Situation conducive for assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir: EC team

Srinagar

The three independent observers appointed by the Election Commission — to assess the readiness for assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir — are learnt to have conveyed to the poll panel that the situation is conducive for elections immediately after Lok Sabha polls, Economic Times reported.

According to a report published by Economic Times, the home ministry and the state administration, on the other hand, have proposed the September-October period for elections citing the tourist season, the holy month of Ramzan and the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra in the valley, which will begin on July 1. In a meeting with ECI on April 26, they proposed that elections be held in J&K between September-October, along with polls in Haryana and Maharashtra. The Centre has also proposed a November election for the state.

“The security arrangements and forces will have to be mobilised for Amarnath yatra at least two weeks before the yatra. There is always a high threat alert for the yatra and arrangements will have to be put in place well in advance,” the report said a home ministry official confirmed.

“The Election Commission is expected to take a final call this week,” said the report.

The special observers — Noor Mohammad, Vinod Zutshi and AS Gill — submitted their report to the Election Commission on April 15. ET has learnt that the Observers have pointed out in their report that there is a good possibility to hold assembly elections in the state soon after Lok Sabha polls are completed on May 19 as the key concern on availability of security forces can be easily addressed by then.

Assembly elections in J&K could not be scheduled simultaneously with Lok Sabha Polls as both — the MHA and the J&K administration — had told news paper EC that they cannot provide the huge number of security personnel required for the same. They had, however, also told EC in writing that after Lok Sabha polls, security availability will no longer be a roadblock and assembly elections can be conducted smoothly.

J&K has been functioning without an elected government since the PDP-BJP coalition fell apart in June, 2018. The new Lok Sabha will have to extend the President’s rule on June 20, 2019 if an elected government is not in place before then.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had announced on March 10 that the scheduling of assembly polls in J&K would be on the basis of the assessment of the Special Central Observers. The observers made two visits to the state and held discussions with leaders of political parties, the state administration and security in-charges. No political party or administrative machinery in the state or from MHA had then indicated any reservations regarding the Amarnath Yatra or Ramzan, ET has gathered.

In March, security assessments showed that holding assembly elections would require a considerable presence of security personnel. Estimates showed that 150-200 companies of security personnel were needed. This was proving to be difficult if the assembly elections were scheduled simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls, Economic Times reported.

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