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Posted at: Apr 18, 2019, 7:29 AM; last updated: Apr 18, 2019, 7:29 AM (IST)

16 lakh voters to seal fate of 12 candidates in Udhampur seat

Authorities make contingency plan for 44 shelling-prone polling stations
16 lakh voters to seal fate of 12 candidates in Udhampur seat
CRPF personnel arrive at a polling station in Srinagar on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service
Jammu, April 17

Over 16 lakh voters are going to decide the fate of 12 candidates for the prestigious Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency for which the polling will be held on Thursday.

Prominent among those in the fray include sitting Lok Sabha member and Union minister Jitendra Singh, Congress candidate Vikramaditya Singh, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan founder Lal Singh and Panthers Party chairman Harsh Dev Singh. While the National Conference is supporting the Congress candidate, the PDP has not fielded any nominee from the seat. Tilak Raj Bhagat from the BSP is also contesting the election.

The authorities have taken preventive steps to ensure smooth and peaceful elections on 44 polling stations situated on the Zero Line along the International Border (IB) with Pakistan.

Although 18 panchayats of the Hiranagar and Madeen blocks of Kathua district are situated along the IB, 44 polling stations have been termed highly sensitive as these are vulnerable to shelling from Pakistan.

Of the total 2,710 polling stations, 285 are situated in the erstwhile Doda district, which was once hotbed of militancy. They have been categorised as ‘critical’. While elaborate security arrangements have been made for these polling stations, a contingency plan has been made for 44 polling stations situated along the IB.

“We have already drafted a plan to shift polling stations to safer places in case of any misdemeanour from Pakistan on the polling day,” Ashwani Kumar, Assistant Returning Officer for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat told The Tribune. “Apart from making elaborate security arrangements for these 44 polling stations, a plan has been formulated to shift these to safer places in case of any emergency,” he said, adding that safer places had already been identified.

Bharat Bhushan, sarpanch of Babiya panchayat, situated along the IB, said two polling stations — Ladwal and Krol Krishana — comprising over 100 voters, were highly vulnerable as these were situated in firing range of Pakistan. “Shelling from Pakistan is a routine affair in our panchayat,” he said, adding, “There is much enthusiasm among border dwellers but the authorities should ensure safety and security of the people”.

The polling station at Middle School, Londi, is a stone’s throwfrom the IB. Chak Dolma, Kandwal, Chachwal and many other polling stations are situated on the Zero Line and conducting peaceful elections in these stations is a difficult task for the authorities.

Six districts in constituency

  • The Udhampur-Doda constituency is spread over 17 Assembly segments comprising Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi, Udhampur and Kathua districts
  • There are 16,85,779 electors — 16,65,467 are registered as general voters and 20,312 as service voters 

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