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Lok Sabha polls phase I: Long queues, less boycott!

Jammu PC records 72.16 %, Baramulla 34.61% | District-wise %age: Kupwara: 51.7, B’la 24, Bandipora 31.8

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Photos: Umar Ganie

Srinagar, Apr 11: The first phase of polling in Jammu and Baramulla Parliamentary constituencies of J&K ended with a total voter turnout of 57.31 percent even as a teenager was killed in clashes that occurred in the evening in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

The slain was identified as Owais Mushtaq Mir, a resident of Handwara area of Kupwara who was injured seriously in the clashes that broke between youth and government forces after the day-long voting. He was brought dead to district hospital Handwara, a witness said.

Meanwhile, amid the heightened security arrangements and internet gag across north Kashmir, the frontier district Kupwara Thursday polled 51.7 percent of votes in a day for Baramulla parliamentary constituency with serpentine queues being witnessed in many places. Sopore and Hajin areas in Baramulla and Bandipora constituency witnessed almost a complete boycott.

 

Addressing media persons here at a Press Conference, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)  J&K Shailendra Kumar said that Jammu Parliamentary Constituency, spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch, with 20 assembly segments, recorded a huge overall voter turnout of 72.16 percent.

Baramulla Parliamentary Constituency comprising three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora, having 15 Assembly segments, recorded 34.61 percent polling.

The individual district turnouts stood at Kupwara (51.7%), Baramulla (24%), and Bandipora (31.8%). The final turnout in 15 segments of the entire Baramulla Constituency stood at: Karnah (59.1%), Kupwara (58.7), Lolab (45.3), Handwara (60.3), Langate (35.5), Uri (57.0), Rafiabad (11.8), Sopore (4.3), Sangrama (13.7), Baramulla (16.0), Gulmarg (33.5), and Pattan (33.9).

The voter turnout was highest in Samba District at 75.07 percent followed by 74.50 percent in Jammu district, while twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri recorded 70.40 percent and 65.70 percent, respectively, the CEO informed.

He said that there are 33 candidates in fray for twin constituencies, including 24 for Jammu PC and 9 for Baramulla PC. He said the polling was held under the supervision of 12 General Observers, 8 Expenditure Observers and 7 Police Observers, besides 462 micro observers, while 7692 staff was deployed across 4489 polling stations in the two PCs on Poll day.

Giving further details, he said the twin PCs have over 33 lakh voters, 17.16 Lakh male, 16.80 lakh female.

  The CEO complimented voters, political parties, contesting candidates, polling staff and Security forces for smooth and peaceful conduct of polling in the state. 

Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma, IGP Jammu Manish Kumar Sinha, RO Jammu PC Ramesh Kumar and Additional CEO Rakesh Kumar Sarangal were also present at the press conference.


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Two militants killed in Bijbehara gunfight

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Srinagar, Apr 25: Two militants were killed after a gunfight broke out between militants and security forces in Bagender Mohalla area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district on Thursday morning.

The duo was killed after a gunfight broke out between them and a joint team of the Indian Army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles unit and a Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The exchange of fire began while security forces had been carrying out cordon and search operations after receiving inputs about the presence of militants in the area. An official said that the militants opened fire on the troopers when they were closing in on their hiding spot.

 

A search operation is underway as the forces believe there were three militants in hiding in Bagender Mohalla.

The police spokesman identified the slain as Safder Amin Bhat (25), son of Muhammad Amin of Zirpara Bijbehara and Burhan Ahmad Ganaie (25) of Malipora Hablish Kulgam. He said the duo was affiliated with Hizb-ul -Mujahideen militant outfit.

Incriminating material including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of the encounter, he said, adding that the police have registered a case.

“Citizens are requested not to venture inside encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any,” said the spokesman.

Thousands of people participated in funeral prayers of two slain militants in Bijbehara and SK Colony Lazibal areas of Anantnag.

Meanwhile, internet services were also suspended for “precautionary measures” and a complete shutdown is being observed in the district.

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Ladakh Parliamentary Seat: Karbalai in fray to cut Muslim votes and benefit Congress?

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 25: Ahead of the elections for it, the Ladakh Parliamentary Seat is in the spotlight these days as Asgar Ali Karbalai, who is contesting as an Independent candidate, may play spoilsport for Sajjad Hussain who has support of the NC, PDP and powerful religious groups of Kargil.

Four candidates are in the fray for Ladakh parliamentary constituency that will go to polls on May 6.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, while Rigzin Spalbar is Congress’ candidate. Both the candidates are from Leh district. Sajjad Hussain, and Asgar Ali Karbalai are contesting as independents. Both are from Kargil district.

 

Asgar has claimed that he has left the Congress, however a source within the party said his contesting of elections is to “cut the Muslim vote in Ladakh to benefit the Congress candidate.”

“He has no support of any religious group unlike Sajjad. If he will be able to cut the Muslim vote, Congress will be the hugely benefitted,” the source said. 

It said that PDP and NC decided not to field candidates as they would have divided the Muslim votes and would have benefitted the BJP.

The PDP and NC have decided to support journalist turned politician Sajjad in the parliamentary elections. He is the candidate of Anjuman Jamiatul Ulama Islamia School Kargil (AJUISK), the largest religious organisation of the region and also backed by Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust.

“Both National Conference and PDP have unanimously decided to support Sajjad, who has been fielded by Kargil’s powerful religious organization, Islamia School,” National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, said.

Asked why the National Conference did not field its own candidate, Sagar replied, “We have several top leaders in Ladakh. But when powerful religious organizations decided to field the candidate, we decided to support him. All religious groups are on platform on his candidature. We hope that he would win the elections.”

Senior PDP leader Nizam-ud-Din Bhat too confirmed that NC and PDP have unanimously decided to support Independent candidate, Sajjad.

“We decided not to field our own candidate because this candidate has backing of two religious groups, and he represents the sentiments of people,” Bhat said.

In Kashmir, the PDP and NC have been fighting against each other as both parties have fielded their candidates against one another on all three parliamentary seats. The NC and Congress are jointly fighting the Srinagar, Jammu and Udhampur parliament seats while there is a “friendly” contest between their candidates for Baramulla and Anantnag seats.

In 2014 Thupstan Chhewang of Bharatiya Janata Party won with a margin of 36 votes. Chhewang secured 31,111 votes while Independent Ghulam Raza secured 31,075 votes. Chhewang last year resigned, citing ‘discrimination’ against Ladakh, as the reason.

Spread over Leh and Kargil districts and having four assembly segments including Kargil, Zanaskar, Nobra and Leh, Ladakh is geographically one of the largest and population-wise one of the smallest constituencies in the country. There are about 1.72 lakh eligible voters for the Ladakh seat.

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NIA summon to Shabir Shah’s daughter shameful: Mehbooba

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Apr 25: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday termed National Investigation Agency (NIA) summon to Shabir Shah’s daughter as “shameful”.

Addressing a rally at Kulgam district in south Kashmir, the PDP president while condemning the issuance of ED summon to Sama Shabir, the daughter of Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmed Shah said, “She has been summoned in connection with case of money laundering in 2007 when she was just five years old. The harassment has increased over the years.”

She said that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was summoned by the NIA and Yaseen Mailk faced detention and constant harassment.  “This shows the sheer desperation of centre,” she claimed.

 

She maintained, “The abrogation of Article 35-A and 370 will render the basis of accession null and void. Thus, we should strive towards safeguarding the special status.”

Mehbooba took jibes at the BJP president, Amit Shah over his statement that there is Modi wave in India.

“Had this been true, the Balakote airstrikes wouldn’t happen then?  Incidents like mob lynching and oppression on the marginalized sections wouldn’t be so commonplace,” she said.

She said while taking potshots at the NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, “Omar is living in this delusion that the people in her home town Bijebhera in Anantnag district have rejected her and voted for NC. I want to make this thing clear that it’s my hometown and people are supportive of me and are still unknown to Omar.”

Ruling out that government employees participated in her Pulwama election rally, she said, “This is completely false. No government employees participated in that rally. I have nothing to do with these employees as I am not a part of the government.” 

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