Early Times Report
SRINAGAR, Apr 17: Around 30 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes in the parliamentary constituencies of Srinagar and Udhampur that are going to polls on Thursday. Fate of 24 candidates including some high personalities would be sealed in the elections.
The poll campaigning for the two constituencies ended on Tuesday evening. In view of the elections today, authorities have beefed up the security in poll bound and other adjacent areas while as the frisking was also intensified in the commercial hub Lal Chowk and other adjacent areas. Officials said that adequate arrangements were put in place to ensure smooth conduct of elections. "All necessary preparations and security arrangements are in place for the smooth conduct of the elections," officials said.
They said police and paramilitary troopers will be deployed in strength in Srinagar and sensitive areas to ensure peaceful conduct of polls. Spanning over three districts-Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal- the constituency has 18 assembly segments. 12, 90, 318 voters will cast ballots at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency.
The twin constituencies Srinagar and Udampur have 29,81,083 registered electors including 15,43,571 males, 14,16,387 females, 21,056 service voters (20,780 males and 276 females) and 69 transgender voters.
Twelve candidates each are in fray for both Srinagar and Udhampur parliamentary constituencies. For smooth conduct of polls, 4,426 polling stations have been set up. The authorities have set up 1716 polling stations across the Srinagar parliamentary constituency to facilitate the polling.
The candidates in the fray are Sheikh Khalid Jehangir of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Aga Syed Mohsin of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abdul Rashid Ganie of J&K National Panthers Party, Dr. Farooq Abdullah of National Conference (NC), Showkat Hussain Khan of Janta Dal United, Abdul Khaliq Bhat of Shiv Sena, Irfan Raza Ansari of Peoples Conference (PC), Nazir Ahmad Lone of Rashtriya Jankranti Party, Nazir Ahmad Sofi of Manavadikar National Party, while Bilal Sultan, Sajjad Ahmad Dar, Abdul Rashid Banday are contesting as independent candidates. The constituency was earlier represented by Dr. Farooq Abdullah who emerged victorious in by-elections in 2017. He defeated his close rival Nazir Khan of People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate by 10,766 votes. The seat was left vacant after Tariq Hamid Karra's resignation.
Tariq Karra who was PDP founder had resigned from the party as well as from parliament following which he joined Congress. In Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency, Tilak Raj Bhagat of Bhujan Samaj Party, Dr. Jitendra Singh of Bhartiya Janata Party, Vikramaditya Singh of Indian National Congress, Harsh Dev Singh of JKNPP, Ch. Lal Singh of Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party, Mohammad Ayub of Navrang Congress Party, Meenakshi of Shiv Sena and Bansi Lal, Rakesh Mudgal, Shaber Ahmad, Garib Singh and Firdous Ahmed all independents are in fray.
The Udhampur parliamentary seat has 16, 85,779 electors of which 1,665,467 are registered as general voters and 20,312 as service voters. For the smooth conduct of election in the PC, the Election Commission of India has established 2,710 polling stations.
The constituency was represented by Dr. Jitendra Singh of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). He had defeated his nearest rival Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress. Singh secured 487,369 votes while Azad managed to bag 4,26,393 votes. Meanwhile, officials said that more comprehensive security arrangements were put in place for the smooth conduct of polls even as separate teams have been formed to face militancy related challenges. The change in the security plan as per the top officials comes in force in the wake of a killing of civilian in Handwara area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district on April 11.
Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Ravideep Singh Sahi said that this time, two-pronged strategy has been evolved to ensure peaceful and incident free polling. "At the polling stations falling in hypersensitive and sensitive category, proper security plan has been worked out so that voters come freely to exercise their right to vote," he said.
A senior police official said that separate teams have been deployed on ground for facing the militancy threats and challenges. "Number of check points and mobile check posts has been jointly established by the police and the CRPF on all important road links to facilitate the movement of voters," he said.
Official figures suggest that 80 per cent of the polling booths in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal fall in the hypersensitive category while remaining 20 percent have been declared as sensitive. "The polling staff and the machinery including electronic voting machines have reached the designated polling stations in all three districts," said an official. Notably, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an amalgam of pro-freedom groups has called for poll boycott and also appealed people to observe complete shutdown today.