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ECI observers apprised with security preparedness in Kashmir

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Mar 15: The special observers appointed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) who arrived in Kashmir on Thursday held high-level meeting with the top brass of security agencies to evolve consensus on holding crucial Assembly polls in the State.
Three observers’ former civil servants, Amar Jeet Singh Gill, former DG CRPF Noor Muhammad, and Vinod Zutshi an IAS officer were appointed by the ECI to assess the ground situation in Kashmir and that they also were given a mandate to meet the political parties, heads of security agencies, and also the local people.
Reliable sources said that police, army, and CRPF have been asked to frame a security plan for ensuring the smooth Lok Sabha polls.
“We are at it and exercises have been started on various fronts to frame a fool-proof security plan,” said a top police official. “We will ensure that all the polling booths are secured and guarded in a proper manner.”
In this regard, a high-level meeting was held at Nehru Guest house on Thursday that remained on till 9 pm.
Police said that it was also waiting for the political parties to finalize their candidates so that proper security cover is provided to them.
“Though we expect politicians contesting upcoming Lok Sabha polls to hold rallies, we will be securing the areas in advance to that hassle-free rallies are conducted in the places where the candidates wish to address people,” the officer said.
A top CRPF official said that forces have started night patrolling, area domination, and identification of polling booths in advance to ensure a conducive atmosphere is created for the polls. “There will be a proper security plan as far how many people would guard the polling booth and how many would remain deployed for the area domination,” he said.
Police sources said that a proper advisory will soon be issued to political parties for holding poll rallies. “As far as South Kashmir, the political parties have to seek proper security clearance before addressing people,” said sources.
“South Kashmir continues to pose security challenges and that’s why ECI announced polls for South Kashmir LoK Sabha polls in three phases.
The ECI decided to hold Lok Sabha polls in the trouble-ravaged state and to defer the assembly polls due for the State citing security situation and huge need of additional forces for securing the contesting candidates. In J&K, there are six Lok Sabha constituencies and 87 Assembly seats. The number of contesting candidates for six Parliamentary polls is not more than 15 while for the Assembly polls the number of contesting candidates is expected to be between 400 to 500.
If a single contesting candidate is provided five to ten forces’ personnel, that means there is a need of 50,000 additional forces which is not possible at this juncture as majority of central forces are presently busy country-wide given the seven-phased Lok Sabha polls set to commence from March 11 across India.


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Inclement weather forecast: Admin asked to remain alert

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 25: The state government has asked the divisional administration of Kashmir to remain on high alert in view of the inclement weather forecast for the next one month.
This follows the meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan to review the preparedness of the administration after receiving July weather forecast report from India Meteorological Department.
As per the minutes of the meeting, Divisional Commissioner was informed that the administration has to be on high alert to meet the challenges arising out of the “adverse weather conditions, in order to prevent recurrence of the situation that was witnessed in September 2014 floods”.
“The chair reiterated that a mock drill/exercise in this regard needs to be done and there should be no let off by any officer in addressing this situation,” reads the minutes of meeting.
During the meeting, the deputy commissioners apprised Khan that basic groundwork like identification of vulnerable areas, identification of rescue centers and preparation of evacuation plan, has been conducted.
Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control told the meeting that the water holding capacity of river Jehlum, as compared to 2014 floods, has been increased and measures are being undertaken to further enhance the retaining capacity of flood spill channel.
“He requested that the Bailey Bridge temporarily constructed at the flood channel near Barzulla Bhagat needs to be removed in order to avoid any untoward incident in case the water level rises,” the minutes reads.
The district development commissioners have been directed to identify the low lying villages/areas, which may get inundated due to floods and caterogise them as per the threat of floods.
“DCs shall also identify rescue centers and buildings where the affected population shall be temporary relocated in the event of floods, and shall prepare evacuation plan for the purpose,” it reads.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, has been directed to liaise with the President JK Shikara Owners Association and direct him to provide Shikaras at a short notice in the eventuality of floods.
Director Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus said it was difficult to predict on what day there would be rainfall. “But there will be rainfall in the month of July,” Lotus said.
Lotus however said people should not worry about any possibility of floods.

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Parents should invest on quality education: Mirwaiz

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Srinagar, Jun 25: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Tuesday urged the people of Kashmir to invest their resources on imparting quality education to their children so that a better tomorrow is built.
Addressing a function at Four Friends Public School Gili Kadal in Nowshehra here, Mirwaiz termed quality education as “major tool for the development and upliftment of nations.”
“No nation in the world can progress unless it makes imparting quality education to its children as its mission and aim as it is quite evident that western countries have touched new heights in progress and development by putting in its resources into education and research in various fields,” Mirwaiz said while addressing a galaxy of students, teachers, civil society activists and youth present.
Mirwaiz said that Kashmiri children are full of talent and can compete with other students at any level. “The only thing is that their talent needs to be exploited in a better way,” he said.
Mirwaiz stressed while imparting worldly knowledge to the children, moral and ethical values should be inculcated among the students and Islamic teaching should act as guiding principles and there should be no compromise on this front.
“When Kashmir was under the tight grip of illiteracy, darkness, poverty and atrocities on all sides around 120 years ago, the then Mirwaiz Alama Ghulam Rasool Shah laid the foundation of Islamia school and launched a large scale war against poverty and illiteracy in Kashmir and today the whole valley is reaping the benefits of the step taken by late Mirwaiz Shah in the shape of educational institutions that have come up in every area of the region which is a welcome step,” he said.

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War against corruption! ACB gets more teeth to take on influential people

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 25: The war against corruption has been intensified in Jammu and Kashmir after the Governor-led administration gave more powers to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to take on the corrupt high and mighty.
Last year, Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration amended Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat, 2006 and Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011 and established the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to combat the menace of corruption in the state.
Under the new law, the government has deleted the clause of Anti-Corruption Bureau from the State Vigilance Commission (SVC) Rules, 2019. Under the earlier law it was mandatory for ACB to submit hourly reports to SVC.
“While exercising powers of supervision, the Commission shall not direct the Anti-Corruption Bureau to provide individual details of the cases or investigate or dispose of the case in a particular manner,” the rules say.
Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam has said the establishment of ACB would go a long way in doing away with the shortcomings and multiplicity of roles in the existing anti-corruption mechanism in the state.
“The ACB has been empowered. It is as powerful as CBI. The government has strengthened the ACB so that it acts against the powerful people,” he said.
For the last several months, the ACB has taken on the highly influential people in the state
The ACB sleuths recently raided J&K Bank offices after receiving the complaints of fraudulent appointments. The anti-graft body has also registered a case against the former chairman of the bank.
ACB is also probing into the allegations of large-scale irregularities in matters related to loans, finances and appointments in the bank.
It has also registered cases against deputy mayor Srinagar Municipal Corporation, J&K Bank and government officials for “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama.”
As per the official details accessed by The Kashmir Monitor, the anti-graft body has also registered a case against former commissioner and the senior town planner of Jammu Municipal Corporation for criminal misconduct, abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants while issuing illegal building permission.
The ACB also caught Block Development Officer Sopore red-handed while allegedly accepting bribe. A case has also been registered against Divisional Manager of State Forest Corporation (SFC) Udhampur on corruption charges.
The ACB also registered cases against several bureaucrats for allegedly being involved in corrupt practices.
Director ACB, Anand Jain did not respond to repeated calls.
However, a senior official said the ACB has more powers than any other anti-graft body of the country.
“The government has strengthened it by making necessary amendments in the rules. The recent action against influential people has unnerved tainted bureaucrats and politicians,” the official said.

Want to report corruption: WhatsApp or call this number
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jun 25: The J&K Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Tuesday launched call and WhatsApp helpline number 9419678060 on which the citizens can report demands for bribe and corruption through social messenger and also through call.
“The motive of the ACB behind the announcing a WhatsApp and call helpline is to encourage citizens to report cases of corruption and bribe demands,” a spokesperson of the anti-graft body said.
While launching the helpline number in Srinagar, Anand Jain, Director, ACB said that WhatsApp has become a very popular medium of communication and people are more comfortable using it.
Moreover, he said, WhatsApp will also enable the complainant to post picture and videos of any complaints through electronic medium on real time basis.

 
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