Udhampur, April 16: Airlifting security personnel to far-flung villages, deploying state police and paramilitary troopers, apart from the army manning hills and mountains, marked preparations for Thursday’s poll in the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency.
Spread over six districts of Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Ramban and Doda in Jammu and Kashmir, this constituency consists of hilly areas where militancy is still believed to be far from over.
Over 500 security personnel and polling staff have been airlifted to 37 polling stations that are inaccessible by road because of snow in the Kishtwar district.
As many as 150 companies of paramilitary troopers and nearly 10,000 state police personnel are at the disposal of the authorities to ensure free and fair balloting.
Sensitive areas would be manned by quick reaction teams, drawn jointly from the state police and the paramilitary.
Army units have moved to mountain tops and high areas to prevent any attempt by guerrillas to disrupt the election.
Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta told IANS Wednesday: “People were seen moving suspiciously near Pul Doda (in Doda district) where they were challenged by civilians today (Wednesday).
“The people, wearing Pathan suits, ran away leaving behind some material, including two Chinese grenades and a suspected improvised explosive device in a pressure cooker, that was later recovered by a joint team of the army and the police.
“Security forces have covered the suspected IED with sand bags and it will be defused tomorrow (Thursday) after the polling ends. A manhunt is on to trace the suspects.”
As many as 14.34 lakh voters would vote at 2,051 polling stations. Of these, 93 percent have been declared hyper-sensitive and sensitive.
There are 13 candidates in the fray. The main contest is between Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Jitender Singh of the BJP and Arshad Malik of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The ruling National Conference (NC) is supporting Azad, the joint candidate of the state’s ruling Congress-NC coalition.
Voting will start at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.