Bengaluru, Oct 13: A total of 19 candidates are in the fray in Sindagi and Hangal assembly constituencies for the October 30 by elections, poll officials said on Wednesday.

Today being the last day for withdrawal of nominations, two from Sindagi and four from Hangal withdrew their papers, leaving six and thirteen candidates in the fray from the two constituencies respectively.

Two candidates from Sindagi are women.

Counting of votes will take place on November 2.

The by-elections have been necessitated as the seats fell vacant following the death of Sindagi JD(S) legislator M C Managuli and BJP's C M Udasi from Hangal.

While Ramesh Bhusanur, who came second behind Managuli in 2018 polls, is the BJP candidate from Sindagi, Shivaraj Sajjanar is its candidate from Hangal constituency.

The Congress has named Managuli's son Ashok Managuli, who has joined the party, as its candidate from Sindgi, while former MLC Srinivas Mane is its candidate from Hangal.

JD(S), which was the first to announce its candidates, has fielded 33-year-old post graduate Naziya Shakeel Ahmed Angadi from Sindagi and 35-year-old B.E, M.Tech (CSE) graduate Niyaz Shaikh from Hangal.

This is the first electoral challenge for Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai after taking charge. Retaining Hangal is even more important for him as it is the neighboring constituency to his Shiggaon assembly segment.

The Congress, by ensuring a win, wants to give momentum for its preparations in the run up to 2023 assembly polls in the state, while JD(S) is looking to retain Sindagi seat and thereby prove that it still commands a support base in the northern districts.

Congress leaders have alleged that JD(S) deliberately fielded minority candidates for the Hangal and Sindagi by-elections to help the BJP.

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.