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Three militants among eight killed
Srinagar, December 31
Three militants of the Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) were among eight persons killed, while a ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) worker was injured in the valley overnight, official sources said today.s

Electricity Act amended to check power theft
Bus fares hiked by 10 per cent

Jammu, December 31

The state government has amended the Electricity Act to arm the authorities with powers of summary trial of those involved in power theft and has also hiked the bus fares by 10 per cent.

Saqib is new Health Secretary
Jammu, December 31
The Jammu and Kashmir Government has appointed Mr Najimus Saqib as Secretary, Health and Medical Education, in place of Mr Lokesh Jha, who has been sent as Chairman of the Special Tribunal.

Yasinís plan to float third front fails
to take off

Jammu, December 31
The plan of the Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister Hakim Mohd Yasin to float a third front in Jammu and Kashmir has failed to take off.

Cong using ultras for political interests: BJP
Jammu, December 31
Charging the Congress and its allies with using anti-national elements to serve their political interests, the former Union Minister and a senior leader of the BJP, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, has demanded a probe to find out how Pakistani ultras became voters in Doda and elsewhere and how they had voted for the Congress and other parties in the last Lok Sabha elections.

JSM flays hike in bus fares
Jammu, December 31
The Jammu State Morcha (JSM) has assailed the coalition government for increasing the fare of the passenger services instead of regulating the traffic and enforcing the traffic laws to save the common man from the prevailing anarchy.





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  Probe sought into issue of votersí card to militants
Jammu, December 31
A senior BJP leader and former Minister of State for Defence, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, today demanded a probe into the issue of votersí cards to militants.s
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Three militants among eight killed

Srinagar, December 31
Three militants of the Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) were among eight persons killed, while a ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) worker was injured in the valley overnight, official sources said today.

Sources said troops, on specific information that some militants were holding a meeting in a house at Watergam, cordoned off the entire area last evening.

They said troops were about to storm a particular house when they came under heavy fire from militants hiding inside. The troops immediately returned the fire and in the night-long fierce clash three militants were killed.

The house owner, Mohmmad Ramzan Mir, was also killed in the exchange. His house was damaged as troops fired mortars to kill the militants who refused to surrender.

A Defence Ministry spokesman in Srinagar said troops killed three militants, Abu Asgari, Abu Izafa and Abu Maaz. Three AK rifle, eight magazines, 90 rounds of ammunition and six hand grenades were recovered from the slain militants.

Sources said three bodies were recovered at Kralcheck Shopian in South Kashmir district of Pulwama this morning. The bodies were taken by the police for identification.

Militants shot dead Ghulam Mohammad Bhat at Lalad Sopore in Baramula district last night.

A PDP worker Javid Ahmad Lone was shot at and critically wounded by the militants at Tral in Pulwama. He has been admitted to Bone and Joint Hospital at Barzulla. ó UNI

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Electricity Act amended to check power theft
Bus fares hiked by 10 per cent
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 31
The state government has amended the Electricity Act to arm the authorities with powers of summary trial of those involved in power theft and has also hiked the bus fares by 10 per cent.

This has been done following failure of all earlier steps that were taken to recover the arrears of over Rs 2000 crore from the electricity consumers and the increasing trend of theft of power.

The Cabinet last night also ordered a 10 per cent hike in the bus fares and tariff of trucks. The petrol run taxi fare has been increased by 8.5 per cent.

The fresh amendment in the Electricity Act 1997 provides for dealing effectively with the menace of power theft and book the defaulters.

The amendment has given powers to the officials of the Power Development Department (PDD) to enter the premises of any consumer for the purpose of inspecting electric supply lines and meters and also remove fittings or other apparatus of the defaulters.

Theft of electricity has been made a cognisable offence. Penalty for wasting electricity has been enhanced from Rs 200 to Rs 1000.

A provision has been made for summary trial of offences relating to theft of electricity and tampering with the meters. The PDD has been empowered to effect recoveries from the defaulters by attaching their movable and immovable property.

All earlier efforts of the state government to recover the arrears and check the menace of power theft had failed miserably allegedly because of connivance of PDD officials.

Moreover, the power theft has been increasing as the ministers, senior officers and politicians have failed to set an example by themselves taking a lead by getting their illegal power connections snapped. The electronic meters have not been installed in the localities where the ministers and senior bureaucrats reside, but the job has first been started in the houses of common people.

The Cabinet has also ordered top-level reshuffle in the PDD. Moulvi Manzoor Ahmad has been promoted as the Power Development Commissioner.

Mr Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, Chief Engineer, has been promoted as Executive Director of the Power Development Corporation, while Mr Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, chief engineer, systems and operation wing, Jammu, has been shifted to Srinagar and Mr V.K. Malhotra has come in his place.

Mr B.L. Garoo, Chief Engineer, PDD Jammu, has been shifted to the Baghliar hydel project and Mr D.S. Pawar has come here in place of Mr Garoo.

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Saqib is new Health Secretary
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 31
The Jammu and Kashmir Government has appointed Mr Najimus Saqib as Secretary, Health and Medical Education, in place of Mr Lokesh Jha, who has been sent as Chairman of the Special Tribunal.

The State Cabinet ordered a bureaucratic reshuffle here last evening.

Mr Mohammad Deen, Secretary, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, shall hold independent charge of the department.

Mr P.S. Betab, Director, Consumer Affairs Department, Jammu, and Sheikh Ejaz Iqbal, Special Secretary, Industries and Commerce, swap their places of posting.

Mr M.S. Khan, Special Secretary, Agriculture Production, has been shifted as Director, Finance.

Ms Sarita Chauhan, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, has been sent as Additional Secretary, Agriculture Production.

Mr Gowhar Ahmad, Executive Director, Rehabilitation Council, has been posted as Member, Service Selection Board.

Mr Sudarshan Sharma, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, is the new Director, Land Management, Jammu, Jammu Development Authority.

Mr Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Joint Director, Institute of Management and Public Administration, Srinagar, has been posted as Registrar, Special Tribunal, in place of Mr Mohammad Sharief Sood, who goes as Executive Director, Rehabilitation Council.

Mr Ajay Khajuria, OSD in the office of Financial Commissioner, Revenue, has been posted as Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jammu.

The Cabinet approved opening of 6,817 anganwari centres that would create 14,000 jobs.

The Cabinet hiked the pay scales of government teachers and ordered that the undergraduate teachers shall be placed in the scale of Rs 4000-Rs 6000 against the existing grade of Rs 3050-Rs 4590.

The graduate teachers in the pay scale of Rs 4000-Rs 6000 shall now get the scale of Rs 4500-Rs 7000 and the masters degree holders in the pay scale of Rs 5700-Rs 10,100 shall now get the grade of Rs 6500-Rs 10,500.

The lecturers and senior lecturers of the higher secondary schools have been placed in the scale of Rs 8000-Rs 13,500 and two advance increments have been released in favour of the senior lecturers.

The Cabinet approved induction of certain officers of the information, tourism, food and supplies, hospitality and protocol, handicrafts and the Secretariat into the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS).

Mr Ashok Kumar Wali has been promoted Chief Engineer, Public Health Engineering, Kashmir.

Mr M.A. Nowashari, Joint Development Commissioner, Works, has been made Managing Director J&K Projects Construction Corporation.

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Yasinís plan to float third front fails to take off
Our Correspondent

Jammu, December 31
The plan of the Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister Hakim Mohd Yasin to float a third front in Jammu and Kashmir has failed to take off.

Mr Yasin who headed a 13-member group of Independents in the assembly, which later was christened as Peoplesí Democratic Front, had recently started motivating some legislators, ministers and those belonging to the National Conference for establishing a third front.

Sources said some agencies were backing him for floating a separate group. In order to establish its credibility Mr Yasin and one of his ministerial colleagues, Sofi Ghulam Mohiuddin, had started pleading for a tripartite talks for resolving the Kashmir issue. At one stage they were trying to adopt the line followed by the moderate separatists, especially the APHC.

However, except for Mr Dilawar Mir, NC MLA, no other leader of stature agreed to join the third front. Sources said the PDP leadership did not relish the activities of Mr yasin and his front associates.

Mr Yasin was clearly told that despite having been allotted an import portfolio as cabinet minister his efforts to weaken the PDP were unfortunate. The PDP leaders suspected that Mr Yasin was avenging the defection of six legislators from the Peoplesí Democratic Front.

However, he was informed that the five MLAs from the Peoplesí Democratic Front had been motivated to join the Congress. Latest reports said Mr Yasin has for the time being decided to go slow with his plan of forming the third front.

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Cong using ultras for political interests: BJP
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 31
Charging the Congress and its allies with using anti-national elements to serve their political interests, the former Union Minister and a senior leader of the BJP, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, has demanded a probe to find out how Pakistani ultras became voters in Doda and elsewhere and how they had voted for the Congress and other parties in the last Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a meeting of party activists led by Mr Balwant Thakur and others in Doda district, Prof Gupta alleged that it was a serious thing that the ultras, including Pakistanis had links with certain politicians. He said the police was in a fix due to this.

He said the case should be looked into by some independent agency and also by the election commission.

The BJP leader alleged that anti-militancy operations had been slowed down after the deinduction of troops.

He said the peace process and dialogue with Pakistan did not mean that the hapless people living in remote areas should be left at the mercy of heavily armed terrorists.

Prof Gupta alleged that the reports about the manner in which the terrorists, including foreigners were having forced marriages were highly alarming but it was strange that the Congress and its allies were talking more about the healing touch policy rather than protecting the honour and lives of innocent people by strengthening the security measures.

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JSM flays hike in bus fares
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 31
The Jammu State Morcha (JSM) has assailed the coalition government for increasing the fare of the passenger services instead of regulating the traffic and enforcing the traffic laws to save the common man from the prevailing anarchy.

Addressing a meeting of the morcha activists here today, the vice-chairman of the JSM, Mr Onkar Seth, said that it was strange that much emphasis was being laid on increasing the fare and freight, ignoring the fact that the rates were already much higher in Jammu and Kashmir than other parts of the country.

He alleged that the machinations for increasing the freight and fare was the result of a gang-up between certain leaders of the Congress-PDP combine and those of the erstwhile ruling National Conference.

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Probe sought into issue of votersí card to militants
Our Correspondent

Jammu, December 31
A senior BJP leader and former Minister of State for Defence, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, today demanded a probe into the issue of votersí cards to militants.

While reviewing the security situation in Doda district with party workers, Prof Gupta said a number of militants in the area had been in possession of the cards.

In this connection he referred to the arrest of a number of terrorists in Doda district from whom the police had recovered the cards.

Prof Gupta blamed several politicians, belonging to the ruling coalition, for providing patronage to the militants, including mercenaries from Pakistan.

He alleged that in the previous Lok Sabha elections these militants had not only voted in favour of Congress candidates but forced others to follow suit.

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