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Jammu and Kashmir DDC elections and Panchayat bypolls underway

The 20 districts in Jammu and Kashmir have overall 280 constituencies. The election of all of them are held in eight phases with ballot papers beginning today. Besides DDC elections, the by-polls of 1088 sarpanch and over 12000 panch are also being conducted simultaneously.

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polling J&K

The first phase of District Development Council elections and by-polls to panchs and sarpanchs in Jammu and Kashmir began on Saturday, amid massive security arrangements in view of pandemic.

Jammu and Kashmir witnessed its first-ever DDC elections as before the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir did not have the three-tier Panchayati Raj system.

The election which began at 7am at various polling booths, forms the first test for Centre‘s move to restart the political process after the bifurcation of the state into Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh last August.

The 20 districts in Jammu and Kashmir have overall 280 constituencies. The election of all of them are held in eight phases with ballot papers beginning today. Besides DDC elections, the by-polls of 1088 sarpanch and over 12000 panch positions are also being conducted simultaneously.

In the first phase of by-polls, nearly 7 lakh voters will decide the fate of 296 candidates in 43 constituencies today. While 124 candidates including 80 women are in the fray in 18 constituencies in Jammu division. The remaining 172 candidates, including 59 women are contesting the polls on 25 seats in Kashmir valley.

In the by-elections to 12,513 panchayat constituencies, the bypolls for 43 sarpanch and 368 panch constituencies are being held today. 

The DDC elections are essentially the contest between the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) , the BJP and the Apni Party run by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari.

State Election Commissioner KK Sharma said 2,146 polling stations have been set up for the smooth conduct of elections. Regarding the standard operating procedures related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the commissioner urged the people to follow the guidelines issued by the Election Commission, besides using face masks and maintaining social distance during the by-polls. 

All the arrangements including the election material and security arrangements have been completed, said Sharma, adding that candidates can campaign anywhere in view of the arrival of central armed forces along with UP police who have been deployed all over in Jammu and Kashmir.

Also Read: Bihar Assembly sees an angry Nitish Kumar count his favours for Lalu, Tejashwi Yadav

The DDC election and by-polls to the panchayat are being held from November 28 to December 19. The votes will be counted on December 22.

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Calcutta High Court suggests changing name of Sita, Akbar lions

Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday suggested to the Bengal government that the names of lioness Sita and lion Akbar, who were placed in the same enclosure at the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, could be changed.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had filed a petition in the High Court to change the name of the lioness Sita, who was recently brought to West Bengal from Tripura.

Hearing a petition, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya orally directed the State to avoid controversy and consider renaming the big cats.

Questioning the intention of the State, Justice Bhattacharyya asked the government if it would name a lion after a Hindu deity, a Muslim prophet or Christian god, a freedom fighter or a Nobel laureate. Generally, anyone who has been revered or respected by the people of our country, Justice Bhattacharyya further asked.

On this occasion, the Additional Advocate General (AAG), appearing for the State, submitted that the naming of the lions took place in Tripura, and it was the responsibility of the Tripura Zoo authorities. Counsel further told the Court that the State itself was already considering changing the name of lions.

Upon hearing the arguments, the Bench also questioned the logic behind naming the lions after a god, freedom fighter or Nobel laureate and further asked why the State did not challenge the names given by Tripura.

The Court further noted that the petition filed by VHP espoused the rights of a large section of people and said that naming a lion after Sita, a largely worshipped by Hindus would hurt their religious sentiments.

During the exchange with AAG, Justice Bhattacharyya also stated that the animals could not be named after respected figures. He further asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

The Bench had directed the petition by VHP to be reclassified as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and redirected it to a regular Bench that can hear the same.

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Farmer who died in protest, survived by mentally ill father, unwed sister

Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran Singh a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. 

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The 21-year-old farmer, Shubhkaran Singh who died during the clashes between the police and the protesting farmers on Khanauri border left behind his mentally ill father and an unwed sister. His mother died years ago.

The 21 years old, a resident of Balloch village of Bathinda in Punjab, left his home on February 13 to join the Delhi Chalo march. Reports stated that Shubhkaran Singh was the youngest among the group of 15 people who left to join the protest from the village.

Reportedly, Shubhkaran was the only son and sole breadwinner of the family. The 21-year-old farmer has about two acres of land. Shubhkaran, who has two sisters, also took a loan for the marriage of his one sister.

The farmers who halted their protest for two days after the death of the youth, have blocked the autopsy. Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the AAP led Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. The leader further said that the government should create a five member board to conduct the post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that the police took action when the farmers were peacefully trying to cross over into Haryana. He added that more than 100 farmers have been injured and demanded the treatment of injured farmers.

Haryana police while appealing for peace said that farmers escalated the violence by attacking the police personnels with sticks and maces and that the police were only trying to restrain them.

Issuing a statement, Additional Inspector General, Manisha Chaudhary said that farmers surrounded the police from all sides, burned stubble by pouring chilli powder in it. She added that around 12 policemen were seriously injured because of the attacks by protestors at Datta Singh Wala-Khanauri border.

Meanwhile, farmer’s leader Pandher said that farmer leaders will discuss future actions and until then, all farmers will remain camped at the borders.

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Congress slams Govt over X blocking accounts linked to farmers protest on Centre’s order, says democracy is being murdered

X disagreed with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

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The Congress party on Thursday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government over the action of microblogging platform X blocking accounts and posts linked to the ongoing farmers’ protest and called it a murder of democracy.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, taking to X, said that the action taken by the social media platform on the Centre’s order was a murder of democracy in India.

The Elon Musk-led X, sharing a post on its platform in response to the IT ministry’s order asking it to temporarily block 177 accounts linked to the farmers’ protest, said that the Indian government has issued executive orders requiring it to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties, including significant fines and imprisonment.

The X’s Global Government Affairs team further stated that it complied with the orders and they would withhold these accounts and posts in India alone, however, they disagreed with these actions and maintained that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

Consistent with their position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders remains pending. X has also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions following their policies.

Due to legal restrictions, they were unable to publish the executive orders, but they thought that making them public was essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making, the X’s Global Government Affairs said in a post on its platform.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Modi government and termed it a murder of democracy. Taking to X, he raised several questions and said if farmers ask for MSP, shoot them. Is this the Mother of Democracy? Gandhi further said that when the youth ask for the appointment, the Centre refuse to even listen to them, if the former governor tells the truth, then they send CBI to his house.

He also attacked the Modi government for freezing the bank accounts of the most prominent opposition party. He added, saying that Section 144, internet ban, sharp wires, and tear gas shells on farmers are not justified in the democracy. He further attacked the Centre for suppressing the voice of the people. He charged on Centre, saying Modi ji public knows that the government have murdered democracy and they will answer it.

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