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Panchayat Polls: Phase 7 voting today

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Jammu, Dec 3: Voting for Phase-VII of Panchayat Polls-2018 will be held on Tuesday at 2714 polling stations across the state including 576 in Kashmir division and 2138 in Jammu division.

According to the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shaleen Kabra, 892 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive in this Phase including 428 in Kashmir division and 464 in Jammu division.

He said 5575 candidates in the fray for 341 Sarpanch and 1798 Panch seats in Phase-VII, while 85 Sarpanchs and 912 Panchs have been elected unopposed in this phase.

 

He said in the areas going to polls in Phase-VII, an electorate of 475865 will be voting for Sarpanch constituencies and 345880 for Panch constituencies. “Photo Voter Slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station,” he said.

CEO said at the end of 6 Phases of Panchayat Polls, overall voter turnout of 73.6% has been recorded across the State, with a poll percentage of 46.1% in the Kashmir division and 82.8% in the Jammu division for the first 6 phases.

Kabra said in Phase-VI of Panchayat Polls held on December 1, overall poll percentage of 76.9% was witnessed across the State including 84.6% in Jammu division and 17.3% in Kashmir division.

He said in Phase-V which went to polls on November 29, the State witnessed a poll percentage of 71.1% including 33.7% in Kashmir division and 85.2% in Jammu division.

He said in Phase-IV, the state witnessed a poll percentage of 71.3%, including 82.4% in Jammu division and 32.3% in Kashmir division. In Phase-III, the State witnessed a poll percentage of 75.2% which includes 55.7% in Kashmir division and 83.0% in Jammu division.

In the Phase-II of Panchayat Polls, overall 71.1% polling was witnessed across the State with 80.4% polling in Jammu division and 52.2% in Kashmir division.

Similarly, in the Phase-I of Panchayat Polls held on 17 November 2018, 74.1% polling was recorded across J&K including 64.5% in Kashmir division and 79.4% in Jammu division.

He said results have been announced for all these Phases by the respective Returning Officers.

CEO said orders have been passed in various complaint cases as well as directions of the Courts and wherever necessary Notifications reappointing the election schedules have been issued. “All such orders/notifications are available at website of CEO J&K,” he said.

Kabra said Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for Phase-III.  Photo Voter Slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling stations.

He said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of Panchayat Elections, 2018. Also, Expenditure Observers are keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates. In addition, for the poll day, Micro Observers have been placed in polling stations, particularly those considered hypersensitive. Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates too have been deployed.

CEO said Control Rooms have been established in all the districts across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct as also to disseminate information to the public. Security arrangements have been made including deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).

He said the Government has declared holiday on the day of poll in the Panchayat areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said special casual leave shall also be granted to the employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise. As per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility to do so.

The Chief Electoral Officer, J&K appealed the voters to come forward and exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address their local needs.

 

‘Observe shutdown in poll-bound areas’

Srinagar, Dec 3: The Joint Hurriyat Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik Monday said that New Delhi is “repeatedly devising means and methods to erode and undermine the disputed status of J&K by fiddling with the state subjects laws in order to change the demographic composition of the state.”

The leaders, in a statement, said that the new controversy about Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) as reported in media is part of that policy.

“As part of the Doval doctrine borrowed from Israel, this policy of assaulting Kashmiris on all accounts, physical, economical and psychological, in order to put intense pressure on them to tire them out to give up their legitimate struggle, is well known by now. But what New Delhi refuses to acknowledge is that it may have groups of collaborators in the form of regional pro-India parties who for the lust of chair help GoI in taking illegitimate roots here,” the leaders said.

They added that the people of Kashmir have not for a year or two but for the past three long decades withstood “severe Indian state repression” with full resilience and strong resolve and not budged an inch from striving for their basic right. And that is what they will continue to do so come what may, they said.

The leadership also called for shutdown in areas going to polls in the seventh phase of Panchayat elections on Tuesday.

In a statement, the leadership asked people to observe a complete protest shutdown in Trehgam, Qadirabad, Qaziabad, Naidkhai, Rafiabad, Pattan, Sukhnag, Parnewa, Shadimarg, Kapran, Hermain, Pombay, Larnoo, Breng, Sagam going to polls tomorrow.

“Joint Hurriyat asked people to demonstrate their total rejection and disregard of this futile exercise by staying away and boycotting it completely,” said the statement.

They said the “sham” elections were being thrust on the people by the “authoritarian state.”


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Biz leaders of JK, PaK meet in Tashkent

Appeal India, Pak to resume cross LoC trade

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jun 24: For the first time since the Cross LoC trade was suspended, the business leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and Muzaffarabad met in Tashkent and decided to approach the respective governments for early resumption of the trade.

The decision was taken in a three-day conference of the business leaders of both sides of LoC, which is currently underway in the Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. Six business leaders representing Chambers of Commerce of Kashmir and Jammu are participating in the conference, which started on Sunday. 

Trade leaders from Mirpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and Traders Union Rawalakot are representing the business community of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) in the conference.

 

The three-day meet has been organized by Muzaffarabad-based Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR), which works to “promote peace and development at all levels through dialogue, reconciliation and reforms.”

On the second day of the conference on Monday, the traders resolved to convey to their respective governments the need for early resumption of cross LoC trade.

President Kashmir Chamber (KCC&I), Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, while speaking to The Kashmir Monitor over the phone from Tashkent, said the traders held threadbare deliberations on the resumption and strengthening of the Cross LoC trade.

“It was resolved that all the Chambers will take up the matter related to the reopening of Cross LoC trade with the respective governments,” he said.

On April 18, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended the Cross-LoC trade in J&K, saying that it was being used for “funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency” into the state.

More than 280 traders were hit by the decision. Figures reveal that goods worth Rs 6,900 crore were traded on both sides since the inception of the trade in 2008.

On the alleged transporting of incriminating material through the route, Ahmad said the traders pledged to push their respective governments for framing Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for ensuring greater transparency in the trade.

“We are for the transparency of the trade. Both the countries should frame SOPs wherein necessary measures should be taken to check such activities. It was made amply clear that the traders should concentrate on the trade while as the government must ensure transparency,” he said.

The participants also realised that the suspension of the Cross trade was causing huge losses to the business community on both the sides.

“Traders on both the sides of LoC are incurring huge losses. The Cross LoC trade was the biggest Confidence Building Measure between the two countries. It should be resumed immediately,” said the president, KCC&I.

He said the conference was aimed at exploring all options to ensure hassle-free trade across the border. 

Before suspension, the Cross LoC trade was being carried out for four days a week on both routes—Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote.

Started in October 2008, Cross-LoC trade was considered the mother of all confidence building measures between India and Pakistan. However, the trade could not grow beyond the barter system.

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Mehbooba welcomes Hurriyat’s readiness for dialogue

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Srinagar, Jun 24: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti Monday welcomed the Hurriyat Conference willingness to hold talks with the Centre saying it was ‘better late than never’.

“Dair aye durust aye [better late than never]. The underlying purpose of the PDP-BJP alliance was to facilitate dialogue between the GoI & all stakeholders. Tried my best to make it happen in my tenure as Chief Minister but relieved that Hurriyat has finally softened their stand,” former Chief Minister Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Mehbooba Mufti was referring to Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s call for a tripartite talk between the Kashmiri leadership, New Delhi and Islamabad for resolution of all issues, including Kashmir.

 

Besides touching on the need for a dialogue during his Friday sermons at Jamia Masjid, the Mirwaiz in his Eid-ul Fitr sermon earlier this month had sought confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan that could facilitate the revival of talks between the two countries.

Governor Satya Pal Malik, while addressing a function in Srinagar on Saturday, had said the Hurriyat had softened its stand and were ready for talks after he took charge of the state in August last year.

“The Hurriyat Conference was not willing to talk. Ram Vilas Paswan was standing at their door (in 2016) but they were not ready to talk. Today, they are ready for talks and want to hold dialogue. There is change in everyone,” Satya Pal Malik said.

The governor’s statement has given rise to speculations that the Centre might be opening dialogue channels with the separatists in Kashmir in near future.

Talks must be held with them: Farooq

Srinagar, Jun 24: Two days after Governor Satya Pal Malik said that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with the Central government, National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday asserted that talks must be held.

“The Governor says Hurriyat has agreed to talks. Then, talks should be held with them,” Abdullah told the media persons.

Contending that situation in J&K “is changing”, Governor Malik had on June 22 said that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with the Centre.

“The ones who turned back Ram Vilas Paswan from their door, they are now ready for talks. The stone pelting after ‘namaz’ is almost over. We do not like it when a youngster dies,” Malik had said at a function.

“But when a bullet is fired, bullets will be fired in retaliation. That is the reality and this change in stance by them is a welcome sign,” Malik had further added.

He had also acknowledged Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for his statement in which he had expressed concerns over the growing drug crisis in the state.

Within ‘ambit of Constitution’: BJP

Srinagar, Jan 24: BJP’s JK Affairs in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna has said that the Government of India was ready for talks with the Hurriyat ‘within the ambit of the Indian Constitution.’

Khanna also said that this was being done to win the trust of every individual in the state.

“We are open for talks. Hurriyat leaders are own people, they are the residents of J&K so they are most welcome to talk to us including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi but within the ambit of Indian constitution,” Khanna said.

Earlier, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti said that she is relived that Hurriyat has softened their stand regarding talks with the Government of India.

Recently, Governor Satya Pal Malik’s said that Hurriyat is ready for talks.

In response, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that if Government of India initiates ‘meaningful dialogue’, there will be a ‘positive response’.

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J&K Reservation Bill introduced in LS

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jun 24: People living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in professional courses on par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC), according to a bill introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will replace an ordinance issued by the previous government.

The Bill was introduced by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah who was present in the House.

 

Some members from the Opposition wanted to oppose introduction of the bill but speaker Om Birla rejected their demand, saying they had not followed the procedure for doing so.

The bill seeks to provide relief to people living in areas adjoining the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. They can now avail benefits of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission in different professional courses.

The bill once passed by Parliament will amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 to bring persons residing in areas adjoining the IB within the ambit of reservation, on par with those living in areas adjoining the ALoC.

The rules provided for reservation in direct recruitment, promotions and admission in different professional courses to various categories, including residents of areas adjoining ALoC.

Those living in areas adjoining the IB in Jammu and Kashmir were not  included in the ambit of the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 and Rules, 2005 and were deprived of benefits.

Due to continuous cross-border tensions, people living along the IB suffer from socio-economic and educational backwardness. Shelling from across the border often compels residents to move to safer places, which adversely impacts their education as schools and colleges remain closed for long periods.

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