Indian Elections in Jammu & Kashmir
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The Tribune (Chandigarh) 6 September, 1999
5 hurt in J&K poll violence Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Sept 5 - Five persons received bullet injuries in Budgam, while the police lobbed tear gas shells here to quell demonstrators protesting against the polling that was held in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency today. The polling was held amid a complete bandh here in response to the APHC call, which received a partial response in other parts of the valley.

At least five villagers were injured, four of them seriously, when security guards of the polling agents of the National Conference (NC) allegedly opened fire on an assembly of villagers in Kandoora village of the Beerwah area in Budgam district this morning.

Budgam district comprising five assembly segments is part of the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. The Ladakh parliamentary constituency also went to the poll today.

Four of those injured in the firing in Kandoora village have been identified as Ghulam Rasool Ahangar, Abdul Rahim, Farooq Ahmad Malik and Mohammad Shaban Chopan. Doctors attending on them at SMHS Hospital here said the condition of the four was critical.

Eyewitnesses said the security forces asked the villagers to assemble at one place this morning. The polling agents of the ruling NC intervened and forced the villagers to cast their votes, Bashir Ahmed, an eyewitness at the hospital said. He said the villagers objected to the "forcible way of the polling agents" in view of the militants' threats. Posters had been pasted in the village by separatists asking people to boycott the poll. "When the people refused to obey, they (PSOs of the agents) opened indiscriminate fire", Bashir Ahmad said.

The police lobbed tear gas shells in the Maisuma locality here to disperse protesters against the election process. Scores of tear gas grenades and shells were lobbed in the streets of the locality close to the Budshah Chowk. Earlier, the protesters were engaged in brick-batting with the police. They also threw stones at the police on duty in the area. The protesters also burnt tyres of
vehicles on the main road in the locality.

There were also reports of burning of tyres in the Basant Bagh locality. A group of youth held demonstrations and raised pro-freedom slogans outside a polling station at Zadibal in the old city. They were chased away by the Central Reserve
Police Force (CRPF) with the use of batons. The youth also threw stones at the
police outside the polling station. However, about 50 voters, most of them men, had cast their votes within first two hours of the polling.

There were also reports of bogus voting allegedly by the ruling NC people at various places in the city. While youths were engaged in brick-batting with the police at Maisuma-Gowkadal, at least 300 voters, more than 120 of them women, had cast their votes at polling stations of Gowkadal housed in Girls Higher Secondary School, Kothibagh. At Khanyar only two votes had been cast
during first three hours of polling at three polling stations having 3275 voters.

Meanwhile, the police said that a presiding officer was allegedly beaten up by an NC MLA, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, at Jawahar Nagar in the city. He was reported to have asked his agents to "capture" polling booths early today, as he addressed a public meeting here recently.

The police also confirmed the "seizure of three election vehicles of the NC" at Zainakote by supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ms Mehbooba Mufti. Two of the "bogus voters" held by the police have revealed that they were "deputed" by a senior minister in the Farooq Abdullah government to cast votes.


Election boycott in Srinagar rattles NC

From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, Sept 5 - When separatists gave a call for poll boycott in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections it was not heeded by the voters in the three constituencies of Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramula where between 50 and 55 per cent polling was recorded in the valley.

And when the same separatist groups gave a call for poll boycott why did it evoke total response from the electorate in Srinagar constituency where the polling ended today?

The response from the people seems to have created panic among the government and ruling National Conference circles. The way Srinagar district witnessed total hartal yesterday and today and the pattern of general strike in several parts of the valley today reminded one of the pre-poll scene in 1989 when  out of scare the Srinagar seat went to the National Conference without a contest and between 3 and 5 per cent polling was registered in Anantnag and Baramula constituencies.

The reason for the poll boycott in 1989 was understandable because people had buckled under militants' threat, the law and order machinery had almost collapsed and a majority of people had been assured that "azadi" was round the corner. No doubt there has been a marked step-up in militancy related violence in some parts of the valley during the past three months but the overall security scenario has not been as alarming as it was in 1989. Hence the voters, except for known militancy infested areas, had no immediate and real threat from the militants. Had it been the case or had the voters been motivated by the call for boycott given by the separatists the polling percentage in Kangan, Chrar-e-Sharif and Chadoora Assembly segments would have also been as poor as in Khanyar, Ganderbal, Amira Kadal, Habba Kadal and other segments.

What has seemingly shocked senior National Conference leaders is the poor turnout of voters in Ganderbal Assembly segment, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah's constituency, where by 3 p.m. the polling figure was less than 5 per cent. During the pre-poll campaign the Chief Minister had attracted a very small gathering in his constituency.

Four major factors are said to be responsible for very poor turnout of voters in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. First, the voters have demonstrated their anger against what is usually called non-performance of the state government and the Centre. The voters in 1996 and 1998 elections had nursed dreams of better days. The acute cash crunch forcing the state government to suspend work on projects related to people's welfare had resulted in annoyance with both the state and the Centre. The central government was accused of causing financial difficulties.

Secondly, the increase in the level of corruption had been a major irritant among the people. National Conference legislators were being openly blamed for having sold government jobs. The party leadership had been held responsible for nepotism.

Thirdly, the role of the special task force of the police and some of the groups of surrendered militants had resulted in a bitter taste in the month of the people. An impression had gone round that common and innocent people were not safe before the STF and the renegade militants.

Fourthly, the 60-year-old image of the National Conference stands damaged because the gap between the party leaders and the common people had been widened owing to lack of regular interaction between the rulers and the ruling class. Dr Abdullah's outright support to the BJP-led coalition government in the Centre proved to be Achilles' heel for the ruling National Conference.

Those who cite these factors responsible for the poor turnout also speak of the recent crackdown on leaders of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference who were not allowed freedom to campaign against the polling. They say personal performance and image counted among the people. The Education Minister, Mr Abdul Qayoom, and the Rural Development Minister, Mr Abdul Rahim Rather, had a good track record. That is the reason why polling percentage in several parts of Budgam district has been much higher than Srinagar district. Several high-profil  ministers whom the common people avoided meeting because of their "arrogance" had to cut a sorry figure when in their assembly segments they could not organise more than 5 per cent polling.


Hurriet claims total poll boycott

SRINAGAR, Sep 5: Declaring that the election boycott call evoked cent per
cent sucess, All Parties Hurriet Conference today expressed satisfacation
over it.

Addressing a hurriedly called press conference at APHC headquarters here, its
chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani thanked the people for showing solidarity with
their programme of anti election boycott.

"Today's poll boycott should be an eye-opener for Indian rulers and they
should learn a lesson from today's experience as people have again reposed
faith in APHC and boycotted the poll", said Geelani rejecting any claims put
forward by election commission regarding free and fair elections.

"The election commission will definitely come out with the figures about the
polling, but we reject their contention outrightly. The election drama has
proved a farce and government should read the writing on the wall and accept
our right of self determination", said the Hurriet chairman.

He said the Hurriet was the guardian of 70,000 people, who laid down their
lives for the motherland. "Now the people have again proved that they will
not compromise with the sacrifices of the 70,000 persons. They have again
pledged that they will not ally with the forces who have raped their women,
killed their dear ones and maimed their beloved", said Geelani adding they do
not accept the elections or selections held under the Indian constitution.

Reiteriating the demand for tripartite talks to solve the Kashmir imbroglio,
Hurriet chairman appealed the United Nations, P-5 and G-8 nations to fulfill
their responsibility and hold the pelbicite in the state.

"UN is party to Kashmir dispute and it should not shrug offf its
responsibility in solving the Kashmir imbroglio. The poll boycott by people
has again given a chance to these organisation to address to the Kashmir
problem so that people are saved of the attrocites perpetuated by the Indian
security forces", said the Hurriet chairman, adding that this is not a border
dispute between India and Pakistan but it is matter of right of 13 million
people of the state.

He warned the international community that if this problem was not addressed,
it may trigger a necular war between India and Pakistan and for this it will
be wholly and solely responsible.

Rejecting the notion that APHC poll boycott has favored the National
Conference, Geelani said they do not believe in elections. "Any arrangement
under Indian constitution is unacceptable to us. It will not only be a
betrayal with the supreme sacrifices, but will also be a farcical exercise as
they want that their right of self determination should be accepted", he
noted.

He further added that the votes cast at different polling booths were
manipulated by the National Conference workers and they had pressed mobile
voters comprising of police personnel into service and common people have
boycotted the polls.

Earlier, a film was shown to media persons at Hurriet headquarters which
carried interviews of variosu polling officers and security forces saying
that elections were totally rejected by the voters.

The film also showed the people holding demonstrations in favour of freedom
and boycotting the elections. Besdies, it also showed the persons injured in
the firing at Beerwa. Their relatives were raising slogans against the state
government.


The Times of India (Delhi) 7, September 99
Editorial
Message from Kashmir

The pitifully low turnout for Sunday's Lok Sabha polls in the Srinagar
constituency of Jammu and Kashmir is a far more eloquent indicator of
what the people of the valley feel than the distribution of votes totted
up by the candidates standing for election.

Though more than 70 per cent of the electorate exercised its franchise
in Ladakh and Kargil, voter turnout in Srinagar was only 12 per cent.
Clearly, the boycott appeal by the All-Party Hurriyet Conference (APHC)
had its effect. In some assembly segments in and around the state
capital, turnout was as low as 0.5 per cent. If the allegations of
rigging and bogus voting made by the opposition are even partly correct,
then the true picture is rather more abject. What is worse, the local
and national media have also reported numerous instances where the
security forces pressurised people to vote. In one incident, an
under-aged - and therefore unregistered -- youth press-ganged to a
polling station by the security forces in Ganderbal was saved from
further harassment by the kindness of polling staff who inked his finger
anyway. While the authorities argue that people stayed away from the
polls in such large numbers for fear of the militants, all indications
suggest that the mass boycott was more or less voluntary. By refusing to
take part in the election, voters in the Srinagar constituency are
trying to say something. The state and Union governments must try and
understand what that message is.

For more than four decades, the Indian political mainstream has ignored
the grievances of ordinary Kashmiris. The autonomy Kashmir enjoyed at
the time of its accession to India has slowly been whittled away and
local elites given a free hand to rule - or misrule -- the state with
impunity so long as they support the party in power at the Centre. When
militancy erupted in 1989 with the active connivance of Pakistan, the
heavy-handedness of the security forces added to the Kashmiris' sense of
hurt. Today, the people of Kashmir have decisively turned their backs on
the terror tactics of the militants but they have no desire to return to
the bad old days of electoral manipulation. Sunday's poll is proof that
the National Conference commands very little popular support. If there
is one political strand which does seem to have clout by default, it is
the APHC, a heterogeneous grouping in which secessionist elements
predominate. What the Hurriyet leaders need to realise, however, is that
secession is a pipe-dream. Already, the secessionist movement has become
dominated by non-Kashmiri extremists whose ideals are antithetical to
what ordinary Kashmiris believe in. By boycotting elections, the APHC
can always play spoiler but it will not be able to help the cause of
those it claims to represent. If it really wishes to make a difference
to the lives of Kashmiris, the APHC must renounce secessionism and
contest elections like all political parties in India do. In order to
encourage the Hurriyet to adopt a more constructive attitude, the next
Union government must go out of its way to promote, without
preconditions, a broad discussion with all Kashmiri political forces. As
a confidence-building measure, the government must also prosecute those
involved in human rights violations in the state. Ordinary Kashmiris
cannot forget, for example, that the 1993 massacre of 60 persons in
Bijbehara remains unpunished, and that all attempts by the National
Human Rights Commission to bring the guilty to book have drawn a blank
so far.


The Kashmir Monitor (Srinagar) 7 September, 1999
Editorial
Rejected by people

The polling that was conducted in the two districts of Kashmir,
Srinagar and Budgam once again proved it beyond any doubt that people of
Kashmir are alienated completely from the India as well as from the
rulers in the state. The overwhelming response to the poll boycott by
the people manifested that the movement and the cause of the movement is
alive in the state despite the continuous efforts of the powers that
are, using all the methods to bring the people of the state in
submission. What was witnessed on the poll day was almost the complete
boycott of the polls resorted to, voluntarily by the people. However the
figures that the government has come up with, are once again a crude
attempt to hide the truth, exactly an ostrich like approach. Media
persons both native and foreign, roaming in both the districts whole day
stand witness to the fact that no voters except a negligible one or two
turned up on their own and it was either coercion that brought some out
to cast the vote or it were the mobile voters who were carried from the
booth to booth to cast the votes. The figures that have been furnished
by the government are absolutely concocted and make those who have seen
the reality laugh. The response of the people is a very clear though
bitter reply to the National Conference claims of being popular and
commanding the support of the masses and even the official figures
substantiate the claim that NC has lost the ground completely and stands
nowhere politically. In such a situation the ruling party has no moral
right to continue in power and should choose to step down of its own.
Even when the home constituency of the chief minister Farooq Abdullah,
the tallest of the tall party leaders at present, could not demonstrate
a respectable voter turn up how can the party claim to have elicited
good response from other constituencies. Chrar and Kangan are the
constituencies that have given the respectable voting figures but only
because of the maneuvering of the ruling party leaders of the concerned
areas which incidentally have three full fledged cabinet ministers.
National Conference used to be the party that would bale out the
candidates but the things are other way round now. It is the people who
have tried to act to bale out the NC in present circumstances. The
response of the people during the election campaigning was clearly
indicating that the results will not be in favour of NC as the ruling
party leaders had a tough time to collect the gathering which they would
address and from many places they were forced to return without stepping
out of the vehicles as there was none to listen to them. It was already
known that the elections will be a mock exercise as the people of the
valley are least interested in the exercise and have been far more
responsive to the poll boycott policy of the pro movement organisations.
The conduct of elections in the valley has exploded the myth in just the
first phase of the LS polls and brought all the shame on the NC that has
been vociferating to be the popular party and having come to the power
through a popular mandate.


NC fairs badly as the masses score high marks
Suraya Khan

Srinagar: The just bygone poll day was a rare day in the history of the
elections of Jammu and Kashmir in a number of ways. First and foremost,
the people in both the districts, Srinagar and Budgam where polling was
scheduled on Sunday, by and large exhibited tremendous unity in
responding to the election process. It was the real boycott of the
elections as there was no kind of fluttering or any lurking desire in
them to exercise their franchise when approached to know the reason of
their restraint. Not only the boycott among the voters was spontaneous
as there was no party or team roaming on the election day to browbeat,
or threaten the voters to keep indoors and abstain from casting their
vote. Instead it was other way round as there were several attempts of
coercion to scare people and bring them out of their homes to the booths
to cast their votes obviously in favour of the ruling party as hoards of
its activists led by senior party functionaries including the
legislators could be seen roaming in metadors carrying the mobile
voters, or visiting the different areas in PRESS tagged vehicles. Not
only these but the men in uniform too could be seen using force to bring
the voters to the polling booths and this correspondent witnessed a few
such attempts of the men in Khaki who instantly released the forcibly
caught men and elderly women on seeing the media team enter the booth at
a number of polling stations.
'We have had so many elections during past 40 years, what has changed
for us that will vote in favour of those who have ruined us', said a
sere Habibullah and Nabla Begam of Kadi Kadal, let go along with other
two by the force personnel on seeing the media persons entering the
polling booth.
Not only did the people exhibit more courage as previously the same
coercion to a few people would make rest in the area tremble and lead
them to flock the booths to escape any beating or other troubles and
yield to the bidding of the powers that be. Even the employees assigned
the task of conducting polls and posted at various polling booths, too
presented a different picture, defying the general impression that they
would as used to happen in the past, allow the capturing of booth and
filling ballot boxes with bogus votes. By and large the presiding
officers and other polling staff instead demonstrated enough courage and
resisted all the attempts of booth capturing and thus the dismal vote
percentage in all the city constituencies even as the ruling party tried
its best to raise the figure at any cost. ' if any sort of fake voting
is attempted in this booth where I am the incharge, I would never allow
it and in case force is used I will immediately inform the Election
Commission of India and get the polling annulled' were the words that
came out of several mouths at different polling booths.
" Who will vote and for whom when the memories of the bloodshed and the
dead bodies in my courtyard and our whole street are still fresh like
that of the breakfast I have had in the morning', said an elderly lady
sitting in her courtyard and flanked by some of her family and
neighbouring women at Hawal who did not bother to visit the polling
booth that was just few yards from her place.
National Conference had already had real tough time wooing the people
during the campaign as the people ignored the party and its leaders, not
even giving them a second look. In the sequel the NC campaigners had
either to cut a sorry figure or return without stopping their cavalcade
at the places fixed for election rallies. And on the poll day National
Conference faired even worse as its coercion and rigging attempts met
the stiff resistance from the people and the polling staff all along.
Setting aside the cooked figures and the percentages declared
officially, the only thing that was demonstrated in the polling was that
if the fears are taken out of the hearts and the wrong resisted with the
unfailing conviction, confidence and unity, no force on earth can
overpower the people and bring them to submission. Rulers who have the
entire administrative machinery at their disposal will be rendered
impotent if the masses stand up and desist any wrong with unwavering
unity.


The Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) 7 September, 1999
What purpose holding elections where People are not interested

Ram Rattan Chaterjee*

Srinagar, Sept 5: I started my journey from United Nation's office at
Sonawar and concluded it at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura.
All along the way, I only saw security forces, not a single voter, in
front of polling booths. On the way, at Madina chowk, at 8:15 a.m, I
observed that no voters were coming to the booth. Then, I toured
Maisuma, Saria Bala, Habba Kadal and Chotta Bazar areas. Only a few
voters, about 20, were seen around the booth at Chota Bazaar. I did not
see anybody interested in casting his vote in these areas.

At the Rathpora polling station, only one voter had come to cast his
vote at 11.00 am. On reaching Safakadal, I visited five booths and only
50 voters had cast their votes.

At Zadibal, some people were protesting against the 'forced voting'.
After visiting Nawakadal, Braripora, Soura, Anchar, Arampora and so many
places in the city, I came to the conclusion that a vast majority of the
people were boycotting this election spontaneously.

In the prestigious Ganderbal Assembly constituency, representing the
chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, I saw only a few voters had come to
the polling station for voting. At the Khalmola polling station, I was
shown a few snatched ballot papers and learned from the polling officer
and police that some unidentified men came to capture the booth. Then, I
went to Wakoora, Saidpora and Shuhama polling stations to watch the
voters' attitude but to my surprise nobody came to the polling station.
Lastly, I visited Gousiya Chowk, Duderhama Ganderbal on receiving
information about forced voting, to meet the people and listened to
them.

During this journey from Srinagar to Ganderbal, I met a number of people
on the way. After hearing their views, I was shocked that the people are
not interested to exercise their right to vote. In the key
Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency, my observation is that
people are completely disillusioned with the electoral process. I came
from Calcutta to know the ground reality in Kashmir valley but my
experience has been unfortunately very horrible and painful.

As an Indian citizen, I would like to ask a question to the state and
central governments. What is the purpose of holding elections in a state
where people are not interested at all?
(*The author is a Calcutta-based researcher currently in Kashmir.)


2 dead, 12 wounded in Beerwah
12% turnout in Srinagar-Budgam LS poll amid near total boycott

GK Correspondent

Srinagar, Sept 5: Two persons died and 12 others were injured in the
violence hit polling for Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency in
the first phase of Lok Sabha elections today. Amid a near total response
to the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) boycott call, with most
people remaining indoors and streets wearing a deserted look, barely 12
per cent of the electorate cast their vote. Reports of coercion, booth
capturing and clashes have come from various parts of the constituency
spread over the two central districts of the valley.

In the Ladakh parliamentary constituency, comprising Leh and Kargil
districts, which went to the polls alongwith Srinagar-Budgam today, the
turnout is officially reported to be over 70 per cent. There have been
no "complaints of rigging, booth capturing or other corrupt practices"
in the constituency, the chief electoral officer, S V Bhave, claimed in
a signed handout. Accusations and counter-accusations of bogus voting
and intimidation of polling staff marked ding dong battles between the
activists of National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) in various parts of the city.

One polling agent of the PDP was injured, Chadoora MLA's car and some
campaign vehicles of the ruling party were damaged in the inter-party
clashes.

Talking to Greater Kashmir later in the day, PDP candidate for the
constituency, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, demanded repoll in atleast 30 polling
booths. She said that one of her activists at old hospital booth,
Mushtaq Ahmad, was injured by the NC men while the duty magistrate
watched mutely. She accused the NC leaders Mohammad Shafi Bhat and Javid
Shah of having polled bogus votes in S P college and other areas of the
city.

In the afternoon the ruling party's mobile crowd met with a stiff
resistance from the PDP cavalcade led by party's Baramulla nominee,
Muzaffar Hussain Beig, who reportedly caught hold of the driver of a
TATA 407 of a 'mobile crowd'. However, the crowd, comprising mainly
women, denied they were working for the ruling party. However, they
admitted, "We just want to vote for National Conference and that is
all," they told reporters.

Police registered a case vide FIR No 79/99 against a sitting ruling
party member of the legislative assembly, Muhammad Shafi Bhat, for
allegedly slapping the presiding officer of the polling booth No 22-A
located at DAV higher secondary school, Jawahir Nagar. The official,
identified as Tahir Ali, is believed to have resisted the National
Conference activist's attempt at capturing the booth.

"He had brought in some people who had already voted in some polling
station to cast their votes again from this polling station. On my
objection, I was manhandled," said the presiding officer, adding that
Muhammad Shafi Bhat threatened to behead him. "I am scared as security
is already lax and I do not know if I would reach home safely," he said.

Embarrassed at the allegedly indecent behaviour of the ruling party MLA,
Shafi Bhat, near Barzalla, agitated PDP activists later in the day
attacked a National Conference convoy near Asif Filing station on the
Hyderpora by pass damaging the car of an NC leader and Chadoora MLA, Ali
Muhammad Dar and some campaign vehicles of the party.

Some ruling party functionaries, according to eyewitnesses, were also
beaten up the PDP activists. At booth No 44 of the Handicrafts centre
near Misakeen bagh it was the intervention of the BSF personnel who
fired some aerial shots that a clash was averted.

At Kursoo polling station number 19, police were preventing workers of
MLA, Bhat, from entering the polling booths as they had already cast
their votes. AGK correspondent found two burqa-clad women among the NC
workers having indelible ink marks on either hand to suggest they had
voted twice already. Some SSB officials persuaded the MLA to leave the
spot.

When contacted, Shafi Bhat said the police stopped his workers from
casting their vote and demanded identity cards from women voters. "Has
the government of India issued identity cards to the voters?" he
questioned adding, "If Mehbooba Mufti hears about this incident, she
will say that I have captured the booths. She does not know that I do
not capture, I only rupture."

There were reports from other pollings stations alleging booth capturing
by the MLA. He had allegedly unzipped his pants in front of PDP
candidate, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, near the polling booth at Khalsa girls
school, Burzalla.

Two persons were killed and twelve others injured, five of them
critically, when the personal security officers (PSOs) of Abdul Gani
Naseem, MLA, Khansahib, opened fire on a group of people at Khandoora
near Beerwah in Budgam district.

According to reports, the MLA appeared in the village with his three
PSOs. The villagers allegedly pelted stones on him. The PSO's retaliated
by opening indiscriminate fire in the crowd injuring 12 civilians. The
injured were rushed to SMHS hospital where two of them succumbed to
injuries. Their identity could not been ascertained immediately.

Some of the injured have been identified as Farooq Ahmad Malik, Ghulam
Rasool Ahanger, Abdul Rahim Mir and Shazada Akhter all residents of
Beerwah.

Several areas in the downtown Srinagar witnessed pitched dingdong
battles and violent demonstrations. Early this morning, people pelted
stones on the police at Maisuma. The demonstrators shouted anti-India
and pro-freedom slogans. The police lobbed scores of tearsmoke shells to
chase away the protesters.

Demonstrations were also held at Zakura chowk. The BSF personnel
stationed in the area asked the people to cast votes. Angered, the
people raised slogans against the BSF, elections and India.

The people came out on the streets in Dhara Harwan where security forces
thrashed and forced some of them to cast their votes. This led to
violent demonstrations in the area which continued for quite some time.
The people also spitted out their venom at Kawdara this afternoon.
Similar demonstrations were witnessed in Parraypora Baghat.

A massive demonstration at Beerwah main chowk, shouted slogans against
Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. The people praised Hurriet
leadership for pleading the cause of Kashmiris. A group of people at
Magam, where 12 persons had cast their vote, told Greater Kashmir that
they were forced into the act.

At Zadibal polling station 19/24 out of a total of 981 votes, 205 votes
had been polled till 4.15 pm. Nearly 30 yards away, a group of 20 to 30
youth started shouting pro-independence slogans. At this a contingent of
BSF personnel headed by an inspector chased away the group. The
inspector then checked the I-cards of newsmen and noted down their
names, charging the with instigating the mob.

According to an official handout, the turnout in Habbakadal segment was
the lowest at 0.05 per cent, at Eidgah 2 per cent, at Khanyar 4 per
cent, Sonwar 3 per cent, Batmaloo ad Zadibal 3 per cent. Chrari Sharif
recorded the highest turnout of 55 per cent followed by 31 per cent in
Kangan. The turnout in Kargil was as high as 73 per cent followed by 70
per cent in Leh, Zanskar and Nobra.


GK Controll Room adds: The control room set up by Greater Kashmir to
monitor elections, evoked overwhelming response. Hundreds of complaints
of coercion were received from various localities of Srinagar city.

Most of the people in civil lines area accused Muhamamd Shafi Bhat (MLA)
and his 'mobile team mostly comprising women' of intimidating the poll
staff and casting bogus votes at several polling stations.

Shafi's 'adventures' were brought to the notice of election observer
Vijay Moli by the control room. He assured proper action.

According to reports from Shoor Mohallah , Old Gagri Bal, atleast fifty
persons coming out of the local mosque after offering Zuhr prayers were
taken in trucks to the polling booth to cast their votes.

The BSF stationed at Gaw Kadal dragged an employee of the SKIMS from his
home and asked him to caste vote. On refusal, he was severely thrashed.
He sustained critical injuries.

Reports of coercion were also received from Sidiqabad Batmaloo, Chan
Mohallah Chattabal, Bota Shah Mohallah Lal Bazar, Ali Kadal, Kawdara,
Wantpora Narwara, Habba Kadal, Bhagwanpora Lal Bazar, Hawal, Mirza Kamil
Sahib, Hakka Bazar Badam Wari, Tulmulla, Naseem Bagh, Rawatpora Bagat,
Padoora Budgam, Kalashpora, Baran Pather, Kunda Bal Rainawari, Haft
Chinar, Zadibal, Shaheed Gunj, Zaindar Mohallah, Nowhatta, Adalat Masjid
Hawal and many other places.


The Kashmir Monitor 7 September, 1999
Re-poll for Srinagar constituency demanded

Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nominee Mehbooba Mufti,
Monday demanded re-poll in the entire Srinagar constituency alleging
large scale rigging and enactment of the 1987 drama by the ruling
National Conference (NC) with the connivance of the central government
and the Election Commission. Mehbooba said she had a feel of her
party's strength only Sunday as the ruling NC leaders including chief
minister, Farooq Abdullah has to stoop low to use hired men and women
to cast bogus votes in the constituency. Knowing the fate of its
candidate, Omar Abdullah, NC ministers and MLAs and MLCs whom she named
one by one resorted to booth capturing in the constituency, she said.
The ruling party including chief minister Farooq Abdullah and other
party leaders were involved in massive rigging in Charar-e-Sharif,
Budgam, Ganderbal and Kangan assembly segments, she said wondering how
the poll percentage could go up abruptly between 1500 hours and 1700
hours.
Questioning the poll percentage provided by the Election Commission,
she said that first it stated that only 12 percent of electorate cast
their votes but in Delhi it was later increased to 15 percent.
Mufti said that the low turn out was not due to the poll boycott call
given by the Huriyat Conference but was as a result of the
disillusionment of the people who participated in the 1996 polls at the
risk of their lives but had their dreams shattered by anti-people
policies of the state government.
She criticized the state Chief Electoral Officer, S V Bhave on his role
and termed it "disappointing" as no action was taken to the complaints
and only complainants were harassed by the police manning the polling
booth.
"We did not see any central observer moving in the constituency", she
charged. "It was a pre-planned conspiracy in which the union government,
the state government and the Election Commission were party, against her
as this type of election managed by the state only denigrate the
democracy where police played a role of mere spectator", Mehbooba
alleged.
She claimed that union and state government had joined hands to ensure
her defeat and thus close the door of parliament for her so that real
issues facing the people of the state are not raised in the parliament.
"How can I believe the result of the poll", she asked but said her
party will not boycott the counting if the Election Commission did not
order for re-poll in the constituency.
She claimed that no genuine vote has been polled in favour of ruling
party candidate in the constituency.
Replying to questions, Mehbooba said she will fight it out and not sit
in the house even if she was declared defeated in the poll.
"We will continue to fight for the rights of the people and expose the
misdeeds of the state government", she declared. In reply to another
question, she reluctantly said the mal-practices in the elections will
increase militancy in the state.


The Tribune (Chandigarh) 7 September, 1999
Mehbooba demands repoll in Srinagar

SRINAGAR, Sept 6 (PTI) - The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Party nominee,
Ms Mehbooba Mufti, today demanded a repoll in the entire Srinagar
constituency alleging large-scale rigging by the ruling National
Conference in connivance with the Central Government and the Election
Commission.

A formal request for the repoll had been made to the Election
Commission, Ms Mehbooba told newsmen here.

"We did not see any central observer in the constituency," she charged.

It was a "pre-planned conspiracy" in which the central and state
governments and the Election Commission were party against her and the
police played the role of mere "spectators", she charged.

The ruling party, including Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and other
party leaders, were involved in "massive rigging" in Charar-e-Sharif,
Badgam, Ganderbal and Kangan, she alleged, wondering how the poll
parcentage could suddenly shoot up between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Questioning
the poll percentage provided by the Election Commission, she said first
it was stated that only 12 per cent of the electorate had cast their
votes but in Delhi it was later increased to 15 per cent.

She said the low voter turnout was not because of the Hurriyat call for
poll boycott but because of the disillusionment of people, who had
participated in the 1996 poll at the risk of their lives but had their
dreams shattered by "anti-people" policies of the state government.

Meanwhile the state unit of the BJP on Monday claimed that election
authorities had despatched ballot boxes without engraving serial numbers
to some areas of the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency and feared rigging by
ruling National Conference in the September 11 polling, a report from
Jammu said.

The state BJP leaders, - candidate for the Jammu Lok Sabha seat Vaid
Vaishno Dutt, party state general secretary Nirmal Singh and working
committee member T.R. Sharma, told reporters that ballot boxes without
engraved serial numbers had been despatched to the Akhnoor, Vijaypur,
Rajouri, Marh and Mendhar assembly segments.

Most of the ballot boxes despatched to these five assembly segments had
painted serial numbers as against the mandatory requirement that the
numbers be engraved, they said.

The leaders said the matter had been taken up with the Chief Election
Commissioner and a request had been made to him to instruct the state
authorities not to violate rules and regulations enforced by the
Election Commission of India.

"If authorities do not take immediate steps to send the ballot boxes
with engraved serial numbers at these places, there is every possibility
that they may be substituted at the instance of the ruling party", they
said.