Security upgraded for J&K panchayat polls

With the multi-phase panchayat polls commencing in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday, all necessary arrangements have been put in place including upgrading the security to ensure free and fair elections.

Srinagar: With the multi-phase panchayat
polls commencing in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday, all necessary arrangements have been put in place including upgrading the security to ensure free and fair elections to be held after a gap 10 years amid a boycott call by separatists and militants.
"All necessary arrangements have been made to ensure free
and fair 16-phase panchayat elections, as the first phase
begins with polling in eight blocks tomorrow," officials said.

As per the notification issued on March 18, eight blocks
including Bishnah, Samba and Udhampur in Jammu district and
Kangan, Budgam, Quimouh and Kupwara in Kashmir region will go
to the polls tomorrow.

More than 2,800 candidates are in the fray for the first
phase of the panchayat elections.

After scrutiny and withdrawal of forms for the first
phase of polls in Kupwara, Kangan, Budgam and Qaimoh blocks,
about 2,800 candidates are in the race for the post of
Sarpanchs and Panchs in these segments.

The last panchayat elections, held after a gap of 23
years, were conducted in the state in 2001-02 and the next edition was due in 2006 but could not be held due to various
reasons, especially the fragile security situation.
The second phase of polling will be held on April 17,
third phase on April 21, fourth phase on April 25, fifth phase
on April 30, sixth phase on May 4, seventh on May 8, eighth on
May 12, ninth on May 16 and the 10th to 16th phases will be
held on May 21, May 25, May 29, June 2, June 6, June 11 and
June 18 respectively.

The officials said the election authority has decided
that compulsory identification of voters will be made in these
elections. Electors who have been provided with elector photo
id cards (EPIC) shall be identified through those cards only.
However, the Election Authority has also notified a list
of 19 alternative documents which can also be used for
identification by the electors who are yet to be provided with
EPICs, they said.

The counting of votes shall be taken up immediately after
the polling process is over and the results shall be announced
immediately thereafter, they said.

The officials said authorities had made necessary
security arrangements to foil any attempt by militants to
disrupt the elections.

Director General of State Police Kuldeep Khoda yesterday
reviewed overall security arrangements in the Valley in the
run up to the elections and called for close synergy between
various law enforcing agencies to ensure free and fair polls.

Emphasising the need for creating a congenial atmosphere
for maximum participation of voters in the democratic exercise
at the grassroots level, he asked the field officers to
strengthen deployment of manpower on the ground.

PTI

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