April 2019 News

433 Polling Stations In Kulgam, All 'hyper-sensitive'

28 April 2019
Kashmir Reader
Suhail A Shah

Kulgam: As Kulgam district goes to Lok Sabha polls in the second phase of voting for the Anantnag seat on Monday, not even a single polling station here has been designated as safe by the security agencies. The first phase of poling for the south Kashmir constituency on April 23 saw a dismal voter turnout of 13 percent. The third phase of polling is to be held on May 6 in Shopian and Pulwama districts. In the second phase the voting is to take place in Kulgam district, where a total of 433 polling stations have been set up. 'Every single one of the polling stations has been declared 'hyper-sensitive' by the security agencies,' a senior administrative official told Kashmir Reader. He said that unprecedented security measures were in place for Monday's polls with an additional 75 companies of central paramilitary forces brought in. Kulgam district is one of the most militancy-affected districts in Kashmir with more than 40 (23 of them locals) militants active in the district. 'The worst affected area is the Khodweni, Qaimoh, Redwini belt. A special focus will be on conducting violence-free elections in this belt,' a senior police official from Kulgam district told Kashmir Reader. The 433 polling stations are spanned over four state assembly segments: Kulgam, Devsar, Noorabad, and Homeshalibugh. The assembly segments were, until recently, held by four different parties - Devsar by Congress, Kulgam by the CPIM, Noorabad by PDP, and Homeshalibugh by the National Conference. 'It will be interesting to see how Kulgam votes with such a fractured influence of four different parties, that is if the people come out to vote at all,' a senior political analyst from south Kashmir said. He said that the low voter turnout in Anantnag district will definitely have an impact on the voting pattern in Kulgam district. 'It will be interesting to see how the day pans out,' the analyst said. Meanwhile, several youths were arrested from Murran area of Pulwama district during night raids by police on Saturday. A senior police official from the district confirmed that the raids were conducted. 'Yes, we made some arrests in Murran area. The arrests have been made in wake of their involvement in stone-throwing ahead of the polls,' the official said. He, however, did not give an exact number of the arrests made. Local sources told Kashmir Reader that at least half a dozen youths have been arrested.