Baramulla, Apr 11: Three single-storey blocks spread on a few kanals of land is what comprises the 66-year-old High School in Singhpora, a village of 20,000 people close to Pattan town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
At 9 am on Thursday, youth and elderly lined up in good numbers to cast their votes in this school. It was A peculiar sight for a village which, over the years, has been in news for nocturnal raids, arrests, boycotts and, of course, stone pelting.
“I have come to vote as I have 17 cases against me. I want to get rid of them,” said 60-year-old Rahim, who did not give his last name.
Rahim claimed he was innocent and that the cases were slapped “to extort money” from him.
“I have never cast a vote before. I am 60. We are forced to vote now. I think that is the only way to save ourselves. Hopefully the candidate I’ve voted for will help me get out of this mess,” he said.
If one was to believe Rahim, as many as 350 youth and elderly in the village had police cases registered against them, many filed during the 2010 and 2016 phases of unrest.
“We have always been terrorised. Not just by the government forces, even the politicians here have neglected us,” he said.
As Rahim spoke, a lanky man with glazed eyes, probably in his early 20s, stood next to him, eager to speak.
“Mere khilaf paanch parche hain (I have five FIRs against me),” he said, finally jumping into the conversation.
“Every month, I have to be present in the court. I wouldn’t have voted, but there is no option left. I have voted for Rashid Engineer, he is a people’s person. He himself has been thrashed many times like me. I think he will take up our issues and solve them,” said the youth who identified himself as Bilal.
Youth who’d come to vote huddled Bilal, many shouting that the village was also “entirely neglected” by the politicians.
“This high school has been functioning from the last 60 years yet no one has ever tried to upgrade it to a higher secondary. See the state of this school, all littered with garbage,” said a youth in his 20s, who refused to reveal his name.
By 11:00 am, when this reporter left the scene, 160 votes out of 667 were already polled in one of the three polling stations set up in the school.
Day 39: Normal life still out of gear in Kashmir; schools remain shut, public transport off roads
Srinagar: Normal life remained affected in Kashmir as the stalemate following the abrogation of Article 370 entered its 39th day on Thursday with schools closed and public transport off the roads, officials said.
Restrictions on the movement or assembly of people have been lifted from most areas of the valley, but security forces continued to be deployed to maintain law and order, the officials said.
They said the authorities were also considering easing out restrictions on mobile communications and restoring voice call services.
While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir.
However, normal life remained severely affected across the valley due to shutdown which entered 39th day on Thursday, the officials said.
Markets and other business establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads across the valley, they added.
Internet services remained suspended across all platforms, the officials said.
The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne any fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into custody while mainstream leaders including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have also been either detained or placed under house arrest.
NC leader Akbar Lone ‘appreciates’ Pakistan’s role in raking up Kashmir issue
SRINAGAR: National Conference leader and MP Akbar Lone has “appreciated” the role of Pakistan in raking up the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India, even as he said that his party must contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
Lone told IANS in an interview that contesting elections has been compulsion in the past though “Kashmiris don’t belong to India”.
“We will have to first understand what powers the new Assembly will have in the event of any elections taking place. As a man from National Conference, whatever the elections, we must contest elections,” he said.
Batting for a united stand by political parties against the abrogation of Article 370, Lone said that all parties must stand together for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“All parties like the Congress, National Conference, PDP and other small and big groups must join hands to carry out agitation against India for the return of the special status of the state,” Lone added.
Lone said the clampdown in Kashmir is stopping people from showing their resentment against the scrapping of the special status.
“It is military rule in Kashmir. Every nook and corner of the state is guarded by the Army, by paramilitary forces, people are not allowed to come out, if they would have been allowed to come out, they would have showed their resentment,” Lone said.
He said that he “appreciated” the role of Pakistan and other countries in raking the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India.
“It is a good thing that Pakistan or China or US any other country rakes up the Kashmir issue internationally and supports the cause, they have exposed India, otherwise India would have taken the move as a success without caring about who is who,” he said.
Lone demanded the release of former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and said the party leadership must be allowed to meet these senior leaders to decide the future course of action.
“We must be allowed to see our leaders and they must be released, we will sit down along with other parties to chalk out a joint course of action,” Lone said.
Guv interacts with SMC councillors
SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 11: Governor Satya Pal Malik met the Councillors of Srinagar Municipal Corporation over tea, at Raj Bhawan Auditorium, Srinagar. The Councillors of the SMC were specially invited to Raj Bhawan for an interaction with Governor.
Shri K.K. Sharma, Advisor to the Governor; Shri B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Shri Dheeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary, Housing & Urban Dev. Department; Shri Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Dr. Shahid Iqbal, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Shri Khurshid Ahmad Sanai, Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation; and other senior officers of the Housing & Urban Development Department, the Divisional and the District administration were present on the occasion.
Councillors informed Governor about problems being faced by them due to non-availability of communication/internet and also requested for suitable accommodation for them in the city. They also mentioned that the funds are yet to be made available to them in order to reach out to the people and fulfill the mandate given to them.
It was informed to the Councillors that during the current financial year, out of earmarked Grant-in-Aid, about Rs. 100.00 crores will be released shortly. Similarly, out of Rs. 500.00 crores to be made available to SMC under the 14th Finance Commission Award, Rs. 86.00 crores has already been made available to the SMC. In addition, 5000 Street Lights is being provided in the city through various Councillors and after agreement, the EESL Corporation of Government of India will start the task of 100% Street Lights of Srinagar city for a period of 7 years. EESL will start the work once the situation will improve in the valley.
Governor announced an additional grant of Rs. 18.50 crores @ Rs. 25.00 lacs per ward to the SMC for developmental works. These works will be executed after the identification by the concerned Councillors.
Governor announced purchase and installation of 7,400 street lights for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation @100 per ward besides transfer of Street Light Division of Srinagar city from the Power Development Department to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.
On the issue regarding Indian House Hold Latrines (IHHL), Governor assured that the verification of all the cases, which were pending, will be completed by 30th of September.
Regarding communication problems, Governor informed that 15 internet terminals have been made operational in office of the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, for usage by all the departments including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. He also assured that mobile connectivity will also be restored very soon in J&K.
Governor observed that a delegation of Councillors will be sent outside J&K to study working of the Municipalities in other parts of the country. He advised the them to work devotedly for ensuring development of their Wards and providing uninterrupted basic facilities to people.
Governor noted that Raj Bhavan is open for public and every grievance reaching his office is addressed immediately. Besides, he said, his Advisors are regularly hearing and addressing public’s grievances.
Governor urged the Councillors to work towards making J&K peaceful, progressive and prosperous.