News Notes

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Ending LEASE

Mirwaiz-Umar-Farooq-during-a-press-conferenceAs the 50 year lease period of Tosa Maidan meadow to army in Central Kashmir’s Budgam is coming to an end and the government still indecisive about the relocation of army from the meadow, the voices of dissent are getting louder with each passing day.

Spread over around 3000 kanals of land, Tosa Maidan meadow in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district was taken by Army on lease for conducting artillery drills in 1964. The 50 year lease period of Tosa Maidan will expire on April 18 this year. The Army has approached the government to extend the lease as it has made a permanent base in the alpine meadow.

The Tosa Maidan Bachao Front (TBF) and the Jammu and Kashmir RTI Movement have been organizing regular protests against the extension of lease to the army. They have repeatedly urged the government to cancel the lease, once for all.

Joining the chorus moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq warned of launching massive agitation in case government extends lease of Tosa Maidan to army and called for complete shutdown in Valley on April 12.

“We urge government not to extend lease agreement of Tosa Maidan meadows in central Kashmir to army. Any extension of the lease will lead to State-wide agitation,” Mirwaiz said in a press conference.

Besides separatists, the ruling National Conference (NC) has said that the party supports the demand for closure of Tosa-Maidan firing range and opposes extension of the land lease in favour of the army. NC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani in a statement said that Tosa-Maidan and Drang possess enormous tourism potential and should be developed as exclusive tourist destinations.

Stolen MANIFESTO

Rahul-Gandhi-Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has alleged that the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has stolen its election manifesto. Rahul was addressing an election rally on Friday in Doda district of Jammu organized by the National Conference and the state Congress to campaign for its candidate Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Speaking at his first rally in J&K in the run up to Lok Sabha elections, he accused the BJP of raising hollow slogans about women dignity and their empowerment, all India Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said that its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi even hesitates in taking the name of his wife.

Rahul said that Gujarat Chief Minister has contested the elections earlier also, but he has never before filled up the column pertaining to his spouse. While there may be some reason behind it, the entire machinery of the Chief Minister and the Gujarat Police have now swung into action to belie the quote of a woman, he pointed out.

Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, Rahul said that he will help the people of Jammu and Kashmir to come out of all the pains they suffer. “I won’t understand all the pains of people of J&K but as long as I am alive I will continue to help you out,” Rahul said.

He stroke emotional chord with J&K. He said that he belongs to Jammu and Kashmir and he carries only love and trust of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Rahul claimed that congress did three great works in J&K. According to him, Congress gave employment in J&K. He said that holding of Panchayat election was the second great work done and the third one was about women empowerment for which Congress government granted Rs 750 crore to the state government.

Pertinently, the election manifesto of the BJP which was released recently by the party calls for abrogation of article 370 if voted to power.

Voting NUMBERS

The polling for the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency held on 10th April witnessed a turnout of 68% according to officials.

The polling break-up is as: Jammu 70%; Samba 75%; Rajouri 64.33% (district level) and Poonch 61% (district level). He said the polling was peaceful throughout the day as no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the constituency.

The polling, officials said, started on a brisk note since early morning and it picked up rapidly during the day. The polling percentage, which was above 25 percent in the three districts, crossed the 50 percent mark by 3 pm, they said.

By 5 PM, the graph further peaked as Jammu and Samba districts crossed the 65% mark.

The CEO said “2274 polling booths were established in the segment for 18, 48, 553 electorate in the constituency. 10,000 security men were detailed for election duty and 800 vehicles were used to ferry them and poll material,” he said, adding that Election Commission had deployed five Observers including three General Observers, one Expenditure Observer and one Police and Security Observer.

Campagning BOYCOTT

Sehrai-As unionist political parties are in the process of wooing voters for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in the state, on the other hand separatists are intensified the poll boycott campaign.

The said elections in Kashmir are scheduled to be held in South Kashmir’s Islamabad constituency on April 24 followed by Srinagar on April 30, Baramullah and Ladakh on May 7. While the elction in Jammu was held on April 10,  Udhampur will go to polls on April 17.

The Hurriyat Conference (G) cadre have intensified the poll boycott campaign with its leaders appealing people through Friday sermons to stay away from voting.

Geelani’s own party, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, that has its members across valley and in Jammu parts have been mobilising public against the polls.

Geelani said that elections are aimed to dilute right to self-determination of Kashmiris. I make a fervent appeal to people to stay away from polls to safeguard sacrifices of our martyrs.

JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik has been himself leading party’s poll boycott campaign almost for past one month.

JKLF also extended its election boycott campaign to many educational institutions of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district asking the students not to cast their votes during the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

JKLF also distributed a detailed pamphlet to apprise people of ill-effects of elections on the ongoing movement. The party during its campaign distributed pamphlets and through Masjid pulpits are appealing people not to cast their votes.

Shabir Shah led Hurriyat Conference has also been on toes. They launched campaign against elections in various areas of Kashmir. Police several times placed separatists under house arrest and detained senior leaders of HCJK including Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Shabir Ahmad Shah.

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