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Ensure fair polling in Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland: Election Commission

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OP Rawat

Shillong, Feb 16: Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat on Friday asked the election machinery in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland to be “fearless and unbiased” to ensure free fair polling during the assembly elections.

While voting in Tripura will take place on February 18, Meghalaya and Nagaland will go to the polls on February 27.

“All the three states have their own peculiarities. The Election Commission has taken adequate measures to ensure free and fair election,” Rawat told media after reviewing Meghalaya’s poll-preparedness with election officials.

“We have directed the election machinery to be fearless, unbiased, neutral and independent from any influence whatsoever. Conduct and discharge of duties by election officials would be under constant watch of the Commission.”

Apart from this, he said the poll panel has a strong belief that Meghalaya will be able to set a new benchmark by providing a totally free, fair, peaceful, credible, transparent inclusive and participative election.

Rawat stated that during the visit, he met representatives of various political parties to understand their issues and concerns for holding free, fair and peaceful polls.

“Most of the political parties welcomed the Commission’s decision to hold elections in the state and expressed satisfaction on poll arrangements.”

Chief Election Commissioner asserted that the state administration has been directed to take measures to tone up the security and the law and order environment.

“Strict vigil is being maintained to check the cross-border smuggling of drugs, liquor and other illicit items from neighboring states. Meghalaya’s international borders in border districts and also inter-state borders are also appropriately under surveillance.”

Election authorities have so far recovered  Rs 17.25 lakh and more than  20,000 litres of liquor in Meghalaya after the model code of conduct came into effect, said Rawat.

All the police check posts across the state are under webcasting and videography 24×7 for the entire period during the election.

In a bid prevent the use of money and other illegal activities to influence voters, Rawat said that GPS has been implemented for swift action so that flying squads can rush in the direction from where the complaint has been received.

He said of the total 18,42,163 voters, 9,29,314 are women while there are also 2,621 service voters.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used in all the 3,083 polling stations in the 60 assembly constituencies.

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India

PDP’s Srinagar Office Sealed After Protests Against Land Laws

Under the new land law, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Mehbooba Mufti

Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday foiled a protest march by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the new land law and detained several leaders from the party.

The party had organized a protest rally from the party headquarters in Srinagar to the Press Enclave. However, soon after the leaders reached the party headquarters, they were detained by the police force that was already deployed there. The police detained party members including Khurshid Aalam, Waheed Parra, Suhail Bukhari, Mohit Bhan.

The party had lodged a similar protest in Jammu on Wednesday.

The PDP president and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet stated that the party office in Srinagar has been sealed by the administration and workers have been arrested for organizing a peaceful protest.

“PDP office in Srinagar sealed by J&K admin & workers arrested for organising a peaceful protest. A similar protest was allowed in Jammu so why was it thwarted here? Is this your definition of ‘normalcy’ that’s being showcased in the world?” Mehbooba tweeted.

“PDP’s @parawahid, Khurshid Alam, Rouf Bhat, @MohsinQayoom_& @buttkout were arrested by J&K police for protesting against the settler colonial land laws thrusted upon people of J&K. We will continue to raise our voice collectively & wont tolerate attempts to change demographics,” she tweeted.

Under the new land law, notified on October 27 by the Union Government, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in the UT. Earlier, Article 35-A of J&K Constitution which was revoked on August 5, placed prohibitions on the sale of land to those who were not state subjects.

The central government has even empowered an Army Commander to declare any area in J&K as strategic for operational and training requirement of the armed forces.

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India asks Saudi Arabia to take corrective steps on bank note

The world map on the new 20 Riyal banknote, released to mark Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 grouping, does not feature Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as part of India.

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Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi, Oct 30: India has asked Saudi Arabia to take corrective steps on the misrepresentation of its territorial boundaries on a new bank note.

The world map on the new 20 Riyal banknote, released to mark Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 grouping, does not feature Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as part of India.

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India has asked Saudi Arabia to take “urgent corrective steps” in the matter, and emphasized that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are integral parts of the country.

“We have seen the banknote referred by you which gives an incorrect depiction of India’s external territorial boundaries. The note was issued by Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority on October 24 to mark the occasion of Saudi presidency of the G20,” the MEA spokesperson said.

“We have conveyed our serious concern to Saudi Arabia, both through their Ambassador in New Delhi as well as in Riyadh, for this gross misrepresentation of India’s external territorial boundaries on an official and legal banknote of Saudi Arabia and asked Saudi Arabia to take urgent corrective steps in this regard,” Srivastava said.

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Jamaat-e-Islami Hind denies links with HWF, slams media reports

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Human Welfare Foundation

New Delhi: The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), which claims to be the biggest socio-cultural organisation of Indian Muslims, on Thursday denied any links with the Human Welfare Foundation (HWF), and slammed media reports which associated it with the HWF after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids at HWF’s offices in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.

Jamaat’s media in-charge Syed Tanveer Ahmed said in a statement, “Many news channels have projected that HWF is a part of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, but the fact is that HWF is a separate legal entity and there is no legal subordination of Jamaat over HWF.”

Ahmed said that this deliberate attempt to malign the name of the Jamaat by media houses is a matter of serious concern and appropriate legal steps will be taken into the matter if so required.

The NIA on Thursday continued its raids in a terror funding case at nine locations in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. The agency also raided the properties of former Delhi Minority Commission chief Zafarul Islam Khan.

The raids were conducted in connection with a case pertaining to some NGOs and trusts raising funds in India and abroad in the name of charitable activities and then using them for carrying out secessionist and separatist activities in the Union Territory of J&K.

Offices of Falah-e-Aam Trust, Charity Alliance, Human Welfare Foundation, J&K Yateem Foundation, Salvation Movement and J&K Voice of Victims (JKVoV) were being raided by the anti-terror probe agency sleuths.

According to the NIA, Charity Alliance and Human Welfare Foundation were based in Delhi.

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