Heightened security, all other arrangements in place for voting in Jammu-Reasi seat tomorrow

Prohibitory orders in Jammu; VPNs suspended in Rajouri, Poonch
Live webcasting from 1454 Polling Stations

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Apr 24: Stage is set for polling in Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary constituency on Friday, the campaigning for which ended this evening even as the District Magistrate Jammu today clamped prohibitory orders in the district while Rajouri and Poonch administration ordered suspension of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services on the mobile phones in the districts.
Only one Assembly constituency of Rajouri district, Sunderbani-Kalakote is part of Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary seat which comprised 11 Assembly seats of Jammu district and three each of Reasi and Samba districts.
Though the constituency has all peaceful Assembly segments, yet the Election authorities and the administration haven’t taken any chances and deployed adequate number of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Jammu and Kashmir Police in all vulnerable areas. Polling Stations are being sanitized ahead of the voting on April 26.
“Around 1454 Polling Stations in Jammu seat will have CCTV type camera for live webcasting to control rooms established at district and CEO office. Cameras will be positioned in such a way that they don’t violate the secrecy of vote.

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“Around 124 polling stations will have two cameras – for inside and outside surveillance. Around 2000 vehicles of Polling parties and sector officers will be equipped with GPS system so as to locate the vehicle and monitor movement, including overspeeding,” the officials said.
Around 13 Polling Stations are in communication shadow areas. Suitable alternate arrangements in the communication shadow areas by providing satellite phones, wireless sets and special runners etc have been put in place, they said.
“To monitor various election related activities and also check Model Code of Conduct compliance, a Command and Control Room has been established at CEO office, Jammu and similar Mini Control Rooms at every DEO offices. These are functioning 24 x 7. All electronic media channels, social media platforms are monitored here. Any violation detected, is reported and concerned RO/ ARO issued notice. Apart from looking for MCC violation, the Control room also have live feed of more than 55 % Polling Stations and all vehicles being used for poll parties movement,” the officials said.
CEO J&K PK Pole is monitoring all arrangements for second phase of polling.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah joined the campaigning in Jammu while Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur held a rally the day BJP candidate Jugal Kishore Sharma filed nomination papers. Besides Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, the BJP candidate from Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat which went to polls in first phase on April 19, Tarun Chugh, national general secretary and UT chief Ravinder Raina also campaigned for the BJP. Prior to announcement of the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive election rally at MA Stadium here on February 20.
For Congress, senior leaders Raj Babbar, Sachin Pilot, Bharatsinh Solanki and Alka Lamba among others joined the canvassing for Raman Bhalla.
Jugal is seeking third consecutive term from Jammu-Reasi seat having won it in 2014 and 2019 and is facing Raman Bhalla, a former Minister, who was also the Congress candidate in last Parliamentary polls. Besides them, Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal (ESBD) candidate Ankur Sharma and BSP nominee Jagdish Verma are also among the fray.
A total of 22 candidates are trying their luck in Jammu-Reasi seat.
Jammu seat had recorded a turnout of 74 percent in 2019 Parliamentary elections. However, Udhampur constituency which had registered 70.2 percent turnout in 2019, this time recorded about 68 percent voting.
Sharma, who had also won Assembly elections from Nagrota constituency of Jammu on the BJP ticket in 2002 and 2008 before heading the J&K unit of the party for a couple of years, is banking for his re-election on historic decisions taken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government and massive developmental push in the last 10 years.
Bhalla, on the other hand, having regional heavy weights National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) backing him after the formation of INDIA bloc, is banking upon “resentment among the people over the wrong policies of the BJP-led Government”.
Officials said 2416 polling stations including 158 along the International Border and Line of Control (LoC) have been set up for 17.81 lakh eligible voters in the constituency which mostly comprises plain areas unlike Udhampur Parliamentary constituency.
“Security and other related arrangements are in place to ensure free, fair and peaceful voting. A contingency plan has also been worked out to ensure no disruption in polling along the borders,” the officials said, adding polling is expected to remain peaceful in view of the ongoing ceasefire between India and Pakistan since February 2021.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Jammu Sachin Kumar Vaishya today issued an order imposing complete ban on holding of public meetings under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
“There shall be complete ban on gathering of five or more persons and use of loudspeakers,” the order said.
However, it said, the order shall not apply to the public servant on duty and bonafide marriage or funeral processions or any other such function. The order will also not apply to the officers authorized for election duty by the District Election Officer, Jammu or State Government/Central Government including the Polling Officers/ Magistrates/ Police Officers/ Government staff and door to door campaigning by the political parties.
Meanwhile, the authorities today ordered immediate suspension of VPN services till the end of the Lok Sabha elections in Rajouri district.
The decision to suspend virtual private networks (VPNs) was taken as a preventive measure to protect information on the Lok Sabha elections and other sensitive data from cyber attacks, Additional District Magistrate (Rajouri) Rajeev Kumar Khajuria said in an order.
“Whereas, a communication has been received from the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (Rajouri) regarding unprecedented high usage of VPNs during the past few days in different parts of this district by scores of suspicious Internet users,” the order mentioned.
“Whereas, VPN transmits get encrypted and creates point to point tunnel, masks IP address and lets sidestep website blocks and firewall on Internet thus making data related to forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and other sensitive data vulnerable to cyber attacks,” it added while announcing the suspension of all VPN services in mobile phones in the district till the end of the election process.
Rajouri is part of Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to the polls on May 7. However, one Assembly segment of Rajouri district, Kalakote-Sunderbani is part of Jammu-Reasi Parliamentary constituency which goes to polls on April 26.
Meanwhile, a similar order suspending VPNs in Poonch district till conduct of elections was also issued today by Additional DM Poonch Tahir Mustafa Malik.
According to the figures provided by the office of Returning Officer Jammu Parliamentary constituency, there are 17,80,835 registered voters in Jammu including 9,21,095 male, 8,59,712 female and 28 transgender. Among these 37,822 (37,025 male and 797 female) are service voters.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 2416 Polling Stations across the constituency including 18 Green Polling Stations, 46 Pink Polling Stations and 18 PwD manned Polling Stations.