March 1998 News

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Militants' bid to disrupt Kashmir polls foiled

SRINAGAR, March 6 (PTI)

The Army today unearthed a huge cache of arms and ammunition in the frontier district of Kupwara in North Kashmir, and claimed to have foiled militants' plan to target important political leaders and government officials in Baramulla constituency during polling tomorrow.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said the Army had been receiving reports that militants were planning to attack the political leaders and officials on poll duty in the constituency.

An interception of militant radio transmission revealed that they were also planning to smuggle m sophisticated weapons and ammunition to carry out their 'subversive plan', the spokesman said.

He said based on the above information, the Army carried out a meticulously planned operation despite inclement weather, which culminated in recovery of a 107 mm rocket launcher, 10 disposable rocket launchers, 18 rockets, 136 grenades and over 6,000 rounds of assorted ammunition in Kachhama area of Kupwara district.

The spokesman said the kind of arms recovered showed that VIP's and polling stations could be easy targets from a distance of two to three km.

Security Beefed up for Third Phase of Polling

SECURITY BEEFED UP: The stage is set for the third phase of polling tomorrow for two Lok Sabha constituencies across four districts of Jammu and Kashmir. The security has been tightened in view of recurrent attempts by militants to disrupt the poll process in the strife-torn State.

The police and paramilitary forces have taken up position well in advance in and around 2,137 polling booths in Anantnag and Baramulla constituencies to instill confidence among voters and foil the militants, officials said.

Almost all polling stations have been described as 'sensitive' and 'hyper-sensitive' in the two constituencies.

Central paramilitary forces have been flown in from Delhi and other places in special flights.

Meanwhile, the police arrested about a dozen activists of All Party Kashmir Hurriyat Conference from Pattan in Baramulla constituency for addressing anti-poll meetings yesterday.

About six senior executive committee members of the APKHC which had given a call for boycott of elections, remained in detention since Feb. 26. Those arrested included Mohammad Yaseen Malik Prof. Abdul Gani, Ghulam Nabi Sumbji, Abdul Ahad Waza, Javid Ahmed Mir and Shia leader Maulana Abbass Ansari.

State chief secretary Ashok Jaitley and director general of police Gurbachan Jagat had stated recently that the State government would not allow anybody to intimidate voters and poll officials pointing out that it was the responsibility of the government to ensure free and fair polls.

Official sources said that about 200 known 'trouble-makers' were arrested from Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla and Kupwara districts during the past few days.

A 15.57 lakh strong electorate will choose two MPs from among 42 candidates.

Jammu and Srinagar constituencies have already made their choice in the first two phases on Feb. 16 and 28, respectively.

Voting in Udhampur constituency, which was to go to polls tomorrow along with the two constituencies, will now be held on March 18. Inclement weather forced the Election Commission to defer elections in the constituency on the recommendation of State authorities.

Among those whose fate will be sealed in tomorrow's polls are two Union Ministers Minister for Environment and Forests Prof. Saifuddin Soz (Baramulla) and Minister for State for Home Mohammad Maqbool Dar (Anantnag) besides former Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed (Anantnag).

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