MHA less than half prepared for EC's security demand for

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has whittled down the Election Commission's (EC) request to provide 73,000 security personnel by less than half for holding the bypoll in the Anantnag Parliamentary constituency, which is scheduled for May 25.

The Election Commission said it also considered further postponing the polls but it was not a feasible option because of the month of fasting of Ramzaan, the annual Amarnath Yatra and the upcoming tourist season in the state.

Keeping in view the ongoing unrest in the Kashmir Valley, the Election Commission (EC) on Monday night cancelled the Anantnag Loksabha bypoll in Jammu and Kashmir and said the situation is not feasible to hold free and fair elections for now. The EC's response to the ministry's offer is not yet known. Voting was scheduled for April 12, which was the postponed to May 25.

Notably the Srinagar by-poll conducted by the Indian administration few weeks ago had witnessed very poor turnout in wake of boycott of polls by pro-freedom Kashmiri groups. However, the EC did not mention the next by-poll date for the Anantnag constituency.

Anantnag Parliamentary constituency fell vacant after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resigned in July a year ago.

The state government had earlier sought cancellation of the bypoll due to the prevailing law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley. Her brother Tasaduq Mufti is the PDP candidate.

The Anantanag by-poll was cancelled after Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll hosted on April 9 saw large-scale violence where eight civilians were killed. Only 7.5 per cent voters turned up, recording the lowest poll percentage in three decades.

  • Leroy Wright