Tribune News Service
Jammu, March 13
The Election Commission of India (ECI) will be announcing the schedule for the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir in a few days as the government appears to have made up its mind to give the green signal on the security front following a barrage of criticism over its backfoot approach on the crucial issue.
The announcement was put off when the ECI listed the poll schedule for the General Election on Sunday. “Something happened that made the ECI hold back the announcement. It was to be hybrid polling, but at the last minute, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the state government raised the bar, seeking security forces at 800 companies plus,” revealed a source.
Decks seem to have been cleared now after Governor Satya Pal Malik met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Tuesday.
The security situation and preparedness of the state government for holding the crucial polls were discussed threadbare. The thrust was on the security situation, that has assumed new and serious dimensions post the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed, the subsequent airstrikes on Balakot in Pakistan and the retaliatory action by Pakistan that brought the situation to the brink.
The Prime Minister and the Governor were satisfied with the anti-militancy operations in Kashmir, with a sizeable section of the leadership of the Kashmir chapter of Pakistan-headquartered Jaish-e-Mohammad eliminated.
After the ECI on March 10 held back announcement on the Assembly polls in J&K, serious questions were raised regarding the intentions of the government, with the political leadership in Kashmir suspecting foul play.
While Peoples Democratic Party chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti read “sinister designs” in not holding the Assembly polls along with those for the Lok Sabha, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference described it as an “abject surrender to Pakistan”. Both leaders questioned Modi’s image of a “strong” Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the special observers appointed by the Election Commission will start their three-day visit to the state from Thursday to assess the ground situation.
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