Massive security cover for Udhampur, Srinagar seats

Election parties heading to a polling station amid tight security in Kathua on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Pardeep
Election parties heading to a polling station amid tight security in Kathua on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Pardeep

Fate of 24 candidates to be sealed today
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Apr 17: Nearly 200 companies of para-military forces and police have been deployed for smooth conduct of election in Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary constituency tomorrow while Army would man the heights to counter any kind of terror threat as 16.85 lakh electorates were eligible to exercise their franchise in the constituency, where Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh is seeking second term.
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Tight security arrangements have also been made in Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha seat where National Conference president and former Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah is contesting the election. Srinagar seat will also go to polls in second phase of the elections tomorrow.
Twelve candidates each are in fray for both the Parliamentary seats.
With tomorrow’s election, voting will be complete in Jammu region, which has two Lok Sabha seats. Voting will be held in South Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in third, fourth and fifth phases while Ladakh seat would go to polls in fifth phase. Counting for all seats will be held on May 23.
Inspector General of Police, Jammu Zone, MK Sinha told the Excelsior that all security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of elections in Udhampur-Doda constituency with deployment of para-military and police personnel.
Sinha said the companies of BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, IRP and Jammu and Kashmir police have been deployed in strength in all sensitive areas of Udhampur-Doda constituency and they have taken their positions.
The Jammu Police chief said 135 Zonal and 340 Sector Officers have been deployed in Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary seat to monitor the elections and ensure that polling passes off peacefully.
Reliable sources said Army was manning the heights to sanitize the areas and ensure that there was no terror threat during the polling. A total of 2710 polling stations have been set up for the voters.
Meanwhile, night curfew remained inforce in Kishtwar town. Day curfew, like yesterday, was lifted from 6 am to 8 pm. Tomorrow also, there will be no curfew restrictions from 6 am to 8 pm, SSP Kishtwar Shakti Pathak said.
Union MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh (BJP) is pitted, against Congress candidate, Vikramaditya Singh, son of former Sadar-e-Riyasat of the State, Dr Karan Singh and former Ministers Choudhary Lal Singh (Dogra Swabhiman Front) and Harshdev Singh (Nationalist Panthers Party) though a total of 12 candidates are in the fray for Udhampur-Doda constituency.
Dr Singh had in 2014 election defeated former Chief Minister of J&K and present Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad with over 60,000 votes in his maiden electoral foray.
Dr Jitendra Singh had secured 4,87,369 votes while Azad had managed to bag 4,26,393 votes.
The Udhampur Parliamentary seat has 16,85,779 electors.
For the smooth conduct of election, the Election Commission of India has established 2,710 polling stations.
In the 2014 general elections, the number of voters in the constituency was 14,69,072.
Meanwhile, security has been intensified in Central Kashmir for the smooth conduct of polls that are being held tomorrow.
After killing of Owais Mushtaq, a 7th class student in Handwara area of Kupwara district on April 7, two-pronged strategy has been evolved to ensure peaceful and incident free polling.
For the polling stations falling in hypersensitive and sensitive category, proper security plan has been worked out so that voters come freely to exercise their right to vote.
Separate teams have been deployed on ground for facing the militant threats. Number of check points and mobile check posts have been jointly established by the police and the CRPF on all important road links to facilitate the movement of voters.
There are 80 per cent of polling booths in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal that fall in the hypersensitive category while remaining 20 percent have been declared as sensitive. The polling staff and the machinery including electronic voting machines have reached the designated polling stations in all three districts.
They were distributed at several Centres across the constituency under tight security. The troops have been deployed inside polling stations and there separate columns for patrolling the areas.
For the sensitive areas including some pockets of downtown, extra deployment will be made at the polling stations and on the roads to deal with the possible street protests.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has asked people to boycott the polls and to observe a shutdown on April 18.
Srinagar constituency is spread over 15 Assembly segments comprising three districts of Central Kashmir-Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam with 1,295,304 registered voters including 1,294,560 general voters and 744 service voters.
Among the general voters, 667,252 are male and 627,282 female electors. Among service voters, 728 are male and 16 female, while there are 26 transgender voters.
The authorities have set up 1716 polling stations across the Parliamentary constituency to facilitate the polling.
The candidates in the fray are Sheikh Khalid Jehangir of Bharatiya Janata Party, Aga Syed Mohsin of Peoples Democratic Party, Abdul Rashid Ganie of National Panthers Party, Dr Farooq Abdullah of National Conference, Showkat Hussain Khan of Janata Dal United, Abdul Khaliq Bhat of Shiv Sena, Irfan Raza Ansari of Peoples Conference, Nazir Ahmad Lone of Rashtriya Jankranti Party, Nazir Ahmad Sofi of Manavadikar National Party, while Bilal Sultan, Sajjad Ahmad Dar, Abdul Rashid Banday are contesting as independent candidates.
In 2017 by-election, the electoral strength in the constituency was 1,261,395. Dr Farooq Abdullah won the election by defeating his close rival Nazir Khan of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate by 10,766 votes. The seat was left vacant after Tariq Hamid Karra’s resignation.
It would be interesting whether the National Conference would show its dominance on the Parliamentary seat, where the party lost only thrice in last over 50 years.
Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is all set to witness direct contest between National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah and PDP candidate Aga Mohsin.
The election authorities have put in place elaborate arrangements across the constituency to prevent bogus voting in polling for Lok Sabha elections.
The multilayered arrangements include flying squads, micro-observers and videographers besides zonal and sector magistrates put in place across the district to ensure no attempts at bogus voting are allowed to occur.
District Election Officer Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said ensuring complete fairness in polling forms a major focus of arrangements put in place for elections adding that dedicated squads have been put in place in all constituencies across the district.
Dr Shahid has urged the general public to report complaints of bogus voting to designated squad heads assuring of immediate and strictest action.