The by-elections to the Anantnag Parliamentary constituency, scheduled for May 25, 2017 have been cancelled by the Election Commission.
In an order issued post-midnight on Monday, the Commission said that it decided on this course of action based on inputs received from various sources including the State Administration, Chief Election Officer, Jammu and Kashmir, Director General of Police, representatives of various political parties and candidates contesting the by-polls.
The Commission received various reports of violence including an April 20 report from the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary which said that during the last few days the number of incidents of burning of schools/panchayat ghars which were designated polling stations for the Anantnag by-elections and attacks on political personalities had taken place.
The report also expressed apprehensions that if polls were held on May 25 Anantnag Parliamentary constituency might witness “large scale violence but can also result in even lower voter turnout.” The communication added that the State Government was of the considered view that the polls be deferred at least till the end of October.
The decision to cancel the polls also comes as both Ramzan and also the Amarnath yatra which falls in Anantnag District fall between May and August and the State Administration will be busy with these two festivals. Besides, the tourist season is also approaching. The tourist trade affects the business and commercial activity in the State.
“The enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct covering four important districts of the state during this peak period of festivity and tourism would also adversely affect the daily lives of the people of the area. Therefore deferring the elections further does not seem a feasible option,” the Commission said in its order.
Taking note of the fact that no improvement in the law and order situation is in sight the Commission was of the opinion that this was not an opportune time to have the by-polls in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency. “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 polls is not feasible on May 25 as scheduled at present,’’ the Commission’s order says.
The notification for conducting the elections was issued on March 9 with April 12 being the initial date for the by-polls. But following incidents of violence the polls had been deferred to May 25.