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J&K polls: All eyes on ECI visit to J&K on March 4, final announcement on March 7

Srinagar, Feb 25: Amid fears about repealing of the Jammu and Kashmir’s hereditary state subject law—Article 35- A, all eyes are set on the crucial, rather most important visit of full team of Election Commission of India on March 4 and 5 to Srinagar for reviewing the overall security atmosphere in the State to take a final call on holding crucial Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. The polls are due in the trouble-ravaged State as J&K at present is under president’s rule.

The State plunged into the Governors’ rule last year after the sudden withdrawal of support to the PDP by the BJP. The New Delhi removed Governor of the State, NN Vohra with Satya Pal Malik, who after completing his six month’s stint was made as the care take Governor with State taking a plunge into presidential rule.

At present security situation in Kashmir is grim in the wake of deadly Lethpora attack that left over 40 CRPF men dead and over two dozen injured. The incident forced the security top brass to take unprecedented security measures to foil or to prevent such attacks in future as Lethpora attack was first of its kind in the past 30 years that inflicted huge casualties to forces.

Now that the elections are due, ECI, that earlier postponed its visit to J&K, is arriving on March 4 for a two-day visit to assess the ground situation, to get the feedback and to meet the security top brass for evolving a final consensus as to whether the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls be held together or separately.

“Yes, it’s a very crucial visit of the ECI. There will be discussions and the team would take feedback for taking its call on holding polls in the State,” a top official in the State’s Election department told Kashmir Indepth on the condition of anonymity. “The ECI will also hold separate deliberations with the DGP, IGP, Intelligence officers, political parties and also the State administration.”

The official said final announcement whether the state would witness Parliamentary elections first or both, Lok Sabha and Assembly together, will be made on March 7 or 8 from New Delhi.

Except PDP, National Conference, Congress, BJP and Peoples Conference favour early polls. The PDP faced internal rebellion with many of its senior party leaders quitting one after another resulting in the sorts of “internal wrangling” in the party.

A top police officer said that they have already briefed the ECI about some challenges in Kashmir and also the conducive atmosphere in Jammu and Ladakh. “Despite certain challenges, we are ready to ensure a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for polls,” he told Kashmir Indepth, on the condition of anonymity. “We have already started preparations as 100 companies of additional forces have arrived in Srinagar and more are on cards.”

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