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State polls delayed as JK sought addt’l 70k troops

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Mar 20: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections were deferred as the state administration asked for over 70,000 paramilitary troops for conducting simultaneous polls, a demand which could not be acceded to, officials said Wednesday.
A home ministry official said the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s demand of about 717 companies of paramilitary personnel could not be met as a large number of forces would be required across the country for general elections.
A company of paramilitary comprises about 100 personnel.
The state elections may be held any time after the Parliamentary polls, the officials said.
The Home Ministry and the administration of J&K, which is currently under the President’s rule, had apprised the Election Commission of the security situation in the state when a team of the poll panel had visited there on March 4-5.
The EC team had gone there for assessing the situation and checking poll preparedness in the wake of the February 14 militant strike in Pulwama in which over 40 CRPF troopers were killed.
The J&K administration’s demand could not be met as a large number of personnel would be required for deployment across the country during the Parliamentary polls, therefore, the state elections were deferred, the official said.
The demand on behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir administration was placed by the then Addition Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Muneer Khan, who was recently appointed as State Chief Information Commission.
The National Conference, the PDP and the Congress, had sought simultaneous polls and criticised the EC decision. The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP had also pitched for holding the polls together.
Higher deployment of forces may be necessitated during the polls as they have to secure the routes to be taken by the candidates for campaign, the venue of rallies, besides the security of candidates itself.
During the 2014 polls, a little more than 10,000 polling stations were set up, while the EC has announced the number will be 11,316 this time, requiring additional forces to secure them.
While 77 candidates were in the fray for the six Lok Sabha seats in 2014, 831 fought the state elections a few months later to elect 87 MLAs.
In the 2014 state assembly elections, a total of 428 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed and 47 were managed from the existing counterinsurgency grid, another official said.
During the last Parliamentary elections, the security situation had improved considerably and about 300 companies were deployed of which 126 were drawn from the counterinsurgency grid.
Before that, during the Parliamentary elections of 2009, altogether 300 companies were deployed on poll duties and 58 were again mobilised internally.
In the 2008 assembly elections, 218 companies were sought from the Centre and in addition 58 were mobilised internally by the then state government, the official said.
Another official said the large number of security personnel would be required for the Assembly elections too as Pakistan-based militant groups would make all out efforts to disrupt the process not only in the Kashmir Valley but in border districts such as Rajouri, Poonch and Doda.
During the last assembly elections, the government had provided about 100 SUVs to the candidates and requirement of such vehicles would be more this time, the official said.
The final assessment on holding the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by a three-member panel set up by the Election Commission.
The governor’s rule was imposed in in the state on June 19, 2018 when the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government was reduced to minority following withdrawal of support by the 25-member BJP.
Initially, the assembly was kept in suspended animation, but the governor on November 21 dissolved the 87-member house after the PDP, supported by the Congress and arch-rivals National Conference, tried to stake claim to form a new government.
When the governor’s rule expired on December 19, 2018, President’s rule was imposed in the state as under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no provision for extension of governor’s rule.


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Lead Stories

Trump offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue

Press Trust of India

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House where the two leaders discussed a host of issues.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.

 

Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask for it.

“I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be….we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can’t solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” Trump said.

“We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India… (it’s) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It’s something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both,” Trump told Khan.

Khan, who was sitting by Trump’s side in the Oval Office of the White House, said that he is ready and welcomed such a move by the US.

“Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir),” Khan told Trump.

Khan was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.

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Corrupt praying elections to escape ACB: Guv Malik

Says militant remark ‘made in frustration’; calls Omar ‘political juvenile’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jul 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik Monday said that the political parties in Kashmir want immediate elections to “save” themselves from the ongoing action against corruption.

“Political parties and their leaders want immediate assembly polls to escape from investigations. The ACB is close on their heels. These politicians are involved in misappropriation of funds in various schemes. There will be zero tolerance against corruption,” the Governor said while speaking to media on Monday.

He expressed regret over his remark that militants should stop killing innocent people and target the corrupt, saying it was made in a “fit of anger and frustration”.

 

On Sunday, Malik stoked controversy during his address at a function in Kargil.

“These boys who have picked up guns are killing their own people, they are killing PSOs (personal security officer) and SPOs (special police officers). Why are you killing them? Kill those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir. Have you killed any of them?” Malik had asked.

Day later, the Governor, however, said that he should not have made the comment as constitutional head of the state, but it did reflect his feelings and he will say the same thing when he is not governor.

“As Governor, I should not have made such a statement but my personal feeling is same what I said. Had I not been Governor, I would have no regret for giving such statement,” Malik told the media.

“What I said was my frustration and anger as I have seen huge corruption in Kashmir for the last one year. Otherwise, I know militants will be ultimately defeated,” the Governor added.

Reacting strongly to the Governor’s comments in Kargil, former chief minister, Omar Abdullah had tweeted: “Save this tweet – after today any mainstream politician or serving/retired bureaucrat killed in J&K has been murdered on the express orders of the Governor of J&K Satya Pal Malik.”

Omar said the governor should check out his own reputation in Delhi before sanctioning unlawful killings.

“This man, ostensibly a responsible man occupying a constitutional position, tells militants to kill politicians perceived to be corrupt. Perhaps the man should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings & kangaroo courts,” he said.

Reacting to Omar’s criticism, the Governor called him a “political juvenile”.

“He is tweeting on every issue and media carry them. But media does not carry the comments on his statement. 90 percent people abuse him for his statements,” the Governor said.

Malik said he was appointed Governor because of his reputation.

“I did nothing wrong in my 50 year career. People know whether I did anything wrong. Wherever Omar Abdullah is at present is because of his reputation. He is speaking on every issue in a childish way. I had regards for Omar,” he said.

The Governor said families that have ruled Kashmir have accumulated huge wealth.

“Their grandparents were teachers but they have properties across the world.  Their three generations have accumulated huge wealth. They have one house in Srinagar, one in Delhi, Dubai, one in London and elsewhere. They are shareholders in big hotels.”

Asked whether two prominent political families, Abdullahs and Muftis were also involved in corruption, he replied: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating and whosoever is involved in corruption has to face the punishment. One of the former ministers has been grilled. Few more former ministers will also be investigated. We won’t spare anyone irrespective of how powerful they are.”

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Power theft costs JK 4000 cr a year

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir suffers a huge loss of around 4,000 crore every year due to power theft.

The department is unable to overcome the huge losses despite the fact that they have installed power meters to tackle pilferage.

An official in the Power Development Department (PDD) said that the deficit of Rs 275 crore in 2002-03 grew to Rs 2,976 crore during 2014-15 and to 4,000 crores in 2018.

 

The economic survey of 2017 blamed the revenue deficit on “high power thefts, illegal uses, unregistered consumers, uncontrolled and unaccounted consumption of power, lesser load agreements, low tariff rates, and poor collection efficiency.”

“We are losing Rs 4000 crore every year on power purchase bill. Last year we purchased power for 6200 crores and we collected only 2200 crores so the total lose we suffered is 4000 crore,” Hashmat Qazi, Chief Engineer PDD told The Kashmir Monitor.

The major reason for losses, he said, is the power theft.

“We lose maximum power due to the illegal usage by the people here. Despite installing meters, people find ways to breach them and use as much electricity as they can,” Qazi noted.

Qazi informed that to overcome the losses, there are many Government of India schemes including ‘Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform program’ (R-APDRP) which will upgrade the infrastructure including installation of Aerial Bunched Cable (ABC) which will restrict power theft by hooking.

“This is Rs 1660 crore plan which is being funded by the Government of India and comprises of 30 towns that have more than ten thousand population,” said Qazi.

“Another scheme is Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) which comprises of 81 small towns, having a population more than four thousand. Apart from these two schemes, there is another scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for distribution of electricity in rural areas,” he added.

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