New Delhi: The Election Commission has cancelled the May 25 Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll, citing poor law and order situation and lack of adequate central forces.
Earlier, the EC had planned to hold the bypoll on April 12 but had postponed it to May 25, citing similar problems in the Kashmir Valley.
In its 10-page order issued late last night, the poll panel said “in view of the prevailing ground situation and non-availability of sufficient security forces, the Commission is of the considered view that peaceful, free and fair poll is not feasible on May 25, as scheduled, though some political parties have asked for the same.”
The bypoll was necessitated following the resignation of Mehbooba Mufti in July last when she became the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The EC said it had also considered postponing the polls to another date but it was not a feasible option.
It said the holy month of Ramzan, the Amarnath Yatra and the upcoming tourist season meant postponing the poll was not an option.
Reacting to the order, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “It’s depressing to see how far we have regressed in Kashmir from the highs of the Assembly polls of 2014 to the cancelled election of 2017.”
The state government was of the view that if bypoll is held in May, it would affect anti-terror operations which are necessary for return of normalcy.
It also said politicians and families of the police personnel were being targeted to create a sense of fear ahead of the election.
School and panchayat buildings, used as polling stations, were being burnt to sabotage the electoral process.
The Commission said while 687 companies (68,700 personnel) of central forces were sought, the Home Ministry sanctioned 250 companies (25,000 personnel) for Anantnag, which are insufficient.
Besides the 250 companies, 54 companies (5,400 personnel) are already in Anantnag as part of the pre-poll arrangement.
During a video conference, local police officials told the EC top brass that the situation in Anantnag is “scary”.
The bypoll will now be held when the situation is conducive, it said.