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Mattu elected Srinagar Mayor, Imran his deputy

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 6: Former National Conference leader Junaid Mattu was on Tuesday elected Mayor of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

Mattu had filed his nomination papers for election to the post as candidate of the Peoples’ Conference.

The counting for the election of Mayor began in the morning.

Mattu managed to get 40 votes while as Congress’ candidate got 26. Four votes were declared invalid.

Mattu had contested the polls from ward No 14, 18 and 65 of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

Congress backed independent candidate Sheikh Imran was elected Deputy Mayor.

He got 35 votes while his nearest rival Saleem Lone, an independent, got 34 votes, while one vote got rejected.

After the results were announced, Mattu addressed the media, and said that he would work for the development of Srinagar.

“I will work for the dignity and security of Srinagar. I will turn Srinagar into a model city,” he said.

Asked that BJP had supported him for the Mayor, he replied, “Mehbooba Mufti was also heading the PDP-BJP government and was nothing wrong in it. Now I got their support and political parties have the problem. It is the people decide whom to get elected.”

Mattu, who was a member of the Peoples Conference before he joined the National Conference (NC) and remained its spokesman for many years. In the run-up to the Municipal Polls, he quit the party and contested independently from four wards in Srinagar. He lost at one ward and won from three other wards in a low polled election.

Mattu has joined Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference after quitting the NC.

The Congress state chief had said that Mayoral election is a contest between “secularism and communalism”.

After the results, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Ram Madhav congratulated Mattu for being elected as the Mayor of SMC.

He took to his  Twitter handle to congratulate Mattu and Sajad Gani Lone over the SMC post.

“Junaid Mattoo, independent supported by Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and BJP has won d Mayor post of Srinagar. He polled against d combined candidate of PDP, NC and Congress by 40 votes to 26 votes. Congrats Junaid and Sajjad n all Corporators,” Madhav wrote.

Mattu will have the powers to access to the record of the Corporation and issue directions to the Commissioner or other functionaries of the Corporation or call for reports from them with a view to ensuring proper implementation of the decision of the Corporation.

The Mayor shall have such powers as may be necessary to carry out the purposes to implement the decisions of the Corporation.

The Mayor shall be the ex-officio member and also the Chairman of the General Functions Committee and the Deputy Mayor shall be the ex-officio member and Chairman of the Finance and Planning Committee.

When the office of the Mayor is vacant, the Deputy Mayor shall act as the Mayor until a new Mayor is elected.

However, Mattu’s election as Mayor of the SMC has been clouded by remarks of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik during an interview to a private TV channel last month.

Malik had, without naming Mattu, said Srinagar was getting “foreign educated mayor” which would send jitters among the regional parties such as the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which did not take part in the elections.

The political parties had said the Governor’s remarks had put question mark on the whole election process.

The NC and the PDP boycotted the election over the issue of Article 35-A, which according special powers to the state legislature with regard to permanent residents of the state.


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Panchayat Polls I: Fate of 6,378 candidates to be decided today

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 16: The first of the nine-phase panchayat polls would begin from Saturday to decide the fate of 6,378 candidates.
The nine-phase panchayat polls will be held in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch.
For the first phase being held on Saturday, a total of 1,886 nominations — 713 in Kashmir and 1,173 in the Jammu division — were received for sarpanch halqas.
The polls will be held in 47 blocks, 26 in Kashmir and 21 in Jammu region.
The electorate will decide the fate of 6,378 candidates, comprising 427 for the sarpanch and 5,951 for panch.
In the Ladakh region, at least 10 blocks, including six in Leh and four in Kargil, will go to the polls. In these blocks, there are around 33 panchayats having at least 110 polling stations. For seven panchayats, the administration will have to requisition helicopters to ferry the polling staff to their respective polling stations.
As per the schedule of the polls, the snow-bound and far flung areas are going for polls in the first phase.
In the first phase, the elections will be held in the snowbound areas including Keran, Ramhal, Teetwal, Tangdar, Gurez, Baktoor, Tulail, Kunzer, Uri, Perenpillan, Noorkhan, Kandi Belt Rafiabad, and Gund.
Out of four panchayat constituencies of Srinagar, polls will be held at Khanmoh.
In district Budgam, polls will be held at Khansahib.
At the same time, most of the areas where there is a larger presence of militancy will face elections in the last phases. The elections will not be held in four districts of south Kashmir on Saturday.
The polling for next eight phases will be held on November 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8, and December 11.
The number of electorate in panchayat polls would be 5854208 and poll timing would be from 8 am to 2 pm.
Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra has said that counting of votes would be done on the day of polling and in some cases, if required, the counting would take place the next day. “The voting would be done with ballot papers. In view of recent amendments making direct election to sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for panch as well as sarpanch, for which two separate coloured ballot papers will be used,” he has said.
The entire polls process would be completed by December 17.
The nine-phase panchayat polls in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch constituencies.
An official at Chief Electoral Office said that authorities want to complete the elections to consider the difficulties faced by people living in snow-bound areas and to ensure maximum participation.
“We have taken into consideration about the possibility of weather condition,” the official added.
“There are many areas which remain cut off during winters. We have taken all ground realities into consideration,” the official said.
The panchayat elections are being held in J&K after a gap of seven years. The last elections were conducted in 2011 and the panchayats had completed their five-year term in 2016.

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SC to hear plea challenging Art 370 in April

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Nov 16: The Supreme Court Friday said it will hear in April a plea challenging the validity of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, following a request by the state and the Centre.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said it will hear the matter in the first week of April 2019 after Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, sought adjournment on the ground that the current situation is very sensitive.
“The political situation in the state is such that the matter should not be heard at this time,” he said.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir said that a letter has been circulated seeking adjournment due to the ongoing nine-phase Panchayat polls in the state.
To this, the bench said that it can tag the matter along with a batch of pending petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, under which special rights and privileges are granted to the “permanent residents” of the state.
The suggestion of the bench was opposed by the counsels for the state saying that the two issues are different entirely and the plea should not be tagged along with Article 35A pending petitions.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing in first week of April, 2019.
On April 3, the apex court had said that Article 370 of the Constitution is not a temporary provision.
The top court had said that in its earlier verdict of 2017 in the SARFESI case, it has been already held that Article 370 was “not a temporary provision”.
“The issue concerned is covered by the judgement of this court in the 2017 SARFAESI matter, where we have held that despite the headnote of Article 370, it is not a temporary provision,” the court had said.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by petitioner Kumari Vijayalakshmi Jha, against the Delhi High Court’s April 11, 2017 order dismissing the plea seeking a declaration that Article 370 is temporary in nature.
The petitioner had claimed before the high court that Article 370 was a temporary provision that had lapsed with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in 1957.
The petition had said that the continuance of the temporary provision of Article 370 even after dissolution of Constituent Assembly of J&K, and that of J&K Constitution which has never got the assent of the President of India or Parliament or the government of India, “amounts to fraud on the basic structure of our Constitution”.

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Democracy biggest casualty in Kashmir: Mirwaiz

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Srinagar, Nov 16: Chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday said that Hurriyat believed in democracy but not in the one prevalent in Kashmir.
Addressing gatherers during Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid Mirwaiz said that the elections in Kashmir were a “drama”.
“Kashmir will once again reject the sham polls commencing from November 17 in the same way they out rightly rejected the Urban Local Body polls and send a message to one and all that people of Kashmir reject farcical exercises,” he said.
Mirwaiz added that holding elections has “no meaning” for in a place where all basic human democratic political and even religious rights of people are “trampled are usurped through military might”.
“Where democracy itself is the biggest casualty, in such a place what can local or any election achieve,” he asked.
Mirwaiz said a “strange kind of democracy” is in practice in Kashmir.
“At the behest of lakhs of state forces present here with unbridled powers given to them and absolute immunity from all accountability. They can barge into any house and kill anybody at their whim and will and or tie a civilian to jeeps as human shields and be rewarded for it,” he said.
Mirwaiz said no one was averse to elections since it is an established democratic practice across the globe where people exercise their choice and decide who and how they want to be ruled.
“But in Kashmir that is not the case. It is used as a means to continue forced rule,” he said adding that elections will continue to be “futile exercise in Kashmir unless democracy is not restored and allowed to flourish in the real sense”.
“And the first step to that is to allow people of disputed J&K to decide their fate by giving them the basic right to self-determination,” he added.
Mirwaiz urged people to observe complete strike on November 17 and to follow the Joint Hurriyat’s protest and shutdown program announced for the poll bound areas on Election Days.
Meanwhile after Friday prayers Mirwaiz visited the residence of Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s to condole the demise of his eldest son-in –law Ghulam Hassan Makhdoomi, who passed away recently after a brief spell of illness at SKIMS, Soura.
Mirwaiz also offered special fateh prayers for the deceased and prayed for highest standards in Jannah for him.

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