Poll rallies in Kashmir: Cops ask security clearance

The polling in recent times has been marred by militant violence forcing security agencies not to take any risk this time. In a reaction to an energized electorate, militants always step up their threats and attacks on candidates and polling staff in Kashmir. PTI file photo

With Lok Sabha and pivotal assembly polls likely to be held together in Jammu and Kashmir in April and May, police have issued advisory asking politicians to seek prior security clearance before holding any rallies.

Sources privy to the advisory said politicians protected by special security group (SSG) guards must seek a security clearance from the director SSG before holding any rallies.  “No rally or a major public gathering would be allowed in four restive districts of south Kashmir – Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag - unless the director SSG and the police chief of the concerned district give a security clearance for the event,” they said.

The polling in recent times has been marred by militant violence forcing security agencies not to take any risk this time. In a reaction to an energized electorate, militants always step up their threats and attacks on candidates and polling staff in Kashmir.

“At times, politicians take a risk by holding rallies without getting security clearance from the concerned officers. It can pose a threat to their lives,” sources said.

A senior police officer said though the politicians are free to go for mass public contact programs to explain their agenda, given the sensitivities involved in Kashmir, they need to cooperate with the police for their own security. “Tomorrow if something happens, the blame would entirely be on us. To ensure peaceful public gatherings, security clearance is a must,” he said.

By ending February, the election activities are expected to peak in Kashmir's weather would improve by then. While two major regional parties National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had boycotted the Municipal and Panchayat polls held from October to December last year, this time both the parties have made it clear that they will join the poll fray. This will not only increase election activities to run up to the polls but also the voter turnout will also increase.

In the recent weeks, former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has already started to reach out to the people in the southern districts, by visiting the families of slain militants. Three days earlier, she addressed a gathering at Dara Shikoh Park in southern Bijbehara area to mark the third death anniversary of her father and former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

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