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EC full bench talks J&K by-poll issue with Home Secretary

EC full bench talks J&K by-poll issue with Home Secretary
The Election Commission and the Home Ministry on Wednesday discussed measures to ensure a violence- free bypoll to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat like cutting down on the number of polling stations for better security.

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and his two Election Commissioners held talks with Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, who assured them of providing adequate paramilitary forces for the bypoll to be held on May 25, official sources said.

The assurance from the Union Home Secretary assumes significance as there were voices within the Mehbooba Mufti- led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir for postponing the bypoll, citing law-and-order situation in the Valley.

There were large-scale violence during the bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat on April 9 in which eight people died. Several trade and travel bodies had made representations to the state government seeking postponement of polls till November keeping in view the tourist season as well as Amarnath Yatra.

Mehrishi conveyed to the Election Commissioners that all required forces will be provided but it would be convenient if the EC provides details of security forces required in advance. There were around 1,600 polling booths in Anantnag constituency but after the violence during Srinagar bypoll, the Chief Electoral Officer of the state had suggested to the Election Commission to reduce the number of polling booths.

As per the revised list, there arwwe more than 1,200 polling booths in the Anantnag constituency which are spread over four districts. The Centre had sent 30,000 paramilitary personnel to the Valley for poll duty but majority of them had been brought back after the elections were postponed to May 25.

Conducting elections in this parliamentary seat will be a daunting task for the EC as well as the state government as several areas in South Kashmir have presence of local as well as foreign militants, the sources said.
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