Indian Elections in Jammu & Kashmir
Report 6

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Srinagar,
September 13:

The Indian forces baton charged and resorted to firing at the Hurriyat
Conference anti-polls team, led by Muhammad Yaseen Malik and comprising
Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Advocate Bashir Ahmed Butt and Sheikh Ali Muhammad, as soon as it reached Bejbehara, injuring a large number of people. The troops
manhandled Muhammad Yaseen Malik and his two dozen companions and tore their clothes. They were then arrested and put in police lockup. Instantaneously
life came to standstill in Bejbehara and strike was observed in protest
against the inhuman treatment of the Hurriyat leaders. Thousand of people
took out a procession, chanting slogans against India and in favor of Azadi.
The Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Gilani,
who, along with almost 20 Hurriyat leaders, had been arrested a week ago
when he was carrying on anti-polls campaign in Kupwara, has been shifted
from Uri Baramula to Nageen police station lock up in Srinagar under tight
security. Other prominent Hurriyat leaders, Muhammad Ashraf Sehari, Ghulam
Ahmed Gulzar, Abdul Ahad Waza, Musarrat Alam and Ghulam Muhammad Sinkara are still in police custody.
The president of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Front, Pandit Bhoshan Bazaz
has lodged a strong protest against the continued detention of All Parties
Hurriyat Conference leaders and termed it the result of the Indian Rulers'
frustration at the Kashmiris' complete boycott of elections to the Lok
Sabah. A spokesman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference while condemning
the arrest and continued detention of the Hurriyat leaders, said that the
anti-polls campaign will not be affected by such ruthless measures adopted
by the Indian rulers.

The Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) 14 September, 1999
Geelani not released

Srinagar: The Hurriet chairman , Syed Ali Shah Geelani was not released
from Soura police station despite court orders. Geelani and his
associates Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Abdul Ahad waza, Masarat Alam, Ghulam Muhammad Sanskar, Ghulam Hassan dar were arrested last week at Handwara.
they were shifted to sub-jail Baramulla. Yesterday , the court ordered
their release. However, they were re-arrested and
taken to various police stations in the city.


Yasin Malik, associates held at Bijbehara
GK Correspondent

Srinagar, Sept 13: Senior Hurriet leader, Malik Muhammad Yasin and his
associates were taken into custody today by the police at Bijbehara
chowk in Anantnag district.

According to reports reaching here, the Hurriet motorcade was
intercepted by the police at Bijbehara. The Hurriet leaders shouted
raised pro-freedom slogans. The people around joined them and offered
stiff resistance. The police, reports said, fired several rounds in air
and also resorted to cane charge to chase away the mob.

Later, the leaders including Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Sheikh Ali Muhammad
,Shabir Ahmad Bhat, Sheikh Zahoor Ahmad, Parvez Ahmad Dar, Syed Muhammad Yusuf, Tariq Ahmad Beig, Abdul Hamid Khan, Muhammad Ahsan Auntoo, Abdul Samad Inqilabi, Bashir Ahmad Mir,, Mushtaq Ahmad and others. They were taken to police station Bijbehara.

Reyaz Ahmad (Photographer), according to reports, was manhandled in full
public view. His camera also suffered damage during the police action.

Meanwhile, another leader ,Syed Muzaffar Rizvi along with his associates
was arrested at Pattan chowk today while addressing an anti-election
rally. The arrestrees include Muhammad Yusuf Naqash, Muhammad Sultan
Reshi, Syed Muhammad Rizvi, Muhammad Sultan Mir and others.

Earlier, senior leader, Moulana Abbas Ansari, addressed gatherings at
Noripora, Harinara , Mirgund and Chakpora. Ansari called for election
boycott. "Kashmir dispute cannot be solved by elections. It is an
international problem and has the potential of disturbing peace in the
south asian region. Its resolution alone can ensure peace and prosperity
in the region", he told the gatherings.

A Hurriet spokesman in a statement issued today accused the forces of
excesses. According to the spokesman, Muhammad Maqbool Sofi's
residential house at Bandipora was blasted by the troops of RR 17. The
spokesman condemned excesses.


The Kashmir Times (Jammu) 15 September, 1999
Cong alleges torturing of workers by NC 'goondas' SOGs

KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 14: Alleging that the National Conference was enforcing
poll boycott in south Kashmir, Congress candidate for Anantnag Lok Sabha
constituency Peerzada Mohommad Sayeed today said the ruling party has
hired some "goondas" owing alligence to counter insurgent Papa Kashtwari
besides pressing into service SOGs to harrass and torture opposition
workers.

He said last night police, SOG and Papa Kastawair's men raided the party
workers houses at Sambool, Pampore and lifted eight persons including
the deputy district president of Congress for Pulwama. Four of them were
severely tortured and three have been taken to unknown place, Sayeed
said.

Giving details in a press conference here this morning, Sayeed said
Papa' Kashtawari's men led by Altaf Ahmad Shah and SHO Pampore Preetam
Singh raided the house of party activists at Samboora, Pampore and
arrested five persons including deputy district Pulwama Congress
president Abdul Aziz Dar.

"All the five were taken into custody and then brutally tortured. Four
persons sustained grievous injuries and have been shifted to Bone and
Joint hospital, Barzulla. They have been identified as Haji Abdul Ahad
Dar, Mohommad Sultan Dar, Noor Mohommad Dar and Mohommad Yousuf Dar.
However, Aziz Dar was discharged from the hospital", said Sayeed, adding
three persons arrested by them are still untraced.

He alleged that NC was trying to gag the Congress and it wants them to
stop highlighting the corrupt practices of the ruling clique. "The
ruling NC has realised that they have to suffer a humiliating defeat in
this election and that is why they are trying to score some points by
arm twisting measures", said the Congress leader.

He said he has written to the Election Commission in this regard and
their reply was awaited. Sayeed also alleged that the action by the
goons of NC was in fact to revenge the people's boycott of chief
minister's election rally at Samboora. "No body turned up for Samboora
rally of chief minister. That is why they are harassing and terrorizing
the Congress workers", said Sayeed.


The Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) 15 September, 1999
Yasin shifted to central jail, Gani arrested
GK Correspondent

Srinagar, Sept 14: Senior Hurriet leader, Malik Muhammad Yasin and his
associates were today shifted to Srinagar central jail. Malik along with
Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Sheikh Alim Muhammad, Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Sheikh
Zahoor Ahmad, Parvez Ahmad Dar, Syed Muhammad Yusuf, Abdul Samad
Inqilabi and Ghulam Hassan Auntoo, were arrested at Bijbehara when they
were on way to address an anti-election rally.Muhammad Ayoub Auntoo who
led a delegation to police station Bijbehara, according to reports, was
manhandled by the police. He was rescued by the Hurriet leaders, reports
said.In a late night raid yesterday, the police raided the headquarters
of Muslim Conference and arrested the Hurriet spokesman, professor Abdul
Gani.The Hurriet chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani , completed his sixth
day in the lock up. He was arrested at Handwara along with his
associates. Presently he is undergoing detention in Nigeen police
station.Meanwhile, several delegations led by Moulana Abbas Ansari and
Dr Hubbi visited Pattan areas today and called for election boycott.
A spokesman of Hurriet Conference condemned the arrest and accused the
forces of harassing the people. "The people in Handwara and adjoining
villages have been told to cast vote or face the consequences", he said.


JKLF concerned over Geelani's detention

Srinagar, Sept 14: Given the tremendous response to the election boycott
call by the people, the government is, out of sheer frustration,
arresting the Hurriyat Conference leaders and workers. This was stated
in a statement today by a spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation
Front. The spokesman has expressed serious concern over the the
continued detention of Hurriyat Conference chairman, Syed Ali Shah
Geelani, and his other associates. He condemned the arrest of the senior
Hurriyat leader and JKLF chairman, Muhammad Yaseen Malik, and other
leaders and workers including Bashir Ahmed Bhat (advocate) and Gulam
Muhammad Sumji from Bijebahara by the STF personnel. He described these
arrests as demonstration of alleged state terrorism. He maintained that
such repressive measures by the government would not prevent the
Hurriyat leaders and its workers from pursuing the cause of freedom of
their land. He said the election boycott by the people demonstrated
their decision for complete freedom. He said the day was not far when
India would have to shun its obduracy and accord complete independence
to Kashmiris. The Spokesman paid glowing tributes to Farooq Ahmed Khan
of Nawabazar, Ajaz Ahmed of Qazi Gund, Mohi-ud-Din Dar of Lolab, Manzoor
Ahmed Shah of Rafiabad, Muhammad Muqbool Wani of Sopore, Abdul Rahman
Ganie of Pattan, Gulam Nabi Bhat of Bandipora, Habibullah Dar of
Bandipora, Farid Khan of Divar and Gulam Mohi-ud-Din Malla, on their
respective martyrdom anniversaries.


Sheikh Aziz condemn firing on anti-election rallies

Srinagar, Sept 14: The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League jailed chairman,
Sheikh Abdul Aziz, in a statement today, has condemned the firing on
peaceful protesting processions organised by the APHC and the murderous
attacks on its leaders. He has expressed serious concern over the
continued detention of APHC chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and his
other associates.Sheikh Aziz condemned the use of force by the security
forces to disrupt the peaceful anti-election procession led by Muhammad
Yaseen Malik yesterday at Bijbahara. He held that such repressive
measures would not prevent the freedom loving people of the state from
pursuing their cherished cause.Sheikh Aziz has thanked the people of
Jammu , Rajori, doda, Badurwah and Banihal areas for their election
boycott.


The Indian Express (Delhi) 16 September, 1999
Kicking and screaming, people dragged to hear Farooq Abdullah
Muzamil Jaleel

PATTAN (J-K), SEPT 15: They pleaded to be let off, one had to visit the
hospital where his child was admitted, another's mother was critical, a
third had a wedding in the family, he even showed the box of sweets as
evidence. But no one listened as policemen stopped buses on the
Srinagar-Baramullah highway, off-loaded passengers and forced them to
attend Farooq Abdullah's rally.

There, the Chief Minister himself warned the audience that authorities
may use force to make the people come out and vote. ``Hum ne kal faisla
kiya hai. Is baar main aap ko ghar se nikalwaoonga. Yeh
nahin samajhna main aap ko is baar chodoonga (We took the decision
yesterday. I will make you come out of your homes and vote. Don't think
I will let you get away this time),'' Farooq told the 300 people at the
heavily-guarded and fenced playground here. ``Militants are threatening
you not to cast your vote. I will do the same to make you vote,'' the
Chief Minister told the ``caged'' audience.

At around 12.30 pm, an hour before Farooq arrived at the venue, The
Indian Express team witnessed policemen stopping buses, off-loading
passengers and forcibly taking them to attend the rally. More than a
dozen Kalashnikov-wielding policemen led by deputy superintendent of
police, Farooq Shah, were herding them into the play field. They were
thoroughly frisked before passing a metal detector at the entrance.

Abdul Ahad Khan of village Saloosa was on his way to Srinagar, where his
son was admitted in the Children Hospital. He was also forced to join
the rally after his bus was stopped at Pattan Chowk. He pleaded before
every police officer inside the rally ground to let him go as it was an
emergency but nobody listened. Guards said they had orders not to let
anybody go out. Khan was not even allowed to take his bag along as it
was deemed a security risk.

Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Baramulla, was impatiently waiting for the
rally to conclude. ``I work in Srinagar and this morning I received a
call from home that my mother is serious.I hired a taxi
but they stopped me here,'' he said. Another youngster tried his best to
convince securitymen to let him go as his sister was getting engaged
today and that he along with a few relatives were on their way to his
sister's in-laws. It was only after the intervention of NC nominee for
Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, A R Shaheen, that he was finally
allowed to go.

The Chief Minister lashed out at Hurriyet chairman Syed Ali Shah
Geelani. ``Geelani's relatives are doctors and DFOs. Let Geelani's son
take up a gun and become a militant. But they will never do so and they
will only like you to take up guns,'' Farooq said.


The Greater Kashmir (Srinagar) 16 September, 1999
Bar calls for election boycott

Srinagar, Sept 15: Calling for election boycott in Baramulla and
Anantnag constituencies, the secretary general of the Jammu and Kashmir
high court bar association, in a statement issued today, demanded a
judicial probe into the rape attempt by SDPO HazratbalGiving reasons for
election boycott, a spokesman of the bar, said, "elections have no
meaning until the Kashmir dispute was solved in accordance with the
wishes of the people".The spokesman condemned the continued detention of
Hurriet chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and senior leader , Malik
Muhammad Yasin and their associates. Professor Abdul Gani's arrest was
also condemned. Condemning what the spokesman called rape attempt by the
SDPO Hazratbal, the bar demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

SOG raid Hurriyet headquarters

Srinagar: A Hurriet spokesman in a statement urged the people of
Baramulla and Kupwara districts to observe total shut down on September
18 "to express solidarity with the martyrs and the on-going
struggle".Paying glowing tributes to Aijaz Ahmad Dar on his anniversary,
the spokesman strongly condemned the special operations group (SOG) raid
on the Hurriet headquarters during the preceding night.The raiding
party, according to the spokesman harassed the staffers and ransacked
the office. "The raid has exposed the tall claims of Indian democracy",
he said.Meanwhile, Syed Ali Shah geelani was shifted to police station
Rajbagh today. Professor Gani is also lodged in the same lock up.Rest of
the Hurriet leaders namely Ashraf Sehrai, Abdul Ahad Waza, Ghulam
Muhammad Sanskar and others are undergoing detention police station
Sadder and subjected to torture there.Malik Muhamamd Yasin and his
associates are awaiting release orders from the chief judicial
magistrate.Several anti-election rallies were held in the nook and
corner of the valley today to enforce election boycott.


The Kashmir Monitor (Srinagar) 16 September, 1999
Nexus between centre and state, says Mufti
Monitor News Bureau

Srinagar: Former Home minister and the People's Democratic Party Chief,
Mufti Mohammad Syed has alleged a nexus between the governments at the
center and the state to declare the National Conference candidate from
Srinagar constituency Omar Abdullah victorious in the just bygone Lok
Sabha polls.
Talking to reporters here, Tuesday, Mufti said that the rigging which
Farooq Abdullah government resorted to in the Srinagar polls was even
worse than the one in 1987. State Task Force and SPO's were used in
rigging the elections he aid. He said that officials machinery was
brazenly and openly misused by the National Conference legislators and
the ministers who captured booths and indulged in bogus polling.

Mufti reiterated his charges against the Election Commission saying it
exhibited indifference even as every kind of wrong done on the polling
day was reported to the Chief Electoral Officer by him on the telephone.
Referring to turning down of his party's demand for re-poll in Srinagar
constituency, Mufti said that the indifference shown by the EC proves
that there is a nexus between the central government and the Farooq
Abdullah government to make Umar Abdullah win from the Srinagar
constituency.

Mufti Syed alleged that the NC government had been preparing for
rigging the elections in the remaining constituencies of Anantnag and
Baramulla constituencies, where the ruling party is locked in a tough
fight with the PDP nominees. According to Mufti, employees of the Forest
department in Handwara had been appointed as the presiding officers in
the area and the entire task force has been concentrated there. In
Anantnag the Dak Bungalow has been converted into the National
Conference office whereas the PDP has been denied even a room, Mufti
said. He said that he participated in the elections as he believed that
election is a means to an end as the Kashmir problem can not be solved
through the bullet alone. Criticising Farooq Abdullah's speech in
Kupwara, Mufti said that bringing in more forces was not the solution as
the proactive policy of Advani with regard to Kashmir has already proved
to be counter productive.

Referring to the Huriyat stand on the elections Mufti said that the
Farooq government has in fact been supportive of the boycott call of the
Huriyat as it has helped the government to manage the rigging and other
bungling in the elections. He did not agree that the majority of the
electorate boycotted the polls because of Huriyat call and said that it
was largely because of their unhappiness with the National Conference
government.

According to Mufti the performance of the National Conference
government had been dismal and had shattered all the expectations of the
people who had thought that the role of the security forces will be
limited by the formation of the government in 1996 and the civil
authority will play the major part. However, there has been no decline
in the excesses committed on the masses, thousands of detenues continue
to languish in the jails, Mufti said.

He said the very first legislation passed by the present assembly was
to pave way for a big hike in the salaries and perks of the legislators
and ministers besides giving 25 lakh rupees annually to a legislators in
the name of constituency development fund. Instead of attending to the
burning problems facing the people, the government's priorities were the
plane that was bought for 28 crore and fixing job quota for the. This
resulted in virtual sale of class IV jobs.


J&K Daily Excelsior - Sept. 13, 1999

Shabir Shah released, re-arrested at Jewel
Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Sept 12: Separatist leader and supremo of the Jammu and Kashmir
Democratic Freedom Party, Mr Shabir Ahmed Shah was re-arrested after
being released by police at Jewel Chowk this afternoon. A special party of
the police arrested Mr Shah just after he was set free by Akhnoor
Police.

According to reports, police today released Mr Shah and ten other
activist of his outfit who were arrested at Bhambala near Sunderbani on
September 10 while they were proceeding towards militancy plagued
districts Rajouri and Poonch to launch anti-election campaign there. Mr
Shah and his followers were detained in Akhnoor Police Station. Today a
police party of Akhnoor Police drove all the arrested persons to Jewel
Chowk and released them.

However, a special police party, who was waiting for the release of Mr
Shah, re-arrested Democratic Freedom Party supremo and took him to an
unknown place. Some activists, who were accompanying him, opposed his
arrest and entered into a scuffle with police but of no avail.

Activist of the Shah's outfit expressed their anguish over the
dictatorial acts of the police and criticised the administration for
not allowing them to express their views.

It is worthwhile to mention here that Jammu and Kashmir Democratic
Freedom Party has launched anti-election campaign in the Valley.

Mr Shabir Shah and other members of his party had also decided to
launch similar campaign in the militancy infested twin border districts
of Poonch and Rajouri of the Jammu region. Mr Shah, who was scheduled
to address public meetings at Rajouri and Poonch was arrested near
Sunderbani while proceeding towards Rajouri.


Srinagar- September 16: The All Parties Hurriyat conference has reiterated
that the poll's bogey ,in the third phase on Saturday ,will be fully
frustrated.
Repeating the call for complete protest strike and total boycott, the APHC
in a statement in Srinagar today said that military raid on APHC
Headquarters and arrests of APHC Chairman and several Hurriyat leaders and
workers exposed the Indian myth of democracy. The APHC leaders, the
statement said , were put under illegal detention whereby Indian rulers
showed their nervousness over the successful anti-polls drive of APHC. Syed
Ali Shah Gilani, the APHC Chairman has been once again shifted in custody to
Rajbagh Police Station in Srinagar.
Reports from Baramula and Kupwara said that as the sham polls date draws
nearer there is no electioneering activity visible in the two districts as
all the people are strongly opposed to the fraudulent polls.
Meanwhile large number of army and para-military personnel are being rushed
to the two districts in an unavailing attempt to ensure forcible polling.
Sheikh Raheed Ahmed APHC Secretary Information in an interview has strongly
condemned arrest of APHC leaders and workers and described it as a
manifestation of nervousness of Indian rulers. However he made it clear that
such tactics would not, in any way, adversely affect the anti-polls campaign
because Kashmiris were opposed to polls and have been struggling for their
right of self-determination.
The troops resorted to random firing at Badshah Chowk of Srinagar to spread
terror among the people of the locality. The enraged people staged
anti-polls demonstration.
The troops burnt eight houses during crackdown at Dadpura in Lolab area.
This triggered large scale anti-India Demonstrations. The protest
demonstrations were also held in Pattan against vindictive military action
by resorting to strike to frustrate Farooq Abdullah's programme to hold
pro-poll's rally there.


Date: 11/09/99

By CHRISTOPHER KREMMER, Herald correspondent in New Delhi

India's elections - the third in just over three years - have been
called the polls nobody wants, and nowhere is it truer than in the
disputed State of Kashmir.

When people in the Kashmir Valley voted last Sunday, about one in five
polling booths recorded a zero voter turnout.

Today, voters in parts of the State outside the Valley get their chance,
but the spectre of violence and a boycott call by separatists
overshadows the polls.

The only vote separatists are interested in is a United
Nations-supervised plebiscite on self determination in India's only
Muslim-majority State. The scenes of violence from East Timor after
completing a similar exercise have not deterred them.

Despite a 10-year insurgency in which at least 25,000 people have died,
New Delhi says a vote in state and national elections is
all they will get.

That has led to the boycott call by the umbrella body representing those
in favour of independence or accession to neighbouring
Pakistan, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). At 182 polling
booths in the Srinagar constituency last Sunday, not a single
vote was recorded, leaving 910 officials to seal empty ballot boxes. Not
even party workers cast ballots.

But the massive stay-away owed as much to fear of revenge attacks by
separatists against anyone who defied the boycott, as it
did to support for the separatist cause.

On Tuesday, the extremists lent weight to such fears, triggering a land
mine explosion in Anantnag constituency which killed the
candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mr Ghulam Hyder
Noorani, and led to the poll there being abandoned. On
Thursday, a grenade was thrown at another BJP vehicle in Doda Town, 180
kilometres from the State capital, Jammu. Eleven
people were injured.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and training more than 1,000
separatist militants who have infiltrated the State this year.
Tensions between the neighbours sparked a two-month undeclared war in
the Kargil region in May, which left more than 1,000
soldiers killed.

"Pakistan does not want elections in Kashmir and hence it is creating
hurdles," India's caretaker Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari
Vajpayee, told an election rally on Thursday.

This week the US State Department complimented India on going ahead with
polls in Kashmir under such trying circumstances,
and rejected comparisons with East Timor.

That prompted a bitter response from Pakistan, which pointed out that
India is a party to the 1948 UN resolution which promised
a plebiscite for Kashmir. "To deny the Kashmiris the same rights as the
East Timorese is a travesty of democratic rights and
ideals," said the Foreign Ministry spokesman in Islamabad, Mr Tariq
Altaf.

Voting today takes place in Udhampur and Jammu constituencies, where
more than 3,000 polling booths have been declared
security risks. More than 150 people have been killed in political
violence in the Jammu region in the past three months, and
posters in the area warn people against voting.

More than 500,000 Indian troops are deployed for internal security
duties in Kashmir, but the elaborate security arrangements can
work both ways. Last week, people in the Kashmir Valley complained of
being forced to vote by gun-toting Indian troops.

In an election which has generally evoked little enthusiasm, Kashmiris
caught in the cross fire of separatist and military violence are
the least enthusiastic voters of all.


The Indian Express Delhi 19-9-99
EC gives Farooq clean chit

Muzamil Jaleel

SRINAGAR, SEPT 17: The Election Commission today gave a clean chit to
the Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah for his remarks that the people will
be forced to come out to vote even as the District Election Officer,
Baramullah said that the inquiry is still under process.

The Chief Electoral Officer, S V Bhave had ordered an inquiry after he
received a direction from the Election Commission to investigate the
chief minister's remarks besides the off-loading of passenger vehicles
by the State Police to make locals forcibly attend his rally. The EC had
also sought a report from its observers in the constituency.

Interestingly, the inquiry turned out to be an exercise in passing the
buck from one officer to another as the State Government officials are
reluctant to annoy the ruling party. They fear reprisals by the State
Government after the elections are over.

The Chief Electoral officer, S V Bhave had asked the district election
officer, Sheikh Mohammad Hussain to conduct the inquiry. Hussain, who is
also the deputy commissioner of Baramullah district, deputed Chief
Education Officer, Ghulam Mohammad Malik to Pattan and Tangmarg to
investigate the matter. Malik also passed the buck and asked the zonal
magistrate, Pattan, Abdul Majeed to inquire. Majeed, who is an
agriculture officer finally gave a clean chit to the chief minister
saying that neither had he uttered any such remark during the speech nor
did the police use force to make people attend CM's rally. `Once I was
told to conduct the inquiry. I went to the spot but could not talk to
anybody as the villagers were scared. I then met the Zonal Magistrate,
Abdul Majeed, who is also Chief Agriculture officer. He told me that no
such thing had happened during the CM's rally,'' Malik told The Indian
Express. ``I reported to the District Election Officer where I quoted
the zonal magistrate,'' he said. The zonal magistrate, Abdul Majeed,
however, was not available for any comments.

The Chief Electoral Officer, however, in a statement released late
thisevening, said that he has found that the Chief Minister Farooq
Abdullah has not made any such specific remarks. Quoting, two among the
four observers deputed by the EC, he said, ``They told me that the
speech that was in Kashmiri which was simultaneously being translated to
them and that they did not find any such remark in CM's speech''.
Bhave claimed the security forces were engaged in frisking
of the people and did not force them to attend the rally.

Meanwhile, in separate statement, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today
denied to have said that the Government will use force to bring out
voters saying, `` the voters are free to vote for whomsoever they wish;
why should anybody stop them, threaten them or force them not to vote at
gun point''. Citing the example of the first phase of polls in Srinagar
constituency, Farooq said, ``We have not employed any force during the
first phase of elections in Srinagar, why should we do it now''. He
added, ``Pakistan does not want the people of Kashmir to participate in
democratic process and their lackeys are harassing the people by issuing
threatening letters and pasting posters outside mosques so that Kashmir
does not have peaceful polls''.


The Statesman Delhi 18-9-1999
Terror charge against NC, forces

Prashant Rahi
Statesman News Service

SRINAGAR, Sept. 17. - The National Conference and security forces have
been accused of terrorising voters in their eagerness to get people out
of their homes to vote tomorrow.

One of those accused is the chief minister. The state chief electoral
officer, Mr S K Bhave, has sought a probe into controversial speeches
made by Dr Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday at Pattan in Baramulla
constituency which goes to the polls tomorrow.

Dr Abdullah allegedly issued a veiled threat to voters in those
speeches following the state administration's failure to ensure a
respectable turnout in the first round of polling in Srinagar.

Meanwhile, NC members are accused of intimidating voters, and the
security forces are charged with torturing many in Srinagar and Badgam
districts.

Hectic efforts are also on to nullify the boycott call by the All
Parties Hurriyat Conference.

Top Hurriyat and Democratic Freedom Party leaders have been held. The
JKLF leader, Mr Yaseen Malik, was arrested and later released from
Srinagar Central Jail. He has gone into hiding to avoid being arrested
again.

In some remote villages of Srinagar and Badgam districts, where voter
turnout was low, peasants harvesting their fields continue to live in
fear. At Arigami village, 36 km from here, villagers say those who
ignored the security forces' call to vote are still being harassed.

Sanaullah Ganai (38), a peon at the village school, grimaces as he
recalls the "thrashing" he received at the Khansab camp of Rashtriya
Rifles' 35th Batallion. Ganai had been told to bring people out of their
homes on polling day and paid the price for "disobeying" the order. He
and five others were allegedly summoned to the camp five days later. He
says he was stripped and flogged till he fell unconscious.

A week after the incident, reported widely in the local press, Ganai's
lash marks are still visible. When this correspondent visited the
village, Ganai had just returned after "reporting" at the camp.

Jawans posted outside the camp refused to arrange a meeting between
their commanding officer and visiting journalists.

At least 50 villagers said they had suffered a similar fate as Ganai
because they had not cast their votes.

It is in the background of reports of injuries in alleged attacks by
security personnel and members of political parties that the region's
"pro-azadi" intelligentsia have construed the chief minister's recent
speeches as intimidation of voters.

The state CEO said preliminary inquiries suggested that Dr Abdullah had
merely meant to reassure voters when he said in his speeches that the
government had enough guns to counter militants who had called a poll
boycott. But people in Baramulla feel the chief minister had warned them
that guns could be used to force them to vote.

Mr Bhave said video recordings of Dr Abdullah's speeches at Pattan and
Tanmarg are yet to be examined.


The Kashmir Times Jammu 18-9-99

Baramulla goes to polls today
CM's 'threat of coercion', violence scare loom large

KT NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, Sep 17: With massive deployment dotting the twin
district roads of Kupwara and Baramulla, a lot of militant violence, and a
"threat of coercion" issued by none other than Chief Minister, the north
Kashmir parliamentary constituency is going for the polls tomorrow. Of the
1,143 polling stations - all falling in sensitive and hypersensitive category -one
stands already blown up at Baramulla in the morning today.

Though only apple-rich Sopore township remained closed for the
third consecutive day today, the entire belt witnessed hardly any
movement of people. In certain areas in Kupwara and Baramulla townships, shops were closed much earlier than the routine timings. fearing
violence amid massive patrolling of various security forces including army. The
entire constituency was reported "totally deserted" in the late afternoon.

Sources at various levels conveyed a "serious indifference" among
the voters towards the exercise just 12 hours away. While campaigning
against the exercise stands halted after the Imams from all the mosques
in the two districts asked their Friday congregations in the afternoon not
to participate, security forces have reportedly taken over the "last minute
canvassing".

Reports reaching from Baramulla suggested that troops deployed in
the Rafiabad have taken over the entire belt. While at Dangiwatcha, the 28
Rashtriya Rifles has allegedly summoned all the Lumberdars - the village
headmen, to report to the camp by 4 pm, in the neighbouring Parimpora
30 villagers are allegedly already with the security forces. These  "peculiar detainees", reports alleged, are going to be used as "floating lot" on Saturday. With hundreds of tracks connecting it with the "militant territory of Rajwar", the Rafiabad belt has been boiling for a long time and neither of the scores of operations in the neighbouring forest hamlets have altered its status, so far.

Sopore township, that claims a bank of around 70,000 votes, remained
closed for the third consecutive day today. Roads wore a deserted look,
shops remained locked and there was no activity as far as business and
education is concerned. Reports indicated of a thick police and para-military deployment. The strike continues since Wednesday, when a landmine explosion resulted in a huge toll including two civilian dead and five others injured. "People are afraid of more violence and that is why they have limited their movements in anticipation", said a local scribe. As far votes, the people think "since nobody came to ask for it why should they come out".Unlike elections in the recent past, political parties did arrange rallies and meeting in the township ignoring its status of being "the capital of militancy". This time, however, no one did try to disturb the locals by arranging a meeting despite the fact that situations has improved a lot.

In the neighbouring Kupwara and Handwara areas, reports suggest,
the people continue to roam cautiously despite massive violence for
the last couple of days. The Shumnag house of NC MLA Mir Saifullah was
severely damaged by rockets and LMG fire last night. Though Mir
who himself was in his house skidded safe, the attack left two cops
guarding his houser injured besides destruction of a campaign matador. The
attacks has caused ripples in the entire belt, reports from Kupwara said,
"the security forces, so far, are unable to counter the situation and
restoring confidence among the voters is not so easy at the moment", it
added.

The Baramulla township woke up with the massive morning bang when
a timer device in the girls school went off in the old town. The school,
slated to house a polling booth on Saturday, was damaged. This has
prompted the administration to deploy more security men for the
security of the areas, especially the polling stations. Later in
the forenoon, police traced and neutralised another landmine at
Babarishi road in Tangmarg area, police here said.

The case of Bandipore belt is also not different from Kupwara or
Handwara. In view of the serious threat perception in certain
remote interior belts, reports from the area said, authorities have
clubbed various polling stations in a single building - a formula also applied in
the border Uri township. Though this enables authorities to ensure maximum
possible security to the booths, it is going to add to the gross inconvenience to the "voluntary voters".

All the contestants are keeping their fingers crossed about the
verdict of the people in the given situation. Whatever the response from the
people, almost all the contestants are highly apprehensive about the
ruling party using its traditional strong muscle. "When the people would
avoid to come out, they will send their groups to most of the booths and
fill in the boxes", said an activist of an independent contestant.

Apprehensions of arm twisting are being expressed for the Handwara-Langate and Uri-Sangrama assembly segments.

Reports from Baramulla and Kupwara said the distribution of the
polling staff to the booths has already begun this morning from the
respective district headquarters. The process is expected to cease by the
evening and the remaining staff shall be transported, during wee hours on
Saturday. The transportation of the polling staff, which are usually escorted, has passed off peacefully so far.

Meanwhile officials here said the preparations for holding elections in the
two assembly segments - Bijbehara (Anantnag) and Langate (Kupwara) -
on Saturday have been completed. Polling staff and material to 59
booths in Bejbehara and 71 in Langate has reached, officials said.
While there are six candidates in the fray at Lnagate, there are seven
in Bejbehara. The two assembly segments will also stick to the same
pollin g schedule as that of the parliamentary polls in Baramulla where
around 7,63,000 eligible voters are slated to decided the fate of ten
candidates in the fray.


The Greater Kashmir Srinagar 18-9-99

CEO takes note of postal ballot fraud reports
Further inquiry ordered, caution sounded
GK Reporter

Srinagar, Sept 17: The chief electoral officer has taken note of the
allegations of large scale fraud in the matter of issue of postal ballot papers to
the Kashmiri migrants reported in a section of the press and has got the matter
investigated.

According to an official handout issued today, he said there were
certainly a few complaints earlier that some mischievous elements may try to take undue advantage of the facility of postal ballot to the Kashmiri migrants and
may indulge in fake voting. Therefore, he said, strict instructions were given to all the assistant returning officers (migrant) to scrutinise applications carefully and
whenever there is a reason for doubt, the veracity of applications be got
checked through inquiries.

As per investigation report, the chief electoral officer said, only 2,097
applications were received by the AROs (migrant) for Bijbehara assembly
segment and out of these, 1297 were rejected as invalid. In effect, only
800 postal ballot papers were issued to the Kashmiri migrants from this
assembly segment.

It also needs to be clarified that form 13-A which is the declaration of
a voter, is to be filled up by the voter himself, signed and got attested by a
gazetted officer and then enclosed with the postal ballot duly marked by him and
kept in a separate envelop provided for the purpose. The declaration and the
envelop is supposed to be sent to the returning officer.

Voting is a solemn activity where secrecy is supposed to be maintained.
The migrant voters are given specific instructions regarding the marking of
the ballot papers, completion of the declaration and the procedure for sending the ballot papers and the declaration to the returning officer, cautioning him to
observe due secrecy.

Since a ballot paper issued to a voter has appeared in a news item, the
chief electoral officer has ordered further detailed inquiry in the matter and
appropriate legal action would be considered accordingly. He has taken some
additional measures to eliminate this type of mischief altogether. The officers
concerned have been cautioned to be extra-vigilant in handling this sensitive
matter, the handout added.