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No pre-poll alliance yet, talks on with Cong: Farooq

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Srinagar, Mar 13: National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah Wednesday admitted that talks were on with the Congress, but ruled out any pre-poll alliance yet.
Earlier reports said that NC and Congress had agreed to field joint candidates on few Lok Sabha seats in the coming elections.
News agency KNS quoted Farooq Abdullah saying: “No alliance has taken place yet. Once any such development will happen, we will let you know.”
However, NC president admitted that talks with Congress regarding a pre-poll alliance in the state were going on.
Sources said that the National conference parliamentary board meeting is going to take place within two to three days under the leadership of Farooq.
“The meeting is crucial in the nature of deciding any alliance for the Lok Sabha elections. The board will also decide the candidates for the Lok Sabha elections,” the news agency quoted one of the senior leaders of NC saying.
Meanwhile, if reports are to be believed then both NC and Congress were expected to contest three seats each. However, reports said, NC is keen on contesting a seat from Jammu region this time.
“The NC wants to join the fray from the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency. It wants to leave the Udhampur-Doda seat for the Congress,” reports said.
There are six Lok Sabha seats in the state: Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag in Kashmir, Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda in Jammu, and one in Ladakh.
The NC had already announced its decision to contest from Baramulla and Jammu-Poonch, without consulting the Congress whereas NC president Farooq, who is the sitting Srinagar MP, will be contesting from the same constituency.
The Congress may get the chance to contest from Anantnag, Udhampur and Ladakh seats, but a few party leaders are not happy in giving the Jammu-Poonch seat to the NC as it had won it in 2004 and 2009 elections.
Six seats of J&K will be going to the polls in first five phases, from April 11 to May 6. The Jammu-Poonch and Baramulla seats will see voting on April 11 followed by Udhampur-Doda and Srinagar seats in second phase on April 18. The Anantnag seat will be going to the polls in three phases, April 23, 29 and May 6 whereas the Ladakh seat will see voting on May 6. (With inputs from KNS)

Party high command will decide: Mir
Srinagar, Mar 13: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir Wednesday said that decision to forge an alliance with National Conference or any party lies with party high-command, which has already constituted a committee for forging an alliance with NC or any other party.
Mir while speaking to news agency Kashmir News Service said: “After a meeting of senior party leaders with Congress president Rahul Gandhi, it was left to the Central high command of the party to decide alliance or no alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. Central high command has constituted a committee for deciding alliance or no alliance and henceforth no party leader is mandated to go to press with a statement over the issue.” (KNS)

 
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Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.

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Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri

Traders fear losses in crores

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.

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Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.

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