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JK to bend rules for holding civic polls on non-party basis

Mudassir Kuloo





SRINAGAR, Sep 11: The government is in the process of making amendments in the existing laws for holding the urban local body and panchayat elections on non-party basis.
Two main political parties, the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party have announced that they would boycott the upcoming panchayat and municipal elections in the state.
The rival parties have made it clear that they would not contest the elections unless New Delhi clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
As two main parties have decided to pull out from the electoral process, the government has decided to conduct polls on non-party basis.
An official at Chief Electoral Officer told The Kashmir Monitor that necessary amendments will be made in the existing panchayat and municipal laws.
“The Chief Electoral Officer has also received details from various states how the polls were conducted there and necessary amendments were made in laws,” the official said.
Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir, D C Raina, said that they were in the process of examining the existing laws for the amendments.
“Everything will be clear in a day or two,” Raina told The Kashmir Monitor.
After examining the existing laws, the government will recommend the Law Department to make necessary amendments.
“Once we receive any communiqué from the government, we will examine it and take a decision accordingly,” Special Secretary, Law Department, Achal Sethi, said.
However, former advocate general, JK, M I Qadri said that there was no need to make amendments in the existing laws. “There is no bar on independent candidates to contest elections. Similarly, if elections are held on non-party basis there is no need for amendments,” he said.
Before the NC and PDP announced poll boycott, the Chief Electoral Office had issued a notification regarding list of national and state parties with their reserved symbols.
The notification was issued under ‘Paragraph 12 of the municipal elections symbols/ reservation and allotment order 2003’.
However, that notification is likely to be cancelled before the government makes the amendments.
On August 31, the state government, headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik, had announced the long-pending panchayat and urban elections in the state beginning October 1 and culminating on December 4. It was decided that the municipal elections would be held in four phases from October 1 to October 5, while panchayat polls would be conducted in eight phases from November 8 to December 4.
After which the National Conference President Farooq Abdullah announced to boycott the elections to panchayat and ULB in the state unless the Centre clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution.
Taking its cue from its political rival, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti Monday announced it will boycott the upcoming panchayat and municipal elections in the state.
“The situation is not conducive (for elections). There is a sense of insecurity and there are apprehensions of bloodshed. The atmosphere was further vitiated by the Additional Solicitor General when he linked these elections with Article 35A,” she said.
However, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has said these elections will be held as per schedule.
The ULB polls were held in J&K after a span of 23-years in January 2005. However, the civic polls could not be held since 2011 despite the successive governments set up several deadlines about holding the elections.
The panchayats completed their term in July 2016. Elections to panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years. The government postponed these polls for several times in the last three years.


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Attacks on Kashmiris: Valley closes down in protest



Srinagar, Feb 17: A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir on Sunday against the targeting of Valleyites in Jammu and other states in the backdrop of Lethpora suicide attack.

On the other hand, curfew continued in Jammu for third straight day on Sunday following mob attacks on local Muslims and Kashmiris during a shutdown call against Pulwama bombing.

The bandh call given by trade bodies in Kashmir had a thorough response on ground with transport remaining off the roads, business establishments remaining shut and all major roads wearing a deserted look.


Trade bodies had called for the strike in protest against the attacks launched against Kashmiris in Jammu and other states.

To foil protest demonstrations, administration in Kashmir valley had taken requisite precautionary measures including suspension of internet services, imposition of restrictions in old city areas of Srinagar.

Additional deployment of security personnel was made in various volatile areas to thwart any ‘law and order’ disruption.

No untoward incident anywhere during the present strike call was witnessed across Kashmir till this report was filed.

A complete shutdown was also observed in highway town of Banihal in Chenab Valley area as a mark of protest against the mob attacks on Kashmiris and local Muslims in Jammu.

Reports said that all shops and other business establishments were closed in the town.

Anjuman Islamia President Parvez Ahmed Sheikh has also called for a shutdown in the entire Chenab valley on Monday.“We have forwarded this strike call for Monday to denounce the attacks and intimidation of Kashmiris particularly students in different parts of India. We also denounce the violence incited by miscreants in Jammu against Kashmiris,” he told news agency CNS and urged upon people to make the strike successful.

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party President and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday reached Jammu in a bid to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir presently staying in Jammu and convey her concern over their security to the state administration.

However according to reports she was not allowed to enter into the PDP head office located in Gandhi Nagar area of the region.
PDP’s Jammu office too, as per reports, was sealed by police and all senior leaders of the party who were helping evacuate people were restrained inside the party office.


Move employees urge Guv: ‘Facilitate our journey back home’ 

Srinagar, Feb 17: Employees Coordination Committee Civil Secretariat Jammu on Sunday urged the state government to facilitate their journey back to Kashmir in view of mob violence in the state’s winter capital.
In a statement, ECC Civil Secretariat Jammu chairman Ghulam Rasool Mir requested Governor Satya Pal Malik to give employees and their families transport facility and protection from Jammu to their homes as “every one of them feels insecure in Jammu.”
He said the families of move employees were facing shortage of essential commodities in the city. “In case the govt will not provide them safe passage to leave, the employees have no option but to leave till the situation doesn’t get normal,” he said.
Meanwhile, Darbar Move Employees Federation (DMEF) have decided not to join their duties from Monday.
Federation president Owais Wani was quoted saying by news agency Kashmir News Service that given the atmosphere of fear and attacks on their residential quarters, they have decided to stay indoors.
“We can’t leave home and keep our female members alone. Anything worse can happen,” he said.
He appealed Governor Satya Pal Malik to make arrangements for the families of darbar move employees.
“We are running short of essential commodities here in Jammu due to which we are not able to feed our families here,” he said.
He appealed to the Divisional Commissioner Jammu to make arrangements of essential commodities for employees putting up at government quarters.
Wani also appealed to the Jammu based employees to cooperate with them. “We appeal to our employees working in Kashmir and those who are on leave to join the protest programme of Joint Coordination committee tomorrow (Monday) at Srinagar Press enclave,” he appealed.


Mobile internet suspended across Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 17: Authorities suspended the internet services across Kashmir late Saturday evening in backdrop of reports of attacks on Kashmiris in Jammu and other states.
The internet services were suspended soon after the videos clips of Kashmiris being either attacked or asked to leave outside Kashmir, mostly in north Indian states appeared on social media.
In Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and other states of the country, many Kashmiri students and traders were asked to leave the place.
Meanwhile, curfew continued on the third day as well in the winter capital. Earlier the mob in Jammu had attacked many Kashmiris and properties worth lakhs were damaged.

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Govt reviews security of valley students in other states



Srinagar, Feb 17: Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Sunday reviewed the safety and security of the students from Jammu & Kashmir studying in different colleges and universities outside the State with the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan.

The Divisional Commissioner informed the Advisor that he was in constant touch with the authorities in different States who had assured of providing adequate security to the students.

He was also informed that Helplines have been set up by the office of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, and J&K Police to register the queries of the students and parents and for providing the response in real time.


The Advisor was briefed about the work being done by the Liaison Officers appointed for the purpose in various cities in the country under the overall supervision of the Principal Resident Commissioner, J&K, located in New Delhi.

The Advisor conveyed to the Divisional Commissioner that the Governor was himself monitoring the work of the Liaison Officers in various States and also enquiring about the welfare of the students.

He said the Governor has given clear directions to the Principal Resident Commissioner to take immediate cognizance of any complaint received from the students and take prompt action by informing the concerned authorities in those states.

The Advisor further stated that the Union Home Ministry had issued advisories to all the State Governments in this regard.

The Divisional Commissioner also informed the Advisor that he had personally spoken to some students and parents on phone who expressed their satisfaction about the work being done by the J&K Government for safety and security of the students.


U’khand police to Kashmiri students: ‘Don’t issue provocative statements’

Dehradun, Feb 17: Uttarakhand police Sunday appealed to Kashmiri students studying in the state to not issue provocative statements on social media in the wake of Pulwama attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
“People are outraged across the country over the Pulwama attack and students from Jammu and Kashmir studying in Uttarakhand should not issue provocative statements on social media to add fuel to the fire,” Additional Director General of Police Ashok Kumar told PTI.
However, Kumar added Kashmiri students have no reason to worry as police is there to ensure their complete safety.
On allegations of a section of Kashmiri girl students that they remained locked up for hours in a room as they were afraid about their safety, he said, “The matter had been blown out of proportion.”
“They had shouted anti-India slogans when a candle march procession was being carried out by locals, triggering tension. However, police intervened immediately and the matter was resolved. But they blew up the matter while talking to a section of the press,” he said.
The ADG said one Kashmiri student, who had sent a message to his friends on WhatsApp expressing happiness over the attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, has been arrested.
The student named Kaishar Rashid was arrested late on Saturday night and sent to jail, he said.
A case under Section 505(2) of the IPC had been registered against Rashid, SSP Nivedita Kukreti said.
On Saturday, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik reviewed with senior officials the security of students from the state studying in universities and colleges across the country.
The officials informed Malik that liaison officers were coordinating with university authorities and the local police to ensure safety of the students. (PTI)


AMU asks Kashmiri students not to move out of campus
Press Trust of India
Aligarh, Feb 17: The AMU has issued an advisory to its Kashmiri students asking them “not to move out of the campus” as a precautionary measure after protests broke out in this city in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, varsity authorities said.
In the deadliest attack on forces in Kashmir last Thursday that left 49 CRPF personnel dead, the “fidayeen” (suicide attacker) was identified as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama.
Several parts of this city witnessed protests after the attack, prompting the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) authorities to issue an advisory to its Kashmiri students cautioning them against moving out of the campus.
AMU Proctor Professor Mohsin Khan told PTI, “The university authorities are maintaining constant vigil on law and order situation on the campus, especially in the wake of highly inflammatory social media posts emanating from the city.”
Khan added, “We are very clear that there is going to be zero tolerance on our part towards any act of lawlessness, especially one which smacks of anti-national activity even remotely.”
The AMU proctor said it suspended a Kashmiri student for his alleged objectionable tweet in connection with the Pulwama attack.
“Kashmir-origin undergraduate student Basim Hilal, suspended from the university after an objectionable tweet following the Pulwama outrage, is no longer at the campus. An FIR was lodged at the Civil Lines police station against Hilal on Friday after the post went viral on social media,” Khan said.

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Kashmiri student arrested for Whatsapp status in Himachal



Srinagar, Feb 17: A B.Tech student of a Himachal Pradesh University was arrested for allegedly “glorifying” suicide bomber Aadil Ahmed Dar, who was behind the Pulwama attack, in which at least 40 CRPF personnel were killed, amid tension on campus Saturday, reported The Indian Express.
Kasauli court on Sunday remanded Tashin Gul, 21, to judicial custody till February 28.

Son of a government teacher, Gul, a resident of Harman, Shopian, was arrested on Saturday and booked under IPC section 153B (imputing, making assertions prejudicial to national integration).

The FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint filed by retd. Col. AK Chauhan, dean of Chitkara University.


Gul, 21, a native of Kashmir and second-year student of Chitkara University in Baddi, had allegedly put up a picture of Dar as his Whatsapp profile photo and the words — “Allah Talah aap ki shahadat kabool kare (May Allah accept your martydom)” — as his status.

Meanwhile, the police on Sunday also detained two other students namely Rahat and Irfan, resident of Kashmir who were staying with Tashin Gul in a rented accommodation for further questioning.

Currently, over half dozen Kashmiri students were studying in different courses in the varsity. A case has been registered under section 153 –B Indian Penal Code. Further investigations are in progress.

Gul was quoted saying by The Indian Express: “When I learnt about the attack in Pulwama, I first updated my WhatsApp status and inadvertently also tagged the picture of the suicide bomber. Later, I realised my mistake and deleted my WhatsApp status. Next day, a few fellow students raised strong objections to my WhatsApp status message and picture and told me to remove it. Sensing a threat to my life, I informed the university authorities. I also submitted a written apology to the university. Later on, I came to know that the university had lodged a police complaint against me. I regret my mistake.”

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