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Committed to hold Assembly polls in J&K soon after LS polls; Political parties must refrain from abuses, hate speeches in campaigning, EVMs 100 percent safe, secure: CEC Rajiv Kumar; Udhampur to go to polls on April 19, Jammu on April 26, Anantnag-Rajouri on May 7, Srinagar on May 13, Bla on May 20

Abid Bashir

Srinagar, Mar 16 (KNO): Citing “additional security requirements” for not holding concurrent elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Election Commission of India (ECI) Saturday announced a 7-phased Lok Sabha poll schedule with J&K’s one seat going to polls on April 19.

“There will be seven phased Lok Sabha elections in the country including J&K that will commence from April 19,” the CEC said in a press conference at New Delhi, as per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

As per the schedule, Udhampur LS seat will go to polls on April 19, Jammu on April 26, Anantnag-Rajouri on May 7, Srinagar on may 13 and Baramulla on May 20.

To a query that ECI didn’t announce simultaneous polls for J&K, the CEC said that J&K’s Re-Organisation Act was passed in 2019 and Assembly seats were 107 including 24 reserved for PoK people. “After that, a delimitation exercise was done and a delimitation act passed. The number of seats reached 114 including 24 reserved for PoK. These two acts were not in sync till December 2023. So our meter for Assembly polls started in December itself,” he said. “During our recent visit to Srinagar and Jammu, the J&K Administration clearly told us that there can’t be two elections at a time due to more security requirements. The Administration told us that there will be roughly 8 to 9 candidates for each assembly segment which means approximately, there will be 1000 candidates in fray. This means, each candidate needs to be given proper security cover and for that there was more requirement of additional forces.”

However, the CEC said that the Commission is committed to hold Assembly polls in J&K soon after Lok Sabha polls when security forces will be available.

In reply to a query, the CEC said that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are very safe and secure. “There is no question of any discrepancy as far as EVM is concerned,” he said.

Earlier, the CEC appealed the Political parties to refrain from hate speeches and abuses during the campaigning. On the total number of voters, he said that there are 97 Crore voters registered in the country. He said that the major challenges for the ECI in the upcoming elections are: 4M’s– Muscle, Money, Misinformation and MCC violations. “Let me clarify that there will be no place for violence in elections,” he said.

The CEC Rajiv Kumar welcomed two newly appointed commissioners—Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhvir Singh stating that the “our team is now complete.” “We are committed to give nation a truly festive atmosphere for polls,” he said, adding that the counting of votes will be done on June 4—(KNO)