Security tightened in J&K

Security tightened in J&K

In the wake of the killing of a sarpanch by militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday, tight security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling in the second phase of Assembly elections for 18 constituencies on Tuesday.

The Assembly segments spanning five districts–two in Kashmir and three in Jammu–will go to the polls in the second phase to decide the fate of 175 candidates which includes the lone woman minister in the National Conference (NC)-led coalition government Sakina Ittoo.

On Sunday, militants shot dead Mohammad Sultan Bhat, a sarpanch of the ruling NC in Shopian district where voting is scheduled to be held on December 14 in the fourth phase.

Sources told Deccan Herald that security agencies have been asked to take extra care to ensure violence free polling on Tuesday.

“After more than 71 per cent polling in the first phase last week, militants and their handlers across the border must be restless and to disrupt the polling they may carry more attacks like the one carried last night in which a Sarpanch was shot dead,” they added.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, A G Mir said that security grid was fully geared up to foil any attempt by militants to disrupt the democratic process.

Additional 220 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed, besides the police for the second phase of polling in the two districts of the Valley, PTI quoted Mir as saying. An Election Commission official said all the arrangements with regard to transport, security and heating arrangements have already been put in place for the officials deputed for poll duty.

“The polling parties have already reached their respective polling stations,” he said.All eyes will be on Handwara Assembly segment in Kupwara as separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Lone is making his debut in Assembly elections after unsuccessfully contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Separatist groups, including both factions of the Hurriyat, Jammu and Liberation Front and Duktharan-e-Milat have asked the people to boycott the poll process.Meanwhile, the ruling NC and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have strongly condemned the killing of the Sarpanch.

NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said that such acts aim to vitiate the poll atmosphere in the state and should be properly investigated with the culprits identified in an effective, time-bound manner.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said fear is being deliberately created on the ground to keep the people away from the elections.

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