All arrangements in place, says Returning Officer

‘High voter turnout expected due to improved security, absence of boycott calls, active campaigning’

Baramulla: As the fifth phase of elections for the Baramulla parliamentary constituency approaches, Returning Officer Minga Sherpa on Saturday said that all necessary arrangements, including security, are in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.

Improved security situations, absence of boycott or hartaal calls, and active political campaigning are expected to result in a historic voter turnout, he said.

Addressing the media persons, Sherpa, said the district is prepared for any eventualities, including network connectivity issues at eight polling stations—six in Uri and two in Rafiabad—which will be managed with wireless communication.

In anticipation of weather-related challenges, over 20-25 pieces of machinery, including JCBs, are on standby to ensure all polling parties reach their destinations, he added.

The RO provided further details on the election arrangements, announcing that a total of 905 polling booths have been set up across 722 locations in Baramulla district, which has 715,000 eligible voters.

“In total, 2103 polling stations have been established in the Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency. Among these, 905 polling booths in Baramulla district are designated as critical stations, with robust security arrangements in place,” he said, adding, “Over 200 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed by the district police in Baramulla and Sopore. Additionally, over 40,000 first-time voters have been enrolled.”

The Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency, divided into 18 assembly segments, has 1.74 million eligible voters. Sherpa expressed optimism for a high voter turnout, similar to the historic numbers seen in the fourth phase of Srinagar elections. This is due to the improved security situation and the absence of boycott calls, he said.

The Returning Officer said special arrangements have been made with seven pink polling stations established in the district. These stations, he said, feature buildings painted pink, special gates, and all-women polling parties.

Minga Sherpa urged all eligible voters to contribute to the democratic process and shape the nation’s future by participating in the elections on May 20.

Responding to a query, he said the entire elections process remains challenging. He, however, said the campaigning period was peaceful. There was good cooperation from political party candidates and minimal violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) were recorded, the RO said. He thanked them for “spirited and disciplined” campaign.

The Baramulla Lok Sabha segment elections, scheduled for May 20, will see 22 candidates contesting, including prominent figures such as National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah, People’s Conference president Sajad Gani Lone, Mir Fayaz Ahmed of the Peoples Democratic Party, and Er Rashid of the Awami Ittihad Party, among others—(KNO)

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