NATIONAL

Hostile terrain fails to deter candidates

Doda Oct. 5. With a day remaining for concluding electioneering in the six Assembly segments of Doda district in the Jammu region, political parties are making last ditch efforts to reach every nook and corner of the hostile hilly terrain. Campaigning has been an arduous task, as it is the largest district of the region with an electorate of 4.34 lakh, spread over 655 villages and 442 hamlets. Compared to the earlier phases, senior political leaders from other States have not campaigned here. But this has not deterred candidates criss-crossing the remote villages, despite the threat of militants.

Bali Bhagat, the sitting MLA from Ramban, a segment on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway says, "I started working from the time the elections were announced. In my segment, there are 90 villages to be reached on foot and so far I have covered 60". Besides the terrain, the candidates have to contend being watched by militants holed-up in the hills.

Although security has been tightened and around 200 companies of central forces are being deployed, there are a number of remote villages in the district, such as Dachan, Ghai, Machail, Padder , Kouwara, Saroor Sarthal and Wadwan, under Kishtwar segments, which take days to reach. This apart, areas such as Navipachi, the highest inhabited area in Kishtwar segment, can be accessed only by air.

The Election Commission was left with no option, but to airdrop election material and transport about 200 polling officers for 29 polling segments in Kishtwar segments by air.

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