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Lok Sabha polls: BJP eyeing OBCs, Shia-dominated areas of Kashmir

Announces candidates for Kashmir constituencies

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Mar 21: Right-wing BJP has decided to contest on all seats in upcoming polls while eyeing far-flung and Shia-dominated areas to make inroads in Kashmir.

The Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in five phases beginning April 11. The assembly polls are also expected to be held after the Parliamentary polls.

Buoyed by forming the alliance government with PDP for the first time in the state, and then winning some seats in Panchayat elections, BJP has decided to contest on all seats in the upcoming parliamentary and assembly elections in Kashmir.

 

On Thursday, BJP announced its candidates for Lok Sabha elections for the three Constituencies in Kashmir province.

As announced by the party on its official Twitter account, Khalid Jahangir will contest from Srinagar, Sofi Yousuf from Anantnag, and Maqbool War from Baramulla Parliamentary constituencies.

BJP leaders have held several meetings in past 10 days where they discussed the party’s strategy.

“Our main focus will be on other backward class (OBC) Muslims, Gujjars and some segments of Shia dominated areas in Kashmir,” a BJP leader told The Kashmir Monitor.

He said that Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain would hold rallies in Shia dominated areas.

“By focusing on marginalised groups, BJP wants to strengthen its base in the valley. The OBCs, Gujjars are upset with valley-based political parties for ignoring their demands,” the BJP leader said.

He said that party’s main focus was not only Jammu but Kashmir as well.

“This is reason that we won’t announce the chief ministerial candidate from Jammu unlike in the past but will tell voters he could be from any region of the state,” he said.

Earlier, BJP held an OBC conference in Srinagar during which, the BJP leaders promised the participants that they would “address” their issues if they “strengthen” the party in the valley.

Sources said the BJP leaders have also been seeking list from the village heads about the problems in their respective years. They are assuring them that government would provide “all possible help” if they cast their vote in favour of its candidates.

The BJP won 25 seats in the 2014 Assembly elections in Jammu region and the highest vote share of 23 percent for the first time in the electoral history of the state and formed coalition government with the PDP.

BJP State General Secretary (Organisation) Ashok Koul said the party has started the process for the Lok Sabha polls.

He said that BJP was ready for holding both parliamentary and assembly polls in the state.
Asked if the party ran out of seats, what will be next option, he replied, “The options come out on their own at that time. Nobody had thought in 2014 that the PDP will forge an alliance with BJP.
The PDP would otherwise leave no stone unturned to put down BJP. Mayawati and Akhilseh Yadav were poles part but now they came together during election time. This is what happens. So we don’t need to worry about the options. We will have several options if there require any such need.”

He said that party will decide on the chief minister candidate. “He can either be from Jammu, Kashmir, or Ladakh but he will surely be from BJP. People from all parts will vote for us,” he added.


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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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