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Jammu: Farooq Abdullah attacks people calling him ‘Pakistani’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a scathing attack on those calling him “anti-national and Pakistani”, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday said if the BJP-PDP coalition government “is not anti-national” for advocating talks with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat, how can he be given the label for doing the same.Farooq sought “meaningful dialogue” for ending political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir. “PDP-BJP batted for talks with all. They entered into alliance. In their agenda of alliance it’s written they will talk to all– and also to Hurriyat,” Farooq told a public rally at Ragooda belt on Wednesday.Taking a dig at those calling him Pakistani, he said, “They (PDP-BJP) are not Pakistanis. They are not anti- nationals. When Farooq is calling for holding talks with all they allege Farooq is anti-national and Pakistani.” “We have given sacrifices for entire life and then I am being given a label,” he said.”Alongside opening channels of dialogue with Pakistan, the Centre must talk to all the stake-holders, including Hurriyat Conference,” Abdullah said.Referring to recent unrest, he blamed the coalition for bringing “unprecedented crisis” not only in the Valley but also in the Jammu region. He also referred to “harassment being caused” to weaker sections of society in Jammu by threatening eviction from the lands rehabilitated by their ancestors.”Aren t these people Dogras and integral part of the Jammu society, who are at the receiving end of the whims and fancies of the coalition dispensation,” Abdullah said.”We inherit the legacy of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh. Anybody attempting to trample upon these ethos will get befitting reply from the people,” he said and “advised the Chief Minister not to lose sense of proportion by colluding in inflicting miseries on the people”.Holding PDP responsible for “political instability” and unrest across the Valley, he said “betrayal of mandate” by aligning with the BJP engulfed Jammu and Kashmir into “unprecedented crisis”. He described the PDP-BJP alliance as one of the major causes of igniting Kashmir unrest.

Kashmir unrest: With key elections around corner, PDP and NC cash in on people’s emotions

While Kashmir is yet to come out of the trauma and despondency after months of violent protests, strict curfews and shutdowns that took an immense economic and human toll, the two major political parties from the Valley — the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party — are back to what they know best: Playing politics.

With the elections to the two key Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar and Anantnag set to be held early next year, the political leadership of the National Conference and PDP is leaving no stone unturned to appeal to the emotions of people who have been traumatised by the ongoing agitation in the Valley. It all began with the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah‘s criticism of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the PDP-BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti for failing to handle the unrest in the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

The National Conference’s working president, who himself faced a similar situation in 2010 during which at least 125 persons, mostly youths, were killed in retaliatory action against protesters, didn’t stop there. He even said that it would be a “grave mistake” to blame Pakistan for flaring up the situation.

“Simply blaming Pakistan for the present situation, then, it would mean that we don’t have to do anything to prevent the unrest, which I think would be a grave mistake. We need to have talked internally, we need to solve this political crisis and until we are conscious of this reality, I don’t think we can take any concrete action,” Omar told reporters in Srinagar.

Going a step ahead, on the 111th birth anniversary of his father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Dr Farooq Abdullah asked the Hurriyat to unite under a single banner and extended his party to the separatists “at this hour”. Addressing party workers at the mausoleum of Sheikh in Srinagar, Farooq said, “I ask these Hurriyat leaders to unite. We are standing by your side at this hour. Don’t think of us as your adversaries. We are not your adversaries.”

As if not to be left behind, Mehbooba admitted that security forces had used excessive force in the past five months of civilian uprising in Kashmir, and urged the Jammu and Kashmir Police to “change its line of action so that wounds inflicted on people are healed”. She also directed security forces to differentiate between militants and their families and not to see everybody as a suspect.

“Over the past five months, a lot of damage with regard to life and property took place here. Civilians, policemen and other security forces personnel sustained injuries. I will not shy away from speaking the truth. We were left with no option other than to take tough measures to protect life and property,” the chief minister said, while addressing the passing-out parade of a batch of new police recruits at Commandos Training Centre (CTC) Lethpora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

So, why are all the political parties shifting their moral goalposts on the prevailing crisis in the Valley which has left at least 96 civilians and two security personnel dead, over 16,000 injured while more than 10,000 have been arrested during the past five months?

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File image of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

While many experts have argued that the political posturing, especially by the National Conference, shows that there are no dividing lines between mainstream and separatist politics in Kashmir, that would be denigrating their contributions to the process of establishing democracy in Jammu and Kashmir that has been hit by turmoil over the last three decades.

The upcoming parliamentary elections to Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha constituencies, which fell vacant after the resignation of PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra and election of Mehbooba to the post of chief minister respectively, has forced the regional parties to take a populist view on the prevailing crisis so as to brighten their electoral prospects.

Farooq is at the fag-end of his political career and it is obvious he is trying to stage a comeback by giving it a last shot before retiring, whatever it costs. Mehbooba, on the other hand, is facing severe criticism for ‘mishandling’ the prevailing crisis in the Valley. Her party has lost the ground it gained during the 2014 state Assembly elections.

In such a situation, both parties would like to appeal to the passions of the people in order to restore their electoral credibility. Calling them ‘separatist backers’ or ‘Hurriyat sympathisers’ would be distorting what lies at the heart of the issue. These days, separatism sells like hot cakes and the political compulsions brought about by the prevailing crisis has forced the two parties to toe the populist sentiment.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:45 IST

Watch | Caught on camera: TMC MLA speaks on phone during National Anthem

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an incident signifying embarrassment for the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a party MLA Vaishali Dalmiya was caught on camera speaking over the phone while the National Anthem was being played.The TMC leader, who was present at a sports event in Howrah, West Bengal on Sunday was busy attending phone calls while the National Anthem was being played.Dalmiya, who is the daughter of late Jagmohan Dalmiya, former President of International Cricket Council and Board of Cricket Council of India, was attending Commissioner Cup, a Football tournament organised by Belur Police Station.This is not the first incident when a politician came under the radar for talking over phone during national anthem, as earlier, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah faced a huge backlash for talking on phone while the national anthem was being played.Meanwhile, in Kerala at least six people were detained for allegedly showing disrespect to the national anthem and in another incident a Kerala writer was charged with sedition over a Facebook post that was allegedly disrespectful to the national anthem.

Demonetization: IT department seizes Rs 90 crore cash, 100 kg gold from Chennai jewellers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Several Chennai-based jewellers were raided by the Income Tax department on Thursday, from whom Rs 90 crore and 100 kg gold has been seized.According to a Times of India report, officials of IT department searched eight jewellery shops in T Nagar, a hotel and homes of jewellery shop owners in Anna Nagar to recover black money in cash and gold.A senior IT official said, “One Srinivasa Reddy and his associate Shekar Reddy and their agent Prem are among the suspects. IT officials seized 70 kg of gold from a room in a hotel in the city. The culprits are suspected to be agents of some bigwigs.”
ALSO READ A yagna called demonetization: Omar Abdullah claims PM Modi using religion to deflect criticism Out of the cash and the gold seized, Rs 80 crore is in old scrapped notes whereas the remaining Rs 10 crore is in new Rs 2000 notes. The gold seized has been valued at Rs 30 crore.PM Modi had on November 8 declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would not be legal tender starting midnight that evening, which sent a wave of panic across the country with people trying to find ways to convert and hide their black money.

A yagna called demonetization: Omar Abdullah claims PM Modi using religion to deflect criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On December 8, as we completed 30 days since PM Modi had made a historic announcement that shook the nation about demonetization, he took to Twitter to thank the people of the nation for supporting demonetization. The Prime Minister took to his Twitter handle and said the government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers. ‘I salute the people of India for wholeheartedly participating in this ongoing yagna ( against corruption, terrorism and black money.Together, we must ensure the India Defeats Black Money. This will empower the poor, neo-middle class, middle class & benefit future generations. The government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, who are the economic backbone of our nation,’ tweeted the Prime Minister. Urging the nation to bear the change with patience, the Prime Minister said that he warned of little inconvenience and that a little pain in present will reap gain in the future.‘I always said that the government’s measure will bring a degree of inconvenience but this short term pain will pave way for long term gains. No longer will the progress and prosperity of rural India be curtailed by corruption and black money. Our villages must get their due,’ he said.‘We also have a historic opportunity to embrace increased cashless payments & integrate latest technology in economic transactions. My young friends, you are agents of change who will make India corruption free and ensure more cashless transactions,’ he added.One person who seemed to take offence to PM Modi’s message and particular the usage of the word yagna was former J&K CM Omar Abdullah. He felt that the PM’s use of the word yagna had ‘very obvious religious overtones’. He wrote on Twitter: “Does the PM’s use of the word Yagna, which has very obvious religious overtones, aim to make it tougher for true believers to oppose? When all else fails fall back on the tried & tested religious card to stem the tide of criticism.”For the uninitiated, word yagna literally means ‘sacrifice, devotion, worship and offering’ and in Hinduism is often used to refer to a ritual done in front of a sacred fire. Earlier, Omar Abdullah had claimed that demonetization not only deprived people access to their money but now they are also being denied freedom of spending at places of their choice.”So not only do we not have the freedom to access our money, we are also being told where we can spend our earnings.”A relative of mine got his salary the other day which included a nice thick booklet of Rs 50 vouchers and a list of shops he can spend them at,” Omar said in a series of tweets.Reacting to reports that authorities have snapped mobile phone services in some parts of south Kashmir Anantnag district, the National Conference leader said the move has rendered the digital wallets of cashless economy useless.”In a cashless economy all the digital wallets are now useless. Tell me again how we are going to sell the utopian dream to people’” he asked.Opposition hits out at demonetization – again Targeting Prime Minister Modi on the issue of demonetisation, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day dubbed the move of currency swap as ‘foolish’.Gandhi said the decision has been implemented without any consideration.Further attacking Prime Minister Modi, he said ‘If I am allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, I will show to all how Paytm means ‘Pay to Modi.’When asked about the disruption in Parliament, the Congress vice-president said the responsibility of running the House is with the government and the Speaker, not the opposition.With the opposition observing ‘Black Day’ to vent their ire over the existing problems post completion of one month of demonetisation, the government today cornered the Gandhi family, saying those questioning the ruling dispensation are the ones supporting the black money holders. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition is not observing a Black Day, but they are voicing their support for black money holders. Taking a dig at the Congress, he added, “Gandhi ji gave call for Satyagrah to see that victory of truth prevails. What are so-called namesakes of Gandhis doing’” Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, echoing similar sentiments, alleged that the opposition’s protest was aimed at garnering media space.With inputs from agencies

We are with Hurriyat till they are on right track: Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday said his party was not against Hurriyat Conference and supported the Kashmiri people’s demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.Addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal, he asked the Hurriyat leaders not to go separate ways saying “be united and we are also standing with you”. “Do not think of us as your enemies, we are not. But we are not ready to tread the wrong path. So, I am telling you from this sacred place that you (Hurriyat) move forward, we are with you till your steps are on the right track and till you take this nation forward in a right manner,” he said. However, later talking to reporters, Abdullah said the issue was not whether he was with the Hurriyat or not.”This agitation which talks about demanding the rights of the people of Kashmir, NC is with them on this to the extent of they talking about rights. We neither were nor are against (demanding) the rights,” he said.The former Union minister said the people talking of “freedom” were indulging in propaganda. He also said the “fire” in the Valley would not be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with the people of the state.”Remember this, till this fire is there, it cannot be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with us, with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The more they try to extinguish this fire, the more it will rise,” he said.He asked his party workers not to be away from “this struggle”. “We are a part of this struggle. We have fought regularly for the interests of this Valley,” he said.Responding to his criticism by the BJP over his recent remarks over India’s claim on PoK, Abdullah said he has never spoken anything against the country.”Farooq Abdullah has never spoken anything anti-national. This (Kashmir) issue is not my creation. This issue is from 1948, it is not anything new. It is still in the UN Security Council. It is in the agreement between India and Pakistan which Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India and Zulfikar Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan signed that Kashmir issue would be resolved through dialogue,” he said. He said both the countries would have to resolve their issues through dialogue.”I do not know anything about whether they (Pakistan Prime Minister s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and NSA Ajit Doval) talked or not. But one day both the countries will have to resolve their issues through dialogue. There is no other way,” he said. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to solve this issue and “I hope one day he will talk to Pakistan as there is no other option”.”Both the countries should exhibit restraint. When border skirmishes happen, people on both sides suffer losses. Both are parts of Kashmir,” he said. Commenting on the Prime Minister’s remarks at a Jalandhar rally that he was determined to stop the flow of water into Pakistan and bring it for farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said people of India were “befooled”.”People of India were befooled. What did Modi say in Jalandhar? He said he will stop Pakistan’s water. Which rivers has he stopped water from?” he said.

Kashmir: Normal life partially hit as separatists placed under house arrest

Srinagar: Normal life was partially affected in Kashmir on Monday due to a strike called by separatists even as authorities placed Hurriyat Conference leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest to foil their plans of holding a march to Lal Chowk city centre.

“Geelani and the Mirwaiz have been placed under house arrest as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order,” a police official said.

File image of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. AFPFile image of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. AFP

File image of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. AFP

The separatist groups had called for a march to Lal Chowk on Monday to protest civilian deaths during the unrest in the Valley that began on 9 July, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces.

The authorities have sealed off Clock Tower and surrounding areas in Lal Chowk to prevent the separatists from assembling there.

Shops and other business establishments remained closed due to the strike call but transport — both public and private — was plying in many parts of the city.

Schools and government offices are closed on Monday due to public holiday to mark the 111th birth anniversary of former chief minister and founder of opposition National Conference Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

Reports of shutdown were received from other districts and towns of the Valley but the situation so far is peaceful, the official said.

The unrest in the Valley has left 86 people dead and thousands others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.

Meanwhile, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventive custody along with several supporters from Sarai Bala area of the city as they were trying to march towards Lal Chowk.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 19:10 IST

Farooq Abdullah calls for dialogue between India, Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Monday asserted that only dialogue can resolve differences between India and Pakistan. Abdullah said the two Asian neighbours will have to sit and talk and put an end to the prolonged impasse. “One day the two nations will have to sit and talk to resolve their differences. There is no second way here. The two nations should restrain themselves from further igniting the tension, as both nations get adversely affected,” he told the media here.The National Conference leader expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would definitely resume talks with the Asian neighbour and restore peace between the two countries. “I believe that Prime Minister of India wants that the issue between India and Pakistan should get resolved by any means. And I have a firm hope that one day he will resume dialogue with Pakistan,” said Abdullah.The former chief minister?s assertion came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a united effort to combat regional terrorism.The Prime Minister, who did not name Pakistan, made this assertion at the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in Amritsar, Punjab.

Delhi does a fine balancing act with Iran, Qatar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 1930, famous poet Iqbal visualised Tehran becoming the Geneva of the East. The Swiss city was then the headquarters of the League of Nations. Of late, New Delhi is turning to be a centre for international diplomatic engagements, with the city on Saturday hosting the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of arch-rivals Qatar and Iran – Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and Mohammad Javad Zarif, respectively.Qatar, an important member of the Saudi Arabia-led Sunni Arab alliance, is also an active supporter of the US-led campaigns in the region. It also hosts a Taliban office in Doha. Iran, the only Shia Muslim country in the world, disagrees with almost everything with Arab Gulf states, ranging from Opec’s oil production to the US role in the region as well as conflicts in Syria and Iraq.Both the visiting dignitaries spoke about ways to curb terrorism. During the bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sheikh Abdullah talked about enhancing cooperation and agreed on a joint action to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing.Later, Zarif anaylsed the fight against terrorism and ways to curb the global menace of extremism. His punchline was to introspect within and provide a vent to dissents and frustrations through democratic means — a panacea for terrorism. He also asked for giving the youth the hope for a better future to prevent them from ending up as suicide bombers.He described alienation and deprivation as the root cause of radicalisation, blaming the big powers for creating a monster through their policies. “We are paying the price for the misplaced perception that Cold War was won by the West,” said Zarif. Speaking on issues like Syria, he said time is long gone for any imposed solution in Syria. He hinted that his country would support an inclusive government to end the conflict in the region.Referring to Iran’s commitment to develop trade with India, he said Chabahar marks an excellent venue for cooperation with India and Afghanistan. The Iranian Foreign Minister is accompanied by a 38-member delegation from his country’s Chamber of Commerce, 15 knowledge-based companies and eight trade banks to participate in the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference. He stopped in Delhi to address a gathering of strategic experts on way to Amritsar.Earlier, at the swanky Hyderabad House, India and Qatar signed five agreements on visa exemptions for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports, technical cooperation in cyber space and crime, letters of intent on e-visas for businessmen and tourists, and an MoU between the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Another MoU for greater collaboration in port management was also signed.Modi said the visit of the Qatari Prime Minister showed the growing bilateral ties with Qatar, which India has always regarded as a “valued partner”. On energy cooperation, Modi said: “We should go beyond the buyer-seller relationship to include joint ventures, research and development and exploration. “Indian companies are ready to invest in both upstream and downstream projects in the hydrocarbon sector,” he said.Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for 66 per cent of the total imports in 2015-16. The Qatari leader invited India to participate in infrastructure and investment development in his country, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2022. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also called on the Qatar PM. The visa pact allows holders of diplomatic, special and official passport holders of the two countries to visa-free travel between the two countries.The ‘protocol on technical cooperation in cyber space and combating cyber crime’ will add an important dimension to bilateral technical cooperation to the existing agreement signed in 2008.

Centre failed, blaming Pakistan wrong: Omar Abdullah on Kashmir unrest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday criticised the Centre for failing to take concrete measures to curb the unrest in Kashmir post the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani and said that it would be a ‘grave mistake’ to always blame Pakistan and turning a blind eye to internal issues. ‘Simply blaming Pakistan for the present situation, then, it would mean that we don’t have to do anything to prevent the unrest, which I think would be a grave mistake. We need to have talks internally, we need to solve this political crisis and until we are conscious of this reality, I don’t think we can take any concrete action,’ Omar told reporters here. Omar’s remarks came days after he reprimanded incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for the prolonged unrest in Kashmir and asked the latter to take responsibility for the same. ‘Mehbooba Mufti blamed me for 2010 situation (unrest), I accept the blame. Will she accept the blame for 2016′” said Abdullah. Normal life across the Kashmir Valley was disrupted yet again yesterday after the separatists called for strikes against the ruling dispensation in the state.The separatists are spearheading this agitation against the killing of Wani who was gunned down on July 8 by security forces in southern Kashmir. The present unrest has claimed more than 86 people, including two cops and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. More than 5000 security personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

I fear I’d starve if I had to move to a cashless economy: Omar Abdullah’s jibe to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday termed as “unrealistic” the idea of a cashless economy as floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address, saying internet Connectivity in the state was unreliable. “I’d love to move to a cashless economy but given the reliability of connectivity in J&K & the absence of points of sale I fear I’d starve,” he tweeted.The National Conference (NC) working president said it was an unrealistic idea especially for the people living in remote areas of the state.”And I live in Srinagar. Imagine asking people in Gurez, Karnah, Keran & other remote areas to dispense with cash!!! Totally unrealistic idea,” he said.

Payal Abdullah’s plea on government accomodation reserved by Delhi High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its order on a plea of Payal Abdullah, estranged wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, for government accommodation for her and her sons on the ground that they enjoyed ‘Z’ and ‘Z plus’ security status. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice VK Rao said that it will consider whether Payal and her kids was entitled to get the government accommodation on parity with some of the political leaders who have been granted the same on security ground.The petitioners, including the couple’s two children, have sought parity with others who enjoyed similar security status and have been given government accommodation. The court was hearing an appeal against a single judge’s August 19 order asking her to vacate the 7, Akbar Road bungalow in Lutyen’s Delhi that she was residing in.The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), however, opposed her contention for government accommodation on the ground of security threat and said it is for Delhi Police to ensure safety for her stay here. Her counsel claimed that she and her sons were living in a rented flat which is not appropriate on security ground as they have to house around 90 security personnel, who have to stay on roads near their accommodation.
ALSO READ Payal Abdullah loses court battle, rendered homelessIn her appeal, she has contended that the August 19 order of the single judge mentioned no date and time of eviction and “hence the very act of summoning and pressing into service of armed public auxiliary/servants of different forces” for giving effect to the order was in violation of The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act.The counsel argued that under the Act, possession of a public premises cannot be taken after sunset, whereas she and her sons were evicted on the evening of August 22. Payal has also challenged the single judge’s observation that if her husband and father-in-law, both of whom are ‘Z plus’ protectees, could be secure in private accommodation, there is “no reason” why she and her sons cannot be.
ALSO READ Payal Abdullah evicted from Lutyen’s: Omar’s nameplate removed from govt bungalowShe contended that her husband, Omar, and father-in-law, Farooq Abdullah, were temporary visitors to Delhi and can be protected in private premises for a short duration, unlike her who is a permanent resident here. The single judge had said Payal and her sons were “liable to be evicted forthwith”, after terming their entitlement to retain the bungalow as “wholly illegal”.Justice Indermeet Kaur had said that Payal’s apprehension that she and her sons would not be given adequate security cover was “misconceived” and dismissed her plea to retain the bungalow. Prior to the high court’s August 19 decision, a trial court here had on Augusut 16 asked her to move out of the house. Three days later, Justice Kaur had asked Payal’s counsel, “Will you gracefully evict or I should pass an order?” However, her counsel had refused to do so.
ALSO READ Delhi HC to hear Payal Abdullah’s plea for retaining Lutyen residenceIt had also rejected Payal’s argument that she and her sons were central protectees by saying that as per a secret document submitted by MHA, their security status was granted by the state of Jammu and Kashmir because they were the wife and children of Omar Abdullah.

No-first-use is cornerstone of India’s nuclear policy: Omar Abdullah responds to Parrikar

No-first-use is cornerstone of India’s nuclear policy: Omar Abdullah responds to Manohar Parrikar


Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons has been the corner stone of the country’s nuclear policy which has allowed it to lay claim to being a responsible power.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

“No first use has been the corner stone of our nuclear policy & allowed India to lay claim to being a responsible power after Pokhran 2,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

He was reacting to the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s remarks in New Delhi that why India cannot say “we are a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly” instead of affirming a “no first use policy”.

“Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my (personal) thinking,” Parrikar said replying to a question as he explained the need to be unpredictable in warfare strategy.

Angry mourners bury victims of air strike in Afghanistan | Reuters

Angry mourners bury victims of air strike in Afghanistan | Reuters

Updated: Nov 4, 2016 20:05 IST


By Sardar Razmal
| KUNDUZ, Afghanistan

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan Hundreds of mourners gathered on Friday to bury more than 30 civilians killed in an air strike called in to protect Afghan and U.S. forces during a raid on suspected Taliban militants outside the northern city of Kunduz.There was an angry mood in Buz Kandahari, the village outside Kunduz where the raid took place in the early hours of Thursday, as white-shrouded bodies, many of small children, were laid out for burial.”My brother and three of his children were killed. My brother had no connection to any group, he was a labourer,” said Mawlawi Haji Allahdad, a resident of the village.”Did you see which of those infants and children who were killed by the Americans were terrorists?””We will avenge our dead against the Americans and the government,” he said.

Two Americans and four members of the Afghan special forces were killed during the initial raid, a month after Taliban fighters managed to enter Kunduz, threatening a repeat of their success a year earlier when they briefly captured the city.The fighting underlined how precarious the security situation around Kunduz remains. Although the city centre was eventually secured last month, the Taliban control much of the surrounding district, including the area of Buz Kandahari.Officials from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul have said it takes all reports of civilian deaths seriously and would investigate.

Human rights group Amnesty International called for an inquiry into the incident, saying those killed in the air strike deserved justice. “This cannot be another example of inaction in the face of such loss of life,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a trenchant critic of the use of American air power in Afghanistan, condemned the strikes, but otherwise reaction from Afghan political leaders was relatively muted.Speaking at an event in Kabul, Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah expressed his condolences to the victims and said there would be an investigation into the incident. He said the Taliban used Kunduz residents as human shields.

The use of air strikes in civilian areas came under heavy criticism last year after 42 people were killed in a strike against a hospital operated by aid group Medecins sans Frontieres in Kunduz.According to figures from the United Nations, there was a 72 percent increase in civilian casualties caused by air strikes in the period from January to September, with 133 deaths and 159 injured. One third were caused by international forces.However, Afghan military officials see U.S. air power as a vital support in the fight against the Taliban while the country’s own nascent air force is still being built, and the number of air strikes has spiked sharply this year. (Reporting by Sardar Razmal; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

International community must join hands to eradicate terrorism: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorism is a global problem and the international community must join hands to root out the menace, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday night in Manama as he began his three-day visit to the Gulf country.Addressing the Indian community in Bahrain, Singh also said the Narendra Modi government has made several structural and procedural changes and that resulted in successfully reducing the “wholesale corruption” in the country.”Terrorism is a global problem and the entire international community has to come together to face the challenges posed by the menace,” he said.Highlighting various initiatives of the Modi government, the Home Minister said the NDA dispensation is creating an environment that will make every Indian “proud”. “India today is the fastest growing economy in the world and now it has become the most favourite destination for investments. India has attracted maximum FDI in one year which is more than even of the United States and China. India attracted USD 51 billion FDI in one year,” he said.Singh said that schemes like ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, Skill India, Digital India, Make in India and others are having a positive impact on India’s economy.”Our Prime Minister is very imaginative and extremely hard-working leader. He is working to minimise economic disparities in India,” he said.The Home Minister said Bahrain has started a “Little India in Bahrain” project and both the countries are coming closer on “emotional level” as well.Earlier, upon his arrival, the Home Minister was received at the airport by Bahrain’s Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa. Singh will meet Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the Interior Minister and will discuss with them various bilateral issues.Pakistan’s continuous support to cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be raised by the Home Minister in his meetings with the top leadership of Bahrain, official sources said. There will be extensive discussions on how to enhance bilateral cooperation with regard to tackling terror and each other’s fugitives at the meeting between Singh and his Bahrain counterpart Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, sources said.

Kashmir unrest: As war looms over Valley, NC-PDP agree to not use protests for political gains

A lot has changed in Kashmir over the last five weeks, and even more over the past week. Somebody in power — probably the National Security Advisor — seems to be finally trying to pull its act together. As our TV screens relentlessly show, it is too late to avoid a war-like situation, but at least several defensive moves are taking shape.

Farooq Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti

Farooq Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti

Changes have occurred at various levels — most visibly in the deployment of armed forces in the Kashmir Valley.

But there’s one more significant change taking place that is less visible: Judging by straws in the wind and the grapevine, the political class appears to have been persuaded to come together.

Soon after National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah returned from a long sojourn in London, he convened a meeting of various parties, including the Congress, in the state. There are signs that some of the most powerful in the land have got him and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to work together.

Conveniently, his son Omar Abdullah has gone abroad, instead. While his father was abroad and Omar held the reins, there was much talk of the agitations being an opportunity for the NC to get back on the People’s Democratic Party for the flames its cadres had fanned in 2010, when Omar was the chief minister. In several places, NC cadre are said to have been active in July, in the weeks following militant commander Burhan Wani’s death.

One of the more unhappy trends in the first couple of months, after Wani was killed on 8 July, was that activists of most political parties fanned the protests seeking local benefits. They got no local benefit, but they did damage the national cause — arguably, the local cause too — just as a war-like situation loomed.

It appears that the decision to sack government employees and policemen who were playing both sides was implemented only after the new political cohesion was achieved.

Although the National Conference has reacted, it has chosen to target a particular minister in the state government — one who the NC older generation leadership hate so much that he was shunted to inconsequential posts; in fact a disciplinary action was taken against him when Farooq Abdullah was the chief minister in the late 1990s.

The NC could have more sharply targeted the government overall and the leadership of the BJP (also the ruling party at the Centre) instead of attacking one long-hated minister.

Indeed, the targeting of particular leaders could reflect the inner dynamics of the new political churning. While the two top leaders of the Valley’s most important parties may have been persuaded to keep the larger picture in mind, there must be factions within both parties which are deeply upset. Surely, the most unhappy leaders would be those who have personally resented the other leadership the most over the years.

In this context, it is worth nothing that the only leading politician to have raised a shindig against the sacking of government employees was the volatile Rashid Ahmed, independent MLA from Langate. That has become predictable. (Rashid had taken on beef vigilantism most strongly in 2015 by hosting an illegal beef party in the Srinagar MLAs’ hostel. He was consequently slapped by BJP MLAs in the house. Ink was thrown at him at the Press Club of India. That is the sort of low-brow tamasha that set the stage for the mass youth anger across the Valley.)

Judging by what is available on Google, most of those who were photographed prominently with Farooq Abdullah at his recent press conference, have held their peace — even those who have made a career out of speeches on workers’ rights.

The political detente that portends out of this should be strongly appreciated. At a time when war clouds loom around J&K, this is the least that can be expected of any responsible politician.

RSS accuses Farooq Abdullah of sympathising with Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Rakesh Sinha on Friday castigated former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah for batting for resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue and said the latter is hinting sympathy towards Islamabad with such an irresponsible assertion.Sinha said Abdullah’s statement may have an adverse affect on India’s diplomatic efforts initiated to teach Pakistan a lesson.”Farooq Abdullah has made an irresponsible statement. Dialogue is not the lone responsibility of India. Pakistan is not initiating talks. Instead of talks, it has chosen the path of violence, terrorism. By making such comments, Farooq Abdullah is showing sympathy towards Pakistan and such kind of sympathy in current times cannot be expected out of any Indian,” said Sinha.”The whole country has united against Pakistan and is vouching for methods which compel Islamabad to quit terrorism. Such irresponsible statements have a negative impact on India’s diplomacy,” he added.The National Conference patron, who yesterday visited the Zero Line along the Line of Control and interacted with border dwellers, called for resuming dialogue with Pakistan.Making a fervent appeal to the leadership of the two hostile Asian neighbours to resume dialogue and end all hostilities, Abdullah said, “Wars haven’t and won’t resolve inherent political issues between India and Pakistan.”Abdullah also strongly criticized the alleged politicization of India’s surgical strikes, saying the blood of Indian jawans was being traded for electoral victories.”Today, we want to sell our soldiers’ blood for electoral victories? The condition is such that we want to trade their blood…but a soldier doesn’t belong to any party, he belongs to the entire country,” he said.The comments came after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar gave credit to the RSS teachings for the strikes targeting terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Responding to the recent ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Farooq said, “The situation is very grim right now. Poor people at both sides of the border are suffering. I would like to appeal to both nations that enough is enough; more bloods have been sacrificed from our end and at Pakistan’s end. Loss was reordered at both sides. For God’s sake stop shelling.”He urged Pakistan to approach India with helping hands and stop shelling near the border.Earlier today, Pakistan forces fired around 25 rounds of small weapons and two small mortars in Hiranagar sector.One BSF jawan was injured as the Indian troops retaliated to the firing from the other side of the border.

Rajnath to visit Bahrain; to flag Pak-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir

Fri, 21 Oct 2016-12:34am , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh will flag the issue of Pakistan-sponsored cross border terrorism in India with top leadership of Bahrain and discuss with them on how to enhance anti-terror cooperation during his two-day visit to the Gulf kingdom beginning Sunday.Singh will meet Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and will discuss with them various bilateral issues, official sources said.Pakistan’s continuous support to cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be raised by the Home Minister in his meetings with the top leadership of Bahrain.There will be extensive discussions on how to enhance bilateral cooperation with regard to tackling terror and each other’s fugitives, sources said. Bahrain is a key member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in which Pakistan is also a member. Singh will also address the Indian community in Bahrain during his trip.

How long will India, Pakistan remain hostile, asks Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wondering how long India and Pakistan will remain in a state of “animosity” and “hostility”, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday underlined the need for peace as the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the primary victims of confrontation between the two countries.”How long shall we remain in the state of animosity and hostility? There is no substitute to peace, and both India and Pakistan understand that wars cannot solve political issues,” he said while addressing a public meeting in the border district of Rajouri.”Political issues have to be resolved amicably and through a meaningful and credible political process,” added the former Chief Minister of the state. He recalled the peace dividends of the border ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and said he saw no reason why that experiment and spirit cannot be implemented now.Abdullah referred to the sufferings caused to border dwellers due to dislocation from their homes because of shelling and cross-LoC firing, saying “tragically this has become a routine” since the past few years.”The dislocation brings with it the trauma of deprivation and disempowerment, as farmers cannot harvest their crops, economic activity gets paralyzed, and a fear psychosis engulfs everyone while children are deprived of their dreams,” he said.Abdullah appealed for strengthening the legacy of amity and tranquillity in the state. Without naming any political entity, he cautioned people against nefarious attempts to divide people on the basis of region and religion.”Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and will continue to remain a single entity,” he said and called upon the party cadre to work with dedication and commitment to meet various challenges that the state is confronted with.On the bedrock of our legacy, it is our duty to promote amity and brotherhood, which the party has upheld and nurtured during the most trying circumstances in our history. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian unity has been at the core of the National Conference s political philosophy and this has to be maintained at all costs, he said.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Modi tears into Pak at BRICS summit; China launches longest manned space mission; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. BRICS fly at Pak as Modi tears into ‘mothership of global terror’Says those nurturing terror as bad as terrorists; No mention of Jaish, Lashkar in Goa Declaration. Read more.2. Omar Abdullah subjected to ‘secondary immigration check’ in US”Another random secondary immigration check upon landing in the US. Thrice in three visits, the randomness is growing tiresome now,” former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted. Read more.3. China launches longest manned space mission, sends two astronauts into orbitChina moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station by 2022 as it launched a spacecraft carrying two astronauts. Read more.4. Anurag Thakur drops hints of ‘falling in line’ with Lodha Panel”BCCI needs to get all the state cricket associations on board to implement the reforms. And to do so, we need more time. May be one or one-and-a-half-month more,” Anurag Thakur said. Read more.5. Iss Thappad Ki Keemat! Sushant refuses to be slapped by his Raabta co-star Kriti SanonRead more to find out what happened.

Former Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah subjected to secondary immigration check in the US

New York: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was subjected to a “secondary immigration check” upon his arrival in the US due to which he had to spend two hours at the airport.

“Another random secondary immigration check upon landing in the US. Thrice in three visits, the randomness is growing tiresome now,” Abdullah tweeted.

In another tweet he said, “I just spent TWO hours in a holding area & this happens EVERY time. Unlike @iamsrk I don’t even catch Pokemon to pass the time,” a reference to actor Shahrukh Khan, who was “detained” in August at the Los Angeles airport, third time in seven years that he had been stopped by US immigration officials at the country’s airports.

Khan too had tweeted that while he fully understood and respected security protocols, “to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks”.

Abdullah said he is in the US to speak at an event at New York University “but almost wish stayed at home instead”.

“Ah well, that’s two hours well & truly wasted!!” he said.

He is scheduled to speak at the event organized by the students of New York University on 21 October which is expected to be attended by former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy.

What’s a slum? In India, Dharavi’s thriving informal economy defies the label | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Malik Abdullah’s plastic recycling business in Dharavi, the sprawling slum in Mumbai that is among the largest in Asia, has survived fire, building collapses, and the criminal underworld for decades. Now, it is threatened by development.For 35 years, Abdullah has carried on the business built by his father, pulverising used plastic cans and bottles into pellets, then selling them to factories to refashion. Thousands of small businesses like his thrive in Dharavi, creating an informal economy with an annual turnover of $1 billion by some estimates.Now, plans to replace the ramshackle workshops and decrepit homes with office blocks and high-rise apartments threaten the businesses that employ thousands of its 1 million residents. “The city doesn’t care about the businesses here, which are our livelihood,” said Abdullah, 52, standing in an alley crammed with towering stacks of plastic containers.”This is where we live, this is where we work. Where will we go if they only build flats and offices?” he said.During the past two decades, there have been several attempts to develop Dharavi, which sprawls over 240 hectares (590 acres). However, residents have opposed many of them, saying they do not consider their interests.Real estate in Mumbai, India’s financial hub, is among the most expensive in the world. The contrast between rich and poor is stark, and about 60 percent of the city’s population of more than 18 million lives in slums.Dharavi has always been a magnet for migrants from across India. Many have lived there for decades, their one-room tenements and low-rise homes dwarfed by the gleaming glass and chrome office towers and luxury hotels that dot the city.Amid Dharavi’s narrow alleys, open drains and canopies of electric cables, migrants who came in search of better economic opportunities have created a community of schools, temples, mosques, restaurants, tailors and mobile phone shops.Tens of thousands work as potters, leather tanners, weavers, soap makers, and in Dharavi’s massive recycling industry.Most homes double up as work spaces, the whirr of sewing machines, the clang of metal and the pungent odour of spices mingling with the call for prayer and the putrid smell of trash.”People think of slums as places of static despair as depicted in films such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’,” said Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and writer, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie that exposed the gritty underbelly of Dharavi.”If one looks past the open drains and plastic sheets, one will see that slums are ecosystems buzzing with activity… Creating neat low-income housing estates will not work unless they allow for many of the messy economic and social activities that thrive in slums,” he said.ROOF TOPS

Once a small fishing village, Dharavi was notorious as a den of crime in the 1970s and ’80s. Following a massive crackdown, violent crime is rare and Dharavi has featured in movies, art projects and a Harvard Business School case study.Fed by two suburban railway lines and perilously close to the Mumbai airport, Dharavi has lured developers, too.Recent plans by city officials envisaged private developers clearing the area and building high-rise flats in which each eligible family gets a free 225 sq ft (21 sq metres) unit. The developer in turn gets rights to build commercial space to rent.Dozens of such housing blocks have been built over the years, falling into disrepair as facilities were not upgraded.What these buildings also lack is room for work. The squat tenements are perfectly suited for businesses, with living and sleeping spaces sitting atop work spaces, workers spilling into the alleys, and material stacked outside and on roof tops.In Kumbharwada, the potter’s colony, where migrants from neighbouring Gujarat state make earthen water pots and lamps, potters’ wheels can be seen through open doorways, while ready pots are stacked in the alleys awaiting pickup.The colony is abuzz ahead of the Dussehra and Diwali festivals, when decorated pots and lamps are in demand. With small televisions turned on low, women sit cross-legged on the floor in their homes, painting motifs in red, yellow and green, and gluing on sequins and shiny bits of mica.

Down another alley, a group of women chat and braid leather strips for belts and bags on the stoop of a home.”We want new flats, but they are small,” said Sharada Tape, who earns about 100 rupees ($1.50) a day.”There are no spaces like this where we can all sit and work. It will be difficult, but we need the money,” she said.RESIDENTS WANT MORE SAY
City officials last month submitted a new 250 billion rupee ($3.7 billion) redevelopment plan to Maharashtra state for approval after previous plans failed to attract bidders. The new plan, a public-private partnership, has ample commercial space for businesses, but only for the “formal, legitimate” ones, said Debashish Chakrabarty, head of the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority.”All the licensed businesses will have space under the plan. It will be better, cleaner than what they have now,” he said.

“Those that are engaged in informal businesses have the option of applying for commercial licences, then they can also get a space. If they don’t, then we can’t help them,” he said.It is this narrow definition of what’s legal and permissible that is the biggest challenge, not just to recognising Dharavi’s businesses, but also determining Dharavi’s fate, said Rahul Srivastava, a founder of the Institute of Urbanology in Mumbai.”The biggest impediment to the improvement of many of these settlements is the misconception that they are illegitimate, because residents don’t own the land they occupy,” he said.”Can settlements which are home to fifth-generation migrants be called ‘informal’? We need to transform our perception of these neighbourhoods,” he said.Across the country, plans to build modern Smart Cities will force tens of thousands of people from their slum homes as planners spruce up central business districts and build metro train lines, activists say.Campaigners say until authorities give Dharavi residents more power and recognise the vital role of their businesses, any redevelopment plan is destined to fail.”If we don’t have these small enterprises, it wouldn’t be Dharavi,” said Jockin Arputham, president of the National Slum Dwellers’ Federation in Mumbai.”This is a people-sponsored economic zone, and the redevelopment should be around the economic zone. It is a township, not a slum, and it should be treated as one,” he said.Abdullah, the plastic recycler, is reconciled to his fate.”We want development. We also want to keep our businesses,” he said.”But we have to be prepared for any eventuality. We are not owners of the land, so we may have to shut down,” he said.($1 = 66.5075 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Paola Totaro.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Grant state citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in J-K: Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday batted for grant of state citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in Jammu and Kashmir and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to leave the Valley due to militancy. He said the state government should work with the Centre to pursue one policy and move in one direction, noting that the nationalist forces should be strengthened and “undesirable” activities be rooted out. The situation in the state is a matter of concern, he said. “Many issues continue to hang fire. During the partition and subsequently many Hindu refugees were displaced from Pak-occupied Kashmir and arrived there. Sheikh Abdullah assured them that they will be given their rights. Their third generation is living there. They don’t have state citizenship rights. They don’t have ration cards and jobs. How long will they wait?” asked Bhagwat. “For decades, Kashmiri Pandits have been living outside. They should live where they used to and be sure of their protection as patriots and Hindus. Such circumstances should be created and they be given justice,” he said in his Dussehra address. Their dreams will have to be fulfilled, he said, adding that only then people will believe that they are being taken care of in the same way other states are working for their citizens. The issue of grant of citizenship rights to Hindu refugees in the state has been a controversial one there with parties like National Conference and PDP expressing reservation over it. The state government, which is headed by PDP in alliance with BJP, should see to it that a transparent and clean administration is there, Bhagwat said.Despite lot of money being pumped into the state, development work is not happening and people wonder where all the money is going, he said. Those creating trouble should be dealt firmly, he said, claiming that there is no trouble in entire regions of Jammu and Ladakh, besides a large part of Kashmir.

Militants don’t want Kashmiri youth to be self-reliant: Omar Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday hit out at militants for targeting the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), saying the ultras don’t want young Kashmiri boys and girls to stand on their feet.”All the EDI ever did was to train young Kashmiri boys and girls to stand on their own feet and not seek government jobs. Militants don’t like that!” Omar tweeted.The militants on Monday attacked the EDI building in Pampore for the second time this year with the first attack taking place in February.”No wonder for the 2nd time this year they have attacked the institute.They want young Kashmiris to be subservient and bitter not self-reliant,” Omar added.Two to three militants are believed to have entered into the building of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in the wee hours on Monday.Militants had targeted the EDI building in February this year as well.Two soldiers, including an officer, a civilian employee of the Institute and three militants were killed in that operation that lasted 48 hours.

Stop promoting RSS at the cost of Chenab Valley’s peace: National Conference

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana on Wednesday lashed out at the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir for “promoting the RSS” in the sensitive region of Chenab Valley by “permitting lathi-wielding swayamsevaks to march on the streets of Doda”.”This is for the first time that such an activity has been allowed in the town by the administration, ignoring the sensitivities involved,” he alleged at a meeting of NC functionaries while winding up his three day visit to Chenab Valley, along with senior party leaders.Rana alleged that the administration had become “a tool in the hands of the BJP”, which was “furthering the agenda of the RSS openly and brazenly”.The permission for the march by lathi-wielding swayamsevaks in Khaki shorts was bereft of “administrative wisdom” and this kind of a “provocation” could have serious ramifications across the region, he warned.The NC leader hoped that the government would understand its “folly” and take appropriate corrective measures so that peace and tranquility was maintained during the festive season.Rana reminded the BJP of its responsibilities towards maintaining peace, being partners in the state government, and advised its ministers to get rid of the “opposition syndrome” and act as per the tenets of the Constitution.”While the BJP has a proven record of being perfect agitationists, they are yet to make a mark as responsible administrators,” he said, adding that with the “willing” support of the PDP, the two were out to “vitiate the atmosphere to divert the attention of the people from the mess created in the state”.The NC leader appealed to the people of Chenab Valley in general, and the NC cadre in particular, to “see through” the PDP-BJP gameplan and foil the “attempts of dividing the society” by maintaining “time-tested” unity.He said his party had been pleading all along to the political class to rise above party politics when it came to maintaining tranquility and sustaining peace.”In fact, the entire political discourse of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and working president Omar Abdullah has been to strengthen, consolidate and sustain regional amity and religious harmony in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” Rana said.

Kashmir unrest: ‘Unabated repression’ of civilians will prolong cycle of violence, says Omar Abdullah

Srinagar: National Conference working president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said the “unabated repression” of civilians in Kashmir seemed like an effort to punish people for the ongoing unrest, but would only prolong the cycle of violence that has left the Valley on the boil.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

“Nocturnal raids, imposing slapping of Public Safety Acts indiscriminately, ransacking peoples’ homes and burning their crops and animal fodder cannot be an acceptable modus operandi of the state’s security forces in dealing with a political situation,” Omar said.

He said it was imprudent to expect that such acts would lead to sustainable peace and normalcy. “Hundreds of electric transformers in rural areas have been damaged beyond repair in a clear attempt to persecute people en-masse by depriving them of essential services. People in rural areas are now trying to protect electric transformers in their areas with sand bags because security forces are firing bullets to damage them,” he said in a statement.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said trying to “arm twist” people into political adherence was a dangerous policy and would only lead to more violence. “New Delhi accepted that dialogue is the answer to the simmering discontent in Kashmir and their current assumption that the agitation can be seen off by tiring people is fraught with enormous risks because when the fatigue wears out – as it eventually will, the agitation will spark off again.

“To deal with Kashmir as cyclic problem of agitations and managing agitations defies the overarching interests of peace and prosperity,” Omar said. He said the fundamental rights of the people in Kashmir have to be upheld and the state’s “intentional reluctance” to do so fuels the perception of isolation and alienation in Kashmir.

“Treating all Kashmiris as hostile combatants who deserve to be persecuted into discipline and coerced into normalcy is a validation of those voices that question the State’s sincerity in dealing with the people of Kashmir fairly, humanely and in a just manner,” he said.

Omar Abdullah should make Centre initiate political process: Mirwaiz Farooq

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should press the Centre to initiate a “genuine” political process in Jammu and Kashmir or “resign” if his efforts in this regard fail, moderate Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said on Saturday.”Abdullah has been showing concern and is giving statements about the imperatives of a political solution and the failure and loss of credibility of state institutions…. “If he is sincere in what he is saying and genuinely believed he represents people, then he has a responsibility to make Indian Government stop its obduracy and initiate a genuine political process,” Hurriyat said in a statement here.”If his attempts prove futile, Abdullah should take a firm position and resign and in doing so open a new vista for those in power to follow,” the statement said. Omar is member of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly from Beerwah. The Hurriyat also condemned the killing of another youth in Baramulla district of north Kashmir yesterday It asked the ruling politicians to use their influence with the Centre and Indian civil society to persuade them to immediately put an end to the violence and “seriously work towards a political solution”.Referring to the resignation of PDP MP Tariq Karra, the Hurriyat said he has shown the way.

Kashmir unrest: PDP MP tenders resignation to Lok Sabha Speaker over failure of state govt in resolving issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tariq Hameed Karra, founder member of PDP, on Friday formally resigned from the Lok Sabha protesting against the “failure” of Parliament to make “any tangible moves” to end violence in Kashmir. A week after he announced his decision to quit the party and Lok Sabha, Karra sent his resignation to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday.The PDP MP from Srinagar parliamentary constituency said he was forced to take the extreme step to register his “strong protest” against the unabated killings, grievous injuries and “repression and suppression” let loose on the people of Kashmir and the “failure of Parliament”, Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government “to find a way out of this painful situation”. “The prevailing situation in Kashmir is not only alarming but tragic as well. Every single day… the number of injured is out numbering hospital capacities and the number of arrested is out numbering the lock ups,” he said “For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, people of Kashmir were forced not to offer Eid prayers,” he said in the letter in which he has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker to accept his resignation with effect from September 15.He said in the prevailing situations, “which is very critical”, there is an urgency of responding to it beyond party politics. “The present situation can’t be allowed to dither any more as it could have dangerous consequences for the state and region,” he said, adding “it has already threatened the gains of the peace process which were so painstakingly made earlier.”He said the need of hour is that the government must reinforce its resolve to work through peaceful means and through public participation towards restoration of peace. “The views of the people of the state, cutting across the political divide, have to be respected and responded to for the permanent settlement of the issue instead of resorting to hegemonic mindset,” he said. He said in the prevailing situation, he has decided to stand by his people instead of continuing as a member of a forum “which is yet to make any tangible moves” to end the violence in Kashmir.61-year-old Karra had announced his resignation on September 16, blaming the PDP-BJP alliance for the current turmoil saying “the seeds of deceit, disillusionment and disenchantment were sown in the minds and hearts of people the day the PDP tied an alliance with the BJP …it was an unnatural alliance.” A one time close confidant of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Karra, who had defeated National Conference president Farooq Abdullah in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 40,000 votes, had also accused the PDP of “working on the RSS-agenda”.

PM Modi expresses concern over Kashmir situation; CM Mufti says unrest in valley was ‘pre-planned’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to reach out to people of Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed his “deep concern and pain” over the situation there and asked all political parties to work together to find a “permanent and lasting” solution to problems in Jammu and Kashmir. Making an appeal for restoration of normalcy in the Valley where the unrest entered the 45th day, Modi emphasised that there has to be a dialogue.An official statement issued after his 75-minute-long meeting with a joint opposition delegation led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the Prime Minister appreciated the “constructive suggestions” made by them during the talks and reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of people. The 20-member delegation comprising Omar and seven of his National Conference MLAs, Congress legislators led by PCC Chief G A Mir and CPI-M MLA M Y Tarigami had called on the Prime Minister this morning and made an appeal for a political approach for resolving the crisis in the Valley and to ensure that the “mistakes” of the past are not repeated.Expressing his “deep concern and pain” at the prevailing situation, the Prime Minister said “those who lost their lives during recent disturbances are part of us, our nation; whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us.””Government and the nation stand with the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Prime Minister said, and suggested that all political parties should reach out to the people and convey the same.Kashmir unrest was ‘pre-planned’: Mehbooba MuftiJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti found nothing wrong in opposition leaders meeting PM Modi over the situation in the valley. “We live in a democratic set-up. If opposition leaders meet the Prime Minister or the President, if some solution can be found, it is a good thing,” said Mufti. Contending that the unrest in Kashmir was “pre-planned”, Mufti said a “handful of people” were deliberately keeping the Valley on the boil while 95% people were peace-loving and should not be punished for the fault of 5%. She expressed pain that children are being used as a shield by “vested interests” while attacking camps and posts of security forces to incite them, as a result of which innocent kids become a casualty.Referring to the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in a gunfight, the Chief Minister said, “there was nothing new in this. Killing of militants has been happening for the past 25 years. I want to tell you this because all this was pre-planned. They were waiting for a reason, a chance to put the state back into that fire in which it was always.” She said, “they (those indulging in violence) are only a handful of people. Most Kashmiris want peace. They understand that the kind of freedom Kashmir is enjoying today is not there even in Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey and Pakistanis. When gun enters a country, it is no more free, no matter how much it claims to be free.”NC President Omar Abdullah thanks PM Modi for hearing them outThe 46-year-old Working President of National Conference Omar told reporters after the meeting that they requested the Prime Minister for finding a political solution to the Kashmir issue so that a lasting peace is ensured in the state as well as in the country.”I am not going to put words into the Prime Minister’s mouth nor am I going to draw further meaning from what he said,” Omar said.”We talked about the same thing that we have been talking with other leaders ever since we arrived in Delhi that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in light of the present crisis, needs to be understood correctly after which a solution is required. We emphasised that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is more of political in nature. Time and again such situations do arise but if we are unable to find a political solution to it, we will be repeating our mistakes again and again,” he said.

Payal Abdullah evicted from Lutyen’s: Omar’s nameplate removed from govt bungalow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Action to evict Payal Abdullah, estranged wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, from the J and K government bungalow in New Delhi was initiated on Monday by the state authorities. A squad from the J and K Resident Commissioner’s office broke the outer gate of the bungalow and were taking out her belongings. The action followed a Delhi High Court order on August 19.After asking her orally to “gracefully” vacate the official bungalow, the court had said Payal and the estranged couple’s two sons staying with her are “liable to be evicted forthwith”, terming their entitlement to retain it as “wholly illegal”. Payal, who has been residing at the bungalow since 1999, had approached the High Court after the trial court on August 16 had asked her to move out of the house in Lutyen’s zone here.The high court was hearing Payal’s plea seeking that she and her children be not evicted from 7, Akbar Road (type VIII) bungalow in New Delhi or an alternative accommodation be provided in view of their security status and threat to their lives. The J and K government opposed Payal’s stay in the bungalow, saying it was faced with an extremely piquant situation as it does not have an appropriate accommodation to house the Chief Minister in Delhi befitting her position and security imperatives.

Kashmir unrest: Lessons learnt in 2010 were unlearnt in 2016, says Omar Abdullah

New Delhi: National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Monday said that the lessons learnt in Jammu and Kashmir in the 2010 unrest were unlearnt in 2016.

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTIFormer Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah. PTI

“People must appreciate that after 2010 we learnt lessons that allowed us to bring six years of peace and calm in Jammu and Kashmir,” former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told India Today in an interview.

“The lessons of 2010 allowed us to deal with a far more threatening situation when Afzal Guru was hanged,” the NC leader said, adding, “You don’t appreciate when the good work is done, you don’t appreciate that Jammu and Kashmir has some peaceful years in the last eight to ten years.”

“And suddenly when you have a problem like this then people make sweeping generalisations that nothing good has been done there and mainstream politicians have only hoodwinked the people and worsened the situation,” he rued.

“But, it is not the truth. Yes, we are not blameless, I have never said that mistakes were never made by us. I have always accepted,” he added.

“But the fact is that the lessons learnt in 2010 was unlearnt in 2016 and that’s what we need to correct,” Abdullah said.

The NC leader’s remark came on a day he led a delegation of opposition leaders from the state to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the current unrest in the valley where over 65 people have died in clashes with security forces following the 8 July killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

The delegation also met Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) leader Sitaram Yechury.

PM Modi accepts that development alone cannot resolve Kashmir issue: Omar Abdullah

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday acknowledged that “only development can’t resolve the problem in Jammu and Kashmir”, said former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who led a delegation of opposition parties from the state that met the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

“The Prime Minister has acknowledged that development alone can’t resolve the problem in the state,” Abdullah told the media after the meeting.

As curfew continued for the 45th day in Kashmir, the delegation told the Prime Minister that a “political solution” would have to be found to the “political issue” in the state.

“We stressed on the fact that the issue in Jammu and Kashmir is a political issue. If we don’t find a political solution to this, then every time we’ll repeat the same mistakes.

The delegation warned that the continuing law and order problem and unrest in the state will only further alienate the people.

“We have told the Prime Minister that it is required to understand the problem that has led to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and find a right solution to the issue,” Abdullah said.

The delegation, he said had come with the “hope that our voices will be heard. We have not come here with any complaints, we have come here with a request. The message with which we’ve come here, if it is executed, it will not only benefit the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but the country as a whole.”

The delegation also submitted to the Prime Minister a memorandum that demanded an immediate ban on the use of pellet guns in the troubled state.

The meeting came a day after the delegation met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Sunday to discuss ways to contain the prevailing unrest in Kashmir Valley.

The Valley has been crippled by a curfew and protests called by separatists since 9 July, a day after the killing of a top militant, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight with the security forces.

At least 68 people have died in clashes with the security forces.

Jammu and Kashmir Opposition leaders meet Rahul Gandhi, discuss situation in the Valley

New Delhi: A delegation of opposition parties from Jammu and Kashmir, led by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, on Sunday met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the situation in the Valley which has been witnessing violence for the over past 40 days.

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Congress is part of the opposition in the Jammu and Kashmir.

“Discussed the current political crisis in J and K with a delegation of opp(osition) leaders from the state led by @abdullah_omar (Omar Abdullah),” the Congress leader tweeted after the meeting.

On Saturday, the delegation had met President Pranab Mukherjee requesting him to urge upon the central government to find a solution to the present Kashmir crisis politically rather than administratively.

The delegation will tomorrow meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

CPM MLA Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, who was part of the delegation, said the situation in the Valley should not be seen through the prism of law and order.

Gandhi also met senior Congress leaders from Gujarat on the issue of “rising atrocities against Dalits and minorities in Gujarat.”

Earlier in the day, a delegation comprising PCC Chief Bharatsinh Solanki, Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President, Congress Legislative Party leader Shankar Sinh Vaghela and AICC General Secretary Madhusudan Mistry, had met President Mukherjee, requsting his intervention in the matter through the Governor.

Opposition delegation from Jammu and Kashmir to meet PM Narendra Modi on Monday

New Delhi: With Kashmir in turmoil, a delegation of opposition parties from the state will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to impress upon him the need for finding a “political solution” to the crisis by initiating a dialogue with “all stakeholders”.

PM Narendra Modi. AP

PM Narendra Modi. AP

The delegation led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of the National Conference will apprise Modi of the ground situation in the state, which is in the grip of a prolonged spell of violence and lockdown since the gunning down of militant commander Burhan Wani by security forces on 8 July, and highlight the plight of Kashmiri people.

The delegation will include CPI-M MLA Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, state Congress President GA Mir, senior leaders of National Conference and some Independent MLAs.

Sources in the opposition parties that would comprise the delegation said it would request the Prime Minister to impress upon the state government to stop dealing with the situation “administratively” as it was leading to “unprecedented disaffection”, especially among the youth.

It would underscore the need to initiate a “credible and meaningful” dialogue with “all stakeholders” to bring an end to the unrest without “further waste of time”, sources said.

The delegation would bring up the issue of use of pellet guns by security forces which has caused injuries to civilians on a large scale and pitch for an end to “mass harassment, raids and arrests” as these have worsened an already volatile situation in the state.

With the unrest in Kashmir showing no signs of abating, leaders of opposition parties ed by Omar had yesterday called on President Pranab Mukherjee and requested him to urge the Modi government to find a political solution to it.

The visit to the President followed a meeting chaired the 46-year-old Omar where serious concern was voiced about the turmoil spreading to other parts of the state including Jammu and Kargil.

The former Chief Minister, who was also accompanied by senior leaders of NC including Nasir Wani, Davinder Rana, Ali Mohammed Sagar and AR Rather, had on Saturday said, “The fire that has been raging in Kashmir Valley has already started spreading across Peer Panjal and Chenab Valley in Jammu region and Kargil area.”

Kashmir unrest: Omar Abdullah meets Pranab Mukherjee, says Valley’s problem cannot be solved administratively

New Delhi: After leading a delegation of opposition MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the violence-hit state is faced with a political problem that can’t be handled administratively.

Omar Abdullah. PTI

Omar Abdullah. PTI

“Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem. It cannot be handled administratively,” Omar told reporters after the meeting with the President

The National Conference leader said the situation that went out of control after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was “due to our own mistakes”.

Earlier, Omar led the Jammu and Kashmir MLAs delegation to the President and apprised him of the situation prevailing in the Valley, where curfew has been imposed for the last 43 days. The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the President.

“Pakistan has been trying to destabilise peace in the Valley for the last 25 years. But if you ask me if the situation created after Wani’s killing was due to Pakistan, I will have to say ‘no’,” the NC leader said.

He said Pakistan undoubtedly tried to fuel the situation and succeeded too to some extant. “But the immediate turmoil was due to our own mistakes.”

Omar said it is for the first time that the initiatives that should have been taken by the government are being taken by the opposition.

The death toll in violence in the Kashmir Valley has risen to 67, triggered a day after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Can’t blame Pakistan for immediate circumstances caused by Burhan Wani’s death: Omar Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition leaders led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today called on President Pranab Mukherjee requesting him to urge upon the central government to find a solution to the present Kashmir crisis politically rather than administratively. “The failure of the central government to acknowledge that the issue in Kashmir is largely of a political nature has worsened the already volatile situation,” Omar, who was leading a delegation of 20 opposition leaders, told reporters after an hour-long meeting with the President.”For the last 25 years, Pakistan is creating trouble in Jammu and Kashmir. But did Pakistan create the immediate conditions after Burhan Wani’s death? No. Pakistan may have tried to add fuel to the fire, and probably were successful, but the instant flames that broke out were the doing of mistakes,” he said.”We have requested the President to impress upon the central government to initiate a credible and meaningful process of political dialogue without any further delay involving all stakeholders to address the political issue in the state,” the National Conference leader said. He said the continued refusal of the Centre to deal with the situation through a political approach “is disappointing and can have serious long term implications on peace and stability in the state”.The former Chief Minister, who was flanked by Congress MLAs led by state PCC Chief G A Mir, CPM MLA M Y Tarigami and Independent legislator Hakim Yaseen, said, “The fire that has been raging in Kashmir Valley for last 42 days has already started spreading across Peer Panjal and Chenab Valley in Jammu region and Kargil area. I wonder when would they wake up as the situation is grave,” he said, alleging that the state and central governments were trying to “crush the agitation by using administrative measures” like stopping sale of petrol and other essential commodities.He regretted that whatever measures governments in the state and Centre should be taking for normalisation of situation were being taken by the opposition parties.”It was opposition parties which pressurised the government for holding a debate in Parliament and it is again the opposition parties which are pushing the state government to find a political solution to the problem,” he said. Omar warned that a “continued delay to engage with the people of the state through a comprehensive and sustained political initiative will further deepen the sense of alienation in the Valley and cast a shadow of uncertainty on its future generation”. He said the delegation also requested the President to use his “influence” on the state as well as the Centre “to stop the use of lethal force against civilians in the Valley”.With inputs from ANI.

Arrested persons were being guided by ISIS to carry out terrorist activities in India: NIA

The NIA on Thursday claimed that the five persons arrested in Hyderabad on Wednesday were getting instructions from the Middle East-based terrorist organisation ISIS for planning and carrying out terrorist activities in India.NIA produced the accused Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani alias Ibbu, Habeeb Mohammed alias Sir, Mohammed Ilyas Yazdani, Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Amoodi and Muzaffar Hussain Rizwan before the third Metropolitian Sessions Judge court in Hyderabad which sent them to 14-day judicial custody. NIA’s application for their custody for interrogation is likely to come up for hearing on Friday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The remand report submitted to the court said the accused had also acquired weapons and explosive materials to carry out violent terrorist attacks and were in touch with the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS). They were getting directions for planning and execution of terrorist activities in India from ISIS, the report added.Following its prior investigation, on June 22 NIA had lodged an FIR for “criminal conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India” by collecting weapons and explosive materials by targeting public places, religious sites and sensitive government buildings in various parts of India.According to the Central agency, the gang was preparing improvised explosive devices for carrying out blasts, and was being guided by an online handler, suspected to be based in Iraq/Syria.Along with explosive materials, the agency recovered two semi-automatic pistols with ammunition, an air gun with telescopic sight and shooting practice target boards, a large number of digital gadgets including six laptops, about 40 mobile phones, 32 SIM cards, and a large number of hard disks, memory cards, pen drives and tabs during its searches.

NC raises uproar over IIT, IIM for Kashmir Valley, walks out of state assembly

Srinagar: Opposition National Conference (NC) MLAs led by party leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah staged a walkout from the state assembly on Monday alleging discrimination against the Valley.

Representational image of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Getty ImagesRepresentational image of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Getty Images

Representational image of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Getty Images

The legislators were agitating against the state and central government for not sanctioning an IIT and an IIM for the Valley.

BJP legislators on the other hand got up on their seats shouting slogans against Pakistan who they blamed for masterminding the Pampore attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on Saturday in which eight paramilitary central reserve police force (CRPF) troopers were killed and 22 others injured.

The two suicide (Fidayeen) militants who carried out the attack were also killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Mehbooba has joined ‘Islamic terror’ bandwagon: NC hits back at her ‘setback for religion’ comment

Opposition National Conference attacked Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday, over her alleged remark that she is “ashamed as a Muslim.” NC spokesperson Junaid Mattu claimed that Mehbooba Mufti while speaking to reporters after the wreath laying ceremony for the CRPF personnel martyred in Pampore has said that “she was ashamed as a Muslim over the attack.””This is the same Mehbooba Mufti who used to say that terror has no religion. Now suddenly she sees terror as an offshoot of Islam for which Muslims should be ashamed. This is shameful coming from a Chief Minister,” Mattu said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in a tweet said, “So Mehbooba Mufti has joined the “Islamic terror” bandwagon after spending years saying terror had no religion.”
ALSO READ Pampore attack: Such incidents ‘defaming’ J&K, setback to religion we practise: Mehbooba Mufti”Nothing can be achieved by this…. We are only defaming Kashmir and the state by these acts. We also deal a set back to the religion we practice,” Mehbooba had said on Sunday after laying floral wreath on the coffins of the CRPF personnel killed in Pampore on Saturday.
ALSO READ Pampore attack: Mehbooba Mufti, Nirmal Singh attend wreath laying ceremony for martyrsCondemning the dastardly attack on the CRPF convoy, the NC spokesperson expressed solidarity with the families of the martyred policemen saying violence in any form is condemnable and unacceptable. “While our hearts go out to the families of the martyred CRPF personnel, we are shocked at the Chief Minister’s continued desperation to jump on the Islamic terror bandwagon. One wonders what her compulsions are but this is tragic. She’s either still trying to prove her loyalty to the RSS and VHP or she has pledged to assail Muslim societies, Muslim countries and Islam as a convenient medium of political empowerment,” Mattu alleged, adding Mehbooba’s comment was “despicable and highly condemnable.”

Mehbooba Mufti passes first test of her alliance with BJP

The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP alliance received the first stamp of approval from the people when the chief minister won the assembly bypoll from the Anantnag constituency with a record margin.Mehbooba defeated her nearest rival Hilal Ahmad Shah of Congress by a margin of 12,085 votes. Mehbooba polled 17,701 votes while Shah got 5,616 votes. National Conference candidate Iftikhar Hussain Misger finished third with 2,811 votes.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What made Mehbooba’s victory sweeter was the margin of votes. Her father late Mufti Mohommad Sayeed had defeated Shah by 6,000 votes from the same constituency in 2014 assembly polls.”I am thankful to the people especially women, young and old, that they have reposed faith in me like the way they trusted Mufti Sahab. I pray to Allah to give me strength so that I can live up to the expectations of the people,” said Mehbooba.The June 22 byelection in the Anantnag assembly was necessitated with the demise of Mufti Mohommad Sayeed on January 7. Under the Constitution, byelections have to be held within the six months after the demise of the sitting MLA.Mehbooba, who is also People’s Democratic Party’s Lok Sabha member from Anantnag constituency, was trying her luck for the first time from Anantnag assembly segment which was represented by her late father twice.With the victory in Anantnag, Mehbooba has maintained her record of not losing any election from her traditional bastion of south Kashmir either for the Assembly or Parliament. She, however, has lost once to National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in 1999 when she contested against him from the Srinagar parliamentary seat.Mehbooba’s victory, however, was marred by the allegations of rigging and tampering with the EVMs by the opposition parties. Congress candidate Hilal Shah alleged that the EVMS were tampered with and the signatures were not matching on the machines.”All the EVMs were unsealed. The signatures we had done in the polling booths were not matching with the machines. These were totally different machines,” said Shah.The Congress candidate later gave a written complaint to the returning officer about the alleged malpractices in the elections. “We have given written complaint to the returning officer. Deputy commissioner threatened to send people behind bars when the agents protested against the malpractices. Now, we will be knocking the doors of the court because the results were nothing but fraud and cheating,” said Shah.Deputy commissioner Anantnag Syed Abid Rashid Shah denied the allegations saying the protestors created ruckus and tried to damage to the EVMs.”We had it (EVMs) elaborately checked. There was no tampering. EVMs cannot be tampered with unless it is visible. They created a commotion. I told them to behave because they tried to damage the EVMs also. They created huge ruckus,” he told dna.The results also sparked twitter war between PDP and the National Conference. “Thanks to the whole administration, free government ration & when that didn’t work the tampered EVM’s. Congratulations!” tweeted Tanvir Sadiq, senior NC leader and close aide of former chief minister Omar Abdullah.PDP was quick to hit back with `grapes are sour’ jibe to silence Sadiq. “Typical ‘Grapes are sour’. You ignored Anantnag for six decades hence people ditched your party long back”, tweeted the PDP.Allegations and counter allegations apart, celebrations broke out in Anantnag after Mehbooba won the polls. PDP workers burst crackers and took out a victory march outside the counting hall shouting slogans in favour of Mehbooba and the party.

Militancy spikes in Jammu and Kashmir, state govt says around 150 insurgents active

Amid recent surge in the militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, the state government on Tuesday said that around 150 militants, including 54 foreigners, were active, while over 4,500 Kashmiri youths have crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for arms training during the last three decades.

This was stated by the State Home Department, headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in the Legislative Assembly in reply to a question raised by former chief minister and Leader of Opposition, National Conference (NC), Omar Abdullah.

The home department, in its reply, said: “As many as 145 militants, including 54 foreigners (mostly from Pakistan) are active in Jammu and Kashmir, while around 4,587 youths have crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

The Inspector General of Police, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, had said that around 150-170 militants, both local and foreign, were active in Kashmir. “The recruitment of local boys had increased last year and our focus is to contain and prevent them from joining militancy,” Gillani said.

Meanwhile, Gillani said the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir, Burhan Wani of Hizbul Mujahideen, who was recently seen in video urging cops to train their guns towards India, was on his own as most of his group members have been neutralised.

Representative image. ReutersRepresentative image. Reuters

Representative image. Reuters

Since 2010, a total of seven Jammu and Kashmir police have joined militant ranks with their service weapons.

The home department said the state has sanctioned a policy to rehabilitate the militants, who are willing to return to Jammu and Kashmir. “The state government has sanctioned a policy and procedure for the rehabilitation of misguided youth who have crossed to PoK, Pakistan but have given up insurgent activities due to change of heart and are willing to return the state,” the chief minister said.

The chief minister also said the Nepal was not an approved route for the return of former militants.

“The policy recognises four routes for the return of misguided youth. Nepal is not an approved route under the policy. The Union government has sought comments of the state government on the inclusion of Nepal route for the return of the militants,” the reply said.

But the state government said around 490 youth along with their families have returned through Nepal in last 13 years.

“A total of 489 youth along with their wives and children have returned from PoK and Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir via Nepal from 2003 to 22 May, 2016. And 15 youth have returned via Nepal since January 2015,” the home department said in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

In 2013, the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, told the State Legislative Assembly that no person returned from PoK or Pak from the routes identified for the return of former militants to Jammu and Kashmir. However, Omar said that as many as 277 person and their 578 family members returned via Nepal route which is not approved under the policy.

Till 2013, the state government had received 1,171 applications on behalf of the people willing to return home.

The chief minister in a written reply to senior National Conference leader, Ali Sagar, said a total of 146 militancy-related incidents took place last year in which over 100 militants were killed. “A total of 146 militancy-related incidents took place between 15 January, 2015 to 15 January, 2016, leaving around 169 people including 108 militants, 39 security personnel and 22 civilians dead,” the reply said.

The state government, in its reply, said south Kashmir witnessed highest number of militancy-related incidents in the last year, leaving over 30 militants dead.

“The south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian saw 61 militant attacks resulting in the death of 54 persons including 12 securitymen and 34 militants,” the reply said.

But the south Kashmir districts saw more killing in the militancy-related incidents. “The north Kashmir districts witnessed 57 militant attacks which resulted in the death of 92 persons including 60 militants and 21 security personnel,” the reply said.

The government, however, said that the Ladakh saw no militant attacks last year while the summer capital Kashmir witnessed 15 militant actions and two other attacks took place in Kathua district of Jammu. The Poonch district saw around 5 militancy-related incidents which resulted in the killing of six militants and a security man.

Jammu and Kashmir has a presence of over seven lakh army personnel to combat militants and protect the borders with Pakistan and China.

Frequency of attacks on security personnel in J&K worrying, says Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the frequency of security forces personnel getting killed in militant attacks in the state was both “tragic and worrying”. “The regularity with which we have to tweet condolences for martyred security force personnel in J&K these days is both tragic & worrying,” Omar wrote on a micro-blogging site. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Omar, who is the working president of the opposition National Conference, said the government should be alarmed by the fact that two attacks have taken place along the highway in south Kashmir since yesterday. “The realisation that both these attacks took place on the major highways of South Kashmir should have the powers that be sitting up in alarm,” he said on Twitter. “(Three) 3 BSF personnel yesterday and (two) 2 J&K police persons today. Once again my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased,” he added. Two police personnel were today killed by militants in poll-bound Anantnag from where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is contesting. The attack comes in less than 24 hours when militants of banned Hizbul Mujahideen ambushed a BSF convoy at neighbouring Goriwan area at Bijbehara killing three of its personnel.

Budget proposals in J&K assembly put on hold after Omar Abdullah’s objections

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday put implementation of various proposals made in the budget for 2016-17 on hold after opposition leader Omar Abdullah objected to it saying the Assembly had not approved the proposals yet.

As soon as the House assembled, Omar raised the issue saying the budget proposals have been implemented by the government even as the House was still conducting the general discussion on these proposals.

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

“We know you have the numbers and you will pass the budget anyway. But there could have come some good suggestions from here (assembly),” he said.

Omar said the orders for implementation of the budget proposals were issued by the government the same day the Finance Minister made his speech in the House.

“It is the contempt of this House. This house cannot be taken for granted. You (speaker) do not have to protect the government all the time. You have to protect this House also,” the former chief minister said.

Congress members led by Nawang Rigzin Jora also questioned the rationale of passing the implementation orders when the discussions had not been completed and the House was yet to approve the proposals.

BJP leader Satpal Sharma also joined the opposition in opposing the move. “While this is an established practice at the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir has a special status due to which even laws passed by Parliament are discussed and debated in the state Assembly.

“I agree with my friends (pointing to opposition benches) that these orders should be withdrawn till budget is approved by the House,” Sharma said.

Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said it was an established practice in the state and the Centre that notifications are issued after budget presentation. “If there is any discomfort on this account, we will put these orders on hold,” he added.

Speaker Kavinder Gupta directed the government to put on hold the orders for implementation of budget proposals till the same are passed by the House.

Farooq Abdullah disrespecting National Anthem is ‘breach of propriety’: Subramanian Swamy

With National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah caught on camera talking on mobile phone while the national anthem was being played after the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday termed the act as ‘breach of propriety’ and sought apology from the leader.”It is a breach of propriety and I believe Farooq Abdullah has done a mistake and therefore he should apologise for it. This way you disrespect the nation too. When the national anthem is being played all stood stand in respect without indulging in other activity at that time,” Swamy told ANI.

Farooq Abdullah draws flak for using phone during national anthem

Kolkata: A video of Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister Farooq Abdullah talking on the phone while the national anthem was being played on Friday at the oath-taking ceremony of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee grabbed eye balls on social media.

In the nearly-one minute video doing the rounds on microblogging site Twitter, Abdullah is seen with the phone clutched to his ear and speaking while the national anthem is on, in sharp contrast to a solemn Banerjee and her elected ministers standing at attention.

The National Conference chief is seen standing next to former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad.

Some were mouthing the anthem lyrics while others like Firhad Hakim, who was sworn-in as minister, had their palm on their heart in respect.

Netizens slammed the veteran leader.

“How patriot and nationalist Farooq Abdullah can afford to insult the nation and anthem like this,” tweeted one while others dubbed Abdullah’s phone talk “really shameful”.

Terror revisits Kashmir, two dead

Terror revisited the Kashmir valley on Wednesday when militants launched two attacks leaving two people, including a cop, dead at two different places in Kupwara and Pulwama districts.Police said militants attacked the security escort of the National Conference (NC) district Pulwama president Ghulam Mohidin Mir when he was attending a marriage party in Manhama village this afternoon.A cop, who was attended the marriage, was killed while a personal security officer of the leader suffered wounds in the attack. Militants later decamped with the assault rifle of the PSO.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving details, superintendent of police, Pulwama, Mohammad Rayees Bhat told dna that Mir was safe and a cop, who was attending the marriage of his cousin, was hit by the bullet and later succumbed to his wounds.”Reportedly two to three militants attacked the PSO and snatched his weapon. Another PSO fired back in which a militant was injured. A PSO has got a minor bruises,” said Bhat.The SP said the cop who died was not part of the security escort of the NC leader. “He was attending the marriage of his cousin. By profession, he is a cop but he was not a part of the escort of the leader,” he saidFormer chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah however tweeted that the PSO (personal security officer of his district president has been injured in a militant attack. “Hope he makes a complete and swift recovery,” he saidMassive cordon and search operation has been launched in the area to track down the militants responsible for the incident. Police have also intensified the search in neighbouring areas since one of the militants has suffered wounds after he was hit by the bullet.Earlier in the morning, police recovered a bullet riddled body of a 20 year old Liyaqat Ali from the Waderbala forests of Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Ali was kidnapped by the unknown militants on Tuesday evening and later shot dead in cold blood.Police said Ali was abducted from his sister’s home in Watsar village and taken to the forests where he was shot dead. Massive search operation has been launched to nab the militants responsible for the killing of Ali.The attacks comes just two days after militants carried out twin shoot and scoot attacks in summer capital city of Srinagar leaving three cops including an assistant sub inspector dead.The attack also comes two days after police killed two top Jaish-e-Mohommad commanders who were posing as students in Srinagar’s Saraibala locality.

Forces inimical to secular ethos are at centre-stage: Farooq Abdullah

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said the country is passing through a difficult phase as those against the secular ethos of the country have “got to the centre-stage”. “We are passing through a difficult phase as elements inimical to secular ethos of the country have got to the centre-stage,” he said while addressing his party men on the third day of his ongoing tour to Rajouri and Poonch istricts. “Their machinations to divide the people on the basis of region and religion will be defeated by further strengthening bonds of amity and brotherhood,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said politics of hate and suspicion is detrimental to the secular fabric of the country and the state and those “exploiting” religious sentiments for their ulterior political motives needed to be isolated. “This can be done by maintaining unity,” he said. He said his party’s youth, women, and students wings have been rejuvenated and they will face the situation “boldly”. Abdullah asked his party cadre to gear up for upcoming panchayat and urban local body polls. “Massive participation of youths and women is imperative for ensuring their effective involvement in decision making at local levels,” Abdullah said.

Govt U-turn on Hurriyat is not a bad thing, if it sets us on the right path

The government’s recent statement about the Hurriyat Conference has been criticised as yet another U-turn.

By explicitly conceding that there was “no bar” on Hurriyat leaders meeting Pakistani officials in India, New Delhi has erased the “red line” that it had drawn in August 2014. But a U-turn is not necessarily a bad thing — especially if it gets you moving in the right direction. The real question is whether the government knows where it wants to go from here.

The decision to make the India-Pakistan dialogue contingent on the latter avoiding contact with the Hurriyat was taken in the exuberant aftermath of the 2014 electoral victory. Not only was Prime Minister Narendra Modi the object of international adulation, but his decision to invite regional leaders for his swearing-in had seemingly pole-vaulted him to a position of unassailable strength. The “my way or the highway” stance adopted on Pakistan’s dealings with the Hurriyat was a product of this over-confident milieu.

It took well over a year for the government to realise that calling off talks did not help isolate Pakistan. On the contrary, New Delhi found that all its significant international interlocutors — big and small — were pressing for a resumption of engagement with Islamabad. Even after the government decided to move in this direction, the “red line” drawn under the Hurriyat tripped it up. With the subsequent resumption of full-fledged dialogue with Pakistan, however, it was clear that the precondition about contact with the Hurriyat was no longer operative.

Representational image of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit. AFP

Representational image of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit. AFP

There are at least a couple lessons to be learnt from this episode.

First, the terms of engagement with Pakistan cannot be reset easily or whimsically. There was good reason why the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had allowed these contacts in the first place. Understanding the history of this relationship is crucial to navigating its contours. This is equally true of another trap into which the government has fallen: Assuming that calling off diplomatic engagement will somehow help tackle terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Wisdom lies in learning from the mistakes made by others.

Second, reputation and credibility do matter in foreign policy — especially in longstanding adversarial relationships like those between India and Pakistan. But contrary to what some critics have said, this does not mean persisting with patently futile and self-defeating policies like the “red line” about the Hurriyat. Rather, because credibility does count, New Delhi should be careful about the kinds of issues on which it stakes its reputation. Otherwise, it risks creating and discerning interests where none really lie. Drawing and erasing arbitrary red lines is problematic from this perspective rather just amounting to a U-turn.

The formal retraction of this policy comes in the specific context of both external and internal developments.

Events in the past month have confirmed — if ever there was a doubt — that the Pakistan Army is not happy with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s embrace of Modi. Against this backdrop, the old conundrum of how, if at all, to link talks with terror continues to confound New Delhi. Given that all other alternatives have been exhausted, it is perhaps time the government decided to press ahead with continuous diplomatic engagement irrespective of the where things stand with terrorism. This will, of course, require Modi to use his bully pulpit to make the case for such an engagement. The fundamental point is that terrorism can only be tackled by other means and engagement has certain advantages in itself. The recent statement by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Kashmir should remind the government that disengaging with Pakistan only gives the latter the room to mobilise support in its favour — even from those countries that might be better disposed towards India.

The internal context is equally important.

The latest round of popular mobilisation in the Kashmir Valley highlighted the rampant dissatisfaction not just with the coalition government, but the political status quo. The summer ahead is likely to pose further challenges for the PDP-BJP coalition. Unless Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is given the latitude to kickstart political engagement within the state, it is unlikely that the coalition will hold together for very long. Bottling up the Hurriyat would only have exacerbated the swirling anger in the Valley. By contrast, adopting a stance of benign neglect may well bring to the fore the cleavages that separate the “separatists” from one another. The responses of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to the government statements are a good indicator of this.

Still, New Delhi will have to do more.

It is worth recalling that significant improvements in political climate of Jammu and Kashmir have only occurred when New Delhi has simultaneously sought to improve ties with Srinagar and Islamabad. Perhaps the most striking example of this came during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. A strong critic of her father’s policy of imprisoning Sheikh Abdullah, Indira Gandhi began reaching out to him soon after she took over as prime minister in 1966.

Against the backdrop of Pakistan’s aggression in 1965, she shrewdly understood that the demand for plebiscite was dead as a dodo. Her main interlocutor during this period was the then foreign secretary TN Kaul. It took Kaul almost five years to get to the point where the Sheikh was willing to trust Indira Gandhi. The Shimla Accord of 1972 ensured that India-Pakistan relations were formally insulated from external interference, but it also created a conducive environment in which Abdullah could return to power. This happened in the wake of the 1975 accord between the representatives of Indira Gandhi and Abdullah. His subsequent installation as chief minister was the mother of all U-turns in our Kashmir policy.

Whatever the flaws of the accord and the subsequent failures, this episode underlines the point that New Delhi must move simultaneously on the internal and external tracks.

This calls for coherence and consistency in policy-making, political judgment, and nimbleness in exploiting opportunities. Whatever the missteps of the past two years, it’s time to get moving in the right direction.

The author is Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He is the author of India’s War: The Making of Modern South Asia, 1939-1945.

Omar Abdullah hits out at govt for cancelling visa to Chinese dissident Dolkun Isa

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday hit out at the Centre for cancelling the visa given to a Chinese dissident.”What was all that chest thumping earlier?” Omar asked on Twitter after India decided to withdraw the visa to Chinese dissident Dolkun Isa apparently after protests by China over the issue.”For the last few days we were treated to lots of self-congratulatory chest thumping about how this Govt is the 1st (first) to stand up to China,” the National Conference leader said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Isa, a leader of World Uyghur Congress (WUC), who lives in Germany, had been invited for the conference being organised by US-based ‘Initiatives for China’.Isa was granted a tourist visa to travel to India this week for the conference in Dharamsala, which Tibetan leader-in-exile the Dalai Lama is also expected to attend.
ALSO READ After Chinese protest, India denies visa to Uyghur leader Dolkun IsaChina’s unhappiness about reports that Isa has been given the visa was reflected in Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying saying, “What I want to point out is that Dolkun is a terrorist in red notice of the Interpol and Chinese police. Bringing him to justice is due obligation of relevant countries.”

‘Centre should demonstrate political will’: Farooq Abdullah demands revocation of AFSPA

Srinagar: Demanding revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), opposition National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said the Centre should demonstrate political will and imagination to usher Jammu and Kashmir into an era of peace, stability and progress.

“Revocation of AFSPA is the need of the hour. New Delhi should put in sustained and serious efforts to address the
political alienation in Kashmir and provide a hope of reconciliation and inclusiveness to the youth of the state,” he said addressing party workers at a function in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

The function was organised to commemorate the first death anniversary of veteran party leader and former minister Abdul Gani Shah Veeri.

Farooq Abdullah. AFPFarooq Abdullah. AFP

Farooq Abdullah. AFP

“Our young men and women excel in talent, wisdom and hard work and deserve to thrive in a political environment that nurtures their dreams.

“Hostility cannot be countered with denial or further hostility. New Delhi should walk the extra-mile in addressing the trust-deficit among our youth and should explore every possible opportunity to empower them as the torch-bearers of peace and progress in the state,” the former Chief Minister said.

He said National Conference is committed to strive for the political resolution of the Kashmir issue and would ever shelve its demand for the restoration of Autonomy and the pre-1953 status.

“These are our principled stands and we believe this is the most feasible model of resolving the political issue and would also satisfy the aspirations of our people.

Others have a right to advocate their own solutions and there is absolutely no problem with that,” he said.

Abdullah said any solution acceptable first and foremost to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and also to India and Pakistan would be a credible solution.

“While there might be differences in opinion and ideology, I doubt anyone could possibly deny the necessity of resolving the political issue,” he said.

The National Conference chief asked party workers to ensure participation and empowerment of educated youth in the political processes that define the state’s future.

“We should encourage the young generation to come and voice their grievances and aspirations from within the democratic system.

“This would be a productive medium of channelizing their passion for their state and also their commitment to stand up for the rights and dignity of their people.

“It’s imperative they are groomed, nurtured and empowered,” Abdullah added.

Taliban’s spring offensive bleeds Kabul; 28 killed, 320 injured

Within days of the Taliban announcing the launch of spring offensive code named ‘Omari Operations’ in Afghanistan, a suicide bomb and gun assault on a government security building rocked the capital Kabul killing 28 people and injuring 320. This is 26th attack the militants have launched against the fledgeling government in the war-torn country this year. It the deadliest single attack in the Afghan capital since 2011.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A spokesman of the ministry of external affairs here said while there is no report of any Indian casualty, the government is closely watching the evolving situation. India’s interests included an extensive developmental assistance programme of around $2 billion, making it one of the leading donor nations.Official here said, the Indian embassy is located around four kilometres from the site of the explosion in Pul-e-Mahmood Khan area. Indian missions in Kabul, Hirat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad have been the target of militant attacks since 2008.On Tuesday, it is believed the intended target appeared to be a Secret Service Unit tasked with protecting VIPs. Some Afghan media reports said gunmen had managed to enter the unit’s perimeter. The presidential palace is only a few hundred metres away from the scene of the blast.President Ashraf Ghani who condemned the attack said he will never make peace with the regional and international terrorists. The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah urged the political elites to prioritise the national interests and defy terror attacks. Agency reports quoting witnesses at the scene said the gunfire rang out for more than 30 minutes after the blast.The Taliban said on their Pashto-language website that they had carried out the suicide bombing on ‘Department 10’, an NDS unit, which is responsible for protecting government ministers and VIPs. They said a suicide car bomber blew up the main gate at the front of the office, allowing other fighters, including more suicide bombers, to enter the heavily guarded compound.Fighting was also reported from northern city of Kunduz, Afghanistan´s fifth-largest city. Last September, it has briefly fallen to the Taliban. The militant group recently said the summer offensive, named after the late Taliban leader Mullah Omar, will see “large scale attacks on enemy positions, martyrdom-seeking (suicide) and tactical attacks against enemy strongholds and assassination of enemy commanders in urban centres.”The Taliban also said they would try to avoid killing civilians or destroying civilian infrastructure, and would carry out a “dialogue with our countrymen in the enemy ranks” to try to convince them to join the insurgency.According to reports during the 2015 fighting season, nearly 6,000 Afghan soldiers and police were killed and another 14,000 injured while battling Taliban.Even as fighting is raging in Afghanistan, Pakistan army has declared that its operation in Shawal area of North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan were successful. The Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement more than 800km area has been secured since the start of the last phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in February. The Operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched in June 2014 to eliminate terrorist networks from the area, killing around 4,000 militants.A report prepared by three Afghan experts Radha Kumar, Richard Wallace and Jasmeet Aulakh on behalf of Delhi Policy Group (DPG) has said the Afghan forces have been stretched and partially ineffectual in coping with the attacks, given delays in getting US air and logistical support in place. Also it found that President Ghani’s peace initiative with Pakistan have also failed to yield the desired results and reconciliation efforts are stalled.According to a report released by UN mission in Afghanistan, civilian casualties in Afghanistan have increased two percent in the first three months of 2016 year compared to the same period last year. Most of the casualties occur in bombings for which the Taliban are responsible the most, and ground battles between government forces and the militant groups while the militants use civilian populated areas as shelters and safe havens.Though, India has largely confined itself to providing developmental assistance to war-torn country, recent times it has delivered three (of four promised) Russian-made Mi-35 ground attack helicopters tmarking a departure from its traditional policy. At the Fifth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Meeting in Istanbul on December8-9, 2016, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj pledged to deepen India’s defense cooperation with Afghanistan. India has offlate also sought an active role in “quadrilateral coordination group” that involves Afghanistan, Pakistan, Unites States and China engaged in peace process, facilitating talks with Taliban. India’s contention now is that any change in power structure in Kabul will have consequences for its interests. India along with Iran and Afghanistan recently finalised the Chabahar Agreement to operationalise the strategic port, giving New Delhi much-needed access to Afghanistan in the absence of transit rights through Pakistan.

Former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah cautions against division of society under garb of ultra-nationalism

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday cautioned against division of society on the basis of religion, saying those doing it under the garb of “ultra-nationalism” were actually doing disservice to the nation.”Fragmenting society in bits and pieces is against the idea of India and its most cherished composite ethos. Those doing it under the garb of ultra nationalism were doing a disservice to the nation,” he said while addressing party workers here. He expressed concern over the “arrogant posturing” of some elements under the mistaken belief of serving national interest and said this in fact harmed the spirit of togetherness and tranquillity. “Time has come when forces inimical to peace and unity are completely isolated,” he said. He emphasised the need for strengthening secular forces, especially in a diverse state like Jammu and Kashmir which has undergone a traumatic phase in the past.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The nation and the state cannot afford division between communities as they can prosper only when people of all faiths and regions get a fair deal and equal treatment in all spheres,” he said. The National Conference President asked the party cadres to work for forging amity between various segments of society and fight divisive tendencies.”The people, especially poor and down-trodden have all along been looking towards the party with a hope and the leadership should reach out to them in the hour of need,” he added.

Omar Abdullah hits out at Mehbooba Mufti for her ‘self-promoting’ Delhi tour

Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah today hit out at Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for her “self-promoting” tour of Delhi when three persons were killed in firing by security forces in Handwara.”3 (Three) people died as a result of firing by security forces and what does the J&K CM do? She continues her self-promoting tour of Delhi,” Omar wrote on Twitter. Mehbooba, who was sworn in as the head of the PDP-BJP government on April 4, is currently on a visit to Delhi where she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other Union Ministers including Home Minister RajnathSingh and Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is the same person who until a year ago would rush anywhere in the valley to shed contrived tears at the slightest provocation,” Omar wrote about the Chief Minister.Three persons — two youths and a woman — were killed in firing by security forces at Handwara town, 85 km from here, during protests against the alleged molestation of a young girl by the army.The girl has denied that she was molested by the army personnel and accused two local youth of hatching a conspiracy.

J&K: Geelani calls for shutdown in state over Handwara firing, other pol parties demand action against guilty

National Conference, Congress and CPI(M) on Tuesday demanded action against those involved in the firing in Handwara in Kashmir Valley in which two youths were killed and said the guilty be brought to book without any delay.NC President Farooq Abdullah and Working President Omar Abdullah said the onus was on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ensure that the truth comes to the fore without any delay and the guilty are brought to book. They expressed grief and sorrow over the incident and conveyed their solidarity with the families of the two youths, a party spokesman said here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Condemning the firing by security forces, Congress and CPI(M) demanded a probe into the killing of two youths. “Expressing deep shock and grief over loss of two precious lives in Handwara, JPCC President G A Mir has strongly condemned the firing by army personnel,” a PCC spokesman said.
ALSO READ Watch: 2 youths killed in alleged army firing in Handwara in Jammu and KashmirHe said the “unfortunate incident could have been avoided” and demanded a probe into the incident, “so that the truth comes out and the guilty personnel are punished”. CPI(M) MLA from Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami also condemned the firing in Handwara town and demanded a time-bound judicial probe into the incident. “The alleged incident of molestation of a girl and subsequent killing of two youth in firing during protests is highly condemnable and heinous act which cannot be tolerated in any civilised society,” Tarigami said.He demanded that the authorities take action against those involved in the incident. Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for shutdown across Kashmir tomorrow to protest the killing of the two youths.Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned the firing by security forces.

Guv invites Mehbooba Mufti to form govt in J&K, PDP chief to be sworn in as CM on April 4

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti will be sworn in as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on April 4. Governor NN Vohra has invited PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh will also be present during the sworn-in ceremony. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mufti also called up former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to invite him for her swearing-in ceremony scheduled on April 4. “Very gracious of Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba to phone and invite me to her oath taking ceremony. I look forward to being there on the 4th,” National Conference working president Omar Abdullah tweeted.Mehbooba had been seeking assurances from the central government on implementation of agenda of alliance and the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) framed by the two parties last year.However, her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 22 ended the over two-month-long deadlock on government formation in the state. Mehbooba had described her meeting with the Prime Minister as ‘positive’, saying she was satisfied.The BJP had sought equal number of portfolios as the PDP. In the earlier Cabinet, the PDP had 11 portfolios while the BJP had seven.Jammu and Kashmir was put under Governor’s Rule on January 8, a day after then chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away in New Delhi. PDP and BJP had staked claim for government formation on March 26, two days after Mehbooba was elected as PDP’s legislature party leader. Mehbooba, had earlier met Governor N.N. Vohra and staked claim to form the government with the support of 25 MLAs of the BJP. The PDP has 27 MLAs in the 87-member state Assembly. With PTI/ANI inputs.

India must be permitted to probe 26/11 Mumbai attack: Omar Abdullah on Pakistan JIT

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that only time will tell whether the Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) visit to Pathankot will be beneficial for India or not and said that India must also be allowed to go to Pakistan to probe the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.”We’re hopeful that it benefits us. Benefit in terms of those responsible for Pathankot attack should be caught and given strictest of punishment,” Abdullah told the media here. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Batting for Indian team’s visit to Pakistan to probe Mumbai terror attacks, he said that the way Pakistan JIT has come to probe the Pathankot attack, the Indian team must also be granted permission by Pakistan to probe 26/11 and other attacks.”If Indo-Pak can together form such team, should also set up truth and reconciliation commission for Jammu and Kashmir, so wounds of people could be healed,” he added.The Pakistan JIT which arrived here today at the Pathankot Air Base left after visiting the site of the attack, accompanied by Indian officials and security personnel.The team visited the areas that have been sanitised by the Indian Air Force post the attack on the Base.However, the team was reportedly not allowed to interact with any defence and security personnel who were involved in the 80-hour counter-operation against the terrorists who attacked the airbase in the early hours of January 2.

Pathankot terror attack: Farooq Abdullah backs govt for hosting Pakistan probe team JIT

Striking a tone different from parties like Congress, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday backed the government for hosting Pakistan’s probe team on Pathankot attack, saying it was time for the two countries to give up animosity and push friendship. The former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Minister said India and Pakistan have to join hands to defeat terror in the sub-continent and usher peace and prosperity in this state.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a very good step that India allowed the Pakistani JIT (Joint Investigation Team) to visit Pathankot. If we want to improve relations with the neighbouring country, then what is the harm in joining hands to see who is responsible for such attacks. They have come as they want to know who are responsible. So, let them see and then they will give their report on their return,” Abdullah said. His support to the government over the issue comes at a time when Congress and Aam Aadmi Party are slamming the Modi dispensation for hosting the JIT. “What happened in Lahore and if India decides to send its team there, I don’t think Pakistan will have any objections,” Abdullah said addressing workers at a function here.He said India and Pakistan would have to sit together to find solutions to the issues confronting the two countries. “There is no other option. We have had enough animosity and now time has come to take the friendship forward,” he said even as he cautioned that “there are some powers in both the countries who do not want peace as they earn their bread and butter on our blood.”Reiterating that the solution to Jammu and Kashmir issue lies in keeping that part of the state with that country and this part with India, Abdullah said Line of Control should be opened to allow easy movement of people from both sides of Kashmir. “Give Autonomy to this part of Kashmir and also give autonomy to the other part. This issue of Kashmir will get solved automatically,” he said while batting for opening new routes on the LoC to allow easy travel and trade between the two sides.He said India and Pakistan have to join hands to fight terrorism and “till that happens we would not get rid of terrorism”.

Rajasthan: 4 Kashmiri students beaten up at Mewar University over beef rumours

Four Kashmiri students were on Monday allegedly beaten up after a rumour spread that they had cooked beef in their hostel room. The incident took place at Mewar University in Chittorgarh city of Rajasthan. According to Indian Express, a scuffle broke out after local students alleged that the Kashmiri students were cooking beef in their hostel room. There are around 800 students from Jammu and Kashmir in the university, which has a ‘no non-veg’ policy. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the incident, some Hindu activists reportedly also reached the campus and raised slogans against the university administration. The meat being cooked has been sent for forensic tests.The daily quoted Chittorgarh SP Prasanna Khamesara as saying that the incident occurred due to a misunderstanding and the situation had been brought under control before it could escalate.“Some mischief mongers spread rumours that the students were cooking beef. But prima facie it didn’t look like beef. We have sent it for forensic testing just to be sure,” he added.Meanwhile, the administration has said that the issue has been blown out of proportion, adding that they have students from nearly 23 states of the country.A day ago, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to look into reports that Kolkata police was seeking information about Kashmiri students residing in the state. Mamata had replied saying that the issue was related to the Centre, but assured him that J&K students were always welcome to Bengal.Omar then questioned the Union Home Ministry’s motive in reportedly compiling data about students from Jammu and Kashmir in other states.”This raises the wider question – why is MHA ordering states to compile dossiers/data of J&K students like this?” Omar had tweeted.

Omar Abdullah questions separatists’ silence over Chinese troops in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday hit out at separatist groups for maintaining silence over the presence of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops along the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How is it that Kashmiri leaders who have so much to say about Indian troops in J&K have nothing to say about Chinese troops across the LoC?” Omar tweeted. After frequent incursions in Ladakh area, PLA troops have been spotted at forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistani side of Kashmir, ringing alarm bells in the security establishment.The Army spotted senior PLA officials at the forward posts opposite Nowgam sector in North Kashmir after which some intercepts of Pakistani army officers suggested that the Chinese troops have come to create some infrastructure along the LoC, sources in the know of developments said.