Srinagar, Apr 9: Campaigning for the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir came to an end Tuesday as over 13 lakh voters will seal the fate of nine candidates in the first phase of polls on April 11.
The electioneering process was peaceful with no untoward incident reported in the constituency, an election department official said.
The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, spread over 15 assembly segments in three districts of north Kashmir, will head for voting on Thursday along with 90 other constituencies across the country in the first phase of polling.
The nominees from the seat are– Muhammad Akbar Lone of the National Conference, Farooq Ahmad Mir of the Congress, Raja Aijaz Ali of the People’s Conference, Mohammad Maqbool War of the BJP, Jahangir Khan of the NPP, Abdul Qayoom Wani of the PDP and independent candidates Javid Ahmad Qureshi, Syed Najeeb Shah Naqvi and Abdul Rashid Sheikh.
None of the nine candidates in the fray have earlier been elected either to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
PPD stalwart Muzaffar Hussain Baig had won the Baramulla seat in 2014 general election but he chose not to seek re-election this time.
Baig had defeated his nearest rival Sharief-ud-Din Shariq of the National Conference by a margin of 29,219 votes.
While the 2014 elections in this north Kashmir constituency was a virtual head on contest between the PDP and the NC, a multi-cornered contest is expected this time around with emergence of People’s Conference as the third regional force in Kashmir.
Former Langate MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh’s decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls has spiced up the contest as former IAS officer Shah Faesal has extended support to him of his newly formed Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement.
Some of the areas in the constituency, particularly falling in Kupwara and Bandipora districts, are still snowbound but poll staff and material has already been dispatched to respective polling stations, the officials said.
They said authorities have established 1,749 polling stations at 1,387 locations for over 13.12 lakh voters to exercise their franchise.
The officials said all arrangements, including the security plan for the polling day, have been finalised for smooth, free, fair and transparent conduct of elections.
Fresh restrictions in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers
Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, officials said.
Normal life continued to remain affected across the valley for the 47th consecutive day with markets closed and public transport off the roads, the officials said.
Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in few areas of the valley to maintain law and order, the officials said.
They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in downtown (interior city) and Anchar area of Soura police station in Srinagar.
The restrictions have also been imposed in Kupwara and Handwara police districts and the main towns of Ganderbal, Anantnag and Bijbehara, the officials added.
Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas in the rest of the valley, they said.
The officials said the curbs were a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of apprehensions that vested interests might exploit the large Friday prayer gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.
Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines – including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta or Dargah Sharief in Hazratbal – in the valley for the past over a month now.
Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley.
Internet services have remained suspended across all platforms, they said. While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir, they added.
The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second rung mainstream politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continued to be in detention or under house arrest.
While NC president Farooq Abdullah was first placed under house arrest, he was on Tuesday booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
His son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti were detained on the night of August 4 — hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.
Most of the mainstream leaders, including former ministers and legislators, were also either detained or kept under house arrest, the officials said.
Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award
New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.
“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.
“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.
Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.
A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.
Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.
The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.
An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.
National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.
The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.
Army nabs Gurdaspur man on charges of spying for Pakistan
Gurdaspur, September 19: A resident of Tibri village here was nabbed by Army officials for allegedly providing photographs of the cantonment area and the under-construction Kartarpur corridor to someone in Pakistan, police said on Thursday.
Vipan Singh was held by Army personnel on Wednesday, said Kulwinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Purana Shalla police station in Gurdaspur.Officers of the military intelligence were still questioning Singh, the police said, adding that he was yet to be handed over to them.
The suspect was allegedly offered Rs 10 lakh for providing sensitive information, though it was yet be verified, the police said.Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being built by India.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib–the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistan’s Kartarpur–with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib