The Election Commission of India has sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir government whether the situation was conducive to hold Anantnag by-poll before November 15.
A senior official at the Civil Secretariat said that the poll body has sought the report from the JK government on the security situation in the state, and whether it is was conducive to holding the by-poll under the present circumstances before the winter sets in.
“The government has not responded yet. But the government does not want to hold the polls till normalcy returns in south Kashmir,” the official said.
According to national media reports, the ECI wants the polls to be held before 15 November in south Kashmir; otherwise, the winter snow will not let it take place before March 2018.
The official said that the security agencies have told the government that south Kashmir by-poll will be difficult to hold under the present circumstances.
“The state administration including security agencies do not want to take any chances that could disturb further situation in south Kashmir. Ensuring peaceful election campaign and polls under present circumstances seems a tough task,” the official said.
“The security forces want to continue counter militancy-related activities. It will not be possible to hold polls when security agencies are busy with anti-militant operations.”
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, said he was not aware about CEI’s communiqué to JK government about security situation.
While senior PDP minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said that state government will respond as per the situation in the state. “If the ECI has sought a report, the state government will reply after accessing the situation in south Kashmir,” Veeri said.
The election was originally scheduled to be held on 12 April, but was put off owing to the unrest in the state, which took a violent turn in the Srinagar by-election on 9 April. Only 7 per cent voters turned out for that poll, and eight people were killed in poll-related violence.
Earlier, the J&K government had also advised the ECI against holding the election in Anantnag in April, saying the situation was “not conducive to holding free and fair elections”. In view of the state government’s report, as well as inputs received from the Chief Electoral Officer of the state, the EC moved the bypoll to 25 May, and then postponed it indefinitely, as the security situation did not improve.
Anantnag seat fell vacant in June last after Mehbooba Mufti won the assembly bypolls, as required by law, to continue as the Chief Minister. Earlier, the PDP had chosen J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti’s brother Mufti Tasaduq Hussain to contest from Anantnag constituency against Congress state president G A Mir.
Home Minister Amit Shah reviews situation in J&K
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
During the two-hour long meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba among others, the home minister was given a detailed presentation on the prevailing security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly along the International Border and the Line of Control.
The home minister took stock of the situation and was briefed about the steps taken to maintain peace along border areas as well as in the Valley, a security official said.
Lieutenant General K J S Dhillon, General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, which looks after the Kashmir Valley, had recently said there have been infiltration attempts from across the border.
SC allows Azad to visit J&K
The Supreme Court of India on September 16 allowed senior Indian National Congress leader and former Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit his home state.
The apex court allowed Azad to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu.
However, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said Azad will not be allowed to “make any speeches or hold any public rally as per his own submissions”.
Azad had moved SC seeking permission to visit his home state to enquire about the well-being of his family.
Azad’s petition was taken up by a bench of CJI Gogoi, and Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer on September 16.
There are formidable reasons, says SC on J&K curbs
The Supreme Court asked the government to take all steps to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir but stressed there were “formidable reasons” for the restrictions imposed by the government.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi which took up a bunch of petitions on the scrapped special status for the state and its impact, also accepted a request from Ghulam Nabi Azad to travel to four districts to reach out to people and ascertain their problems.
Chief Justice Gogoi also responded to a complaint that people weren’t able to approach the high court, offered to ascertain the situation and if need be, even travel to the state.
Justice SA Bobde, one of the three judges on the bench, responded to the Attorney General’s outline of the situation in Kashmir: “These are formidable reasons. A terrible state of affairs”.
“We trust you will endeavour to establish the situation in Kashmir,” the judge told the Centre, asking the government to file an affidavit within two weeks.
Venugopal rejected the contention by journalist Anuradha Bhasin about curbs on media in Kashmir, asserting that all newspapers were being published without any impediment.
At one point when the judges asked a petitioner why he didn’t approach the high court, the bench was told that the complete shutdown prevented people from reaching the court. Chief Justice Gogoi took serious note of the argument and said he would speak with the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice to ascertain the facts and if necessary, travel to the state.