Kashmir Indepth

Govt gears up for panchayat elections

Srinagar, Oct 30: As the authorities are gearing up for upcoming Panchayat elections, the security forces here said that these elections would be more challenging than the recently held Urban Local Body (ULB) polls.
One of the top government officials told Kashmir IN-DEPTH that ahead of the Panchayat elections the authorities are in the process of identifying both highly volatile and peaceful constituencies to finalize the security arrangements,” the official said wished not to be named.
Panchayat elections in the state will be held in nine phases beginning November 17. Polling will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29, and December 1, 4, 8 and 11 in the 35,096 panchayats in the state. The entire election process would be completed by December 17.
The urban local body polls, held in four phases, began October 8 and ended October 16.
Fresh panchayats polls were supposed to be held in 2015. However, these elections were deferred on many occasions due to unrest in Kashmir.
Meanwhile one of the top officials of security forces here said that keeping in view the fact that much larger population is likely participate in Panchayat elections, it will be more challenging for the forces in terms of security. “The panchayat elections will be more challenging because the spread is too much as compared to the urban (local) body elections. But we are prepared for that, the official maintained.
He said that all the top police officials in the Districts have been directed to work out and fine tune the deployment plans in such a way that foolproof security is provided for Panchayat polls.
“We are fully geared up for upcoming elections at every level. I am sure elections will pass off peacefully,” the official said.
He said whatever logistic and manpower support required for the polls was being pooled out and will be placed at the disposal for smooth conduct of these elections.
He said that going by the past experience, security forces has sailed through all difficult situation very successfully.
“I’m very confident that this major event also would be conducted in a graceful and successful manner,” he said.
He however said that that stern action will be taken against the elements, who foment trouble during the election process.
Sources said that forces especially CRPF would be at the forefront of the security set-up for the panchayat polls in the State, where the security for individual candidates would also be factored in.
Already, over 213 additional companies (21,300 forces personnel) of CAPF that were deployed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for the two-month Amarnath yatra and most of them have been deployed in districts for pre-election duty.
In central Kashmir of the 213 companies, the highest 71 companies were stationed in Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam districts.
While 61 companies were deployed in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara, Bandipora and Handwara and 49 deployed in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Awantipora.

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