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Srinagar bypoll: 8 killed, several injured as securitymen fire on mobs

Almost 70 per cent of the polling booths in Budgam district were abandoned by the polling staff due to the spate of violent protests in several areas, officials said.

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rinagar, Apr 9 : Eight people were killed in firing by security forces as unprecedented election-day violence marred the by-poll for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat today which saw the voter turnout plunge to an all-time low of 7.14 per cent.

Rampaging mobs took to streets in scores of places across the Lok Sabha constituency straddling Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, perpetrating wanton violence and arson, even setting ablaze a polling station and attempting to set on fire two others, amid a boycott called by the separatists.

“The tentative voter turnout for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is 6.5 per cent,” Jammu and Kashmir s Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told reporters at the conclusion of polling. However, the revised figure issued later in the evening put the voter turnout at 7.14 per cent of the 12.61 lakh electorate.

The seat had recorded 26 per cent polling in the 2014 general elections.

In the 1989 election, National Conference s Mohammad Shafi Bhat had won the seat uncontested.

The previous lowest turnout in the prestigious seat was 11.93 per cent in 1999 when Omar Abdullah had defeated Mehbooba Mufti in a straight contest.

The state’s former chief minister and National Conference stalwart Farooq Abdullah, who had lost the seat in the 2014 election, is locked in a straight fight with ruling PDP s Nazir Ahmad Khan even though there are seven other candidates in the fray.

“There were more than 200 incidents of violence in the constituency, mostly in Budgam district, which included stone-pelting, petrol bomb attacks, setting ablaze of a polling station, some vehicles and attempt to burn two other polling stations,” Shantmanu said.

“It was not a good day as you know. Six lives were lost in these incidents of violence… 17 civilians were injured, while over 100 paramilitary and police personnel also sustained injuries,” he said.

Shortly thereafter, 17-year-old Amir Manzoor was killed when security personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Chadoora area of the constituency, taking the death toll to seven.

The CEO said a decision on repoll in violence-hit areas will be taken after examining the diaries of presiding officers.

“I cannot tell you exactly how many polling stations will go to repolls…it can be anywhere between 50 and 100. It is a wild guess,” he said.

While two people each were killed Pakherpora in Chrar-e- Sharief and Beerwah areas of Budgam district, two more deaths were reported from Chadoora area of the same district and another in Magam town, which is known as the gateway to Gulmarg.

Almost 70 per cent of the polling booths in Budgam district were abandoned by the polling staff due to the spate of violent protests in several areas, officials said.

Army was called out to help security forces quell a rampaging mob which threw stones and hurled petrol bombs to set a polling booth ablaze in the Ganderbal district of the constituency.

Hundreds of protestors stormed a polling station at Pakherpora in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district and ransacked a building housing a polling booth, officials said, adding the security forces fired several warning rounds to disperse the mob, which did not relent.

Six persons were injured in the firing, of whom two, 20- year-old Mohammad Abbas and 15-year-old Faizaan Ahmad Rather, succumbed to bullet wounds.

In another incident, security forces opened fire to quell a stone-pelting mob in Ratxuna Beerwah area, leaving one Nissar Ahmed dead. At the Daulatpura in Chadoora assembly segment of Budgam district, one person, identified as Shabir Ahmed, was killed in firing by security personnel.

A youth, Adil Farooq, succumbed to multiple pellet injuries in the Magam town, about 20 kms from here. One Aqib Wani was shot dead as police opened fire on a crowd of protestors in the Beerwah area in the afternoon.

National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said in his 20 year political career he had never seen such a bad enviroment for elections.

“I am talking about having fought my first election in 1998 at the peak of militancy. Even then the enviroment for campaigning and voting was not as bad as it is today. That may itself tell you just how mismanaged this state is under Mehbooba Mufti,” he said.

“Have contested six elections over 20 years and have never seen his kind of violence in elections in Kashmir.

“5PM- polling booths close for an election that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons,” Omar tweeted.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed distress over the civilian killings, saying she was pained that most of them were teenagers who were yet to understand the intricacies of the issues.

“I am distressed to know that many of those killed were young or teenagers who were yet to understand the intricacies of the issues,” Mehbooba said in an official statement..

The Chief Minister said she has consistently held that peaceful means and not violence are the only way ahead in getting state out of the present difficulties.

Meanwhile, separatists have called for a two-day shutdown against the killing of civilians in firing by security forces, saying it was the only way for them to express solidarity with the families of those killed and the cause for which they laid down their lives.

“We know hartal would not affect government policy towards us but it is the only option to express our collective grief,” separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik said in a joint statement.

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Nitish, Tejashwi to campaign in Karnataka assembly polls

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Patna, April 26 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will be the star campaigner for his party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in the Karnataka assembly polls, a party leader said here on Thursday.

Besides Nitish, Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is one of the star campaigners for the Congress in the Karnataka assembly elections. He will also campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Nitish, also the JD-U President, will campaign for 35 candidates of his party who are contesting the polls.

“Nitish Kumar is the party’s star campaigner in Karnataka polls. He will visit Karnataka either at the end of this month or in first week of May,” Vashisht Narayan Singh, JD-U’s Bihar unit President, said here on Thursday.

According to Singh, JD-U’s Rajya Sabha MP, the party has announced the names of 20 star campaigners for the Karnataka polls. The party has already announced the names of its candidates.

Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, has been made the star campaigner by party ally Congress for the Karnataka polls.

Tejashwi, 27, is likely to visit Karnataka soon to campaign for Congress candidates, RJD spokesperson Shakti Yadav said.

IANS

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Karnataka Election: 3,374 candidates have filed nomination

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Bengaluru, April 25 : A whopping 3,374 candidates have filed nominations for the May 12 Karnataka assembly elections, as per the revised figures from the Election Commission released on Wednesday.

According to the ECs data, of the total nominees, 250 were from the ruling Congress, 282 from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 231 from Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), 1,673 from Independents and 938 from regional parties and fringe outfits.

Nominations, which began on April 17 after the elections in a single phase across the state was notified, ended on Tuesday.

Congress has fielded a total of 16 women, BJP 17 and JD-S 14. In addition, 90 women have filed their nominations as Independents from various constituencies.

Among the nominees, five belong to the age group of 81-90, the EC said.

Congress leaders Kagodu Thimmappa, 87, who filed his nomination from Sagar in Shivamogga district, Shamanur Shivashankarappa, 86, from Davanagere South assembly segment, A.B. Malakareddy, 82, from Yadgir, JD-S leader Mallappa Channaveerappa M., 82, from Sindgi constituency in Vijayapura district and BJP’s nominee from Hangal in Haveri district C.M. Udasi, 82, are the oldest among the nominees.

As more than 224 candidates have filed from the Congress, BJP and JD-S, their spokesmen told IANS earlier that the additional 26 from the Congress, 58 from the BJP and seven from JD-S would have filed without the mandatory B-Form from their respective parties and hence were likely to be rejected after the EC’s scrutiny on Wednesday or if they pullout by the last date of withdrawal on April 27.

The EC is yet to release the list of accepted nominations after its scrutiny on Wednesday.

Polling will be held in a single phase for all the 224 seats, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for Scheduled Tribes (STs). Votes will be counted on May 15.

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Karnataka polls: Congress names Sonia, Manmohan, others as campaigners

In a letter to the Election Commission (EC) written by senior party leader Motilal Vora on Tuesday, the 40 leaders have been chosen as the “star campaigners” for the Congress.

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Bengaluru, April 25 : The Congress party will have 40 of its senior leaders including the party’s former chief Sonia Gandhi, senior leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and current President Rahul Gandhi, to campaign ahead of the May 12 Karnataka Assembly polls.

In a letter to the Election Commission (EC) written by senior party leader Motilal Vora on Tuesday, the 40 leaders have been chosen as the “star campaigners” for the Congress.

To ensure the ruling Congress’ success in the ensuing polls, the party will also fly in to the southern state its leaders like Lok Sabha lawmaker from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, Rajasthan unit Congress chief Sachin Pilot, the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia and former cricketer and party leader Mohammad Azharuddin among others.

In addition, Congress leaders from Karnataka like the state incharge K.C. Venugopal, state unit chief G. Parameshwara, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Lok Sabha lawmaker and former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily and state unit working President Dinesh Gundu Rao, among others, will also be a part of the campaign.

The party said it will also bring in popular faces from the film industry for campaigning like actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, actor and party spokeswoman Kushboo Sundar, renowned Kannada actor and sitting MLA from Mandya M.H. Ambareesh and former Kannada actor and Congress social media incharge Ramya.

In a related development, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is also contesting in a few of Karnataka’s 224 constituencies, has also named its “star campaigners”.

The AAP President and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other party leaders like its Rajya Sabha lawmaker Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and actor and party member Gul Panag among a few others, are expected to visit the poll-bound state in the coming days.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a host of Union Ministers and senior leaders campaigning for the party in Karnataka.

Besides Modi and BJP national President Amit Shah, Union Ministers Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Smriti Irani (Information and Broadcasting), Nirmala Sitharaman (Defence), Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law and Justice), Piyush Goyal (Railways) and the party’s Lok Sabha lawmaker and veteran actress Hema Malini will soon be making a beeline to the state for campaigning.

Modi is expected to visit each of the state’s four regions — coastal, north, central and south — besides Bengaluru and Mysuru, starting May 1, addressing two-to-three rallies a day till May 10.

Polling will be held in a single phase on May 12 for 224 Assembly seats, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes. The votes will be counted on May 15.

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