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Voting begins before sunrise; NC, PDP smell a rat

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Oct 10: For reasons undisclosed, voting in phase II of the ongoing civic polls began at 6am—half an hour before sunrise.

The change in the timing by one hour was announced by the Chief Electoral Officer recently, without giving any reasons.

The move, however, attracted ridicule from the political parties, which questioned the genuineness of the entire electoral process.

“Why are polling booths open at 6AM? If I believed conspiracy theories I’d believe it’s because journalists won’t be around to verify the genuineness of voters at that very early hour,” NC working president, Omar Abdullah, tweeted late Tuesday evening.

Omar was reacting to a tweet by Press Trust of India’s Kashmir bureau chief, Inayat Jehangir, who had questioned the logic behind the rescheduling to such an early hour.

“This is perhaps for the first time in history of J&K that polling will start before daybreak. Second phase polling to kick off at 6 am and sunrise in Srinagar is at 6:32 am. What is the logic?” Inayat tweeted.

PDP leader, Naeem Akhtar, too took a jibe at the strange timing move with this tweet: “3rd phase could be 6 pm to 6 am to make it completely transparent.”

Noted journalist, Muzamil Jaleel, too put his point across on social media by simply sharing the timing of the sunrise in Srinagar while writing: “Polling starts at 6 am…”

Adding one more hour to the poll timing, which earlier was 7 am to 4 pm for phase I polls held on Monday, is baffling all and sundry.

On Monday, nearly 92 percent of the electorate in Kashmir preferred to boycott the polls and most of the booths had government forces and polling staff as the only people in and around them.

Wednesday followed the suit with most municipal wards in Kashmir coming up with single digit numbers as far as the turnout was concerned.

Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, did not respond at all to the continuous calls from The Kashmir Monitor.


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14 dead in Poonch road mishap

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Srinagar, Dec 8: In a tragic incident, at least 14 people were killed after a bus skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge in Plera in Mandi tehsil of Poonch district on Saturday.

Apart from the fatalities, at least 12 people were injured in the accident.

An official said that a passenger bus (registration number JK02W0445) heading towards Poonch from Loran skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge at Plera around 9:15 am.

He said that at least 14 persons travelling on the bus died in the accident while at least 12 others were injured.

The injured were shifted to sub-district hospital Mandi for treatment.

The deceased included a two-year-old girl identified as AfiaParveen and her mother Parveen Akhter (35) of Loyal Bella village.

Others who died in the accident were identified as Aijaz Ahmad (32) of Sib, Mohammad Yasar (10) of Loyal Bella village, Wali Mohd (72) of Barachar, Ghulam Hussain (52) and Bashir Ahmad (38) of Chikri, Shariefa (40), Nazia Akhter (17), Gulshan Akhter (21), Mohammad Yousuf (26), Bashir Ahmad (50), Abdula Rashid (45) and Mohammad Rashid (55) all resident of Loran village.

Earlier in the day, Block Medical Officer Poonch Syed Mushtaq Hussain had said that eleven persons died in the accident.

“19 passengers were injured in the accident. Five critically injured patients were referred to district hospital Poonch for specialised treatment,” he said.

Three more people succumbed to their injuries on way or at the hospital taking the overall death toll to 14.

Governor J&K, Satya Pal Malik expressed grief and anguish over the loss of precious lives in the tragic road.

In his message, Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families. He has wished speedy recovery to those injured in this accident.

 

Abdullahs, Mehbooba anguished

Srinagar, Dec 8: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Vice President Omar Abdullah expressed deep sorrow and anguish over the loss of lives in a tragic road accidentin Plera in Mandi tehsil of Poonch district on Saturday.

Farooq described the loss of lives as unfortunate and tragic.

“It’s alarming how such accidents have become a routine now in the state. I convey my heartfelt sympathies to the families of those killed in the accident,” he said adding, “The causes of the fateful accident should be ascertained. The incumbent government needs to devise a strategy to reduce these tragedies,” he said.

Omar, while expressing concern over the recurrence of such fatal accidents in the Chenab valley and Pirpanchal areas said: “The incumbent administration should do an appraisal of the factors concerning passenger safety in the areas as are mostly hilly. It is heart wrenching to hear about such deadly incidents happening time and again.”

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti too expressed shock and grief over the loss of lives in the tragic road accident.

In a statement issued here, the PDP president described the deaths in the accident as unfortunate and tragic. She also conveyed her sympathies to the families of those killed in the accident.

The PDP president further expressed concern over the surge being witnessed in road accidents in the hilly areas of the State and asked the state government to review the status of the parameters pertaining to passenger safety, road and vehicle conditions in the state in general and in the hilly areas in particular.

Mehbooba Mufti has extended heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in the tragic accident while praying for speedy recovery to those who were injured in the accident.

 

Geelani,Mirwaiz grieved over loss of lives

Srinagar, Dec 8:Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani expressed his deep condolence with the families of all those persons killed after a bus skidded off the road and plunged into a deep gorge at Mandi Poonch on Saturday.

In a statement, Saturday, senior Hurriyat leader consoled the injured people in the accident.

Praying for their heavenly abode and bestowal of forbearance to their near and dear ones, the Hurriyat leader expressed his anguish on the criminal negligence committed by the authorities for the disproportionate development of the whole Chenab valley.

Hurriyat (G) Chairman condemned the discrimination adopted by the authorities, towards the Chenab region on the ground.

Meanwhile, Chairman Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Saturday expressed grief over the loss of lives in an accident at Mandi area of Poonch district.

Taking to the social networking site, Twitter Mirwaiz wrote: “Deeply grieved at the loss of life in the tragic road accident at Poonch. My condolences to the affected families. Pray to almighty for speedy recovery of the injured.”

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Two militants killed; at least 5 forces personnel injured in Srinagar gunfight

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Srinagar, Dec 8:Two militants were killed while SOG man and a soldier were injured in an ongoing gunfight at Mujgund on Srinagar-Bandipora road on Saturday.

The encounter ensued late in the afternoon when a joint team of army’s 5 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon and search operation at Mujgund following inputs about the presence of some militants.

As the joint team zeroed in on a suspected house, militants hiding inside opened fire which was retaliated by the joint team, triggering off a fierce gunfight, an official told GNS.

The gunfight continued even after there were intervals of lull, the official said.

A soldier and an SOG man were injured during the course of the gunfight and have been removed to a hospital, he said.

A senior police officer, as per GNS, said that two militant bodies were visible but have not been retrieved so far.

The firing has stopped as of now and searches are being launched to retrieve the bodies, he said.

“There were inputs about the presence of three militants. While two militants have been killed, the fate of another one is unknown so far,” the officer said.

As per unconfirmed reports, the slain militants included a 14-year-old boy as well. The same however could not be verified independently.

Meanwhile, sources said that the three residential houses have suffered damages, one of them substantially. On Twitter, police confirmed that an exchange of fire took place between the militants and the forces in Mujgund on Bandipora road.

As per reports, five forces’ personnel included an army man, CRPF man and three Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel were wounded in the gunfight.

Local reports said that four houses were blasted by the forces during the gunfight. They said sound of huge blasts was heard in the area.

 

‘230 militants killed in 2018, 240 still active’

Srinagar, Dec 8: Over 230 militants have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir this year so far, while as 240 including foreign militants are active in the state , officials said Saturday.

As many as 51 militants were killed in the 80-day period from June 25 to September 14, while 85 militants were killed between September 15 and December 5, an official told PTI.

The official further said that a total of 232 militants have been killed so far this year, while 240 militants, including foreigners, are active in the Kashmir Valley.

Eight people, including forces personnel, were killed and 216 others, including government forces, received injuries between June 25 and September 14 this year.

In the subsequent 80 days — from September 15 to December 5 — just two people were killed and 170 others received injuries during stone throwing incidents, the official said.

In the last one decade of conflict in Kashmir, highest number of people have been killed in 2018 so far. Around 529 people have lost lives till November and nearly 3250 people have been killed in the last one decade. (PTI)

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Panchayat polls: Phase 8 sees 50% turnout in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Dec 8:In the Phase-VIII of Panchayat Polls held on Saturday, the overall poll percentage of 79.9% was witnessed across the State.

According to the Chief Electoral Officer J&K, Shaleen Kabra, a massive 85.1% polling was witnessed in Jammu division and 49.6% in Kashmir division.

Giving district-wise details, Kabra said that Kupwara witnessed 53.8% polling in Phase-VIII, Bandipora 18%, Baramulla 56.9%, Srinagar 11.6%, Budgam 9.1%, Reasi 89.8%, Kathua 84%, Samba 84%, Jammu 84.8% and Rajouri 82.4%.

Kabra said in the Phase-I of Panchayat Polls held on 17 November 2018, 74.1% polling was recorded across J&K including 64.5% in Kashmir division and 79.4% in Jammu division.

In the Phase-II of Panchayat Polls held on 20 November 2018, overall 71.1% polling was witnessed across the State with an 80.4% polling in Jammu division and 52.2% in Kashmir division.

He said in Phase-III, the State witnessed a poll percentage of 75.2% including 55.7% in Kashmir division and 83.0% in Jammu division.

In Phase-IV, he said, JK witnessed 71.3% voting with 82.4% electors exercising their franchise in Jammu division and 32.3% in Kashmir division.

In the Phase-V of Panchayat Polls overall poll percentage of 71.1% was witnessed across the State with 85.2% polling in Jammu division and 33.7% in Kashmir division.

In the Phase-VI of Panchayat Polls overall poll percentage of 76.9% was recorded across J&K including 17.3% in Kashmir division and 84.6% in Jammu division.

In the Phase-VII of Panchayat Pollsoverall poll percentage of 75.3% was witnessed across the State with 84.8% in Jammu division and 30.3% in Kashmir division.

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