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Kulgam’s volatile belt shows why it’s a challenge for forces

Stone-pelting, empty booths, angry people

Mudassir Kuloo

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Kulgam, Apr 29: Deserted streets dotted with stones, almost non-existent civilian movement, bouts of heavy stone pelting at some places and an eerie silence at others – this remained the order of the polling day in the most volatile belt of Kulgam.

The district Monday went to polls in the second leg of elections for the Anantnag Parliamentary seat.

In a dozen villages in the belt – comprising of Redwani, Khudwani, Qaimoh, Arwani, Hassanpora, Yaripora, Hawoora, and Ashmuji areas – authorities had clubbed at least 19 polling stations in three educational institutes.

 

Twelve of the polling booths were housed in Government Higher Secondary School, Qaimoh. They had a registered electorate of 10,771, however, till 12:50 pm, only seven votes had been polled at all of them.

They included: 61 Qaimoh-A (0 votes out of 798),  62 Qaimoh-B (0 out of 788), 63 Qaimoh C (1 of 931), 64 Qaimoh D (0 of 750), 32 Qaimoh E (3 of 976), 66 Qaimoh (0 of 1040), 59 Redwani-C (0 of 873), 60 Redwani D (0 of 822), 67 Hawoora A  (0 of 1139), 58 Redwani B (1 of 1003), 57 Redwani A (0 of 1000), and 68 Hawoora B (2 of 651).

Similarly, four polling stations were set up in in Government Boys Middle School, Hassanpora (a village next to Arwani) where, until 10 am, no voter had turned up out of the total 2,652 registered ones.

The polling booths included 41 Hassanpora (0 votes polled out of 692), 42-Rakh Hassanpora (0 votes of 574), 43 Hassanpora Bagh-A (0 of 690), and 44-Hassanpora Bagh (0 of 696).

The situation remained tense with incidents of stone pelting taking place in many areas including Qaimoh, Redwani, Khudwani, Tarigam, and Ashmuji.

This reporter had to travel through alleys and dodge stones, angry government forces, and agitated residents to reach the deserted polling stations.

Throughout the belt, there were hardly any locals on the roads except groups of youth who were readying for or had retreated from hurling stones at the heavy deployment of paramilitary forces in the areas.

Bouts after bouts of stone pelting had left the paramilitary troopers weary.

“We haven’t been able to have our food, see how many stones have they pelted,” said a CRPF man standing beside an armoured vehicle while pointing towards the street dotted with stones on the Khudwani intersection.

In Qaimoh, the protesting youth had blocked the roads with wooden logs.

They were checking the fingers of anyone passing by on foot or in vehicles to ensure they hadn’t voted.

A resident of Arwani, who seemed in his 40s, stood outside his one-storey home located a few hundred metres from where stone pelting was going on.

He told this reporter that people boycotting polls in the area had “only one reason.”

“The villages around here have witnessed massive human rights violations in the last four years. Dozens of youth are languishing in jails after being slapped with Public Safety Act. How do you expect that we will vote for the people who have terrorised ordinary civilians here,” the resident said.

Another local at Qaimoh told this reporter that in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the boycott wasn’t as strictly followed as it was today.

“What happened after 2016 totally changed the people here. At present, if I recall correctly, at least eight youth of the area picked up arms,” he said.


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Kashmir

‘JK produces 20000 tons of fish annually’

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, July 18: Advisor to Governor, K Skandan on Thursday said that  J&K has around 93,000 people dependent on the fisheries sector, while the requirement of fish is 1.5 lakh tons, however, the state produces only 20,000 tons of fish.

“J&K has tremendous potential in the fisheries sector and it can become modern world-class industry as we have 50,000 hectares of water area in the state,” he said.

He said that a massive fisheries and aquaculture programme has been undertaken by the government to boost the fishing industry in the State.

 

The Advisor stated this while speaking at a two-day National Conference on Fisheries and Climate Change at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir (SKUAST-K) here.

Advisor Skandan delved into detail as to how climate change has affected food systems.  He said that the fisheries and aquaculture sector is a crucial resource in terms of ensuring food and nutrition security. He called for collective efforts to create a balance between developmental needs and environmental sustainability. He said universities, scientists and people together can make strategies to tackle the important issue of climate change which is affecting ecosystem, adding if things go unchecked oceans will also undergo multiple woes.

Terming Trout as the pride of Jammu and Kashmir, he said there is a need to protect the fish variety and their ecosystem, adding various measures are being taken for welfare of people associated with the fishing industry.

The Advisor announced that an Aquaculture Park shall be set up in Srinagar for which various locations are being explored. He said that there is a need to have a big aquaculture park where students and the general population can get acquainted with aquaculture practices.

The two-day conference titled ‘Fisheries and Climate: Strategies, Challenges and Sustainable Management’ is being organized by Division of Fishery Engineering, Faculty of Fisheries SKUAST-K in collaboration with Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.

Prof Nazeer Ahmed, Vice-Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Dr Debajit Sarma, Director ICAR-DCFR, Bhimtal, Prof MH Balki, Dean faculty of Fisheries, Dr Gohar Bilal Wani, Organizing Secretary and Dr A S Ninawe, former Vice-Chancellor MAFSU also spoke on the occasion.

The conference was told that J&K produces 20,000 tons of fish annually with huge gap between demand and supply while only 50 percent population of the State consumes fish.

Addressing the conference, VC SKUAST-K said the fishing industry is an important not only in nutrition but also in providing employment in southern states of India, adding it contributes one per cent of National GDP and five per cent in Agriculture GDP and employing around 14 million people in India.

Later, the Advisor also released a compendium of Abstracts compiled by the University students.

The Advisor also facilitated SKUAST-K for attaining 13th rank specified by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi.

He also facilitated Ambreen Hamdani, an M Sc student of SKUAST-K for winning DST-Lockheed Martin-Tata Trusts IIGP 2.0-University Challenge 20-19 for her innovation.

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Kashmir

Amplify efforts to raise issues distressing people: Omar to party functionaries

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, July 18:  National Conference, vice president Omar Abdullah today presided over a Provincial committee meet of Kashmir province at party headquarters Nawa-e-Subha, Srinagar.

In the hours-long meet, party vice president applauded the party functionaries for conducting segment wise conventions across the province. The party vice president said the need of the hour was to step up the efforts towards greater interaction with the public across the state.

A range of issues concerning the party and the state were deliberated upon in the meet. Vice president, while exuding confidence into the functionaries said that the need of the hour was to maintain the momentum of parliamentary elections up to assembly elections. He said that there was no scope for smugness and gratification as the challenge ahead of the party was bigger.

 

Party vice president while exuding confidence into the party functionaries said that acquiring power has never been the party’s goal and the party will continue to highlight the woes of people determinedly. “Serving the people of the state, protecting the interests of the state and upholding the pluralistic visage of our state has been the core of party ideology. It is our duty to highlight the woes of people. We owe a sense of duty to towards the people of the state irrespective of their caste, creed and religious affiliations. The party functionaries should amplify their efforts to raise issues which are distressing people,” he said adding, “The party has gone through worst of times and was subjected to the worst machinations but with the support of people it trounced all those efforts that aim at fiddling with states special character.” 

Vice president urged the incumbent governor administration to utilize its resources to reduce the mounting woes of people. Omar said the main agenda of the party is to salvage the people of the state towards safe shores. The need of the hour calls for taking the Naya Kashmir agenda of the party to each doorstep.

Among others party’s general secretary Haji Ali Muhammad Sagar, additional general secretary Dr Sheikh Mustufa Kamal, Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani, Muhammad Akbar Lone, Abdul Rahim Rather, Muhammad Shafi Uri, Sakina Itoo, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, Mubarak Gul, Sharief ud din Shariq, Ali Mohammad Dar, Dr Bashir Veeri were also present on the occasion. Besides, district presidents, district-level functionaries, constituency in-charges, YNC functionaries, women’s wing, media cell functionaries also attended the meet. 

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Kashmir

Forces launch CASO around bund area at Abiguzar

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, July 18:  Security forces on Thursday cordoned off Aabiguzar Bund area and conducted search operation in the locality.

Reports said that joint team of government forces including CRPF, SOG and local police, on Thursday afternoon, suddenly appeared in Abiguzar Bund area of Srinagar district and launched a massive cordon and search operation here.

Sources said that the operation was launched following the receipt of inputs about the movement of suspected militants in the area.

 

The sudden seizure of the area created panic among the people, who apprehended a possible encounter like situation, when the forces closed the area and did not allow anyone to move.

All entry and exit points of the area were sealed and door to door searches of house boats, residential dongas, offices and business establishments were conducted by the forces.

The siege was later lifted without any untoward incident.

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