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Poll officers to trek harsh terrains of Himachal's Bara Bangal for 63 voters

This journey requires a two-day trek along a treacherous mountain path, navigating landslide-prone sections, and avoiding the perilous Ravi River that borders the route. 

News Arena Network - Shimla - UPDATED: May 15, 2024, 01:37 AM - 3 mins read

Bara Bhangal.

Poll officers to trek harsh terrains of Himachal's Bara Bangal for 63 voters

Bara Bhangal.


Every vote counts, a principle well understood by polling officers who embark on arduous journeys to ensure democracy reaches even the most remote and sparsely populated areas, such as Bara Bhangal in Himachal Pradesh, which is home to just 63 voters. 

 

This journey requires a two-day trek along a treacherous mountain path, navigating landslide-prone sections, and avoiding the perilous Ravi River that borders the route. 

 

Situated in Kangra district, Bara Bhangal offers few comforts in daily life, and the election process is no exception. 

 

Another area that tests the mettle of polling officers is Sat Kuthera of Fatehpur, where it takes a 5.5 km boat ride to reach the polling station.

 

Dr Surjit Saroch, a polling officer who was part of a team in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, stated, in conversation with a media house, how he took a journey to Bara Bhangal 5 years ago.

 

"Starting from Chamba side, we commenced our journey on foot from Naya Gram and reached Dharari, the only village en route to Bara Bhangal, and stayed in a small two-room kachha house in the village," he said.

 

The team, which included porters and mules, walked for two days on the hazardous narrow footpath with a bellowing Ravi River flowing beneath and shooting stones rolling down from the hilltop, Saroch recalled. 

 

Rakesh Chandel, the polling officer who supervised the assembly polls in Bara Bhangal in 2022, said he felt he had left the world behind when he reached the area.

 

"With solar panels being the only mode of electricity and no communication devices except the satellite phone given to the polling officer, we felt we were cut off from the rest of the world," he said. 

 

"We were fortunate to be airdropped to Bara Bhangal but flying across the Dhauladhar mountain range amid clouds and against strong winds was a nerve-racking experience," he added. 

 

Poll officer Rajesh Kumar recalled that there was no light and they had to carry inverters/generators on a boat to Sat Kuthera, which has around 100 voters. 

 

"There was no school there and we stayed at a temple and came back the third day," Kumar, one of the members of the polling party that conducted voting in the area in the 2022 assembly polls, said. 

 

The 63 voters of Bara Bhangal have been given the option to vote in the area or at a polling station in Bir. 

 

Reaching Bara Bhangal will not be easy this year considering the landslides and washing away of bridges last monsoon. 

 

According to state Chief Electoral Officer Maneesh Garg, parts of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur, Pangi, and Bharmaur in Chamba, and Dodra Kwar in Shimla district remain cut off due to snowfall, which takes place throughout May, and this is one of the reasons the polling in the state is being held in the last phase on June 1. 

 

In 2019, the voting for Lok Sabha polls was held in the last phase on May 19.  

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