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CIVIC POLLS: Phase II today, all Kashmir booths ‘hypersensitive’

Srinagar, Oct 9: All 270 polling booths in Kashmir division, where polling will be held on Wednesday in the second phase of municipal elections, have been designated as ‘hypersensitive’.

Considering the sensitivity of the polling station, falling mostly in the volatile areas of the city and in south Kashmir, police has decided to enhance the security to prevent violence.

According to the Chief Election Officer Jammu and Kashmir, Shaleen Kabra, voting would take place in 544 polling stations across the state including 270 in Kashmir and 274 in Jammu.

The second phase overall has 263 Municipal Wards. Kashmir has 49 wards going to polls, while the remaining fall in Jammu division.

As per an official, 1,198 nominations were earlier received for these wards, which reduced to 1,095 after scrutiny by the authorities and withdrawal by the candidates.

Sixty-five of the contestants have won unopposed; 61 of them are from Kashmir.

No polling will take place in 70 wards in the valley mostly in south Kashmir Frisal municipal committee and Beerwah municipal committee, where from no nomination has come in the 13 wards each.

In Srinagar district, having 19 wards and 212 polling stations, the areas going to polls are prone to stone pelting and curfews.

A police official said the areas such as Batamaloo, Parmipora, Safa Kadal, Eidgah and Qamarwai, would be a major focus for them during the polling hours.

“There will adequate deployment of police, who will work in synergy with other forces, including CRPF, to ensure smooth polling in the second phase as well,” he said.

Sources said that in many Srinagar-based polling booths, the polling staff didn’t arrive till late on Tuesday.

Similar security arrangements have been put in place in volatile south Kashmir, where some wards will witness polling afresh.

“In south Kashmir’s Frisal area and parts of Bhijbehara will be highly-guarded tomorrow,” they said.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra, Monday evening, said that Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for voting. He said Photo Voter Slips have already been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station.

Kabra said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of polls. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates,” he said and added that for the poll day Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive/ hypersensitive.

“Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of polls as well as monitoring the entire process,” CEO said and added that the Deputy Commissioners are undertaking Videography of all critical events related to the poll process.

Kabra said Control Rooms have been established in all the Municipal Bodies across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as also to disseminate information to the public. He said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polling across the State.

He said the government has also declared holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said as per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility- by way of coming late to office / allowed to leave office early / short absence.

The CEO urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address to their local needs.