J&K civic body polls: security arrangements heightened

J&K civic body polls: security arrangements heightened

CRPF personnel check vehicles and motorcycles using sniffer dogs, ahead of polling for the first phase of elections for urban local bodies in Kashmir, in Srinagar. PTI photo

On the eve of the first phase of civic polls in Jammu and Kashmir, high-security arrangements were placed across the state on Sunday to ensure peaceful polling.

With around 40,000 additional paramilitary forces deployed and three-tier security placed around the polling stations, the army too has been asked to go for area domination to deter militants or their supporters from disrupting the polling process.

Security forces intensified vehicle checking, frisking and area domination in Srinagar as well as in the other areas of the valley in the run-up to the polls.

“Keeping experience of April 2017 by-election of Srinagar parliamentary seat in view, we are taking no chances this time. The polling stations have been properly secured,” a senior police officer told DH.

He said additional checkpoints have been established in the areas, where polling is scheduled in the first phase, while highways and roads leading towards the election areas have been sealed.

“Though elaborate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure smooth, free and fair polls, providing security to each and every candidate was out of the question,” the official said and added nearly 500 “over ground workers” (OGWs) of militants have been arrested to ensure peaceful polling.

The threats by militants, violence and boycott by the state's two major regional parties — the NC and the PDP — have cast a shadow over the polls, making it seem the most low-profile electoral exercise in the history of the state.

The boycott by the NC and the PDP and separatists along with the threats and recent violence have led to absolutely minimal campaigning for the four-phase local bodies polls. There has been no poll rally, campaigning or door-to-door canvassing in most parts of the valley with most of the contesting candidates preferring their names and even political affiliations not being disclosed.

As many as 2,990 candidates are in the fray for the four-phase urban local bodies (ULB) polls in the state. The polls are scheduled to begin on October 8, followed by the second phase on October 10, third phase on October 13 and last phase on October 16. The counting of votes will be held on October 20.

As many as 244 candidates have been elected unopposed, the majority of them from the valley. There are 16,97,291 eligible voters in the 1145 wards across the state. Kashmir valley has the highest number of wards with 598 and an electorate of 10,32,498, while Jammu province has 521 wards with 6,44,568 voters. Ladakh region has 26 wards with electorate of 20,225.