Wednesday, October 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

6 jawans die in blast
28 per cent cast vote in Pulwama
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Militant strikes

 * IED blast at booth in Lither Pulwama: Assistant commandant, BSF injured
 * Rocket propelled grenade attack at Krad (Shangus in Anantnag): polling officer S.P. Sharma injured
 * Dy SP injured in grenade attack at Shupian (Pulwama); another grenade attack at Kellar injures two
 * ARO, CRPF jawans fired upon at Shupian.

Anantnag/Pulwama, October 1
The third round of polling turned violent, with militants killing six BSF jawans and injuring over 15 persons in various incidents across the Valley. Six BSF jawans were killed on the spot when an IED planted by militants near a BSF bunker at Madora (Pulwama district) went off at about 5 pm. The jawans were escorting a poll party back to Pulwama when the blast occurred. The vehicle in which they were travelling was damaged in the blast.

Unable to hide the obvious of fear, four polling officers at a polling booth in Saimu, which was fired upon by militants, try to put up a brave front. No agents of political parties reported at Saimu.
— Tribune photo Amin War

Women voters wait for their turn at a polling booth in the Pahalgam assembly segment of south Kashmir on Tuesday. — PTI photo

The polling was marked with 21 violent attacks engineered by militants on polling stations and polling staff. With repeated storming, terrorists kept the voter turnout substantially low to an overall of 28 per cent in Pulwama and 25 per cent in Anantnag. The strikes began at 6 am in the Tral segment of Pulwama, only to heighten at 3.30 pm when across the border shelling started at Gurez in Baramula district. Earlier the terrorists struck over 21 times in Pulwama and Anantnag, resorting to firing and grenade shelling. In Anantnag, polling officers Mr Abdul Aziz and Mr S.P. Sharma (from Punjab) were seriously injured when militants hurled grenades at booths in Kulgam and Shangus, respectively. A bomb blast at Rajpora (Handwara) killed a child and seriously injured six persons.

Hizb-ul-Majahideen militants opened fire at two polling stations in Saimu village of the Tral segment at 7.10 am. They kept firing at booths in Boys Middle School and Girls Middle School, Saimu for over 20 minutes, with forces of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF’s 11 battalion retaliating the fire. No agent of any political party had reported at Saimu till 11 am. Officers engaged for poll duty seemed terror struck when The Tribune team visited Saimu booths at 7.30 am today. The militants struck again at 7.30 am at Machhama in Tral. So strong was the militant domination in Tral that not a single vote was polled till 2 p.m. at the two booths, where total votes were 913 and 719, respectively.

Shupian voters in Pulwama had a different story to tell. Since morning they were out on roads protesting against the Army which, they said, was forcing them to vote. This segment witnessed many anti-Army and anti-election demonstrations. Awantipora police district (Pulwama) was no different when it came to voter turnout. After yesterday’s grenade attack, just 50 yards away from the Townhall polling booth in Awantipora proper, no voter was seen on roads today. Even as 40 jawans of the ITBP stood guard at the polling station, just one vote out of 1,389 total votes had been cast till 2.30 pm.

With the exception of Pulwama proper where 566 votes out of 2,174 had been polled at the two booths in Boys High School by about 2.30 pm, most other segments in Pulwama and Anantnag witnessed low voter turnout. Even the Bijbehra segment in Anantnag, considered a stronghold of Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP, was sleepy all day. At Government Girls High School in Bijbehra, no vote had been cast out of 1041 till 12 noon.


41 pc polling recorded
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 1
Despite a series of over two dozen attempts by militants to disrupt the third phase of elections, over 41 per cent polling was recorded in four districts of Jammu and Kashmir today. The Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Pramod Jain, said here this evening that the turnout would have been better, but for the series of attacks made by the militants after “successful” polling in the first two phases.

Giving the poll percentage, he said Anantnag district in south Kashmir had the lowest 25 per cent followed by 28 per cent in Pulwama district. Similarly, there was 59 per cent polling in Kathua district and 56 per cent in Udhampur district of Jammu region that also went to the polls today.

The lowest polling of 7 per cent was recorded in the Pampore constituency of Pulwama district in south Kashmir, while the Rajpora constituency of the district recorded the highest of 37 per cent. In the Jammu region, the Bani constituency of Udhampur district recorded the highest of 67 per cent polling, while the Hiranagar constituency of Kathua district recorded 46 per cent.

He said militants attempted to disrupt the poll process following “successful polling” in the first two phases in the state. The elections to the Lolab constituency were countermanded and were scheduled to be held along with the fourth and final phase on October 8. 

The second phase of elections in Srinagar-Budgam districts in central Kashmir witnessed a nightlong operation against militants at Gogji Bagh here on the eve of polling. The polling in two districts of south Kashmir that witnessed over two dozen incidents today, was also marked by pro-independence and anti-poll demonstrations in and around Anantnag. The voter turnout in major towns of Anantnag and Beijbehara, was minimal. A complete shutdown was observed throughout the valley in response to the Hurriyat call to boycott the poll process. There were also reports of coercion by the security forces in several areas of the Tral and Pampore constituencies and two villages.  

There are 106 candidates contesting in Anantnag and Pulwama districts. Those in the fray include three ministers and three sitting members of the ruling party, Ms Mehbboba Mufti of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the lone CPM MLA, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, seeking re-election from his home constituency of Kulgam in Anantnag district.


Low turnout of Kashmiri voters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 1
The scene at the polling stations specially set up for Kashmiri Migrants here during the third phase of elections was no different from the first two phases. Most of the voters chose to stay away.

Out of the total 68 registered Kashmiris in the two polling stations for the third phase of polling in 27 constituencies of J and K, only 16 exercised their franchise. While the Tis Hazari polling station registered 15 votes, only one member chose to cast his vote at the Jammu and Kashmir House. While a large number of people registered complaints that their names were dropped from the voters’ list, there was hardly any such complaint today.

In the first phase of the elections, the voter turnout was dismal. One polling station registered zero voting in the Capital.

During the second phase, out of the 455 registered votes with the Jammu and Kashmir House here, only 67 voted and in Tis Hazari Courts, another special polling station, which had 26 voters, a mere 11 cast their vote.

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