As many as 40,000 additional paramilitary soldiers will be deployed during the urban local bodies’ elections, which is a record in comparison to the 2011 polls when the state government requested for no additional forces.
Of the 40,000 soldiers, 20,300 personnel have been camping in Kashmir since last week of May when they arrived for Amarnath yatra security. The rest are on way to the state. They would be accommodated in about 300 hotels in Srinagar, chief secretary BVR Subramanyam said.
CRPF spokesman Sanjay Sharma said the additional 40,000 soldiers would be primarily deployed for “area domination”, night patrolling and security for contestants if needed.
Already, as many as 50 battalions (each battalion is 1134 personnel) of CRPF are stationed in Kashmir region alone (60 in the state) for counterinsurgency operations and law and order maintenance. The total number of CRPF battalions in India is 239.
As many as 21 battalions are deployed in Srinagar alone for law and order duties, which will be augmented by 10000-15000 policemen.
A police officer said that army would be requested in case of emergencies. The need for such a huge number of additional forces has been necessitated, security experts say, by militants’ threats, boycott call by the resistance leadership and the surprise decision of major mainstream political parties to boycott the polls.
Hizbul Mujahideen outfit has already warned those contesting upcoming polls to “get ready for acid attack”.
“This is not for the first time additional troops have been sought for polls. Additional forces were called during 1996 and the 2008 assembly polls that took place after the unrest,” said additional director general of police law and order Munir Khan.
In contrast, former director general of police Kuldeep Khoda said, no additional troops were sought from the Centre during 2011 panchayat elections.
He reiterated that multiple factors were responsible for the additional forces. “We have decided to go for the foolproof area dominations and for that we need extra forces,” he said.
A source in the police said the request for additional forces was sent to Union home ministry after the majority of district police chiefs cited law and order and militancy as the major challenges.
He said the security cover for the upcoming civic polls is nearly similar to that of 2014 assembly polls when 50000 additional forces were brought in.
The ULB polls, to be held in four phases, will start from October 8 and panchayat polls would be conducted in nine phases from November 9.
Inspector general CRPF Ravideep Singh Sahi said the prevailing security scenario is more challenging than previous polls.
“We are engaged in night patrolling, area domination and security of polling booths,” he said.
The police have already stated that it would decide on providing security cover to contesting candidates after analysing the total number of nominations and threat perception.