Anantnag: Following today’s attack in Srinagar, wherein two NC workers were shot dead and another critically injured, security has been further beefed up in the southern region of Kashmir valley, where Urban Local Body (ULB) polls begin in three days’ time.
A senior police official in south Kashmir said, “Check posts have been increased, patrolling has been made more frequent, and scrutiny on the roads has been doubled to keep any mishap from happening.”
In many parts of the region, including Shopian, Bijbehara in Anantnag, and parts of Pulwama, the army has been doing “area domination” exercises by regularly patrolling the areas.
The security of the candidates contesting the polls is also being taken into consideration. Some of the candidates have already been taken to “secure locations” by police, following disclosure of their identities on social media.
The authorities have taken utmost care to not disclose the identities of candidates but lists of candidates in Aishmuqam, Pahalgam and Dooru areas of Anantnag district were leaked on social media.
In many parts of the region, including in Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama districts, many of the candidates are migrant Kashmiri Pandits who live in Jammu or elsewhere.
“Care is being taken to not compromise the identities of the candidates living here so as to not make them vulnerable to attacks by militants,” an official in the Pulwama district administration told Kashmir Reader.
The candidates remain anxious for their safety, for they will have to return to their native places sooner or later.
“How long will we be kept here at a guarded location? I am contesting the polls to do something for my people and it is the people I am being kept aloof from. I will have to return to them, sooner or later. What then?” asked one of the candidates from Anantnag, who requested anonymity.
Militants have been issuing regular threats to people participating in these civic polls, keeping the authorities on toes as the polls draw near.
Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo had warned that his outfit will blind with acid anyone who participates in these elections.
In preparation for the polls, an additional 40,000 paramilitary troopers had been requested from the central government. Most of them have arrived.
A police source told Kashmir Reader that the attack in Srinagar was disturbing because the primary focus of the security agencies had been on the southern part of the valley, “where no attack has taken place so far.”
“But nothing is being left to chance in the southern part now. Night patrols have been increased and the security arrangements have been further reinforced,” the police source told Kashmir Reader.
Police had rounded up more than 60 youths in recent days in Shopian and Pulwama districts. Police officials from the districts said that the youths were picked up to maintain law and order during the polls, “while some of them were known OGWs (over-ground workers of militants) and were wanted in different cases.”
Despite these measures, there is still much uncertainty on how the polls will take place, particularly in south Kashmir.