New Delhi: Security has been beefed up on Sunday across Jammu and Kashmir for the first-phase municipal elections slated to begin from Monday. In a bid to avoid any untoward incident, around four-hundred additional companies of central paramilitary forces have arrived to augment the existing strength of the security forces deployed. The Urban Local Body elections in the valley will be held in four phases from October 8 to 16.
Extraordinary security arrangements were seen on Sunday in Srinagar where voting is scheduled to be held in three wards for the city’s municipal corporation. As per a report, scores of motorbikes were seized by the police at various check posts in the city on Saturday and on Sunday with incomplete documents or in cases where the bikers had violated traffic rules.
Police are checking all vehicles entering the city thoroughly. “Areas around the polling booths have been sanitized to ensure free and fair poll tomorrow (Monday),” the officer said.
Hi-tech electronic surveillance equipment is also being used to strengthen human intelligence in areas where polling is scheduled.
In addition to three municipal corporation wards in Srinagar city, polling for municipal committees of Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Chadoora, Badgam, Khansahib, Achabal, Devsar, Kokernag, Qazigund, and Kulgam in the Kashmir Valley, Leh, and Kargil in the Ladakh region is scheduled for Monday.
In the Jammu region, polling for municipal committees of Bishnah, Arnia, R.S. Pura, Akhnoor, Khour, Jurian, Rajouri, Thanamandi, Nowshera, Kalakote, Sunderbani, Poonch and Surankote will also take place on Monday.
In addition, voting will also be held in wards of Jammu Municipal Corporation. As many as 2,990 candidates are in the fray for the four-phased urban local bodies (ULB) polls.
The Supreme Court had on August 31 deferred the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, as the Centre had urged the court to take up the matter after panchayat elections in the state.
Meanwhile, political parties including the National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), CPI M, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) have decided to stay away from these polls until the Centre clears its stand on Article 35-A.
The leaders have also appealed people not to participate in the poll process and also announced a Valley-wide protest shutdown.
The election to the urban local bodies was last held in 2005 and to panchayats in 2011 after a long hiatus. There were a number of militant attacks on candidates before and after these polls.