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Sumbal Sonawari:We voted to protect JK’s special status

Mudassir Kuloo

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Photo: Ibrahim Mussa/KM

Bandipora, Apr 11: The road to main town in Bandipora was devoid of traffic Thursday morning but queues of voters were seen waiting to cast their votes outside the polling booths.

Voters had lined-up in large numbers at a polling booth set up in a local school in Dangerpora. The booth was ringed with three-tier security comprising of CRPF, police, and BSF.

Ghulam Hassan, 60, had reached to the polling booth early in the morning.

 

Asked why he cast his vote and defy the boycott call by separatists and militant outfits, he replied: “We want to end Governor’s rule in the state. We shall send a representative to the parliament, who will end our miseries. This vote is to protect our special status. Protect Article 370 and 35A.”

Asked the same question, a woman, carrying a child in her lap, replied: “Unless we don’t vote, our miseries won’t end. The harassment will continue and outsiders will rule us. We want Mohammad Akbar Lone in the parliament.”

The scenes were almost similar at a polling booth in Shadipora.

“We always want a good representative in the parliament. He should represent the Kashmir cause,” Ghulam Mohammad, 60, said.

“We also want overall development of our area,” he added while displaying the ink mark on his finger nail.

Near NC Candidate Mohammad Akbar Lone’s home at Poshwari Naidkhai, the queues of the voters grew even longer.

At three polling booths located at a local school in Poshwari, out of 1800 voters, at least 50 percent had already cast their votes by 1 pm.

At the same time, the polling agents of political parties had a scuffle. “Why are you asking people to vote for your candidate?” a middle-aged man told a polling agent of the rival party.

Another polling agent tried to push him. The policemen on duty, however, pacified things and the voting restarted.

Abdul Rashid, who was waiting in a queue, said there was “nothing wrong in casting the vote”.

“This election is to address our issues and to defend state’s special status. There will be bloodshed if there is any tampering with special status of the state. Only Akbar Lone and Engineer Rashid can talk about Kashmir issue in the parliament,” he said.

The three polling booths of Manzpora, Mirpora, and Hirpora villages of Sonawari wore a festive look.

Hundreds of people even including children had gathered to shout slogans in favour of Lone.

In these polling booths as well, of the 3500 voters, over 50 percent had already cast their vote by 2 PM.

Abdul Salam Lone, an elderly person, said: “Only Lone Sahab can talk about Kashmir in the parliament. This vote is to protect the special status of the state, and stop harassment of Kashmiris.”

A first time voter in parliamentary elections, Naziya asked other people to vote as well.

“We shall send a representative to the parliament, who conveys the sufferings of Kashmiris to the world. Poll boycott is no solution,” she added.

Scores of people visited Lone at his house which was a few hundred metres away from the polling booths.

“Did you and your mother vote,” Lone asked his son, who is an advocate by profession.

“Yes we did,” he replied.

The entire village seemed jubilant.

The scenes, however, were completely different just a few kilometers away from Lone’s residence.

The road leading to Hajin town wore a deserted look. At three polling booths, just three voters out of 2,235 had cast their vote by 3 pm.

“Please write that Hajin boycotted the elections,” a commuter told this reporter.

A few hundred metres away, in another polling booth on the banks of Jhelum in Hajin, out of 876 voters, 345 had cast their vote.

“When we saw people voting, we decided to vote too. We have been neglected by the successive governments. We hope our issues are solved,” said Manzoor Ahmad Guroo, who lives on the banks of Jhelum and earns his living by catching and selling fish.


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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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