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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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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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