Kashmir Sneak-in Worry Before Poll

10 November 2008
The Telegraph


Srinagar: The frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan are worrying the Jammu and Kashmir government, already headed for a showdown with separatists over the upcoming elections. The authorities fear that the firing from across the Line of Control and the international border will escalate ahead of, or during, the seven-phase Assembly polls beginning November 17. “There may be firing to disrupt the polls or to provide cover to militants being sent to this side,” a government official said, adding that several measures had been taken to deal with the threat. India has recorded three dozen ceasefire violations by Pakistan, across the state’s 187km international border and the 780km LoC, this year. Five violations on the border allegedly coincided with attempts to push in militants. Two of them were successful, with the militants cutting the fence and taking people hostage at Chinore and Samba. They were killed in encounters but not before several security personnel and civilians had lost their lives. The state’s chief electoral officer, B.R. Sharma, said a contingency plan for the LoC had been worked out. “Some polling booths fall along the LoC and if it is not possible to hold polling there, say in case of any firing, we have created alternative booths in safer areas. In Poonch district, 30 such booths have been set up,” he said. The government has decided to restrict people’s movement at night near the international border in Jammu as a measure to thwart infiltration.