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ULB polls: Phase II even bleaker, 97% stay away

Firdous Hassan




Srinagar, Oct 10: Boycott overpowered ballot in Kashmir in second phase of municipal polls as well after only 3.4 % electorate turned to vote in the scheduled 49 wards, comparing to 8.2 % in first phase.

Though Jammu division’s 78% polling took the overall voting percentage in the state to 31.3% – nearly 26 per cent less when compared to the first phase- it was Bandipora district in Kashmir, which saw nearly 36% polling.

Bandipora district, where impact of boycott in the first phase was more after recording mere 3.4% voting, its Sumbal area  broke the Kupwara’s record, which in first phase of Municipal polls witnessed 32.3% voting.

As per the officials the cumulative polling percentage till date is 47.2% with 67.7% voting recorded in Jammu division and 8.3% in Kashmir Division in Phase-I and Phase-II.

Voting began in the valley at 6 am amid shutdown in the poll bound areas where forces were deputed in heavy number to guard the booths.

In the initial hours, low voting was recorded in both Srinagar and Anantnag districts, where many polling booth received no voter till noon.

In Kashmir region, volatile Anantnag district recorded low voting percentage of 1.1, which was followed by Srinagar with 2.3 % in 19 wards.

Of the 1.86 lakh voters in 19 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, only 2.3 per cent (4169) electorates turned to exercise their franchise at the heavily fortified polling stations.

Majority of the polling booths in Srinagar were in highly volatile areas, dominated with pro-freedom sentiment, thus resulting in low or no voting.

While Chattabal recorded no vote in 12 polling station containing 8744 registered electorate, polling booth at Tankipora and Syed Ali Kabra couldn’t cross double digit.

The rest of the polling station, which include Solina recorded 355 votes, Alochibagh (84), SD Colony (88), Ziyarat Batamaloo (62), Shaheed Gunj (123), Karan Nagar (71), Zainakoot 943 and Lawaypora 1020.

An official on election duty takes a nap in an empty Srinagar polling booth… Photo by Umar Ganie

Less business activity and vehicular movement was witnessed in these areas, though no violence reported.

At many polling stations, the polling staff were seen sitting idle for most of the time as no electorate turned to cast the vote.

“Just one vote was cast in the last eight hours here. We have no option other than to wait and watch. Usually voting tends to be brisker during morning hours,” said a polling staff official at Barbarshah.

In southern Kashmir—which has witnessed a spurt in militancy and street protests since last few years, only 356 voters including 179 male and 177females cast their vote out of 31277 eligible voters, which sums up percentage to 1.1.

No vote was cast to the migrant Kashmiri Pandit Sheila Koul Handoo, 62, a BJP candidate from Cheeni Chowk, who contested on BJP ticket till noon.

As per the statement from the office of Chief Election Officer, re-poll shall be held in one of the Anantnag’s polling booth of ward 23 where an Electronic Voting Machine has undergone malfunctioning.

Sumbal in Banidpora district witnessed enthusiastic voters, who had lines up themselves outside polling station to cast their vote.

People donning pherans (traditional cloak) were seen rushing to the polling booths since morning to cast their vote.

A sources said that many agents of the candidates were seen visiting to the households to convince people to cast vote in his/her favour.

Kupwara and Baramulla in north Kashmir recorded 5.1% and 7 %, respectively amid shutdown in poll bound areas.

In Jammu division, highest polling percentage of 84.4% was recorded in Reasi, followed by Ramban, with 79.5 % polling in second phase.

Ward 2 in Ramban as per the officials will also undergo re-poll after the death of a candidate due to the cardiac arrest.

Azad Singh Raju, a BJP candidate died when he was about to cast his vote in the second phase of the municipal elections in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kishtwar, Doda, Udhampur and Kathua recorded 72.8, 72.8,79.2 and 79.4% polling, respectively.

Chief Election Officer, Shaleen Kabra in a statement said that 1029 candidates are in the fray for 263 Municipal Wards for Phase-II with 881 candidates in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division for Phase-II.

In the first two phases, he said, 436285 voters have exercised their franchise out of a total of 933,000 voters who were eligible to vote for these two phases.


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Assembly, Parl polls to be held together possibly in May

Mudassir Kuloo



Srinagar, Dec 11: Election Commission of India is preparing to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir earlier next year, while it has initiated the process for the polls.

According to a letter dispatched by the Chief Electoral Officer—a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Monitor—the district election officers have been directed to send a proposal of appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The letter has been sent following the Election Commission of India sought the details about the officials.

An official associated with the CEO said they have been told that the Assembly polls would be clubbed with Lok Sabha.

“The elections may be held in March or in April,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.

The official said the poll body has directed them to start preparations for the polls.

“The security is one of the issues. On the pattern of urban local bodies and Panchayat polls, the Assembly and Parliament elections will be held in a phased manner,” the official said.

“When forces are deployed for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, it would be convenient for election authorities to hold the Assembly polls simultaneously,” the official said.

Mentioning a Supreme Court direction, the official said the outer limit for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months.

National Conference has demanded for joint Assembly and Parliament polls, following the dissolution of the House.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term.

The term of the prematurely terminated government was to end on March 16, 2021.

The Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly shortly after the People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of NC and Congress.

She cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House.

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Militants kill 4 cops, flee with rifles in Shopian



Srinagar, Dec 11: Four J&K policemen were killed after militants attacked a police post in Zainapora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.

A police official said a group of militants opened fire at the police post, resulting in the on spot death of three security guards and injuries to another at Zainapora.

The injured cop was taken to a local hospital where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar. However, he succumbed on way to Srinagar, said the official.

The policemen were inside their guard room when the militants fired at them anddecamped with their service rifles.

The slain cops were identified as Constable Anees Ahmad (Belt No. 480/SPN), resident of Kulgam, selection grade constable Abdul Majid (193/SPN), resident of Ganderbal, Constable Mehraj-ud-din (477/SPN), resident of Hajin Bandipora and constable Hameedullah (860/SPN), resident of Anantnag.

Majid was the fourth one to die in the attack.

The area was soon cordoned off and a search operation was launched.

Media reports quoting police sources said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants led by former police officer Adil Bashir, who left the force after stealing eight rifles in October, were believed to be involved in the attack.

JeM militant outfit claimed the responsibility of the attack.

A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to media, said: “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”

Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.

Later in the day, the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops took place in District Police Lines, Shopian.

“Civil and Police Officers including Munir Ahmed Khan, ADGP (Security/Law & Order/HG), IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani, DIG SKR Amit Kumar laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cops “who made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” said a police spokesperson.

“Among others who paid floral tributes including SP Shopian, DC Shopian, officers and jawans of the district and officers from other forces,” the spokesman added.

Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen.

In a message Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.

On Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “I strongly condemn the attack on the police post in Shopian &condole the deaths of three police personnel in the line of duty. I pray for their souls & for the speedy recovery of those injured in this attack (sic)”.

Peoples Conference (PC) chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone called the attack in Shopian another “mindless act of violence”.

Sajad tweeted: “The attack in Shopian on police personnel is yet another mindless act of violence. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty.”

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Lead Stories

BJP shaken, Congress break in




New Delhi, Dec 11: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday suffered heavy election defeats in two states, with another on a knife edge, in a bruising day of results that exposed the party’s vulnerability less than six months before the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ending its prolonged electoral reversals, a reinvigorated Congress produced a resilient comeback as it is on course to oust the BJP to form its governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, is witnessing a tantalisingly close fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

The governing BJP vote collapsed by 17 percentage points in Rajasthan state and by at least 12 points in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the Hindi heartland where Indian governments are traditionally made or broken.

Those losses, as well as the revival of a Congress party frequently written off in the past five years, had analysts revising their predictions for next year’s national polls, which Modi had been expected to win in a cakewalk.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), on the other hand, secured a thumping majority in Telangana while MNF has defeated Congress in the latter’s last bastions in Northeast.

TRS chief K ChandrashekarRao’s gamble for early polls paid rich dividends with the ruling party winning 57 seats and leading in 30 of the 119 constituencies. The Congress-TDP alliance, ‘Prajakutami’, has won 14 seats and is leading in 7, according to the Election Commission.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, KCR said TRS would play a crucial role in the national political arena. “We dedicate this victory to the people of Telangana. This is a positive vote for us. We are going to play a very crucial role in national politics. We will give a new definition to the national political scenario” he said. Rao, who is set to return as CM for a second term, further said, “Today’s results…Telangana has shown the way to the whole nation. Today, Telangana stands (as) a non-Congress, non-BJP state.”

The outcome of the elections is significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats, of which the BJP grabbed 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its high.

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