Srinagar: The Union Home Ministry has ordered the deployment of 49 additional battalions of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to Jammu and Kashmir in wake of the upcoming Panchayat elections, Global News Service (GNS) reported, citing officials sources.
The sources said the additional forces are being moved from various states to J&K and the concerned quarters have been asked to make the arrangements including the desired scale of arms and ammunitions, special anti-riot equipment and winter clothing.
Special emphasis has been laid on providing protective body gears in wake of the cold climate in the Valley, the sources revealed.
State Election Commission has already announced an eight-phase poll to 20 District Development Councils (DDCs) and vacant Panchayat and Municipal seats, in the first major electoral exercise since the effective nullification of Article 370 in August last year amid massive security and communication clampdown which saw detention or arrest of thousands of people including three former Chief Ministers and members of erstwhile state legislature besides snapping of landline and mobile telephony and internet which was eased to large extent since.
The government had in October amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act to provide for setting up of District Development Councils (DDCs) in each district which will have directly-elected members, marking the implementation of the entire 73rd Constitutional Amendment in the J&K.
While votes in the first phase would be cast on November 28, the last phase of polling would take place on December 19 and the counting of votes would take place on December 22.
While the election to DDCs and Panchayat bye-polls will be through the ballot, byelection to Municipal seats will be conducted through electronic voting machines (EVM).
All unionist parties in Kashmir have announced to take part in the electoral exercise and most of them are fighting under the banner of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). While DDC polls are being held on the party basis, panchayat bye-polls are on a non-party basis. The PAGD has said that its candidates would use the symbol of the respective party.
Besides 20 DDCs — 10 each in Jammu and Kashmir — elections for 12,153 vacant Panchayat seats and 234 Urban Local Body wards are being held across J&K. GNS