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Kashmir Chamber prays for alternative to shutdowns

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Dec 6: Citing stress on the valley’s business sector, Kashmir Inc on Thursday appealed the separatists to look for an alternative to shutdown strategy.

Addressing a press conference here, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), an amalgam of trader and business bodies in the valley, said the economy of the valley was getting affected due to the prevailing situation.

“We are not getting a favourable atmosphere to do business normally due to the prevailing situation. Human rights violations, innocent killings, and pellet injuries are of major concern to us. Even 18-month-old’s are not spared here,” Vice-President KCCI, Dr A M Mir, said.

“We also appeal Hurriyat to think of an alternative to shutdowns. We will follow their protest calls regularly, as all of us are ready to give sacrifices for the solution of Kashmir issue.”

The KCCI held the press conference over the detention of their members who were protesting against the violation of human rights in Kashmir.

Mir said the traders would hold a protest march from KCCI office to Press Enclave on Saturday to “express their concerns”.

“We express our concern over yesterday’s arrest. Traders were arrested for holding a peaceful protest in a democratic way,” he said.

The KCCI Vice-President said the business in the valley has taken a back seat primarily due to the “human rights violations in the region”.

“We need a congenial atmosphere here for business, and it solely depends on the authorities. Our economy is getting affected as all sectors witness slump,” he said.

He urged the governments of India and Pakistan to initiate a dialogue for resolving the decades-old Kashmir issue permanently. “Talks should be there and both these countries should come on to the table and solve the issue permanently,” he said.

Mir said many additional factors were also responsible for the current slump in the businesses. “Not just GST, but many other factors make us vulnerable to losses. We have to pay huge transportation costs due to the geography of the state,” he said.

“The GST, which is common to all the states, should not have been implemented as it dented various businesses severely.” He said they have formed a committee to count losses in every sector for the year.


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Lead Stories

Assembly, Parl polls to be held together possibly in May

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Election Commission of India is preparing to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir earlier next year, while it has initiated the process for the polls.

According to a letter dispatched by the Chief Electoral Officer—a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Monitor—the district election officers have been directed to send a proposal of appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The letter has been sent following the Election Commission of India sought the details about the officials.

An official associated with the CEO said they have been told that the Assembly polls would be clubbed with Lok Sabha.

“The elections may be held in March or in April,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.

The official said the poll body has directed them to start preparations for the polls.

“The security is one of the issues. On the pattern of urban local bodies and Panchayat polls, the Assembly and Parliament elections will be held in a phased manner,” the official said.

“When forces are deployed for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, it would be convenient for election authorities to hold the Assembly polls simultaneously,” the official said.

Mentioning a Supreme Court direction, the official said the outer limit for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months.

National Conference has demanded for joint Assembly and Parliament polls, following the dissolution of the House.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term.

The term of the prematurely terminated government was to end on March 16, 2021.

The Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly shortly after the People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of NC and Congress.

She cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House.

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Militants kill 4 cops, flee with rifles in Shopian

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Srinagar, Dec 11: Four J&K policemen were killed after militants attacked a police post in Zainapora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.

A police official said a group of militants opened fire at the police post, resulting in the on spot death of three security guards and injuries to another at Zainapora.

The injured cop was taken to a local hospital where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar. However, he succumbed on way to Srinagar, said the official.

The policemen were inside their guard room when the militants fired at them anddecamped with their service rifles.

The slain cops were identified as Constable Anees Ahmad (Belt No. 480/SPN), resident of Kulgam, selection grade constable Abdul Majid (193/SPN), resident of Ganderbal, Constable Mehraj-ud-din (477/SPN), resident of Hajin Bandipora and constable Hameedullah (860/SPN), resident of Anantnag.

Majid was the fourth one to die in the attack.

The area was soon cordoned off and a search operation was launched.

Media reports quoting police sources said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants led by former police officer Adil Bashir, who left the force after stealing eight rifles in October, were believed to be involved in the attack.

JeM militant outfit claimed the responsibility of the attack.

A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to media, said: “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”

Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.

Later in the day, the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops took place in District Police Lines, Shopian.

“Civil and Police Officers including Munir Ahmed Khan, ADGP (Security/Law & Order/HG), IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani, DIG SKR Amit Kumar laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cops “who made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” said a police spokesperson.

“Among others who paid floral tributes including SP Shopian, DC Shopian, officers and jawans of the district and officers from other forces,” the spokesman added.

Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen.

In a message Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.

On Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “I strongly condemn the attack on the police post in Shopian &condole the deaths of three police personnel in the line of duty. I pray for their souls & for the speedy recovery of those injured in this attack (sic)”.

Peoples Conference (PC) chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone called the attack in Shopian another “mindless act of violence”.

Sajad tweeted: “The attack in Shopian on police personnel is yet another mindless act of violence. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty.”

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BJP shaken, Congress break in

Agencies

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New Delhi, Dec 11: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday suffered heavy election defeats in two states, with another on a knife edge, in a bruising day of results that exposed the party’s vulnerability less than six months before the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ending its prolonged electoral reversals, a reinvigorated Congress produced a resilient comeback as it is on course to oust the BJP to form its governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, is witnessing a tantalisingly close fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

The governing BJP vote collapsed by 17 percentage points in Rajasthan state and by at least 12 points in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the Hindi heartland where Indian governments are traditionally made or broken.

Those losses, as well as the revival of a Congress party frequently written off in the past five years, had analysts revising their predictions for next year’s national polls, which Modi had been expected to win in a cakewalk.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), on the other hand, secured a thumping majority in Telangana while MNF has defeated Congress in the latter’s last bastions in Northeast.

TRS chief K ChandrashekarRao’s gamble for early polls paid rich dividends with the ruling party winning 57 seats and leading in 30 of the 119 constituencies. The Congress-TDP alliance, ‘Prajakutami’, has won 14 seats and is leading in 7, according to the Election Commission.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, KCR said TRS would play a crucial role in the national political arena. “We dedicate this victory to the people of Telangana. This is a positive vote for us. We are going to play a very crucial role in national politics. We will give a new definition to the national political scenario” he said. Rao, who is set to return as CM for a second term, further said, “Today’s results…Telangana has shown the way to the whole nation. Today, Telangana stands (as) a non-Congress, non-BJP state.”

The outcome of the elections is significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats, of which the BJP grabbed 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its high.

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