A thick security blanket has been thrown around polling stations in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency of Jammu and Kashmir where voting will be held Thursday to decide the fate of 10 candidates, including National Conference president Farooq Abdullah. "Adequate security arrangements have been put in place to secure the polling stations and to instil a sense of confidence among voters for ensuring free, fair, transparent and smooth conduct of elections in the constituency," an election official said.
Police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in strength in and around polling stations in all three districts -- Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal -- of the constituency, the official said. He said the polling staff and electronic voting machines have also been deployed.
As many as 12,90,318 voters are eligible to cast their votes as authorities have set up 1,716 polling stations in the constituency. For migrant voters of the constituency, 26 polling stations have been set up with 21 polling stations in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in New Delhi.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah is among 10 candidates in the fray and is seen as the frontrunner to enter the Lok Sabha for the fourth time from Srinagar seat. Besides Abdullah, the other prominent candidates are Aga Mohsin of PDP, Imran Ansari of People's Conference and Khalid Jehangir of BJP.
The NC president had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls -- his only electoral loss in his political career -- to then PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra by a margin of over 42,000 votes. However, Karra resigned from the PDP as well as the Lok Sabha in 2016 to protest against the civilian killings during the summer agitation that year. He later joined the Congress.
Abdullah won the by-elections for Srinagar seat held in April 2017 which had the dubious distinction of recording the all-time low of 7.2 per cent voter turn out, while violence on the polling day that left nine persons dead and scores of others injured. The NC leader defeated PDP candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan by a margin of 10,000 votes, getting 48,555 of the 89,881 votes cast. The total electorate for 2017 bypolls for the constituency was 12.61 lakh.
(With inputs from agencies.)