Security challenge in Srinagar on last day of polling

December 20th, 2008 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Dec 20 (IANS) As the authorities gear up for the last phase of the staggered Jammu and Kashmir elections Wednesday, the biggest worry for them is how to stop an anti-poll rally by Muslim separatists in Srinagar, which also votes that day.During the earlier six phases of the polls in other parts of the state, the government succeeded in preventing the separatists from creating any major law and order problem by imposing strict restrictions in Srinagar city.

The previous rounds saw more than 60 percent polling with people defying the separatists’ boycott call in the Kashmir Valley.

The separatist Hurriyat Conference has called for a march to city centre Lal Chowk Wednesday to disrupt the poll exercise.

And the strategy of imposing stringent restriction may not be practicable, said a newspaper editor here.

“That strategy can no longer work Dec 24. The administration cannot resort to restrictions in the city that day,” the editor said.

The authorities have to allow free movement on that day for people to come out and vote, he noted.

“The problem is, how do the security forces ensure that those who come out of their homes in Srinagar are doing so to cast their votes and not to hold protests and marches?”

But the security agencies are confident of ensuring free and fair voting.

“We shall ensure that nobody prevents voters from exercising their franchise Wednesday in Srinagar,” a police officer told IANS, refusing to comment on whether that would be again done by imposing restrictions on the movement of people in the city.

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