1. 2 JeM ‘fidayeen’ militants killed in Jammu ahead of PM’s visit
A CISF officer also killed in Sunjwan gunfight amid enhanced security
Two unidentified Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, apparently on a ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) mission, were killed in Jammu on Friday, just two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first public address in J&K since the removal of special status under Article 370 in August 2019.
One Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officer, identified as assistant sub-inspector S.P. Patel, was also killed and four security personnel — two CISF jawans and two policemen — were injured in the gunfight.
The attack by the militants took place around 4.25 a.m. when around 15 CISF personnel were heading for an ongoing cordon-and- search operation in Jammu’s Sunjwan area. The CISF jawans engaged the militants in a gunfight and “forced them to retreat” and “hide in a nearby built-up area”. The area was rattled by loud explosions during the encounter, forcing closure of all nearby schools for the day. Internet services were also suspended.
The distance between Sunjwan and Samba’s Palli village, where Mr. Modi is scheduled to address elected representatives on the National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, is just 14 km.
“They (militants) were wearing ‘fidayeen’ vests. Both were tasked to either target a security camp or to engage a large number of security forces to inflict maximum casualties,” J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said.
Preliminary information suggested that the militants were “non-locals and recently infiltrated into Jammu” from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The police said they were working on the inputs on the presence of militants in Jammu.
“As of now there are no inputs to suggest that the slain were planning to attack the PM’s upcoming rally at Samba on April 24,” DGP Singh added. Three AK-47 rifles, grenades, magazines, eatables, medicines, energy drinks etc. were recovered from the slain militants, the police said. According to the Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Singh, the militants were also carrying satellite phones.
Friday’s attack comes amid heightened security across the Union Territory ahead of the Prime Minister’s scheduled visit.
2. ‘Postal ballot for NRIs being contemplated’
CEC urges members of Indian community to register as overseas electors
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, during a recent visit to South Africa and Mauritius, urged Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to register as overseas electors and told them that a proposal on postal ballots for NRIs was being contemplated, the Election Commission of India said on Friday.
An ECI delegation led by Mr. Chandra visited the two countries from April 9 to 19 and interacted with groups of NRIs, apart from holding meetings with election management bodies of the countries, the statement said.
“During the interaction with members of the Indian community, the CEC urged them to register as overseas voters as the present numbers are abysmally low.
He also shared with the members that extension of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) facility to overseas voters is being contemplated,” the ECI said.
In meetings with NRI groups, Mr. Chandra spoke of the experience of conducting elections in India, which has 950 million voters in over 1 million polling stations.
Mr. Chandra’s visit and interactions with NRIs came after Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed the Lok Sabha in March that the government was exploring the possibility of allowing online voting for NRIs.
The ECI had written to the Law Ministry in 2020 proposing that NRIs be allowed to vote through postal ballots, following which the matter has been under consideration by the government.
While the ECI at present allows NRIs to register as overseas electors as long as they have not acquired the citizenship of another country, they have to reach their respective polling booths to cast their votes in person on voting day.
According to an ECI official, as of now there are only 1.12 lakh registered overseas electors.