Tuesday, October 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

15 Independents float party
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, October 7
A group of 15 Independent candidates contesting the  ongoing Assembly elections, on the eve of the fourth and final phase of polling here today floated a new party, the J&K Democratic Peoples Forum, to “fight horse-trading” and work for the restoration of peace and stability. The aim of the forum would also be to pave the way for the Centre to enter into a “broad-based dialogue with representatives of all sections of society, in or outside the Legislative Assembly,” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The constitution of the 15-member forum comprising, among others, three former ministers and four former leaders of the People’s Conference who are contesting the ongoing elections, was announced by a former minister, Mr Ghulam Qadir Mir in the presence of six other leaders at a press conference here today. He said the elected members of the forum would have no alliance with any political party, be it the ruling National Conference or some opposition parties.

“When the US Foreign Secretary, Mr Collin Powell, and the European Union asked the Hurriyat Conference leadership to determine its representative character, and the Prime Minister having admitted that mistakes had been committed in the past, declared to hold a dialogue with only the elected representatives, there was no positive response”, stated Mr Ghulam Qadir Mir, adding that the APHC leadership had the opportune time to exhibit its statesmanship. Mr Mir added that the members decided to participate in the elections when there was no response from the Hurriyat Conference. He claimed that there was an overwhelming response to their participation in elections from the people, despite threats from militants.

Mr Mir, who was elected from the Karnah constituency of Kupwara district in 1977 and became a minister in Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s government then, is contesting as an Independent candidate from the Kupwara constituency. Others in the new forum include Mr Agha Mehmood, a former minister representing Beer-gam district. He recently resigned from the Farooq Abdullah government after he was denied ticket by the National Conference. He is contesting as an Independent candidate from the Budgam constituency against his nephew and NC candidate, Rohullah. Another former minister, Mr Hakeem Mohammad Yasin, is among those in the new forum, who is contesting from the Khan Saheb constituency in Budgam district.

The new office-bearers of the forum include Mr Ghulam Mohiuddin Sofi as convener, Mr Hakeem Mohammad Yasin as organiser, Mr Abdul Rashid Mirchal as secretary, Mr Faqeer Mohammad Khan as joint secretary and Mr Abdul Haq Khan as spokesperson. The others who have joined the new forum include  Mr Abdul Rashid Khan, Mr Nazir Ahmad Lone, Mr Haji Noor Ahmad, Mr Faqeer Ahmad Khan (former NC MLA), Mr Raman Mattoo (Habbakadal), Mr Mumtaz Ahmad (Mendhar), Mr Manohar Lal, Thakur Pooran Singh and Mr A.H. Manhas.

The participation of four Independent candidates — Mr Ghulam Mohiuddin Sofi from Handwara, Mr Abdul Rashid Mirchal from Karnah, Mr Abdul Haq Khan from Lolab and Mr Ghulam Qadir Malik — led to a controversy within the separatist Hurriyat Conference in August last. The APHC discussed for two days the issue and later had to drop its plan to suspend the People’s Conference for fielding “proxy” candidates, following an assurance from its constituent, the People’s Conference, that it was not linked to their participation.

Referring to their decision to participate in the elections, Mr Mir said it was not wrong on their part and it did not mean a pointer towards referendum or right of self-determination. He added that without fulfilling the basic needs, no people’s movement could work.  The forum leader held that the ruling National Conference had failed to come up to the expectations of the people over the past six years and there was rampant corruption, favouritism and nepotism under its rule.


Cop killed in Doda blasts

Srinagar, October 7
As the final countdown began for tomorrow’s fourth and final phase of elections, militants triggered off two powerful IEDs in Doda district, killing a police constable and wounding seven.

In other incidents of violence, 10 persons, including an ITBP man and six militants were killed while the security forces busted a hideout and arrested two ultras in the state overnight. An official spokesman said the militants detonated a powerful IED at Mashan Beoli in Doda this afternoon when a police party was searching the area in connection with the poll.

Constable Kali Das died on the spot while two special police officers — Naresh Kumar and Rajinder Singh — were wounded.

At least five more state police personnel, including Sub-Inspector Navin Agarwal, were injured in another IED blast in the Maho-Mangat area in the Banihal Assembly constituency of Doda.

However, the security forces gunned down three militants in a fierce clash at Akash Mandal in the same district. Two AK rifles, five magazines and some rounds were recovered from the slain militants who were planning to disrupt the poll.

The security forces achieved a major success when they busted a hideout in the Kishtwar Assembly segment and recovered eight hand grenades, four IED switches, one detonator, three fuses, 20 metres cordex wire and three loaded magazines last night.

The security forces also arrested two militants along with a pistol, a wireless set, three AK magazines, 90 rounds, four grenades, one smoke grenade, four IEDs and 250 electronic detonators at Dedpeth in the same Assembly segment.

The militants struck at a village in Doda district, killing three persons this afternoon, hours after kidnapping them sources said.

Ultras entered Baniala village in Baderwah forests and kidnapped the three late last night.

The militants killed them this afternoon and threw the bodies in the adjoining forest. They have been identified as Jialal, Mualkrai and Bala Bakerwal.

Meanwhile, high alert was sounded in Srinagar this morning after a message was received by the security forces that a stolen car would be used by the militants to carry out a suicide attack on the eve of polling in the Lolab constituency of Kupwara district.

Police sources said information was received that a Maruti car had been stolen from the city and the militants could use it for carrying out the attack.

The security forces and the police were thoroughly checking the vehicles. UNI, PTI

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