Each candidate contesting local polls in J-K to get 2-3 security officers
Officials said over 40,000 additional paramilitary forces are being deployed for the local polls in Jammu and Kashmir. This is apart from 16,000 central forces, which were retained in Kashmir for the polls after the annual Amarnath yatra.Updated: Sep 27, 2018 00:00 IST
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Authorities will provide each candidate contesting the local polls in Jammu and Kashmir two to three personal security officers and government accommodation, officials aware of the development said.
The facilities are being offered to ensure a greater participation in the polls amid a spike in militant violence.
“The candidates will not only get government accommodation but they will be given security as well as fuel for their vehicles,’’ said a top police officer on condition of anonymity.
Abid Ahmad, an independent candidate who has filed his nomination papers to contest municipal elections from North Kashmir’s Baramulla, said he was awaiting his security cover and accommodation.
“Right now, I am staying in a security zone, but I have not been allotted any security. Maybe I will get it after the scrutiny of my papers. I will get personal security and vehicle,’’ he said.
Officials said over 40,000 additional paramilitary forces are being deployed for the polls. This is apart from 16,000 central forces, which were retained in Kashmir for the polls after the annual Amarnath yatra to south Kashmir Himalayas concluded in July. Officials said the Army has been asked to step up night patrolling ahead of the polling.
The municipal elections will be held in four phases starting from October 8. The nine-phased panchayat election will begin from November 17. As many as 16 sarpanches (panchayat heads) and panchs (members) have been killed over the last four years.
The local elections were due in January. But they were deferred after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government told the Centre that the situation was not conducive for them.
The electoral process has been accelerated since the imposition of governor’s rule in June after the BJP withdrew support from the coalition government.
The Centre has been keen to hold the polls as part of its attempts to turn the tide in the state, where local militant recruitment has gone up since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
Around 4,500 sarpanches and 29,000 panchs were elected in the last panchayat polls in 2011 when 75% voters had turned out to vote. The government had earlier expressed its inability to provide security to most panchayat members, citing their large numbers.
Jammu and Kashmir’s biggest indigenous militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, as well as separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), have called for boycotting the elections.
The state’s two main regional parties, the National Conference and the PDP, have boycotted the polls over the Centre’s unclear stand vis-a-vis the attempts to undo the state’s special status.
A bunch of petitions challenging the validity of the Constitution’s Article 35A, which prevents outsiders from buying property in Jammu and Kashmir, are pending before the Supreme Court.
First Published: Sep 26, 2018 23:32 IST