New District Collector P.B. Salim has assured political party leaders and candidates that stringent measures will be taken to ensure free and fair election in the Kannur Assembly constituency.

The Collector told a meeting of party leaders and candidates here on Sunday that they should strictly abide by the election code of conduct. He told the meeting that no election campaign materials including graffiti, posters and banners would be allowed in public places and properties. The party leaders offered their full co-operation to the Collector to conduct a smooth and transparent election on November 7.

The Election Commission's Special Observer Sandeep Saxena and Observer Sourabh Garg were also present at the meeting. Superintendent of Police Anoop Kuruvila John and Returning Officer V. Kunhikrishnan also attended the meeting.

Dr. Salim said that campaign materials should be displayed in places and properties owned by private parties only with their permission. Authorisation letters from the owners should be shown as and when demanded, he said adding that a copy of the authorisation letter should be sent to the Returning Officer within three days after the display of the campaign materials. The Collector also said that 40 teams of officials would be sent to monitor and report cases of unauthorised campaign materials from Monday onwards.

The Collector directed that unauthorised campaign materials displayed on electric and telephone posts, roads, in bus stops and public buildings be removed by October 26. As many as 22 sectoral magistrates would be appointed in sectors (each comprising five polling stations) to make election process efficient and fool-proof, he said. There would also be 22 police teams to assist them. Apart from the sectoral magistrates, teams headed by officials not below the rank of tahsildars would be entrusted to ensure free and fair polling in a group of 10-15 polling booths each.

The Collector also said that all public functions including those being attended by VIPs would be videographed. Each voter would be photographed and his/her finger prints recorded, he said adding that the number of police personnel in booths would be doubled. Each polling booth would have two police personnel, he said. There are 119 polling stations.

The Collector also urged the parties to ensure restriction in the use of vehicles used for campaign. There should not be more than three vehicles at a time and they should keep a distance of 200 metres. Party flags, banners and symbols should not be displayed on the vehicles without permission, he said.

The Collector earlier visited various polling booths in the constituency. Observers also visited different booths in the morning. The observers could be contacted on their telephones. The phone numbers are: 0497-2713148 and 9497513461 (Mr. Saxena) and 0497-2713149 and 9497513460 (Mr. Garg).

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