Tuesday, October 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Security umbrella for 3rd phase poll
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Anantnag, September 30
Security agencies in the state are working overtime to diminish the possibility of any militant attack during the third phase of elections tomorrow. As 16 Assembly constituencies of Anantnag and Pulwama districts prepare to go to the polls, additional security has been provided in the most sensitive belts of south Kashmir.

Highly-placed police sources today informed The Tribune that 100 companies of the security forces, including the BSF, the CRPF, the ITBP, the RR, the Jammu and Kashmir police and the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police, had been deployed in various areas in the two districts of south Kashmir. All troops that had been called to the valley for security duty during the first and second phases of elections have now been diverted to Anantnag and Pulwama. Securitymen have already been moved out from Baramula, Kupwara, Srinagar and Budgam (which went to the polls during the first two phases) and have been deployed in the 16 segments of Anantnag and Pulwama. the IG, Kashmir Range, Mr K. Rajendra, today surveyed the security situation in Anantnag.

To ensure free, fair and safe polling, 1,020 polling booths have been set up in 10 segments of Anantnag and 6 segments of Pulwama. Of these, 769 have been declared hypersensitive and the remaining 251 sensitive. The largest number of hypersensitive booths, 78 have been set up in the Rajpora segment of Pulwama district, closely followed by Tral which has 63. Tral, currently rated as the most IED blast-prone area, falls under the jurisdiction of Awantipora police district in Pulwama. As many as 598 polling stations have been set up in Anantnag, of which 270 have been declared hypersensitive. These include auxiliary polling stations approved by the Election Commission for Chitisinghpora and other places. Like other districts of the state, EVMs are being used for the first time in Anantnag.

Significantly, elections are being organised in four phases with a view to achieving efficiency in countering militant attacks in the valley. An official said, “Had we been self-sufficient in so far as troops are concerned, we would have organised elections in one go. But because we had limited troops and a larger area to cater to, we had to organise the elections in four phases.” Police sources added that troop mobilisation in Anantnag and Pulwama was being done as per the requirement. Intensive patrolling of the area is being done day and night. Security has especially been beefed up following frequent militant strikes in the sensitive Kulgam-Devsar-Noorabad belt. The sources informed that concentration of troops in each segment was being reviewed to gain maximum mileage.

Referring to frequent IED blasts in Anantnag and Pulwama, officials said it was not humanly possible for troops to man all routes of the sensitive region. Said an official, “Road operating parties (ROPs) have been at work since September 24. They had been checking roads earlier also and hence militants did not get a chance to lay mines. Some loopholes are left because the ROPs cannot detect all roads for mines.”Back

227 in the fray

The stage is set for elections in 27 Assembly segments of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kathua and Udhampur districts that will go to the polls tomorrow from 7 am. An electorate of 16.69 lakh - 8.98 lakh male and 7.71 lakh female voters - will decide the fate of 227 candidates. After the withdrawal of nominations, 228 candidates had been left in the fray, but following the death of Mr Vinod Kumar of the Panthers Party in a road accident, 227 candidates will contest tomorrow’s poll. All constituencies are witnessing a multi-cornered contest with a minimum of three candidates in the Tral segment of Pulwama. This time the number of candidates is much higher as compared with the figure of 171 candidates in the last Assembly poll in 1996.Back




Minister escapes bid on life; Major, LeT chief shot
Tribune News Service and agencies

Srinagar, September 30
Jammu and Kashmir minister Bashir Ahmad Nengroo had a narrow escape when militants attacked his motorcade at Pulwama last evening while a polling officer from Uttar Pradesh was among four persons injured in a grenade attack on a polling booth at Pampore which goes to poll tomorrow.

In other militancy-related incidents, five Pakistani infiltrators and two soldiers were among 14 persons killed in Jammu and Kashmir during the past 24 hours.

Official sources said militants lobbed a hand grenade and opened fire on the motorcade of Mr Nengroo, who is seeking re-election on a National Conference ticket from the Pulwama Assembly constituency. Pulwama is going to poll tomorrow in the third phase of Jammu and Kashmir elections.

However, the grenade missed the intended target and exploded without causing any damage.

Security guards of another National Conference candidate from the Rajpora Assembly constituency Ghulam Mohiuddin Mir, had to fire several rounds in the air to disperse a group of people who were pelting stones on his motorcade.

However, no one was injured in the incident, sources said.

Official sources told UNI that unidentified militants hurled a hand grenade at a polling booth set up in a school at Pampore late last night.

The grenade exploded causing injuries to polling officer Fayaz Ahmad Khan, son of Mr Abdul Rehman, a resident of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Fayaz was hit by splinters in his foot. The three other injured were a driver, a conductor and a security jawan. The injured were admitted to hospital.

The sources said two security personnel were killed when an explosive device, planted by militants at Watlab Ghat in north Kashmir, being defused by them exploded last evening.

“The security personnel were defusing the explosive device when suddenly it exploded killing them instantly,’’ they said.

Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF) today averted a major tragedy by detecting and defusing a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted in a polling booth at Watnar in the Kokernag Assembly constituency going to poll tomorrow.

A BSF spokesman said troops of the 77th batallion, during a search operation, detected the IED planted by militants in a polling booth set up at the middle school in Watnar.

He said the bomb disposal squad was immediately summoned who later defused it.

He said timely detection had averted a major tragedy as a large number of voters were scheduled to cast their franchise tomorrow.

Close on the heels of yesterday’s grenade attack in the Tral Assembly segment of Anantnag in which six policemen and 12 civilians were injured, militant succeeded in making at least five attempts aimed at disrupting the poll process in the twin districts of Anantnag and Pulwama in south Kashmir since yesterday.

Suspected militants hurled a grenade towards a security force vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Awantipora injuring two civilians and two security force personnel this afternoon.

JAMMU: Barely 24 hours before repolling is slated in three booths in the Surrankote sector of Poonch district, an Army Major was killed when troops clashed with heavily-armed militants at Mora Bichchai village in the Surrankote sector early this morning.

Official sources said acting on a tip-off that some terrorists were hiding at Mora Bichchai, soldiers launched a pre-dawn operation to flush them out. In the following gunbattle, an Army Major Rajeev Dahiya was killed.

The encounter was continuing when reports last came in, sources said.

Further details are awaited.

In another encounter two foreign militants of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were shot dead by security forces at Kund Baghi in the Dechan area of Kishtwar tehsil in Doda district also early today, the sources said.

The slain militants were identified as Abu Umer, area commander of the LeT and Abu Munib Ullah, also of LeT. A huge cache of arms and ammunition were seized from the site of the encounter.

Meanwhile, one more Pakistani terrorist of the LeT Abu Obdia was shot dead by security personnel at Nagrota in Rajouri district today, the sources said. A search operation is on to arrest other militants in the area, the sources added.

Four militants and an Army officer were killed in separate incidents across Jammu on Monday.

According to the police, three militants, two of them from Pakistan, were killed in an encounter with the security forces at Kiyar village in Dechan of Doda district. The police said on a trip-off, the security forces raided a rebel hideout and as the troops, neared the spot, they came under fire which was retaliated killing three militants on the spot. 

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