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EC to ensure smooth Lok Sabha elections in JK

Srinagar, Mar 22: The Election Commission of India has maintained that comprehensive mechanism will be put in place for smooth conduct of the parliamentary elections commencing from April 11, in five phases in the Jammu and Kashmir state.
Sources said that given the specific challenging law and order situation in the State of J&K and especially in certain Assembly segments, Election Commission with the help of Ministry of Home affairs and Jammu and Kashmir administration, is finalizing the effective security mechanism for smooth conduct of polls.
The election commission is holding the Lok Sabha polls across Jammu and Kashmir for the six segments, three in Kashmir, two in Jammu and one in Ladakh.
According to the already announced schedule, the polling will be held in in five phases – April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, and May 6.
One of the top officials in the election commission said that they are committed to deliver free, fair, peaceful, transparent, ethical and inclusive elections in the state.
“Effective mechanism is being fine-tuned for smooth conduct of the electoral process. The Commission has directed the State level and District Level Election Machinery to meticulously coordinate all logistics arrangements for smooth conduct of elections. Officers have also been asked to ensure Effective monitoring and vigilance,” said the official.
Sources said that the commission will ensure sufficient forces across the state for peaceful conduct of elections.
Sources said that commission in the next week is likely to review the security and overall preparedness of conduct of the polls.” A general review will also be held to find the need for upgrading the polling stations declared as hypersensitive and sensitive in the state especially in the Kashmir valley,” sources maintained.
Sources said that the election commission have already directed the Returning Officers (ROs) to hold a meeting with the concerned police authorities to find the need for upgrading the security level at polling stations from the deployment, which was maintained in previous elections.
Sources said that sufficient polling stations will be set up to enable voters to cast the ballot in the parliamentary constituencies of Srinagar Anantang and Baramullah.
In 2014 parliamentary polls, all the 1651 polling stations in Anantang parliamentary constituency were declared as hypersensitive. Out of the 1546 polling stations in Srinagar, 1021 were declared hypersensitive, 470 sensitive and 55 normal.
Sources however said that this time the ECI has asked for reviewing the need for declaring more polling stations in Srinagar Anantnag including Baramullah constituency as hypersensitive or sensitive.
Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir police said that adequate security cover will be provided to the candidates as per the prescribed rules. “In the wake of the increase in incidents of violence, extra vigil will be maintained for ensure free and fair polls,’’ one of the top officials of the police, insisted not to be named said.
Regarding holding the poll peacefully in the backdrop of rising militancy, the officer said,
“The J&K Police, in assistance with other security forces, have conducted polls in the past peacefully and incident-free. This time we are also hope full that election will also be conducted in a conducive atmosphere,” the official said.
It is to mention here that two seats each will go to polls in the first two phases, in the third phase there will be one seat and in fourth one seat and in the fifth phase there will be two seats.
Sources said the South Kashmir, Anantnag seat will have polls in three phases. The seat remains vacant for more than three years after Mehbooba Mufti resigned and became Chief Minister. Though a by-election was scheduled for the seat in July 2017, the situation was so bad that it was cancelled.
The Election Commission has already appointed three Poll Observers including Noor Mohammad, A S Gill and Vinod Zutshi.

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