Wednesday, October 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Voters defy the bullet
52 pc turnout in Doda; counting tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Doda, October 8
Ignoring terrorist threats, 52 per cent of the electorate turned out in the six constituencies of this militant affected district in the last phase of the Jammu and Kashmir elections today.

Terrorists attacked many places in the interior areas to scare away the voters. They had pasted posters in many areas, threatening people of dire consequences, in case they voted. But the voters opted for the ballot. According to the District Election Officer and DC, Mr Basharat Ahmed Dar, the highest 57.87 per cent polling was registered in the Ramban constituency and the lowest of 40.56 per cent in the Banihal segment.

Repolling has been ordered in the Jajota area of the Doda constituency which witnessed a major terrorist attack killing three persons. Mr Dar said 50 per cent polling was registered in Doda.

He said 57 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in Inderwal and 56 per cent each in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah.

In the Lolab constituency in Kupwara district of Kashmir valley, where polling was put off following the assassination of National Conference candidate and Law Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, a significant 44 per cent of voters cast their ballots despite fear of militants.

An elderly villager studies an electronic voting machine before casting his vote at a polling station in Doda on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

NEW DELHI: With the end of voting for the four-phase Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir today, the Election Commission turned its focus on counting of votes and warned stern action against those counting officials, who fail to strictly follow the rules and regulations of the Commission.

“Focus now is on the counting scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on October 10. The Commission is particular that all rules and regulations pertaining to counting are observed meticulously by the counting staff and any lapse on their part will be viewed with utmost seriousness,” Deputy Election Commissioner Sayan Chatterjee told newspersons here.

To ensure that there is no irregularities in the counting process, the Election Commission has directed that after counting of every round of ballots, the votes tally will have to be certified by the Central Election Observers deployed for the purpose in each constituencies.

“Even the results of each constituency will have to be declared by the Returning Officer only after the approval of the Observer,” Mr Chatterjee said.

The Election Commission has pressed into service 60 Observers for this purpose, he said adding that most Assembly constituencies will be supervised exclusively by one Central Observer, but in some places one Observer will monitor counting in two Assembly constituencies.

Since EVMs were used for polling, the results are likely to be declared quickly, he said.

The overall turnout of voters in all the four phases was an estimated 44 per cent, Mr Chatterjee said.


Two jawans die but repulse attack
S. P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Relatives of a soldier killed by militants react in front of a hospital in Doda on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

A civilian rushes to the help of a policeman in carrying the wounded to hospital in Doda. — PTI photo

A CRPF jawan injured in the Doda town hall attack receives medical care at a hospital in Jammu on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Doda, October 8
Two CRPF personnel were killed when terrorists attacked a polling station in the heart of the town soon after the polling for the six Assembly constituencies started in the morning.

A terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba identified as Zakir Husain, was shot by the CRPF jawans who retaliated to the firing of terrorists. Another terrorist managed to escape in the confusion.

The killed CRPF personnel have been identified as Ramesh Kumar and D.G. Arya. Ramesh Kumar died on the spot, while Arya succumbed to injuries in the Medical College Hospital at Jammu where he was airlifted for treatment. Three others, including a CRPF jawan, D.S. Indurkar, Constable Nazakat Hussain and an SPO, Mohammad Gattu, and a civilian were injured in the suicide attack.

The attack came at 7.20 a.m. shortly after the polling had started. The terrorists wearing police uniform entered the premises of the Town Hall where polling booth number four was located and lobbed grenades. They resorted to indiscriminate firing. One AK Rifle, six magazines and four live grenades were recovered from the possession of the killed terrorist.

The injured were flown to Jammu in two helicopters of the state government. The killed terrorist has been identified as son of Mohammad Akram, a resident of Gandoh village.

However, the attack failed to damped the spirits of the people who turned out in large numbers to cast their votes. Burqua-clad women in particular were seen standing in long queues.

The terrorists lobbed a grenade at another polling booth some time later, but no one was injured.

An IED was exploded by terrorists in the Lambar village of the Banihal constituency. The security forces spotted a dozen terrorists on the Dandadhar Peak near Banihal town.

Srinagar: Militants fired a rifle grenade at a polling station in Pahalgam constituency of Anantnag district where repolling was being held, injuring two policemen and trigerring panic among the electorate who had lined up to cast their votes.

Just one hour before repolling was to end, militants fired a grenade from a hilltop at Wularhama booth around 3 p.m., which fell near it slightly injuring two security personnel, official sources said.

The security personnel posted at the polling booth fired several rounds in retaliation.

The Army foiled two infiltration bids by Pakistan-trained militants to sneak into the valley killing five of them near the Line of Control in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir since last night.

Two groups of militants, comprising six members each, were confronted by troops soon after they crossed over from Pakistan in Bandan forest and Z-Gali areas, official sources said today.

Army personnel asked the militants to surrender but they opened fire in a bid to escape.

However, the personnel cornered one group at Bandan forest where four militants were killed in an exchange of fire last night and the other at Urgali forest in Z-Gali area where one ultra was shot dead today.

The operation to track down other militants was on, they said.



Congress to seek support for govt formation in J&K
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 8
The Congress has made up its mind to seek the support of the People’s Democratic Party and Independents in the sweepstakes to form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir. With the counting in the state slated for October 10, the Congress is hopeful that the “anti-National Conference plank” of almost all other parties and Independents in the fray would help it muster the required the numbers after the results are out.

Congress leaders are hoping to win between 20 and 25 seats in the state, most of them from the Jammu region. Convinced that the state would have a hung Assembly, the Congress leaders are hoping to make up the majority with the help of the PDP and Independents. The formation of the Democratic Peoples Forum (DPF) by 15 Independent candidates yesterday has given further boost to the hopes of the Congress in cobbling up a majority. Like the PDP, which has been gunning for the NC in all its election rallies, the DPF yesterday said the group would do everything to keep the NC out of power.

Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, who today met Election Commission officials here, told The Tribune that there would be slender difference in the number of seats won by the Congress and the NC.

“The silver lining is that all other parties are opposed to the National Conference,’’ Mr Azad said. Asked if he would be the Chief Minister in case the Congress is able to muster a majority, Mr Azad said that the choice would be made by the newly-elected MLAs.

In his meeting with the Election Commission officials, Mr Azad complained about the “impediments created by the NC government in allowing the Kashmiri migrants to vote through electronic voting machines.’’ He said though the migrants in Jammu had been allowed to by the Election Commission to vote, only about 10 per cent were allowed to use the voting machines. He alleged that ballot papers of the rest were manipulated by the state government officials and this could have affect results in about 10 seats.


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