ECI’s Observers Meet Civil, Security Officials In Kashmir

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SRINAGAR — The three special observers appointed by the Election Commission Friday held discussions with state government officials as part of their exercise to determine when to hold assembly elections in the state.

The three observers, Noor Mohammed, Vinod Zutshi and A S Gill, held meetings with officials of the state government here this morning, officials said.

A local news agency said that the police, army, and the CRPF have been asked to frame a security plan for ensuring the smooth Lok Sabha polls. “We are at it and exercises have been started on various fronts to frame a fool-proof security plan,” said a top police official. “We will ensure that all the polling booths are secured and guarded in a proper manner.”

In this regard, a high-level meeting was held at Nehru Guest house on Thursday that continued till 9 pm. Police said that it was also waiting for the political parties to finalize their candidates so that proper security cover is provided to them. “Though we expect politicians contesting upcoming Lok Sabha polls to hold rallies, we will be securing the areas in advance so that hassle-free rallies are conducted in the places where the candidates wish to address people,” the officer said.

The special observers also met a delegation of state unit of the Janata Dal (United), the officials said.

They reached here Thursday to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in a real-time basis to enable the poll panel to take a call on holding the state assembly elections.

They interacted with political parties soon after their arrival in the summer capital of the state. The observers later flew to Jammu, the winter capital of the state, for holding similar interactions with representatives of political parties and officials.

While announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday, the poll panel had said that the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be held simultaneously due to security concerns flagged by the Centre.

While the representatives of the PDP, the Congress, the BJP and other parties met the observers, the National Conference (NC), CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) chairman Hakeem Mohamad Yaseen and Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) president Ghulam Hassan Mir boycotted the meeting.

The NC decided not to meet the EC observers, saying the party has nothing more to add to its demand of having simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls in the state.

Tarigami, Yaseen and Mir, in a joint statement, said they did not meet the special observers “as we have already put forth our position about holding the assembly polls in the state before the full Election Commission last week. There is nothing new to say about the issue”.

Jammu and Kashmir is currently under President’s Rule since December 19, 2018 which was necessitated at the end of the six-month period under the Governor’s Rule imposed on June 19, 2018.

The PDP-BJP government in the state fell on June 19, 2018 after the national party pulled out of the coalition.

Since the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has been dissolved, the Election Commission is bound to hold fresh polls there as well within a six-month period, which will end in May.

Almost all political parties in Kashmir have advocated holding the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.


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