Chinks in security plan exposed

Bypolls: Mobs ransack polling booths in Kashmir's Budgam district

Chinks in security plan exposed

The chinks in the security plan of the Jammu and Kashmir government for the byelection in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency were exposed on Sunday when rampaging mobs vandalised dozens of polling booths in the Budgam district.

Sources told DH that security agencies were expecting more trouble in Srinagar city than in the rural Budgam district, which during the 2016 unrest had by and large remained peaceful.

“The security plan was pre pared keeping militant attacks in mind. Though there were apprehensions of stone pelting, it was never thought that mobs could overrun the security of the polling booths,” they said.

Pertinently, Srinagar had witnessed three militant attacks in a row last week, inflicting causalities on the security forces, which prompted them to expect terror attacks rather than stone-pelting mobs on election day, sources said.

Due to the space constraints, the sources said, make shift polling booths made of tin sheets were set up at many places.

“These polling booths became soft targets for the stone pelters. As a majority of the additional companies of paramilitary forces, which were supposed to arrive in Srinagar ahead of the polls, got stuck due to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the security plan had its chinks,” they said.

CRPF spokesman in Srinagar Buhvaish Chaudhary said that the additional CRPF companies couldn’t reach Srinagar on time as they were stranded en route.

Unexpected scale

A senior police officer said, “though we had inputs of separatists mobilising stone pelters, we didn’t expect this scale of violence in the rural areas of Budgam”, and added that security arrangements had been made after assessing the vulnerability of the areas.

Of the additional CRPF companies on polls duty, 76 companies has been deployed in Srinagar, 30 in Ganderbal and 62 in Budgam district.

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