would be in direct access of the police and Rangers. It’s definitely a temporary arrangement and the entire system would be removed after the by-election.”

The district administration has also approached the Sindh government to announce a local holiday within its jurisdiction.

An official at the deputy commissioner-central office told Dawn that the Election Commission of Pakistan had sent a request to the DC for declaring a holiday on polling day.

“Following the request, the deputy commissioner has approached the authorities concerned in the Sindh government to declare April 23 a holiday in the district. The notification in this regard is likely to be issued tomorrow [Wednesday],” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2015

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