Thursday, October 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

NC likely to sit on Opposition benches

Srinagar, October 10
Ruling National Conference today appeared heading for a defeat in the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which are likely to throw a hung verdict with the possibility of the Congress and the People's Democratic Party coming together for forming a coalition government. 

Indicative of an NC rout was the defeat of the Chief Ministerial candidate Omar Abdullah, who lost by 2,000 votes in the Ganderbal constituency, traditionally held for long by the family with huge margins. He lost to PDP's Qazi Mohammad Afzal. 

As trends poured in, leaders of Congress and PDP spoke of the possibility of the two coming together for forming the government ousting the National Conference, which got a two-third majority in the 1996 elections. 

So far, three results have been declared out of which the fledgling PDP headed by former Union Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed won two--Ganderbal and Pulwama-- with the other Ramban seat in Jammu region going to the ruling NC, wresting it from BJP. 

In the 87-member assembly, two results have already gone to the Ladakhi Union territory Front when their candidates were declared elected unopposed. 

According to trends available for 76 seats by noon, the Congress put up an impressive performance leading in 24 seats while its possible future coalition partner PDP, an offshot of Congress, was ahead in 18. NC was also ahead in 18 seats while BJP was leading in four.

Omar concedes defeat

National Conference President Omar Abdullah today conceded defeat in the Jammu and Kashmir elections and said his party will not stake claim to form a government even if it emerges as the single-largest party.

“Certainly”, he said when asked whether the ruling NC lost the mandate of the people in the elections.

Hoping that his party would bag at least 25 to 27 seats and emerge as the single largest party, the Union Minister, who himself lost the Ganderbal seat, said the NC would not stake its claim to form the next government.

Predicting that the Congress-PDP coalition would not last long, he said already a quarrel had started between the two parties as to who would become the Chief Minister.

"I don’t want to become a doomsday professor..... but I have always been saying that the problems of the state would worsen with a ‘Khichri’ Government'," he said when asked how he visualised the future scenario.

"I thank those who voted for my party”, he said, adding,” I also thank the entire electorate of the state."

"We respect the verdict, he said. “We have absolute faith in the people of the state. We also pledge to carry on the party tryst for peace in the state," he added. 

He also congratulated Mr Afzal for getting elected from Ganderbal constituency that had been represented by his grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1977 and his Chief Minister father, Dr Farooq Abdullah, since 1983.  PTI

Copters, jawans tighten cordon
J&K election results today

Srinagar, October 9
Apprehending suicide attacks by militants who killed hundreds of people in poll-related violence in Jammu and Kashmir, a massive security dragnet has been thrown over all centres where votes will be counted tomorrow.

Helicopters will be pressed into service to prevent rocket attacks and all areas falling within a radius of 1 km from the 15 counting centres have been cordoned off, 24 hours prior to the counting of votes starting at 8 a.m.

Security personnel have sanitised areas around the counting centres and have taken up position on surrounding buildings.

“We have intelligence inputs that militants will try to disrupt the counting. There might be suicide attacks. Therefore, we have cordoned off all the areas falling in a radius of 1 km of the counting centres in the district headquarters,” Inspector General of Police K. Rajendra said here today.

This has been done to thwart any militant attempt to target the counting centres with rockets, he said adding additional forces have been deployed as part of the security set-up.

The fate of 710 candidates, including National Conference Chief Ministerial candidate Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti and several other political stalwarts, is sealed in the electronic voting machines, used for the first time in the state in the four-phased polling spread over September and October.

Two candidates have already been declared elected unopposed in Leh district. Counting will be held at three centres in Doda district which registered the highest 52 per cent voting.

The Election Commission has deployed nearly 60 observers in the state to monitor the counting. PTI, UNI


Poll vehicle attacked, two killed

Unidentified relatives and paramedics rush Mohammed Sultan, a Kashmiri grenade victim, into hospital in Srinagar on Wednesday. The police said that 15 pedestrians, including Mohammed Sultan, were wounded when separatist militants lobbed a hand grenade into a crowded market place in Pattan in northern Kashmir on Wednesday morning. — Reuters photo

Jammu, October 9
Militants detonated an IED killing two CRPF personnel escorting officials carrying polling material even as security personnel seized 15 kg of RDX in Jammu and Kashmir today.

The blast took place at Sohunder village of Doda district in which two personnel were killed and another was injured, official sources said.

Ultras triggered another IED, injuring a woman in Banihal tehsil of the district.

During search operations in the Surankote area, the security forces seized 15 kg of RDX, 10 AK magazines and 475 detonators.

SRINAGAR: Troops scuttled yet another attempt by Pakistan to send heavily-armed and trained militants this side when they gunned down five infiltrators in the northern sector on Tuesday evening.

In other militancy-related incidents, a special police officer (SPO) and four militants were killed while the militants attacked security pickets with rifle grenades across the valley overnight.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said the troops guarding the northern sector noticed a group of militants sneaking into this side from PoK on Tuesday evening under cover of darkness.

However, when the militants reached Bandar Gugaldar, they were challenged and asked to surrender. Instead they opened fire which was returned by the troops, he said, adding that the encounter continued for several hours.

Later the bodies of five infiltrators were recovered from the encounter site. Three AK rifles, five magazines, a UBGL, eight grenades, four RPG rockets, 36 claymore mines, a wireless set and two rucksacks were recovered. Photographs of Osama bin Laden and Urdu literature were also recovered.

The troops also killed another infiltrator at Z-Gali in the same sector. One AK rifle was recovered from the slain militant. PTI, UNI

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