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Rajnath to talk to Mehbooba on unilateral ceasefire appeal

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New Delhi, May 10:Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that while he had not been directly apprised of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal for a unilateral ceasefire during Ramadhan, he will talk to her about it.
“I have not held direct talks with her on the issue but I have got this information…I will talk to her after going to New Delhi,” Singh told reporters at the sidelines of an event organised by the BSF on the outskirts of the state capital.
He was asked to comment on J&K chief minister’s appeal to the Centre to consider a unilateral ceasefire starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.
To a question on a tourist from Chennai being killed in stone pelting in Kashmir, Singh said it was “most unfortunate”. “The incident of a tourist dying due to stone pelting is most unfortunate…everyone is condemning it,” he said.
Asked about the BJP’s prospects against a united Opposition in the coming bypolls in Kairana (Lok Sabha) and Noorpur (Assembly), Singh said, “Despite all parties joining hands, the BJP will win both the seats.”
We will win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as the Narendra Modi government has undertaken so many development works that people will not be able to ignore, he said.
“Development works cannot be totally ignored,” he said adding the BJP was set to form government in Karnataka.
Earlier, addressing a teachers’ conference here, Singh said the role of teachers was not only to build the character of students, but also nation building.
“Knowledge in life is not everything. Along with knowledge, values are also needed. There are many who became terrorists after getting technical degrees,” Singh, who is the local MP, said.
“Friedman has written that there are many similarities between Infosys and Al-Qaeda. In both the organisation, educated youngsters work. The role of one of these is destructive while the other is welfare-oriented. The only difference between the two is that of values,” Singh said referring to author Thomas Friedman.


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Bijbehara: 40 polling booths with zero votes

Mubashir Bukhari

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Bijbehara, Apr 23: Home turf of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Bijbehara assembly segment under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, reported highest concentration of polling stations where zero votes were cast.

Among the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara, one of the six assembly constituencies where voting took place in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections Tuesday.

People cast their votes in 714 polling stations in Anantnag. Bijbehara, the home constituency of PDP president Mufti, had 120 polling booths set up for a population of 93,289 people.

 

A total of 1,893 electorate or 2 per cent exercised their franchise when the polling ended at 4 pm. The voting time for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was reduced in view of security considerations. The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where voting took place in the first phase, saw 17 polling stations with zero while the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which went to polls in the second phase, recorded zero votes in 90 booths.

Polling in Anantnag, which has 16 assembly seats, has been divided into three phases. The first phase was completed on Tuesday while remaining two will be held on April 29 and May 6. The decision for staggered polling was taken keeping in view the security situation in South Kashmir which has seen many encounters between security forces and militants.

On February 14, over 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a miliant attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

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Clubbing of booths kept voters away

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 23:  The clubbing of the polling booths in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency Tuesday discouraged many voters, who preferred to stay at home rather than walking long distances to cast their votes.  

District Anantnag, which went for polls first in the three-phased schedule Tuesday, recorded 13.63 voter turnouts in six segments including Anantnag, Dooru, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara and Pahalgam.

Scores of the voters said that many gave up their plans to cast vote after authorities announced clubbing of the polling booths in the constituency.

 

In Lisser Chawalgam village of Kokernag segment, at least three polling stations catering to different locations were accommodated in a local higher secondary school.

 It included polling station of Shalnaad village as well, which is at least three kilometers away from the station.  

Those who casted their votes claimed that they had to enter secretly into the booth as the area had witnessed stone pelting.

“More people could have come to vote if the locations of the polling booths were not changed at the last moment. Many women didn’t cast their votes as they too had to travel kilometres to reach to the polling station,” said a voter, who had come from Shalnaad to cast his vote at higher secondary school Lisser.

Similarly polling booths in rural areas of Anantnag, Pahalgam too were clubbed, which reportedly affected the voting percentage of these areas.

“South Kashmir usually witnesses low voting percentage. The change in the location of polling booths has further the participation,” said a polling officer.

National Conference Candidate for Anantnag, Retired Justice Hasnain Masoodi, told The Kashmir Monitor that the clubbing of the polling booth was the main reason behind the low voting percentage in many areas.

“The polling booths of Jeshnaad and Makawora have been accommodated in government buildings, which are five to eight kilometers away from these villages. It has made the entire voting exercise inconvenient for the people,” he said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier also said that clubbing of the polling stations for Parliament elections in Jammu and Kashmir will affect the participation of people in the elections.

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Security bandobast not up to the mark: Mir

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Srinagar, Apr 23: The Congress Candidate from Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency Ghulam Ahmad Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit.

Mir, in a statement, also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that “the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.”

“I express my gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag,” he said saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free.

 

Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag.

“The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir,” he said.

Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident-free elections.

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