Terror attacks cast shadow over immediate holding of Assembly polls in J&K

The recently concluded Lok Sabha election was the first election since then, and saw the highest voter participation in 40 years.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 06:32 IST

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Srinagar: A spurt in terror attacks in Jammu region last week has cast a grim shadow over the much-anticipated assembly elections in the Union Territory (UT) with central government reaffirming that rooting out terror acts was its “highest priority”.

In December 2023, The Supreme Court directed the Centre to hold the Assembly election in the region before September this year. The UT is without any elected government since June 19, 2018 when BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba Mufti-led government, citing deteriorating security situation in the erstwhile state.

In August 2019, the special constitutional status of erstwhile state of J&K was taken away and the region was bifurcated into two centrally administered Union Territories (UT). The recently concluded Lok Sabha election was the first election since then, and saw the highest voter participation in 40 years.

For months, the anticipation of assembly elections had infused a sense of hope and optimism among the people of J&K and the prospect of a democratically elected government was seen as a beacon of stability.

However, this fragile optimism seems to be having shattered as a series of coordinated terror attacks struck key areas in Jammu region. The deadly attacks targeted multiple locations, including a bus carrying pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, killing nine people and injuring nearly three dozen.

In the immediate aftermath, security forces have launched extensive operations to hunt down the perpetrators and dismantle the terror networks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to deploy the “full spectrum of counter-terror capabilities” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The annual Amarnath yatra, a significant pilgrimage for Hindus, which will begin on June 29 and conclude on August 19, requires a heavy security cover which will further divert security resources away from the proposed election exercise.

The first to suggest defer assembly elections in J&K for a year was former Army chief General V.P. Malik. “Don’t rush to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September. Focus on consolidating gains in Kashmir. A few terrorist successes in Jammu could incite further terrorism in the Valley,” he said in a TV interview.

“More important than the Assembly election by September is ensuring the security of Jammu and Kashmir. Postpone the election by a year,” he suggested.

However, National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has other views over the issue. He said that it would a matter of shame if the assembly elections in were postponed due to a series of attacks by the militants.

"Yes, please feel free to give in to these extremist forces so that they have a sense of achievement. You have NO gains in Kashmir if militant outfits are able to derail the elections that the PM, HM & Election Commission have committed to holding before the SC deadline of 30th Sept," he posted on X.

Published 16 June 2024, 06:32 IST

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