Even as the BJP is staking its claim on the Legislative Council seat reserved for Poonch district, sources said the PPDwas unlikely to leave the seat for its coalition partner as the party had set a target to make the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri its citadels.
For the PDP, Poonch and Rajouri are politically “fertile” belt in the Jammu province so the party leadership is likely to leave no opportunity to make inroads into the mountainous belt, the sources said.
The BJP during its state election committee meeting on Saturday had prepared a panel of 12 potential candidates for the three Legislative Council seats of the Jammu province, including one reserved for Poonch district. For the Poonch seat, it is mandatory for the candidate to belong to the district. The BJP had incorporated names of four probable candidates from Poonch for the reserved seat.
Sources said PDP leaders from the twin border districts upon learning that the BJP was claiming the Poonch seat brought the matter to the notice of the party leadership. They cautioned against “surrendering” the seat to the saffron party, saying that it would be prove disastrous for the PDP in the next Assembly polls.
“The PDP leadership has made it clear that there is no question of leaving the Poonch seat for the BJP because it has invested a lot in the district and it hopes to reap the political benefits in the days to come,” a source said, adding that the “PDP top brass has assured the district party leaders of staking claim on the Poonch seat during the seat-sharing talks with the BJP.”
On March 15, the Election Commission of India had announced the schedule for the biennial elections to six seats of the Legislative Council on April 17. Three separate elections will be held to fill six vacancies to the Council.
Separate polling will be held for filling two seats from the Jammu province, one seat reserved for Poonch and for three seats from the Kashmir province.

Muslims object to use of loudspeakers in Hindu temple; leads to tension in PoonchTension gripped Poonch this morning as news spread about some youths of the majority community forcibly entering Lakshmi Narayan Temple at Jhullas the previous evening and manhandling youths of the minority community while objecting to the use of a loudspeaker.
This was the third incident within a week wherein attempts had been made to disrupt peaceful atmosphere in the region by interfering in religious affairs at temples.
Sources said youths of the majority community barged into the temple at Jhullas at 8:30 pm on Sunday, which was resisted by youths taking part in ‘aarti’ at the temple.
The youths from the majority community manhandled the youths taking part in ‘aarti’ and objected to the use of loudspeaker during the evening.
Within no time, hundreds of people from the minority community rushed to the spot and asked the police to arrest the miscreants. People from the majority community gathered on the spot and both groups started raising slogans against each other.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) Mujeeb-ul-Rehman, Poonch City SHO Jatinder Raina and a police party rushed to the spot and pacified both groups.
Members of the minority community demanded the registration of an FIR against the miscreants. The police assured them of action against the culprits.
Poonch Deputy Commissioner Haroon Malik convened a meeting of civil society members at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office Complex and appealed both the communities to maintain
peace and brotherhood in the district.
Members of the minority community raised the issue regarding the incident and asked the administration to take strict action against persons deliberately trying to disturb peace in the district.
They demanded an investigation into the matter and alleged that there was a deep conspiracy to target places of worship of the minority community.
Leaders of the majority community condemned the incident. They asked the administration to take the matter seriously and not allow such persons to disturb peace in the district.
The administration assured members of the minority community of action. It warned the miscreants to be cautious in the future as such activities would not be tolerated.

Mughal Road major security concern - Johnny WilliamThe security grid has been tightened in the frontier districts of Rajouri and Poonch following sacrilegious acts at two Jammu temples, threats by militants to disturb and attack the Amarnath yatra and exfiltration attempt by three Kashmiri youths for arms training.
Johnny William, DIG, Rajouri-Poonch police range, said additional police posts had been set up on the Mughal Road and security tightened around all religious places in both districts.
“Though no infiltration has been reported from the two districts in the last few years, we can’t take the matter casually. The security grid on the LoC by the Army and in the interiors by the state police is already in place and any attempt by anti-national elements will be dealt with an iron hand,” said the DIG.
The DIG admitted that opening the Mughal Road had become a major security concern for security forces and intelligence agencies.
“There is no sign of revival of militancy in Rajouri and Poonch districts. The common perception during the security review meeting was being careful after opening of the Mughal Road as two militants were apprehended from Poonch district while attempting exfiltration for arms training,” said the DIG.
On May 16, three militants from Kashmir, after travelling via the Mughal Road, made an attempt to exfiltrate for arms training. One of them, Bilal Ahmed Bhat, a category A militant, was killed. The other two, identified as Mursaleem Rashid and Adil Ahmed Bhat, were nabbed by the Army.
William said militants were in a state of frustration and could plan strikes. Besides deployment of additional forces in many areas in both districts, frisking and checking on the Mughal Road with the help of intelligence agencies had been increased, he said.
Asked about possible infiltration attempts ahead of the forthcoming Budha Amarnath yatra in Poonch district, the DIG said, “Such attempts can’t be ruled out. However, it is fact that the militants make an attempt and we only react, barring a few specific intelligence inputs.”
Besides every security review and deployment for the Budha Amarnath yatra, the Army had been dominating heights, roads and tactical points associated with the Budha Amarnath shrine.

Students of Government Degree College in Surankote today held a protest against the Army for allegedly disrupting regular college affairs in the name of ex-servicemen rally at Surankote.

The students alleged that they were also beaten up by soldiers. They held a protest at a traffic check post (TCP) and later on shopkeepers and parents of the students also joined the protest and demanded action against soldiers who allegedly beat up students.

The incident happened at about 10 am today when some college students were being frisked by the soldiers outside the college entrance.

Though the college is being run from the building of a government higher secondary school, students have to walk through the ALG to reach their college. Trouble erupted when some students opposed frisking and started pelting soldiers with stones.

Some of the jawans, who tried to stop the students, were allegedly abused that led to a minor scuffle in which three students were hurt.

Students from Government Degree College and Higher Secondary School gathered at the traffic check post and blocked the Surankote-Mughal Road route.

Pakistan is paying no heed to the Director General-level agreement between the BSF and its Rangers as its army again pounded posts along the Line of Control in the Balakote and Krishna Ghati (KG) sectors of Poonch district last night and this morning with 82 mm and 120 mm mortars, triggering panic in villages in the forward areas.

“There were unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Pakistani army along the LoC in Balakote last evening. Pakistan opened heavy machine gun fire on our posts. The Indian troops retaliated appropriately,” said defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta. There were no reports of deaths or injuries on the Indian side.

An Intelligence source said around 7 am today Pakistani troops belonging to the 655 Mujahid Regiment opened heavy fire from Daku, Benazir, Mumtaz and Kaddu posts on the KG sector.

“At 6.20 pm on Tuesday evening, Pakistan targeted Balakote and Balnoi areas using automatic weapons and 82 mm mortars. The firefight continued till midnight. Around 7 am on Wednesday, Pakistan again opened heavy fire using 120 mm mortars, 82 mm mortars, rocket-propelled grenades on the KG and Poonch sectors,” he said.

This was the third ceasefire violation by Pakistan in 48 hours in the Poonch sector, the officer said.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani media report claimed that a Pakistani civilian was injured in Indian firing in Rawalakot’s Battal sector on Wednesday.

It also claimed that on Tuesday, a Pakistan soldier was killed in a similar incident in the Battal sector.

Undertrial escapes from police custody,4 cops suspendedAn undertrial prisoner escaped from the custody of police when he was being taken to a local court in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, following which four police personnel were suspended.
Imtiaz Ahmed, who was arrested on charges of rape, yesterday jumped out of a police vehicle when he was being taken to Surankote from judicial lock up in Poonch for producing him before Sub Judge, a police officer said today.
 Imtiaz was arrested last month in connection with a rape case, he said, adding, the police party wanted extension of his judicial custody.
A search operation has been launched to nab the accused, he said.
Four police personnel, including three Selection Grade Constables, have been suspended in this connection, he said, adding, a case has been registered against them.

Two civilians injured in suspected blast along LoC in PoonchTwo civilians were injured in a suspected blast on a track along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday night.

“There was a suspected blast on a track along the borderline in Poonch district tonight in which two civilians were injured,” a Defence Spokesman said.

The injured have been hospitalised, he said, adding, the matter is being investigated.


Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti today said her party wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue, which if left unsettled could trigger another war between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan can’t claim an inch, says MehboobaAddressing a public rally in Poonch here today, she said: “Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and if a war takes place, it would cause destruction everywhere.

“Neither can Pakistan take an inch of Kashmir nor can an inch of the PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) land come to us. So, the ammunition worth crores of rupees being wasted by both countries on the borders should be used for development works in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan.

”She said Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had supported the vision of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had brought ceasefire on the Line of Control and took initiatives for setting in peace.

She criticised Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her provocative remarks on the Pakistani firing on the LoC during her poll rally in Bihar on August 30. “Does Sonia Gandhi want war with Pakistan despite knowing the fact that both countries are nuclear powers,” Mehbooba said.

The PDP president also expressed her concern over the decreasing girl child birth rate in J&K. “We have launched a special scheme for the girl child in Jammu and Kashmir where Rs 1,000 per month is being deposited in the name of the girl child born after April 1, 2015.

”Education Minister Naeem Akhter and prominent PDP leaders also spoke on the occasion.

Pakistani troops heavily shelled border hamlets and army posts along the LoC with mortar bombs for the eleventh consecutive day in two sectors of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, which witnessed two fresh ceasefire violations from across the border on Wednesday.

Ceasefire violation by Pak continues, J&K posts targetedThe firing drew strong retaliation from the Indian army.

“Pakistan violated the ceasefire twice today by resorting to heavy shelling of 120 mm, 81 mm and 60 mm mortar bombs on civilian areas and army posts along the LoC in Hamirpur and Mendhar sectors of Poonch district, which started around 1330 hours,” a defence spokesman said.

“Our troops have been responding effectively and appropriately”, the spokesperson said, adding that exchanges were on when the reports last came in from the area.

“The Indian army deployed in these forward post areas are giving a befitting reply and firing on forward areas of Pakistan, reportedly causing damage to them,” he said, adding, no damage and casualty on our side has been reported so far.

There have been 50 violations of the border ceasefire agreement of 2003 by Pakistan in August and over 245 ceasefire violations during the year so far.

The spokesman said the Pakistan rangers had also resorted to firing on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote, Bhimbergali (BG) and Poonch sectors last night.

Firing from Pakistani side stopped around 2200 hours in Balakote sector, whereas it ended around 2330 hours in Poonch sector. In the BG sector, Pakistan carried out heavy mortar shelling and fired machine gun for almost nine hours, he said.

Expanding the arch of its targets, Pakistani troops had pounded civilian areas and military positions along the IB in R S Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu district on intervening night of August 17-18, injuring a villager.

Pakistan had yesterday violated the ceasefire five times by targeting civilian hamlets with 120 mm, 82 mm and 60 mm mortar bombs along the IB and LoC in Poonch, Balakote, R S Pura, Hamirpur and Arnia sectors of Poonch and Jammu districts.


Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh along with minister and others on Tuesday visited shelling hit areas in Poonch district and conveyed their condolences to the bereaved families who lost their family members in the shelling.

J&K Deputy CM visits shelling affected hamletsSingh and Minister for Public Works Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari visited Balakote area and interacted with the people at village Hamirpur near LoC here, an official spokesman said.

They were accompanied by MP, Jugal Kishore Sharma and Haveli MLA Shah Mohammad Tantray.

The shelling on LoC in Balakote and Sawjian sectors in the district resulted in injuring and killing several innocent villagers.

The Deputy Chief Minister while addressing villagers at Hamirpur assured every possible help from government and said that the coalition government is aware of the extreme difficulties that the people living along the LoC face on daily basis.

Commending their courage to withstand extremely adverse conditions along LoC, the Deputy CM assured adequate compensation to the victims and long term security and welfare measures for them.

He said bunkers will be constructed in border villages to save human lives in future. He said although there are elements bent upon sabotaging peace initiatives, the government is committed to take all the steps leading to peace.

Bukhari while extending condolences to the affected families stated that the state government is already considering issue of comprehensive rehabilitation of the people affected by border shelling.

He said, the government will also provide critical care ambulances in the district so that seriously injured persons can be looked after immediately.

The Deputy Chief Minister and R&B Minister also commended the district administration for timely evacuation and rehabilitation of affected people.