Indian Elections in Jammu & Kashmir
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Srinagar,
September 1:
In Indian Occupied Kashmir, the government employees have announced total boycott of the poll ploy. The announcement was made after meeting in Srinagar of forty-seven organisations of government employees. It was unanimously decided that government employees would boycott any poll's duty also the entire poll's process. Addressing anti-polls rallies at various places in Islamabad (Anantnag), the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Gilani said, the poll's bogey was intended to mislead the world public opinion about reality of the situation in occupied Kashmir. He warned the people against the tricks of Indian puppets, including Farooq Abdullah and Mufti Muhammad Saeed.
Agha Syed Hasan Budgami, in a message from jail has appealed to Kashmiris to boycott the poll's drama as the Kashmir issue had reached a decisive point due to unique sacrifices of Kashmiris. The APHC spokesman has again demanded immediate and unconditional release of Hurriyat leaders. He said, these leaders had been kept in detention to prevent them from conducting anti-poll's campaign.

The Kashmir Monitor (Srinagar) 6 September, 1999
Woeful tale of poll officials, treated like cattle
Suraya Khan

Srinagar: The government employees who were assigned task of manning the poling booths and conduct polls there, had woeful tales to tell. As this correspondent visited different polling booths in various parts of in the two districts of Srinagar and Budgam, the common thing that was observed was that polling staff tired and untidy as if they had not slept for days together and brought straight from some jungle.
'We were transported like cattle from the hotels after some SPO's and
other gun wielding people barged in our rooms and kicked some of us. We were dropped at the polling booths at 12 in the night only to grope in
the dark as there was no electricity or any other source of light at the
polling booths. It was only after feeling the walls like the blinds and
moving ahead that we happened to touch the bench or the chair, caught
hold of these and sat there whole night in the same posture, fully
awake. In the morning we did not have any water and could not ease
ourselves. We have not been provided any breakfast since the morning',
was the statement made by almost all of the presiding and polling
officers to whom this correspondent talked.
The employees deputed for various polling stations as the presiding
officers and polling officers were lodged in different hotels like
Pinegrove, Heemal, Parimahal, Manora, Neelam, Shah Abbas, and in REC were asked to board the buses between 9 and 12 in the night when SPO's barged into the rooms and rudely behaved with the assembled employees asking them leave for their respective polling stations. According to the employees 'we declined to obey and resisted the directions as there were no security arrangement at the polling stations and also it was not secure to stay in the polling stations over night. However it was on the repeated assurances of the suitable security and other arrangements by the DC Srinagar who approached the agitated employees and persuaded them to leave for the polling stations. However, on reaching the polling booths what they found to their utter dismay, were few broken chairs and wooden benches or some pricking jute matting. The disgruntled employees said that it was like the cattle that they were treated and dropped at the polling booths without any bedding and other requirements. There was no electricity in the majority of the booths which were housed mostly in the school buildings which were very poorly furnished so much so that the employees could not lye down during the night and had to keep sitting in the broken chairs or on the sloping benches whole night. All the employees talked to at various polling stations had spent the night in the same inhuman conditions. ' if the government of the state was not prepared as far as the security and other arrangements are concerned, why did it conduct the polls' said a number of polling and presiding officers while sitting idle as none was turning up to cast his vote. For most of the employees it was not for the first time that they were assigned the poll duty but had performed the same duty in the previous elections as well and said that it is for the first time that the employees were meted out such an inhuman treatment. At the hotels they were given an impression that excellent arrangements have been done by the government only to see that not one word of it all was true.


"Popularity" of National Conference stands exposed
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The poll percentage figures for the Srinagar Lok Sabha
constituency, even as these were manipulated to a large extent, by some
over enthuiastic functionaries including few legislators of the National
Conference, have proved it beyond any doubt that the ruling party is,
for all practical purposes, at its lowest. Barring Kangan,
Charar-I-Sharif, Gnaderbal, Chadoora and Badgam, assembly segments, none of the 15 constituencies which comprise the Srinagar LokSabha
constituency, registered a double figure polling. This despite all the
attempts, many of these successful, made by few NC MLAs, with the help
of 'mercenary voters', made to capture polling booths and stuff the
ballot boxes with bogus votes.
For the first time, officials at the polling booths, especially in
Srinagar localities, offered enough resistance against the booth
capturing, ignoring the warnings that they would have to pay a price for
it. They refused to be cowed down and did not allow the 'mobile voters'
to play the game. Charar-I-Sharif tops the list, with the 'highest'
polling figure, standing at 55 percent, thanks to the two overzealous
senior ministers of Abdullah government, Abdul Rahim Rather and
AbdulQayoom, who saw to it that turnout was more than respectable and
used all the 'services' at their disposal for the purpose and managed to
have a high figure of 55 percent.
Similarly in Kangan, Mian Altaf, another cabinet minister and son of
veteran Gujjar leader Mian Bashir Ahmad, managed to have 31 percent
polling. But in Ganderbal, home constituency of Farooq Abdullah, despite all the efforts made by the ruling party functionaries, the poll
percentage could not go above a meager 10 percent, an all time low. In
Badgam assembly segment, again the poll percentage claimed by the
officials to be at 22.5 percent, was the result of large scale booth
capturing, both by the National Conference and the supporters of
Congress candidate Agha Syed Mehdi, who happens to be a scion of
influential Shia spiritual family. At 2 in the noon the poll percentage
was as low as 4 percent and one can only imagine how it rose to over 22
percent in just last three hours. Miracle, whether you believe it or
not, do take place.
In Chadoora Assembly segment of Badgam, it was PDP candidate Mehbooba
Mufti enjoying an upper hand with people in large numbers coming out to
cast their votes in her favour and the final tally standing at 13
percent. However in Srinagar city, the ruling party suffered the worst
shock, with not a single assembly segment crossing the double figure
mark. Amirakadal, represented by Mohammad Shafi But, who aspiring for a
ministerial berth, used led over fourdozen 'mobile voters' for capturing
the polling booths, could poll just 9.5 percent votes. And the
remaining assembly constituencies speak volume about the 'popularity' of
the National Conference legislators with poll percentage being from 0.5
percent in Habakadal, represented by Law minister P L Handoo to
Khansahib in Badgam, with 8.5 percent and represented by a former
militant leader of JKLF (Aman faction). Abdul Ghani Naseem.


On poll days, Srinagar looked as graveyard
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The city of Srinagar, that would have some humans walking in
clusters or the guys playing cricket, or men siting on the thresholds of
shops gossiping or the mobile tea stalls or fruit vendors even on the
severest of the hartals wore a graveyard look on the polling day,
Sunday. No shops, no civilians on the roads or the shop thresholds, in
the streets, could be seen in any area except, Nowshehra locality of old
city, were a gathering of the youth shouted pro movement slogans like
'ham kya chahtey azadi' and exuded confidence to make the Huriyat call
for poll boycott a success. Elsewhere it was only the dogs and the men
in the uniform who dotted the roads especially the entrances of the
polling booths, besides journalists, both from pint and electronic
media, in dozens.

No private vehicle could be seen moving on any road except those with
labels of PRESS stamped on the front and the back panes. Some of these
vehicles carried the National Conference activists who could be clearly
recognised and who were moving in the entire city, taking a chance here
and there to stuff the ballot boxes with bogus votes. A few mini buses
were also seen carrying the National Conference workers, brought from
some nearby villages with few surrendered militants carrying sticks
sitting on their roof tops. They would go to the polling stations
situated at some isolated places, stand in a queue and wherever
possible, wherever they could do, cast bogus votes and then leave for
next destination.
In general entire city looked as if abandoned by the inhabitants. No
voice evencould be heard from the houses in the lanes and bye lanes were
the election booths were located. The anti-election campaign proved a
big success for the pro-freedom parties. The famous Lal Chowk, ever busy
with people's hustle and bustle gave a clear cut reply to those who
claim that people are for the elections. It instead made clear that
people fully endorsed the call to boycott the electoral process with one
voice.
The polling stations, heavily guarded by alert force personnel wore a
deserted look as the polling staff sat idle excepting when some 'mobile
voters' of the ruling party would appear on the scene and cast votes. At
Degree College Bemina where there were two polling booths, the staff was
found relaxing in the ground, as none had come till 1430 hours to cast a
vote. At some stations even muscle power was used to bring people out.
One such polling booth was Govt. High School Gogji Bagh, where out of a
total number of 532 votes only five had been polled till 1545 hours.
Politically motivated, nearly, some seven or eight youth forced their
entry insider and started beating up the staff present there severely.


Violence marks Srinagar polling
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: Polling in Srinagar parliamentary constituency was marked by
the firing on the demonstrators and teargas shelling by the police on
the stone pelting demonstrators here Sunday. Six persons including a
woman received gun shot wounds as personal security officer of National
Conference MLA, Abdul Gani Naseem, a former militant leader of the JKLF
(Aman faction), opened fire at Kundara in Beerwah area of Badgam
district of central Kashmir Sunday.
The incident occurred around 1030 hours as people were reluctant to
cast theirvotes. They were protesting against the NC rule which
according to them had failed to provide any substantial relief to the
victims of the ten year long violence in Kashmir. However, an official
spokesman blamed militants for the incident.
The injured were rushed to a city hospital in serious condition. While
four are undergoing treatment at SMHS hospital, two have been referred
to Bone and Joint hospital with multiple injuries.
A land-mine went off outside a polling booth at Barsu in Ganderbal
around 0900 hours this morning but there was no loss of life. Another
land-mine, having been planted by militants at Rampur area of Ganderbal,
was detected will in time outside a polling booth and was neutralized by
the experts, the spokesman said.
Militants attacked a polling station with a grenade at Peerbagh on
Srinagar - Airport road around 1030 hours. The grenade missed the
intended target and exploded on the road, without causing any casualty.
Militants also resorted to indiscriminate firing at Inderwan-Kangan on
the outskirts of Srinagar to scare away voters, an official spokesman
said, adding security forces returned the fire but none was hurt.
Reports of clashes between anti-poll demonstrators and police were
reported from various areas of the constituency which badly affected
polling. Police fired dozens of teargas shells and used lathis to
disperse groups of youths who took to streets at Maisuma, Gowkadal,
Madina Chowk, Basant Bagh and Mandirbagh before the commencement of poll
at 0700 hours in the heart of Srinagar.
The clash between the police and the demonstrators in the sensitive
localities of the city continued till evening. A demonstrators, Feroz
Ahmed fractured his arm when he was severely beaten up by the
paramilitary forces at Basantbagh.
A 400-strong demonstrators pelted stones on police manning a polling
both at Nishat on the banks of Dal lake in Srinagar, protesting against
holding of elections.
They were chased away by the police with the assistance of paramilitary
forces.
A similar demonstration was reported from Soura and Zadibal areas of
downtown Srinagar where people were protesting against alleged coercion.

Zadibal assembly segment also witnesses a clash between supporters of
NC and opposition parties as the latter alleged that ruling party
indulged in bogus voting, the sources said.
A polling agent of Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party, Mushtaq
Ahmed Rufia was seriously injured when he was allegedly attacked by NC
activists inside a polling station in Batmaloo area of central Srinagar
Sunday, the sources said.
PDP activists abducted Nazir Ahmed, driver of a NC vehicle after a
heated exchange between the two sides inside polling station Kothibagh
in Srinagar this afternoon. Nazir was driving a matador which ferried
women voters to the polling station, the sources said. Reports of
clashes between anti-poll demonstrators and security forces was also
reported from Sulipora and Raithan villages of Badgam district of
central Kashmir. However, the clashes lasted for nearly half-an-hour and
polling resumed after incidents.


Bhave goes NC way
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The Chief Electoral Officer, S V Bhave, went National
Conference way as he only mentioned the 'poll violence' resorted to by
the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Mehbooha Mufti whose
activists allegedly damaged some vehicles in Hyderpora, which were
carrying the 'mobile voters' of the ruling National Conference. Bhave
in his statement issued late Sunday evening, said that a police party
was 'attacked' by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) activists near Asif
Filling Station, Hyderpora. Bhave said that Mehbooba Mufti, the PDP
candidate from Srinagar was also present on the spot and police vehicles
were damaged in her presence.
However the CEO mention, in his signed statement, that six people
including a woman received gun shot wounds as personal security officer
of National Conference MLA, Abdul Ghani Naseem opened fire in Kundara
village of Beerwah in Badgam district of central Kashmir during polls
Sunday. The victims, who refused to come to vote and protested against
the ruling National Conference, were fired upon by the MLAs guards.
The CEO also made no mention of MLA Shafi Butt, ransacking a polling
station in Gogjibagh and beating to pulp Mushtaq Ahmed Rahi, PDP polling
agent and a polling officer, Ghulam Mohiuddin Butt.

It also didn't report the incident of slapping of the Presiding Officer
of Ikhrajpora A-22 polling booth, Mumtaz Indrabi who raised voice
against bogus voters of Shafi Butt.
The CEO also didn't mention the bogus voting resorted to by many NC
MLAs and ministers in various city areas where they were roaming all the
day, escorted by security personnel.
However, the CEO did mention the Beerwah incident in a single line that
at 1130 hours, one lady Shah Banoo was injured and she has been
hospitalized.


'People have rejected election farce'
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: Hurriyet Conference termed Sunday's polling for Srinagar Lok
Sabha constituency as a 'dramatic enactment that proved to an absolute
fiasco" as the people of the Kashmir rejected it by abstaining from
exercising their right to vote.
Flanked by youthful Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Huriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah
Geelani told newspersons at the Rajbagh party headquarters here, claimed
that the people of Srinagar and Badgam districts had responded in a big
way to the election boycott call given the Huriyat and thus exposing the
farce of elections. He said that figures and percentage as dished out by
the government agencies were nothing but a big white lie, a brazen and
crude attempt to mislead the world at large. However he was confidant
that all these attempts would fail as the boycott was total and the
booth capturing resorted to by the some ruling National Conference
leaders was not allowed by the masses at almost all the places, barring
few where they were escorted by gunmen in uniform and without uniform.
Geelani said that Sunday's poll boycott was a demonstration by the
Kashmiris to the world at large and the India in particular \ that no
force on earth will bring them around to sell the martyrdom of 70,000
Kashmiris and enter into any accord with India. It is the freedom from
'Indian occupation' alone that Kashmiris would settle for, the Huriyat
leader said. Adding, Geelani said that all the political parties who
have fielded their candidates in present elections are the faces of the
same coin as they accept the 'Indian occupation' and just want to enter
into accords with India which in no way can change the plight of the
people of the Jammu and Kashmir. We have done it! Huriyat leader Syed
Geelani briefing newspersons. Condemning the attempts of the political
parties and various agencies to confuse and mislead the masses and the
international community by propagating that only poor have suffered
during the current struggle for freedom, Geelani said that all the
segments, classes, and the strata of the Kashmiri community irrespective
of any caste creed and factional and economic discrimination have
offered sacrifices for the freedom movement . \huriyat chairman said
that said that now the people of the Kashmir have practically
demonstrated that nothing less than the right of self determination was
acceptable to them and it was the ethical and moral responsibility of
the world powers to intervene as early as possible to ensure a just
solution of the Kashmir problem in accordance with the UN resolutions as
also the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.


Kangan, Charar may bail out NC
Overwhelming response to poll boycott
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: With Srinagar city observing a total poll boycott, the bogus
voting by the National Conference at many places and forcible polling
at the others, helped the authorities in presenting a 'credible' poll
percentage of 12 percent in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. This
includes 21.02 vote percentage in rural areas of Srinagar and Badgam
districts and that of an all time low of 3.82 percent in city.
According to the figures released by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO),
late Sunday evening, the overall percentage of the polling in Srinagar
constituency remained 12 percent with Charar-e-Sharief having the
highest polling of 55 percent and Habbakadal the lowest as 0.5 percent.
The figures released by the CEO said that Kangan witnessed 31 percent,
Ganderbal 10 percent, Hazratbal 5.5 percent, Zadibal 3 percent, Idgah 2
percent, Khanyar 4 percent, Habbakadal 0.5 percent, Amira Kadal 9.5
percent, Sonwar 3 percent, Batamallo 3 percent, Chadoora 13 percent,
Budgam 22.5 percent, Beerwah 7.13 percent, Khansahib 8.5 percent and
Charar-e-Sharif 55 percent polling.
Overall Srinagar city was deserted with mostly the media persons,
security men and the bogus voters moving in almost entire city. The
bogus voters mostly burqa clad females of MLA Shafi Butt, MLC Javed
Shah, MLA Mubark Gul, arrogant junior minister and that of ailing NC
stalwart Mohidin Shah were all active and moving in the private vehicles
with full security cover. They polled the votes in
both the down city, civil lines areas and the outskirts of Srinagar
city beating making hide and seek with the media men who were frequently
visiting these booths. The poll staff however categorically told the
media men that the mobile voters voted at different polling stations in
the Sringar city. They threatened the poll staff of dire consuquences.
The poll staff who were not knowing the identity of the voters allowed
the voting of these mercenary voters. The agents in most of the city
area of the PDP candidates were mostly from Tangmarg and Anantnag while
those of the Congress from Budgam making the room clear for bogus
voting.
In Zadibal where 205 votes were polled out of 981 at 1500 hours the
polling staff alleged that most of these votes were polled by 30-40
person who they said voted 5 times. They further complained that the BSF
and some people were threatening them. The mobile voters of Shafi Butt
polled 30 voters in the Polling Station who came in two vehicles, said
the poll staff. Since they were not knowing the identity of the voters
the poll staff allowed them vote. In Khujyarbal , Kadi Kadal,
Qamangarpora, Syedpora and Saazgaripora, Gojwara, Khanya, Bachmohalla
and Watal Kadal no votes were polled upto 1400 hours. In most of the
other city polling booths mostly 9-10 votes were polled while rest were
bogus.
However, there was comperatively respectable voting in Aramwari A and B
which is home mohalla of Shafi Butt. 315 out of 985 and 139 out of 499
were polled in these two polling booths. In Mehjoor Nagar and Choont Kul
areas too the voting although some bogus too was respectable. In upper
Budgam which is mostly militant dominated the polling was negligible. In
Khag and Poshkar of Beerwa assembly segment only two votes were polled
where last year the security forces brought people out to vote. In
Yacchigam, Budgam only 2 votes were polled upto 1400 hours.
In Charar-e-Sharif voting was brisk and the people came out of their
own for thevoting. In Chadoora and Wahthore it was also brisk and people
were enthusiatic. Same was the case in Budgam town and Bemina where
there are mostly the followers are Agha Mehdi. The Kangan also witnessed
respectable polling as area is mostly inhibited by the followers of the
Gujjar leader Mian Altaf. In certain areas of Ganderbal the Rastriya
Rifles personnel were making announcements on the loud speakers asking
people to come to vote. In certain downtwon localities like Zaddibal,
Surnai Mohalla, Sadderbal and Lal Bazar BSF and police personnel were
forcing people to vote.


Official briefing cancelled
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The media persons representing local, national and
international news organizations were taken aback when an official
spokesman announced that the formal press briefing of the Chief
Electoral Officer (CEO) on poll-related developments stood cancelled 'on
the directives of Election Commission of India'.
Journalists were invited by the Directorate of Information for press
conference to be addressed by the CEO, S V Bhave to detail media on the
turn out and other poll related developments at the conclusion of poll
Sunday.
The official spokesman told crowded gathering of journalists that on
the direction of Election Commission, CEOs in the states including Jammu
and Kashmir have been directed not to hold press briefings as the
Election Commission in New Delhi would be detailing media in New Delhi.
S Pandey, Director Information, when approached by reporters said he
regretted the inconvenience caused to the media persons. One of the
media persons shouted Googly Ho Gaye Googly (media persons were
googlied) when Panday announced the cancellation of the briefing.
Expressing surprise over the development, as it was for the first time
in the 32 year old electoral history of the state that press has been
kept away from details about the poll in the sensitive state, a senior
journalist said that the authorities feared inconvenient queries
regarding poll percentage especially in Srinagar by the media persons
and that was the reason for the last minute cancellation of
the customary press conference. The media persons were having all sorts
of questions from the mercenary voters of NC to the forcible voting at
few places by the security forces which could have put the Electoral
Officer in tight spot.
Incidentally, Srinagar constituency witnessed the lowest poll turn out
of less than 5 per cent Sunday, that too amidst widespread allegations
of rigging, booth capturing by ruling National Conference and anti-poll
demonstrations in Srinagar constituency. In 1996 when parliamentary
elections were held for the first time after a gap of nearly 8 years, 41
per cent electorate were shown as having exercised their franchise.
However, the percentage declined to 30.06 in 1998 parliamentary
elections in the Srinagar constituency.