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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK

World: South Asia

BJP loses second candidate in Kashmir

Police clash with anti-election demonstrators in Srinagar

By Altaf Hussain in Srinagar

The Bharatiya Janata Party's replacement candidate in Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Rehman Sheikh, has refused to file his nomination papers after his son was kidnapped.

He had been put forward by the Bharatiya Janata Party to contest the constituency after the death of the original BJP candidate, Ghulam Haider Noorani.

Indian Elections 99
Full results
Mr Noorani was killed in a landmine explosion on 7 September.

Polling in Anantnag was postponed until 4 October, and the BJP announced its new candidate for the constituency on Thursday.

But before Mr Sheikh could file his nomination papers, his nine-year-old son was kidnapped early on Friday. The boy was on his way to school in Srinagar when some men in a car whisked him away.

The state police chief, Gurbachan Jagat, said he hoped to be able to ensure that the boy returned home safely very soon.

Mr Sheikh has now pulled out of the election contest, forcing the BJP to field yet another candidate - Showkat Hussain Wani.

It is not yet clear whether separatist militants are responsible for the kidnapping. No one has owned responsibility so far.

Rocket fired

Earlier, militants shot dead an activist of the state's governing National Conference party, Gul Mohammad War, at Haril village near the border town of Handwara.

Also on Thursday night, militants fired a rocket, and gunfire was heard at the home of a National Conference leader and member of the state assembly, Saifullah Mir, near Kupwara town. No one was injured in the attack.

Both incidents occurred in Baramullah parliamentary constituency which goes to the polls on Saturday.

Separatist groups in the valley have called a boycott of the elections.

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