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September 1, 2002
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30,000 troops arrive in Valley for poll security
JAMMU, Aug 31: Some 30,000 Indian paramilitary forces and police commandos have arrived in occupied Kashmir to provide security for the elections starting on Sept 16, police said on Saturday.
Already 10,000 police officials are providing security to certain “protected persons”, including political leaders, bureaucrats, journalists and businessmen, a police spokesman said.
The new guards will give security to candidates, political leaders and voters.
Security arrangements for the poll will be supervised by the police chief in each district while the security of polling stations will be handed over to paramilitary forces, the spokesman said.
The strength of the police force in the held state has increased from 23,000 in 1990 to more than 60,000 at present, but the authorities still need additional forces from the Indian government for the elections.
“The challenge posed by separatists and the rebels is enormous when they have announced to wreck the polling,” a senior police official said.
“In the militancy-disturbed areas of Poonch and Rajouri districts, 20,000 men of the paramilitary forces and police commandos (from East Punjab) have been sent to provide security cover to the candidates and prevent rebels from storming the polling stations,” he said.
According to Chief Electoral Officer Pramod Jain, troops were deployed in the 26 assembly constituencies 45 days before polling.
“The very purpose of holding the poll in four phases was to allow time to the security forces to cover all areas while voting took place.
“Since the number of candidates is going to be quite big it may be difficult for us to provide foolproof security cover to each candidate and political activists,” said police official.
He said in the districts of Poonch and Rajouri, “each candidate has to be provided with more than two security guards besides another three people at his residence”.—AFP