Multi-layered security for phase II polls in Anantnag

Srinagar: Heavy deployments of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and police were on Sunday made to ensure peaceful and fair poll process for the second phase of polls in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

Voting in Kulgam district of the constituency is spread over four Assembly segments of Noorabad, Kulgam, Homshalibugh and Devsar.

Voting will take place in 433 polling stations and a total of 3,45,486 electors are eligible to vote.

Kulgam voting segment has the highest number of voters — 98,298.

Authorities have made elaborate arrangements to ensure that militants are prevented from disrupting the democratic process by creating multiple layers of security.

Security forces were moved out early on Saturday to take over the polling stations across Kulgam district that has witnessed bloody gunfights between the security forces and the militants during the last three years.

In addition to securing polling stations and areas around these, security forces have also been deployed on roads and hillside areas.

“The shifting of EVMs to places designated for their safe deposit and ensuring safety to the poll staff after they discharge their duties during the day is another major challenge the security forces face in this constituency,” poll officials said.

Incidents of miscreants pelting stones at vehicles carrying the poll staff and the security forces back to the district headquarters after the poll process were witnessed during the first phase of the three-phased poll process on April 23 in this constituency.

A policeman was killed and over 15 others, including poll staff and security forces, were injured when miscreants attacked two vehicles in Kokernag area of Anantnag district on April 23 in the evening.

Poll authorities have curtailed the voting hours in Anantnag constituency to ensure that the poll staff and the security forces return to designate places before darkness.

Voting hours have been scheduled from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. as was done in the poll process of other Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

There are 18 candidates in the fray in this constituency, but the main contest is between Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ghulam Ahmad Mir of Congress and Justice (Retired) Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference (NC).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Sofi Yusuf, the Peoples Conference (PC), Choudhary Zafar Ali. In addition, there is a lone woman candidate, Ridwana Sanam who is fighting as an Independent candidate.

For the first time in the electoral history of the state, a non-local, Shams Khwaja, a lawyer from Uttar Pradesh, is also in the fray.

Third phase of polling is scheduled in this constituency on May 6.