The Election Commission on Tuesday cancelled the Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll citing that situation not feasible to hold elections now, according to PTI report. This comes after two Indian soldiers were beheaded by Pakistani forces in the Poonch sector and also the killing of five cops and two bank officials by terrorists in the Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. Notably, The parliamentary seat was to go to polls on April 12. But polls had to be postponed due to violence during the April 9 polling for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in which eight people were killed, the report says.
The Home Ministry has reportedly turned down a request by the EC for additional security forces for the Lok Sabha bypoll in militancy-hit Anantnag saying it could only spare 30,000 personnel. This was conveyed to the Election Commission, which is likely to take a view on whether to hold the bypoll on May 25 or defer it yet again, the PTI report says.
A home ministry official said the EC has been told that around 300 companies of paramilitary personnel could be arranged for deployment during the Anantnag bypoll. A company of paramilitary comprises around 100 personnel. The EC may take a view on Wednesday after taking into account the opinion of the home ministry and report of its members who had visited the Kashmir Valley for an on-the-spot assessment.
Last week, the EC had asked the home ministry that 740 companies of paramilitary forces be put at its disposal by May 12 so that proper deployment of forces could be undertaken. The demand seemed unprecedented as the poll body had sought 70,000 paramilitary forces for deployment in the recently-concluded assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, which has 403 assembly constituencies and 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Earlier, the EC had sought 30,000 paramilitary personnel for the bypoll to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats. There are around 10 lakh paramilitary personnel under the home ministry’s command, but it is difficult to assemble them from different parts of the country on such a short notice, the official said.
The PDP, the ruling coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir, has urged the EC to defer indefinitely the bypoll to the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in the wake of the “volatile situation” prevailing there.