LS polls: Security agencies 'on tenterhooks'

With the dates for the LokSabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir drawing closer, security agencies have started mapping out areas in Kashmir where the polling booths are to be set up, officials said on Sunday, and asserted that 90 percent of polling booths in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies fall in the “hypersensitive” category.

The general elections in the state are being held in five phases beginning April 11, and, for the first, the restive Anantnag seat in southern Kashmir will witness the polling in three phases “for security reasons”.

A senior police official said the “final arrangements” are being put in place for LokSabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Kashmir Valley, and “it will take a few more days to identify polling booths in certain critical areas and to frame the requirement of forces personnel to be deployed at sensitive and hypersensitive polling booths”.

The Srinagar parliamentary constituency comprises Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts.

“Though the security situation in all these districts is under control, 90 percent of polling booths here fall in the hypersensitive category, while the rest 10 percent in the sensitive category,” he said.

In the Anantnag constituency, which comprises the restive Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts, the exercise is on to identify the polling booths in areas “where there are serious security concerns”, the police official said.

“The southern Kashmir constituency is hypersensitive given the security challenges it poses for us. In its most-volatile areas, security personnel will be deployed in large numbers to ensure smooth conduct of polls,” he said.

The official said the police are getting “final feedback” about areas where polling booths have to be established.

The Anantnag seat is going to polls in the third, fourth and fifth phases on April 23, April 29 and May 6.

In the third and fourth phases, the Anantnag and Kulgam districts are going to the polls respectively, while the Shopian and Pulwama districts will go to the polls in the last phase.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, inspector general of CRPF Ravideep Singh Sahi said though the number of sensitive and hypersensitive polling booths is already available as per the 2014 parliamentary poll model, “this time, there will be more extensive research done in the wake of challenges in some pockets”.

“The exercise is on and the final security plan will be framed within a week’s time. It entails identification of sensitive and hypersensitive polling booths, deployment of forces personnel at each polling booth, and requirements vis-à-vis law and order component,” he said.

“The area domination and night patrolling is already on in areas declared hypersensitive,” Sahi said.

In the northern LokSabha constituency comprising Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts, 70 percent of polling booths fall in the hypertensive category and 30 in the sensitive category, according to officials.

A police official said there are less security challenges in northern areas compared to southern and central Kashmir seats.

“But we won’t leave anything to chance,” he said.