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.
I-League 2018-19: Real test for Real Kashmir today
Over 15,000 spectators expected as RKFC takes on Mohun Bagan
Srinagar, Nov 19: The stage is set for the historic and probably the most-awaited I-League match between Real Kashmir FC and Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan FC to be played at Astro Turf TRC Ground on Tuesday.
Popularly known as Mariners, Mohun Bagan is the oldest and most-celebrated football club of India, which will be playing its first official match here.
A day before the match, football fans, particularly those of Real Kashmir FC, thronged to the TRC ground for passes to the match.
At least, more than 6,000 passes were given to the ecstatic spectators, who are aiming to watch the game.
An official deputed at TRC ground said they were expecting “more than 15,000” spectators.
“People for long have been waiting for the event. Mohun Bagan is a popular football club and it is not less than a treat to watch them play in Srinagar,” he said.
More than three dozen Mohun Bagan fans have also travelled with the team for the game.
Defeated by Neroca FC alone this year, the Snow Leopards hope to turn the opportunity into a grand event.
“Since Mohun Bagan is a big club, pressure will definitely be on them. To play against a club like Mohun Bagan, the chances will be definitely less for us, but we have to put up a good show,” Real Kashmir FC Head Coach, David Robertson, said in a pre-match press conference.
“Teams coming here find it difficult because of the altitude and unless you are here five-six days here before the game, it is going to be very difficult in the last 20 minutes of the game,” he said.
Coach Robertson said facing Mohun Bagan in Kashmir would be “more than an achievement” for his team.
“We have one point out of six in the last two games. But then we are underdogs, and saw just one defeat in the last one year,” he said.
He said the previous defeat against Neroca FC won’t have any impact over the performances of his players.
“Last time we got a lot of chances and made errors even, but it is a part of a game. But tomorrow we will have some changes as Danish is currently injured. Bazie Armand and Mason will play at different positions. We got options as we are bringing four strikers and also need more for upfront,” Coach Robertson said.
“The support by Kahsmiris, who come in numbers, actually gives us an edge. We don’t have the history like Kolkata clubs, but again, since we are in I-League and the people’s support adds pressure on the away team,” Coach Robertson said.
Head Coach of Mohun Bagan, Shankarlal Chakraborty, said facing Real Kashmir in their hometown was more worrying for them than playing on synthetic turf for the first time.
“We came prior to the scheduled match to practice more on synthetic turf, but Real Kashmir team as a team is more worrying for us. They lost the previous match, but they are good at creating chances for a goal,” he said.
“The way Kashmir played the last game was really good. They have a good combination of both Indian and foreign players. Their defenders, midfielders are very strong. We hope we put up up a good show against them and win three points,” Coach Chakraborty said.
Asked whether his players will cope with cold weather conditions Chakraborty said, “As far as the weather conditions are concerned, we did train in the afternoon yesterday. We were not uncomfortable. After warming up, the body responded well and the players had a good session.”
Both the teams have played three games each so far.
Mohun Bagan is one of the three unbeaten teams in the league and is fifth on the table.
Real Kashmir is seventh, with four points.
Panchayat elections:Phase II today, 4014 candidates in fray
Srinagar, Nov 19: Polling for Phase-II of Panchayat Polls-2018 will be held Tuesday at 2179 polling stations across the state, including 828 in Kashmir and 1351 in Jammu Division.
In a statement, Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra said that 4,014 candidates are in the fray for 281 Sarpanch and 1286 Panch seats in Phase-II.
He said 90 Sarpanchs and 1069 Panchs have already been elected unopposed in Phase-II.
Kabra said 601 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive including 490 in Kashmir Division and 196 in Jammu Division.
He said in the areas going to polls in the Phase-II, electorate of 3,29, 818 will be voting for Sarpanch constituencies, 207796 for Panch constituencies.
Polling will be held from 8 am to 2 pm while counting of the votes will be taken up immediately after the voting is over.
The polls will be held in the border areas of Kupwara district like Kalaroos, Machil, and Rajwar. Similarly, the polls will be held in two Panchayat constituencies of Bandipora-Ganstan, Nowgam.
In Baramulla, the elections will be held at Wagoora and Sangrama.
In central Kashmir’s Budgam and Ganderbal districts, polls will be held at Kangan, Rathsun, and Budgam panchayat constituencies.
At the same time, most of the areas where there is a larger presence of militancy will face elections in the last phases.
However, two Panchayat constituencies of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Bijbehara and Anantnag will witness polling.
However, there will be no elections in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts, and in summer capital Srinagar in the second phase.
Bhambatt, Karsha, Sankoo, Shaker, Chaktan, Shargol, Lotchum of Kargil district and Khaltsi, Skurbuchan, Turtuk, and Panamik panchayat constituencies of Leh district too will face polls.
Polling will also take place in various constituencies of Jammu region.
In the phase I, Kashmir saw a 64 per cent voter turnout while nearly 75 per cent electorate exercised their right to franchise in Jammu region of panchayat elections on Saturday.
The first phase of the panchayat polls in the Valley was held in the traditionally high voter turnout belts along the Line of Control.
The polling in next eight phases will be held on November 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8, and December 11.
The panchayat elections are being held in J&K after a gap of seven years. The last elections were conducted in 2011 and the panchayats had completed their five-year term in 2016.
The nine-phase panchayat polls are being held in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch.
Those behind circulating execution videos identified: IGP Pani
Srinagar, Nov 19: Police on Monday claimed to have identified those behind circulation of the recent “execution videos” in south Kashmir.
“Those who are propagating brutal killing videos have been identified and soon action will be taken against them,” Inspector General of Police SP Pani said.
The top police officer of Kashmir said that cyber domain used by militants for these “gruesome acts stand identified and they will be brought before the law.”
He further said: “These execution videos of innocent civilians in Kashmir is reflection of ‘terror’ crimes.”
Asked who was behind these killings, the IGP said that these are “terror crimes” and the accused shall be brought before law.
Unidentified gunmen last week killed two persons in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Pulwama and later circulated their videos.
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