Stage Set For First Phase Of J&K Polls

16 November 2008
The Times of India

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir goes to polls on Monday in the first of the seven-phase exercise covering 10 assembly constituencies spread over four districts as security forces kept a tight vigil to thwart any attempt by militants to disrupt the elections boycotted by separatists. On the eve of the keenly-watched elections spread over six weeks , security forces busted two militant hideouts in Sabzian and Mandi areas in the Poonch district and recovered five kg RDX, an AK rifle, a pistol, three magazines and 90 rounds of ammunition, official sources said. Security forces also defused a landmine in Baramulla district and arrested four militants. The landmine, fitted in a 6-kg pressure was detected by police near Liaser Bridge in Dangiwacha area , a police spokesman said. Central security forces have taken positions well in advance in and around 1,038 booths in Bandipora, Poonch, Leh and Kargil districts to instill confidence among the voters and foil the 'evil designs' of militants to disrupt the electoral process, officials said. More than half of these booths have been described as 'hyper sensitive' while the rest placed under 'sensitive' category. Over six lakh electorate will cast their franchise to choose 10 representatives tomorrow in the most-keenly fought assembly elections in the state's history. Hostile weather conditions marked by unseasonal snowfall has posed a big challenge to both electoral authorities and the voters. IAF helicopters have already undertaken several sorties to ferry poll personnel and equipment. The remaining six phases will be held on November 23, 30 and December 7, 13, 17 and 24.