Wednesday, July 31, 2002, Chandigarh, India

M A I N   N E W S

4-phase poll likely in J&K
More paramilitary forces soon
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
Elections in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be conducted in four phases and the Centre will deploy only paramilitary forces instead of the Army in the state as the elections are going to be watched keenly by the international community.

The four phases are likely to be spread over September-October.

The Centre will soon send 150 companies of paramilitary forces (roughly 15,000 personnel) to the state, sources told The Tribune today.

The Election Commission was planning to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the first time in the state.

The use of EVMs would be two-fold: it would demonstrate to the world the technological advancements made by India, and their use in a big way would show how India was committed to holding free and fair elections.

The forthcoming elections would be unique in terms of domestic politics too as probably for the first time, the Union Home Ministry, instead of the Prime Minister’s Office, would be calling the shots.

Of late, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister L.K. Advani, had been calling the shots in Jammu and Kashmir, marginalising to a considerable extent the role of the PMO. Last week’s appointment of Border Security Force’s Special DGP, R.C. Aggarwal, as coordinator of paramilitary forces deployed for smooth and peaceful conduct of the elections, was an indicator of this.



National Capital Region--Delhi



Amarnath yatri, driver killed in blast

Policemen help an injured pilgrim
Policemen help an injured pilgrim after a grenade explosion in Khanabal, 55 km south of Srinagar, on Tuesday. 
Policemen and local people stand besides a damaged car
Policemen and local people stand besides a damaged car after a grenade explosion in a police station at Khanabal on Tuesday. — Reuters photos

Srinagar, July 30
In the first major strike on Amarnath pilgrims, militants today blasted a vehicle carrying a group of yatris from Uttar Pradesh, killing a yatri and a driver and injuring four in South Kashmir.

The militants lobbed a grenade on a taxi which was ripped apart, seriously injuring six persons on K.P. Road near Anantnag bus stand, 55 km from here, around 5.20 pm, official sources said.

The injured had been rushed to hospital where two of them were declared brought dead, the sources said.

The vehicle was heading for Pahalgam, the base camp for Amarnath yatra, they said.

The entire area had been cordoned off by the security forces.

The deceased had been identified as Ajay Narola from Uttar Pradesh and the driver of the vehicle Kuldeep Raj from Jammu, the sources said.

The injured had been identified as Sheel Agarwal, Manoj Kumar, Ajay Kumar and Ragu Vishat (all from Uttar Pradesh). The condition of Ragu Vishat was critical.

Senior police, Army, BSF and CRPF officials inspected the site and ordered further strengthening of the security arrangements along the Anantnag-Amarnath road.

No militant outfit had claimed responsibility for the attack so far, the sources added.

JAMMU: Three security personnel including a Captain, were killed when the militants ambushed a joint party of the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said here on Tuesday. PTI, UNIBack

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