Kavita Suri

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

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Massive 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 in thousands. 

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 the state. 

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.

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