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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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Pak ‘duty-bound’ to share info: Guv

Says militant infrastructure ‘disrupted’, remaining militants to be sternly dealt with

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Srinagar, Jun 19: Asserting that his administration has “disrupted” militant infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday said that Pakistan is “duty-bound” to share intelligence inputs about militant attacks with the Government of India.

However, in an apparent jibe, the Governor said “it needs to be seen how many attacks Pakistan is able to stop on its own soil.”

“Pakistan is duty-bound to share intelligence inputs with us. But it also needs to be seen how many attacks are they (Pakistan) able to stop on its own soil,’ Malik said at a police function in SKICC, Srinagar on Wednesday.

 

Asked about the recent increase in militant activities in the valley, the Governor said as his administration has disrupted the militant infrastructure in the state, the militants are doing “one-odd attacks to keep themselves relevant.

“No one has been able to stop one or two attacks, not even America, England or France. But we are working on it and will be able to find a solution to the problem. We will deal with them (militants) sternly and with precision,” he said.

He said that militant recruitment and stone pelting incidents across the Kashmir Valley have also come down.

“No stone pelting takes place anywhere now not even after Friday prayers. A number of youth have also joined their families back and are leaving the militant ranks. Yesterday only two more boys returned to their families,” Malik said.

Last week on Saturday, the Governor had made a similar briefing about the state while addressing the 5th Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog.

He’d told the meeting that the militant activities have come down in J&K as the people of the state are “not giving shelter to militants.”

Malik had also said time had come to focus on development of the state while giving a PowerPoint presentation and figures about militant activities.

The Governor had claimed that the administration was getting information about militants and their “activities by locals and that they are not offering shelter to those involved in militant activities.”

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JK Bank case: ACB widens ambit, seeks admitted signatures of 13 officers including two past chairmen

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 19: Widening the ambit of the investigations, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has sought the admitted signatures of 13 senior officials of Jammu and Kashmir Bank including its two former chairmen in connection with the case related to alleged backdoor appointments.

A top source in the Anti-Corruption Bureau told The Kashmir Monitor that Senior Superintendent of ACB recently wrote a letter to the incumbent chairman of the J&K Bank to provide details of 10 admitted signatures, handwriting, and initials of 13 officers of the bank.

Among the13 officers, the source said, two are former J&K Bank chairmen. “Most officials have either served in the Human Resource Department or are still posted there,” the source said.

 

The ACB had registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of a complaint about the alleged illegal and fraudulent appointments made in the bank.

The allegations reflected in the complaint disclose commission of criminal misconduct by J&K Bank officers.

“This constitutes offence under section 5(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat 2006 and punishable under section 5(2) of the Act. A case FIR No 10/2019 was registered in Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Central Kashmir in Srinagar. Investigation of the case has also been taken up,” a spokesman of ACB had said.

The ACB officials refused to share the details saying: “The case is under investigation”.

However, a senior official, who wished not to be quoted, said: “Once we receive the admitted signatures, handwriting, and initials, the same will be forwarded to Forensic Scientific Laboratory to ascertain whether they match with the records we have seized during raids.”

The ACB is currently investigating 1,200 appointments, made allegedly at the behest of some political leaders of the previous PDP-BJP dispensation.

The government recently removed Parvez Ahmad as JK Bank Chairman. There are also allegations of large-scale irregularities in matters related to loans, finances and appointments.

The ACB sleuths on Wednesday raided the official residence of deposed chairman of JK Bank Parvez Ahmad near Polo View Lal Chowk. The ACB team also raided the house of Ahmad’s brother at Natipora area.

The union home ministry and the state government have decided to split the post of chairman-cum managing director of the bank in accordance with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines.

RK Chhibber, who was the bank’s executive president, has been named as the interim CMD.

Jammu and Kashmir government has 59.3 percent stakes in the bank, which has been established in 1938.

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Modi chairs all-party meet; Cong, TMC give it a miss

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Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti attending the all-party meet called on 'one nation, one election' by PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday (Photo: KM/Shanker Chakravarty)

New Delhi, Jun 19: “Most parties gave their support to ‘One Nation, One Election‘, CPI(M) and CPI had a difference of opinion but they didn’t oppose the idea, just the implementation of it,” Defence minister Rajnath Singh declared on Wednesday after the all-party meet on the same concluded.

He added, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address, said that a committee will be constituted to give its suggestions on the subject (One Nation, One Election) in a time-bound manner.”

One of the affirmative voices came from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik, who on Wednesday said, “Our party is supporting the idea of One Nation, One Election.”

 

The Modi government-led meeting of the heads of political parties to discuss the proposal of ‘One Nation One Election’, among other issues was held in the Parliament even as several party patriarchs skipped the meet.

Out of those who opted to sit out this ‘crucial meet’ were Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M K Stalin, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu. Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati and her former ally Samajwadi Party too decided to skip the meeting. Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal too did not attend the meeting but the party sent Raghav Chaddha as its representative.

Attacking the moot point of the meet today, BSP chief Mayawati said that holding simultaneous national and state elections “appears to be an undemocratic and unconstitutional” idea for a vast country like India. She added that elections in any democracy can never be a problem “nor elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance”.

‘One nation, one election’ is not an issue before the country, she said. Elections through ballot papers are actually the national issue and our party will continue its struggle for it,” Mayawati declared.

On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also claimed that she would have joined the meeting had it been on EVMs. She had declined the invitation to attend and had asked the Centre to instead prepare a white paper on the “one nation, one election” issue for consultations.

Sources said that Opposition parties are wary of the meeting convened by the prime minister as they feel this might be a “trap” set by the BJP and needs proper discussion before going ahead.

The agenda for the meeting also includes the celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year. It will be followed by a dinner meeting with all the MPs on Thursday.

Meanwhile, JD(U)’s chief Nitish Kumar, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti and YSRCP’s Jaganmohan Reddy are among those who attended the meeting.

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