SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R    E D I T I O N

Finding parking space a nightmare in Jammu
Jammu, May 15
Vehicles parked on the road at Raghunath Market in Jammu. Tribune photo: Inderjeet Singh The urban sprawl of Jammu in the past one decade has resulted in more number of private vehicles. 

Vehicles parked on the road at Raghunath Market in Jammu. Tribune photo: Inderjeet Singh

NSUI gheraoes VC secretariat at JU, calls for boycott of classes on May 19
Jammu, May 15
Activists of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) today gheraoed the office of Vice Chancellor of the University of Jammu (JU) Prof Mohan Paul Singh Ishar in protest against the violation of "one man, one administrative post" policy on the campus.

Natrang Theatre completes 32 yrs
Jammu, May 15
Natrang Theatre today completed 32 years of its establishment. The founder of Natrang Theatre, Padamshree Balwant Thakur, revealed the exciting dramatic happenings of Natrang since its inception. He said in the last 31 glorious years, Natrang through the selfless contribution of thousands of missionaries brought the Jammu and Kashmir theatre to the national and international limelight. Thakur said the theatre proudly travelled across the world and won appreciation in Russia, Germany, UK, Singapore, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and UAE, thereby establishing it as an international brand.


YOUR TOWN
Jammu
Srinagar


EARLIER STORIES



Akhnoor zone claim U-17 girls’ kabaddi title
Jammu, May 15
The Akhnoor zone bagged the U-17 girls' kabaddi title by defeating the Jourian zone by 48-32 in the final of the inter-zonal competitions of Jammu district, organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS), at Green Field Ground, Gandhi Nagar.

BSNL regrets inconvenience to public
Jammu, May 15
General Manager, Telecom District (GMTD) Jammu, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has regretted inconvenience to the public and other affected agencies due to damaging of the optical fibre cable (OFC) by the PHE Department while digging at Mandir Morh, Roop Nagar, without any intimation to it.

All eyes on Farooq, Mehbooba 
Srinagar, May 15
All eyes are fixed on the counting of votes which will disclose the fate of 41 candidates on the three seats of Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla in the Kashmir valley.

In Ladakh, mood upbeat in all four camps
Jammu, May 15
A day before the counting of votes, the mood is quite upbeat in the camps of all four contesting candidates for the Ladakh parliamentary seat. They are, however, keeping their fingers crossed owing to the massive regional and ideological divide between the Buddhist-dominated Leh district and the Shia-dominated Kargil district. Despite the fact that voters turned up in large numbers to vote in both districts, the victory margin, as in the 2009 parliamentary elections in Ladakh, is set to be close.

BJP banks on ‘Modi wave’ for Jammu seat
Jammu, May 15
As the BJP has a clear edge on the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat, the only curiosity is about the party which will come second on this prestigious parliamentary segment. Candidates of the BJP, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress are locked in a triangular contest but the pattern of the polling, which was held on April 10, gave a clear edge to the BJP because Jammu district, a citadel of the saffron party, witnessed record polling this time. Out of 18,48,154 voters, 12,02,492 cast their votes.

Udhampur result may shape Azad’s role in J&K
Jammu, May 15
As people of the region eagerly await the results for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat, the credibility of Union Minister and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad will be at stake with the final outcome going to have an impact on his future in the state politics.

Emotions run high on Cong leader’s home turf
People in Doda, the home district of Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, are eagerly awaiting the results for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat and are hoping that the senior Congress leader has a smooth sail. The people are ready to offer special prayers if Azad emerges winner from the constituency.

Valley gears up for counting amid tight security today
Srinagar, May 15
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure hassle-free counting of votes in the three parliamentary constituencies of Kashmir.

LS polls in J&K: A game changer ahead of the Assembly elections
Tribune News Service
The results of the 16th Lok Sabha polls will clearly hint at the shape of things to come in J&K from 2015 onwards as the state holds the Assembly polls by the year-end.

In Kashmir, people have little hope from poll results
Srinagar, May 15
As people all over the country will be glued to their television sets tomorrow to know the results of the parliamentary elections, for a common man in Kashmir, the election results do not mean much.

100% sure Congress will get Udhampur seat: Azad
Jammu, May 15
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad talks to The Tribune at his residence in Jammu on Thursday. Tribune Photo: Anand Sharma Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad is contesting parliamentary elections for the first time on his home turf. The counting of votes for the Udhampur-Doda constituency will be held on Friday. In an interview to The Tribune Azad speaks about elections and his future plans. Excerpts of the interview:







Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad talks to The Tribune at his residence in Jammu on Thursday. Tribune Photo: Anand Sharma

Counting centre for Udhampur LS seat turns into fortress
Jammu, May 15
With the fate of one of the biggest names in the Lok Sabha polls from the state going to be decided on May 16, every effort is being made to ensure hassle-free counting for the Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency.

Government forms panel to brief BOPEE how to conduct exam
Srinagar, May 15
The state government today constituted a nine-member expert committee to suggest as to how and in which manner the Common Entrance Test (CET) should be conducted by the Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE).

Illegal immigrants get easy access to activated SIM cards
Jammu, May 15
Exposing the so called “rigorous verification process” put in place by the security agencies in militancy-infested Jammu and Kashmir for cellular companies, illegal Myanmar immigrants settled here manage to get SIM cards with ease and use them right under the nose of the police.

Stranded drivers on Ladakh road stage protest
Srinagar, May 15
Stranded drivers on the Srinagar-Ladakh road staged a protest at Sonamarg in Ganderbal district today demanding more vehicles be allowed to ply. Even as the protest turned ugly in the morning, Kargil town later observed a shutdown.

Guv briefed on Jammu varsity functioning
Srinagar, May 15
Governor NN Vohra interacts with Prof MPS Ishar, Vice Chancellor, Jammu University, at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar on Thursday. A Tribune photograph Prof MPS Ishar, Vice Chancellor, Jammu University, called on Governor NN Vohra here today.




Governor NN Vohra interacts with Prof MPS Ishar, Vice Chancellor, Jammu University, at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar on Thursday. A Tribune photograph 

Shutdown against detention of protesters hits life in Valley 
Srinagar, May 15
A day-long shutdown called by the hardline separatist faction led by Syed Ali Geelani to protest the detention and arrest of stone-throwers led to the closure of markets and other commercial establishments in the region.

Lt Gen Chakravarty handed over Baton of Rajput Regiment 
Udhampur, May 15
GOC-in-C of the Northern Command Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra hands over the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment Baton to Lt Gen Aniruddha Chakravarty at Fatehgarh on Thursday. Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command, and Colonel of the Rajput Regiment, handed over the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment Baton to Lieutenant General Aniruddha Chakravarty, Director General of the National Cadets Corps, at a ceremony at the Rajput Regimental Centre, Fatehgarh, today.


GOC-in-C of the Northern Command Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra hands over the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment Baton to Lt Gen Aniruddha Chakravarty at Fatehgarh on Thursday.

EC relaxes model code of conduct in state
Srinagar, May 15
The Election Commission (EC) has relaxed restrictions with regard to the model code of conduct (MCC) for Jammu and Kashmir that were imposed with the announcement of Parliament elections with effect from March 3.

AM Shah takes over as interim Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir. AM Shah appointed interim VC of Kashmir University 
Srinagar, May 15
Ali Muhammad Shah assumed the charge as the interim Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir, today after Talat Ahmad, who was appointed Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia quit the University of Kashmir yesterday.




AM Shah takes over as interim Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir.

Licences of 48 medical stores suspended
Srinagar, May 15
To ensure availability of quality drugs to consumers, the Drug and Food Control Organisation, Kashmir, has launched a 15-day-long special drive from May 14 in the Valley.

International Day of Families celebrated
Srinagar, May 15
The Inner Call, Forum for Evolution, Development and Awareness, organised a programme to celebrate ‘International Day of Families’ here today.

Head constable found dead
Srinagar, May 15 A head constable of the Railway Police has been found dead in suspicious circumstances in the city here, the police today said.

2 drug peddlers held
Srinagar, May 15
The police said today it had arrested two drug peddlers and recovered 130 bottles of psychotropic medicines from their possession in the city here.

Missing woman found ‘murdered’ in Kulgam
Kulgam, May 15
A woman who had gone missing on May 8 from Anantnag was found ‘murdered’ in the Mirbazar area of Kulgam district today.






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Finding parking space a nightmare in Jammu
Hena Handoo
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
The urban sprawl of Jammu in the past one decade has resulted in more number of private vehicles. But already existing infrastructure like roads, flyovers, parking lots, etc, could not keep pace with this ever-increasing number of vehicles. One of the biggest urban nightmares of this city is to find a parking space for a vehicle.

As per the statistical data provided by the website of the Motor Vehicles Department, Jammu has more than four lakh registered vehicles. Out of which, 80,513 are cars and 2,50,824 are two-wheelers. But interestingly, the Jammu Development Authority has constructed nine parking lots, which could accommodate merely 1,200 cars and 500 scooters.

Plans to create multi-parking structures at Shalimar Chowk, bus stand and Doctor's Lane are struck in a limbo. It has resulted in illegal parking along roadsides and ruckus at all major public places.

Haphazardly parked vehicles result in encroaching of roads and indefinite traffic jams. It also poses a big problem for pedestrians and adds to the poor visibility of shops coupled with bad shopping experiences. "Due to these randomly parked vehicles we often have to face a great trouble, especially in the evening the situation is so worse that one has to search for space while walking in the market," said Priya Sharma, a shopper at Gole Market, Gandhi Nagar.

Besides, the main road of Ragunath Market remains congested with parked vehicles troubling residents as well as tourists.

Pawan Kumar Parihar, SP, Traffic, City, Jammu, said, "The department is doing its best to manage the traffic, but we are also helpless as we are facing infrastructure and manpower crunch. People should also understand that park vehicles at paid parking spaces to avoid unnecessary trouble." "You can neither stop the growth of Jammu, nor its people from purchasing new vehicles.The need of the hour is to build sufficient parking areas and that is the only solution," said a resident.

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NSUI gheraoes VC secretariat at JU, calls for boycott of classes on May 19
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
Activists of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) today gheraoed the office of Vice Chancellor of the University of Jammu (JU) Prof Mohan Paul Singh Ishar in protest against the violation of "one man, one administrative post" policy on the campus.

The protesters also called for a complete boycott of all classes on May 19 against the adamant and dictatorial policies of the university administration.

Led by Choudhary Naseeb Ali, national delegate, NSUI, the protesters staged a sit-in inside the Vice Chancellor secretariat and raised slogans against the university administration. They alleged that the university authorities were giving "undue favouritism" to some "blue-eyed" professors.

The protesters later apprised the Vice Chancellor of their demand for the implementation of "one man, one post" policy on the campus. They demanded the removal of Special Secretary to the Vice Chancellor Jai Kumar Sharma from multiple posts alleging that it was affecting the functioning of respective departments.

The Vice Chancellor, according to protesters, refused to accept the demand of NSUI activists for the removal of Jai Kumar Sharma from multiple posts saying the issue didn't pertain to the students, which resulted into verbal spat between the authorities and protesting activists.

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Natrang Theatre completes 32 yrs
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
Natrang Theatre today completed 32 years of its establishment. The founder of Natrang Theatre, Padamshree Balwant Thakur, revealed the exciting dramatic happenings of Natrang since its inception. He said in the last 31 glorious years, Natrang through the selfless contribution of thousands of missionaries brought the Jammu and Kashmir theatre to the national and international limelight. Thakur said the theatre proudly travelled across the world and won appreciation in Russia, Germany, UK, Singapore, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and UAE, thereby establishing it as an international brand.

"This organisation has been highly instrumental in giving a new cultural identity to this distant part of the country and revolutionised the cultural life of the place through its out-of-the-world initiatives," the Natrang Theatre founder claimed.

He mentioned that Natrang was established on May 15, 1983, with the presentation of two unique short plays "Neeli Jheel" and "Nanhen Kandhey Pair", directed by Balwant Thakur, at Abhinav Theatre, Jammu. The actors who featured in the first performance of Natrang included Vijay Attri, Aasha Arora, Arvind Anand, Mohan Singh, Prabodh Jamwal and Arun Sharma.

Balwant said in 31 years the plays which overshadowed the theatre scene of the country included "Bawa Jitto", "Ghumayee", "Mahabhoj", "Aap Hamare Hain Kaun", "Chauraha", "Poster", "Mere Hisse Ki Dhoop Kahan Hai", "Sainyan Bhaye Kotwal", "Raktbeej", "Comedy of Terrors", "Suno Eh Kahani", "Kanjoos", "Holi", "Mind Games", "Richard III" and "Kaun Nachaye Naach". Natrang produced over 1,000 actors and many have made their mark in films and TV world as well.

Balwant Thakur stated that Natrang had a dream for Jammu and a mission to establish this place as an international destination of theatre.

He maintained that the institution was all set to create an international-level campus in Jammu housing an auditorium, studio theatres, theatre residences, resource centre and an exclusive centre for children.

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Akhnoor zone claim U-17 girls’ kabaddi title
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
The Akhnoor zone bagged the U-17 girls' kabaddi title by defeating the Jourian zone by 48-32 in the final of the inter-zonal competitions of Jammu district, organised by the Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS), at Green Field Ground, Gandhi Nagar.

Earlier, in the semifinals, the Jourian zone defeated the Miran Sahib zone by 35-21, while the Akhnoor zone toppled the Arnia zone by 27-16.

The preliminary round of the girls U-14 and U-17 kho-kho competition took place at the same venue. Three teams of the Akhnoor zone, Satwari and Khour zone qualified for the semifinals.

In the girls' volleyball competition, the Bhalwal zone and Gandhi Nagar zone qualified for the final.

Earlier, in the semifinals played, the Bhalwal zone beat Satwari zone 2-0, while the Gandhi Nagar zone drubbed Miran Sahib zone 2-1.

The Bhalwal zone and Akhnoor Zone have made it to the final in U-17 age group. In the semifinals, the Bhalwal zone beat Miran Sahib 2-1 and Akhnoor trounced Gandhi Nagar 2-1. In all, six teams turned up for the competition in this age group.

Detailed result

U-17 girls' (volleyball): Miran Sahib zone beat Arnia zone by one turn and six points; Dansal zone beat Bishnah zone 7-2; Satwari zone beat Chowki Choura by one turn and one point; Jammu beat Gandhi Nagar zone by one turn and one point; Miran Sahib zone beat Bhalwal Zone 6-3; Khour zone beat Dansal zone 2-1; Satwari zone beat Marh zone by one turn and four points; Akhnoor Zone beat Jammu by one turn and eight points.

U-14 age group: Gandhi Nagar zone beat RS Pura zone 6-2; Miran Sahib zone beat Chowki Choura zone 8-2; Bishnah zone beat Marh zone by one turn and two points; Arnia zone beat Satwari 4-2; Akhnoor zone beat Gandhi Nagar 8-4; Miran Sahib zone beat Khour Zone 8-2; Bhalwal zone beat Arnia zone 9-2; Bishnah zone beat Dansal zone 6-3.

U-17 girls' volleyball (quarterfinals): Jourian zone beat Bishnah zone 32-20; Arnia zone beat Marh zone 24-08; Akhnoor zone beat Gandhi Nagar zone 35-12 and Jourian zone beat Satwari zone 23-12.

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BSNL regrets inconvenience to public
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
General Manager, Telecom District (GMTD) Jammu, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has regretted inconvenience to the public and other affected agencies due to damaging of the optical fibre cable (OFC) by the PHE Department while digging at Mandir Morh, Roop Nagar, without any intimation to it.

The mobile network of BSNL was badly affected as the one of the main switching centre at Bantalab was isolated causing a lot of inconvenience to subscribers and others. Meanwhile, the GMTD Jammu, GM Mobile and other senior officials of BSNL monitored the restoration of the OFC. BNSL claimed that no official of the PHE Department was present on the spot.

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All eyes on Farooq, Mehbooba 
Valley test: NC president is seeking re-election for third time from Srinagar
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
All eyes are fixed on the counting of votes which will disclose the fate of 41 candidates on the three seats of Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla in the Kashmir valley.

The main contenders are the ruling National Conference-Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The fate of National Conference (NC) president and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, seeking re-election for the third time from Srinagar, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag, will also be sealed tomorrow.

Mehbooba was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag in 2004.

This is for the second consecutive term that the main contest is between the two arch rivals, the NC and the PDP.

Farooq has the distinction of winning all Lok Sabha and Assembly elections post 1975. He has been the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister five times, thrice after winning the Assembly elections.

However, he completed only one full-term of six years following the 1996 polls.

Farooq did not contest the 2002 Assembly elections, paving the way for his son, Omar Abdullah, who contested the elections unsuccessfully from their home constituency, Ganderbal.

Later, Farooq got elected to the state Assembly from both constituencies of Hazratbal and Sonwar in 2008, followed by the Lok Sabha from Srinagar in 2009.

The NC patron is seeking re-election this time from Srinagar, which has been represented by Omar for the three successive terms in 1998, 1999 and 2004.

The counting will also disclose the fate of the PDP, which has made its entry into the NC bastions in the last two Assembly elections in a number of segments and also posed a challenge to it in the two previous Lok Sabha elections.

The PDP has already made a mark with the election of Mehbooba Mufti to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag in 2004, who is again in the fray this time.

The results will also reflect on the performance of the coalition government in the state over the last five years.

Main contenders

Srinagar

Farooq Abdullah (NC), Tariq Hameed Karra (PDP)

Candidates in fray: 14

Anantnag

Mehboob Beg (NC), Mehbooba Mufti (PDP)

Candidates in fray: 12

Baramulla

Shariefuddin Shariq (NC), Muzaffar Hussain Beigh (PDP)

Candidates in fray: 15

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In Ladakh, mood upbeat in all four camps
Arteev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
A day before the counting of votes, the mood is quite upbeat in the camps of all four contesting candidates for the Ladakh parliamentary seat. They are, however, keeping their fingers crossed owing to the massive regional and ideological divide between the Buddhist-dominated Leh district and the Shia-dominated Kargil district. Despite the fact that voters turned up in large numbers to vote in both districts, the victory margin, as in the 2009 parliamentary elections in Ladakh, is set to be close.

In the 2009 polls, sitting Member of Parliament from Ladakh Hassan Khan, who was supported by the Islamiya School Kargil and the National Conference, had defeated Congress candidate Phuntsog Namgyal by a margin of just 3,708 votes.

Regardless of a tough terrain and numerous logistical challenges, Ladakh had witnessed brisk polling as nearly 72 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise on May 7.

In the snowbound Kargil district, including the Zanskar Assembly segment, nearly 71.8 per cent of the electorate had turned up to cast their votes, while nearly 72.5 per cent voters had exercised their franchise in Leh district.

Taking into account the regional and ideological divide, the Election Commission has set up two counting centres, one each in Kargil and Leh districts. The counting of votes for the Kargil and Zanskar Assembly segments will be done in Kargil, and for the Leh and Nobra Assembly segments at Eliezer Joldan Memorial (EJM) College in Leh. The four candidates, whose fate was sealed on May 7, are Tsering Samphel of the Congress, Thupstan Chhewang of the BJP and two Independent candidates Aga Syed Kazim Sabri and Ghulam Raza.

“We are waiting for the results. It is difficult to comment on what the poll results will be but we hope that the people have reposed faith in our policies and programmes,” Thupstan Chhewang told The Tribune.

Independent candidate Ghulam Raza said people of Ladakh had extended an overwhelming support to him during campaigning and he had witnessed immense enthusiasm among voters for him on polling day.

Raza is supported by a religious body, Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust (IKMT), Kargil, and Congress councillors in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil. He had resigned from the post of Congress district president, Kargil, and joined the electoral race as a Congress rebel after the party high command fielded a Buddhist from Leh, Tsering Samphel, for the Ladakh seat. Syed Aga Kazmi Sabri, another Independent candidate, who is backed by powerful religious institution, Islamiya School Kargil (ISK) and the National Conference, said: “We had received massive support from the people during campaigning. We are waiting for the results but are confident of winning the seat easily”. 

Victory margin set to be narrow

* All four contestants (from the BJP, Cong and 2 Independents) are keeping their fingers crossed as the victory margin is set to be narrow.

* In the 2009 polls, sitting MP from Ladakh Hassan Khan had defeated Congress candidate Phuntsog Namgyal by a margin of just 3,708 votes

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BJP banks on ‘Modi wave’ for Jammu seat
Real fight between Congress and PDP for the second place 
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
As the BJP has a clear edge on the Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat, the only curiosity is about the party which will come second on this prestigious parliamentary segment. Candidates of the BJP, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress are locked in a triangular contest but the pattern of the polling, which was held on April 10, gave a clear edge to the BJP because Jammu district, a citadel of the saffron party, witnessed record polling this time. Out of 18,48,154 voters, 12,02,492 cast their votes.

Political analysts have given a clear edge to the BJP on this seat due to the Modi wave in this part of the state and brisk polling in plains, especially in Jammu district. The real fight is between the PDP and the Congress for the second place.

The Congress had fielded its sitting Lok Sabha member Madan Lal Sharma, while the PDP had chosen a veteran leader from Poonch, Yash Pal Sharma, for this seat.

There are nine candidates of national and state political parties and 10 Independents in the fray but the real contest is among Jugal Kishore Sharma of the BJP, Madan Lal and Yash Pal Sharma.

In 2009, Madan Lal got 3,82,092 votes while BJP candidate Leela Karan Sharma secured 2,60,568, PDP candidate Trilok Singh Bajwa 93,710 and BSP candidate Hussain Ali got 49,979 votes.

This time, the PDP is giving a tough fight to the Congress in some pockets from where the latter had secured a good number of votes in 2009 elections.

The PDP hopes to increase its vote share due to the popularity of its candidate, Yash Pal, a native of Poonch.

The overconfident BJP, on the other hand, has already started preparations. Even before the counting of the votes, Jugal Kishore has extended invitations to his supporters for a get-together on Friday evening.

Jammu-Poonch seat

Main candidates

Jugal Kishore Sharma: BJP

Madan Lal Sharma: Cong

Yash Pal Sharma: PDP

Votes cast

Out of 18,48,154 voters in Jammu-Poonch, 12,02,492 cast their votes on April 10 

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Udhampur result may shape Azad’s role in J&K
Amir Karim Tantray
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
As people of the region eagerly await the results for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat, the credibility of Union Minister and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad will be at stake with the final outcome going to have an impact on his future in the state politics.

The counting for the Udhampur parliamentary constituency, which went to polls on April 17, would be held at Government Degree College, Kathua, tomorrow.

Azad is in direct fight with BJP’s Jitendra Singh and tomorrow’s results could have a direct impact on the Congress leader’s role in the upcoming Assembly election in the state.

Though parliamentary elections are altogether different from the Assembly polls, Azad’s win or loss will determine his role in the state and within the Congress party.

If Azad emerges as winner, he will be seen as a potential candidate for the post of Chief Minister. However, if he fails, his opponents within the Congress, at both the state and the national-level, will find an opportunity to raise questions over his leadership qualities.

It is for the first time that Azad is contesting the parliamentary elections from his home state.

The leader was nominated for the Udhampur segment at the expense of sitting Congress Member of Parliament Chaudhary Lal Singh to quell the Modi wave in the region. Political thinkers, however, believe that in either case Azad will continue to enjoy the same credibility within the party and results will not have any bearing on his stature.

“If Azad wins, the whole credit will go to him and if he loses the blame would be on the Congress party,” said Rekha Choudhary, a political thinker.

Choudhary said irrespective of what the results would be, Azad’s role in the Assembly elections would be important for the Congress party.

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Emotions run high on Cong leader’s home turf

People in Doda, the home district of Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, are eagerly awaiting the results for the Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha seat and are hoping that the senior Congress leader has a smooth sail. The people are ready to offer special prayers if Azad emerges winner from the constituency.

“Everybody here in Doda voted for Azad, especially the Muslim community. Rest is up to Allah. Our votes were for Azad and not for the Congress party. If he wins I will offer special prayers to thank the almighty,” said Doda-based Dr Faheem Ahsan.

Post-Kishtwar riots in August last year, the constituency has been divided on religious lines and it would be difficult for Azad to scrape pass his opponents without the support of the voters from the Hindu community. “If Azad wins even by one vote, it will be enough for us. We want him to win and nothing much,” said Zaffarullah Malik, a driver, who for the first time on April 17 voted in any parliamentary polls. 

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Valley gears up for counting amid tight security today
Majid Jahangir
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure hassle-free counting of votes in the three parliamentary constituencies of Kashmir.

A large number of police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel have been deployed in and around the counting centres at the Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla constituencies.

Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula said the arrangements for counting of votes for the parliamentary seats in the state had been completed.

“All the necessary arrangements are in place for the counting of votes,” Narula told the Tribune.

“The arrangements in and around counting halls have been made as per the guidelines of the Election Commission of India,” he said.

Election observers and micro observers would monitor the counting and ensure that the entire process is held transparently.

A three-tier security is in place for strong rooms where the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been kept and sources said strict restrictions would be imposed around the counting halls tomorrow and movement of people would be restricted.

The authorities have imposed section 144 within the 100 metres area of all the three counting centres.

A company each of the CAPF is guarding the innermost area of the strong rooms.

The strong rooms are also being watched through CCTV and on the counting day video cameras would keep an eye on the visitors.

An extensive frisking would be conducted to avoid any untoward incident on the counting day.

In Srinagar, where sitting National Conference MP and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah is in direct contest with Peoples Democratic Party candidate Tariq Hameed Karra, counting would be held at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) on the banks of the Dal Lake.

Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Farooq Ahmed Shah, who is also the Returning Officer for Srinagar parliamentary constituency, said arrangements have been finalised for the counting of votes.

“The counting of votes shall start at 8 am at the SKICC for which 121 counting tables have been set up,” Shah said.

“The votes of all the 15 Assembly segments in the Srinagar constituency would be counted separately,” he said.

In south Kashmir, the votes for the Anantnag constituency would be counted at Degree College, Khanabal.

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti is pitted against NC leader and sitting MP Mehboob Beg on this seat.

In the north Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency, the counting would be held at Degree College, Baramulla.

There is going to be a triangular contest between the PDP, the NC and the Peoples Conference for the Baramulla seat. 

Search on for stolen police vehicle

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police continued a massive search for its stolen vehicle today.

The police laid special checkpoints on all major roads of the region to trace the standard model Gypsy, which is widely used by the police in the state.

The vehicle of state police’s CID wing was stolen last night from the Raj Bagh locality of the city.

“One possibility is that it may have been done by car-lifters. But there is also a remote possibility that it could have been done by militants,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Another police officer said the possibility that the stolen vehicle might be used by militants to enter a security or government installation and carry out the fidayeen-style raid cannot be ruled out at this stage of investigation.

“There are no leads as of now, so nothing is out of scope,” the officer said.

Following the theft, an alert was immediately sounded across the state and officials were asked to look out for the vehicle in their areas of jurisdiction, sources said.

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LS polls in J&K: A game changer ahead of the Assembly elections
Arun Joshi

Tribune News Service
The results of the 16th Lok Sabha polls will clearly hint at the shape of things to come in J&K from 2015 onwards as the state holds the Assembly polls by the year-end.

The Lok Sabha results will be a game changer as these will not only decide fates former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, but these will also throw open new vistas for the leaders and parties that will be at the helm in 2015.

Never before the Lok Sabha elections (1991 being an exception when violence had peaked) in the state have been so crucial: high ranking politicians have put their careers at risk. The polls are equally crucial for the non-contestants such as the incumbent CM Omar Abdullah for whom the slogan goes ‘yeh dil mange more” in terms of continuity of his position for the next six years. The same holds true for PDP patron and Mehbooba’s father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

Regardless of whichever way the results may go for Ghulam Nabi Azad, his supporters see him as the future Chief Minister.

In terms of security scenario, low polling in the Valley is a matter of concern especially in the midst of boycott calls. Intelligence agencies are predicting “hot summers” as infiltration from across the border has the authorities already on the tenterhooks.

First, the internal situation: sarpanchs and panchs have sought separatists’ intervention in providing them security. This leaves a question mark whether the security situation will improve or it will spin out control in the wake of a spike in internal violence.

The focus of the General Election is on stalwarts: Three-time CM Farooq Abdullah is a living legend of Kashmir politics, Union Minister and former CM Ghulam Nabi Azad is seeking entry to the Lok Sabha for the first time from the state and then there is PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. The winners as well as losers among the stalwarts will cast a shadow on the Assembly elections regardless of whether Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minister. This is in reference to the Jammu region alone, where the Congress and the BJP are the main competitors besides the NC and the PDP.

Region-wise, Congress has high stakes in Jammu, where the party has bagged most of the total 37. However, this time when Congressmen went asking for votes, the voters’ message was this: “Come to us in the Assembly elections, let’s vote for Modi (BJP) this time.”

The electorate had neither heard nor saw BJP’s candidates. The party’s state chief Jugal Kishore Sharma is pitted against two-time Congress MP Madan Lal Sharma. The party’s second contestant, Jitendra Singh, a senior doctor, faces the Congress heavyweight Azad.

The scene is different in the Valley, where the ruling National Conference and main opposition PDP are locked in a tough battle. Besides, Mehbooba, who is pitted against NC’s Mehboob Beg from Anantnag, former Deputy Chief Minister Muzzaffar Hussain Baig faces Sharief ud Din Shariq of NC from Baramullah. Former finance minister Tariq Hamid Karra of PDP is testing waters against Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar.

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In Kashmir, people have little hope from poll results
Rifat Mohidin

Srinagar, May 15
As people all over the country will be glued to their television sets tomorrow to know the results of the parliamentary elections, for a common man in Kashmir, the election results do not mean much.

Most of the people here say the day of the results is just like any other routine day. They say they hardly foresee a change.

The counting will begin at 8 am and lock the fate of 543 candidates across the country tomorrow.

Shabir Ahmad, who works as a mason on the outskirts of Srinagar, said: “What changes for a common man like me? Nothing. I have no political affiliations. I won’t be benefited by whoever wins or loses.” “It will be good if they find the solution of the Kashmir issue because that will be better for all of us. We want to live in peace. We have seen enough of it now,” Shabir said.

With Jammu and Kashmir having only six seats in Parliament, people do not expect much change.

“J&K has only six seats in Parliament. That is unlikely to have any impact. Also, the parliamentary elections have never been the talk of the town in Kashmir because of the nature of the uncertain Kashmir situation,” said a 26-year-old businessman from the Valley.

“What will happen by following the elections or being excited about it? Till now, it was one party, tomorrow it might be another,” said a woman working in the private sector.

Some people in Kashmir say they don’t have a problem with Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister.

“The parliamentary elections have never been an issue in Kashmir. Even the prospect of Modi becoming the prime minister is not a big factor for people to follow the elections. In fact, it will be better if Modi comes to power as nothing will be hidden then. I do not expect much in terms of concessions but yes, in terms of oppression I do,” said a teacher who wished anonymity.

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100% sure Congress will get Udhampur seat: Azad
Amir Karim Tantray
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad is contesting parliamentary elections for the first time on his home turf. The counting of votes for the Udhampur-Doda constituency will be held on Friday. In an interview to The Tribune Azad speaks about elections and his future plans. Excerpts of the interview:

What are yourexpectations from the parliamentary elections?

Entire country is eagerly waiting for the results, whatever may be the outcome, the anxiety of an individual candidate and political party is there. Anxiety is of course genuine one because elections are held after five years and lot depends on the new government.

Do you feel you have an edge over the BJP candidate? What could be the winning margin?

Yes. I am 100 per cent sure that we will win the Udhampur-Doda seat with comfortable majority. However, I can’t predict the margin of votes. Keeping in view the topography and size of the constituency it is very difficult to judge the winning margin. Going by the general mood, in spite the fact that going was tough, I feel that the Congress will not have any problem winning this seat.

Exit polls are suggesting BJP victory. What is your take?

Of course the Congress is not going to perform that better. I am fair about it. However, I am sure the BJP is not going to perform as good as is being talked about.

Do you believe the NC-Congress coalition will win all six seats in Jammu and Kashmir?

I still hope that the coalition will win all the six seats.

What if it doesn’t perform on expected lines?

If the coalition doesn’t perform better, we will need to introspect where we went wrong. Be it the Congress party or the National Conference, we will have to see why we haven’t been able to perform better. We will have to work hard.

Do you feel not sticking to coalition dharma could bring a negative outcome?

I don’t think so. In a nutshell, the parliamentary elections and Assembly polls are two different things. What may be right for the parliamentary elections may not be true to Assembly polls. National issues are different than that of the state.

Do you feel the pre-poll alliance with the NC for the forthcoming Assembly elections will depend on the result of the parliamentary elections in the state?

Good or bad results will not have any impact on the pre-poll alliance. Everything has to be judged on merit.

Many people see you as the next chief minister of J&K. What is your opinion?

It is too early to say anything. Right now our focus is on the parliamentary elections. The Assembly elections are quite far. And I am not sure whether I will return to the state politics or not. I have not taken a decision in this regard so far.

If the Congress doesn’t come back to power at the Centre, will you think on returning to J&K?

It has nothing to do with the Congress party coming to power or not. I have to make up my mind, whether I should come back to the state politics or not. I haven’t yet decided on it. 

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Counting centre for Udhampur LS seat turns into fortress
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
With the fate of one of the biggest names in the Lok Sabha polls from the state going to be decided on May 16, every effort is being made to ensure hassle-free counting for the Udhampur-Doda parliamentary constituency.

Union Health Minister and senior Congress leader Gulab Nabi Azad is in direct fight with BJP’s Jitendra Singh for the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat and the poll authorities don’t want to take any chance with the security for the counting centre set up at Government Degree College, Kathua.

Government Degree College, Kathua, about 80 km from here, has been turned into a fortress with a three-tier security grid being thrown around the centre.

“We have made all the arrangements for the counting on May 16. Different counting rooms for all the 17 Assembly segments have been set up at Government Degree College,” Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Jatinder Kumar Singh, who is also the Returning Officer for the Udhampur-Doda seat, told The Tribune.

A total of 152 tables have been set up in separate halls for the 17 Assembly segments, where properly trained micro-observes would be appointed on the day of counting, he said.

Singh also said counting in every room would be video-recorded.

Although a lucky mascot of the Congress, the party high command had fielded Azad for the first time from J&K on Udhampur-Doda seat to quell the Modi wave.

In all, there are 13 candidates in the fray for the constituency comprising 14,68,886 electors, including 6,81,206 female and 7,87,680 male voters.

The constituency that went to polls on April 17 had registered a voter turnout of around 70 per cent.

The Returning Officer, meanwhile, said a media centre has also been set up at the centre.

He said a public address system has been installed outside the counting centre to keep people abreast with live updates after every round of counting.

Singh also said two LCD screens have been put up outside the centre to beam live updates.

On the security aspect, he said: “Besides routine security, four companies of the CRPF and additional companies of the Jammu and Kashmir have been deployed.”

“Fully equipped paramilitary and police personnel with water cannons and smoke shells have been deployed to deal with any eventuality,” the official said.

The 100 metre radius of the college has been declared as sterilised zone and no vehicle is being allowed to enter this area, he added.

On the situation along the Indo-Pak border, Singh said: “So far there are no inputs of any disturbances, but the civil administration and police are keeping a liaison with the BSF.”

“The BSF, the border police and the village defence committees are on an alert,” he added.

Kathua district witnessed twin terror attacks on March 28 by three fidayeens which left two civilians and a soldier dead.

The administration has cancelled leave of all government staff in the district to ensure hassle-free counting on May 16.

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Government forms panel to brief BOPEE how to conduct exam
Ishfaq Tantry
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
The state government today constituted a nine-member expert committee to suggest as to how and in which manner the Common Entrance Test (CET) should be conducted by the Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE).

The panel will look into whether it is permissible to have two correct answer keys for a single question and mark(s) in question(s) can be given to all candidates.

The government decision comes after directions by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which in March this year had told the state to constitute a committee of experts to advise BOPEE on how to conduct the CET for various professional courses in the future.

The BOPEE is in the dock over the scam involving the sale of MBBS question papers in 2012. The main accused in the scam, former BOPEE chairman Mushtaq peer, and many students and parents of beneficiary students are currently in jail for their involvement in the scam.

Expressing concern over wrong answer keys set up by experts for the CET-2013 questions, a Division Bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Tashi Rabstan, in its orders on March 10, had observed that BOPEE should leave no room for wrong answer keys as “it adversely affects the merit of competing candidates.”

“In compliance of the High Court order, dated 10/03/2014, titled J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations & Ors Versus Qazi Basra and Others, sanction is hereby accorded to the constitution of a committee of experts to advise the J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations as to how and in which manner the Common Entrance Test shall be conducted,” said the order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) here today.

As per the order, the nine-member committee will be headed by the BOPEE chairman, with the BOPEE secretary as its member secretary. The other members of the panel include the controller, Examinations, BOPEE, dean, Academic Affairs, University of Kashmir, controller, Examinations, University of Kashmir, and principals of Government Medical College, Jammu and Srinagar.

The order said the panel would meet, as and when required, and at least once a month before the commencement of the examination conducted by the BOPEE annually and in manner as may be notified by BOPEE.

Besides, the panel has been authorised by the government to make recommendations on any other issue related to the conduct of the examination or preparation of answer keys placed before the committee. 

What Basara said in her petition

Qazi Basara, who appeared in the CET-2013, in her petition before the High Court, had alleged that the board had applied a wrong key to seven questions of biology and three questions in chemistry. Subsequently, a Single Bench of the High Court had asked BOPEE to get the answer scripts of a student re-evaluated by experts. However, the board had appealed against this order before a higher bench. While closing the petition, the High Court Division Bench, in March this year, had directed the chief secretary and the chairman, BOPEE, to constitute a committee of experts to advise the board on the conduct of the entrance tests in the future.

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Illegal immigrants get easy access to activated SIM cards
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, May 15
Exposing the so called “rigorous verification process” put in place by the security agencies in militancy-infested Jammu and Kashmir for cellular companies, illegal Myanmar immigrants settled here manage to get SIM cards with ease and use them right under the nose of the police.

“They are neither Indian citizens nor permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which has a special status under the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, illegal immigrants getting access to activated SIM cards in a sensitive state of J&K exposes the truth of so called rigorous verification process,” said an Intelligence source.

The access to activated SIM cards could pose a serious security threat. “How these illegal immigrants have got SIM cards of Indian cellular companies in terror-hit J&K clearly indicate that they are being helped covertly here by some sympathisers,” the source said.

We believe that the numbers being used by these illegal immigrants might have been issued in the names of their sympathisers, who are locals. But certainly this is a disturbing trend, the source added.

A top Army source said in J&K where Pak-funded terror outfits remain at work, these illegal immigrants with mobile phones could be easily used to carry out subversive activities.

The Tribune team that visited the slum-dwelling of these illegal immigrants from Myanmar, called Burma colonies in local parlance here, saw several Burmese talking on their mobile phones. One among them was 41-year-old Hafiz Ahmed, who said, “Everything is possible”.

He didn’t explain anything for obvious reasons.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Jammu-Kathua range, Shakeel Beig, however, squarely blamed the cellular companies for issuing SIM cards to these illegal immigrants. “They are not permanent residents of J&K and moreover there is a stringent set of formalities, like residential proof, identity proof and photographs, to be fulfilled to get a SIM card. If these people from Myanmar have acquired SIM cards then the cellular companies could be held responsible for the lapse,” the DIG said.

He further said if specific complaints come to them against illegal immigrants having SIM cards, action under law can be initiated against cellular companies, provided they were at fault.

Interestingly, the Union Home Ministry had launched a “crackdown” on cell-phone service providers in 2009 in the state citing poor verification process vis-ŕ-vis security reasons.

On November 1, 2009, the Union Government had acted tough banning short message service (SMS) for 38 lakh pre-paid customers in the militancy-infested border state.

After the “crackdown” by the Union Home Ministry, coupled with state police’s stringent check, on mobile service providers in 2009-10, the cellular companies had put in place “rigorous verification” process in place wherein an applicant had to submit an array of documents including identity and residential proofs, besides coloured photographs.

Apart from BSNL, five private cellular companies — Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Vodafone and Reliance — provide mobile services in the state.

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Stranded drivers on Ladakh road stage protest
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
Stranded drivers on the Srinagar-Ladakh road staged a protest at Sonamarg in Ganderbal district today demanding more vehicles be allowed to ply. Even as the protest turned ugly in the morning, Kargil town later observed a shutdown.

“Kargil market observed a shutdown as several drivers were detained. We want their immediate release. We are short of essential items and we also protested against the police and the coalition government,” RTI activist Ahsan Ali said over the phone.

The strategic 434-km-long Srinagar-Kargil-Leh national highway, which remains closed during the winter months, was thrown open for light vehicular traffic on Sunday.

However, Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Sarmad Hafeez said the police had taken action only after the stranded drivers had resorted to stone-throwing. “They were demanding that more vehicles be allowed to ply. Even though we allowed 177 vehicles to ply, safety is our prime concern. Vehicles will be allowed to ply only during stipulated time,” he added.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar said one-way regulated movement of light motor vehicles was being allowed under strict observation as there was still huge accumulation of snow on the sides of the road.

Kumar said the BRO/Army had been conducting regular trial recce of the road to ascertain its traffic worthiness. “However, due to continuous inclement weather, they have conveyed that the road is not yet fully safe for traffic due to constant danger of slides and avalanches,” he added.

Light vehicles are being allowed from Sonamarg to Drass and Drass to Sonamarg on alternate days besides the movement is restricted from 5 am to 7 am.

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Guv briefed on Jammu varsity functioning
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
Prof MPS Ishar, Vice Chancellor, Jammu University, called on Governor NN Vohra here today.

Prof Ishar briefed the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University, about the status of ongoing teaching and research programmes 
and various administrative issues relating to the institute.

He also apprised the Governor of the progress achieved so far in the implementation of the choice-based credit system at the post graduate level and other initiatives taken by the varsity for progressively raising the standards of teaching and research. 

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Shutdown against detention of protesters hits life in Valley 

Srinagar, May 15
A day-long shutdown called by the hardline separatist faction led by Syed Ali Geelani to protest the detention and arrest of stone-throwers led to the closure of markets and other commercial establishments in the region.

The public transport services were also partially affected in the Valley.

Several main markets in the Valley, including in Srinagar, remained closed in response to the shutdown.

The shutdown had been called by the hardline Hurriyat Conference which demanded an end to the detention and arrest of protesters and separatist activists in the region and pressed for their release.

The police launched a crackdown ahead of the parliamentary elections in the Kashmir region and took at least 600 people, including former protesters and militants, into preventive detention.

The protests on the days of polling led to further detentions and arrests across the region, including of teenage boys, charged with throwing stones at police and paramilitary personnel. — TNS

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Lt Gen Chakravarty handed over Baton of Rajput Regiment 

Udhampur, May 15
Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command, and Colonel of the Rajput Regiment, handed over the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment Baton to Lieutenant General Aniruddha Chakravarty, Director General of the National Cadets Corps, at a ceremony at the Rajput Regimental Centre, Fatehgarh, today.

Lieutenant General Chakravarty was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion of the Rajput Regiment on December 15, 1976, and he will be taking over as the 15th Colonel of the Rajput Regiment on June 1, 2014.

During his 38 years of service, he has held various prestigious and balanced portfolio of the Command, Staff and Instructional assignments.

The General Officer is presently the Director General of the National Cadets Corps, Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence (Army), New Delhi.

The two-day function commenced on May 14 with Lieutenant General Chachra being given the Guard of Honour on arrival. Later, General Chachra laid a wreath at the Rajput Memorial to pay homage to the martyrs.

A special sainik sammelan was also organised where the Colonel of the regiment designate took over the Baton from the present Colonel of the regiment as per Army traditions. Lieutenant General Chachra also interacted with all Junior Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks of the Centre. — OC

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EC relaxes model code of conduct in state
Issues guidelines for ex gratia payment to election staff
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
The Election Commission (EC) has relaxed restrictions with regard to the model code of conduct (MCC) for Jammu and Kashmir that were imposed with the announcement of Parliament elections with effect from March 3.

As per a communication from the Election Commission of India and circulated by the General Administration Department (GAD), the J&K Government issued an order about relaxation in MCC.

“It has been observed that in view of completion of polling process in the state, all normal administrative work/development activities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir can be taken up,” a circular issued by the GAD said.

The EC has further said the payment of ex gratia compensation to family of polling personnel, who died or sustained injuries while on election duty, would be applicable to all personnel deployed in all types of election-related duties, all security personnel, including the police and any private persons like drivers, cleaners, etc, hired for deployment for election duty.

“The applicable period of election duty would start from the date of the announcement of the elections,” the EC said.

“As per a separate communication of EC and GAD, the payment of ex gratia compensation prescribed by the commission will also be applicable to security forces personnel deployed for the election duty and this will be in addition to the compensation already being paid by the MHA under extant guidelines issued by the DOP and MHA and state governments,” it added.

The expenditure on account of payment of ex gratia compensation to the polling personnel will be entirely borne by the Government of India during the election of Lok Sabha and by the state government during elections to the Legislative Assemblies and shared on a 50:50 basis during simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly by the Government of India and state governments concerned.

“The share of the Government of India is paid by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs (Legislative Department),” the communication reads.

The communication further clarifies that in case of Lok Sabha elections, the payment of ex gratia compensation shall be made by the state government initially and the claims shall be made to the Government of India later on. 

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AM Shah appointed interim VC of Kashmir University 
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
Ali Muhammad Shah assumed the charge as the interim Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir, today after Talat Ahmad, who was appointed Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia quit the University of Kashmir yesterday.

AM Shah, who has earlier served in the capacities of Dean Academics, Controller Examinations, Dean Faculty of Commerce and Management Studies, Director, Business School, Director Distance Education, Dean Faculty of Engineering and Dean Faculty of Music and Fine Arts was appointed as the interim Vice Chancellor yesterday by Governor NN Vohra, who is also the Chancellor of the university.

Shah has been teaching subjects of management and entrepreneurship for over two decades at Kashmir University and has the distinction of introducing choice-based credit system as well as overhauling the entrance examination pattern as Dean Academic Affairs, University of Kashmir, for the last four years.

Shah has also proven to be a successful administrator while serving at crucial positions of the University of Kashmir.

He has been a member of important academic bodies within and outside the university and has visited some leading universities/institutions in the US, UK, Poland, Germany, Turkey, Finland, UAE, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Recently, Shah visited China with a high-powered higher education delegation mounted by the Federation of Indian Chamber Commerce of Industries (FICCI) to learn about the good practices which enabled China to develop rapidly world class universities.

Shah has contributed over 80 research papers in leading national and international journals/conferences and also carried over many research projects.

Faculty, non-faculty members and students at the university welcomed the appointment of Shah as the interim Vice Chancellor of the university.

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Licences of 48 medical stores suspended
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
To ensure availability of quality drugs to consumers, the Drug and Food Control Organisation, Kashmir, has launched a 15-day-long special drive from May 14 in the Valley.

An official spokesman said during the first two days, as many as 278 medical shops were inspected in different districts of the Kashmir division and licences of 48 medical shops were suspended for violation of various provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

“Five medical shops were put on show-cause notices,” the spokesman said.

The special checking squads of the department suspended licences of 10 medical shops in Anantnag district, 12 in Budgam district, eight in Pulwama district, five in Baramulla and Kupwara districts, besides 13 licences were suspended by the Central team in Srinagar district.

“Moreover, a special team sealed unlicenced shops of Bashir Ahmad at Inder Pulwama, Mohammad Yaseen at Kralpora, Budgam, Ghulam Mohammad at Wapulpora, Kralpora, Budgam, and Mohammad Lateef at Kralpora, Budgam,” he said.

The department has also lifted 238 samples of various categories of drugs for testing and analysis in order to ascertain their quality. 

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International Day of Families celebrated
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
The Inner Call, Forum for Evolution, Development and Awareness, organised a programme to celebrate ‘International Day of Families’ here today.

Spokesperson of the Inner Call Inam Un Nabi said the day was celebrated each year on this day throughout the world to promote awareness of issues related to the family that was the basic unit of society and hence the pillar of a nation.

Roma Wani, chairperson of the Inner Call, said: “The family is the forum and medium through which we get our basic education of being humane and member of the one-world family. This year's International Day of Families highlights the need for family balance. The aim is to help workers everywhere to provide for their families financially and emotionally, while also contributing to the socio-economic development of their societies.”

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Head constable found dead
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
A head constable of the Railway Police has been found dead in suspicious circumstances in the city here, the police today said.

The body of a man was recovered near JK Bank’s corporate headquarters in the jurisdiction of the Kothi Bagh police station in the city here, a police spokesman said. He said the deceased was later identified as Rajinder Singh of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

“The deceased was working with the Railway Police as a head constable and was presently posted at the Katra railway station,” the spokesman said. 

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2 drug peddlers held
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 15
The police said today it had arrested two drug peddlers and recovered 130 bottles of psychotropic medicines from their possession in the city here.

A police spokesman said the recovery was made when a van was intercepted at a checkpoint in the Nowhatta area of the old city. “During the search of the van, the police party recovered 130 bottles of Amcodine (Codeine Phosphate) syrup,” he said.

Two peddlers identified as Mehraj-u-Din Mir and Gulzar Ahmad War, both residents of Saida Kadal locality, who were driving the van, were taken into custody and the vehicle was seized, the spokesman said.

The police have registered a case under Section 21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act at Nowhatta police station and further investigations are on. During the investigation, it surfaced that the two peddlers were supplying the bottles to addicts in the old city localities, the spokesman said. 

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Missing woman found ‘murdered’ in Kulgam

Kulgam, May 15
A woman who had gone missing on May 8 from Anantnag was found ‘murdered’ in the Mirbazar area of Kulgam district today.

The mutilated body of the woman was spotted by some locals in a paddy field.

Reports said Sumaira Jan, 25, wife of Mehboob Ahmad Mir, a resident of Babdar Fathapora in Anantnag, had gone missing from Maternity and Children Hospital in the Sherbagh area of Anantnag after she had visited a doctor there.

Her family had later approached the police and lodged a missing report.

Police officers in Kulgam said today morning some locals informed them that a body was lying in a field in the Mirbazar area. “A team was deputed to retrieve the body, which was mutilated and had burn marks on face and the body,” a senior police officer said. He said the body was taken for a post-mortem. “She was indeed the missing lady.”

“Preliminary investigation suggests it to be a case of a cold-blooded murder,” said the police officer. — OC

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