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Centre likely to go ahead with civic polls polls in JK

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Sept 12: Notwithstanding the boycott announced by the National Conference (NC) and the PDP, the Centre is likely to go ahead with the panchayat and urban local bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir as it feels that grassroots democracy must get precedence over any other consideration, officials said Wednesday.
The central government is also of the opinion that the release of around Rs 4,300 crore meant for the development of rural and urban areas in Jammu and Kashmir will not be possible until there are elected representatives in panchayat and urban local bodies.
“The central government feels that elections to the panchayats and urban local bodies must be held because strengthening of grassroots democracy is important as it takes care of local development issues like power, roads and water,” a senior government functionary said.
The two major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir – the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have decided to boycott the polls saying that the central government is yet to declare its stand on Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order and accords special rights and privileges to the Jammu and Kashmir citizens.
Article 35A, which also denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state, has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the matter is still under its consideration.
“Grassroots democracy must get precedence than any other considerations, including security,” the functionary said.
He also asserted that there were adequate number of security personnel in the state to provide protection to candidates.
The panchayat polls to elect 4,130 sarpanch, 29,719 panch and 1,145 ward commissioners are expected to be held later next month.
The issue of releasing around Rs 3,000 crore meant for the panchayats and Rs 1,300 crore meant for the urban bodies as awarded by the 14th Finance Commission to Jammu and Kashmir was also under consideration of the central government.
If the elections are not held, the entire amount of the development fund cannot be released to the state, a home ministry official said.
Referring to the security issues, the official said adequate protection will be given to each candidate and the Jammu and Kashmir administration has enough security personnel at its disposal.
Around 24,000 paramilitary personnel, who were deployed during the Amarnath Yatra, have been asked to stay on in the the state and they would be deployed for the panchayat and urban local bodies polls in addition to other available security personnel.
The election to the urban local bodies were last held in 2005 and to panchayats in 2011 after a long hiatus. There were a number of militant attacks on candidates before and after these polls.
The polls to the local bodies were supposed to be held in 2016 but could not be conducted due to the five-month-long unrest in the Kashmir Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8 that year.


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CANCELLATION OF TALKS: Imran ‘disappointed’ with India’s ‘arrogant’ response

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Islamabad, Sep 22: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday took to Twitter to respond to India’s cancellation of the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), calling New Delhi’s response “arrogant and negative”.
“Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue,” Khan tweeted adding: “However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government on Friday had called off the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers — just a day after confirming the development.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had announced the cancellation in a strongly worded statement, saying: “It is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning, the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world in his first few months in office,” he said. “Any conversation with Pakistan in such an environment would be meaningless.”
However, the reasons cited by India for cancelling the talks have raised questions as they are not recent developments. The MEA spokesperson referred to the “killing of Indian security forces” allegedly by “Pakistani entities” and Islamabad’s decision to release stamps allegedly “glorifying terrorists” as the reasons behind the cancellation of talks.
The Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement on Friday night, pointed out that the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting.
“When the allegations of Pakistan’s involvement first appeared, the Pakistan Rangers clearly conveyed to BSF through official channels that Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Pakistan Rangers also extended help in efforts to locate the soldier’s body,” the Pakistan FO statement issued on Friday night.
“These facts were known to the Indian authorities and a part of the Indian media also reported that Pakistan had refuted its involvement. Yet, this motivated and malicious propaganda continued.”
Islamabad also raised the point that the postage stamps mentioned in the Indian statement were issued before the July 25 elections, following which Imran Khan assumed office as PM.
“It is unfortunate that India has not given a positive response. Indian has once again wasted an opportunity for peace,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told the media on Friday.
“The refusal of India shows that Indian government is facing internal pressure,” he said. “It seems that India is already preparing for its elections due in the country next year,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
He said Pakistan sincerely wants resolution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, with India through negotiations. Pakistan has always extended an olive branch to India for the resolution of problems and enhancing bilateral ties in an amicable manner, but New Delhi does not come out of its “internal politics”, state-run Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying.
The minister said Pakistan can only wish India to come to the negotiating table, but “we can neither pressurise anybody nor will accept the same for this purpose.” Qureshi said the world wants connectivity and promote regional trade, but India is creating problems.
He said India’s “stubbornness” is also adversely affecting future of the SAARC countries, the Radio Pakistan report said. But, Qureshi reiterated that dialogue is the only way to come to the resolution of any issue.
“We said that we want dialogue – but in a dignified manner,” he added.

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Time to pay back Pak in same coin: Army Chief

Agencies

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New Delhi, Sep 22: Army Chief, Bipin Rawat Saturday threatened Pakistan of retaliation over the latter’s alleged involvement in the killing of a BSF soldier and policemen in Kashmir last week.
The remarks come a day after New Delhi called off a meeting scheduled for next week between its foreign minister with the Pakistani counterpart.
“We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that ‘terrorists’ and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out,” news agency ANI reported General Rawat saying.
“Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain.”
Reacting to the General Rawat, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan will continue to strive for peace, and added that the world is watching as to who wants peace and who wants war.
“We reject war mongering by ruling elite of India everyone know Indian Govt strategy is to use hate mongering against Pak basically to bail Pm Modi from call for resignation post French jets Rafael deal and divert attention of Indian public from this mega corruption scandal,” he tweeted.
Pakistan army chief spokesman Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor too reacted to Gen Rawat’s remarks saying that India was trying to divert attention from domestic problem by calling off talks with Pakistan and resorting to baseless propaganda.
“Pakistan army is a professional institution. It is part of army’s professional code of conduct. No Pakistani troop was involved in mutilation of Indian soldier,” Ghafoor was quoted saying by Pakistan media.
To a question, DG ISPR said that India “should not get into war mongering as a ruse to deflect international challenges.”
“We need to maintain peace in the region and it should not be misconstrued as our weakness. India should not retort to war mongering,” he said.

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Massive cordon-and-search ops in Pulwama

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Srinagar, Sep 22: Government forces Saturday launched a massive cordon and search operation in about a dozen villages in Pulwama.
The operation was carried out by 55-Rashtriya Rifles, 53 RR, 23 Para, Special Operation Group (SOG) and CRPF’s 182, 183 battalions.
Launched during wee hours, the CASO saw forces conducting house to house searches in the villages, reports said.
The search operations were conducted in villages Lassipora, Armula, Alaipora, Batnoor, Garbug, Naupora Paeen, Hajdar Pora, Acchan and many others.
It was not immediately known if the operation launched to flush out any militants or whether it was purely an ‘area domination’ exercise.
Meanwhile, the residents of a village in Shopian district on Saturday clashed with the government forces after they launched a cordon-and-search-operation in the area.
Reports said that the government forces laid a siege around the Shirmal village early Saturday morning.
As the forces started door-to-door searches, scores of residents came out of their homes and pelted them with stones to disrupt the operation.
The forces, according to reports, fired tear gas to quell the protests.
Saturday’s CASOs was launched a day after suspected militants abducted and killed three cops in Shopian.

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