Kashmir Indepth

Election Commission Observers Get Feedback On Security Preparedness In Kashmir

The special observers appointed by the Election Commission of India who arrived in Kashmir held high level meeting with the top brass of security agencies to evolve consensus on holding crucial Assembly polls in the State.

Three observers’ former civil servants, Amar Jeet Singh Gill, former DG CRPF Noor Muhamamd, and Vinod Zutshi an IAS officer were appointed by the ECI to assess the ground situation in Kashmir and that they also were given a mandate to meet the political parties, heads of security agencies, and also the local people.

The police, army, and the CRPF have been asked to frame a security plan for ensuring the smooth Lok Sabha polls. “We are at it and exercises have been started on various fronts to frame a fool-proof security plan,” said a top police official. “We will ensure that all the polling booths are secured and guarded in a proper manner.”

In this regard, a high-level meeting was held at Nehru Guest house on Thursday that remained on till 9 pm. Police said that it was also waiting for the political parties to finalize their candidates so that proper security cover is provided to them. “Though we expect politicians contesting upcoming Lok Sabha polls to hold rallies, we will be securing the areas in advance to that hassle-free rallies are conducted in the places where the candidates wish to address people,” the officer said.

A top CRPF official said that forces have started night patrolling, area domination, and identification of polling booths in advance to ensure a conducive atmosphere is created for the polls. “There will be a proper security plan as far how many people would guard the polling booth and how many would remain deployed for the area domination,” he said.

Police sources said that a proper advisory will soon be issued to political parties for holding poll rallies. “As far as South Kashmir, the political parties have to seek proper security clearance before addressing people,” said sources.
“South Kashmir continues to pose security challenges and that’s why ECI announced polls for South Kashmir LoK Sabha polls in three phases.

The ECI decided to hold Lok Sabha polls in the trouble-ravaged state and to defer the assembly polls due for the State citing security situation and huge need of additional forces for securing the contesting candidates. In J&K, there are six Lok Sabha constituencies and 87 Assembly seats.

The number of contesting candidates for six Parliamentary polls is not more than 15 while for the Assembly polls the number of contesting candidates is expected to be between 400 to 500.
If a single contesting candidate is provided five to ten forces personnel, that means there is a need of 50,000 additional forces which is not possible at this juncture as majority of central forces are presently busy country-wide given the seven-phased Lok Sabha polls set to commence from March 11 across India. (KNS)

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