New Delhi, July 17: The government of India is exploring the possibility of holding panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir in September-October after Governor N N Vohra directed the state administration to prepare the ground for the polls, officials said on Tuesday.
The initiative has been taken in view of the 2011 experience when a record 80 per cent people voted in the panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir despite continuing unrest.
The state government is preparing the ground for the panchayat polls, a senior government official said requesting anonymity.
Another official, who is privy to the development, said the elections have to be held before the onset of the winter and September-October is the possible window for carrying out the exercise.
Panchayat elections for 4,130 sarpanch and 29,719 panch constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir were last held in 2011 after a gap of nearly four decades. 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.
The central government will provide all assistance, including adequate security forces, to the state administration, which is under the Governor’s rule after Mehbooba Mufti resigned as chief minister on June 19 after her party PDP’s alliance partner BJP withdrew support.
The failure to hold by-elections in Anantnag parliamentary constituency for more than two years would not be a deterrent as the panchayat elections, which are vital to grass-root democracy, would be held across the state covering the three regions — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the official said.
Reports said the Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commission is ready to hold the panchayat polls and is awaiting for the state administration’s nod.
Earlier this month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, during their visit to Kashmir valley, also pressed for the conduct of panchayat elections, the official said.
However, National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah has said the state was passing through a tough phase and time was not right to conduct panchayat elections.
Omar also said rural and urban local bodies’ elections may have extreme repercussions of halting every other election process in the state in the future.
Police seeks adjournment of Kathua rape, murder trial, says ‘accused being major or minor still undecided’
Jammu, Jul 15: Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch Monday moved a plea before a juvenile justice board hearing the case of an accused in the gangrape and murder of a young girl in Kathua, seeking deferment of the trial as the state high court is yet to decide whether he is a minor or not.
Appearing before the board, the special public prosecutor of the crime branch submitted that the high court is yet to pronounce its decision on an application moved against the decision of a Kathua court which accepted the accused’s claim that he is a minor, officials said.
The board, after framing charges against the accused who played a key role in kidnapping, rape and murder of the eight-year-old nomadic girl, had fixed Monday for examining prosecution witnesses and commencing of trial.
The board, after examining the plea of the crime branch, however, made it clear that there was no stay by the high court on holding the trial and gave prosecution two weeks to produce evidence and its witnesses in the case.
The crime branch had filed a petition in the high court against the accused’s claim of being a juvenile and said that the then chief judicial magistrate in Kathua had erred in accepting it.
The crime branch had also annexed a report of the medical board of Government Medical College, Jammu, which said the accused was “not less than 19 and not more than 21” years of age
However, the case has seen repeated adjournments last year.
The juvenile justice board had framed charges on July 8 following which it issued a notice to the crime branch, asking them to bring in their prosecution evidence and witnesses for the trial.
According to the notice, “the next date of hearing has been fixed on July 15”.
“The case has been fixed for prosecution evidence… Kindly arrange the presence of public prosecutor appointed in the case so as to examine the prosecution evidence/ witnesses,” it said.
The trial in this case was shifted to the Pathankot Sessions Court on the directions of the Supreme Court last year.
The Pathankot Sessions Court had on June 10 this year sentenced Sanji Ram, dismissed special police officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar to life imprisonment, while sacked policemen Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Verma were handed five years in jail.
The verdict came 17 months after the girl was brutally gang-raped inside a ‘devisathan’ (local temple) and later killed. She was kidnapped on January 10 and her body was found on January 17.
Four arrested for thrashing teachers, students in Budgam
Srinagar, Jul 15: Under pressure, Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested four people involved in the attack on school picnickers at Raiyar village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Saturday evening.
Six people including two girls and a teacher were injured when a group of youth armed with rods and canes attacked school picnickers at Raiyar village. The incident occurred on Saturday evening when the students and teachers of Hanfiya Model Higher Secondary School (HMHSS), Kreeri in Baramulla district, were returning from Doodpathri after a daylong picnic.
Police swung into action immediately and registered a case of attempt to murder under section 307 Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against the unknown attackers.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Budgam, Amod Nagpuri told The Kashmir Monitor that four persons have been arrested and further investigation was going on.
“Yes, four persons have been arrested from Raiyar, where the incident took place. They have been booked under section 307 RPC,” Nagpuri said.
Jehangir Ahmad, a teacher at HMHSS, said photographs of eight people were sent (by police) to school authorities for identification.
“After going through the photographs, we identified four persons,” he said.
Ahmad said the injured physical teacher continues to be under observation in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
“Patient was referred from SDH Khan Sahib as a case of assault with head injury. NCCT head showing parietooccipital EDH with parietotemporal contusions,”read the SKIMS report issued on Sunday.
Police sources said that during investigation statements of the injured were also recorded and on that basis four attackers were later arrested
470 militant attacks took place in 2017, 2018: Goel tells RS
New Delhi, Jul 15: As many as 470 militant attacks took place in the country in 2017 and 2018, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.
In a written reply to a question by BJP MP Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Defence said in 2017, 131 militant attacks occurred in Jammu and Kashmir, eight in Manipur and one in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh each
In 2018, 318 militant attacks took place in Jammu and Kashmir, eight in Manipur and three in Nagaland.
The minister told the House that 235 militants were killed in various counter-insurgency and counter-infiltration operations in 2017. In 2018, the number of militants killed stood at 265.
The Army lost 85 soldiers in these two years – 42 in 2017 and 43 in 2018.