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JK: Poll process gets underway

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
October 24, 2008 20:44 IST
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The poll process for seven-phased elections in Jammu and Kashmir got underway on Friday with the issuance of notification for the first phase.


The notification was issued by Governor N N Vohra and covers 10 assembly constituencies.


"Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in exercise of powers vested in him under sub-section (2) of section 27 of Jammu and Kashmir Representation of People's Act 1957 and as recommended by the Election Commission of India, has issued notification for holding of assembly elections under phase 1st in 10 constituencies of the state in accordance with the provisions of the said Act and of the rules and orders made there under," an official statement said.


"The constituencies spread over Bandipora, Leh, Kargil and Poonch districts are 9-Gurez, 10-Bandipora, 11-Sonawari, 47-Nobra, 48-Leh, 49-Kargil, 50-Zanskar, 85-Surankote, 86-Mendhar and 87-Poonch-Haveli."


Majourity of these areas remain snow bound at least for four months during winters.


The road to Kargil, Leh and Gurez gets blocked by heavy snow for better part of the winter.


The state authorities have started making arrangements for the extended election activity in the state that would finally culminate in counting scheduled for December 28.


Though the political parties have begun finalising the list of candidates for the polls, and also launching of the campaign, National Conference (NC) the largest mainstream political party in the state launched its campaign by holding a day long workers convention in central Kashmir Budgam district on Wednesday.


The party also announced Dr. Farooq Abdullah as its chief ministerial candidate. The announcement was made by party president Omar Abdullah in Jammu yesterday.


The People's Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to decide whether or not to participate in the elections.


It has convened a meeting tomorrow to take a decision on the issue.


The separatists who have called for a poll boycott are facing a crackdown from the state authorities who have arrested three prominent separatist leaders including pro-Independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik . They according to police have been booked under the unlawful activities Act.


Life in the valley was crippled Friday by a general strike called by the senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani against what he said 'indifference of the UN towards Kashmir' and arrest of  Malik and others.


The strike was complete in summer capital and other towns which also witnessed post Friday prayer protests.


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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar