High security in Srinagar to avert 2017 like situation

A security personnel stands guard outside an EVM distribution centre ahead of the second phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Srinagar, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (PTI Photo)

To ensure rampaging mobs don’t overrun polling booths like they did on 9 April 2017 during by-poll to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, authorities this time have ensured double-layer protection for polling booths across the Valley.

The polling booths have been categorised as ‘critical’ and ‘very critical’ and the security arrangements have been made accordingly. Authorities have made elaborate security arrangements in all the poll bound areas with additional police and paramilitary personnel deployed in strength around the polling booths. Restrictions were placed on the movement of people around the polling booths to prevent any violence.

Sources told Deccan Herald that keeping in view the 2017 experience, additional forces were deployed at each polling station with at least one security bunker. “Government didn’t want to take any chances this time as there were some chinks in security plan in 2017 which saw rampaging mobs over running polling booths,” they said.

Inspector general of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Ravideep Singh Sahi said that a “different security model” had been framed this time to “create a peaceful atmosphere so that voters are able to vote without any fear”.

“Separate companies of security forces have been kept on standby mode to deal with any law and order situations while separate teams were deployed on ground to deal with militancy-related threats and challenges,” he said.

Sahi said frequent patrolling will be carried out by mobile vehicles of security forces to keep an eye on suspects while quick reaction teams (QRTs) and road opening parties (RoPs) have been directed to remain on alert mode to face any big challenge anywhere in the poll-bound areas or along the state highways.

Nine protesters were killed in security forces firing on 9 April 2017 on by-poll day in Budgam and Ganderbal districts of Srinagar Lok Sabha segment forcing Election Commission to cancel the south Kashmir Anantnag Parliamentary seat by-poll. 

Spread over three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal, the Srinagar LS constituency has witnessed low voter turnout during all the parliamentary elections held after the 1987 state election. In the 2017 by-election, mere 7% voter turnout was recorded in the Srinagar segment.

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