Home Secy reviews situation ahead of Lok Sabha elections on 3 Valley seats

Top officials brief Bhalla on steps to ensure peaceful polling

*Rajouri, Poonch scenario also figures

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, May 11: Union Home Secretary AK Bhalla today reviewed security situation in Kashmir and parts of Rajouri and Poonch as three Lok Sabha seats of the Valley and the twin border districts of Jammu division gear up for the elections in next three phases including May 13, 20 and 25. Top officials of civil and police administration, paramilitary forces and Intelligence agencies attended the meeting.

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Bhalla paid a brief visit to Srinagar specifically for the purpose of security review for three Parliamentary seats as Srinagar Lok Sabha seat goes to polls in fourth phase on May 13, Baramulla constituency in fifth phase on May 20 and Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri segment in sixth phase on May 25.
Officials said Chief Secretary Atal Dulloo, Principal Secretary Home Chandraker Bharti, Director General of Police (DGP) RR Swain, Additional DGP (Law and Order) Vijay Kumar, Additional DGP Jammu Zone Anand Jain, Divisional Commissioner Jammu Ramesh Kumar, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir V K Bidhuri, IGP Srinagar VK Bhirdi, other senior officers of civil and police administration, heads of paramilitary forces and Intelligence agencies attended the meeting in Srinagar that lasted nearly two hours.
Soon after the meeting, Bhalla returned to the Union capital.
Crucial Srinagar Parliamentary constituency goes to polls in fourth phase of voting on May 13. Campaigning for the elections in the seat ended this evening.
Officials said the Home Secretary reportedly called for fool-proof security arrangements to ensure free, fair and transparent voting in all three constituencies of the Kashmir valley. He is understood to have called for taking all Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to ensure that people go out for voting without any fear and that there is no threat of terrorists in the mind of voters.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jammu and Kashmir PK Pole has already taken series of measures to ensure good turnout in all three seats of the Valley which, otherwise, have the history of recording low turnout. Two Parliamentary constituencies of Jammu division where voting was completed in first and second phase have registered 68 percent (Udhampur) and 72 percent (Jammu) polling, which is stated to be quite good as compared to national average in first three phases.
The Home Secretary is also understood to have taken the review of security situation in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch which now form part of South Kashmir constituency named Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri seat which was scheduled to go to polls in third phase on May 7 but the voting was deferred to sixth phase on May 25 in view of adverse weather conditions particularly the closure of Mughal Road.
“So far, there has been no election related violent incident in any part of Jammu and Kashmir. Voting has concluded peacefully in two seats of Jammu division while campaigning ended on Srinagar seat quite peacefully with candidates holding rallies at different places including downtown Srinagar which was once known a hub of terrorists,” the officials said.
Campaigning is also going on in full swing in Baramulla and Anantnag-Poonch-Rajouri seats peacefully.
Officials said senior officers of civil and police administration, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Intelligence agencies gave a detailed briefing to the Union Home Secretary on prevailing security scenario and steps taken for violence-free voting in three Parliamentary seats of the Valley.
It may be mentioned here that the Union Home Ministry has deputed nearly 635 additional companies of paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir for the Parliamentary polls.