Srinagar, Oct 26: Bloodshed has dominated October, with 44 killings recorded in the valley in the last two weeks alone.
While the first fortnight of the month passed rather peacefully, except the killing of two political workers, the frequency of encounters hiked with the start of municipal polls.
In the last 16 days, nine encounters occurred, killing 24 militants. Twelve civilians have been killed so far this month.
Top militant commanders Manan Wani and Mehraj-ud-din Bangroo were among the prominent militants killed.
Wani, a scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, was trapped and killed at Handwara in north Kashmir on October 11—10 months after he had joined Hizbul Mujahideen.
Bangroo, a top militant commander from old city’s Fateh Kadal area, who joined militancy in April 2016, was killed along with his associate, Faid Mushtaq, of Khanyar.
On October 21, 10 killings occurred across the valley, including seven civilians and three militants at Kulgam.
Compared to the previous months, most of the encounters in October occurred in north and central Kashmir, where a total of 14 militant were killed in five encounters.
Sabzar Ahmad Sofi who was killed at Nowgam here on October 24, was the third scholar-turned-militant killed during the current year.
Eight soldiers also lost their lives.
The year 2018 has seen more than 90 per cent increase in the militancy-related incidents over the last year.
As per the figures, the current year saw 244 militancy-related incidents till October 7, compared to last year’s 131.
Data claims that 166 militants have been killed during anti-militancy operation till now, which, during the last year, was recorded 213.
Munir Ahmad Khan, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order and Security, said the “precise and specific” information helped the forces to kill the militants.
“It all depends upon the kind of information. We actually had good information about the presence of militants, which led to the successful culmination of operations this month,” he said.
Khan said police has been able to kill some of the “experienced militants” this month.
“We always give them an opportunity to surrender. Our operation starts once the militants fire, and we neutralise them whether they may be experienced or inexperienced,” he said.
Bijbehara: 40 polling booths with zero votes
Bijbehara, Apr 23: Home turf of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Bijbehara assembly segment under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, reported highest concentration of polling stations where zero votes were cast.
Among the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara, one of the six assembly constituencies where voting took place in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections Tuesday.
People cast their votes in 714 polling stations in Anantnag. Bijbehara, the home constituency of PDP president Mufti, had 120 polling booths set up for a population of 93,289 people.
A total of 1,893 electorate or 2 per cent exercised their franchise when the polling ended at 4 pm. The voting time for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was reduced in view of security considerations. The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where voting took place in the first phase, saw 17 polling stations with zero while the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which went to polls in the second phase, recorded zero votes in 90 booths.
Polling in Anantnag, which has 16 assembly seats, has been divided into three phases. The first phase was completed on Tuesday while remaining two will be held on April 29 and May 6. The decision for staggered polling was taken keeping in view the security situation in South Kashmir which has seen many encounters between security forces and militants.
On February 14, over 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a miliant attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Clubbing of booths kept voters away
Srinagar, Apr 23: The clubbing of the polling booths in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency Tuesday discouraged many voters, who preferred to stay at home rather than walking long distances to cast their votes.
District Anantnag, which went for polls first in the three-phased schedule Tuesday, recorded 13.63 voter turnouts in six segments including Anantnag, Dooru, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara and Pahalgam.
Scores of the voters said that many gave up their plans to cast vote after authorities announced clubbing of the polling booths in the constituency.
In Lisser Chawalgam village of Kokernag segment, at least three polling stations catering to different locations were accommodated in a local higher secondary school.
It included polling station of Shalnaad village as well, which is at least three kilometers away from the station.
Those who casted their votes claimed that they had to enter secretly into the booth as the area had witnessed stone pelting.
“More people could have come to vote if the locations of the polling booths were not changed at the last moment. Many women didn’t cast their votes as they too had to travel kilometres to reach to the polling station,” said a voter, who had come from Shalnaad to cast his vote at higher secondary school Lisser.
Similarly polling booths in rural areas of Anantnag, Pahalgam too were clubbed, which reportedly affected the voting percentage of these areas.
“South Kashmir usually witnesses low voting percentage. The change in the location of polling booths has further the participation,” said a polling officer.
National Conference Candidate for Anantnag, Retired Justice Hasnain Masoodi, told The Kashmir Monitor that the clubbing of the polling booth was the main reason behind the low voting percentage in many areas.
“The polling booths of Jeshnaad and Makawora have been accommodated in government buildings, which are five to eight kilometers away from these villages. It has made the entire voting exercise inconvenient for the people,” he said.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier also said that clubbing of the polling stations for Parliament elections in Jammu and Kashmir will affect the participation of people in the elections.
Security bandobast not up to the mark: Mir
Srinagar, Apr 23: The Congress Candidate from Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency Ghulam Ahmad Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit.
Mir, in a statement, also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that “the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.”
“I express my gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag,” he said saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free.
Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag.
“The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir,” he said.
Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident-free elections.