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17th Lok Sabha Elections to begin today : Baramulla, Jammu constituencies in JK to go to polls

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 10: Amid heightened security, Baramulla and Jammu Lok Sabha constituencies in J&K will go for parliamentary elections in the first phase on Thursday.

The poll campaigning by the political parties ended on Tuesday in both the constituencies and the Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission has deputed its officials in all the polling stations along with polling material.

The north Kashmir’s Baramulla parliamentary constituency has 15 Assembly segments in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts with over 13 lakh voters spread over 1,749 polling stations.

 

Baramulla district has the highest 6,36,450 electorates, followed by Kupwara (4,38,285) and Bandipora (2,33,797).

The Assembly segments of the constituency include Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate in district Kupwara; Uri, Rafiabad, Sopore, Sangrama, Baramulla, Gulmarg and Pattan in Baramulla District; and Gurez, Bandipora and Sonawari in Bandipora district.

An assessment by election commission has revealed that 70 percent of the polling stations in the constituency fall in “hypersensitive” category while the remaining 30 per-cent have been declared “sensitive”.

Police said a three-tier security was already in place, adding advanced security measures have been taken for dealing with sensitive and hypersensitive polling stations.

“We have intensified night patrolling and vulnerable places in the constituency have been identified. Additional companies of central armed forces have been deployed at polling stations throughout these three districts,” a senior police official said.

He said that heavy deployment of forces has been made along the highway in order to ensure smooth movement of the electorate and the polling officers.

Deputy Inspector General North, Suleman Choudhary told The Kashmir Monitor that the entire security arrangement in these three districts of north Kashmir has been done on the basis of requirement.

“There has been an enhancement of the security forces particularly for the areas where polling booths have been declared sensitive and hyper sensitive,” he said.

Director General Police (DGP), Dilbagh Singh said that police and paramilitary contingents have reached polling stations and are in full command of the situation in five police districts of Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency and four police districts of Jammu parliamentary constituency scheduled to go to polls on Thursday.

“The police and paramilitary forces have reached polling stations in five police districts of Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency and four police districts of Jammu Lok Sabha constituency,” adding that “situation is in full command as all security arrangements are in place and besides district SPs, the commandants of armed police battalions have been also engaged with the security arrangements for first phase of parliamentary polls in Baramulla and Jammu parliamentary constituencies.”

The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat is set to witness a triangular contest between Muhammad Akbar Lone of National Conference, Raja Aijaz Ali of Peoples Conference and Abdul Qayoom Wani of the People’s Democratic Party.

Er Rasheed is equally declared as a potential candidate who successfully has attracted large number of people in his rallies during last one month.

As many as nine candidates are in the fray for the constituency including Haji Farooq Ahmad Mir of Congress, Mohammad Maqbool War of BJP, Jahangir Khan of J&KNPP, Abdul Qayoom Wani of PDP, Mohammad Akbar Lone of NC, Raja Aijaz Ali of J&KPC and independents Javid Ahmad Qureshi, Syed Najeeb Shah Naqvi and Engineer Rashid.

The constituency is represented by PDP’s Muzzaffar Baig, who in 2014 defeated NC’s Sharief-Ud-Din Sharik by 29,219 votes.

The constituency previously recorded 39.6 per cent voter turnout in 2014.

While urban areas including Baramulla, Sopore and Pattan towns mostly go with the boycott, the voting is expected to be brisker in frontier district Kupwara and Uri in Baramulla. 

Unlike Kashmir, Jammu is likely to witness heavy polling considering people’s participation in the political activities for the last one month.

Jammu regions, which has two Lok Sabha seats has as many as 10,70,014 who will cast their votes at 1,380 polling stations to decide the political fortune of 24 candidates.

The seat which has two constituencies including Jammu and Udhampur has four districts- Samba, Jammu, Poonch and Rajouri. There are 20 voting segments in this Lok Sabha constituency..

Both the seats of the region including Jammu and Udhampur are represented by BJP’s Jugal Kishore and Jitendra Singh, who in 2014 defeated Congress heavyweight Madan Lal Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Azad, respectively.

The BJP for 2019 election repeated its previous candidates, while Congress has changed its face for Jammu Lok Sabha by fielding its senior vice president and former minister Raman Bhalla  and grandson of the last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, Vikramaditya Singh from Udhampur seat.

Security has been tightened around the polling station in the constituency segments particular in Pir Panchal, Chenab regions and Jammu city.

An official said the poll material and staff has been deputed at the polling station a day ahead of the election.


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After mysterious threat posters: Shutdown stages comeback in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 21:  Barely a week into normalcy, Kashmir observed an instant shutdown on Thursday after mysterious threat posters appeared in the old city.

Shops and business establishments remained closed.  Slender traffic movement however was observed on the Srinagar roads.

For the last one week, shops and business establishments, which would normally close before noon, remained open till late afternoon. Public transport had also hit roads after three and half month’s hiatus.

 

But on Thursday, shutdown returned to parts of the valley following mysterious threat posters. On Wednesday unknown people had put up posters in old city asking shopkeepers to observe hartal.

What added to the crisis was the mysterious fire that razed four shops to ground at Bohri Kadal on Wednesday. The incident also prompted shopkeepers to down shutters. Unknown people had inscribed “Last Warning” on the shutters of various shops at Zaina Kadal, apparently to enforce shutdown in the old city.

“None of the shops opened today as some warning posters had come up in downtown yesterday,” said a shopkeeper from Bohri Kadal.

Impact of warning posters was also seen in Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Maisuma and Hari Singh High Street, which for the last one week saw huge rush of shoppers.

Traffic which plied normally till noon, thinned later in the day with few passenger vehicles plying in civil line areas. Complete shutdown was also observed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, and Shopian. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district too observed shutdown.

Police sources said they are trying to identify the people who put up threat posters in the old city. “We are enquiring. We are looking into the case,” said VK Birdhi, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range.

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WPD seeks help to protect migratory birds flocking Kashmir wetlands

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Nov 21: As migratory birds start flocking wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir, the Wildlife Protection Department (WPD) has sought assistance from the forest protection force and the police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of the winged visitors.

Lakhs of birds start arriving in the valley from the first week of November as Kashmir provides them a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The general public is informed that hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of migratory birds is punishable under Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Any person venturing to hunt, poach, capture or sell these birds is liable to a jail term of one year along with fine up to Rs 10,000,” WPD said in a statement here.

 

It said the hunting, poaching, capturing or sale of these birds is non-bailable and non-compoundable offences.

“The department seeks assistance from the forest protection force and the local police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of these migratory birds in the wetlands of Kashmir,” the statement said.

It said these birds are enlisted in various schedules of Indian Wildlife Protection Act and receive complete protection against hunting, poaching, capturing and selling.

The birds found in the wetlands include migratory ducks and geese which include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon.

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Post abrogation of Art 370: Multinationals, manufacturing giants make beeline to set up units in UT

J&K receives `Expression of Interest’ worth Rs 3000 Cr

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 20: Dalmia Bharat Group, Singapore Electric vehicles and Dubai-based Lulu Internationals are among over 40 companies, which have shown interest in investing in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.  

Jammu and Kashmir, which was a no-go- zone for outside investors, has been opened for all national and international business players after the scrapping of special status on August 5.

A source told The Kashmir Monitor that more than 40 companies have submitted their ‘Expression of Interest’ to invest in 10 different sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Hospitality, Tourism, Education, Information Technology, Horticulture, Agriculture, Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) and manufacturing are some of the sectors which companies have zeroed in on.

“Prominent among these companies include Escott Infrastructure, Dalmia Bharat Group, Shree Cements, Jackson Group, Indian School of Business, Singapore Electric Vehicles and Lulu Group. They have submitted the proposals for setting up their units in Jammu and Kashmir,” the source said.

With an annual turnover of Rs 70, 000 crore, Dalmia Bharat Group is a renowned business house in India, which deals with cement, sugar, thermal power and other businesses.

Similarly, Kolkata-based Shree Cement, which has annual turnover of Rs 58.50 billion, has shown interest in setting up its unit in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singapore based Singapore Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a commercial electric fleet company, has desired to invest in the manufacturing sector.

Founded in 2001, Indian School of Business, a private business college, has expressed readiness to invest in the education sector by setting up its campuses in the union territory.

Helmet manufacturing giant ‘Steelbird’ has also offered to set up a plant in Jammu and Kashmir. Hospitality player ‘Lemon Tree’ has also proposed two new properties with 35-40 beds each in Gulmarg and Sonmarg areas.

An official privy to the development said government has received 60 ‘Expression of Interests’ so far, which is worth approximately Rs 3000 crore.

“Some companies have submitted their Expression of Interests twice. Some wants to build tourism infrastructure and others want to set up industries,” he said.

Managing Director SIDCO, Ravinder Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor that a committee has been constituted to review the ‘Expression of Interest’ by these companies. “We are going to review the Expression of Interests in 10 to 12 days,” he said.

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