Full EC to meet top officials to assess J&K’s security situation Will take views of political parties, stakeholders

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Jammu, Feb 22: Full Election Commission of India will be chairing two high-level security review meetings besides interacting with political parties and other stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure fool-proof security for Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held in April-May and assess when the Assembly polls can be held in the Union Territory, during their visit to the UT on March 12 and 13.


Official sources told the Excelsior that full Election Commission of India including Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Kumar Pandey and Arun Goel will be meeting all 20 Deputy Commissioners, who will be designated as District Election Officers (DEOs) and SSPs of Jammu and Kashmir to take first-hand information on security situation in Jammu and Kashmir especially the Valley.


“In addition to a comprehensive meeting with all 20 DCs and SSPs, the full Election Commission is also expected to have separate meeting with Chief Secretary Atal Dulloo and Director General of Police (DGP) R R Swain during their two-day stay in the Union Territory,” the sources said.


Full Commission will also meet senior leaders of all major national and regional political parties and other stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to ascertain their views and points they want to make to ensure free and fair elections without any violence perpetrated by the militants and their commanders operating from across the border.


Sources said the Commission will also examine possibility of simultaneous conduct of Assembly elections along with Parliamentary polls though such a possibility is remote. The security situation has, however, improved to a great extent in Jammu and Kashmir.


“Since the Assembly elections are due in the UT and the Supreme Court has also set September 30, 2024 deadline for conduct of Assembly polls, the Commission has to explore the possibilities and make independent assessment of the situation besides taking feedback from civil and police administration,” the sources said.


Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K PK Pole will accompany the full Election Commission in all the meetings.

Sources said after visiting Jammu and Kashmir on March 12 and 13, the Election Commission is expected to announce Lok Sabha elections in the country and a decision whether the Assembly polls will be held simultaneously will be known.


Jammu and Kashmir has five Lok Sabha seats and the Commission has to make strict security arrangements to ensure violence-free and transparent elections. One Lok Sabha seat goes to polls in each phase in J&K as per the past precedence.


The Election Commission has already approved deployment of 635 paramilitary companies in Jammu and Kashmir for Lok Sabha polls.


In 2019, the Election Commission had announced the Parliamentary polls on March 10 and the elections were held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.

On December 11, 2023, the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission of India to hold J&K Assembly polls by September 30, 2024.


Jammu & Kashmir is without an elected Government since June 19, 2018 when BJP withdrew support to Mehbooba Mufti-led Government, citing deteriorating security situation in the erstwhile State.


Besides deployment of 635 companies of paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the Election Commission has also approved posting of 57 companies in Ladakh which has lone Lok Sabha seat.


In 2019, Ladakh was part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir but it was made a separate Union Territory on August 5, 2019 after being separated from erstwhile State of J&K.

Source (Daily Excelsior)

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