security for elections
The top J&K security officials are having sleepless night
these days. After all, there has been a tremendous spurt in militants’
violence in view of the assembly elections in the state. With the National
Conference Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone having shod dead by the militants
who was also a contesting candidate from Lolab assembly segment going for
polls tomorrow besides another independent candidate Ghulam Shiekh from
Handwara also killed recently along with his three workers, chief
minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s younger brother Shiekh Mustafa Kamaal who
is a candidate from Gulmarg constituency having survived bid on his
twice, the security agencies are under tremendous pressure for ensuring
a violence free polls.
Having infested with militancy, and already a military state in terms
of security forces deployment, the Centre and state are busy pumping more
forces for the smooth conduct of polls. Paramilitary forces such as BSF,
CRPF, Railway Protection Force and commando units have been deployed ahead
of the first phase beginning tomorrow. The BSF has posted second most senior
officer in Kashmir R S Aggarwal in Srinagar for coordinating various paramilitary
forces that have send more than 44,000 additional manpower to state.
In this bullet-versus-ballot battle in Kashmir, though the killing of
state Law minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone on Wednesday would have certain impact,
as it will force the voters to rethink about their decision to cast their
ballots, a top security officer told The Statesman on conditions on anonymity
addingthat much would depend in the days to come.
“Next few days are very crucial for us as the voters turnout would depend
on the terrorist violence. To which level they would step up the violence
and how much it much effect the voter, it has to be seen,” he said.
In areas of Handwara and Kupwara, where it is expected to have about
45- 55 per cent voters turnout, the official added that the incident is
mainly to scare away the voters who had been thronging election rallies
Already 10,000-strong Kashmir police personnel are providing cover to
protected persons and candidates, top government officials and others in
the risk category. Each candidate has been provided with 9+1( one officer
and nine junior ranks) at his residence and an equal number escort when
ever he or she moves out for campaigning
However, security is also being provided in terms of threat perception
which include the chief minister, National Conference president Omar Abdullah,
ministers and separatists like Sajjad Lone of Peoples Conference whose
security has been raised after three of his party members decided
to contest elections as independent candidates.
Security force nerve centres have been set up at Srinagar and Jammu
to monitor the activities of troops. Troops are being ferried at a quick
speed following the attacks by militants on political activists of
various parties and candidates.
“Since the elections is being held in phases, that will allow us to
relocate troops from one area to another. After the first two phases
16 and 23 September.The troops would be rushed to Kashmir for deployment
in Anantnag and Pulwama and Jammu for the third phase on October
1. The 60,000-strong Kashmir police will be backing the various forces.
Already some 1,20,000 para military troops are permanently stationed
for counter insurgency and internal duties in Kashmir. They have been reinforced
by a 10,000 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) troops. In addition to this, the
15 Corps headquartered in Srinagar and 16 Corps headquartered in
Udhampure are also chipping in for the security.
For the 87 assembly segments, a total of 7,025 booth have been readied
for polling, of which 4,603 are “sensitive” and 2422 are “hypersensitive”
.None of the polling booths have been categorised as normal. The booths
are either sensitive or hyper sensitive in entire state. However, the Doda
district in Jammu has been put under extremely dangerous category. The
seven segments are being provided security on a war footing . The polling
staff comprising 28,000 employees of the state will be deputed for the
election duty in entire state. Half of the 4000 employees requisitioned
from UP, Punjab, Haryana etc have declined to report to their duties on
the pretext that they fear for their lives in Kashmir.
Security forces officials also concede that the future days would be
very crucial as they have already received inputs that the terrorists
would increase pre-poll violence as they have been directed by the Pakistan
ISI to do “everything “ to disrupt poll in the state. Infact, the Pak intelligence
agency had appointed Mushtaq Zargar, chief of the Al-Umar Mujahideen, as
the 'chief co-ordinator' of militant activities during the polls.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) K Rajendra said that they
had concrete information that Zargar (one of the three militants released
in exchange for passengers of the Indian Airlines plane hijacked in 1999)
will be co-ordinating the activities of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen,
Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Al-Badr and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. So much is the fear
of terrorists threat and bullets that the polling staff coming from Uttar
Pradesh and Punjab, never wanted be come here for the duties.
Notwithstanding the fact that massive deployment has been made in the
state for the polls,, there has been no respite in violence. As the elections
are drawing near, with each passing day, there has been an increase in
the terrorist violence. Militants in their attempt to disrupt the coming
assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir have warned the people against
collecting voter identity cards and threatened to take it away from those
who have already collected it.Coded messages between two militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad
have revealed that the ultras plan to disrupt the assembly elections in
Specific instructions have also been passed on to the militants in Kashmir
to “steal, destroy or damage electronic voting machines at any cost.” “Attack
these polling booths before polling and wherever this is not possible,
destroy or steal these even after the polling is over. Persuade the voters
to stay away and wherever persuasion fails, eliminate political leaders
and candidates so that not many dare to take part in the poll process,”are
some of the inputs received by the security agencies.
In yet another development, the Hizbul Mujahideen’s "chief commander
operations", Saiful Islam, has asked the Government employees and transporters
to keep away from the current electoral process. He has said that all participants
would be punished by the inheritors of the 90,000 martyrs.