Law And Order Major Concern For Authorities In Baramulla

4 May 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: After law and order problems during polls in Anantnag and Srinagar Parliamentary constituencies, dealing with protests and stone pelting is the major concern for the security agencies in North Kashmir's Baramulla constituency that goes to polls on May 7. Authorities have made elaborate arrangements for smooth conduct of polls and to deal with Anantnag and Srinagar like situations where poll parties and security forces were attacked by protesters on poll days. Over 30, 000 police and para-military forces are on poll duty to ensure smooth polls and deal with the law and problems. Besides this, Army is also sensitizing the areas to put pressure on the militants and prevent any militant strike on the eve of polls. Sources said that there will be heavy deployment of security forces in the trouble spots and sensitive places like old town Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Palhallan and Hajin. In Baramulla town, the authorities are considering clubbing of some polling booths in sensitive areas for security reasons. Police are keeping an eye on what is says trouble makers and have detained large number of them ahead of polls. Returning Officer of Baramulla constituency, Farooq Lone told Excelsior that 11, 90, 766 voters including 6, 22,632 male and 5,66,460 female voters would be exercising their franchise across the Constituency on May 7. Lone said that there are 5, 83,753 voters of Baramulla, 2, 11,967 voters of Bandipora and 3, 93,400 voters of Kupwara districts. 'There are 18,257 migrant voters included in these figures spread over the three districts of Baramulla 8307, Kupwara 8468 and Bandipora 1482', he added. 'To facilitate these voters exercise their franchise, 1616 polling booths have been set up across the constituency at 1303 locations. This includes 822 polling booths in Baramulla district, 531 polling booths in Kupwara district and 263 in Bandipora district', said the Returning Officer. Lone said that on the basis of security there are 1091 hyper sensitive and 455 sensitive polling booths with only 70 normal. He said that 43 polling booths where either 75 percent votes were polled in favour of one candidate or 90 percent votes were polled in last elections have been declared critical and micro-observers will keep a tight vigil on these booths for fair polls. The Returning officer said that 227 companies of Central Forces have been deployed for election duty, out of which 199 companies brought from outside while 28 companies are already posted in the constituency. He said that besides this there are several companies of local police managing the polling booths and taking care of security. The main contest in the constituency is between the ruling National Conference candidate and sitting MP, Sharifudin Shariq and former Deputy Chief Minister of the State and Opposition PDP candidate, Muzaffar Hussain Baig. The other candidates who can play vital role in the poll results of the constituency are People's Conference's (PC) candidate Salamuddin Bajad and Awami Ittehad Party (AIP)'s Abdul Rashid Sheikh. The PC has significant following in some pockets of Kupwara district where it can get major chunk of votes. The newly-formed AIP candidate, MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh, can also get his share from Kupwara. Baramulla constituency that is spread over Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts comprises 15 Assembly segments of which seven went to NC in 2008. PDP won five while Congress won one and two segments are represented by Independents. The Congress and Ghulam Hassan Mir's vote may play an important role in deciding fate of Shariq. In the 2009 elections, Shariq got 2,03,022 votes and defeated his main rival, PDP's Mohammad Dilawar Mir, by a margin of 64,814 votes. Sajjad Lone of PC, who also contested the polls in 2009 after parting ways with the Hurriyat Conference, stood third with 65,403 votes. There are 15 candidates in fray including Ghulam Mohammad Mir of BJP, Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah of National Panthers Party and Mohammad Shafi Bhat of Bahujan Samaj Party. The turnout for the 2009 polls in Baramulla was 41.84 per cent, which was significantly higher than Anantnag's 27 per cent and Srinagar's 25.55 per cent recorded five years back. The first Parliament election was held in 1967 in this constituency with NC having won all the polls since then, barring in 1967, 1971 and 1996, when it did not contest. On these three occasions, it was Congress candidates who won from here.