Indian Elections in Jammu & Kashmir
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Final poll tally in Srinagar 11.96%

KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 6: With the actual polling figure availaible with the
official sources, the "tentative" percentage of Srinagar constituency
issued by the CEO last evening have slightly. While in some segments it
has gone down, in case of city segments, it has gone up.

The poll percentage of the constitunecy that was put an "approximately"
12 percent is now at 11.96 percent. While 7.91 percent of the electorate
in the Srinagar district has used its right of franchise, it is 11.97
percent in Budgam. Here is the latest tally of the Srinagar
constituency. KTNS secured the statistics from well placed official
sources, here this evening.

Segment %age as on total votes %age Sep 5. Polled (final tally)

Kangan 31% 13,373 31.68%
Ganderbal 10% 6,760 12.37%
Hazratbal 5.5% 4,448 6.31%
Zadibal 3% 2,829 5.75%
Idgah 2% 2,420 4.30%
Khanyar 4% 3,500 5.81%
Habakadal 0.5% 306 0.52%
Amirakadal 9.5% 6,208 10.81%
Sonawar 3% 1,871 3.55%
Batamaloo 3% 3,990 5.27%
Chadoora 13% 6,596 14.11%
Badgam 22.5% 11,128 19.16%
Beerwah 7.13% 7,759 12.19%
Khansahib 8.5% 5,169 9.66%
Chrar 55% 25,806 45.82%

Srinagar parliamentary constituency, that comprises of two central
Kashmir districts has 15 assembly segments. It has a total electorate of
8,53,183. Of the total electoarte only 1,02,163 voters used their right
of choose their MP, according to the official statistics available. This
makes the poll percentage of 11.96 percent which is lower than the 1996
and 1998 parliamentary polls. While in 1996, the percentage was 41
percent, it dwindled to 31.57 percent in the subsequent election in
1998.

Hurriyet thanks people

Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: Hurriyet Conference executive council has saluted the
people of Srinagar constituency for observing poll boycott on September
5. The meeting of the executive council said that election is no
alternative to the right to self determination.
A statement issued here by the Hurriyet said that despite coercion,
the people observed complete poll boycott. They appealed people of other
constituencies to observer the boycott and make it clear that elections
are no alternative to self determination. The statement said that one of
the persons who was injured in the firing at Kandoora, Beerwah passed
away in the hospital here. He was fired upon by the guards of MLA Abdul
Gani Naseem. The statement further said that at Haran Budgam, people
were beaten up severely by forces.
He said by observing poll boycott, people make it clear to the
world community that they do not want election or selection. Instead
they want right to self determination. He also conde-mned excesses being
committed by forces in Valley.


Malik, associates set free

Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: The chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front,
Mohammad Yasin Malik and several other Huriyat leaders were set free one
day after the parliamentary elections in Srinagar constituency.
Malik, senior JKLF leader Javed Ahmed Mir, Peoples League leader
Bashir Ahmed Tota and Anjuman-e-Sharian Shian supremo Aga Syed Hassan
were released here Monday. They were arrested last week during the
anti-election campaign of Hurriyet Conference. The government
feared that these leaders would create trouble in the city and detained
them till the polls were over.


Srinagar,
September 7:
In occupied Kashmir, the APHC's Executive Committee has said, total boycott
of fraudulent polls has once again practically proved to the world and the
Indian people that struggle of Kashmiris is for plebiscite and not sham
polls.
In a statement issued after its meeting in Srinagar, while expressing
satisfaction on poll's boycott, paid glowing tributes to Kashmiri people for
their successful boycott of the poll's ploy.
It appealed to the people of Baramula-Kupwara, Islamabad-Pulwama and
Udhampur-Doda to similarly boycott the second and third phase of the polls
drama on September 11 and 18. They were urged to solidly frustrate the
Indian designs behind such a crude political ruse.
Meanwhile, Time of India has reported that the troops were seen, forcing
people on gunpoint to go to polling stations. But the defiant people
strongly resisted and staged anti-polls rallies at various places in
Srinagar and Budgam districts on Sunday last, the day of first phase of the
fake polls.
In a statement in New Delhi, President of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic
Front, Pandit Bhoshan Bazaz, has congratulated migrant Kashmiri Pandits for
their boycott of the September 5 polls. He said, the election drama could
serve no purpose. He emphasised, it was in the interests of all sects and
sections of Kashmiri people that the Kashmir issue was resolved, once for
all, on the basis of justice which was inherent in the Kashmiris cause.


Dated.8-9-99

Geelani Escapes Assassination bid

Chairman Hurriyet Conference Syed Ali Geelani had a narrow escape when
a volley of bullets were showered towards the stage where he was
addressing a public meeting in Kulangam Handwara on 7 September 1999.
According to the reports Mr. Geelani along with other Hurriyet
associates Mr. Ashraf Sahrai, Mr. Mohammad Yosuf Mujahid and Mr. Musarat
Alam were addressing a public meeting in Kulangam village two kilometers
away from Handwara in district Kupwara. The meeting was the part of the
Hurriyet launched mass contact program about the awareness of election
boycott in Jammu and Kashmir. When Mr. Sahrai concluded his speech and
Mr. Geelani stood up to address the people, a BSF officer (whose name
was not immediately known) opened fire towards the stage firing a number
of bullets. Some of the bullets passed just centimeters away from the
body of Mr. Geelani. The bullets were fired without any warning what so
ever.
The abrupt firing caused disturbance and panic and the people ran
helter skelter, in the process a number of persons got injured. After
some time people assembled again and shouted pro-freedom and anti forces
slogans.
Latter Mr. Geelani and his associates reached another nearby village
Chagal and addressed a public meeting there. However, when the meeting
was about to conclude a contingent of Police headed by SHO Handwara
reached the spot and arrested the Hurriyet leaders, when the leaders
where being arrested people strongly protested and raised pro-freedom
and anti-election slogans. The leaders were taken to police station
Handwara where from they were released in the late hours of the night.
Meanwhile a spokesman of the APHC in Srinagar has strongly condemned
the murderous attack on Syed Ali Geelani and described it as an act of
cowardice. Spokesman has said that attack was purposely and with the
intention to assassinate Mr. Geelani. He said that complete boycott of
elections in Srinagar and Budgam district has frustrated the government
which is now desperately trying to suppress the peoples wishes and bow
them to subjugation. He further said that such cowardly acts can not
deter Hurriyet leadership from pursuing the cause of freedom of Kashmiri
people. It may be recalled here that numerous attempts have so far been
made on the life of Syed Ali Geelani and other Hurriyet leaders.
Hurriyet spokesman has appealed to the UN Secretary General, the world
leaders and international Human Rights organisations to take notice of
the situation and make efforts to protect the lives of Hurriyet
leadership.


11:34 a.m. Sep 05, 1999 Eastern
By Sheikh Mushtaq

SRINAGAR, India, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Only three out of every 20 voters
turned out on Sunday in the insurgency-torn Kashmir Valley on the first
ay of India's staggered national elections.

The poll was marred by a separatist election boycott and a series of
violent incidents including gunfire that wounded five people, two landmine
explosions and an anti-election protest driven back by police tear gas,
fficials and witnesses said.

But voting was enthusiatic in the war-scarred district of Kargil in the
orth of Jammu and Kashmir state despite fear of shelling from across
the ceasefire line with Pakistan.

The Election Commission said the overall turnout in Srinagar and
Ladakh, the two parliamentary constituencies where voting took place,
was 23 percent.

Voting in the four other constituencies of the Moslem-majority
Himalayan state will be held on September 11 and 18.

The turnout in Srinagar was officially put at 15 percent but Kashmir's
leading separatist alliance said its call for a boycott was a total
success and turnout was only 0.69 percent.

``On the basis of our inputs we claim that the boycott was total,''
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of All parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference
told a news conference.

Nearly a dozen militant groups are fighting for Kashmir's independence
or merger with neighbouring Pakistan.

Manohar Singh Gill, India's chief election commissioner, expressed
concern over the low turnout in Srinagar.

``If there is a low poll as in Srinagar that is a democratic comment,''
he told a news conference in New Delhi after polling stations closed
around the country. ``It should be taken up by political parties, parliament
and the government.''

An official statement quoted Jammu and Kashmir's chief minister Chief
Minister Farooq Abdullah as saying that people in the region had
``immense faith in democracy which they have and will demonstrate
emphatically.

``The chief minister said the attempts to scuttle the poll process in
Jammu and Kashmir at the behest of Islamabad would ultimately rebound at
Pakistan,'' it added.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Islamabad says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the
Kashmiris' struggle for self-determination.

Five people were wounded and two landmines exploded without causing
any damage in the Srinagar district.

``A bodyguard of a National Conference polling agent opened fire on us
when we refused to vote,'' Subhan Chopan, one of the injured, told
Reuters in a Srinagar hospital.

The National Conference party rules the state.

Police fired tear gas in central Srinagar to disperse a small group of
anti-election protesters, and residents in another district threw
stones at police, officials said.

In Ladakh, which encompasses the theatre of the recent undeclared war
between India and Pakistan, officials said the participation rate was
around 72 percent.

``There was no rigging, no violence in polling stations,'' state
information department official Sanaullah Munshi told Reuters.

In Kargil, where Indian forces battled hundreds of infiltrators between
May and July, turnout was 75 percent.


The Asian Age (Delhi) 9th September 1999

Editorial
Kashmir stays away
The Kashmir electorate has given vent to its anger and resentment with
the performance of the National Conference government by staying away
from the hustings. The dismally low polling is a clear signal that the
people who defied the militants threat to vote for Farooq Abdullah and
his party in the last elections are once again feeling let down and
betrayed. His son Omar has proved incapable of striking a rapport with
the electorate on his own and the negligible voter turn out in the
Srinagar parliamentary constituency
is
indicative of the electorate's complete disaffection. The alternative
that former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had sought to
offer obviously lacked credibility and did not attract the voters. Mufti
is a well known face in the Valley who has not played particularly
positive politics in the past. This time he was clearly hoping to
attract the anti-government votes with some active help from the All
Parties Hurriyet Conference. This was not forthcoming as the low polling
clearly shows. The security forces efforts to bring out voters at
gunpoint is particularly regrettable and deserves to be condemned by all
democratic forces. It is true that the collective mistakes of the
politicians over the years has placed Kashmir in a show case for
international scrutiny but these vulgar methods cannot be conducive to
peace in the long run. If chief minister Farooq Abdullah had been more
responsive to his people, and if he had lived up to the many promises
that he made during the last elections the voter turn out this time
would have exceeded even his own expectations. As it is the
disillusioned people of the Valley have again been placed at the
militants door by an insensitive and completely opportunistic state
government which has completely ignored the twin issues of development
and more autonomy. Speeches and breast beating which Dr Abdullah has
always been very good at cannot work with the people of Kashmir any
longer and this is a message that should have been driven home to the
political class by now. The low turn out will be used by Pakistan and
those seeking to create trouble for India by using
the Kashmir issue to
endorse their argument for a plebiscite. In this context the unnecessary
force used by the security force cannot but aggravate the situation. The
task in this sense has become far more difficult for those aspiring to
represent Kashmir in Parliament as the responsibility to put balm on the
obvious wounds is theirs. This can no longer be done through empty
promises and theatrical gestures in the air but through concerted
pro-people action. Chief Minister Abdullah and the men around him should
realise this and work to counter the worlds offensive through direct
action instead of meaningless rhetoric. Autonomy was the campaign slogan
raised by Abdullah in the last elections. There has been no slogan or
issue characterising these polls and it is about time that the state
government takes serious stock of the situation, stops looking for the
non-existent rainbow and grasping reality by the horns and not the tail
gets down to implementing its own manifesto in letter and spirit.


The Indian Express (Delhi) 9, September 1999
Gun, not Govt., rules J-K; polling booth blown up

Arun Sharma

JAMMU, SEPT 8: It's neither the writ of the Government nor that of the
Election Commission which runs in Jammu and Kashmir. As the state goes
to the second phase of polls on September 11, guns hold the key, either
those belonging to militants or that of the security forces. Coupled
with the voters' disenchantment with the National Conference and the
boycott call by the All Party Hurriyat Conference, a low turnout is
expected in the second phase as well.
But security is still the crucial point. That's why after the killing of
the BJP candidate, the explosion of an IED on the Chief Minister's route
and the recovery of hand grenades and a bayonet from two police
officers, the EC plans to shift over two dozen polling stations from
near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu's Pallanwala area. One reason:
Voters have refused to return home due to the fear of unprovoked firing
by Pakistani troops.

All this despite claims by the Centre and the state that there has been
a ``considerable improvement'' in the law andorder situation and with
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah appealing to people to exercise their
franchise fearlessly.

In fact, no contesting candidate was killed even during the Lok Sabha
elections in 1989 when militants had forced over 90 per cent people in
Kashmir Valley to stay indoors, or in the 1996 which marked a turning
pointing in the history of militancy, they pointed out.

The state government has recently reappointed both the corps commanders
as its security advisors and reverted back to the old system of having
separate unified headquarters to coordinate the functioning of various
counter-insurgency agencies.

While Srinagar and Ladakh constituencies went to polls during the first
phase of Lok Sabha polls on September 5, Jammu and Udhampur are going to
polls during the second phase on September 11. While polling is
scheduled to be held in Baramulla during the third phase on September
18, it has been suspended in Anantnag due to the killing of a BJP
candidate by militants.

Sources in the administration say all depends on who's holding the gun.
There will be a poll boycott where militants' guns call the shots and a
high turnout where security personnel dominate, they say. In Srinagar,
as reported in The Indian Express, there were several cases of voters
being forced to cast their voters so that they could ``pass'' the ``nail
parade'' in the evening. This is when security forces check to see if
the residents' fingers are inked. But officials say that presence of
security forces makes people feel safe and encourages them to vote.

Moreover, increasing disenchantment with the National Conference may
also contribute to the low turnout.

On September 5, there was a meagre 12 per cent polling in the Srinagar
parliamentary constituency as against over 70 per cent in Ladakh during
the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state on September 5. Most
of the electorate in Srinagar stayed indoors, otherwise the constituency
had witnessed 41 per cent and 30.06 per cent polling during the Lok
Sabha elections held in 1996 and 1998 respectively, he said.

With the law and order situation fast deteriorating due to large-scale
infiltration of heavily armed militants from across the border every
day, sources said the threat of poll boycott was looming large even in
districts like Doda, Rajouri and Poonch. The Hurriyat failed to get much
response to its poll boycott call in these areas during the last two Lok
Sabha and one Assembly elections since 1996.

However, the poll percentage was likely to decrease this time in rural
areas of these districts as people were scared of militants' reprisal
after the withdrawal of troops at the end of the electoral process. The
APHC leaders were also continuing a sustained campaign for poll boycott
in these areas.

In fact, no contesting candidate was killed even during the Lok Sabha
elections in 1989 when militants had forced over 90 per cent people in
Kashmir Valley to stay indoors, or in the 1996 which marked a turning
pointing in the history of militancy, they pointed out.


The Hindustan Times (Delhi) 8 September 99
Vote swings in Valley

The striking contrast between the huge voter turn-out in the Leh-Kargil
constituency as against their poor showing in Srinagar says a lot about
the current dichotomies in the Valley's political landscape.
Of course, it is not enough to say that the low turn-out was a product
of the cynical attitudes which come so easily to the urban middle class
population. On the other hand, if one were to argue that it was a
response to the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) call for a boycott
of the vote, it would be interesting to see how it had worked out on the
ground. As against a turn-out of 55 per cent in Chrar-e-Sharief and 31
in Kangan, it was under ten per cent in most of Srinagar and its
environs - the total working out to under 12 per cent for this
parliamentary constituency as a whole. The lowest was in the Habbakadal
segment where the polling percentagewas a dismal 0.5 per cent.
Certainly, even the membership of the National Conference in the
Habbakadal area must be more than that abysmal figure. Or, could it be
that the party workers were so taken up by concerns to elect another
scion of the ruling family that they even forgot to turn up to vote?

The State Chief Secretary's explanation that the voters were intimidated
by the APHC and other militant groups begs the question as to what was
the State administration doing to prevent such interference with the
electoral process? Interestingly, voters in the same constituency area
had polled over 37 per cent in September 1996 Assembly elections,
braving even bigger threats to put the National Conference in power.
Could it be that the unremarkable career of the National Conference
government and the rampant corruption in its administration had
something to do with the voter apathy this time? Or, was it that a lower
polling percentage would place the National Conference candidate in a
better position to win than might otherwise be the case? The flaw in
the situation was that, as earlier, the ruling party was so much taken
up by compulsions to score over its political rivals in the democratic
polity that it tended to ignore the bigger challenges posed by elements
outside the constitutional framework. This was particularly true at a
time when the APHC leaders themselves were feeling somewhat let down and
disoriented in the wake of the Kargil developments.


Yasin escapes bid on life
KT NEWS SERVICE

SRINAGAR, Sep 9 : Hurriet Conference today alleged that pro government
militants opened fire at its senior leader Mohammad
Yasin Malik and his other associates during an anti election public
meeting at Hajan- Sonawari today.

A spokesman of the joint political platform said all the separatist
leaders were arrested after the incident. He said Malik and his
other associates reached Hajan this morning after they were released by
police in Uri. They were allegedly attacked and arrested
by security forces when they were addressing an anti election public
meeting in the border township yesterday.

Soon after their release they drove to Hajan, the spokesman said and
added that they were fired upon by pro government militants,
who enjoyed the support of police and security forces. He said about a
dozen persons were injured in the stampede. Police used "
excessive force to disperse the public meeting" and arrested the
Hurriet leaders. Besides Malik, they included Dr Ghulam
Mohammad Hubbi, Sheikh Ali Mohammad and Bashir Ahmad Bhat.

Meanwhile, Hurriet chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani continued in
detention for the second consecutive day today at police station
Handwara along with other senior leaders including Jamat-e-Islami
stalwart Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai. The spokesman said the
police officials misbehaved with his leaders. Geelani fell ill and his
condition deteriorated. A doctor was summoned who advised
that Hurriet chairman should be referred to Soura medical institute for
further treatment. But Geelani was not released.

Hurriet Conference has lodged a report in police station in connection
with the "attempt on the lives of Hurriet leaders including its
chairman by BSF" at Handwara.

Meanwhile, Mufti Azam Moulana Bashir Din has strongly condemned the
attempts on the lives of Hurriet leaders.

In a statement he said elections are no alternative to right of self
determination. Mirwaiz described polls as an attempt to get power
and such " dramas are being played for last 50 years". He said reign of
terror has been let loose in Kashmir.


Shabir Shah arrrested at Batote on way to Doda
KT NEWS SERVICE

SRINAGAR, Sep 9 : Senior separatist leader and chief of Democratic
Freedom Party (DFP) Shabir Ahmad Shah was placed under
house arrest at Batote today.

A spokesman of his party said Shah was scheduled to leave for
Doda this morning in connection with his anti election campaign. Large
number of police and CRPF men threw a cordon around the
house in which the separatist leader spent the night and disallowed him
to move out.

Yesterday, the DFP chief addressed an anti-election public meeting at
Banihal in which he urged the people to boycott the polls.

A spokesman of the party has strongly condemned Shah's arrest. He also
assailed the continuous detention of other DFP leaders
including Mohammad Abdullah Tari.


Kashmiri Hindus boycott elections to press for separate state
by Abhik Kumar Chanda

JAMMU, India, Sept 10 (AFP) - Moslem
separatists are not the only ones expected to
boycott India's general elections in the
troubled northern state of Kashmir.

In the southern Kashmiri region of Jammu, which
goes to the polls on Saturday, up to 100,000
Hindus are also threatening to stay home to
support their own calls for a separate state in
the militancy-ridden province.

The Panun Kashmir (Our Kashmir) forum, which is
organising the boycott, groups Hindus who fled
the Moslem-majority Kashmir valley 10 years ago
when Moslem militants launched a bloody
insurgency against Indian rule.

"There has been no effort to take us back,"
said the forum's founder Agnishekhar (Eds: one
name). "We will not rest until we have a place
of our own within the state."

Agnishekhar describes the forum's members as
the "aborigines of Kashmir" who have lived in
the state for 5,000 years.

"Today's Moslems are Hindus who converted much
later," he said. "And yet we, the original
people, are displaced, despised and face
extinction."

The forum's protest is aimed at persuading the
Indian government to divide the Kashmir Valley
into two halves -- with one reserved for the
Hindu refugees.

"We don't want a special status and we don't
want independence. We want the region to be
declared a state and live under the Indian
constitution. Moslems who live there can carry
on if they want to do so," Agnishekhar said.

Due to security concerns, voting in Kashmir's
six constituencies has been staggered over
three separate polling days.

The Moslem separatist campaign against the
polls has already claimed the life of one
candidate from the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP
party, while another 11 BJP activists were
injured Thursday in a militant grenade atack in
Jammu.

While the Hindu boycott does not embrace
violence, its supporters are no less committed
than their Moslem counterparts.

"Everyone here has accepted the boycott," said
Bansi Lal Kaul, the elected leader of a
sprawling and filthy camp on Jammu's outskirts,
which houses around 15,000 Hindu refugees.

"There has been a systematic genocide against
us by the Moslem militants and the government,"
Kaul said.

"The militants have cleansed the valley of
Hindus and the government is forcing family
planning in camps like this."

Pushkar Nath Bhan, a retired school headmaster
who also lives in the camp, said that even
without the boycott call, many would have
abstained from voting.

"Those who may want to vote are put off by the
procedures involved in getting voters' passes.
Besides, the polling booths are very far away."

Ravinder Nath Kichloo, an inmate from another
refugee camp, said the Hindu migrants -- famed
for their learning and administrative skills --
had lost everything when they fled in 1989.

"My family home was a three-storey building
with 18 rooms. It took the Moslems 12 days to
burn it to the ground. I have got one room in
exchange from the government and a monthly
stipend of 300 rupees (seven dollars)."

Kichloo said he yearned for the days when
Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister,
and his daughter Indira Gandhi ruled India, as
the top bureaucrats were mostly Kashmiri
Hindus.

"At least they would have sympathised with us.
After Indira Gandhi, there was an adverse
reaction against our domination. We have even
been removed from senior positions in the
federal government."


The Telegraph (Calcutta) 9-September 99
Value of Apathy

A record low voter turnout of less than 12 per cent in the valley of
Kashmir has embarrassed India.

Only two of Kashmir's six constituencies voted in the first phase so
officials still hope for a total state turnout of above 40 per cent.
However, the results from the crucial Srinagar constituency, the
geographical heart of Kashmiriyat, represent a setback for hopes of
overcoming Kashmiri alienation. Srinagar town itself has been written
off by most parties as a lost cause, so strong is public apathy and the
All Parties Hurriyet Conference's influence. Disturbingly this apathy
now seems to have spread to the constituency's rural segments
-traditional National Conference strongholds. Pakistan has already
started "congratulating" Kashmiris for the low turnout. However, the
United States has declared its faith in India's democratic record.
Unfortunately, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir state have not
helped matters by clumsily having soldiers force voters into poll
booths. This will serve to discredit even the minimal turnout.
Low turnouts are not fatal to a democratic process. The first phase
registered a sharp drop in turnout nationwide. The real issue is to
determine the reasons or the turnout. A worsened security situation has
influenced the vote. During campaigning there were attempts on
candidates 'lives, many cases of party workers being killed or
threatened. A mine blast killed a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata
Party. There was also an attempt on the life of the chief minister, Mr
Farooq Abdullah. Militant activity has increased dramatically following
the Kargil war. In comparison, the valley was almost free of any
violence or intimidation in the runup to the past three elections.
Boycott calls had far more steel behind them than before. However,
security is only half the story. There is much disenchantment with the
National Conference government in particular and mainstream political
parties in general. Mr. Abdullah's government has a poor record of
social development. It has been unable to shake off accusations of
corruption. Definitely the billions of rupees New Delhi pours into the
state never seem to trickle down to the average Kashmiri. It is'
unsurprising then that the Hurriyet's poll boycott found a ready
audience even beyond urban Srinagar. The National Conference points a
finger at New Delhi. Not unreasonably it argues a crucial part of
consolidating the political gains of the past several years is the
passage of an autonomy package for the state. New Delhi has so far
stonewalled all such proposals. This election was notable for the
nearly universal demand of the parties in the valley, even some national
ones, for greater autonomy This has left Mr. Abdullah at a loose end.
After all, this was his party's platform but he has been unable to
deliver on this promise. It is an issue that should be resolved,
preferably before the next general elections.


The Indian Express (Delhi), September 10, 1999
They waited but no one came to vote
NAZIR MASOODI

SRINAGAR, SEPT 9: Polling officers kept waiting but no one came to vote
at 182 polling booths in the Srinagar-Budgam constituency on Sunday. And
at the end of the day, they had to seal empty ballot boxes.

Of the 980 polling stations spread over the two districts, another 180
booths recorded less than 10 votes.

The 182 booths which registered zero voting were manned by 910 State
Government employees as polling staff (five at each booth) and at least
2,500 security forces personnel. The remuneration for poll duty is
roughly Rs 1,000 per booth. Besides this, the Government
had to spent on ballot papers, ballot boxes, transportation and security
expenditure.

Not even the ruling National Conference (NC) workers in these areas cast
their vote. Local bureaucrats also preferred to stay at home. The
National Conference high command is said to be highly annoyed with its
workers in these areas as they did not turn up for voting.

Official figures reveal that in Habakadal, where the overall polling was
0.5 percent, as many as 52 booths did not open their accounts.

Charar-e-Shrief and Kangan, with the highest voter turnout of 55 and 31
per cent respectively, are the only two segments where all polling
booths registered moderate to high polling. The two segments were
instrumental in boosting the overall poll percentage to a modest 11.8
per cent in the entire constituency.