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Political parties on LS polls: Security major concern for campaigning in Kashmir

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Mar 13: Expressing dismay over the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decision of not conducting assembly elections with the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the political parties on Wednesday admitted that security would be a concern for them during their campaigning.
The ECI on Sunday announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections 2019.The voting would be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.
The counting of votes would take place on May 23.
In the first phase on April 11, voting will be held in Baramulla and Jammu constituencies. Srinagar and Udhampur constituencies will vote in the second phase on April 18. Polling in Anantnag will be held on April 23, April 29 and May 6, while Ladakh will go to polls on May 6.
Even though the political parties had asked the visiting ECI team to conduct the assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously in J&K, the commission decided to only conduct the parliamentary elections for now.
President, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC), Ghulam Ahmad Mir said that “security will be challenge, as of now we have not received any guidelines from the Police for the campaigning.”
“The by-election for Anantnag parliamentary seat was deferred. What does it signify? It is for the first time in the history of Kashmir that the election for Anantnag parliamentary seat would be held in three phases,” he said.
“The security forces have themselves categorized the areas under vulnerable and other categories,” Mir added.
He said that policies adopted by the central government for the last four and half months with regard to Kashmir have “alienated the people, especially youth.”
“The people should feel that the candidate in whose favour they are casting the vote is sincere. They should also feel that will he be able to represent them in the parliament. There are many, who after winning could not live upto the expectations of the people,” he said.
Senior leader, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Nizam-ud- Din Bhat admitted that the situation is “not good”.
“There is a threat to the lives of voters as well as to the candidates. Time will tell, how many would cast their votes, there are many who don’t cast votes,” he said.
“To hold elections is an obligation for ECI. We are ready for elections. In our meeting, we had asked the ECI to conduct the assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously. We were not aware of their intentions,” he added.
Provincial president, National Conference (NC), Nasir Aslam Wani said that administration should make fool-proof security arrangements for the parliamentary elections.
“ECI has deferred the assembly elections just because of the security reasons, now one can hope that adequate security measures would be put in place for Lok Sabha,” he said.
Wani said that party’s parliamentary board would be meeting within next couple of days to decide the candidature.
“The preparations are on, our senior leaders will be holding rallies in all the constituencies of the valley and inform people about the wrongdoings of the previous government,” he said.

CEO seeks cooperation from parties

Jammu, Mar 13: Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shailendra Kumar Wednesday interacted with the representatives of recognized political parties in the State on various issues related to the conduct of Parliamentary Elections-2019 which have recently been announced by the Election Commission of India.
The CEO held wide ranging discussions with the political leaders for the smooth, peaceful and transparent conduct of Parliament Elections and sought their views and suggestions to further improve things on ground to ensure larger participation of voters and to augment facilities at the Polling stations across the State.
While seeking cooperation from the Political parties to ensure complete transparency in the electoral process, the CEO urged them to abide by the guidelines of the Election Commission of India with regard to the implementation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) which has been enforced with the announcement of Parliamentary Elections. He advised them to sensitize their workers, polling agents about the scope and extent of MCC and cooperate fully in strict adherence of the same.
He urged them to make use of Election Commission’s App “C-Vigil” which relates to deal with the complaints with regard to the violation of MCC by any department/political party or any individual and complaints can be filed on-line which are being dealt by the Commission quickly. He also urged them to make optimal use of Suvidha App to avail on-line facilities with regard to seek any kind of permission/registration related to the election process from the election authorities. He said these facilities have been created by the Election Commission to facilitate the political parties to extend instant assistance whatever is required.
The CEO urged the political leaders to appoint their BLAs on priority who can help the BLOs in facilitating election related matters of the parties. He said the District Election authorities have organized training programmes for the political workers, BLAs on use of EVMs/VVPATs and other election related activities enabling them to educate the voters about the same. He also informed that new Electoral Rolls have been made available to all the parties for their information and further use. He also assured to make available the manuals of other important guidelines related to the electoral process issued by the ECI from time to time for their information and knowledge.
The leaders sought some clarifications with regard to the MCC violations, election related expenditure, publicity etc from the CEO. They also suggested several measures to further improve the electoral process.
Prominent among those present on the occasion included, Harshdev Singh from JKNPP, R.K.Bali from JKPDP, Rajinder Sharma from BJP, Pradeep Kumar Bali from National Conference, R.K. Thapa from BSP, Om Parkash from CPI-M and Dr. Rama Kant Khajuria from Indian National Congress.

 
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Internet blockade fails to curb violence: Stanford study

JK loses $28.4 million due to 3-day internet blackout’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 25: Kashmir has recorded the highest number of the internet shutdown in India, however, such information blockades have proven less effective in controlling violence, says a study by Stanford University.

The study ‘Of Blackouts and Bandhs: The Strategy and Structure of Disconnected Protest in India’ by Jan Rydzak, Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University, shows that nearly half of the internet shutdowns in India last year were witnessed in Kashmir.

As per it, India witnessed 134 network shutdowns in 2018 of which 47 per cent occurred in Kashmir.

 

“In India, the majority of shutdown events occur in the relatively volatile western or northwestern states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and particularly the contested territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Out of 36 states and union territories, these four regions account for more than 75% of all recorded shutdown events in India (2012-17), while Jammu and Kashmir alone comprises about 47%,” the research says.

While the government enforces these internet shutdowns with an aim to restrict agitation and maintain ‘law and order’, the Stanford University research challenges this theory claiming “rumours and disinformation continue to spread with or without access to digital communication networks.”

“If shutdowns truly disrupt the spread of rumors and the coordinated collective action that stems from it, a disproportionate increase in riots, which are more disorderly and more loosely coordinated than peaceful resistance, should follow,” it reads.

“The findings cast considerable doubt on whether shutdowns are a useful device in the quelling of unrest. These (shutdowns) are less reliant on effective communication and coordination,” it adds.

“It is as important to consider whether particular patterns of repression are effective as it is to determine whether they produce uniform patterns of dissent. Considering differences in levels of coordination, I expect that the incidence of riots will increase and that of non-violent demonstrations will decline when a blackout is in place,” it says.

The Stanford working paper said that the effectives of these internet shutdowns to curb unrest was not even known to the Government of India.

“Despite the prolific use of network shutdowns across the country, neither India nor any other national government has conducted publicly acknowledged studies on the effectiveness of shutdowns as a means of suppressing unrest,” it said.

“While shutdowns are occasionally spurred by security concerns during peaceful mass events such as festivals and processions, a large proportion of known cases are implemented with the explicit goal of ensuring or restoring public order. In most instances, this has been tantamount to preventing or quashing protests, riots, or collective violence.”

The Stanford study also explains how colonial era laws have been used by the government’s to justify it blackouts, particularly during discontinuing of 22 social media websites in Jammu and Kashmir during 2017.

“Colonial-era laws such as the Telegraph Act of 1885 have also been used during the disconnection of 22 social media services in Jammu and Kashmir in April 2017. In August 2017, India’s Ministry of Communication announced new regulations governing the suspension of telecommunication services, amending the Telegraph Act (2017),” it said.

“ Empirically, these regulations have done little to dampen shutdown occurrence or usher in more prudence in executing them; 29 incidents were recorded in the final five months of the year and a further 45 in the first four months of 2018,” the study said.

Putting up the impact of internet blackouts on economy, the study claims that a three day without internet services cause a loss of $28.4 million in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The economic loss of approximately $3.04 billion during the total duration of shutdowns in India between 2012 and 2017, which accumulates 16,315 hours (680 days). 2018’s calculation of the costs of shutdowns in India, a three-day blackout equates to a revenue loss of at least $559,000 while the work of civil society organizations suggests that a blackout of the same duration in J&K would cost the state economy $28.4 million.”

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Farooq hints long term NC-Cong tie-up ; Files nomination for Srinagar LS constituency

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Mar 25: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah Monday filed his nomination papers for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

Farooq, who is seeking re-election from the constituency, was accompanied by his son and NC vice-president, Omar Abdullah and other party leaders to the office of returning officer, Srinagar, where he filed his nomination.

Talking to the reporters after filing the papers, he said: “Fascist forces are emerging in the country.  We all are together to fight evil in India.”

 

Asked over the reports about rift between the Congress and National Conference over contesting of seats, he said: “There is no difference. We all are together to fight the fascist forces.”

He, however, refused to comment whether or not 2019 elections will see a ‘Modi wave’ like the one in 2014 when the BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls.

Farooq is the joint candidate of the National Conference and Congress.  The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is going to polls in the second phase of the general election on April 18.

He was declared the winner of the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election in April 2017. He defeated the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan by 10,766 votes.

Earlier, Farooq suffered the first-ever defeat of his career in 2014 when he lost to the then PDP candidate, Tariq Ahmad Karra.

Only a few vehicles of the NC leaders were allowed inside the deputy commissioner’s office complex in Tankipora area.

The police had barricaded the entire area as part of security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident and did not allow any supporters at the venue.

The returning officer had earlier issued guidelines, saying the maximum number of people allowed at the time of filing of nomination by a candidate would be five, including the candidate, whereas the maximum number of vehicles allowed would be three.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is spread over three districts: Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal. It has 12,90,318 voters who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency. The last date for filing nomination papers for the second phase is March 26 and the scrutiny of the papers will be conducted on March 27. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 29 and the polling will be held on April 18, from 7 am to 6 pm.

Rasheed files papers for Baramulla seat

Srinagar, Mar 25: Awami Ittihad Party (AIP) supremo Er Rasheed on Monday filed nomination papers from Baramulla constituency which is going to polls in the first phase on April 11.

Speaking to journalists outside the DC office in Baramulla, Rasheed said that National Conference (NC) is “more dangerous” than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that NC should come clean on its alliance with Congress.

While Farooq Abdullah talks day and night of supporting Congress but NC’s parliamentary candidate Mohammad Akbar Lone calls Congress more evil and harmful than BJP and both Congress and NC need to tell the truth about their agenda of exploitation and vote grabbing politics.”

He also accused Peoples Conference candidate Raja Aijaz Ali of exploiting the sentiments of Pahari community.

“Just being a member of a particular community does not mean that any person has a right to mislead the deprived and oppressed masses of that community,” Rasheed said.

He also lashed out PDP president saying that Mehbooba Mufti can go to any extent to get power and can join hands with any one.

Rasheed asked people to judge his ten-year tenure as MLA before deciding to vote for any particular party and ask their conscience who can represent them better in parliament.

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Stronghold! In 4 decades, NC has lost only twice in Srinagar

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Mar 25: National Conference has lost the central Kashmir Parliamentary seat only twice since 1977 emphasizing the party’s stronghold on the constituency from which Farooq

Abdullah filed his nomination on Monday.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is scheduled to go for polls on April 18 and has 12,90,318 voters, who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency.

 

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is spread over three districts: Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal. It has 12,90,318 voters who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency.

While Farooq, who submitted his nomination papers on Monday, is a joint candidate of the National Conference and Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party has decided to field Aga Syed Mohsin from Srinagar.

The National Conference president was earlier declared the winner of the Srinagar Lok Sabha bye-election in April 2017.

He defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan by 10,766 votes.

Earlier, Farooq suffered the first ever defeat of his career in 2014 when he lost to the then PDP’s leader Tariq Hamid Karra.

The NC faced a defeat in 1996, when the Congress candidate Ghulam Mohammad Mir (Magami) emerged winner from Srinagar parliamentary constituency.

In rest of the elections, the NC candidates emerged winners from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah represented it in 1977, Farooq Abdullah-1980, Abdul Rashid Kabuli-1984, Mohammad Shafi Bhat 1989 (uncontested), Omar Abdullah-1998, 1999, 2004, and Farooq Abdullah-2009 against PDP candidate Iftikhar Ansari.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said that people of Kashmir need a ‘louder and credible” voice to represent them in Parliament.

“Dr Sahab (Farooq Abdullah) is the one who can raise the issues of Kashmiris. He is a well experienced politician and Kashmiris have no other choice,” Sagar said.

“Dr Sahab has done a lot for Kashmiris. The National Conference has taken many welfare initiatives in the state, which are non-comparable,” he added.

While the PDP seems sure of its candidate’s ‘win’ despite him being a lesser known face. “You can measure from the works we did during our tenure. Our candidate is a well-respected and honest person. People shall give him a chance and see how he will represent them in the Parliament,” PDP Chief Spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said.

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