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Panchayat Elections: Schedule framed keeping in view weather, situation

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, October 30: The panchayat elections in most of the volatile areas of Kashmir will be held in the last phases after polls in relatively-calm and upper areas.
The nine-phase panchayat polls in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch constituencies will be held from November 17.
The polling for the next eight phases will be held on November 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8, and 11.
As per the schedule, the snow-bound and far-flung areas are going for polls in the first two phases in November.
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 after November 15,” the official added.
In the first two phases, the elections are going to be held in areas, which face harsh winter even during November like Keran, Ramhal, Tarathpora, Teetwal, Tangdar, Kalaroos, Machil, Rajwar, Kralpora, Gurez, Tulail, Kunzer, Uri, Drass Lungnak, Barsoo.
The polls will also be held in Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh region in first phases.
“There are many areas which remain cut off during winters. We have taken all ground realities into consideration as during November, the climate remains intensely cold there,” the official said.
At the same time, most of the areas where there is a larger presence of militancy will face elections in the last phases.
As per the schedule, the elections in Hajin, Sopore, of north Kashmir and south Kashmir areas like Newa, Dadsasa, Shadimarg, Shopian, besides various volatile areas, will be held in the latter phases.
A police official said that security agencies do not want to take any chances that could disturb further situation in south Kashmir.
“The polls in most of the volatile areas are to be held in latter phases till all arrangements are made,” the official said.
Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Muneer Ahmad Khan, has said that providing security for panchayat polls was more challenging than the urban local bodies elections.
“In panchayat polls, the areas are spread more than urban local bodies elections. But we are prepared for it,” Khan said.


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Lead Stories

Governor dissolves JK assembly

After Mehbooba, Sajad stake claim to form government

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has dissolved the state assembly as both Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form government in the state.

“The governor, Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik has passed an order in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir dissolving the Legislative Assembly,” the order reads.

“By virtue of powers vested upon me in terms of Proclamation No. P-1/18 of 2018 dated 20th June 2018 issued under sub-section (1) of section 92 and in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by clause (b) of sub-section (2) of section 53 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, I hereby dissolve the Legislative assembly,” said an order issued by the governor.

Soon after assembly was dissolved Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and wrote, “JKNC has been pressing for assembly dissolution for 5 months now. It can’t be a coincidence that within minutes of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba letter staking claim the order to dissolve the assembly suddenly appears.”

Earlier, Sajad Lone claimed he has the support of 26 BJP legislators and 18 others, which would cross the majority mark of 44, Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti says she has the support of the Congress and the National Conference, taking their collective total to 56.

“As you are aware that Peoples Democratic Party is the largest party in the State assembly having a strength of 29. You might have gathered from the media reports that the Congress and National Conference has a strength of 15 and the Congress 12. That takes over collective strength to 56,” her letter reads.

Earlier, Congress, People’s Democratic Party, and National Conference have “agreed” to form the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir to “protect” the special status of the state.

Senior PDP leader, Altaf Bukhari, after meeting the NC leader Omar Abdullah, told the reporters that three parties have agreed to form the coalition government in the state in the interest of the state.

“Article 370 is our identity. We need to safeguard it. It is the constitution of India that grants special status to the state. We have been doing everything possible to defend it,” he said.

Bukhari said, “By Thursday, people of the state would receive good news with regard to government formation.”

“Keeping in view the political situation and the aspirations of the people, we have joined hands. Around 60 MLAs have come together. It is good that an elected government would be in place to run the affairs,” he said.

He said the “communal forces” have so far not been able to make entry into the state.

“We need to keep them away,” he said.

He, however, said he was not aware of the contours of the alliance.

“We have agreed to form the government to respond to the situation. Serious discussion is going on between the leaders of three parties,” Bukhari said.

Asked who would be the chief minister, he replied, “He will be from among the leaders”.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad confirmed that talks were going on among the three parties over government formation in the state.

“We (NC, Congress, PDP) thought why not to unite and form a government together. Talks are going on, but as of now it is only a suggestion…We haven’t reached that stage yet where we can form the government,” said Azad, responding to queries on potential Congress-PDP-NC alliance.

Senior National Conference leader, Nasir Aslam Wani said a “thought process” was going on between the mainstream parties. “Beyond that nothing has come so far,” Wani said.

He said if Government of India can wish to talk to Pakistan and Hurriyat, there was nothing wrong between the mainstream parties to talk to each other.

State Congress Chief, G A Mir, said there was nothing wrong in talks between the mainstream parties.

“So far there are no formal talks. When the formal meetings are held only then decisions will be taken,” Mir said, adding he was going to New Delhi for a party meeting.

He, however, has been quoted by a local news agency saying they have “sixty member team and…will see whether the governor can dissolve the House undemocratically”.

“All secular parties have come together for the bigger interest of state and public. For saving constitution may it be Article 370 and 35A, we have to rise above party lines especially when eminent dangers are bigger,” Mir said.

 

 

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Assembly dissolution onslaught on democratic institutions: NC, Cong

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar: Shocked over the Governor’s decision to dissolve State Legislative Assembly, the political parties who were desiring for entering into alliance for government formation, termed the entire move as “onslaught on democratic institutions”.

Two state based prime political parties NC and PDP along with Congress on Wednesday claimed of holding talks with each other to enter into alliance for form government five months after Governor’s rule was imposed in the state.

However, later the Governor Satya Pal Malik Wednesday evening dissolved state Assembly ‘under the relevant provisions in Jammu and Kashmir constitution.’

 States Congress president G A Mir said that they were already expecting the “undemocratic move by the BJP led government at Centre.”

“We already told our members that BJP can take this step to sabotage our efforts.  It was first time the secular front has joined hands. The New Delhi had just one option which they utlised,” he said.

Mir claimed the Centre has “lost a bigger opportunity to restore normalcy in the state.”

“Our members even also knew that we won’t be allowed to enter Raj Bhawan. We demanded time from them but New Delhi pressed the Governor and dissolved Legislative Assembly,” he said.

“We have kept our political differences aside as all the poles including north, central and south joined hands this time,” Mir said.

National Conference (NC) seemed equally enraged over the Governor’s decision to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

“It is very sad and total onslaught on democratic institutions. When stake was claimed and we formally declared our unconditional support for government formation, the strange tactic from BJP followed, ” NC’s Provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani told The Kashmir Monitor.

“We preferred to stay away from any berth for the benefit of people of Kashmir,” he added.

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In 8-yrs, JK loses Rs 100 cr ICPS funds

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 21: Jammu and Kashmir has lost over Rs 100 crore centre funds for non-implementation of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in eight years.

The ICPS, a centrally-sponsored programme for child protection, was implemented across the country in 2009. However, Jammu and Kashmir did not implement it till 2017.

During these years, an official of ICPS said, JK lost around Rs 100 crore.

The government of India has spent Rs 2,141.50 crore under ICPS between 2009 to December 2016.

“Jammu and Kashmir was not allotted any funds till 2014,” the official said.

Although the scheme has now been implemented in the state, it is still in infancy.

“The state received only Rs 1.56 crore–the lowest to any state–during 2015 and 2016. Due to non-implementation of the scheme over these years, the state’s annual allocation has been reduced to less than Rs one crore,” the official said.

It has main office housed in a rented building at Barazulla here.

It still lacks required manpower and infrastructure.

“Although it has been rolled out on papers, a lot has to be done for its implementation. We need the adequate staff and infrastructure,” the official said.

It took the state eight years to roll out the scheme, despite the state having highest percentage of orphans.

Earlier, Union Minister for women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, had said that no proposal had been received from Jammu and Kashmir for the release of grants under the ICPS.

Later, the then-joint secretary in the ministry Vivek Joshi also wrote to the state government asking that the requirements for the ICPS implementation be fulfilled.

The scheme was aimed at protection of children from abuse and exploitation and for their holistic growth and development.

It was also introduced to address gaps in existing initiatives and putting in place a safety net of exclusive structures, services and trained personnel for the protection of children in difficult circumstances.

Under the scheme, every district will have a juvenile justice board and child protection committee for counselling and taking care of the children who are in conflict with the law or living in difficult

Former high court judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi, who is chairman for its selection/oversight committee, admitted a huge funds have been lapsed over the years. “Now, the process has been initiated for its proper implementation. There are so many welfare schemes, which are not been implemented on the ground. Even administrators are not providing funds for the schemes,” he said.

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