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Srinagar sees highest voting in 35 years

Polling personnel, including security personnel, worked tirelessly to ensure that an atmosphere of calm, peace and festivities welcomed voters at the polling stations, the ECI said…reports Asian Lite News

As the fourth phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections concluded on Monday, the Srinagar parliamentary constituency in Jammu and Kashmir recorded a voter turnout of 38 per cent, according to Election Commission data. The polling percentage is the highest in several decades.

The voter turnout in Srinagar was 40.94 per cent in 1996, 30.06 per cent in 1998, 11.93 per cent in 1999, 18.57 per cent in 2004, 25.55 per cent in 2009, 25.86 per cent in 2014 and 14.43 per cent in 2019.

Polling took place in 2,135 polling stations across the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama, and Budgam and Shopian districts partly.

According to the EC, voters from Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama, and Shopian showed up in record numbers to cast their votes in a show of faith and enthusiasm in the election process. This was the first general election in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. There are 24 candidates in the fray as compared to 12 in the 2019 general election.

Chadoora, Ganderbal, Kangan, Khansahib and Shopian Assembly segments recorded more than 45 per cent voter turnout

Polling personnel, including security personnel, worked tirelessly to ensure that an atmosphere of calm, peace and festivities welcomed voters at the polling stations, the ECI said.

More than 8,000 polling staff were on duty to cater to the over 17.47 lakh strong electorate. Command-and-Control centres have been working round the clock in Srinagar as well as Jammu since March 16, the date of announcement of general elections to ensure free, fair and inducement-free elections, it added.

As per the polling body, at every polling station, basic minimum facilities of water, electricity, toilet, ramp, verandah/waiting room were made. Wheelchairs and volunteers were provided as and when required. To ensure inclusive voting, polling stations managed by women, specially-abled persons and youths were set up. There were 21 green and eco-friendly polling stations. Media facilitation was done through passes for more than 600 journalists.

The commission has enabled Kashmiri migrant voters residing at various relief camps in Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur to also have the option of voting in person at designated special polling stations or using postal ballot. 21 special polling stations were established at Jammu, one at Udhampur and four at Delhi.

The commission said that planned, consistent and targeted interventions to promote voter awareness as part of SVEEP activities have contributed to the noteworthy rise in voter turnout. (ANI)

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Big blow to NC in Ladakh

Kargil unit of National Conference submits mass resignation citing “pressure” from high command…reports Asian Lite News

The Kargil unit of the National Conference has submitted a mass resignation letter alleging that the party’s high command is pressurising them to support the Congress candidate for Ladakh.

It said in the interest of Ladakh, the Ladakh Democratic Alliance has decided to project a joint candidate, Mohammad Haneefa Jan as an independent candidate. “In the interest of the Ladakh region as a whole and in order to secure the future of our region, the Ladakh Democratic Alliance has unitedly decided to project a Joint Candidate namely Mohammad Haneefa Jan as an Independent Candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha Election from 1- Ladakh Parliamentary Constituency supported by all the Political and Religious Institutions unanimously coming across the party/religious affiliations,” the letter stated.

“The party high command is pressurising us (both telephonically as well on social media) to support the official candidate of INC from Ladakh which is unacceptable to us including J&K NC and INC Unit Kargil,” it added. The Kargil unit said that as it is being “insisted” to act against the interest of Ladakh people, they are “compelled to resign in masses.” “In this connection, as the party insists us to act against the interest of the people of Ladakh, so we are compelled to resign in masses from all party functionaries including the undersigned from the party post. This letter may be considered as a mass resignation of all party functionaries from the primary membership of J&K National Conference,” the letter further stated.

Following this, Qamar Ali Akhoon, the Additional General Secretary of NC Kargil Unit reiterated the stand, “We were pressurised by the high command to support the official candidate of INC from Ladakh which is unacceptable to us including J&K NC and INC Unit Kargil,” he said. Ladakh will go to polls on May 20. The votes will be counted on June 4. In the 2019 elections, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of the BJP emerged victorious in Ladakh. This time, the BJP has announced the candidature of Tashi Gyalson from Ladakh Constituency replacing its current MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal from this seat. (ANI)

Tej Pratap Yadav stirs row on Poonch attack

RJD leader Tej Pratap Yadav on Monday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called him the reason behind the martyrdom of the soldier in the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force vehicle in Jammu & Kashmir’s Poonch on May 4.

Speaking with the reporters, Tej Pratap Yadav also launched an attack on the opposition and said, “…They have just made people fight each other, caused Hindu-Muslim differences.”

He added further, “Shaheed kinke wajah se huye? Modi ji ki wajah se huye. Pehle kahan koi shaheed hota tha? (Who caused the martyrdom? It is because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Were there any martyrs before?”

A day before, former Chief Minister of Punjab Charanjit Singh Channi also attacked the BJP and alleged that the Poonch terror attack was “pre-planned” and said such “stuntbaazi” was done to make the BJP win the elections.

“This is stuntbaazi. And not the (terror) attacks. When elections come, such stunts are done to make the BJP win. These are pre-planned attacks, there is no truth in them…,” alleged the Congress leader.

“To kill people and to play with their bodies….BJP knows it…,” he further alleged.

The BJP tore into the former Punjab Chief Minister’s statement saying the Congress was always disrespectful to the soldiers.

“Congress is saying that he was martyred because of elections. This mentality is not just appalling but disrespectful to those who serve our nation. Pakistan and Rahul Gandhi continue to support each other while Congress is belittling the sacrifice of our Jawans,” BJP leader Manjinder Sirsa had said.

On the evening of May 4, an Indian Air Force (IAF) soldier was killed and four others were injured in the terror attack in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian Air Force on Sunday mourned Corporal Vikky Pahade, who succumbed to injuries sustained in the attack on May 4.

“The CAS Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and all personnel of (the) Indian Air Force salute the braveheart Corporal Vikky Pahade, who made the supreme sacrifice in (the) Poonch Sector, in the service of the nation. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved family. We stand firmly by your side in this hour of grief,” read a post on the official X handle of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The attack came ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat for the 2024 general elections. The elections in Jammu and Kashmir are being held in five phases from April 19 to May 20.

Notably, the opposition in 2019 alleged that the BJP had “used” the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 personnel of CRPF were killed by terrorists. They further alleged that the consequent air strike at Balakot in the neighbouring country was done by the BJP to win the Lok Sabha polls that year. (ANI)

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INDIA 2024 India News Jammu & Kashmir

24 candidates in fray in Srinagar seat

Dr. Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat, Srinagar District Magistrate and Returning Officer for the Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency, confirmed that with five withdrawals on the final day, there are now 24 candidates left in the race….reports Asian Lite News

A total of 24 candidates are in the fray for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat as five persons withdrew their candidatures on the last day of the withdrawal of nominations on Monday.

Srinagar District Magistrate Dr Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat, who is the Returning Officer for the Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency, said with five withdrawals on the last day, 24 validly nominated candidates now remain in the fray.

Those who remain in the fray include Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi from the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), Waheed ur Rehman Para from the People’s Democratic Party, Mohammad Ashraf Mir from J&K Apni Party, Amir Ahmad Bhat from Democratic Progressive Azad Party, Younis Ahmad Mir from Bharat Jodo Party, Rubina Akhtar from National LokTantrik Party, Hakikat Singh from National Panthers Party (Bhim) and Mohammad Yousuf Bhat from Gana Suraksha Party.

The independent candidates in the contest are Sheeban Ashahi, Nissar Ahmad Ahangar, Mirza Sajad Hussain Beigh, Jibran Dar, Shahnaz Hussain Shah, Amin Dar, Riyaz Ahmad Bhat, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, Sayim Mustafa, Waseem Hassan Sheikh, Ghulam Mohammad Wani, Wahida Tabasum, Dr Qazi Ashraf, Javaid Ahmad Wani, Jehangir Ahmad Sheikh, and Sajad Ahmad Dar.

A total of 39 candidates had filed their nomination papers for the Srinagar seat till the last date of nominations on April 25, but the candidatures of 10 were rejected during the scrutiny held on the next day, leaving 29, out of which five withdrew on the last date, an official statement said.

Heavy rains in Kashmir

Four people, including three minors, were killed in floods caused by incessant rain in J&K during the last four days.

Over 350 families have been relocated, several cattle/sheep perished and dozens of houses were damaged, said officials here.

Authorities have closed schools in the Valley and the University of Kashmir has postponed all exams scheduled for Tuesday.

Landslides and flash floods have killed four people while dozens of houses have been damaged by incessant rain/lightning/thunder in the hilly districts of Doda, Reasi, Kishtwar and Ramban in Jammu division and Kupwara district in Kashmir.

Several heads of cattle and over four dozen sheep perished at different places due to flash floods and the collapse of cattle sheds.

Authorities in Kupwara district have relocated over 350 families from flood-affected areas to safer places.

Over two dozen houses in J&K have been damaged in heavy rain during the last four days.

Floods have damaged some major infrastructure in the Kupwara district, including Shumriyal Bridge, Khumryal Bridge, Shatmuqam Bridge, Sohipora-Hayhama Bridge, Farkyan Bridge, two rural development department buildings at Kupwara and assistant director Handicrafts office building. Shumryal- Gundajhanger road got cut off due to scouring and a breach in the Doban Kachama dam.

Major roads and various link roads have come under water in Baramulla, Pulwama, Anantnag and other districts in Kashmir, and Samba and Kathua districts of Jammu division.

All major and minor highways and roads have been closed due to fresh snowfall and landslides in J&K. Srinagar-Jammu, Srinagar-Leh and the Mughal Road have been closed.

Parts of the Srinagar-Jammu highway have come under water in south Kashmir districts. Waterlogging has affected many residential areas in Srinagar city and other low-lying areas of the Valley.

All rivers, including Jhelum and the Sindh stream, are swollen and people living close to rivers and mountain streams have been asked to remain vigilant.

Authorities have drawn contingency flood evacuation plans in Srinagar and other districts by designating places of relocation in case the residential colonies get inundated due to flood waters.

All mountain streams like the Vishow Nallah, Rambiyara Nallah, Lidder and Doodganga Nallah are running high. Higher reaches like Gulmarg, Gurez, Machil, Baltal and Zojila Pass areas have received fresh snowfall today.

The MeT department has said, “Nowcast for J&K at 6.50 am on 30-04-24. Current Satellite image showing Generally cloudy over most parts of Kashmir Division and mainly clear to Partly cloudy in Jammu Division. Ocassional sunshine at few places with Generally cloudy weather likely expected till afternoon in Kashmir Division. Fresh intermittent light spells of Rain with thunder over many parts of Kashmir Division and few places of Jammu Division with possibility of Hailstorm at few places most likely from afternoon or late afternoon till evening/night.”

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INDIA 2024 Jammu & Kashmir

PDP lives in hearts of people of J&K, says Mehbooba 

The PDP leader backed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s claims that BJP would seek to rewrite the constitution if returned to power…reports Asian Lite News

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) party chief Mehbooba Mufti has alleged that BJP will try to end reservation for weaker sections if it comes back to power and that it is giving benefits to few industrialists.

She said the PDP is in the hearts of the people because it has done work which no other party did in Jammu and Kashmir.

The PDP leader backed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s claims that BJP would seek to rewrite the constitution if returned to power.

“Rahul Gandhi is very much right that the BJP will try to abolish OBC, ST and SC Quota in the near future. BJP is trying to provide benefits to a few people…,” Mehbooba Mufti said during roadshow here.

Addressing a rally on Monday in Chhattisgarh, Rahul Gandhi held a copy of the Indian Constitution and said BJP will attempt to rewrite the Constitution and do away with reservation. He said Congress is committed to safeguarding the Constitution.

Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting Lok Sabha polls from Anantnag-Rajouri seat, said that the PDP continues to resonate with the people due to the work it did while in power.

“The way efforts are being made to erase the identity of Jammu and Kashmir, PDP is the only voice in such a situation that has been raising issues for the past five years,” she said.

She said that National Conference did not hold the hand of friendship extended by the PDP.

Mufti that she stands for uniting and not dividing people of the two regions of the union territory.

She is on a weeklong poll campaign programme in Poonch and Rajouri districts these days. She moved to Poonch town on Saturday after addressing people in the Mendhar and Surankote areas of the district.

She reached Poonch and Rajouri on April 25 by travelling through the Mughal Road that connects the Valley with the Jammu division as an alternative road link.

She told a public meeting, “Irrespective of religion and region, we have to move together and raise a united voice to seek redressal of our issues.

“I am thankful for the warm welcome given to me by the local people including Paharis, Gujjars and Hindus living here.

“I stand to unite people and not to divide them. Everyone is adversely affected when there is a problem and everyone gets benefitted when issues are resolved,” she said.

She asked voters to support her as she is aware of the demands of the people of Poonch which include a medical college, extension of the rail link and completion of the under-construction Parnai hydro-electric project.

She said she had not come to make any false promises but, would be the voice of the people if elected to the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Tuesday decided to defer the polls for the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir from the third phase on May 7 to the sixth and penultimate phase on May 25.

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India News Jammu & Kashmir

Srinagar: 22 more candidates file nominations on last day

Independents also made their presence felt, with individuals like Wahida Tabasum, Qazi Ashraf, Fida Hussain Dar, and others throwing their hats into the ring…reports Asian Lite News

The Srinagar Parliamentary constituency is buzzing with political fervour as 39 nominations have been submitted for the upcoming elections on May 13, according to an official announcement made on Thursday.

On the final day for filing nominations, 22 candidates presented their papers to the Returning Officer. Notable among them, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi of the Jammu Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) formally submitted his candidacy, with Salman Sagar standing as his covering candidate.

Other contenders include Hakikat Singh from the National Panthers Party-Bhim, Rakesh Handu from J&K National United Front, Amir Ahmad Bhat from Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), and Qaiser Sultan Ganai, who is the covering candidate for DPAP.

Additionally, a diverse array of candidates from various parties joined the fray, including Ashiq Hussain from Rastriya Jan Kranti Party, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat from Gana Suraksha Party, Suraya Nissar from the National Republic Party of India, and Farooq Ahmad Bhat from the National Youth Party.

Independents also made their presence felt, with individuals like Wahida Tabasum, Qazi Ashraf, Fida Hussain Dar, and others throwing their hats into the ring.

Earlier, on Wednesday, PDP’s Waheed Parra and Apni Party’s Mohammad Ashraf Mir had already submitted their nominations.

With scrutiny of nomination papers set for Friday, candidates have until April 29 to withdraw their names from the race. The constituents will cast their votes on May 13 during the fourth phase of the elections, with the results scheduled to be announced on June 4.

Mega voter awareness program

The Election Commission of India (ECI) organized a mega voter awareness program under SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) at Tulip Garden in Srinagar.

The awareness program aimed to educate citizens about the importance of voting, voter registration processes, and electoral participation.

SVEEP is the flagship program of the ECI for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India. It is a multi-intervention programme that reaches out through different modes and media to educate citizens, electors, and voters about the electoral process to increase their awareness and promote their informed participation.

Polling in Udhampur was held on April 19 (Phase 1), while Jammu, Anantnag-Rajouri, Srinagar, and Baramulla will poll on April 26, May 7, May 13, and May 20.

In 2019, polling for the Lok Sabha was held for six seats in Jammu and Kashmir. However, following the abrogation of Article 370, which resulted in the split of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories–Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, there is no longer a separate Lok Sabha constituency for Ladakh.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP won three seats while the National Conference won the remaining three.

The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

Earlier on Monday, the Election Commission held a meeting with concerned agencies to understand the developing weather situation and constituted a task force to review the impact of heat waves and humidity before each polling phase for any concerning developments and mitigatory measures.

The poll body held a meeting with concerned agencies and also discussed measures to mitigate any risk due to hot weather conditions during the Lok Sabha elections.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, was attended by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Head of Department, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and DG Meteorology, India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The Commission directed MoHFW to issue necessary instructions to health authorities in states to prepare for and extend assistance in case of heatwave conditions affecting election operations. The Commission will hold a separate review with state CEOs to ensure adequate arrangements at polling stations, including shamiyana, drinking water, fans, and other assured minimum facilities, etc., as per its existing advisory dated March 16, 2024. (with inputs from agencies)

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Congress, NC to contest 3 seats each in J-K, Ladakh

The announcement was made by senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah and Congress leader Pawan Khera…reports Asian Lite News

Congress and National Conference on Monday announced the seat sharing agreement for the five constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and one constituency of Ladakh.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference by senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Salman Khurshid and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah and Congress leader Pawan Khera.

Under the seat sharing agreement, the Congress will contest from Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh parliamentary constituencies, while the National Conference will contest from Anantnag-Rajouri, Srinagar and Baramulla Lok Sabha seats.

“Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) will fight the elections jointly in all the six constituencies. While the candidates have been announced for the Udhampur, Jammu and Anantnag-Rajouri constituencies, the remaining three candidates for Srinagar, Baramulla and Ladakh will also be announced soon,” Omar Abdullah said.

He expressed confidence that INDIA will sweep all the six constituencies.

Earlier, Peoples Democractic Party (PDP) on Sunday announced candidates for three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir. PDP leader Sartaj Madni announced that Mehbooba Mufti will contest the general elections from Kashmir’s Anantnag-Rajouri constituency.

Mufti will be in a political battle from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat against Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The Lok Sabha polls in the Union Territory will be held in the first five phases on April 19 (Udhampur), April 26 (Jammu), May 7 (Anantnag-Rajouri), May 13 (Srinagar) and May 20 (Baramulla).

Nearly 97 crore voters will be eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country.The elections for 543 Lok Sabha seats will be held in seven phases starting on April 19. The counting of votes has been scheduled for June 4.

22 candidates in fray for Jammu

 One candidate withdrew his candidature on Monday, leaving a total of 22 candidates in the fray in the Jammu Parliamentary constituency.

Monday (April 8) was the last day of withdrawal of nomination in the Jammu Parliamentary constituency.

The candidates, who are in the fray include Jagdish Raj from Bahujan Samaj Party, Jugal Kishore from Bharatiya Janata Party, Naresh Kumar Chib from Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (Bhim), Raman Bhalla from Congress, Ankur Sharma from Ekam Sanatan Bharat Dal, Swami Divya Nand from Jammu & Kashmir Nationalist People’s Front, Rattan Lal from Jammu & Kashmir People’s Conference, Shikha Bandral from National Awami United Party, Qari Zaheer Abbas Bhatti from All India Forward Bloc, Ganesh Choudhary from Hindustan Shakti Sena among others.

Independent candidate Roop Krishen Dhar has withdrawn his nomination.

The constituency is going to the polls in the second phase of general elections to be held on April 26.

Meanwhile, the process of allotting election symbols to the contesting candidates was also completed on Monday. (ANI/IANS)

Cong manifesto will make India strong, secular, says Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah on Monday reacted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark about Congress’s manifesto that every page of the document reeks of attempts to “tear India apart” and said that the manifesto is to make the country strong and to keep it secular.

“I don’t think the manifesto is to break the country. I think the manifesto is to make the country strong and to keep it secular. That is what it is. And if anybody thinks otherwise, then they are already dividing the nation in their own ways,” the National Conference told reporters.

Speaking on Peoples Democractic Party (PDP) contesting the election, Abdullah said, “People know what we stand for. And beyond that, I don’t need to express anything.”

PM Modi on Saturday launched an attack on Congress and said that the party’s manifesto is a “bundle of lies” and every page of the document reeks of attempts to “tear India apart.”

Congress manifesto was released at the party headquarters by party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Friday.

Addressing a rally in Rajasthan’s Ajmer, the Prime Minister said that the manifesto reflects that the thinking of the Congress resembles those of the Muslim League during the pre-Independence period.

“Yesterday the Congress Party released its manifesto, a bundle of lies. Every page of this smells of breaking India into pieces. The same thinking is reflected in the Congress manifesto as was present in the Muslim League at the time of independence. Congress wants to impose the views of the Muslim League of that time on India today,” PM Modi said.

The Congress party’s election manifesto focuses on ‘Paanch Nyay’ or five pillars of justice, including ‘Yuva Nyay’, ‘Naari Nyay’, ‘Kisaan Nyay’, ‘Shramik Nyay’ and ‘Hissedari Nyay’ as well as the guarantees made by it to the people as part of its poll promises for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The Lok Sabha polls in the Union Territory will be held in the first five phases on April 19 (Udhampur), April 26 (Jammu), May 7 (Anantnag-Rajouri), May 13 (Srinagar) and May 20 (Baramulla).

The counting of votes will be taken up on June 4. (ANI)

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Jammu & Kashmir Lifestyle Lite Blogs

Nestled in Kashmir’s Splendour

Radisson Collection Hotel & Spa, Riverfront Srinagar, the largest hotel in the Jammu and Kashmir region, offers 212 spacious and well-defined rooms across categories, including premium, executive, executive, executive, and presidential…reports Asian Lite News

Radisson Hotel Group announces the grand debut of its luxury lifestyle brand, Radisson Collection in India with the opening of Radisson Collection Hotel & Spa, Riverfront Srinagar.

Nestled on the banks of River Jhelum, the hotel derives its design inspiration from Kashmir’s heritage, culture, and art. The hotel exudes the true spirit of Kashmir, combining landmark architecture, elegant interiors, exceptional gastronomic and cultural experiences, personalized service, and luxurious amenities.

Strategically located, the hotel enjoys proximity to major tourist attractions such as Dal Lake, Mughal Gardens, Tulip Garden, Shalimar Garden, Cheshmashahi Garden, Pari Mahal, Shankaracharya Temple, historic Lal Chowk, and Downtown Srinagar. It can be easily reached by car or taxi from Srinagar International Airport and the local bus and train stations.

“We are proud to introduce the first Radisson Collection hotel in India, located in the enchanting city of Srinagar. With an impressive scale of 212 rooms, the largest in the Jammu and Kashmir region, Radisson Collection Hotel & Spa, Riverfront Srinagar, promises an unparalleled experience for our guests. With this debut, we are looking forward to many such opportunities to collaborate with the right partners and build a unique collection of iconic properties under the Radisson Collection brand in the country,” says Nikhil Sharma, Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President (ASVP), South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Collection Hotel & Spa, Riverfront Srinagar, the largest hotel in the Jammu and Kashmir region, offers 212 spacious and well-defined rooms across categories, including premium, executive, executive, executive, and presidential. Corners of the hotel take inspiration from Kashmir’s authentic motifs and iconic geometrical star patterned ‘jali’ – a traditional lattice or screen typically found in Kashmiri architecture, renowned for its complex craftsmanship and decorative appeal. These designs are complemented by artworks depicting the intricate embroidery process of Kashmiri shawls and carpets. 

The hotel offers an exceptional culinary journey, blending diverse cuisines within a fusion of contemporary and traditional architecture. Firdaus, one of its two F&B outlets, presents Kashmiri Wazwaan – a traditional multi-course meal known for its elaborate preparation, and local specialties, prepared using age-old Kashmiri cooking techniques. The traditionally adorned interiors evoke Kashmiri culture, seamlessly merging the past with the present through regional culinary specialities.

Sapphire Lounge, a modern tea and coffee lounge, offers French pastries, cakes, and a variety of teas in an elegant ambiance. Guests can indulge in aromatic coffee and French delights while enjoying lush green lawns. The lounge also serves Kashmiri Kahwa, Noon Tea, and a selection of Kashmiri breads. Additionally, Mehfil, an elegant bar space, offers a curated selection of premium spirits within a sophisticated setting highlighted by transparent glass walls and colourful leather furniture, reminiscent of a cozy residential living room. 

The hotel also features Mumtaz, one of the largest pillar-less banquet halls in the Kashmir valley spanning across an area of 5,000 sq. ft. Its walls are donned with diverse Kashmiri art forms such as ‘Mehrab’ – a design usually adorned with intricate geometric patterns, calligraphy, and sometimes floral motifs. Surrounded partially by majestic Chinar trees, and the charming colonial architecture of Srinagar city, the Mumtaz Lawns provide an idyllic backdrop, creating unforgettable moments for weddings and corporate gatherings. For smaller meetings, Zewar makes for the perfect venue.

“We are thrilled to partner with Radisson Hotel Group as we proudly unveil the first Radisson Collection in India – Radisson Collection Hotel & Spa, Riverfront Srinagar, reaffirming our belief in the Group. Our partnership reflects our unwavering commitment to providing exceptional luxury experiences. Together, we intend to redefine the very essence of grandeur, contribute to the local growth of the hotel sector, and set new industry standards,” says Wasim Chaya & Naseem Chaya – Managing Directors of Mushtaq Group of Hotels. 

Additionally, guests can explore the Artisan Shop that houses local, artisanal products within the hotel premises and partake in expert-led experiences unveiling the region’s rich heritage and adventures. They can also enjoy handpicked treatments focused on the four pillars of beauty, regeneration, balance, and detox, at the in-house L’Occitane Spa designed with a blend of traditional and contemporary elements.

ALSO READ-The Spectre of Jamaat E Islami in Kashmir

Columns India News Jammu & Kashmir

The Spectre of Jamaat E Islami in Kashmir

The Jamaat’s tendency to define religion in distorted political contexts is the primary reason that youth have fallen prey to its propaganda, only to regret their decisions decades later, writes Dr. Shujaat Ali Quadri

The Ministry of Home extended the ban on Jamaat e Islami by five years. This was in recognition of the fact that that organization is synonymous with terrorism in Kashmir. The Jamaat was banned in 2019 as the government prepared its groundwork for abrogation of Article 370.

The Jamaat e Islami Kashmir was established in the early 1950s and over the decades the organization charted its own ideological path contrary to its parent organization that relocated to Pakistan. In doing so the Jamaat e Islami of Kashmir contradicted the principles of its parent body. Like any organization founded on long term institutional vision, the Jamat E Islami kashmir targeted the youth and middle classes through mass education campaigns.

Compared to Kashmir’s sufi establishment, the Jamaat’s missionary zeal empowered it to reach all corners of the valley in the name of establishing an Islamic society.

In 1960s and 1970s, when the then Congress leadership’s micromanaging of Kashmir affairs and the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah created a permanent leadership vacuum in the valley, the Jamaat got entrenched in Kashmir’s society and governmental apparatus.

Influenced by the upheavals in the Islamic world in the latter years of the Cold War, the Jamaat played a key role in the creation of Muslim United Front that contested the infamous elections of 1987. It is an open truth that elections were rigged by the Congress leadership and were followed by the beginning of armed insurgency by MUF Cadre. Later, an MUF leader Syed Salahuddin established the Hizb ul Mujahideen which eventually emerged as the most powerful militant outfit in the valley as it extensively drew from the Jamaat cadre.

Within the first few years of the insurgency, it became clear that armed violence was inadequate for the Jamaat to achieve its aims and its leaders founded another outfit, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference that carried the radical agenda with more sophistication.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Ideologues like Syed AIi Shah Geelani, who wrote extensively on the need for an Islamist society, simultaneously advocated Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. In his book “Nava-e-Hurriyat”, he presented a wrong interpretation of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India. Geelani justified Pakistan’s invasion of Kashmir in 1947, terming it as a war of liberation. Geelani even led prayers for Osama bin Laden after he was killed by American forces in Pakistan. For decades, he remained the face of radical politics Kashmir, bringing the daily life in Kashmir to a standstill whenever he wished.

Students head for school as winter vacation end in Baramulla of Jammu and Kashmir. (Photo: IANS)

To conclude, in these three decades since the onset of insurgency, the Islamist agenda seeped so deep into the Kashmiri politics that it became synonymous with Kashmir’s body politic till the government finally decided to ban the Jamaat e Islami in 2019. In fact, it is not just Kashmir but the entire subcontinent that has suffered at the hands of the Jamaat. The Jamaat’s tendency to define religion in distorted political contexts is the primary reason that youth have fallen prey to its propaganda, only to regret their decisions decades later. Firstly, the Jamaat ideology alienates the muslim youth from their local Sufi traditions and instilled hatred against Sufism, and finally it antagonizes them to a point of no return.

(The Author is the Chairman of the Muslim Students Organisation of India)

India News Jammu & Kashmir Politics

5-Phase LS Polls in J&K, Assembly Elections Later

Election Commission said the J&K administration voiced security concerns over holding Assembly elections together with the Lok Sabha elections….reports Asian Lite News

Polling for Jammu and Kashmir’s five Lok Sabha constituencies will be held in five separate phases from April 19 to May 20 and the Assembly Elections will be held after the Parliamentary elections in the UT.

Announcing the poll schedule for the Lok Sabha elections at a press conference in New Delhi, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that the Udhampur-Kathua Lok Sabha constituency will go to polls on April 19, the Jammu constituency on April 26, the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency on May 7, Srinagar on May 13, and Baramulla on May 26.

Counting will be held on June 4.

The CEC said that all the political parties which met the Election Commission during its recent visit to J&K had asked for simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

“But, the administration there said in one voice that given the security concerns, the Assembly elections cannot be held together with the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

He noted that there are 90 Assembly constituencies in J&K and if there are 10-12 candidates in every constituency, that would make a total of around 1,000 candidates.

“Each candidate has to be provided double column security which means an additional 500 companies of CAPF would be required for this, which is not possible as the security forces could not be spared in such numbers at the moment. Once the Lok Sabha elections are over, we will soon hold the Assembly elections in J&K,” the CEC said.

In an important disclosure, CEC Rajiv Kumar said that the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 provided for 107 Assembly seats, out of which 24 were kept for Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK).

“This left 83 Assembly seats out of which 7 were kept reserved for the SCs. Then came the Delimitation Commission, 2022. After accepting the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, a fresh notification was issued, which increased the number of Assembly seats from 107 to 114. Out of these, 24 were kept for PoJK, 7 for SCs while 9 seats were reserved for the STs. In addition to this, 2 seats were kept for the migrant Kashmiri Pandits through nomination, while one of these would be a female. In addition, one seat was kept for refugees of PoJK again through nomination,” he said.

“The J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 and the Delimitation notification of 2022 were not in sync. Thus there was no question of holding Assembly polls at that time. The two were brought in sync with each other through the J&K Reorganisation (Amendment) Act, 2023 which came into force in December 2023. Thus our time for holding Assembly elections in J&K started in December 2023. This means there was no delay on the part of the Election Commission,” he asserted.

The data released by the Election Commission shows there are 86.9 lakh voters for the Parliamentary election in J&K, out of which 44 lakh are men and 42 lakh women.

A total of 67,000 voters are persons with disabilities (PWDs) and there would be special arrangements like ramps and wheelchairs at the polling booth for them. Interestingly, in J&K, 2,886 electors would be over 100 years old, while 3.4 lakh first-time voters will also exercise their democratic rights in these elections.

As many as 11,629 polling stations are being set up for the five Lok Sabha constituencies out of which there would be an average of 747 voters at each station and in no case, would the number of voters at any polling station cross 1,500.

For transparency, 50 per cent of polling stations will have webcasting while 80 will be exclusively manned by female staff. All polling stations will have basic facilities like chairs, lighting, drinking water, and separate toilets for male and female voters.

There are special instructions for the poll staff to ensure that the polling station wears a festive look to attract the voters.

For the first time, those above 85 years of age can choose to vote from their home and these votes would be collected by the poll staff in the presence of the representatives of the political parties.

There are special instructions to DMs and SPs in J&K to ensure that the polls are free, without any fear or inducement. Furthermore, no uncharted flight will be allowed to bring anything into J&K during the poll schedule.

‘96.8 Crore Voters in India’

A total of 96.8 crore voters will be eligible to cast their vote in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar said on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference here to announce the dates of Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls to four states, Rajiv Kumar said there will be 10.5 lakh polling stations and 1.5 crore polling officials and security staff will be deployed to conduct the elections in the world’s largest democracy.

“We are committed to give the nation a truly festive, democratic environment. The term of the 17th Lok Sabha is due to expire on 16th June 2024. The terms of the Legislative Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are also due to expire in June 2024. Elections are due in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Kumar said approximately 49.7 crore voters are male and 47.1 crore voters are female.

“We have 1.8 crore first-time voters and 19.47 crore voters between the age group of 20-29 years,” he said, adding that 88.4 lakh voters are of PwD category, 2.18 lakhs are centenarians and 48,000 are transgenders.

The CEC was accompanied by the two Election Commissioners. (ANI)

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India News Jammu & Kashmir Politics

Maharashtra Makes History, Owns Land in J&K

The state will have the Maharashtra Bhawan which will come up in Budgam district to facilitate its tourists…reports Asian Lite News

Maharashtra is going to be the first state in the country to own land in J&K.

The state will have the Maharashtra Bhawan which will come up in Budgam district to facilitate its tourists here.

The details of the project were worked out when Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited J&K in June 2023 during his meetings with Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, official sources said.

“UT government has approved the transfer of 2.5 acres of land at Ichgam in Budgam district near Srinagar international airport to Maharashtra at a cost of Rs 8.16 crore,” said sources.

Reports also said that the state government has allocated Rs 77 crore for two Maharashtra Bhawans, one at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and the other at Budgam in J&K.

With the J&K’s approval of land transfer of 2.5 acres, Maharashtra, thus, would be the first state to own land in the union territory.

Before the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, no person, institution or entity belonging outside J&K could buy land here although a provision to allot land on 99-year lease to outsiders did exist before the acts were struck off.

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