SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir would need additional 500 to 750 companies of paramilitary forces for conduct of Assembly elections in the State, the dates of which are yet to be announced by the Election Commission.
“During the meeting with full Election Commission, which visited Kashmir on Saturday and held talks with stakeholders, top security officials of the State briefed Chief Election Commissioner and two commissioners about the security preparedness for elections. The EC was briefed about the security requirements of the State for conduct of elections in the phased manner,” sources said.
The last Assembly elections held in the State in 2008 were conducted in winter in seven phases and there is every likelihood that elections this time also may be held in a phased manner.
Sources said Director General of Police (DGP) J&K police and security officials told EC that if there are less phases in elections, then the security requirement would be more as security men would have to be deployed in very large area in every assembly constituency to ensure free and fair polls.
“In view of violence, especially stone pelting incidents during parliamentary elections in the Valley earlier this year, security officials are mulling to take more stringent security measures and deploy police and para military personnel besides and seeking services of army as and when required,” sources said.
They said security officials of the State have projected demand of additional 500 to 750 companies of paramilitary forces for smooth conduct of the polls.
“In winters, usually the militancy incidents come down but in election dates are announced, then we apprehend that militants may try to create trouble and spread fear to prevent people from voting. In such a scenario, we would have to deploy additional forces in the sensitive and volatile pockets of the Valley to foil militants attempt to create any trouble,” sources said.
They said the security arrangements would be much tight this time in view of rampant stone pelting and violent incidents during parliament elections in the State, especially in the Valley.
“We would try to instill confidence among people so that they come to vote in large numbers on the poll days,” said a senior police officer.
Ahead of its visit to Kashmir, Election Commission had written to J&K government asking it to take adequate security measures to ensure large turnout of voters in the Assembly elections.
The State officials were asked to strengthen the security and overcome the “laxity” observed during conduct of Lok Sabha elections.
The Election Commission is yet to take a final call on timing of polls in the State. It has maintained that further consultations will be held in the national capital before announcing poll schedule.