No J&K assembly polls for now, says CEO, cites 'security reasons'

The Lok Sabha election in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in five phases beginning April 11 but the simultaneous assembly and parliamentary elections are “not possible” in the state “due to security concerns,” the state’s chief electoral officer Shailendra Kumar said on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the entire polling process in the state would end on May 6. The restive Anantnag parliamentary constituency, comprising Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts, will go to the polls “in parts” in the third, fourth and fifth phase.

The CEO said the notification for two constituencies—Baramulla and Jammu—which are going to polls in the first phase will be issued on March 16.

In the second phase, Srinagar and Udhampur constituencies will go to the polls on April 18 and in the third and fourth phases, some areas of Anantnag are going to polls on April 23 and April 29 respectively.

In the fifth and last phase, the remaining areas of Anantnag constituency and Ladakh constituency will go to the polls on May 6.

The CEO that that multi-phase polling in a particular constituency “is possible according to the law”.

All the poll-related preparations have been finalised and we trying to provide best facilities to voters at all polling booths, he said.

He also said that with the announcement of schedule for the general elections, the model code of conduct (MCC) has come into effect and the administration has constituted committees to check its violations, if any.

The CEO said that simultaneous assembly and parliamentary elections are “not possible” in the state “due to security concerns.”

“Unlike the parliament elections, the assembly elections require more security set up and the present situation does not favour holding of simultaneous polls,” he told reporters here, soon after the election commission of India announced the dates for the LokSabha elections.

Justifying the decision of the Commission and the government on deferring the assembly polls in J&K, Kumar said: “J&K has six parliamentary constituencies and if we have 10 candidates for each seat, we have a total of 60 candidates whom we have to provide security. But in the assembly polls, we have candidates in thousands and it’s impossible to provide security to every candidate.”

“If we go for simultaneous elections, we need more security personnel. We have 87 assembly segments and going by rough calculations, we have over 900 candidates who require security, especially in the Valley. They require security at both, their residences and places of campaigning. So there is additional requirement (of security personnel),” he added.

“The campaign areas in assembly polls are very large as candidates try to reach out to the most far-flung areas in their constituencies, thus putting pressure on the police to go for large area domination,” he said. “Therefore if we go for simultaneous elections, the requirement of security personnel goes up manifold. Roughly, we have 10 candidates in every parliamentary constituency, so for six constituencies we have a total of 60 candidates. But if the assembly elections are held alongside LS polls, then we have around 1000 candidates, and one can understand the difference. In Jammu division also, we have certain areas where some subversive activities have been noticed,” he said.