LS Polls in Anantnag: Security arrangements face acid test today
Srinagar: The polling for the volatile and restive south Kashmir Lok Sabha constituency begins today with Anantnag district going to polls on Tuesday. The election to this south Kashmir LS seat will be held in three phases as Anantnag district will go to polls today, while voting in Kulgam district will be on April 29 and Pulwama and Shopian districts will go to polls on May 6.
“The election campaigning in Anantnag district came to an end on Sunday evening but will continue in Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts which form the Lok Sabha constituency,” an election official said.
He said the electioneering in the district remained by and large peaceful.
Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency is spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama with 16 assembly segments.
The Lok Sabha polls to the constituency are being held in three phases due to security reasons.
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.”
Notably, the Election Commission has curtailed the polling duration for Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency by two hours following a request from the state police to this effect.
The polling will be held in south Kashmir areas from 7 am to 4 am.
The Election Commission has set-up 1,842 polling stations to facilitate smooth polling, the official said.
The constituency has 13,97,272 registered voters, including 7,20,337 males, 672879 females and 35 transgenders.
Anantnag district has 5,29,256 electors, including 2,69,603 males, 257540 females, 2102 service electors and 11 transgender voters.
For the smooth polling, the EC has set-up 714 polling stations in the district.
There are 18 candidates in the fray for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, including PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti.
The Congress has fielded its state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir, while former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi is contesting on the National Conference ticket.
The other candidates in the fray include former MLC Sofi Yousuf (BJP), Nisar Ahmad Wani (National Panthers Party), Zaffar Ali (People’s Conference), Sanjay Kumar Dhar (Manav Adhikar Party) and Surinder Singh (Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party).
Independent candidates contesting the election include Imtiyaz Ahmad Rather, Ridwana Sanam, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, Zubair Masoodi, Shamas Khwaja, Ali Mohammad Wani, Gh Mohammad Wani, Kyasir Ahmed Shiekh, Manzoor Ahmed Khan and Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh complete the field.