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

Firdous Hassan

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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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Kulgam killings: Kashmir shuts in mourning

Mubashir Bukhari

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Srinagar, Oct 22:A complete shutdown was Monday observed across the Valley to mourn the death of seven civilians who died in an explosion near gunfight site in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday.

The shutdown call was given by Joint Hurriyat Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, appealing people to observe shutdown on Monday and observe sit in protest on Tuesday at Lal Chowk.

In view of the shutdown, the district administration Srinagar had imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar to thwart any protest against the Kulgam killings.

Shops and business establishments were closed while schools colleges and other educational institutions remained shut. Transport both public and private was largely off the roads and train service in Kashmir was suspended by the railway authorities.

Witnesses said that the heavy deployment of forces was deployed in the roads to ensure peaceful situation throughout the day.

The day also witnessed the funeral of Javid Ahmad Lone, the seventh civilian killed in Kulgam, who was buried amid heavy sloganeering at Hawoora, his native village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

Javid was identified late on Sunday and his body remained in the mortuary for several hours before his family identified him.

Pertinent to mention that the authorities not only blocked internet, a usual trend, they also snapped mobile phones leading to chaos and information blockade.

Reports said that thousands of people attended Javid’s funeral early on Monday. He was taken in a procession towards graveyard amid pro-freedom slogans. Later, Javid was laid to rest amid sobs and tears.

People of Kulgam buried their six loved ones yesterday and they include Auqib Ahmad Sheikh (18) son of Gulzar Ahmad Sheikh of DanowMacanpora, Kulgam, Uzair Ahmad Dar (8th standard student) son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Nayakpora near Kulgam Town, Irshad Ahmad Paddar son of SayedullahPaddar of Shurat Kulgam, Mansoor Ahmad Dar Son of Ghulam Mohammad Dar of Bogund Kulgam, Talib Ahmad Laway son of Mohammad Maqbool of Laroo and Mukeen Ahmad Bhat of Laroo.

While seven persons were killed more than 40 civilians were injured either due to blast near encounter site or use of force including pellets and bullets by government forces. Among the injured, three seriously wounded were referred from Anantnag district hospital and four from Kulgam hospital to SMHS and SKIMS hospitals here for advanced treatment.

The mayhem as has been described by people on both sides of the political spectrum started soon after government forces launched a cordon-and-search operation at Laroo village.

An encounter ensued between a joint team of forces and militants, leading to the killing of three Jaish-e-Mohammad cadres including Shahid Ahmad Tantary of Wangam Shopian, Zubair Ahmad Lone of Ahwatoo Kulgam and  Yazil Ahmad Makroo of Arwani Bijbehara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pak PM condemns killings, calls for resolution of K-issue

Agencies

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Islamabad, Oct 22: Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan on Monday condemned the killings in Kashmir, saying that India must move to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

Khan in his tweet said India must resolve the issue in accordance with UNSC resolutions and also according to the wishes of Kashmiris.

“Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris in IOK by Indian security forces. It is time India realised it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UN SC resolutions & the wishes of the Kashmiri people (sic),” Imran Khan tweeted.

Earlier on Sunday,ten persons including three militants and seven civilian were killed during the gunfight that raged between forces and militants in Kulgam district of south Kashmir.

The civilians as per police were killed due to a massive explosion that took place at the gunfight site.

 

 

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Hizb Commander Naikoo questions Pak’s limited support to Kashmir

‘Our boys are fighting with pistols and SLRs; Pak media doesn’t give us enough space’ 

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Oct 22: In a purported audio message gone viral on social media in Kashmir, militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander, Riyaz Naikoo, on Monday sought to remind the people of Pakistan about their “responsibility” in the ongoing “armed resistance” in the valley.

Naikoo, who took over after Sabzar Bhat was killed in May last year, questioned Pakistan’s politicians over their diplomatic support to the “Kashmir movement”.

“Any resistance movement has three dimensions: diplomatic, political, and armed. Diplomatically, only Pakistan can support us, but unfortunately the politicians there have kept the Kashmir issue limited to elections only. It is your responsibility to pass on this message to them and to wake up their conscience,” Naikoo could be heard saying in the unconfirmed 17-minute message.

Naikoo said the militants “biggest problem” was “the lack of weapons”.

“AK47, which was used in 1990s by the militants, continues to be our weapon too. In fact, many of us do not possess that as well. In 1990s, militants used to carry five magazines, and today, the maximum we have is two or three,” he said, while explaining the weaponry the government forces carry in comparison.

Naikoo said when any of their colleagues gets killed in a gunfight, his parents ask them whether their son possessed enough arms to combat.

“We become speechless at that point in time,” he said. “Around 40 of our colleagues have attained martyrdom this year alone. You all shall know what we have received from the base camp. Our boys are fighting with mere pistols and SLRs,” he said.

“My aim is not to criticise you neither do I doubt your intentions. My goal is to awaken your emotions.”

“Feel the pain Kashmir suffers from.”

Naikoo, the audio message added, said that in comparison to how India and its “agencies” were using their diplomatic prowess to “defame and distort Kashmir movement”, Pakistan newspapers and its national media was “not giving” Kashmir issue enough space.

“Here (in Kashmir) we are not able to use social media freely and counter the lies and confusion perpetrated by our enemies. You could have done it easily there,” he said.

Naikoo claimed “our colleagues at the base camp” were in contact with many in Kashmir, many of whom work for “the agencies”.

“Our base camp colleagues trust them blindly and then bring them in contact with the militants in the field, consequences of which are faced by us. Besides, it also leads to our colleagues in the field thinking badly of the people at the base camp,” he said.

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