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LS, Assembly elections: ‘Mehbooba’s south Kashmir visits part of poll campaign, gaining lost ground’

Other parties to begin rallying next week; PM to visit Jammu on Jan 15

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 4: With parliamentary and assembly elections round the corner, the political parties in J&K are set to initiate the election campaigning from the next week.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, however, it seems, has already begun campaigning for her party by visiting the families of some militants in south Kashmir in an attempt to gain the lost political ground.

Last Sunday, Mehbooba visited Pulwama’s Patipora village, where a militant’s family was allegedly tortured by government forces.

 

Unlike her days in power, Mehbooba highlighted the harassment the family had gone through on her official Twitter handle.

She even urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to “initiate action and prevent such incidents in future”.

“Won’t allow bloodshed in Kashmir or turning southern Kashmir into a battleground,” she said.

On Thursday, Mehbooba again visited a slain militant’s family in Shopian, whose other son is in detention.

“I am hopeful that police does not want to harass anyone but it seems from somewhere it is being directed,” she said after visiting the family in Safanagri area of the district.

“In my tenure I had directed forces not to harass brothers or sisters of militants. I hope that governor gives such directions to forces too,” she said.

Interestingly, Mehbooba’s political career begun by visiting families of the militants and victims, making south Kashmir PDP’s stronghold – allowing it to win and ally with BJP in 2014, only to break-off but not before a summer of uprising unsettled the entire Kashmir.

PDP chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, refused to confirm whether or not Mehbooba’s visits were a part of the election campaign.

He, however, said the party would officially start the campaigning from January 7.

“We will observe the death anniversary of Mufti Mohammad Saeed on January 7, after which the election campaigning will start. We have recently discussed how to go about it,” Mir said.

He said that campaigning would also depend on the security scenario in the region.

Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that the top PDP leadership, in a key meeting headed by Abdul Rehman Veeri last week, have decided that the ongoing human rights’ situation in south Kashmir will be the basis of the party’s campaign program for the upcoming polls.

As of other political parties, they too have framed their strategies and are set to begin the election campaigning from the next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Jammu on January 15, where he is scheduled to address a gathering.

“We have already started election campaigning in Jammu. From the next week, the election campaigning will be at a larger scale,” a BJP leader said.

“In Kashmir, our leaders will mostly restrict to door-to-door campaigning especially in south Kashmir,” he added.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar said his party has begun the political activities for the polls.

“We are waiting for the Election Commission of India to confirm whether or not both the polls will be held together,” he said.

Senior Congress leader G N Monga said that they will start election campaigning from Jammu after January 15.

“We have already begun the political activities,” Monga said.

The Election Commission of India is likely to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which may be conducted in April.

The district election officers have submitted a proposal of appointment of returning and assistant returning officers to the poll body for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

A police official said that political parties have been advised to hold the rallies at the designated places only.

“The political rallies will be allowed at secured places. We have to make adequate security arrangement before any election rally is held,” the official said.

The state assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21 citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and the “fragile security scenario in the state”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term. Malik dissolved the assembly shortly after People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and the Congress.

 

‘Operation all out’ architect using militant families to get votes: Omar

Srinagar, Jan 3: National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the PDP president saying she was trying to “rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation”.
“The architect of ‘Operation All-out’ & the overseer of the operations that killed hundreds of militants since 2015 is now going from one militant home to the next trying to rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?” the former CM added.
BJP, the former ally of PDP, was quick to dismiss Mehbooba’s visits as a “political gimmick” and sought to remind her of the remarks she made as chief minister during a press conference at the peak of 2016 agitation following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and his two associates.
“It was Mehbooba who earlier made a statement like were they (youth who were killed in 2016 agitation) out to buy toffee or milk. Her visits now to the families of slain militants is a political gimmick,” BJP leader Ashok Koul said.
Several social media users have also dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief’s outreach campaign as political opportunism with an eye on coming elections.
A Facebook user posted the video clips of Mehbooba’s press conference in 2016 as well as the latest comments on harassment of militant families with the title “a very good example of a chameleon”.


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Kashmir receives fresh snowfall, aerial traffic affected

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Kashmir on Wednesday received fresh snowfall affecting the aerial traffic and bringing life to halt.

The fresh snowfall in this morning across the Valley disrupted the normal life in Kashmir with surface traffic remaining suspended for a day while as the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained open despite the snowfall.

Authorities in Srinagar Airport said that the flights to and from Srinagar were suspended in view of the prevailing weather conditions as well as the poor visibility.

 

Officials said that flights will be operational once the weather conditions and visibility will improve.”Due to bad weather/ heavy snowfall, all flights have been cancelled”.

Meanwhile, the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was open for one-way traffic as there was little or no snowfall in south Kashmir parts on Wednesday.

“Road Status: #Srinagar-Jammu highway open, Traffic plying from Srinagar to #Jammu; Srinagar-Kargil road Closed; Anantnag-Kishtwar road Closed; Mughal Road closed; Bandipora-Gurez road closed; Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Keran, Kupwara-Machail roads closed. @JmuKmrPolice,” Police tweeted.

Director of Meteorological department (MeT), Sonum Lotus said that the light rains as well as snowfall were predicted by the department earlier. “The reports of moderate snowfall were received from some places in Kashmir today,” he said.

He added that the weather would remain mostly cloudy in Kashmir from Jan 18-19, saying that from Jan 19 evening onwards; there is possibility of light rains and snowfall at isolate places.

Lotus further added that the MeT has predicted highly dynamic weather till Jan 23 in Kashmir. “From Jan 20-23, there is possibility of moderate rains and snowfall across the Valley,” he said, adding that the surface as well as the road traffic would also get affected due to the snow spell.

Meanwhile, the state administration claimed to have adequate measures to ensure basic facilities and road clearance during and in the aftermath of fresh snowfall.

The top officials held a series of meetings so far to finalize arrangements in this regard.

The respective district administrations have also asked the officials to gear up for the fresh snow spell as predicted by the Meteorological department

Meanwhile, the day temperatures across the Kashmir Valley nosedived amid fresh snowfall.

A meteorological department official told that Srinagar recorded a maximum of 1.0 degree Celsius, more than six degrees below normal for this time of the year. The capital city saw 5.4 mm of snow (when converted into rain) from 0830 to 1730 hours.

The famous hill resort of Pahalgam recorded a maximum of minus 1.6 degree Celsius and saw snowfall of 8.5mm.
Qazginund, the gateway town of Kashmir, saw a maximum of 2.2 degrees Celsius while Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded a maximum of 1.1 degrees Celsius. Both these places saw zero or traces of snowfall.

The MeT official said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a maximum of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius and it had a snowfall of 15.2 mm during the day.

Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a maximum of 0.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.

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JK showcases tourism potential at Asia’s largest travel show

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NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16: Launching its aggressive marketing campaign, the Department of Tourism, participated in the 3-day South Asian Travel and Tourism Exhibition (SATTE) travel show which began here on Wednesday.

SATTE is one of the biggest travel shows in Asia providing platform for travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination management companies, tourism boards to sell their products and network to their potential clients from across the globe.

Besides, J&K Tourism Department, over hundred travel agents, hoteliers, other service providers and heads of the various travel and hotel associations from the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions are participating in the travel show to showcase the State’s tourism potential.

 

Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Samphel, Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani and Director Tourism Jammu Om Prakash Bhagat along with other senior officers from the Department participated in the travel show.

They had an interaction with the leading travel agents from within and outside the country and apprised them about the State’s tourism products.

“SATTE is one of the largest tourism shows in Asia where we can promote our tourism destinations. The department will provide all the information about the JK’s destinations, products, services to the visitors to attract them to the state,” the Secretary Tourism said.

Over 20000 visitors, including domestic and international sellers and buyers, State tourism officials, heads of international tourism boards, hoteliers, and aviation experts showcased their products and services to the global trade community.

The travel show also provides an opportunity for the state tourism department to conduct business sessions with the visitors during the travel show.

On the first day, the Tourism Department of at its pavilion screened short films on different destinations for the visitors who were mesmerized to see the stunning beauty. It also showcased State’s splendid art, craft and sumptuous traditional food.

A large number of visitors turned up at J&K pavilion to inquire about the State’s tourism products, new destinations and infrastructure development.

The Department informed them about the pilgrim, MICE, heritage, art and craft, food, known and lesser-known destinations of all the three regions of the state.

The Department also distributed comprehensive publicity material in the form of brochures and pamphlets, pen drives containing travel videos of different destinations to the visitors at its pavilion.

During the convention, Secretary Tourism, Director Tourism Kashmir, Director Tourism Jammu along with heads of local travel and hospitality sector will also hold separate meet with media to apprise them about the Kashmir being the safe tourist destination.

The Director Tourism Kashmir said the department has planned series of road shows and shall also participate in travel marts in the next two months.

“We will be visiting major cities in the country for road shows. We have also planned road shows in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh where from we have got a good response from the travellers,” he said.

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All election formalities to be completed by Feb end: Sources

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jan 16 : All election formalities in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be completed by February end after which the Election Commission of India will take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously.

Top sources while disclosing this to Kashmir News Service (KNS) revealed that the Jammu and Kashmir government has fast paced the process of completing election formalities for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections by February end and the final electoral roles are likely to be published anytime after January 20.

As already reported the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar held video conference on finalization of electoral roles and other election related arrangements with all the district election officers (DEOs) of all the three regions of the state Tuesday this week.

 

Sources said the authorities in the election commission will work on the suitability of the location of polling booths across Jammu and Kashmir after January 20 and the process is likely to be completed by February 15.

The Election Commission of India, sources said, is likely to take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously earliest by February end and latest by March 15 and the polling in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held in the month of April only.

The polling, sources said, is likely to be held in eight phases adding that the polls in south Kashmir however may be held exclusively on the day when polls in no other part of the state will be held keeping in view the volatile situation in four districts of south Kashmir.

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