Srinagar, Apr 14: Two years after Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls made news for the wrong reasons, the security arrangements will be put to test in this constituency with over 12 lakh voters on April 18.
The Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitated after PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra resigned from the lower house of Parliament, was marred by violence and saw the lowest ever voter turnout of 7.2 per cent.
Nine persons were killed in security forces’ action against protestors in different parts of the constituency and an Army officer used a shawl weaver as a human shield on polling day.
This year, stringent security measures have been put in place to prevent any untoward incidents. Additional security personnel have been deployed in the three districts — Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam — that make up the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.
The fate of 10 candidates would be decided by 12,90,318 voters.
Prominent among these candidates is National Conference (NC) president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who is in the running to enter the Lok Sabha for the fourth time.
Farooq faces a challenge from Aga Syed Mohsin of the Peoples Democratic Conference (PDP), who had contested as an independent in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Political observers feel that by fielding a “weak” candidate in Mohsin, the PDP might have conceded the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat to Farooq.
However, PDP spokesperson Harbaksh Singh said it would be wrong to write off Mohsin just yet.
“He (Mohsin) had contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls and won a significant number of votes. He is a prominent Shia leader and scholar. Moreover, he has the backing of the biggest political party of the state,” Singh said.
Sajad Gani Lone-led Peoples Conference has emerged as an alternative to the NC and the PDP in regional politics.
The party, which moved out of the separatist camp in 2009 to return to electoral politics, won the mayoral elections to Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
The Peoples Conference has fielded businessman Irfan Ansari, a greenhorn, against Farooq.
Ansari, however, has his elder brother Imran Ansari, a prominent Shia leader and former minister, to guide him.
The 41-year-old businessman is confident that he will be able to connect with the youth.
“I represent the younger generation and I believe I am more in touch with the problems and realities faced by today’s generation and would be able take on the challenges confronting the generation of today,” Ansari said.
“I will not only be able to understand them well but also try and find a way to resolve those problems,” he added.
The BJP too has fielded a debutant, party spokesperson Khalid Jehangir, from the seat.
Jehangir was vice chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Corporation, a state PSU, during the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Congress, an ally of the NC, has decided not to field any candidate against Farooq. It had not fielded any candidate opposite the NC patron even in 2017.
Farooq (83) has lost an election only once in his 42-year-long political career.
He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. However, he returned to state politics due to the failing health of NC founder and his father Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1981.
Farooq first became the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in September 1982, following his father’s death.
He remained part of state politics till 2002, when he passed on the torch to his son Omar Abdullah
However, Omar’s loss in the 2002 Assembly election put paid to his hopes and the NC, despite emerging as the single largest party, decided to sit in the opposition.
Farooq stayed away from active politics for several years but made a comeback after first winning Rajya Sabha elections in early 2009. He entered the Lok Sabha for the second time in May 2009.
As many as 1,716 polling stations have been set up in Srinagar.
For migrant voters of the constituency, 26 polling stations have been set up including 21 in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in New Delhi.
Day 39: Normal life still out of gear in Kashmir; schools remain shut, public transport off roads
Srinagar: Normal life remained affected in Kashmir as the stalemate following the abrogation of Article 370 entered its 39th day on Thursday with schools closed and public transport off the roads, officials said.
Restrictions on the movement or assembly of people have been lifted from most areas of the valley, but security forces continued to be deployed to maintain law and order, the officials said.
They said the authorities were also considering easing out restrictions on mobile communications and restoring voice call services.
While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir.
However, normal life remained severely affected across the valley due to shutdown which entered 39th day on Thursday, the officials said.
Markets and other business establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads across the valley, they added.
Internet services remained suspended across all platforms, the officials said.
The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne any fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into custody while mainstream leaders including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have also been either detained or placed under house arrest.
NC leader Akbar Lone ‘appreciates’ Pakistan’s role in raking up Kashmir issue
SRINAGAR: National Conference leader and MP Akbar Lone has “appreciated” the role of Pakistan in raking up the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India, even as he said that his party must contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone told IANS in an interview that contesting elections has been compulsion in the past though “Kashmiris don’t belong to India”.
“We will have to first understand what powers the new Assembly will have in the event of any elections taking place. As a man from National Conference, whatever the elections, we must contest elections,” he said.
Batting for a united stand by political parties against the abrogation of Article 370, Lone said that all parties must stand together for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“All parties like the Congress, National Conference, PDP and other small and big groups must join hands to carry out agitation against India for the return of the special status of the state,” Lone added.
Lone said the clampdown in Kashmir is stopping people from showing their resentment against the scrapping of the special status.
“It is military rule in Kashmir. Every nook and corner of the state is guarded by the Army, by paramilitary forces, people are not allowed to come out, if they would have been allowed to come out, they would have showed their resentment,” Lone said.
He said that he “appreciated” the role of Pakistan and other countries in raking the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India.
“It is a good thing that Pakistan or China or US any other country rakes up the Kashmir issue internationally and supports the cause, they have exposed India, otherwise India would have taken the move as a success without caring about who is who,” he said.
Lone demanded the release of former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and said the party leadership must be allowed to meet these senior leaders to decide the future course of action.
“We must be allowed to see our leaders and they must be released, we will sit down along with other parties to chalk out a joint course of action,” Lone said.
Guv interacts with SMC councillors
SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 11: Governor Satya Pal Malik met the Councillors of Srinagar Municipal Corporation over tea, at Raj Bhawan Auditorium, Srinagar. The Councillors of the SMC were specially invited to Raj Bhawan for an interaction with Governor.
Shri K.K. Sharma, Advisor to the Governor; Shri B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Shri Dheeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary, Housing & Urban Dev. Department; Shri Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Dr. Shahid Iqbal, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Shri Khurshid Ahmad Sanai, Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation; and other senior officers of the Housing & Urban Development Department, the Divisional and the District administration were present on the occasion.
Councillors informed Governor about problems being faced by them due to non-availability of communication/internet and also requested for suitable accommodation for them in the city. They also mentioned that the funds are yet to be made available to them in order to reach out to the people and fulfill the mandate given to them.
It was informed to the Councillors that during the current financial year, out of earmarked Grant-in-Aid, about Rs. 100.00 crores will be released shortly. Similarly, out of Rs. 500.00 crores to be made available to SMC under the 14th Finance Commission Award, Rs. 86.00 crores has already been made available to the SMC. In addition, 5000 Street Lights is being provided in the city through various Councillors and after agreement, the EESL Corporation of Government of India will start the task of 100% Street Lights of Srinagar city for a period of 7 years. EESL will start the work once the situation will improve in the valley.
Governor announced an additional grant of Rs. 18.50 crores @ Rs. 25.00 lacs per ward to the SMC for developmental works. These works will be executed after the identification by the concerned Councillors.
Governor announced purchase and installation of 7,400 street lights for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation @100 per ward besides transfer of Street Light Division of Srinagar city from the Power Development Department to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
On the issue regarding Indian House Hold Latrines (IHHL), Governor assured that the verification of all the cases, which were pending, will be completed by 30th of September.
Regarding communication problems, Governor informed that 15 internet terminals have been made operational in office of the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, for usage by all the departments including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. He also assured that mobile connectivity will also be restored very soon in J&K.
Governor observed that a delegation of Councillors will be sent outside J&K to study working of the Municipalities in other parts of the country. He advised the them to work devotedly for ensuring development of their Wards and providing uninterrupted basic facilities to people.
Governor noted that Raj Bhavan is open for public and every grievance reaching his office is addressed immediately. Besides, he said, his Advisors are regularly hearing and addressing public’s grievances.
Governor urged the Councillors to work towards making J&K peaceful, progressive and prosperous.