Indian Elections in Jammu & Kashmir
Report 5

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The Kashmir Times (Jammu) 10 September, 1999
Repression or poll boycott, Hurriyet says it through video films

KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 9: Hurriet Conference has done it again - second time
in a week. And this time they have recorded live the firing on Hurriet Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani by BSF men at Kulangam, Kupwara, leaving nothing to state police and other security agencies to issue a denial or rebuttal.

The whole media and public relations policy of the separatists conglomerate
has undergone a sea change. Leaving nothing to chance, the APHC seems
to have "decided to take bull by its horns." And that is why they have now
gone for "dare devil actions" to catch the moments live in an attempt to have
an upperhand and let down the government media agencies.

Besides, the media savvy Hurriet Conference has adopted a new policy of calling the press at the eleventh hour in order to keep them guessing and keeping the real policy close to heart till the formal anouncement.
On Sunday Hurriet Conference called the media organisations in an hurriedly
manner for press briefing. When the pressmen reached there, they were
amazed to see a colour TV and Video Recorders in the main briefing
hall without any inkling as to what was in store.

Later when the video was set in motion, the media person were told by
former Hurriet chairman Mirwaiz Moulana Umar Farooq, that they have
nothing to say except showing this film. Press persons were puzzled
by this show, but did not take it seriously as everyone was moving about in
Srinagar-Budgam constituency on that day and they had already witnessed
the whole scene.

However, in yesterday's briefing, the scene was totally different. Though the
television and cam-coder were there, yet the mediapersons had not a slightest ideas as to what was going to happen as the elections were already over, at least in Srinagar Lok Sabha segement.

After briefing was over, media persons were shown a film of firing by
BSF officer on Geelani at Kulangam. Besides, it showed the resistance by
people as police tried to arrest the APHC chairman and forming of human shield to save him. Above all the Commanding Officer's regret over the incident was caputred live by the Hurriet cameraman.

"When the firing was on and people were trying to shield Hurriet leaders, our
cameras were on capturing the live moments. Though the fear was there,
yet the motive was to record the whole scene. And God willing we were able
to record it", said one of the Hurriet functionary.
Mirwaiz during his press briefing referred a number of times to the video as a
testament of what they (APHC) call "oppressive and undemocratic means of
Indian regime". According to him, they will not be bogged down by such
provocative actions and will carry on the anti-poll boycott.

A senior police officer when asked to comment over this whole
exercise, said Hurriet has certainly put the police and security agencies in an
"awkward situation." But it is definetly a wake up call for us. Hope next
time, we will score the points", he said jokingly.


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.


Srinagar,
September 10:
In Indian Occupied Kashmir, Phase 2 of poll's ploy tomorrow will be marked
by complete strike to once again particularly prove to the world that
Kashmiris want plebiscite, not sham polls. Call for the strike has been
given by APHC.
Mir Waiz Umer Farooq, addressing Jumma congregation at Markazi Jamia Mosque in Srinagar today, expressed his confidence that the people of Doda,
Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur and Jammu would boycott the polls farce tomorrow
by observing total strike. He said, Kashmiris tomorrow, in these areas,
would stoutly resist, like the people of Srinagar and Budgam districts,
military's attempt to drag them on gunpoint to polling booths. The people of
Baramula and Kupwara districts, he was sure, would also totally frustrate
the Indian poll's gimmick, in Phase 3, on September 18 by observing
crippling strike.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq emphasized that instead of fake polls, East Timor like
referendum must be held under UN auspices to settle the half-century-old
Kashmir issue. He said, the world now realized that Kashmiris had no
interest in election dramas and would make no bargain on their right to
self-determination.
The former APHC Chairman strongly condemned use of brute force against the
APHC's anti-polls teams and unsuccessful murder attempt on Syed Ali Shah
Gilani in Handwara and Muhammad Yaseen Malik at Haajan, in Baramula
district.
Muhammad Yaseen Malik was fired upon yesterday by Indian armed agents while he was addressing an anti-polls rally at Haajan-Sonawari, in Baramula
district. He escaped unhurt but several people were injured and the rally
was turned into chaos. The local people forcefully demonstrated against this
dastardly act. Muhammad Yaseen Malik and more than ten of his companions
including Dr Ghulam Muhammad Hubbi were taken to police station and were
released after two hours detention.
The APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Gilani and his 22 companions were still
under detention in Handwara police station. They were arrested from an
anti-polls rally on Wednesday, which was subjected to brute military
violence. Syed Ali Shah Gilani and several other people were injured. The
doctors had advised that he should be taken to hospital but the puppet
administration turned a deaf ear to the advice.
Meanwhile, the head of the Kashmir Freedom Party, Shabbir Ahmed Shah was
arrested while on his way to Doda for anti-polls campaign. He was stopped at
Batote on Srinagar-Jammu highway and was put under custody in a rest house.
The President of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Front, Pandit Bhoshan Bazaz
in a special interview in New Delhi today appealed to Kashmiri Pandits
including those in refugee camps in New Delhi and Jammu to totally boycott
tomorrow's polls just as they had done so.


The Statesman (Delhi) 11, September 1999
Voter disenchantment NC's biggest enemy

AUNOHITA MOJUMDAR
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE

Anantnag, Sept 10. "You gave a blow to the albani (the National
Conference's symbol) last year and now you ask for water" - the National
Conference candidate, Mr. Ali Mohammad Naik, berates the electorate.
Streamers of the NC's red flags are strung across the road. Bullet proof
vehicle screech down. Cars with loudspeaker sing praises of the albani,
the ruling party's formidable political machinery is out on the roads of
Kashmir's towns and villages.
But it faces an opponent more formidable than any political foe the
Kashmiri voter's disenchantment with the process of governance and
electoral politics.
The Srinagar constituency had polled as little as 11.98 percent in the
first phase of elections. But voters in Anantnag and Baramullah
constituencies are even less enthused about the elections.
The National Conference is wooing the voters with peace, development and
autonomy, positioning the destruction of 10 years of militancy against
jobs, roads, bridges and schools delivered in the three years of its
rule.
But the slogans ring hollow in the remote villages. For them the reality
is getting beaten by security forces, their jobs being seized by
relatives of a National Conference MLA or MP, death of a civilian
written off as a "terrorist" and militants coming knocking at night.
Strangely it is the security forces who are now being blamed for
continued militancy in the valley. "They keep the doors open," says
Rasheed of Kulnag.
There are no supporters of the Hurriyet here - but no one supports the
elections either.
Sheikhupora villagers stood on the road with petitions for water,
rations, kerosene. But the convoy with their MLA and state power
minister Abdul Rasheed Peer didn't even bother to stop, says Hameeda.
For the past six months, the Army has become Sakhth - a common word to
describe Army crackdowns, searches, harassment.
"We don't support the Hurriyet, their leaders also make money", says
Abdul. " But we will vote only if we were forced to".
Mr. Peer agrees there is disenchantment. Even in 1998 voter turn out in
the area - once considered an NC stronghold was only 15 percent. He
shifts the blame of unkept promises to financial crunch.
Iqbal of Kokernag takes a realistic appraisal of their performance. "
Our experience are so high that no government would be able to fulfil
them." He says.
But he's sure elections are not the answer.
""There has to be a political solution. The gun will not go until there
is a dialogue to end all this.
What happened in Kargil? It was the government of two countries warring
against each other.
Kashmir is only a means for them, a way of grabbing political office for
the leaders of India and Pakistan. If they want to give us peace they
should start talking".


The Kashmir Times(Jammu) 9, September 99
Message of Poll Boycott

THE unimaginably low turn-out of voters in Sunday's 'Lok Sabha polls in
Srinagar constituency is a more important indicator of the mood of the
people than who polled more than whom and how. In a highly enlightened
constituency, like that of Srinagar, where before the advent of
militancy voting percentage used to be invariably 70%, in the least, the
voters" turn-out this time was only 11.96%. Both in 1996 and 1998 over
twice the number cast their votes. A Lenin would have commented that
people have voted against the entire system with their doors True, the
APHC had appealed to the voters, throughout the valley, to boycott the
elections, because these do hot help the solution of their problem, in
any way. But, even on earlier occasions did they issue similar appeals,
but with much less impact. Why is it that in 1999, 'after our much
"trumpeted Kargil victory, the people' of Srinagar and the surrounding
countryside have suddenly "-, responded to their call and so
overwhelmingly? If there is some truth, not just in the allegations of
the oppositions but also "in the reports of the people present there,
that unprecedented rigging had been resorted to for ensuring the victory
of the chief minister's son then one is left with the uncomfortable
feeling that not even 10% of the voters have cast their votes. In the
first place this extreme low turn out" indicates the depth of alienation
of the common Kashmiri, cutting across all, scarcely visible, ethno
denominational barriers. So, this is the normalcy that has been
restored in the valley and for which we have been, of late, patting our
own backs. Normalcy does not mean cowing down the population with a
heavy hand. There is a difference between order and normalcy or peace
and the unprecedented boycott of the election in Srinagar itself - let
us see how the rest of the valley responds to the APHC's call - speaks
of the peoples' unparalleled animosity for almost every thing Indian.
The fear of the militants bullets cannot explain such an unprecedented
response to the APHC's call. That threat was always there, yet many more
voters came to the booth in the past. Probably, then in 1996' and 1998,
the people were still left with some hope in - one may say illusions
about -and elected governments and representatives of their choice.
But, after observing their performance for a couple of years, they are
now left with no hope' in virtually any party or person. It hardly
means anything to the voters in the valley -whether it is 'A' or 'B'
that wins the election. They had already demonstrated their disillusion
with the present state of affairs, during the Kargil conflict, by not
betraying eny enthusiasm for that war just across their door, and now
the by are doing it more forcefully, for the second time. It is an
effective rejoinder to those who claim that by participating is so many
elections the Kashmiris have already approved their state's accession to
India and the way the latter have treated their state since then. Too
weak or afraid to ventilate their resentment through violence they have
chosen the safer means of expressing the same very effectively through
their eloquent silence. It is for the concerned authorities to
understand the language of this silence.
Besides, quite likely, the PDP may do better than the N.C. in man of the
constituencies in the valley. The Congress too may capture a few seats
there. But there is absolutely no reason to celebrate the N.C.'s
probable defeat with joy. By losing their faith in the N.C. which, is a
part of the Kashmiri psyche for more than sixty years, they will not be
automatically coming closer, to the mainstream of Indian public life.
Disillusioned and disgruntled, ultimately in a state of despair, they
will fall victims to a total distrust of Indian democratic system and
to' emotionally-charged appeals of violence and separatism.
Fragmentation of the political scene and frustration with the available
alternatives cause a breakdown of faith in the minds of the people. As
G.K. Chestertion said, those who have faith in no thing tend to develop
faith in anything exciting and new. It is in such a state of collective
attitude that all sorts of violent, anti-democratic creeeds grow fast
and bear fruits. The silence in Srinagar should be taken seriously.


Hurriyet leaders beaten up, re-arrested, Geelani escapes bid on life

KT NEWS SERVICE

Srinagar. Sep 8: Senior leaders of Hurriyet Conference including
Mohammad Yasin Malik and Javed Ahmed Mir were again arrested today at
different places while chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani allegedly escaped
a bid on his life when BSF personnel opened fire on him at
Kulangam-Kupwara yesterday.
Addressing a press conference here today. Former Hurriyet chairman
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said a BSF inspector Raju of 172 bn opened fire
towards Geelani when he was about to address a public meeting. The
bullets hit the back wall of the stage and one hit the tyre of the jeep
of the chairman and it burst.
He said people raised slogans against the authorities and in favour of
"freedom". Mirwaiz showed the video footage of the incident to
substantiate his allegations.
The video also showed the "Commanding Officer" of 172 Bn expressing
regrets over the incident and assured the Hurriyet leaders that the
action will be taken against the erring officer. It also exhibited the
people forming a human shield in front of Geelani and other leaders
including Mohammad Ashraf Sahrai to save them from bullets.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said scores of Hurriyet leaders including Geelani
and Yasin Malik were arrested today at Kralgund Handwara and Uri
respectively when rallies. They were severely beaten before their
arrest.
Javed Ahmed Mir was also arrested at Hyderpora. When he was traveling in
an autorickshaw.
Giving details the former Hurriyet chairman said Yasin Malik was
severely beaten by army and police at Uri. He was dragged from the
stage and thrashed publicly before being arrested. According to him, he
was then whisked away to an unknown place in semi-conscious condition.
Other Hurriyet leaders including Dr. Ghulam Mohammad Hubbi, Bashir Ahmed
Bhat and Tariq Ahmed were also arrested and taken to unknown places.
He said Geelani along with other separatists leaders were taken into
custody at Kralgund-Handwara. He said they were first roughed up and
then arrested.
Describing the attacks and arrests as politically motivated. Mirwaiz
said government has got frustrated by the response of poll boycott call
and they have now resorted to such "undemocratic" actions.
"Police have launched a massive crackdown to arrest the Hurriyet leaders
in an attempt to prevent them to meet people. They are doing it out of
Sheer frustration as they have realised which way the windows. The
recent boycott of elections by people of Srinagar and Budgam have proved
that people do not believe in elections or selections and want complete
independence", said Mirwaiz.
He said security forces have adopted a new technique and they were now
in a process of punishing the people who did not vote on Sunday. " At
Haran Soibug, security forces off the area and asked the people to come
out on Monday", former APHC chairman alleged adding that in some areas
of Anantnag Pulwama, Baramullah, Kupwara, Doda and Poonch - Rajouri,
forces have started hurling threats to people to vote in second and
third phase of elections or face consequences.
Mirwaiz also declared that there will be complete hartal on September 11
and 18 in the second and third phase of elections. He also appealed to
the people to completely boycott the elections.
Warning the government for not allowing him and other leaders to attend
Friday prayers, Mirwaiz threatened the government of dire consequences
if they continued with this process.
He appealed to the International community not to shrung off the
responsibility and impress upon India to shun the rigid stand and solve
the vexed Kashmir issue.
"Unless Kashmir dispute is addressed, there will be no peace in the
subcontinent. And it is the obligation of international community to
solve this imbroglio for peace and prosperity of south Asia", the APHC
diplomatic cell chief said.
He, said election boycott should be an eye-opener to the UN and other
nations as the people have shown full faith in the programs of the
Hurriyet Conference.


The Kashmir Times (Jammu) 11, September 99
Friday congregation lathi-charged, Several APHC leaders held

KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 10: Crackdown on APHC leaders campaigning against the
polls continued across Kashmir. While a procession that came out after
the Friday congregation was cane-charged, various leaders of the
separatist conglomerate were arrested.

After Friday congregation, a section of the people came out in a
procession shouting pro-freedom slogans. Javed Mir and others were
leading it. It was stopped near Nowhatta Chowk where police burst a
score of odd tear smoke shells. BSF that was accompanying the police,
arrested around a dozen activists, APHC statement issued here said.

Earlier, speaking to the gathering, former APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umer
Farooq paid tributes to the people of Srinagar parliamentary
constituency for boycotting the polls, last week. He said the
international community should take note of peoples' non-participation,
in what he said was a useless exercise. Mirwaiz hoped a similar response
in Baramulla, Anantnag, Rajouri and Poonch areas in the coming days. He
said New Delhi must react positively to the proposal for solving Kashmir
problem offered by the Pakistan Prime Minister. Mirwaiz strongly
condemned the use of police force against the APHC leaders and
activists.

APHC Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and his colleagues who were arrested
from Handwara outskirts have been shifted to the Baramulla sub-jail. A
statement issued by the separatist alliance said the police has not
honoured the bail orders issued by the court. Instead, they said, police
have arrested Qazi Ahadullah and Abdul Khaliq Hanief, who had gone to
see the detained Chairman this morning. They were on their way to
Baramulla when SOG intercepted them near Mirgund in Pattan and arrested
them as well.

However, the anti-poll campaign, according to the APHC statement
continues across the Valley. Gulam Nabi Zaki has spoken to a Friday
gathering in Raheemabad Mosque at Sopore. Chief spokesman Prof Abdul
Gani Bhat has also spoken to some gathering in Kupwara and Baramulla.

Peoples' League, in a separate statement said, their leaders have also
spoken to various gatherings in the countryside asking people not to
cast their votes. They have said that the people in central Kashmir have
already rejected it. The PL has strongly condemned the attacks on the
leaders of APHC and termed it frustration on the part of rulers.

APHC leaders and Jamat-e-Islami in their separate statements have
condemned the "reign of terror" let loose by various security agencies
across Kashmir. They have listed various cases in which the security
agencies have targeted the civilians, apparently for their political
beliefs. They have termed the recent attacks on the separatist
leaders including Geelani and Malik as an expression of frustration.


Jama'at condemns murderous attacks on Hurriyet leaders
GK Reporter

Srinagar, Sept 10: Jammu and Kashmir Jama'at-e-Islami has expressed
grave concern over the growing excesses of the security forces and state
police against the people, particularly in the valley of Kashmir. In a
statement issued today, the Jama'at strongly condemned the murderous
attacks on, and daily arrests of, the Hurriyat Conference leaders
describing these as frustration of the state government and its
agencies. The Jama'at spokesman said indiscriminate firing was resorted
to against the Hurriyat chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, and his associates
at Kulangam on Tuesday and at Kralgund (Handwara) on Wednesday.

People had strongly protested against the actions. Likewise, the
spokesman said, Malik Muhammad Yasin and his associates were fired upon
at Hajin in Sonawari area yesterday in which several persons were
injured. Malik and his colleagues were arrested later.The spokesman
described as condemnable and reprehensible the repressive actions of the
government and her agencies especially in the backdrop of the election
commissioner's announcement that people could not be stopped from
carrying out anti-election campaigns. Jama'at-e-Islami demanded
immediate release of the Hurriyat leaders, the spokesman added.


Editorial
Sheer frustration

Huriyat conference has just recently demonstrated that it commands the
support of a considerable section of the population. The response which its anti election rallies evoked at different places, with good number of people. Especially in rural areas keenly listening to the speeches made by senior
party leaders and then the subsequent almost complete boycott of
Srinagar elections, definitely enhanced party's credibility and build its morale Huriyat campaigning was impeded and obstructed many a times with police and security personnel taking senior party leaders into custody. Yasin Malik, Javed Mir, Bashir Tota and many others were at a number of times arrested and confined to police lock ups. Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani and othere were kept under house arrest till the polling in the Srinagar was over. However the latest happenings on this front and the manner in which the authorities have started dealing with the anti election campaign of the Huriyat Conference
has cause some genuine concerns. The visit of the Huriyat leaders to
the border districts of Baramulla and Kupwara, is being greeted not only by arrests but with full force and even mouths of guns opened on the party leaders and activists and the masses, either to scare them away or cause
harm to them. No one expected that the going will be easy for the
Huriyat leaders. That they would be stopped from addressing wayside rallies, picked up by police and lodged in lock ups, all this one
was expecting in view of the similar developments which have been
taking place in Kashmir for a long time now. However this time the impediments are not just the ones that were put at the time when the Huriyat leadership visited different areas in the Budgam district and the Srinagar district or
for that matter Anantnag and Pulwama districts. It is now rather more
violent and brutal. Earlier the Huriyat leaders were just arrested but this time they are being brazenly attacked and the attempts are being made to wipe them off. In Handwara belt of the border district of Kupwara, while the senior Huriyat leader Geelani was addressing a huge gathering of people, the BSF opened
indiscriminate fire on the gathering and attempted to target the
Huriyat leader who had a miraculous escape. In yet another incident only other day after the attack on the Huriyat chairman Geelani, a large gathering being addressed by Yasin Malik at Hajan was indiscriminately fired upon at Hajan
township, reportedly by the pro government militants. According to the
eyewitnesses the police force and the security personnel witnessed the entire thing with the shameful silence only substantiating the doubts that the criminal act was premeditated and pre planned with the authorities.
The sudden use of brutal force against the Huriyat leadership since the
first phase of the Lok Sabha polls was over in the valley, clearly conveys that the rulers are frustrated by the impact that the poll boycott campaign has made on the masses who responded overwhelmingly to the same. Almost all
the attempts of the rulers to manage the elections their own way were
thwarted and wherever they did it they got exposed. Now the rulers are desperate to score in other districts of the valley and that seems the reason as to why the Huriyat campaigners are not only prevented from approaching more
and more people but also their lives are put to great risks. It is in utter violation of the democracy in the state. Even the Election Commissioner of India J V G Krishnamurthy has endorsed the fact that it is the right of the people to campaign against the conduct or participation in the elections in any
democracy. But in Jammu and Kashmir, more particularly in the valley,
the self styled champions of the democracy have crossed all the limits of decency and rule of law, while crushing the voice of dissent from any corner.


Srinagar,
September 12:
In Indian Occupied Kashmir, the APHC while hailing yesterday's polls
boycott has said that this amounted to referendum in favour of liberation
from Indian yoke.
An APHC spokesman said in Srinagar today that the people of Doda, Rajouri,
Poonch, Banihal and other areas of Jammu region by their total boycott of
phase-2 poll's ploy conveyed to the world clear message that sham polls
could not be a substitute for plebiscite. He was confident that the people
of Kupwara and Baramula would similarly boycott phase-3 of the farcical
polls on September 18.
The APHC spokesman demanded immediate release of the APHC Chairman Syed Ali Shah Gilani, his 20 companions and other Hurriyat leaders and workers. Syed Ali Shah Gilani who was arrested five days earlier in Handwara, to
prevent him for carrying on anti-polls campaign, has been shifted to Uri
polices station. The head of the Democratic Freedom Party, Shabbir Ahmed
Shah, who was arrested at Sunderbani, on Jammu-Poonch road, is now under
detention at Aknoor police station.
While night curfew has been imposed in rural areas of Baramula and Kupwara
districts, strict military security measures have been taken in the two
districts ahead of Phase-3 of the fake polls on September 18. Additional
units of regular Army, Rashtria Rifles, Border Security Force and Central
Reserve Police Force have been posted in these areas. New military camps
have been set up at several places.
The electioneering activities of the pro-polls puppets have been paralysed
by menacing presence of Mujahideen in these areas. The security forces have
refused protection to contesting candidates in these areas due to
Mujahideen's supremacy.


The Kashmir Times (Jammu) 12, September 1999

Low turnout in Jammu, Udhampur
Estimated polling 45 pc in Jammu, 35 pc in Udhampur

KT NEWS SERVICE
JAMMU, Sep 11: Stray incidents of firing by the militants and half a
dozen explosions in Jammu region marked the polling in Jammu - Poonch
and Doda-Udhampur parliamentary constituencies in the second phase of
elections in the state.

There was much lower turnout as campared to last elections to Lok
Sabha. As per approximate estimates 45 percent polling was recorded in
Jammu-Poonch and 35 percent in Doda-Udhampur constituencies today. The
poll percentage in Jammu and Udhampur in 1998 election was 55 and 51
respectively.

By and large, poor turnout of the voters was witnessed in both the
parliamentary constituencies since this morning. In twin border
districts of Poonch and Rajouri polling was also low since this morning.
Both Doda and Poonch districts recorded an estimated low polling ranging
between 25 and 30 percent. In Rajouri and Udhampur districts, 30 to 35
percent polling was recorded.

An official handout quoting the Chief Electoral Officer S V Bhave
said that polling was totally peaceful and there was only one complaint
of booth capturing in four polling stations of Gandhi Nagar assembly
segment received after the conclusion of the polling from the BJP
election agent for Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency. It said that
the complaint will be enquired into.

The official handout said that the complaints of missing pages from
the electoral rolls at one or two polling stations in Jammu were
immediately sorted out by the polling officials. It said that there were
some reports of firing by militants in a few villages in Doda and Poonch
districts but these events occurred far away from the polling stations
and did not have any effect on the polling stations. Border shelling was
also reported from some places in Rajouri and Jammu districts, but it
had very little effect on polling process.

Giving details of approximate turn out, the official handout said it
has been noticed that polling in Jammu and Kathua districts has been
around 50 percent.

Polling started on a very dull note in Jammu town. At some polling
stations, voters did not turn up even by 10 AM. In R S Pura and other
border areas, polling was, however, brisk despite heavy firing between
Indian troops and Pakistani Rangers throughout last night.

Jammu and Kathua districts witnessed turnout of 50 percent each. In
Poonch, estimated 30 per cent voters exercised their franchise.
Percentage of voters in Udhampur and Rajouri districts stood somewhere
between 30 and 35 percent.

However, officials were unable to give details of polling
segmentwise. They said that the staff was still working out the details
and the exact figures will be made available tomorrow only.

In the last Lok Sabha (LS) elections, 55 per cent votes were polled
in Jammu-Poonch constituency while in Udhampur-Doda, the percentage last
time stood at 51 per cent.

The segmentwise details of Udhampur Parliamentary constituency
available till 3 PM indicated that 20 percent votes were polled in
Kishtwar, 16 percent in Inderwal, 24 percent in Doda, 17 percent in
Bhaderwah, 30 percent in Ramban, 6.57 percent in Banihal, 27 percent in
Gulabgarh, 27 percent in Reasi, 30 percent in Gool-Arnas, 32 percent in
Udhampur, 38 percent in Chenani, 25 percent in Ramnagar, 40 percent in
Bani, 42 percent in Basohli, 40 percent in Kathua, 37 percent in
Billawar and 39.52 percent in Hiranagar.

Segmentwise breakup of Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary constituency
revealed that 43 percent votes were polled in Samba, 47 percent in
Vjaypur, 45 percent in Nagrota, 33 percent in Gandhi Nagar, 33 percent
in Jammu-east, 32 percent in Jammu-west, 49 percent in Bishnah, 45
percent in R S Pura, 43 percent in Suchetgarh, 42 percent in Marh 42
percent in Raipur Domana, 46 percent in Akhnoor, 50 percent in Chhamb,
30 percent in Nowshera, 17 percent in Darhal, 30 percent in Rajouri, 20
percent in Kalakote, 21 percent in Surankot, 24 percent in Mendhar and
33 percent in Poonch-Haveli.

There were complaints of rigging of polls in Gandhi Nagar assembly
segment, Gujjar Nagar and some Udhampur areas. Despite heavy firing on
the International Border which started last night and continued till
early morning, there was brisk polling in border areas.

Polling in one of the booths in Samroli in Udhampur remained
suspended for about four hours when four persons posing to be BJP
activists entered the booth and manhandled the presiding officer
Virender Sharma. However, after the intervention of senior police
officials the matter was brought under control and polling resumed.

There was heavy exchange of fire on the International Border
adjoining R S Pura, Samba and Hiranagar areas. Voters in R S Pura said
they could not sleep the whole night because of booming of guns echoing
the area.

Most of voters converging on polling booths in border villages
Suchetgarh and Abdullian said though casting of votes was futile
exercise, they had come in the hope that votes cast by them may help in
the formation of a stable government at the Centre.

The main road connecting Octroi Post with Suchetgarh village was
today closed for traffic by Border Security Force (BSF). The BoP
incharge told a visiting team of reporters that it was not advisable to
go by the road as it was vulnerable to firing.

There was 5 per cent voter turnout in Suchetgarh in the first hour of
polling.

There was 11.5 per cent voting at Abdal polling booth just adjoining
Suchetgarh Octroi border outpost (BoP). 5 per cent polling was recorded
in the first hour. Of the total 1,317 votes, 145 had been polled by 9.30
AM.

Gian Chand, a 75 year old voter was sore over government attitude for
not coming out with a permanent solution to make an end to border firing
which had made their life hell. Ballots what he understands help elected
candidates to mint money and not redress grievances of suffering
humanity, he opined saying nobody cares for them.

The polling booth is directly in line of firing of Pakistani Rangers.
Gian Chand said there was risk to the lives of the voters. In case, the
enemy opened fire, none of them would be alive, he added.

Banso (50) of Nai Basti said her family had a piece of land measuring
32 kanals adjoining the IB, but the same had not been cultivated for
last two years. She said she knew political leaders won't do anything
for them, but she was exercising her franchise as she had been asked to
do so by male members of her family.

Sarwan Kumar, numberdar of another border village Gulabgarh, said he
was casting his vote because this was the only way to keep democracy
alive. Rajesh Kumar - an enthused young voter said he wanted to see a
stable government at the Centre for overall development of the country.

Polling booth at Chanduchak in Abdullian was this time shifted from
Panchayat Ghar to adjoining government primary school building. The
former exposed to firing faces the International Border while the school
building is just behind it. The booth was this time changed so that the
Panchayat Ghar acts as cover to the new booth in case of firing by
Pakistanis, an official spokesman said.

Chanduchak booth is common for inhabitants of Abdullian, Chanduchak
and Lehian. Echoing the voice of other border residents, Chanduchak
numberdar Ujagar Singh said the ballots were bringing them bullets.
"Despite that we are voting in the hope of firing coming to an end one
day".

Of the total 830 votes, 256 had been cast by 10 AM. When this
reporter visited the booth, people were queuing up to cast votes.
Abdullian watchman Sewa Ram said the firing was so intense in the night
that they could not come out of the room to attend call of nature.

One hundred and nine year old Munshi Ram of Langadyal cast his vote
at a polling station at Baspur. He was brought there by his grand
children. Out of 550 voters, 320 had exercised their right of franchise
till 12.30 PM there. Vaspur is located some three kilometer away from
the international border and the polling station was set up in a primary
school.

The voters in the Bera village were equally enthusiastic. Three
hundred and seventy out of 660 voters had cast their votes till 12.40
PM. Women in colourful outfits were seen voting for the candidates of
the choice.

Voters of three villages-Chanduchak, Layan, and Abdullian had
converged on a polling booth set up at Chanduchak. With queues of voters
longer there compared to other villages, the hustle bustle was also
more. Four hundred and fifty one had polled votes till 12.50 PM. One
hundred and one year old Ram Chand was among them. Asked what he expects
from his candidate, an elderly voter said, "Let him first get elected".

In Jammu majority of voters including men and women while talking
separately to KTNS said that they had come to cast their vote only for a
stable government at the Centre.

Fed up of seeing the country going to polls every year, the voters
said that they had not come to exercise their franchise for development
of their respective constituencies but to ensure that stable government
comes at the Centre. The voters were of the opinion that development can
follow stability.

In some of the polling booths people faced minor troubles locating
their names in the voters lists. No untoward incident was reported from
anywhere from the city.

A very slow polling was recorded in almost all the polling stations
in the old city. However, it did pick up in the afternoon. In some of
the booths only 40 to 60 votes were polled in the first few hours.
According to presiding officer,Krishan Gopal at booth number 5 in Kachi
Chawni only 32 people had cast their votes till 11 A.M.

Devinder Khajuria, Anil Singh, Krishan Lal, Dr Mohit Arora and Dr
Surjit Singh Dua shared the same view of having a stable government at
the Centre. They said that they had come to cast their vote only to see
a stable government and added that this year particularly they would
like to see a government that lasts for five years.

Rama and Promila Devi of Salathia Chaugan said that elections after
such a short intervals were not good for the country. Later, Rama could
not cast her vote because her name did not exist in the voters list.

Kuldeep Singh, Mangal Dass, Surinder Nath said that they had come to
cast their vote to see a 'stable and strong India' and for the overall
development of the Nation.

Chander Shekhar Gupta and his wife Seema Shekhar who had come to cast
their vote in booth number 36-B said voting every year as per the
requirement was good. The elections are imposed on the nation till a
better and effective party emerges winner which is also good for the
country.

Mrs Shekhar said that she had cast her vote irrespective of the
choice of her husband and added that development of a nation can follow
stability at the Centre. Des Raj of Paharia Mohalla said since he was
committed to his party, he had come to cast his vote.

Gurbax Singh of Talab Khatikan said a stable government was needed at
the Centre to ensure development of the nation.

Krishan Lal and his family including his wife Krishna Kumari and Sonu
Malik had a tough time locating their names in the voter list who said
that no one was there to tell them about their booth number. They said
that they had a tough time locating their name and then casting their
vote.

The family was of the opinion that a stable government at the Centre
can only steer the nation towards development. Sonu had cast her vote
for the second time.

Abhimanyu Sharma of Bakshi Nagar was shocked to see his name missing
from the voter list. He said that he had been exercising his franchise
for last many years but this was the first time he was denied voting
right due to the fault of government.

Mrs and Mr Naresh Malhotra of Gandhi Nagar hoped that a government
that lasts for five years will come to power this time. Ashok Kalra of
Gandhi Nagar, Dr Anil Mehta and Mrs Belu Sharma all from Gandhi Nagar
were of the opinion that elections every year were not good for the
economy and development of the nation. They said that a stable
government must come at the Centre.

In Doda assembly constituency, polling started on a low note but
later it picked up when various political party workers pressed into
service some vehicles and carried voters, especially women folk to
polling stations.

In polling station Sah, which is meant for female voters, only 17
votes were polled up to 2 PM. This polling station has the highest
number of over 800 voters in Doda town. Doda constituency remained
almost free from any kind of violence.

The total votes polled in this constituency are 35%. This is the
highest mark of votes polled in all six assembly constituencies. During
first two hours polling in this segment was recorded at 4% followed by
9% at 11 AM, 18% at 1 PM, 20% at 3 PM and 35% at the end of the polling.

Similarly in Bhaderwah, polling started slowly but later it picked up
for some time till the militants attacked Sartingal polling station and
killed a Special Police Officer (SPO) on duty. Following this incident
large number of voters left the polling stations and remained indoors.

In this constituency, which has the highest number of voters in Doda
district, 3% polling was registered upto 9 AM while it rose to 8% at 11
AM followed by 14% at 1 PM, 17% at 3 PM and 26% at the time of closing.

In Kishtwar Assembly segment 3% polling was recorded at 9 AM, 8.06%
at 11 AM, 14.12% at 1 PM, 20% at 3 PM and 24% at the end of the
voting. Militants struck in this constituency attacking a security
forces party. They reportedly tried to attack polling station in Bemina
area but the vigilant jawans reportedly failed their attempt.

In all the polling stations of Ramban a large number of voters were
seen waiting outside the polling station waiting for their turn. The
Ramban assembly segment was the only one where police was compelled to
force the voters to make long queues.


Geelani, 17 others shifted to Uri police station
KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 11: Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Chairman of the 22-party
alliance APHC has been shifted to Uri police station from sub-jail
Baramullah, a spokesman of the conglomerate said here today. All his 17
colleagues arrested in two separate cases have also been shifted.

The spokesman said two teams comprising various lawyers have been rushed
for providing legal aid to the detained Chairman.

No anti-poll gathering was addressed by any of the APHC leaders today
in view of the strike. However, it issued, the details of the gathering
which Mohamad Yasin Malik addressed in Bandipore on Friday. The
statement said that the SOG infact did try its level best to stop the
APHC team from advancing towards the Bandipore but all these attempts
were foiled by the people. Later, it said, they spoke to a huge
gathering in which he asked them to boycott polls as the electoral
process has failed in helping the solution of Kashmir crisis.


The Statesman (Delhi) 13 September, 1999
Poll matter little as Kashmir village live under fear of guns

AUNOHITA MOJUMDAR
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE

KUPWARA, Sept. 12. - Chaknatnussa. There is no Army camp here. Not even
a police post, though the village is the site of the fiercest attack on
the Army in the Kashmir Valley since Operation Vijay. The 4 Rashtriya
Rifles camp was stormed by militants on 5 August. In the ensuing
encounter, five soldiers, including an officer, six foreign militants
and a civilian -- a class-XII boy -- were killed.

The villagers fled. Those who stayed say they were beaten by the Army
the next day. The broken windows and household goods bear testimony to
wrath. The villagers say the local police helped and prevented the Army
from unleashing their rage any further. But the civil administration
refused, telling them not to go home. "Why couldn't they come? Don't we
matter?" asked the villagers who returned home only after the Army unit
moved away to a safer location. The villagers blame the Army for
"allowing" the militants across the border. "They don't do anything and
then blame us."

People in Chaknatnussa say their sympathies are with the militants.
"They are Mujahideen fighting our war. We will support them." But the
pro-militant speech is a little too glib for conviction, perhaps
addressed at someone in the crowd, a militant. Local policemen claim
they camp in the village even by day since the Army camp was removed.
Chaknatnussa is far removed from the reality of elections on 18
September. So is Kandi, a nearby village.

The resentment in Kandi is about the occupation of the village school
by the Army unit recently. Though the Army earlier occupied a part of
the building, it has now taken over the entire area which is out of
bounds to civilians for security reasons. Exams have been postponed.
Villagers are not allowed to move after 7 p.m. or to light lamps which
the Army deems dangerous. About 20 boys from this village have gone
across the border in the last 2-3 months.

So have about 20-25 boys from Vilgam, part of the rough official
estimate of around 250 local youths who went over the border in the
first phase of the Kargil operations. Nazir Ahmed Wani of Vilgam has
been killed by militants. So was Sardar Khan of Maidan Chogul last week.
He was the National Conference block president and villagers believe he
paid the price for hosting the NC MLA and minister for forests,
Chaudhary Ramzan, at his house two days before his death.

Villagers of Poru Wattayah complain that they are being forced into
patrolling duties by the security forces. The idea is apparently to
force villagers to prevent militants from entering. "We have only lathis
with us. If we encounter militants what do you think we do? We choose
the safest option."

Choosing what appeared to be the safest option did not help Rasheed
Gani, a local who has been an active member of the Hizbul Mujahideen. He
disappeared one month after surrendering to the local unit of the
Rashtriya Rifles.

The dividends of peace are too slow, too remote and too negligible for
people to identify with. The benefits do not trickle down to them. The
National Conference, says a villager, has just appointed four relatives
of the ruling party activists in Bandipora, ignoring merit.

It is difficult to convince voters of the empowerment of electoral
democracy here as it is in Bandipora, which is also identified as one of
the areas severely, affected by militancy. "For the two minutes that you
use to cast your vote, you are above your leader. Exercise that power,"
says Muzaffar Beig, the People's Democratic Party candidate from
Baramulla, at an election meeting in Bandipora market. But Beig's speech
is all about fear and asking the electorate to take courage to
participate. He accuses the ruling party of trying to discourage
electoral activity by creating fear and suspicion. "A boycott will only
help the NC. Guns will not solve your problems. Vote to change your
fortunes."

But, the rally is thinly attended. A small crowd listens warily from
the distance. Stones skitter across the market place. Close by a car
window smashes. Desultory policemen move around apparently disinterested
in stopping the trouble. The crowd begins to melt away.

If Beig has with him former militants, Imran Rahi and Bilal Lodhi, the
NC is using the services of a former militant turned counter-insurgent
turned politician who still operates in the area with his group pf 190
gun-totting counter-insurgents, hated by the locals. The Ikhwan
(renegades) are only one of the fears. "We live under the fear of four
guns," says Irfan of Ajaas village -- the Army, the Ikhwan, the
militants and the police. "How can you even ask us about elections? What
do they mean to us?"

Ajaas lies on the Srinagar-Bandipora road, forbidden to Army vehicles
because it is pitted with craters. An easy place for planting mines.
Villagers here have to travel to Srinagar via the much longer Sopore
Road. The crops have failed because of the lack of water. The electric
grid station was burnt down. A few days ago Mohammed Ashraf of Safapora
was killed in Krishu. "An encounter with militant" is how officialdom
described it. "Not so," say residents. "He was a civilian". Increased
militant activities in this belt has meant more crackdowns, beatings at
the hands of the armed forces, an occasional death.

Ajaas is a week away from elections, or several eons, depending on how
you look at it. "Politicians don't come here to campaign," says Ashrar,
"they are too scared." The National Conference insists there will be
high voter turnout in this area. If there is, it won't be because of the
voters engagement with the remote exercise of parliamentary elections.


The Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) 13 September 1999
Karan's poser to BJP Are you for restoring pre-'53 status?

GK Correspondent/PTI

New Delhi, Sept 12: Former Sadr-e-Riyasat, Dr Karan Singh, who is the
Congress candidate from Lucknow parliamentary constituency against Atal
Behari Vajpayee, has asked the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) to clarify
its stand on the restoration of pre-'53 position to Jammu and Kashmir.

Responding to the charges levelled by the BJP spokesman, Arun Jaitely,
yesterday, Singh said it was for that party to answer whether it was for
restoring the state's position obtaining in the state before he had
dismissed the then prime minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, and
installed his lieutenant, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad at the behest of the
central government.

In a statement issued today, Singh said that he had resigned from the
chairmanship of the state autonomy committee within six months after its
constitution in 1996. Implying his dissociation from his commitment to
the state's autonomy, he said, "After seeing the trend that the
committee intended to follow, I submitted my resignation," Singh said,
adding the BJP spokesman needs to be re-educated regarding Jammu and
Kashmir affairs.

The eastwhile Maharaja's 'heir-apparent' said instead it was for BJP to
explain whether they accepted the proposals made by the state chief
minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, in the autonomy report tabled in the state
assembly earlier this year. "BJP owes an explanation to the nation why
they have indirectly accepted the proposal made by their ally party,"
Singh said in the statement.

BJP spokesman Arun Jaitely had said at a briefing yesterday that BJP
sought to know the Congress stand on Jammu and Kashmir as its candidate,
Karan Singh, from Lucknow was in favour of restoring the pre-1953 status
for the state giving it a separate prime minister, flag and
constitution.

Karan Singh is pitted in a high voltage fight against BJP candidate and
prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow.

It may be recalled that Dr Karan Singh resigned his National Conference
seat in the Rajya Sabha recently to join the Congress. Around the time,
he also came out with a statement that half of the problems pertaining
to the state could be traced to the nomenclature generally given to it.
Instead of describing it as Kashmir, he wanted it to be known as Jammu
and Kashmir. In the process, he had also provided an insight into his
own disposition towards the troubled state.

Amid the accusations and counter-accusations between Dr Karan Singh and
his BJP detractors, observers said, the mindset of both the contending
parties in relation to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is
revealed. The state autonomy report tabled in the legislature is
forthright in tracing the genesis of the problem in Kashmir and has
proposed radical measures to rectify the historic distortions in the
fragile relations between the centre and the state since 1953.


The Kashmir Monitor (Srinagar) 13 September, 1999
Mufti loses faith in Election Commission

Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: Expressing his deep anger and anguish over the large scale
irregularities committed by the ruling National Conference in recently
held polls for Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency and the manner in which
the same were ignored by the Election Commission of India, former union
Home minister and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mufti Mohammad Syed has
said that his party had "lost faith" in the central observers appointed
by the Commission to monitor the polls. The Election observers, he said,
failed to take cognizance of the complaints or rigging and proxy voting
at various places in Srinagar.
Addressing elections meetings in Pulwama district of South Kashmir,
from where Mufti is seeking re-election for the Lok Sabha, he disclosed
that even after he had submitted 'documentary evidence' to the Election
Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer, there was no response from
the two over the demand for a re-poll in entire five assembly segments
and more than two dozen booths of the other segments of the
constituency.
"1987 rigging gave birth to the militancy in Kashmir, which had brought
death and destruction to the state and in case the state and central
governments repeated what they did in Srinagar, in other constituencies,
the credibility of the Election Commission of India would be lost for
ever", Mufti said.
He reiterated his demand for appointment of 'unofficial' observers like
retired jurists, journalists and human rights activists to monitor the
polling in Anantnag and Baramulla constituencies. "Farooq Abdullah led
National Conference and its ministers and legislators, all are bent upon
to rig the elections and deface the democratic fabric of the country" he
added. He said that it was sheer apathy of the people against the
misrule of the National Conference government that voters refused to
exercise their right of franchise. The poll boycott, called by the
Huriyat Conference, in 1996 and 1998 elections was not heeded like this
and "this time only reason for a successful boycott was voters' anger
against the National Conference government", Mufti said. Referring to
the overall security scenario in Kashmir, Mufti said that it had gone
from bad to worse, especially in Kashmir where even the contesting
candidates were not feeling safe and were refused bullet proof cars and
other necessary security cover by the authorities. He alleged that
authorities, under the directions of the National Conference rulers were
not taking the election process seriously.


Geelani shifted to Nageen police station

Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar: Huriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other
party leaders who were arrested from a Handwara village last week, were
shifted to Srinagar from Uri police lock up, where they were lodged for
last two days. Geelani and four others including senior Jamat Islami
leader Mohammad Ashraf Sahrai have been lodged in Nageen police station,
seven senior Huriyat activists including Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar, Maqbool
Soofi, Khazir Mohammad Ganai and Abdul Rashid Shagun have been detained
in Soura police station. Details about other party activists arrested
along Geelani and their placements now were still awaited, a Huriyat
spokesman said.
The spokesman said that Geelani and his colleagues have been charged
with having made an inflammatory speech in Uri in which he besides other
things challenged the state's accession with India. However it may be
mentioned, that Geelani never visited Uri and issue of making a speech
there could just not arise.

In fact Geelani after being taken into custody in Handwara, after his
rally was fired upon by some BSF personnel was first taken to sub jail
Baramulla later lodged in police station Uri. The spokesman condemned
the authorities for fabricating a case against Geelani and his
colleagues saying this was a crude attempt to ignore the judicial orders
regarding the immediate release of Huriyat chairman and his colleagues.
Meanwhile Huriyat has expressed serious concern over the high handed
attitude ofSHP Khanyar, who in violation of all prescribed norms forced
his entry inside Nowhatta police station and tortured five youth
detained by the police there. A party spokesman said that the five
identified as Shafeeq Ahmad, Mumtaz Zarger, Riyaz Hafiz, Bilal Hafiz and
Fayaz Ahmad Dar were picked up by the BSF personnel from Sarafkadal and
later handed over to Nowhatta police.

Other day SHO Khanyar without any reason or justification forced his
entry inside the Nowhatta police station and physically tortured the
detained youth. The said SHO beat up the youth with rifle buts causing
injuries to them.