Extra ordinary security in place for Phase-IV polling tomorrow

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Dec 12: With eight seats of Srinagar district among 18 segments going to polls in fourth and final phase in the Kashmir Valley, authorities have taken “extra ordinary security measures’’ including preventive actions to thwart possibility of terror strikes by utilizing all available manpower of security and police personnel. In addition to police, 440 additional companies of para-military forces have been deployed in the constituencies going to vote on Sunday, the campaigning for which ended at 6 pm today.
Several bigwigs including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were among 182 candidates, whose fate will be decided by about 14.73 lakh electorates spread over four districts. The Election Commission has set up 1890 polling stations for the fourth phase of polling, which will complete election process in the Valley.
Director General of Police (DGP) K Rajendra told the Excelsior that 440 additional companies of para-military forces have been deployed for 18 Assembly constituencies going to polls in fourth phase on Sunday in addition to Jammu and Kashmir Police, Armed Police and Indian Reserve Police (IRP) battalions.
“All pre-emptive measures were being taken as eight Assembly seats of Srinagar district were also going to polls in this phase,’’ he said, adding that adequate focus was being paid on polling stations, security of candidates and vulnerable areas to ensure peaceful polling in the wake of terror strikes on the eve of third phase polling.
Rajendra said another high level review of security situation for fourth phase of polling will be held in Srinagar tomorrow after twin rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kathua and Rajouri are over. “Final touches will be given to the security of polling stations, candidates and sensitive areas,’’ he added.
Authorities were not taking any chance following inputs that militants could carry out terror attacks in the Valley as Sunday’s polling will complete election process in all 46 seats of Kashmir leaving only 20 seats of Jammu region for polling in fifth and final phase in the State, scheduled for December 20.
Authorities hoped that adequate security arrangements will lead to increase in turnout in eight constituencies of Srinagar districts like other parts of the Valley, which have witnessed brisk polling in first three phases.
In 2008 Assembly elections, there had been very low turnout in eight seats of Srinagar district including minimum of 11.6 per cent in Habbakadal and maximum of 39.6 in Sonawar. Turnout in six other seats of Srinagar was Zadibal (17.3), Idgah (22.07), Khanyar (17.4), Amirakadal (14.9) and Batamaloo (19.9).
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is contesting from Sonawar while Speaker Mubarak Gul is NC candidate from Idgah and Rural Development Minister and NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar is contesting from Khanyar. PDP leader Tariq Hamid Qarra had won Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in May 2014 elections defeating NC patriarch and Dr Farooq Abdullah with an impressive margin. The PDP has fielded strong candidates on all eight Srinagar seats and was hoping for good turnout.
BJP has also fielded its woman Muslim face of Kashmir Dr Heena Bhat against NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani and PDP’s multi-millionaire Altaf Bukhari in Amirakadal and industrialist Moti Koul in Habbakadal, where Kashmiri Pandits have 16271 votes.
Samba and Vijaypur are the only two constituencies, which will go to polls in the fourth phase in Jammu region.
Deputy Commissioner, Samba Mubarak Singh said all arrangements have been made for smooth polling in the border district.
“We have made special arrangements with the permission of Election Commission of India for the polling stations falling along the International Border in Samba and Vijaypur Assembly segments,’’ Singh said, adding that in case of any eventuality from Pakistan, the polling stations falling within the firing range will be relocated immediately within five kilometers radius in safer zones.
Of four districts going to polls on Sunday, Srinagar with eight Assembly seats has highest number of 12.03 lakh electorates and 155 polling stations while Anantnag district with six Assembly constituencies has 4.95 lakh voters and 631 polling stations. Shopian with two seats has 1.61 lakh votes and 196 polling stations while Samba with two seats has 1.90 lakh voters and 259 polling stations.
Out of 18 seats going to polls in the fourth phase, NC holds 9 (all 8 in Srinagar district and one in Samba) while PDP holds 6 (4 in Anantnag and 2 in Shopian). Congress had two seats in Anantnag district and JKNPP one. Though BJP holds no seats in the fourth phase constituencies, it has high hopes in two seats of Samba districts and an equal number in Srinagar district.
Polling has been completed on 49 Assembly seats including 15 in Jammu region, all four in Ladakh region and 30 in the Kashmir Valley in first three phases on November 25, December 2 and December 9. After fourth phase, polling will be completed in all 46 seats of Kashmir and 17 in Jammu region, leaving 20 seats of Jammu, which would go to polls in fifth phase on December 20.
Apart from two prominent political rivals–Omar Abdullah and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, other bigwigs, whose political fortunes will be decided in the fourth phase included Legislative Assembly Speaker Mubarak Gul (Idgah), Rural Development Minister and NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar (Khanyar), two Congress Ministers GA Mir (Dooru) and Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed (Kokernag), PDP’s three times MLA and former Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri (Bijbehara), BJP’s prominent faces in Kashmir Dr Heena Bhat (Amirakadal) and Moti Koul (Habbakadal), sitting NC MLA and former Minister Surjit Singh Slathia (Vijaypur), another former Minister and Congress leader Manjit Singh and BJP’s Chander Prakash Ganga (also Vijaypur) and sitting NPP two times MLA from Samba Yash Paul Kundal.
Sonawar is the second seat from where Omar is contesting. His fortune in Beerwah constituency of Budgam district was sealed in third phase of polling on December 9.
Wachi is another prestigious segment in Shopian district as it was represented in the outgoing Assembly by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who had resigned from the seat after being elected to the Lok Sabha in May this year. PDP has fielded Aijaz Ahmad Mir from Wachi.


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