Number of Polling Stations in Jammu and Kashmir is set to cross 11,000 as the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) will start publishing final Polling Station shortly as a part of ongoing Special Summary Revision (SSR) in the Union Territory which will conclude on October 31 with publication of final Electoral Rolls while VVPATs used in the elections have started reaching many districts under strict surveillance of civil and police administration and were being deposited in strong rooms.
In a related development, the Union Home Ministry said today that conducting Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir is prerogative of the Election Commission of India.
Number of Polling Stations is expected to be around 5600 in Jammu division and about 5400 in Kashmir division, official sources told the Excelsior.
While the Special Summary Revision ordered by the Election Commission of India for Jammu and Kashmir following conduct of process for delimitation of Assembly constituencies will conclude on October 31, the authorities are expecting electorates of Jammu and Kashmir to touch 85 lakh.
However, these are just tentative figures but preparations are being made taking into account the figure of 85 lakh, sources said.
Out of expected 5600 Polling Stations in Jammu division, Jammu district is likely to have around 1400 followed by Kathua 639, Udhampur 624, Rajouri 614, Poonch 451, Doda 448, Reasi 424, Kishtwar 400, Ramban 337 and Samba 334.
Kashmir division could have 5400 Polling Stations after publication of final list.
Preliminary figures revealed that Srinagar will have 913 Polling Stations followed by Baramulla 899, Anantnag 798, Budgam 602, Kupwara 578, Pulwama 459. Kulgam 349, Bandipora 300, Ganderbal 260 and Shopian 245.
“There has been significant increase in number of Polling Stations in all 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir,” the officials said, adding this was evident as the Special Summary Revision is taking place after a gap of three years.
Also, increase in number of electorates is expected to be good because of three years’ gap in the revision.
The revision couldn’t take place in 2019 because of August 5 decisions of the Central Government revoking special status of Jammu and Kashmir leading to restrictions for some time and change in the system as erstwhile State was bifurcated into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. It didn’t take place in 2020 and 2021 because of ongoing process for delimitation of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
Soon after the Delimitation Commission submitted its report, the Election Commission of India ordered Special Summary Revision for Jammu and Kashmir with October 31 as deadline for publication of final Electoral Rolls amid indications that the process could be followed by Assembly elections.
Meanwhile, 14,800 VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails) machines approved by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for Jammu and Kashmir, have started reaching the district headquarters, The VVPATs are being kept in strong rooms under strict surveillance of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and District Electoral Officers (DEOs).
The VVPATs are to be used in the Assembly elections whenever they are held.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told Lok Sabha today that conducting Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir is the prerogative of the Election Commission (EC) and the poll body has initiated the process to revise the electoral rolls there.
He said this in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on when the situation in Kashmir would be brought to normal so that the democratic process can be started in theValley.
“The Election Commission of India has initiated revision of electoral rolls of voters of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The decision to schedule elections is the prerogative of the Election Commission of India,” Rai said, replying to the question from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member A Ganeshamurthi.
The Minister said the Government had constituted a Delimitation Commission, which has notified orders on March 14 and May 5 on the delimitation of the Parliamentary and Legislative Assembly constituencies of the Union Territory.
Thereafter, the EC has initiated the process to revise the electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Replying to another question, Rai said the Government has a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly.
There has been a substantial decline in the number of militant attacks, from 417 in 2018 to 229 in 2021, he added.
The Minister said the Government has taken various measures to restore normalcy in the Kashmir valley, including putting in place a robust Security-and-Intelligence Grid, proactive operations against militants, intensified night patrolling and checking at “nakas”, security arrangements through appropriate deployment and a high level of alertness maintained by the security forces.
Moreover, he said the Government has taken several steps for the all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir, including the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package 2015.
Flagship programmes, the establishment of an IIT and an IIM, two new AIIMS and fast-tracking of infrastructure projects in roads and power are being initiated, Rai said.
Besides, a new Central scheme is being implemented for the industrial development of Jammu and Kashmir with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crore, which would provide employment to 4.5 lakh people, he added.