[ Tongam Rina ]
PASIGHAT, Apr 10: As the polling begins in Arunachal to elect its 57 legislative and two parliamentary representatives, 91 polling stations in the state are being handled entirely by women.
One such polling station is Phangtip, under the Changlang North constituency. Phangtip is around 6 kilometres from the main township area. The presiding officer is Tikchak Mossang, who is an assistant professor at Rang Frah Government College, Changlang. The 33-year-old heads the eight-member polling team, including security officers.
“It’s all about team work. We have already met twice and have trained together,” says Mossang, who had to undergo rigorous training in preparation for the job.
“We have to finish the assigned job by ensuring that everything goes smoothly and everybody on the electorate roll gets to vote,” says Mossang, who has to make sure that her station is ready with all arrangements before the poll starts at 7 am.
Changlang has the highest number of all-female teams – 24 in total. One of the polling stations staffed by a female team is the government primary school in Ngechang, which has been selected as a model polling station.
A model polling station will have facilities for persons with disabilities (PwD), assistance for the aged, and basic facilities like water. Changlang North has 46 polling stations in total.
West Siang follows Changlang with 15 stations being managed by women, while Tirap, Longding, East Kameng, Papum Pare and Dibang Valley have none.
All the polling stations being managed by women are in urban areas.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Kaling Tayeng said women are not only restricted to all-women teams. Several districts have women as members of polling teams, though the teams may not be all-women, he said.
Tayeng said one of the reasons for engaging so many female employees as poll personnel is because of shortage of male government employees. Daporijo and Changlang are two such places.
Changlang District Election Officer, RK Sharma, said shortage of male employees was the reason for the deployment of so many women in election work.
He added that all the police personnel deployed at the all-women polling stations are also females.
The state has a total of 2202 polling stations, and more than 13000 election personnel have been engaged to ensure peaceful and fair elections on 11 April.