Friday, October 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Tight security for Lolab
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 3
After the completion of three phases of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the police and security agencies have further been geared up to facilitate the smooth conduct of polling in the Lolab constituency of Kupwara district in north Kashmir. Polling in this constituency, earlier scheduled for September 16 in the first phase, was countermanded following the assassination of the National Conference candidate and former Law Minister, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, on September 11.

The threat perception in this border constituency, according to senior security officers here, is higher than before in view of the killing of the NC candidate and a series of “desperate attempts” by militants in the third phase of elections in south Kashmir. Except for Lolab, polling has been completed in all other constituencies of the 46 segments in the six districts of the Kashmir valley. Polling in the Lolab constituency will be held in the fourth and final phase when six segments of Doda district in Jammu division go to the polls on October 8.

An additional 50 companies of paramilitary forces are being deployed for the poll, according to the IG, Kashmir Range, Mr K. Rajendra Kumar. This is in addition to the security forces already deployed in the area to fight the militants. The additional deployment is part of 500 companies sought from the Centre by the Jammu and Kashmir Government for the elections. Of these, over 250 companies have been moved out during the past two days from the south Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Pulwama, where polling to 16 Assembly segments was held in the third phase.

The killing of Mushtaq Ahmad Lone at an election rally at Tekipora near his home place in the Lolab area on September 11 led to a sudden decline in the “election fervour” in the area. Electioneering came to a standstill. The Election Commission, which later countermanded the poll, asked the National Conference to nominate a new candidate. It completed the process by September 23. Even as Qaisar Ahmad Lone, nephew of the assassinated NC leader, filed his nomination papers as a candidate of the ruling National Conference, there was hardly any public meeting in the area afterwards.

“We have been taking all precautionary measures”, said a supporter of Abdul Haq Khan, an Independent candidate. Instead of holding public meetings in the Lolab constituency, the candidates have been engaged in door-to-door campaigning. They are also trying to woo voters through influential persons in different localities.

There are 11 candidates in the fray from this constituency, whose fate will be decided by an electorate of 62,037 — 34532 male and 27,505 female voters. The candidates are Qaisar Ahmad Lone (NC), Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar, (Congress) Laluddin (Panthers Party) and eight Independents — Khazir Mohammad Ganai, Abdul Haq Khan, Abdul Rehman Sofi, Ghulam Rasool Shah, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Mohammad Sarfaraz, Mohammad Yusuf Qureshi and Mushtaq Ahmad Wani.

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