‘Security roadmap for polls being chalked out, rallies to be held at designated places’

Srinagar: The security agencies are chalking out a proper road map for security in the upcoming Municipal and Panchayat polls in Kashmir and candidates in volatile areas would be asked to hold rallies at designated places.

A senior official at the Civil Secretariat told Kashmir News Service (KNS) that State Election Commission has sought the report from the JK government on the security situation in the state. “Now the security agencies are making a proper road map for holding these elections in the state,” the official said.

“The state administration including security agencies won’t take any chances that could disturb the situation further in south Kashmir. Authorities will ensure a peaceful election campaign,” the official said.

South Kashmir is the most volatile area where militancy related incidents have been occurring on a regular basis.

Sources said the security agencies will advise candidates in these areas to hold rallies at “designated places”.

“Security forces will draw a plan to ensure trouble free panchayat polls. Designated places will be earmarked for rallies given the precarious security situation,” a senior security official said.

A senior official posted at Divisional Commissioner Kashmir’s  office said the security agencies will ask contesting candidates to follow the formulated security guidelines for the upcoming polls.

“The candidates will be advised to inform security forces before holding any election rally in their respective areas. The election rally will only be allowed at secured places,” the official said, adding, “The security forces will sensitize roads to election rally venues”.

Meanwhile sources said that the police are working out an elaborate security plan to ensure incident-free polls. The force will assess and survey the sensitive and hyper sensitive areas going to polls and accordingly prepare a report on requirement of additional forces, sources maintained.

Police said it has begun a security drill to ensure a fool-proof security for incident free polls. “We have started the job to work out on a security plan,” one of the top police official told KNS.

The last panchayat polls were held in J&K in year 2011. Since then, at least 16 Sarpanchs and Panchs were killed by unidentified gunmen and dozens were injured. At least 4400 Sarpanchs and 29000 Panchs will be elected in the State.

It is to mention here that Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jammu and Kashmir had announced the poll schedule for municipal elections in the Sate. According to Shalin Kabra the said elections will be held in four phases starting from 8 October, 10 October, 13 October and 16 October.

Kabra has also announced nine phase poll schedule for conducting Panchayat elections in the state.

While addressing a press conference in Srinagar on Sunday , the Chief Electoral Officer Shalin Kabra had said “for phase one notification will be issued on 23rd October, phase second 26 October, phase 3rd 29 October, phase four 1st November, phase five 3rd November phase six 6 November, phase seven 9 November, phase eight 12 November and phase nine 14th November.”

Both the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, the two biggest regional political outfits have decided to boycott the elections as they have asked the Government of India to clear its stand on the issue of Article 35-A.

Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh on Monday appealed political parties in Jammu and Kashmir to participate in the upcoming Panchayat and local body polls.

On Monday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also decided not to participate in the polls keeping in view the prevailing situation in the valley.

State Secretary CPI(M) Ghulam Nabi Malik, in a statement said that despite majority of mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir deciding not to participate in these polls shows the arrogance of the BJP-led Central Government.

The Joint Resistance Leaders (JRL) while reiterating their call of ULB, Panchayat polls said that  it is a “political gimmick to hoodwink international community”.

(With inputs from KNS)

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