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Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, security tightened in Rajouri, Poonch districts

Ishtiyaq Kar

Srinagar, May 22: In preparation for the Anantnag- Rajouri parliamentary elections on May 25, security has been significantly ramped up in the Rajouri and Poonch districts.
This move follows a terrorist attack on an Indian Air Force convoy in Poonch on May 4, prompting intensified surveillance and search operations across the region.
The authorities have implemented measures including increased patrols, additional checkpoints, and a robust deployment of security forces in both urban and rural areas of these two districts.
“Additional companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed to ensure safety during the elections. Special attention is being given to securing polling stations and ensuring the safe movement of election staff and voters,” officials said.
Leading the coordination of these security measures is Vijay Kumar, the Additional Director General of Police for Law & Order in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The emphasis is on protecting the electoral process from disruptions. The Election Commission has also planned substantial security at critical polling locations and established protocols to counter any insurgent activities during the election period,” said the officials.
The Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, spanning South Kashmir and the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, is witnessing its first Lok Sabha election since its boundaries were redefined.
Prominent candidates in this high-stakes election include former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), influential tribal leader Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference (NC), and Zaffar Manhas from the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP). Also in the fray is Advocate Maqbool Parray of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), among 20 candidates vying for the seat.
For Mehbooba Mufti, this election is a critical test of her political influence and the PDP’s standing in its traditional stronghold. Anantnag has long been a bastion of the PDP, and her familial roots add to her appeal among the local electorate. A victory here would reaffirm the PDP’s relevance in the region.
Representing the National Conference, Mian Altaf Ahmad brings a legacy of political and spiritual influence. Hailing from Ganderbal in central Kashmir, Altaf’s family has a history of electoral success and significant sway among the tribal communities in Jammu and Kashmir. His close ties with influential tribal families in Rajouri enhance his prospects in the constituency.
Zaffar Manhas, a prominent Pahari leader, is banking on support from the Pahari community and allies to bolster his numbers. Representing the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, Manhas aims to carve out a space for his party in the political landscape of the region.
Given the constituency’s history and the recent attack, security has been intensified to ensure smooth conduct of the elections.
Significant security measures, including surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC) and enhanced deployment in the hinterlands of Rajouri and Poonch, are also in place.
In the recent phase of the elections, the Baramulla constituency recorded a remarkable 59% voter turnout, the highest in four decades. This has set a positive precedent, raising expectations for a high turnout in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency as well. (KNS)

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