LS Polls: After peaceful polls elsewhere focus shifts to south Kashmir
Ensuring fool proof security arrangements a challenge, say officials
Srinagar: After the conduct of polls in Srinagar and Kupwara Lok Sabha constituencies, the entire focus of the establishment has shifted on ensuring a violence free polls in south Kashmir.
Security officials say that a multi-layer security plan has been formulated to ensure smooth conduct of the upcoming general elections in Anantng Lok Sabha seat, especially in ‘hypersensitive areas.
Sources said that in view of challenging law and order situation in South Kashmir, Election Commission, Police and other security agencies have formulated a multi-layer security plan to ensure smooth conduct of elections.
“The plan includes area domination, night patrolling and strong cover by the road opening parties of the central reserve police force (CRPF),” a senior police officer, wishing not to be named said.
Polling in Anantnag LS seat will take place in three phases on April 23, April 29 and May 6.
The Anantnag constituency which covers four volatile districts of south Kashmir Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama has been the focal point of violence since 2016, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Police sources said that in polling stations declared hypersensitive, one layer of forces will specifically be deployed for any law and order challenges, while another layer would deal with the possible threats or attacks. They added that third layer would guard the polling stations.
Sources said that 90% polling booths in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat are “hypersensitive”, while the remaining 10% fall in the “sensitive” category.
Police sources further said that taking the 2017 experience into account, “security forces won’t lower their guard or take any chance this time.”
“Layering of security will be done on the pattern of the civic poll model. Senior officers of the police and paramilitary forces will remain deployed to guide their personnel on the ground and also monitor the situation,” they said.
To thwart attacks, security agencies said, road opening parties (ROPs) have been strengthened to foil any attempt by militants to disrupt the polls.
Sources said the army will “remain at the beck and call” of security agencies on the ground during the polls and its “role will only be required if the situation turns ugly anywhere during the elections.”
Meanwhile, police said that they are determined to make the ground safe for a successful poll and would, therefore, not spare any persons who try to disrupt the orderly conduct of the exercise.
The official said that special security arrangements have been made to contain any insurgence at noted flash-point areas, and urged people in those areas not to entertain any fears, but to go about the voting exercise with confidence, knowing that the full force of the security agencies was behind them.
In the last parliamentary elections, it was Mehbooba Mufti, who won the south Kashmir Lok Sabha seat. She defeated the then NC candidate Mehboob Beg, who later joined the PDP, by 65,417 votes.
The seat fell vacant in June 2016 after Mehbooba resigned, when she won the assembly by-polls. Since then by-polls could not be held due to volatile situation in south Kashmir.
Even bye-elections scheduled for May 2017 were deferred after violence in Srinagar left nine people dead. (with inputs from KNS)