Security tightened to foil possible poll disruption in Kashmir


Srinagar : “Enough security forces” have been deployed to ensure free and fair polling in this Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Thursday amid boycott calls by separatists and threats from militant groups, a poll official said Wednesday.

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“Nobody will be allowed to prevent people from exercising their franchise,” state chief electoral officer B.R. Sharma told reporters.

“We have created an environment so that electors come out to vote in a free and fair manner. Enough security contingents have been deployed,” he said expressing hope that polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency would be peaceful.

Separatist leaders have called for a 50-hour shutdown in the Kashmir Valley to keep people away from the democratic process as militant groups – Lashkar-e-Taiba and the United Jehad Council based in Pakistan – have threatened people to vote at “their own peril”.

Anti-election campaigners Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have been placed under house arrest to prevent them from disrupting the poll process.

There are 1,483 polling stations in the constituency. Around 932 micro observers have been deployed and 15 video cameras installed to ensure polling is held in a transparent manner, Sharma said.

The constituency has over 1.1 million voters, and 15 contestants are in fray.

The main contest is between ruling National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, a prominent Shia leader.