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Voters queue up at polling booths in J&K's Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat

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Anantnag, May 25 (IANS) During the first two hours of the voting in the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat in J&K on Saturday, an 8.89 per cent voter turnout was witnessed.

EC statistics said that among the 18 voting segments of this constituency, Nowshera had polled the highest so far at 12.52 per cent voter turnout followed by Thana Mandi (ST) segment at 11.32 per cent.

Anantnag segment polled 6 per cent, Anantnag West 6.79 per cent, Budhal (ST) 10.81 per cent, DH Pora 9, Devsar 8.11, Dooru 8.40, Kokernag (ST) 10.31, Kulgam 5.31, Mendhar 11.10, Nowshera 12.52, Pahalgam 10.98, Poonch Haveli 11.98, Rajouri (ST) 9, Shangus-Anantnag East 7.03, Srigufawara-Bijbehara 6.04, Surankot (ST) 7.30, Thana Mandi (ST) -11.32 and Zainapora 8.35 per cent.

Enthusiastic voters came out early Saturday morning to exercise their democratic rights in the constituency. Voter queues continued to swell as the day progressed.

EC authorities said a large voter turnout is expected in the constituency.

After fresh delimitation of electoral constituencies, two districts of Jammu division, Poonch and Rajouri were added to Valley’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency while Pulwama district was deleted from this constituency and was made a part of the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

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In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, just a 9 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Anantnag while Rajouri and Poonch polled 7.2 per cent votes. These statistics cannot be taken as the baseline to determine Saturday’s voter turnout in this constituency after delimitation.

This election was the first large democratic exercise in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency after August 5, 2019, when Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated and J&K was downgraded to the status of a UT.

South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam and parts of Shopian which form this constituency, have been the worst militancy-affected districts in the Valley.

The security forces backed up by a determined Lt. Governor-headed administration have brought down militancy to its lowest ebb in these areas during the last four years. Although Rajouri and Poonch districts continue to witness terrorist attacks, the level of terrorism even in those districts is nowhere near what it used to be till 2019.

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These positive developments are expected to encourage voters to participate in large numbers in the electoral process.

Extensive security arrangements with the deployment of large numbers of CAPFs and the local police have been made in the constituency to provide a safe, free and fearless environment to the voters.

EC has set up 2,338 polling stations for 18,36,576 voters, including 9,33,647 male, 9,02,902 female, and 27 third-gender voters. The voter list also includes 17,967 persons with disabilities and 540 individuals over the age of 100. There are 25,000 migrant voters in the constituency for whom special polling stations have been set up in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi.

For uninterrupted communication with polling staff at remote booths, satellite phones and wireless sets have been provided. 19 polling stations are located along the Line of Control, (LoC) where additional security deployment has been made.

There are 20 candidates in the fray in this constituency. The main contest is, however, between Mian Altaf Ahmad, senior Gujjar/Baksrwal leader of the National Conference (NC), Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and president of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Zafar Iqbal Manhas of J&K Apni Party. BJP has unofficially supported the Apni Party candidate and has not fielded any candidate in this constituency.

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Pahari community living in Poonch and Rajouri districts form a significant number of voters in the constituency. This community was given ST status by the Government of India recently. In addition to the Pahari community, Gujjar/Bakarwal community also form a significant part of the constituency’s electorate. Mian Altaf Ahmad of the NC has a predominant influence among the Gujjar/Bakarwal community which cuts across party lines since the Mian is considered to be the religious leader of this community. Voting started at 7 a.m. and will end at 6 p.m.

–IANS

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Soldier injured in Battal operation against terrorists succumbs (Lead)

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Soldier injured in Battal operation against terrorists succumbs (Lead)

Soldier injured in Battal operation against terrorists succumbs (Lead)

Jammu, July 23 (IANS) The soldier injured in the Battal sector of J&K’s Poonch on early Tuesday succumbed to critical injuries in the hospital, the Army announced.

Officials said that the soldier was injured during the exchange of fire between terrorists and security forces in Battal in Poonch’s Mendhar area.

“An infiltration bid was foiled by the army in the Battal sector, and during the exchange of fire, a soldier identified as Subhash Chander was critically injured. He was immediately shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment, where he later succumbed to his injuries,” an official said.

Earlier the Nagrota (Jammu) headquartered White Knight Corps, in a post on X, said: “Alert troops foiled an infiltration bid by effectively engaging infiltrating terrorists with effective fire in the Battal Sector at 0300h. During the exchange of heavy fire, one braveheart has been injured. Operations are continuing.”

–IANS

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Bhutan King, PM visit Adani's 30 GW Renewable Energy site at Khavda & Mundra Port

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Bhutan King, PM visit Adani's 30 GW Renewable Energy site at Khavda & Mundra Port

Bhutan King, PM visit Adani's 30 GW Renewable Energy site at Khavda & Mundra Port

Ahmedabad, July 23 (IANS) Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay on Tuesday visited the world’s largest Renewable Energy (RE) site at Khavda in Gujarat which is operated by the Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), the country’s largest and one of the world’s leading RE companies.

Later, they also visited the mega port at Mundra, the largest commercial port in India with state-of-the-art infrastructure run by the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ) — the biggest commercial ports operator in India accounting for nearly one-fourth of the cargo movement in the country.

“Immensely grateful to His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan and Hon. @PMBhutan Dasho Tshering Tobgay for visiting Adani’s 30 GW Renewable Energy site at Khavda and Mundra Port,” Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group, posted on X.

“Deeply inspired by Bhutan’s vibrant spirit and steadfast commitment to eco-friendly initiatives. We are excited about doing our part to foster collaboration with the Land of the Thunder Dragon for a sustainable and greener future,” he added.

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Last month, the Adani Group announced the signing of an agreement with Bhutan for a 570 MW green hydro plant, along with collaboration on several transformative infrastructure initiatives in the neighbouring country.

The announcement was made following Gautam Adani’s meeting with the Bhutanese PM in Thimphu.

“Absolutely fascinating meeting with Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Hon. Prime Minister of Bhutan. Signed an MoU with Druk Green Power Corporation Limited (DGPC) for a 570 MW green hydro plant in Chukha province. Admirable to see @PMBhutan advancing the vision of His Majesty The King and pursuing broad-ranging infrastructure initiatives across the kingdom. Looking forward to working closely on hydro & other infra in Bhutan,” the Adani Group Chairman posted on X on June 16.

During his visit, Gautam Adani also met Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

“Honoured to meet His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan. Inspired by his vision for Bhutan and the ambitious eco-friendly masterplan for Gelephu Mindfulness City, including large computing centres and data facilities. Excited to collaborate on these transformative initiatives as also on green energy management for a carbon negative nation!” he said.

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Last November, Gautam Adani said he was excited to explore opportunities for the Adani Group to contribute to green infrastructure development for “one of our happy and warm neighbours”.

India and Bhutan continue to intensify bilateral cooperation – including development partnership, energy, trade and investment, connectivity and trade infrastructure, technology, people-to-people ties, as well as other regional issues of mutual importance.

Last week, during an official visit, his first as Foreign Secretary, Vikram Misri co-chaired the 3rd India Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks for the 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) of Bhutan along with his Bhutanese counterpart Pema Choden in Thimphu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Bhutan in March this year, had also announced the Indian government’s development support of Nu. 100 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) for Bhutan’s 13th Five-Year Plan period.

–IANS

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Assam CM meets S. Jaishankar, Shivraj Chouhan in Delhi

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Assam CM meets S. Jaishankar, Shivraj Chouhan in Delhi

Assam CM meets S. Jaishankar, Shivraj Chouhan in Delhi

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday held a meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the national capital during which he asserted that Assam must be established as a preferred gateway to South East Asia in the coming days.

Sarma discussed with S. Jaishankar ways to encourage foreign investors to invest in Assam as well as the state’s role to strengthen the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for ‘Act East Policy’.

Taking to X, the Assam Chief Minister wrote: “Today, I had the privilege to call upon Union Minister S. Jaishankar. During this meeting we deliberated upon a constructive role for Assam to strengthen PM Modi’s Act East Policy.”

Sarma said that the governments in the state and Centre have been encouraging foreign investors to be a part of the ‘Assam Growth’ story.

“Firmly establishing our state as a preferred Gateway to South East Asia. It was also an enriching experience for me to learn about the great strides we as a nation have achieved through a pragmatic foreign policy,” he added.

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Meanwhile, Sarma also met Union Agriculture Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and discussed with him the agriculture-related situation in Assam.

Sarma posted on X about the meeting, saying ways to optimise the implementation of PM Gram Sadak Yojana and MGNREGA in Assam were discussed.

Moreover, adoption of organic farming practices to be improved along with unlocking supply chain bottlenecks and forward linkages in agriculture will be strengthened, the Assam Chief Minister mentioned in his post.

–IANS

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'Special court’ will be designated to hear land grabbing cases: Goa CM

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'Special court’ will be designated to hear land grabbing cases: Goa CM

'Special court’ will be designated to hear land grabbing cases: Goa CM

Panaji, July 23 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday said that his government will designate a special court to hear the around 110 land grabbing cases so that the ownership can be reverted to the original owner.

Sawant was replying to BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral during Question Hour in the ongoing assembly session.

A one-man commission headed by retired justice of the Bombay High Court V K Jadhav had in November last year submitted its report on the land grabbing cases to the state government.

According to the Chief Minister in the last 15 to 20 years a land scam was happening and around 110 properties were grabbed of those people who were staying in other countries or of “No man’s land”.

The SIT, which was headed by then Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) Nidhin Valsan, was formed in July 2022 to look into complaints of land grabbing and conversion.

Replying to former Law Minister NIlesh Cabral on land grabbing, Sawant said that a special court or district court (single court) will be designated to hear these cases.

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“Till now it is not finalised because the process of filing chargesheet is going on. Once it is completed a single court will be designated to hear these cases and the process will be expedited to give justice to the sufferers at the earliest,” Sawant said.

He said that the one-man commission had given around 17 to 18 suggestions and as per that amendments will be brought in this session.

“Six departments have been given suggestions to curb such fraudulent practices of transferring the land. We have taken action against those who were involved in it,” Sawant said.

“Some persons who have lost their land have already approached the High Court to get the possession of their land. My clear stand is that the original owner should get back his/her land at the earliest,” Sawant stated.

He said that even government land has been sold fraudulently. “People should look into the documentation and verify before purchasing land,” he advised.

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According to Nilesh Cabral, when the SIT and the ED have already submitted reports about how the accused persons have fraudulently sold the lands of the original owners, there is no need to send these cases to court.

“They have already suffered a lot and should not suffer more by sending the cases to court. It is proved that their land was fraudulently sold. Hence it should be reverted to them. SIT and ED have already proved that frauds have been committed. Don’t send these cases to court as people will have to wait for many years for justice,” Cabral pointed out.

–IANS

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Union budget puts a brake on Kerala's development: CM Vijayan

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Union budget puts a brake on Kerala's development: CM Vijayan

Union budget puts a brake on Kerala's development: CM Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, July 23 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam clearly puts a brake on the state’s development plans.

“I will not complain about giving more to some states, but, I will definitely speak when states like Kerala have not been considered and such a thing should not have happened as it puts a brake on the state’s foray into the future,” he said in his response to the first budget of the third Narendra Modi government.

“This is certainly a challenge to the people of Kerala. Now we will go in-depth into the budget papers and then we will again approach the Centre after trying to arrive at a consensus here,” Vijayan added.

Top leaders of the opposition Congress echoed similar views of Kerala being sidelined in the Budget.

State Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal, ahead of the Budget preparations, had personally called on Union Finance Minister Sitharaman and submitted a memorandum requesting a special package of Rs 24,000 crore, but what has upset all here is that even the word Kerala does not figure in the Budget.

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Vijayan also pointed out that an AIIMS in the state has been a long-standing demand and that too is not there.

But actor turned Union Minister Suresh Gopi, who won a stellar victory from Thrissur to open the BJP’s account in the state, was unfazed and when the media asked him about the state, he shot back: “Why are there no youths, women, or the fisheries sector in Kerala.”

“You (media), please read the budget and then speak,” he said. “You just take it from me… on my first visit to Kozhikode after being sworn in, I have assured that an AIIMS is coming to Kerala and you take it from me, it will come,” Gopi added.

Balagopal, however, took potshots on the Budget and said when the BJP opened its account in the Lok Sabha from Kerala, in the Budget, Kerala’s account has been closed.

–IANS

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