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Jammu and Kashmir: Uncertainty, fear ahead of municipal polls amid tightened security

There is a big question mark over how many people will venture out to cast their ballots.

SNS | New Delhi |

In the midst of the threats issued by militant to both candidates and voters ahead of the municipal polls in the Kashmir Valley, security has been beefed up even as there is heightened tension and suspense in the restive region ahead of the voting.

In fact, for the first time, the authorities have not made known the names of contesting candidates to address the security concerns of the candidates who remain under threat from the militants.

To ensure the safety of the candidates, authorities have made sure that all the candidates in the valley are in a secure accommodation ahead of the poll process.

The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Valley’s two major parties are boycotting the elections. Joining them are the CPI-M, the Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) headed by Hakim Yaseen, and the Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) headed by Ghulam Hassan Mir.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, and independent candidates are the only contestants.

While 244 candidates have been elected unopposed, there are no candidates in the fray in 159 municipal wards of the Kashmir Valley. Statistically, 29 percent of voters will have no candidates to choose from in their wards.

There has been no election campaign at any place in the Valley.

There is a big question mark over how many people will venture out to cast their ballots.

While militants have issued threats to both candidates and voters, separatist leaders have called for a protest shutdown in the Kashmir Valley on Monday.

Tension was palpable in the region on Sunday as the authorities beefed up security across Jammu and Kashmir.

Four hundred additional companies of paramilitary forces have arrived in the state to enhance the existing strength of security forces.

In Srinagar, three wards will see polling.

Scores of motorbikes were seized by the police at various check posts in the city on Saturday and on Sunday on account of lack of documents or in cases where the bikers had violated traffic rules.

All vehicles entering the city were being thoroughly checked.

Hi-tech electronic surveillance equipment is being used to strengthen human intelligence in areas where polling is scheduled.

In addition to three municipal wards in Srinagar city, polling for municipal committees of Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Chadoora, Badgam, Khansahib, Achabal, Devsar, Kokernag, Qazigund and Kulgam in the Kashmir Valley as well as Leh and Kargil in the Ladakh region is scheduled for Monday.

In Jammu region, polling for municipal committees of Bishnah, Arnia, RS Pura, Akhnoor, Khour, Jurian, Rajouri, Thanamandi, Nowshera, Kalakote, Sunderbani, Poonch, and Surankote will also take place on Monday.

In addition, voting will be held for the Jammu municipal corporation.

(With agency inputs)