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JammuThree-tier security deployed for counting of votes in Jammu, Kathua

Three-tier security deployed for counting of votes in Jammu, Kathua


Tight security arrangements in ahead of vote counting today

Tawi, June 3:  A day ahead of the counting of votes for the Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha constituencies along with the rest of the country, three-tier security has been activated in and around the counting centres in the two districts.

The counting of over 23.94 lakh votes in these constituencies, scheduled for Tuesday, will determine the fate of 34 candidates, including senior BJP leader and Union Minister Jitendra Singh, current Jammu MP Jugal Kishore Sharma and former ministers Choudhary Lal Singh and Raman Bhalla of the Congress.

“All arrangements are in place for the June 4 vote counting. Three-tier security has been implemented,” said Returning Officer and Jammu District Magistrate Sachin Kumar Vaishya.

Vaishya, who reviewed the security measures, logistics and essential amenities at the counting venues, said the counting process will take place in the Polytechnic College and M A M College.

“Votes from the seven assembly constituencies will be counted at M A M College, while 11 constituencies will be tallied at Polytechnic College,” he added.

The administration has fully trained the staff and sensitized all polling agents for the counting process. This includes a detailed examination of the deployment of paramilitary and police personnel as well as the set up for counting staff and agents.

“All counting staff are fully trained and all political parties and their agents have been briefed and issued I-cards. The arrangements are comprehensive, covering traffic and security,” Vaishya said.

CCTV cameras have been installed and videography arrangements are in place at the counting centers.

Over 12.86 lakh votes (72.22 per cent) will be counted in the Jammu constituency, where BJP's sitting MP Jugal Kishore Sharma aims for a third consecutive victory against Raman Bhalla, the working president of the J&K Congress unit, among 22 other candidates.

Both BJP and Congress have expressed confidence of winning the seat.

“We are very confident that BJP will win this seat. It was predicted by the exit polls as well,” Sharma said.

In Kathua, three-tier security is also in place for the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency counting scheduled for Tuesday.

Kathua Superintendent of Police Anayat Ali Choudhary, who took a review visit of the area, said that elaborate security arrangements have been made.

“Three tier security has been deployed here. We urge everyone to coordinate with the security forces and police. If there is any problem on the security front, it should be immediately brought to our knowledge,” he told reporters.

Choudhary said that enhanced security has been deployed along the Border (IB) and inter-district checkpoints to monitor and prevent any anti-social or anti- activities.

The counting center for Udhampur Lok Sabha seat is set up at the Government Degree College Kathua, equipped with multi-tier security and 24×7 CCTV surveillance.

“Votes from 18 assembly segments, including Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar, will be counted in designated halls. Three halls are designated for counting Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) votes,” said Returning Officer Dr Rakesh Minhas.

A total of 225 tables, each staffed by three personnel, will facilitate the counting process. Sixty tables are designated for ETPBS votes, each with a counting agent, a micro observer, a supervisor and an Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), the officials said.

The CCTV footage of the EVM strong rooms has been shared with the political parties' representatives. Nearly 10,000 staff members will handle the entire counting process, including transferring Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from strong rooms to counting halls, they added.

The Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency recorded a 68.23 per cent voter turnout on April 19, with 16,23,195 eligible voters casting their ballots. Over 11.08 lakh votes will determine the fate of 12 candidates, including Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who seeks a third consecutive win, competing against former minister and two-time MP Choudhary Lal Singh of the Congress.

Meanwhile, Stringent security arrangements have been made for the counting of votes for three Lok Sabha constituencies of Kashmir as additional security personnel have been deployed at key places in the valley, officials said on Monday.

A three-tier security blanket has been thrown around the counting centres in Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag to ensure that no unauthorised person enters the premises, they said.

A tight vigil has been maintained around the strong rooms where electronic voting machines have been kept since the close of polling in respective constituencies.

Polls for the five parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory of  Jammu and Kashmir were held in as many phases — April 19, April 26, May 13, May 20 and May 25.

Ahead of the counting of votes, the Returning Officers of the constituencies have held meetings with contesting candidates, election agents and representatives of political parties contesting in each of the Lok Sabha seats to familiarise them with the standard procedure of counting process prescribed by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The returning officer informed the participants about the sequence and procedures of the counting, including handling of EVMs, VVPATs, and the process of the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).

An official spokesman said regular announcements would be made through the public address system at the counting hall on the counting day.

There are 66 candidates in the fray for the three Lok Sabha seats of Kashmir valley. Among the key candidates for the three seats are president of PDP Mehbooba Mufti, vice president of National Conference Omar Abdullah, separatist turned mainstream politician Sajad Gani Lone and former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid, who is currently lodged in Tihar jail in a UAPA case.

While Mufti is up against prominent Gujjar and National Conference leader Mian Altaf Ahmad in Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Abdullah, Lone and Rashid are locked in a virtual triangular contest for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat.

In the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, both National Conference and the PDP have fielded young faces in Aga Roohullah and Waheed Para respectively.

Kashmir Valley has witnessed record turnout in these Lok Sabha polls with more than 50 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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