‘Assembly polls deferred over demand for excessive central forces’
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‘Assembly polls deferred over demand for excessive central forces’

The Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections were deferred as the state administration asked for over 70,000 paramilitary forces personnel for conducting the simultaneous polls, a demand which could not be acceded to, officials said Wednesday.

A homeministry official said the Jammu and Kashmir administration's demand of about717 companies of paramilitary personnel could not be met as a large number offorces would be required across the country for the general elections.

A company ofparamilitary comprises about 100 personnel.

The stateelections may be held anytime after the parliamentary polls, the officialssaid.

The homeministry and the administration of J&K, which is presently under thepresident's rule, had apprised the election Commission of the securitysituation in the state when a team of the poll panel had visited there on March4-5.

The EC teamhad gone there for assessing the situation and checking poll preparedness inthe wake of the February 14 strike in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel werekilled.

The J&Kadministration's demand could not be met as a large number of personnel wouldbe required for deployment across the country during the parliamentary polls,therefore, the state elections were deferred, the official said.

The demandon behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir administration was placed by the thenaddition director general of Jammu and Kashmir police Muneer Khan, who wasrecently appointed as state chief information commission.  

The NationalConference, the PDP and the Congress, had sought simultaneous polls andcriticised the EC decision. The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP had alsopitched for holding the polls together.

Higherdeployment of forces may be necessitated during the polls as they have tosecure the routes to be taken by the candidates for campaign, the venue ofrallies, besides the security of candidates itself.

During the2014 polls, a little more than 10,000 polling stations were set up, while theEC has announced the number will be 11,316 this time, requiring additionalforces to secure them.

While 77candidates were in the fray for the six Lok Sabha seats in 2014, 831 fought thestate elections a few months later to elect 87 MLAs.

In the 2014state assembly elections, a total of 428 companies of paramilitary forces weredeployed and 47 were managed from the existing counterinsurgency grid, anotherofficial said.

During thelast parliamentary elections, the security situation had improved considerablyand about 300 companies were deployed of which 126 were drawn from thecounterinsurgency grid.

Before that,during the parliamentary elections of 2009, altogether 300 companies weredeployed on poll duties and 58 were again mobilised internally.

In the 2008assembly elections, 218 companies were sought from the Centre and in addition58 were mobilised internally by the then state government, the official said.

Anotherofficial said the large number of security personnel would be required for theassembly elections too "as Pakistan-based groups would make all out efforts todisrupt the process not only in the Kashmir Valley but in border districts suchas Rajouri, Poonch and Doda".

During thelast assembly elections, the government had provided about 100 SUVs to thecandidates and requirement of such vehicles would be more this time, theofficial said.

The finalassessment on holding the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be takenby a three-member panel set up by the Election Commission.

Thegovernor's rule was imposed in the state on June 19, 2018 when the MehboobaMufti-led PDP-BJP government was reduced to minority following withdrawal ofsupport by the 25-member BJP.

Initially,the assembly was kept in suspended animation, but the governor on November 21dissolved the 87-member house after the PDP, supported by the Congress andarch-rivals National Conference, tried to stake claim to form a new government.

When the governor's rule expired on December 19, 2018, the president's rule was imposed in the state as under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no provision for extension of governor's rule.

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