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Sat phones, special runners and more… all in place for polls in Anantnag-Rajouri

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Anantnag/Rajouri : With the threat of cross-border shelling in some border areas and satellite phones and special runners in place to deal with contingencies, all is in readiness for elections in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency.
Elections in the last of the five seats in Jammu and Kashmir took place against the backdrop of four terror incidents, including one that claimed the life of an Indian Air Force soldier and a former BJP sarpanch.
Nothing is being left to chance, said officials. Multi-layer security arrangements have been put in place in the constituency spread across 18 assembly segments in Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian in south Kashmir and Rajouri and Poonch districts south of Pir Panjal to ensure free, fair and peaceful polling.
The Election Commission has set up 2,338 polling stations in the parliamentary constituency, which has more than 18.36 lakh voters. Four election staff, including the presiding officer, will be stationed in every polling booth. In all, more than 9,000 polling staffers, including reserves, are being deployed and have left for their stations. With 19 border polling stations along the

Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch, a contingency plan has been worked out to deal with cross-border shelling though chances are negligible given the ongoing ceasefire between India and Pakistan that came into effect in February 2021, officials said.
Some polling stations fall in communication-shadow areas and alternative arrangements have been put in place in such areas with satellite phones, wireless sets and special runners being provided in case of a crisis.
In 2019, the Anantnag constituency had a turnout of just 9.8 per cent. And so perhaps, in a marked contrast to the fervent campaigning witnessed in other constituencies, the area has seen relatively subdued rallies.
However, the Poonch and Rajouri regions, known for high voter turnouts, have seen hectic campaigning with all parties getting their top leaders to campaign.
Originally slated for May 7, the Election Commission postponed polling in Anantnag-Rajouri citing adverse weather conditions.
With record-high polling in Srinagar and Baramulla, political observers feel the south Kashmir constituency will also register a higher than expected voter turnout.
The aggregate turnout in the four Lok Sabha seats, including Udhampur and Jammu, which have already gone to polls was around 59 per cent.

Over 26,000 displaced KPs eligible to vote at 34 special polling stations

Jammu: More than 26,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandit voters from across the country are eligible to vote at 34 polling stations in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency on Saturday.
This marks the conclusion of voting in the Union Territory, with polling already completed in the other four constituencies.
The newly created Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat, covering the south Kashmir-Pir Panjal region, will cover the districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Rajouri and Poonch.
The polling parties and security forces are being dispatched for special polling stations set up for the Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Udhampur districts.
“Over 26,000 Kashmiri migrant voters will cast their ballots at special polling stations set up in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi tomorrow. All arrangements have been made for free and fair polling tomorrow,” Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Dr Arvind Karwani told PTI.
Dr Karwani reviewed the arrangements along with election officers at 21 polling booths and 8 auxiliary ones in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in Delhi.
Assistant Electoral Returning Officer (AERO) Dr Riaz Ahmed urged the Kashmiri migrant voters to participate in the election.
“All necessary facilities, including water and shelter, have been arranged. The Election Commission has also provided a pick-and-drop facility for the voters, available from 6 am to 6 pm, focusing on areas with higher concentrations of migrants,” the AERO said.
The authorities, amid tight security, handed over polling materials, including EVMs, to polling parties at Women’s College in Jammu. The security forces and election parties are being deployed to their respective stations, the officials said.
The Anantnag constituency is preparing for a competitive electoral showdown with nearly 18.36 lakh voters, including 9.02 lakh women, set to vote at 2,338 polling stations.
Twenty candidates are vying for the seat, with the main contest between PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and prominent Gujjar leader and former minister Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference (NC).
Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Manhas, backed by the BJP in the Pir Panjal region, hopes to challenge both the PDP and the NC.
The Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), led by former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, has fielded Mohammad Saleem Parray for the seat.

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