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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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UN chief could discuss Kashmir issue at UNGA: UN spokesman

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is likely to use the opportunity of discussions during the high-level UN General Assembly session that begins here next week to raise the Kashmir issue, the UN chief’s spokesperson has said.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric during the daily press briefing here on Thursday said that the UN chief has underscored the need for dialogue as the only way to resolve the issue and, “as part of the solution for the current crisis in Kashmir, to make sure that human rights aspects are very much dealt with, as well.”

“…On Kashmir, the Secretary General… has said previously, he remains engaged. I think he will also use the opportunity of discussions during the General Assembly to raise it,” Dujarric said, responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Guterres emphasised that “dialogue” between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for reaching a solution on the Kashmir issue, and said his good offices are available should both sides ask for it and called for full respect of human rights.

“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said during his press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly session.

Guterres was asked by a Pakistani journalist about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and what will he do to bring a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory, and I go on with the clear opinion that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” he said.

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

The UN Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on September 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to speak on the same day.

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Amid Kashmir tensions, India will participate at SAARC meeting in New York

Press Trust of India

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NEW DELHI: Amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Officials said India will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for September 26.

The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.

Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “if and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens”.

The SAARC is about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc.

, he had said, adding that now every member knows which country is promoting SAARC and which one is impeding it.

Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA.

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Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report

Agencies

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the alleged detention of children in Kashmir during curbs following the scrapping of Article 370 in the state on August 5.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child right activists Inakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha who have alleged detention of children in Kashmir, had on September 16 told the apex court that people in the Valley are not able to approach the high court there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children in Kashmir as the plea has raised “substantial issues” regarding minors. The top court directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a report before it within a week on the issue.

The Supreme Court also said it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and claims that people are unable to access the court there are not supported.

“We have received the report from the chief justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea challenging detention of five persons in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file his response.

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