NEW DELHI: While home minister Rajnath Singh claimed in Srinagar on Monday that the situation in Jammu & Kashmir had significantly improved, the Election Commission is still undecided on holding the long-overdue parliamentary bypoll in Anantnag in view of continuing security challenges that put safety of polling personnel and prospects of a decent voter turnout in doubt.
“The law and order situation in Anantnag may not yet be conducive to holding the Lok Sabha bypoll. The EC does not want a repeat of its Srinagar bypoll experience, which saw an abysmal 7% voter turnout and 8 deaths due to poll-related violence,” said an official.
The bypoll in Anantnag, originally slated to be held on April 12, was postponed twice, first to May 25 and then deferred indefinitely in view of the poor law and order situation in the Valley.
During the parliamentary bypoll held in Sringar in April this year, the polling parties had to brave threats from stone-pelting mobs and it was left for the security forces to ensure that the polling was completed and the EVMs and polling staff taken out safely from the polling stations.
The past few months have seen stepped up counter-terror operations in J&K, including Anantnag in south Kashmir, and the pro-active strikes by the forces are likely to continue in the days to come. With the forces tied up with keeping the pressure on the terrorists and a backlash from the latter in the form of a spectacular attack a real possibility, the EC’s apprehensions in holding the Anantnag poll anytime early may not be misplaced.