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8 Civilians killed as mobs tried to attack some polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency

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Srinagar, April 9, 2017: At least eight civilians were killed and scores injured in firing by security forces as mobs tried to attack some polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency that on Sunday recorded a poor seven per cent voting in a by-poll — the lowest in the state in three decades, officials said.

The by-poll to the Lok Sabha constituency — spread across three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — was marred by widespread violence with police claiming that nearly 200 incidents of violent protests took place in central Kashmir.

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As the day began with small queues of voters outside polling booths, slogan shouting mobs attacked polling stations in Budgam, damaged EVMs and prevented voters from exercising their franchise.

Security forces tried to disperse the crowds with warning shots initially and opened fire at them when they didn’t relent, a police officer said.

Seven persons were killed at three places of Budgam district and one in Ganderbal, where protestors clashed with security forces.

“The security forces opened fire to protect the polling staff,” the officer said, alleging that mobs tried to storm many polling stations and destroy EVMs.

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The seven per cent voter turnout is the lowest in 27 years in the state. The constituency had in the 2014 general elections recorded 26 per cent turn out.

The by-poll was the first after the 2016 unrest, triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July last. Over 100 people were killed in five months of the unrest — the worst in six years of the troubled valley.

“It was an unfortunate day. Over 100 security personnel were injured. The turnout was 7.09 per cent,” Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told media persons.

He also said that re-polling will be held at 100 polling stations that witnessed early closure due to violence.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was the worst poll-related violence he had seen in his 20 years of political career.

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“Have contested six elections over 20 years and have never seen this level of violence in elections in Kashmir,” Abdullah tweeted.

Abdullah hit out at the state government over the violence and accused Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of failing to provide a conducive atmosphere for voting.

“Mehbooba Mufti is responsible for this situation. There is mismanagement,” he said.

Security was stepped up after separatists extended shutdown call till April 12 — election day in south Kashmir, the authorities also decided to suspend the internet services and postphoned the university examinations scheduled.

The stakes were high for opposition National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmed Khan who were the main contestants in the constituency. In all, nine candidates were in the fray.

The seat fell vacant after then PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned to protest alleged atrocities on people during the 2016 agitation. (IANS)

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NIA Raids Salahuddin’s Kashmir Residence in Terror Funding Case

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National Investigation Agency
National Investigation Agency team. IANS

New Delhi, October 26: The NIA on Thursday carried out searches at the residence of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin in Kashmir valley in connection with a six-year-old terror funding case.

An NIA official told IANS, “The agency carried out searches at the residence of Shahid in Soibugh village of Budgam district early in the morning today (Thursday) which has concluded now.”

“We have seized mobile phones, laptops, hard disks and several incriminating documents.”

The raid comes two days after the counter-terror probe agency arrested Shahid, 42, a state government employee, in Delhi after he was called for questioning at its headquarters in a 2011 terror funding case that pertains to terror money sent through hawala channels by militants based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to Jammu and Kashmir to instigate terrorist activities.

The NIA has alleged that Shahid over the years has been receiving and collecting funds through international wire money transfer from Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aijaz Bhat, a Srinagar resident now based in Saudi Arabia.

Shahid even during his questioning admitted having received funds from the members of Hizbul Mujahideen in the direction of his father. He had also revealed the names of his associates abroad associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen and involved in raising, collecting and transferring funds from abroad to India.

After his arrest, the NIA said Shahid was one of Aijaz Bhat’s several contacts who were in telephonic touch “to receive the money transfer codes”. The money was meant to fund Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA had filed two charge sheets against six accused in the case in 2011. Four of them – Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, one of the closest aides of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmad Dagga – are currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Two of the accused, Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Aijaz Bhat, are on the run and have been declared proclaimed offenders. Pandit, like Aijaz Bhat, has been an active Hizbul Mujahideen militant and is currently based in Pakistan.

Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, Ganai, Liloo and Dagga were arrested on January 22, 2011, and Rs 21.20 lakh was recovered from them.

After their arrest, Aijaz Bhat used to send money to Shahid.

The Hizbul Mujahideen chief’s son, according to an NIA official, received at least four installments of money in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.(IANS)