MULTAN- A new controversy reared its head on Wednesday when Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials distributed polling material in private vehicles in Multan where the stage is set for Oct 16 by-elections, reported a private TV channel.

The channel caught several ECP staff members transporting ballot boxes, stationary and other election material to polling stations in private vehicles, motorbikes, rickshaws and some even carrying the material in hands, despite availability of vehicle hired by the ECP.

While speaking to the channel, the staff members were of the view that they are compelled to do so owing to unavailability of conveyance.

The electoral material will be provided to election staff at 9am tomorrow.

“Any individual distributing the election material without the supervision of ECP staff or army personnel is illegal. The Returning Officers should take action against such staff members,” former ECP secretary KanwarDilshad told the channel

The by-elections will be held on Thursday for a National Assembly constituency, NA-149 Multan II, vacated by senior politician MakhdoomJaved Hashmi.

Javed Hashmi is contesting the polls with PML-N support against an independent candidate, Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar, who is being backed by PTI. The PPP has not fielded its candidate in the election.

Authorities have announced a public holiday in Multan tomorrow in view of by-elections.

Section-144, prohibiting gathering of more than four persons and holding public gatherings has been imposed in the district where more than 80 polling stations, out of 286, have been declared sensitive.

Rangers will be deployed at the sensitive polling stations whereas police personnel will be on security duty on other polling stations.

The polling will start at 9am on Oct 16.