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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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Need to replace idea of ‘Azad Kashmir’: Mehbooba

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 14: Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti Friday said there was a need to replace the idea of ‘Azaad Kashmir’ with a better one within the framework of the Indian Constitution.

Addressing a seminar ‘Kashmir – The Way Forward’ at the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, Mehbooba said, “We need to replace the idea of Azad Kashmir with a better idea within the framework of the Indian Constitution. We cannot go back to 1947, we have to move forward.”

Mehbooba, who led the PDP-BJP coalition government for over two years, said governance was only possible when there is peace.

“Thank God we are living in a democracy where people are allowed to vote and not cows,” she said.

“Kashmiris are the sufferers. Till when will our people keep witnessing this farce of people getting killed? Youngsters are taking up the guns. A 17-year-old boy who played a role in Hyder movie and 14-year-old boy recently got killed after they took up the arms.”

Referring to her coalition government with the BhartiyaJanta Party (BJP) in 2014, Mufti said it was a “suicide”.

“We put everything at stake because we hoped that Narendra Modi will pick up where Vajpayee Ji had left. Unfortunately, Modi ji could not rise to the occasion. Like Vajpayee, we invited him to address a gathering of around 30,000 people in Srinagar. Instead reaching out to people, he said he did not need anybody’s advice. We (Kashmir) are sufferers. If he does not listen to us, whom will he listen to?” she asked.

She said there was a total “distrust and disconnect” between people of Kashmir and New Delhi Delhi.

“They look inwards or outwards (outside the border) for support. During the time of Vajpayee, the people of Kashmir thought of him as a leader who cared,” she said.

“Even Pakistan responded positively resulting in reduction of militancy and ceasefire. Between 2002-05, it was the golden period of Kashmir, since for the first time the CM of Kashmir and PM of India were on the same page. Even Mirwaiz Umar, Yasin Malik, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat went  New Delhi and met Vajpayee.”

She asked New Delhi to make Kashmiris its integral part instead talking only about the land.

“Vajpayee did not hand over Kashmir to Pakistan but he realised the pain of Kashmiris. But the Indian leadership is only stuck that Kashmir is an integral part of India without talking about its people. New Delhi has to make Kashmiris its integral part.”

While her party is losing more people in last few days, including former cabinet ministers, Mehbooba said she felt that SAARC countries were being held hostage to the animosity between India and Pakistan.

“For example, why can’t we have a SAARC Handicrafts University in Kashmir?” she asked.

“India is never an issue during Pakistan elections. However, that is not the case in India. It is for the country to rise up, reach the Kashmiris and find a solution. All the SAARC nations must come together and make Jammu and Kashmir a model of cooperation.”

“Unfortunately, the media which is an important stakeholder in this discussion, is only adding fuel to the fire. The shaking of fists and shouting at one another is not representative of the real Kashmir. We need to change the discourse,” she said.

 

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JK first state with explicit law banning ‘sextortion’

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Jammu, Dec 14: J&K has become first state in India to have a law explicitly banning sexual exploitation of women by those in positions of authority, having a fiduciary relationship or a public servant.

The State Administrative Council (SAC) under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik approved the‘Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018’.

The bill seeks to amend the Ranbir Penal Code whereby specific offence under section 354 E is being inserted to provide for the offence of ‘Sextortion’, said an official handout.

“Amendments are being made in section 154, 161 and Schedule of Criminal Procedure Code and section 53 A of the Evidence Act so as to bring sextortion at par with similar offences prescribed under Ranbir Penal Code and amendment is being made in Prevention of Corruption Act to amend the definition of misconduct and to provide that demand for sexual favors would also constitute misconduct within the meaning of section 5,” said the handout.

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Real Kashmir ‘ill-treated’ by Gokulam Kerala

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Kerala/Srinagar, Dec 14: Real Kashmir FC Friday said they were hurled abuses and manhandled by officials of Gokulam Kerala, who “deprived” the visitors of training facilities ahead of their I-League game in Kozhikode.

Lying third after a sensational start to their maiden season in top-flight, Real Kashmir are scheduled to face seventh-placed Gokulam Kerala at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday. Real Kashmir even threatened to pull out of the game if they are not provided police protection.

The visiting Real Kashmir issued a statement, giving the sequence of events.

“An unfortunate incident happened today morning in Kozhikode in Kerala when the coach and other members of RKFC were abused and heckled by officials of Gokulam Kerala FC,” the Kashmir club said in a statement.

“As per protocol, the home team is supposed to provide a ground two days ahead of the main game for practice. However, RKFC was deprived of that. This morning no transport was provided to ferry the team from hotel to the ground and when they managed to reach themselves, the home team officials prevented physically from entering the ground,” it added in the statement.

Real Kashmir go into the match after a thumping 6-1 win against ShillongLajong at home.

They further said, “Abuses were hurled at the team members including their coach and finally the RKFC members were asked to leave the ground and stay indoors till the match tomorrow with Gokulam Kerala FC.

“There was no team bus, no proper training ground was provided by the host Gokulam Kerala FC, which is a mandatory requirement as per the guidelines of the I-League.”

This is Real Kashmir’s first season in the I-League after winning the second division last year while this is the second season when Gokulam are playing in the competition.

“We condemn the treatment that has been met by our team members who have been asked to stay inside the hotel till tomorrow’s game.

“Our coach and staff was abused by the officials of Gokulam Kerala FC. We need police protection and assurance that none of our players or staff members will be harmed. If we feel threatened, we may not play the game tomorrow. The matter has been taken up with appropriate authorities of law enforcement agencies as well as football federation,” said Real Kashmir.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has demanded safety of the team.

“Have been told @realkashmirfcare facing numerous difficulties down south in the run up to their clash against Gokulam Kerala FC to the point where they are unsure they will be safe playing tomorrow. Request local authorities to intervene to ensure safety of players & staff”.

On their part, Gokulam Kerala FC issued a clarification and alleged “poor and irresponsible
behaviour by Real Kashmir FC.

Gokulam also took to Twitter to issue a clarification. Gokulam said that they had arranged for a bus for the club officials to the Medical College training ground — a bus they “never took” for training at Medical College.

Gokulam said that Real Kashmir invaded the EMS stadium where training a day before the match is not allowed. Gokulam also alleged that Real Kashmir officials manhandled the groundsman and used foul language.

“Today is ‘Harthal’ (Strike) organised by a political party. After a long previous night of arrangements to get the transport for both the teams, we managed to send the bus for RKFC. Medical college ground was booked for RKFCs training,” Gokulam wrote on their twitter handle.

“Before the bus arrived, RKFCs officials who are staying in a nearby hotel invaded the EMS Stadium, where training a day before the match is not allowed by any MC. To keep this in track, we refused to let them train in the EMS.

“RKFC officials stormed the FOP and manhandled the groundsman and threw his phone away when he tried to capture what Mr. Robertson and his club members tried to do.”

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