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Jammu and Kashmir: Top LeT commander Abu Bakr killed in encounter by security forces

Srinagar: A militant was killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district while another ultra was trapped in a cordon in Sopore area of north Kashmir, police said here.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Militants opened fire on a patrol party of army at Beewra in Srigufwara area of Anantnag district this morning, a police official said. He said the army personnel retaliated, triggering a gunbattle.

ANI reported that top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Bakr has been killed in Sopore district in Jammu and Kashmir by security forces.

One militant, identified as Basit Ahmad Dar, was killed in the encounter. Dar had recently joined Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.

In another counter-insurgency operation, a militant –believed to be a foreigner — was trapped in a house in Bomai area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the official said.

He said further details of the incident were awaited.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 15:17 IST

Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir: Militant killed in encounter with security forces

Srinagar: A militant was killed on Wednesday in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district while another ultra was trapped in a cordon in Sopore area of north Kashmir, police said here.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Militants opened fire on a patrol party of army at Beewra in Srigufwara area of Anantnag district this morning, a police official said.

He said the army personnel retaliated, triggering a gunbattle.

One militant, identified as Basit Ahmad Dar, was killed in the encounter.

Dar had recently joined Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.

In another counter-insurgency operation, a militant –believed to be a foreigner — was trapped in a house in Bomai area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the official said.

He said further details of the incident were awaited.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 12:35 IST

J-K: Security forces kill terrorist in Anantnag; search operations underway in Sopore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An encounter between the security forces and terrorists is underway on Wednesday in Bomai area of Sopore in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir, reports the Financial Express. The army and the police have cordoned off the area and have launched search operations where terrorists are believed to be hiding.Meanwhile in a separate incident, a terrorist has been killed in an encounter with security forces in Bijbehara, Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir. In a heavy gunfire on December 8, three Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were killed in an encounter in Arwani area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag.With ANI inputs.

Anantnag: Security forces kill two militants after 36-hour gun battle

Srinagar: Two militants have been killed by security forces in the 36-hour gun battle in Bijebhara area of Anantnag district of Kashmir which ended on Friday.

The bodies of the two militants were recovered from the debris of the house at Arwani in Bijbehara area on Friday morning after security forces blew up the building using explosives, a police official said.

He said one of the bodies was severely burnt.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

However, an army official said they were still sifting through the debris and a final statement on the incident will be issued once the operation was called off.

One army jawan was injured in the gunfight that began in the early hours on Thursday.

Security forces had cordoned off the area on Wednesday evening following information about presence of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants there.

A 24-year-old youth died allegedly after being wounded by a “stray bullet” near the site of encounter.

Arif Shah, a resident of Sangam area of Anantnag district, was hit when security forces were dealing with a group which was indulging in stone-pelting near the encounter site, the official said.

However, locals alleged that Shah was killed in security forces action against protesters.

The police official said the slain militants were both locals and identified them as Majid Mohiuddin Zargar of Qoimoh in neighbouring Kulgam district and Ruhul Amin Dar of Vessu in Anantnag district.

“The bodies have been handed over to their kin for last rites,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 16:52 IST

Kashmir’s victims: His sight and zest extinguished, Shaukeen plods on, ignored and forgotten

Pulwama: His pet name is Shaukeen, which means zestful. At present, the name is a heartbreaking irony. For he is listless, alive but barely so.

I am not sure how bad his condition is when he first walks into the room unassisted, walking tall with quiet dignity. His hair is neatly combed and he is tidily turned out in a long pheran. His face is expressionless, partly because of his thick black shades.

Shaukeen. Image courtesy David DevadasShaukeen. Image courtesy David Devadas

Shaukeen. Image courtesy David Devadas

For a moment, I am not sure how much he can see. For he walks through the door and to a corner of the room, where he sits down unassisted. His walk is slightly slower than it might normally be for a 25-year-old, but it is purposeful.

Shaukeen, whose actual name is Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, was a driver until he lost sight in both his eyes on 30 June this year. That was a week before the Valley erupted in turmoil.

Shaukeen had just returned from Jammu and was carrying his clothes into the small, barely furnished house. A public protest was taking place on the street just then, since two militants had been killed in an encounter.
In response to the protests, the police and CRPF fired pellets. Shaukeen was hit and lost his sight.

There were no pellet injuries on his lower body, says the man for whom Shaukeen’s younger brother works — the man who plays host for my visit. For, he has taken over the expenses of the household. Shaukeen, he points out, was the sole breadwinner.

My brief encounter with Shaukeen leaves me sadder than any experience in 28 years of covering Kashmir as a journalist. Perhaps it is his silence, his calm fortitude, his withdrawn lifelessness.

A friend later tells me that Shaukeen has lost the will to live. He is not married and, being the eldest in his family, probably feels the weight of responsibility.

Five-and-a-half months after he was blinded, there has been no assistance or compensation from any side. The world has moved on, his half-existence ignored and forgotten.

Passer-by victims

The saddest part of Shaukeen’s story is that, like many of those who have been killed or blinded in Kashmir, this year and in 2010, he was a bystander in the cycle of action and reaction, fury and repression, stones and bullets. Indeed, like so many other victims, he may have been hit precisely because he was a bystander.

Pulwama-based educationist Tariq Ahmed Wani theorises that the forces avoid firing into the thick of a protesting mob, for that could result in several deaths. So, they target someone on the sidelines – who might not be involved at all. According to Wani’s theory, the mayhem that results from that hit leads to a shift in focus, even dispersal.

A couple of days ago, the government put out another explanation, talking about ‘a stray bullet’ as the cause of a young man’s death in Anantnag. Perhaps the two versions overlap to some extent.

Certainly, a large number of victims in Kashmir are said to have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Down the road from Shaukeen’s little house, I visit another small, barely furnished house, also along the highway from Srinagar to Pulwama. The owner runs a traditional baker’s shop half a kilometre away.

His 15-year-old smart and talented son, Irfan Malik, had gone with him to the bakery at dawn on Sunday, 10 July. Around 8 am, the boy decided to return home. He carried a bag of bread with him for the rest of the family.

A large convoy of the CRPF came down that road just then, for fresh forces were being deployed after the mayhem the previous day – a day after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed on the evening of 8 July.

A mob of boys pelted the convoy with stones. The convoy stopped. The CRPF and accompanying policemen got down to beat back the protesters. According to his father and some neighbours, Irfan was walking home down a side path off the highway when he was hit by a bullet.

Versions of what happened often differ in Kashmir. This much seems clear, though: those who get killed in forces’ action are invariably economically poorly off, like both Shaukeen and Irfan. And it is often a single person on the sidelines of a mob who gets killed – or, like Shaukeen, blinded.

To most of us, both are victims. But one of his neighbours says that, to Shaukeen, those who die on the spot are actually better off than he.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 15:13 IST

J&K: Encounter between militants and security forces in Anantnag enters 2nd day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An encounter between militants and security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district entered the second day on Friday as a search operation to trace the ultras continued in the area. “The operation at Arwani in Bijbehara is on. Security forces are conducting searches,” a police official said. He said the area has been cordoned off, but there was no firing in the morning. The operation started on Thursday morning in which one militant is believed to have been killed. However, a confirmation on militant casualty can only be made after the operation is over and the body is retrieved, the official said. An army jawan was injured in the firing last night, the official said.On Thursday, a 24-year-old youth was killed allegedly after being hit by a “stray bullet” near the site of encounter. Arif Shah, a resident of Sangam area of Anantnag district, was hit by the “stray bullet” when security forces were dealing with a group which was indulging in stone-pelting near the encounter site, the official said. However, locals alleged that Shah was killed in security forces action against protesters.

Nagrota attack: A look at pervious attacks on military units shows lack of security measures

It was a dark day for India on Tuesday when a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kilometres from the 16 Corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city on Tuesday morning, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for several hours.

Seven army personnel, including two officers, were killed in the attack before three terrorists were eliminated in an armed face-off which also involved a hostage-like situation with 12 soldiers, two women and as many children being held captive. All were later rescued, army spokesman said.

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at the Army camp in Nagrota in Jammu. PTI

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at the Army camp in Nagrota in Jammu. PTI

The attack has not only raised doubts about whether the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian army against terror launch pads across the Line of Control were actually effective or not but has also raised several questions about the security at military camps and units.

According to The Indian Express, intelligence services had been monitoring a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) cell in Kashmir which had been plotting an attack on the 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota for at least two weeks. Despite intelligence services warning of such an attack, the fact that attackers were still successful in infiltrating through the route to Nagrota says a lot about the security there.

Another report in The Times of India said that defence sources informed the newspaper that “very little follow-up action” had been taken after the recommendations of the tri-Service committee, led by former Army chief Lt Gen (retd) Philip Campose and constituted after the Pathankot terror attack. “Since the report was submitted to defence minister Manohar Parrikar in mid-May, few concrete steps have been taken. There were some general discussions with the three Service headquarters, which in turn have carried out some security audits of their bases,” the report quoted a source as saying.

Even if we ignore the major terror attacks on military installations which have taken place outside Jammu and Kashmir in India (like the Pathankot attack), and instead focus only on the attacks in Jammu and Kashmir (where tension has increased at the borders due to the deteriorating ties with Pakistan), the frequency of attacks on the army since 2015 points out how the security for our security personnel seems to have been ignored.

Here are the major attacks on military and paramilitary installations and units which took place in Jammu and Kashmir since 2015:

Attack on army installation in Samba (March 2015): Two terrorists opened fire at the camp of the 81 Armoured Regiment of the Army on the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway in Samba near Jammu. The two terrorists were killed but two security personnel and a civilian were also injured.

Attack on brigade headquarters in Kupwara (May 2015): Three terrorists were killed after they attacked the brigade headquarters of the army in Tanghdar sector of Kupwara near the Line of Control.

Terrorists kill army colonel in Kupwara (November 2015): A Colonel of the Army’s elite Para Commando force was killed and a policeman injured by militants during an operation near the LoC in Kupwara. The Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles Colonel Santosh, who was leading a search party, was critically injured when militants hiding in a dense forest area of Haji Naka opened fire.

Assault on army camp in Kupwara (November 2015): Three terrorists and a civilian were killed after the terrorists infiltrated a camp of Gorkha Rifles in Tanghdar. Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) had claimed responsiblity for the attack.

Attack on CRPF convoy in Anantnag (December 2015): Six CRPF jawans were injured when terrorist opened fired on their convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Pampore terror attack (June 2016): Eight CRPF personnel were killed and 21 others critically wounded when terrorists rained bullets on a bus carrying them at Pampore, near Srinagar, in what was a fidayeen attack carried out by LeT.

Attack on army convoy near Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla (August 2016): Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists attacked an army convoy on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway near Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla, killing eight people and injuring 22 others.

Assault on BSF camp in Kupwara (August 2016): An attack by terrorists on a BSF camp in Kupwara left three BSF personnel injured.

Uri attack (September 2016): In a terrible attack on the Army in many years, heavily armed militants suspected to be from Pakistan-based JeM stormed an army base in Uri in Kashmir killing 17 jawans. Located barely a few kilometres from the LoC and some 70 km from Srinagar, the base was subjected to the brazen attack by four terrorists at around 5.30 am, causing heavy casualties in the Dogra regiment which lost 17 of its men.

Attack on army, BSF camps in Baramulla (October 2016): Two terrorists and a soldier were killed and another soldier was injured after terrorists attacked army and BSF camps in Baramulla four days after India conducted the surgical strikes.

Attack on army camp in Handwara (October 2016): Terrorists attemped to storm a Rashtriya Rifles camp in the Langate area of Handwara. No security personnel were killed and all the three terrorists were killed.

With inputs from agnecies

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 13:50 IST

Demonetization adds to people’s woes in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Braving the bone-chilling cold, thousands of people made a beeline for the banks early in the morning on Thursday to exchange the old notes amid crippling shutdowns called by the Joint Resistance Leadership of the separatists.Bashir Ahmad boarded a Tata Sumo cab from Anantnag to reach Srinagar not realizing that his Rs 500 notes are no longer legal tender. “I had few Rs 500 notes in my pocket. My fare from Anantnag is Rs 80. When I offered a Rs 500 note to the driver, he refused saying they are not valid anymore. I later rushed to this bank to get it exchanged but the authorities asked me to deposit it in the account. I am stuck,” said Ahmad, waiting at the J&K Bank branch on Residency Road.What has complicated the whole process is the four-month-old unrest, and the shutdowns called by the separatists. For the last four months, the markets have remained shut because of the unrest. Separatists are giving relaxation for few hours during evenings on specific days to buy and store essentials. By that time the banks are closed.“I came from Nishat early morning to buy something. But the shopkeeper refused to take Rs 500 note. I rushed to this branch to get it exchanged. They asked be to fill the form and give Xerox copy of Adhar card or election card. All these documents are at home and there is a shutdown. It is really a pain,” said Mohammad Yaqoob.Those hit hardest by the demonetization process is the tribal community of Gujjar and Bakerwal. They live in higher reaches, and far flung areas which are cut off from mainland for almost six months during winter.“90 per cent of tribals do not have bank accounts. They are nomads who go from place to place. Tribals live in mountains and far flung areas which remain cut for six months. The government should have at least taken this chunk of population into consideration,” Dr Javaid Rahi, Chairperson of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, told DNA.According to Rahi, the tribal population in Jammu and Kashmir is around 15 lakh which comprise of 11.9 per cent of the total populace. “The deadline for changing notes is December 30 but most of the areas inhabited by tribals remain cut off. When they come to know about the demonetization it would be too late,” he saidKashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said the circulation of money has further stopped by this decision. “We have been hit. We are worried now. There is no trade right now (given the unrest). Our day-to-day needs have been hit,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, KCCI President.Commissioner-Secretary of Finance, Jammu and Kashmir, Navin Kumar Choudhary said there is no dearth of currency notes of Rs 100 denomination in the banks across the state, and transactions were taking place smoothly.

Kashmir unrest: 26 schools torched in the Valley; 21 arrested, 35 suspects identified

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday in New Delhi to review the border situation in Kashmir, the repeated incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan and the security arrangements in the Valley. The Prime Minister’s meet comes at a time when the situation in the Valley is crumbling each day. Cross-border shelling, civilian lives lost, and the air of general unrest and fear has crippled normal life in the Valley.

However, amid the disturbing developments reported day and night from the restive state, there is another lesser-known facet that reeks of well-coordinated attempts to jeopardise peace and well-being in Kashmir in the long-term. Twenty six schools have been torched down in Kashmir — at least one school damaged in all 10 districts of the region — in separate cases of arson in the Valley. The incidents took place over the span of the past three months of unrest, however there was a gradual increase in the frequency of such incidents, so much that in October end, one school was burnt each day in the Valley, as reported by Sameer Yasir for Firstpost.

One of the oldest educational institutes in south Kashmir Anantnag district, Hanfia Model Institute, was also gutted in fire. Image courtesy: Hilal ShahOne of the oldest educational institutes in south Kashmir Anantnag district, Hanfia Model Institute, was also gutted in fire. Image courtesy: Hilal Shah

One of the oldest educational institutes in south Kashmir Anantnag district, Hanfia Model Institute, was also gutted in fire. Image courtesy: Hilal Shah

Political mudslinging between separatist leaders and state government over the crimes were officially attributed to “unknown miscreants”. While the Hurriyat leaders blamed the state government and Indian state for hatching a conspiracy to discredit the “freedom movement” as “violence and anarchy”, the state government pointed fingers at the Hurriyat alleging it was an “escape route” for them to “keep the fire burning” in Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir police has identified 35 arsonists behind the incidents and arrested 21 for the same, reported CNN News-18.

According to a report in the Deccan Herald, the DIG, J&K police said that some people involved in arson have fled to Jammu and Chandigarh, adding that the police is strengthening the security of schools across Kashmir. However, the repercussion of delay in action will be paid up by over 6,000 students whose studies are hampered in the Valley.

“This is a black spot on our face, no matter who does it,” former secretary with the Board of School Education and a noted academician, Bashir Ahmad Dar, said in Srinagar. “We will have to bear its implications for years to come. Although buildings will be reconstructed once again but the idea of educational institutes as non-political and ‘Sanctum Santorum’ of our identity, will face challenges,” reported Sameer Yasir.

The central government termed these as acts driven by the “combination of madness and perversion” and asked people of the Valley to realise that those responsible are acting at the behest of the enemy “across the border”.

It is noteworthy here that most of the schools targeted were government-run and usually the only option for those who could not afford private education. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court took suo motu notice of the incident and rapped the government over its failure to prevent such incidents, directing police and civil administration to ensure their protection besides unmasking the “mysterious enemies of education” and deal with them with an “iron hand”.

However, torched schools are not the only problem plaguing education in the valley. The Centre has requested the state government to close 174 schools in the border areas, in the view of cross-border firing from Pakistan’s side targeting civilian locations. Schools have remained shut for almost four months now, bringing education to a standstill. A few institutions that tried to take temporary classes or tuitions, were singled out and burned to ground. Founder of Iqra Public School in Batgund, Anantnag decided to reopen school despite separatists call for strikes and  decided to open a ‘tuition centre’ despite the raging protests over the death  of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The school was set ablaze and burnt to ground.

Meanwhile, the state government has announced that annual board examinations will be held next month, even though the schools have remained closed since July. According to Kashmir Monitor, students have protested against the decision and are insisting that the exams are postponed. The students say that more than 50 percent of their syllabus remains uncovered as their studies suffered due to the situation in the Valley. Although the government has promised to reduce the syllabus in exams and offer more choices in the paper, the students remain distressed as some of the schools were yet to formally begin classes for some of the subjects when the unrest broke out.

“Our children have got used to sitting at home. They don’t like the idea of going back to schools because there is no luxury superior for than free time. Then there are these radical thoughts that inhabit their mind, that if you don’t agree with them, you are their enemy,” a school teacher told Sameer Yasir , reflecting on the situation.

With inputs from PTI

Kashmir: Two schools damaged in mysterious fire incidents

Sun, 30 Oct 2016-11:26pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two schools, including a Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya (JNV), were damaged since Saturday in mysterious fire incidents in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, police said in Srinagar on Sunday. Fire broke out in Government Higher Secondary School building at Kabamarg in Anantnag district on Sunday afternoon, a police official said.He said fire tenders were rushed to put out the fire as locals also assisted in the fire fighting job. In another incident on Saturday night, fire broke out in the JNV school at Aishmuqam, the official said adding the building suffered partial damage before the blaze was put out. The cause of the fire in both incidents has not been ascertained yet, he said.

Kashmir: Three schools set on fire, police suspect handiwork of miscreants

Srinagar: Three school buildings were set ablaze by unknown persons in Kashmir over the past 24 hours, setting alarm bells ringing among authorities who have decided to step up security around educational institutions.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

A Government school was set ablaze by unknown persons in the wee hours of Tuesday in Noorbagh area of the city but the blaze was put out by fire tenders, a police official said.

He said the school building suffered damage in the fire and the firefighting operation.

In another incident, miscreants tried to burn down Government Higher Secondary School at Aishmuqam in Anantnag district, the official said.

The school building was saved by the timely intervention of fire brigade personnel, he said adding one window panel was damaged due to the fire.

Last night, fire broke out in a building of Government Middle School in Sadrukote Bala of Bandipora district.

Fire tenders were rushed in and the blaze was put out, the official said, adding the incident is suspected to be handiwork of miscreants.

The official said in view of these incidents, the security patrol around school buildings have been increased to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

State government has announced that annual board examinations will be held next month even though the schools have remained closed since July following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces.

Protests have been held against the government decision to hold examinations.

J&K: PDP Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri’s house attacked by terrorist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri’s residence in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district was attacked by terrorist forces on Monday. According to media reports, two or three terrorists opened fire at the police guarding Veeri’s house in Bijbehara, Anantnag. When the policemen retaliated, the terrorists fled from there.No casualties were reported.Though, PDP minister was not present at his place, security arrangements were beefed up and search operations were launched to track the terrorists. This came weeks after militants attacked the residence of a ruling PDP MLA in Shopian town of Kashmir by lobbing a grenade at it. However, there was no damage done due to the explosion that took place on October 5. In September, some unidentified militants snatched weapons from police personnel guarding the residence of ruling People’s Democratic Party’s district President from Anantnag.Six to eight militants attacked the guard post at the residence of Advocate Jawed Ahmed Sheikh, district President of PDP at Dayalgam and snatched four AK rifles from the security personnel, a police official said.Further details awaited.With agency inputs

Jammu & Kashmir: Govt sacks at least 12 employees for alleged ‘anti-national activities’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid ongoing spiral of violence, agony and pain that the Valley has been witnessing, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday night dismissed over a dozen of its employees for alleged anti-national activities.The Jammu and Kashmir government has issued orders to dismiss over a dozen of its employees for their alleged involvement in the ongoing unrest, IANS reported quoting a top official.The report says that the dismissed employees include an assistant registrar of Kashmir University, and officials from education, revenue, public health, engineering and food supplies.Stating that the state government invoked Article 126 of the state constitution to carry out the action, the official said, “Reports on their anti-national activities prepared by the state police were forwarded to the Chief Secretary, who then directed respective heads of departments to issue orders terminating their services.”With over 90 people killed so far in the clashes, the death toll continues to mounts and the number of injured also continuing to soar. As per reports, over 7,000 people have been detained along with the arrest of a human rights activist Khurram Parvez.The unrest began soon after the killing of poster boy Burhan Wani, a commander of militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen along with two other militants in an encounter in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on July 8.Wani was popular among Kashmiris, due to his activity on social media and many photos and videos posted by him on social media against Indian rule in Kashmir and soon after his killing, it sparked demonstrations across the valley as protesters clashed with the police and paramilitary forces, and even attacked government installations.The crackdown also witnessed a ban on the newspapers, mobile internet has been snapped along with partial communication blockade and the approximate business losses have been estimated at more than Rs 10,000 crore.(With agency inputs)

Militants loot Indian weapons to arm new recruits in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing acute shortage of weapons to operate and arm the new recruits, militants have embarked on a dangerous journey to loot guns from policemen.Post Hizbul Mujhadeen poster boy Burhan Wani’s killing; more than 70 rifles have been either looted or snatched by militants and mobsters in the restive valley.”Obviously weapons are being snatched because they (militants) do not have guns,” K Rajendra Kumar, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, told DNA.On Sunday night a group of heavily armed militants disarmed the cops posted to guard the television transmission tower in Dooru area of Anantnag district before decamping with their five weapons including three Self-Loading Rifles, one Carbine and one INSAS Rifle.Another bid to snatch rifles from policemen guarding minority community was foiled when guards opened fire at militants forcing them to take a hasty retreat in Sirnoo village of Pulwama district in south Kashmir on Sunday night.Ten days ago a cop was killed and two others injured when militants attacked the cops guarding the minority members with an intention to loot weapons at Jamnageri village of Shopian district in south Kashmir.Figures reveal that around 70 rifles have been looted since the unrest that began after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8. Of these while 39 have been recovered and rest are still missing. All the weapons have been looted from four districts of south Kashmir.Around 41 weapons including AK-47 rifles, INSAS rifles, one light machine gun and dozens of magazines and ammunition were looted by mobsters after setting ablaze police station Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam, on July 9.Police later recovered 35 weapons but most of those were burnt in the fire.Intelligence inputs reveal that over 50 youth from south Kashmir have gone missing after the killing of Burhan Wani. Security agencies suspect that they may have joined the militant ranks.However the militant commanders are falling short of guns to arm new recruits, which has prompted them to loot and snatch weapons from the police and other security men.Cops posted in isolated villages to guard the minority community and non-descriptive politician house are the soft targets for the militants to loot weapons.”We are trying to beef up the security at these isolated spots so that militants are unable to snatch or loot the weapons. All the forces have been asked to remain alert to foil any attempts of gun snatching”, said an officer.Targeted at isolated spotsCops posted in isolated villages to guard the minority community and non-descriptive politician house are the soft targets for the militants to loot weapons.”We are trying to beef up the security at these isolated spots so that militants are unable to snatch or loot the weapons. All the forces have been asked to remain alert to foil any attempts of gun snatching”, said an officer.

J&K: Terrorists decamp with 5 guns from policemen guarding TV tower

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorists on Sunday night attacked policemen who were guarding a TV tower in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district and decamped with at least five guns, ANI reported.According to reports, terrorists barged into the guardroom of TV tower and decamped with weapons in Dangwachi in Dooru area of the southern district.Police have sounded an alert in the area.On Saturday, terrorists had opened fire again at a vehicle of the police at Tootigund in Handwara district. This was a day after a Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawan was killed and eight others injured in an attack on their convoy by terrorists, near a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Zakura.Last month , militants attacked the guard post at the residence of a political leader in Kulgam district and decamped with rifles of policemen after disarming them.

How Kashmir has risen up against the state in one of its most intense uprisings

After a long day of strict curfew on 15 August, Independence Day, 15-year old Yasir Salaam Sheikh walked out of his dense neighborhood in Srinagar’s Batmaloo area towards the main road, only to find a group of youth demonstrating against India.

Within half an hour, the demonstration was countered by government forces, who fired tear gas shells, pellets and bullets. Sheikh was shot in the chest. He died, while his father Abdul Salaam Sheikh, 52, was told that his son was injured by pellets. It was only when he left home for the hospital that he found a group of people carrying his son’s body.

Abdul Salaam is a carpenter with a family of six — three sons, a daughter and wife. But Yasir is no longer with his family. Sitting against the yellow distempered walls of a room at his home, Abdul Salaam answers a call from a relative. He says, “Aaa, yi aus khudayi syund yachun, Yasir saeb gov shaheed” (It was Allah’s will, Yasir has been martyred).”

***

A pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar's SMHS HospitalA pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar's SMHS Hospital

A pellet victim is rushed into Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital

Yasir’s was yet another civilian killing in the 10 weeks of Kashmir being under lockdown since the mass uprising started after popular rebel commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 22, was shot dead by government forces on 8 July in South Kashmir’s Bumdoora village.

In the daily demonstrations and rallies since, 88 civilians have been killed by government forces and more than 13,000 injured. Among the injured are more than 800 individuals who were hit by pellets in their eyes; many have lost vision in one or both eyes as a consequence.

The estimated loss to the state’s economy has been more than Rs 7,000 crore, but no one seems to be ready to return back to normalcy — not even the business community. Several hundred government forces have also been injured in stone-throwing incidents across the Valley.

In a move to douse the fire, the central government had dispatched a parliamentarians’ delegation to the state. However, almost all major pro-freedom and civil society groups boycotted the All Party Delegation of Parliament members led by the home minister Rajnath Singh, on 4 September, on the grounds that such talks haven’t borne fruit in the past.

***

A rally at Dialgam, AnantnagA rally at Dialgam, Anantnag

A rally at Dialgam, Anantnag

The uprising has shown a new face of the people, who are willing to give up their life for the struggle of Azadi — freedom. An on-duty paramilitary forces personnel in Anantnag town, with a pellet gun slung over his shoulder, told me that he has been serving in Kashmir for six years, but has never seen this level of anger. “I have seen the 2010 protests and experienced the stone-throwing also,” he said. “These are not the same people. Young children carrying stones are ready to face bullets. They come in thousands. How many can we kill at once? We can’t stop them.”

His observation seems right to someone who has managed to travel across the Valley during the uprising.

In 2010, the protests were mainly in towns. But this time, even the remotest villages are engulfed in protests and clashes with the forces. Many houses, of people associated with the government, have been attacked and government establishments torched. At night, youth guard the roads — only to announce in the village mosque if there is a police raid. Mosques are reverberating with announcements and songs of freedom. People are giving away their food to the needy and offering shelter to those who can’t get home. Since the militancy of the 1990s, this is the first time that Kashmir has stood up with just intensity against the state, which in turn is finding it hard to crush the people’s movement. As is the case with Yasir’s father Abdul Salaam, the loss of life and economy are the sacrifices one has to pay.

“We, all of Kashmir, want freedom,” says Salaam, who believes that his son’s life will not go in vain. “It needs big sacrifices and we are doing that. We will make sacrifices and it is the job of our leaders to follow up on that. I am hopeful that Kashmir will be free, that it will see the spring of freedom one day. Since Eid (7 July), I have worked only for six days. But I don’t have any regret that we lost so much: my work and my son. I’m a common man and believe me, no one’s heart is with India here. We are ready to bear the losses because we want freedom and that is a big achievement.”

***

Many people in Kashmir share similar views. The one common thing people say is that the uprising shouldn’t end like it did in 2010, when at least 120 civilians were shot dead by government forces during the National Conference and Congress government led by Omar Abdullah. People have been expecting that the pro-freedom leaders would find a political strategy other than only shutdowns. But to understand this uprising, the sentiments that are running high, one has to literally camp in Southern Kashmir — the epicenter.

On my second visit to South Kashmir in 10 weeks, I spent two weeks living with the people who are part of the demonstrations, travelling into the villages, attending public rallies, meeting stone-throwers and seeing militants hanging around. Every action in South Kashmir — the four districts: Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam ê has become a symbol of defiance against India. Young men search for paint to graffiti any available surface. Fuel is somehow arranged to fill the tanks of cars and bikes, only to travel to the next day’s rally. Flags are stitched or painted and hoisted on electric poles, trees, mobile towers and shop-fronts. At almost every rally, visitors gather around a few banners that display photos of slain militants or civilians. When a slogan is raised, the response is an echo of thousands of people cutting through the dense forests.

Graffiti in SrinagarGraffiti in Srinagar

Graffiti in Srinagar

Graffiti in a village near AnantnagGraffiti in a village near Anantnag

Graffiti in a village near Anantnag

One picture that is omnipresent is of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who has become the hero, followed by many militants who are in these areas. Every young boy who is in the protests wants to follow Wani. Children take out parades with handmade wooden-guns amid pro-Kashmir and anti-India slogans.

***

In one such rally at Kulgam’s Yaaripora village last month, thousands participated to reiterate their support for the uprising. Riding a bike along with a recent journalism graduate, Shoaib (name changed), through interior roads to evade government forces, in the village, we found hundreds of cars, bikes and commercial vehicles parked on the road, and people walking in groups towards the venue. Volunteers were serving food and water to the visitors while the road was dotted with flags of Pakistan, Independent Kashmir and green.

On our way back, in Redwani village, 22-year-old Waris Ahmad (name changed) told me that this uprising is different than the one in 2010. “I want us to be successful as we want plebiscite. In 2010, only cities were mainly involved. But this time, villages all over Kashmir are with the movement. Nothing will happen due to this government crackdown. When there is oppression, that means we will succeed. Politicians betrayed Kashmiris, they showed us green gardens but nothing happened. What is truth is always truth, thus Jammu Kashmir is a disputed region and the dispute has to be solved one day,” he told me.

Public rally at Yaaripora, KulgamPublic rally at Yaaripora, Kulgam

Public rally at Yaaripora, Kulgam

A collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, KulgamA collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, Kulgam

A collage of those killed in the uprising at a rally in Yaaripora, Kulgam

***

Two days before this rally, Shoaib and I travelled towards another one in Dabrun village. Before we could reach, however, Central Reserve Police Force personnel stopped us near Ashajipora, a village next to Anantnag town. After telling them where we were headed, the two CRPF men charged at us with their batons. For the next few minutes, blows from the batons rained on our arms, legs and back, even as abuses were hurled at us and we were asked to go back. Showing my press card had only intensified the beating.

I did get a chance to visit the village after a few days. There I met 27-year-old Junaid Rasool (name changed), who has lived outside Kashmir, and told me that the government should understand what is the reason for the 2008, 2010 and 2016 uprisings in Kashmir.

“In 2008, we wanted land to be returned and the situation became normal,” Junaid told me. “Today, it is not about land or any one person, people are looking for their rights. We don’t want oppression to continue. In 2010, India sent delegations here and they showed us dreams and people voted later, thinking something will happen. But nothing happened. In 2016, India is saying a terrorist was killed, that is why there is an uprising. But the point is, why did he even pick up a gun? We don’t want India or Pakistan; we want only Azadi — freedom. India claims to be a big democracy, but there is nothing like that in Kashmir. Even before we start saying something, they shoot pellets at us.”

***

The situation is similar in the northern parts of Kashmir.

Last month, thousands gathered for a rally in the Kreeri area of North Kashmir. Witnesses said that people with wires, logs and electricity poles blocked all roads to thwart any nighttime raid by government forces. “I am seeing such a situation for the first time in any North Kashmir village,” a witness told a local daily. Earlier the village was raided to arrest youth. But locals said that people were alerted, and announcements were made through mosque loud speakers and everyone was asked to come out on the roads. “We set up blockades at all the entry points to the village,” a local told the daily, “and teams were formed, which patrolled the village for the whole night.” The next day, the stage was set up in the Eidgah grounds for the rally.

***

The government’s response to such dissent has only been the use of more force. At least 6,000 people have been arrested, with more than 400 booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Many families have said that their children were tortured and humiliated in police stations. In one incident, in South Kashmir’s Larkipora area, eight kilometers from the town, army personnel paraded young men naked and used them as human shields.

One late night (when curfew was imposed even during the nights), I reached Larkipora along with some locals who knew the alternative routes to avoid the main road that was dotted with the Army. We went to the house of Amir Yusuf Ganai, 22, a third semester MBA student at a Chandigarh College. Ganai was shot dead by the Army on 16 August. As per witnesses, some Army personnel were coming along one side of the road, beating up people. In Larkipora market, three people were paraded naked on the road ahead of the army vehicles. Initially, there was only stone throwing by demonstrators, who were angry to see the men being paraded, but then army personnel opened fire.

By 1 pm, 12 injured people were rushed to the district hospital of Anantnag. Seven were injured by pellets, four had bullet injuries and one had been beaten up. Among them was Ganai as well. His hospital record read: “Bullet injury left side neck — Brought dead.”

“People were announcing on the mosque loudspeakers that the army – 19-RR (Rashtriya Rifles) — was wreaking havoc,” said Mohammad Yusuf Ganai, Amir’s father. “And then people came out. Amir was hit in the neck. As per the witnesses, it was Sajad Ahmad Itoo, a local army man, who shot at him. Then people went to Itoo’s house and burnt it down. Four days after, on 22 August, Amir was to return to his college to pay his fees. He was here for the June-August summer break.”

(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik

(L) Amir Suhail Ganai; (R) Shiraz Ahmad Malik

Among the three men who were paraded naked was 33-year-old Shiraz Ahmad Malik, a driver. At his home in Fatehpur village, 10 kilometers from Anantnag town, lying in bed with a fractured arm and injuries all over his body, Malik tells me that there was stone throwing and he went to see what the commotion was, but fell down. “Three of us were forced to get naked and the stone throwing stopped when they [the stone throwers] saw us naked in front of the army personnel,” he said.  “We were beaten up, our clothes torn off, identity cards kept in pockets and money taken away. For 30 minutes, we were kept there. Then our arms were bound and we were taken to a camp in a vehicle. We were in the vehicle but they couldn’t take us down again due to the heavy presence of protesters. We were released later. They were beating up the two others also and one of them was severely injured… his nails were removed.”

***

The reason that this uprising has been difficult to control is people’s vehement support for militants. Burhan Wani gave a face to the rebels, who would otherwise be on their own in the forests. His killing brought them back into the larger narrative of the general public’s political sentiments. While in the south, I saw militants being celebrated as heroes. Their networks have become stronger over the last two months and a huge number of young boys have already decided to join them. In other districts of Kashmir, the intensity may not be as high as in the south, but the uprising continues in those parts as well. While it is not possible to organise rallies in Central Kashmir, protests have not halted and have spread like wildfire with each fresh killing, even as far as to many areas of the Jammu division. However, the pro-freedom leaders in South Kashmir believe that the People’s Democratic Party, whose origin and base was in the south, stabbed the people in the back.

At the Anantnag police station, Mirwaiz Qazi Yasir, a pro-freedom leader and chairman of Ummat e Islami Jammu Kashmir (that exerts strong influence in Southern Kashmir), has been detained since the day Wani was killed. He tells me that the rural south had been passive over a period of time but silence should not be deemed as peace. “Kashmir, particularly the south, has been deceived time and again by politicians,” said Yasir. “Even when they voted for different mainstream parties, they presented themselves covered in the clothes of the movement. Wailing and crying over the dead bodies of young militants gave them the impression that those people among that camp were pro-freedom. Our own people, some militant commanders or resistance leaders supported these deceiving political parties, which supported and strengthened their pro-freedom cover. There was a time in the pre-2008 era when a huge chunk of intellectuals believed that the signs of resistance have been erased among the youth. But 2008 rediscovered the movement in the present generation.”

As for where this uprising has taken Kashmir, Yasir says, “I believe this uprising has had several impacts, like transition of the movement to new generation. It strengthened the expression that we want nothing less than Azadi and this movement is goal-centric rather than leader-centric. People are growing politically mature. Gone are the times when people were considered as herds.”

The response that the parliamentary delegation received in Kashmir has proven that the people do not want a repeat of the past. While none among the pro-freedom leaders was willing to speak to the delegation, during the day, at least 600 people were injured across Kashmir in protests and clashes. Reports said that around two-dozen people sustained pellet injuries to their eyes, including a photojournalist.

In South Kashmir’s Shopian, protesters torched a new building — a local deputy commissioner’s office — after government forces stopped a scheduled public rally. With no let up in the demonstrations, continuous use of force, people like Yasir Salaam Sheikh’s father continue to believe that the loss of economy and the lives are the sacrifices one has to offer for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

But the coming days and weeks will tell whether there will be any concrete dialogue, or if it will only be another bloody summer in Kashmir.

Markets finally open after 79 days as curfew lifted from all parts of Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Markets across Kashmir opened on Sunday and there was heavy rush of customers thronging shops as curfew was lifted from all parts of Kashmir.Shops and business establishments which had remained closed for 79-days due to separatist call for shut down opened today after 2 pm. There was heavy rush of customers thronging shops as markets opened. Traffic jams were witnessed in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk here and in adjoining areas of the city while other district towns also witnessed movement of large number of vehicles. The separatist groups have announced a 16-hour relaxation in the shutdown till 6 AM tomorrow.A police spokesman said the situation across the valley remained normal and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the valley. “The entire Kashmir Valley is curfew-free today but restrictions are in place in many parts as a precautionary measure,” the official said. However, miscreants attempted to create disturbances in Anantnag and Sopore, he said. At Sopore chowk and KP road in Anantnag, miscreants in their attempt to create disturbances pelted stones on shopkeepers when they were opening their shops today, the spokesman said.Police and security force deployments immediately reached the spots and chased away miscreants and normalised the situation, he said. Police, during past 24 hours, arrested 39 more miscreants who were wanted in the offences of harassing shopkeepers, creating disruptions in traffic movement by stone pelting and by placing obstructions on roads and lanes, he added. He said the curfew was lifted following improvement in the situation yesterday.As many as 82 people including two cops have been killed and thousands of others have been injured in the ongoing unrest that started after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8.

Amid unrest in Kashmir, hundreds of Valley youth turn up for army recruitment drive

The Indian Army is pulling crowds, and the crowd is not here to throw stones at them, but to join them. Hundreds of young men lined up for Army’s open recruitment rally in the volatile south Kashmir’s district of Anantang, which has been the epicenter of an ongoing unrest in the Valley that has left over eighty people dead and more than ten thousand injured.

“We want to change the perception about the youth of Kashmir. If given an opportunity it would be an honor to serve this nation,” said Irshad Ahmad, who travelled 30 kilometers from Pulwama district to attend the recruitment rally in Anantnag.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

South Kashmir has been the epicenter of the pro-azadi protests in the Valley since they broke out in July after the death of militant commander Burhan Wani. Wani was from south Kashmir; so were most of the victims of the unrest. Few hundred meters from the Army camp, where the recruitment was being carried out, curfew and restrictions remained in the place in the main market of the Anantnag town for the 75th straight day.

More than 6,000 youth from south Kashmir had applied for the different jobs using online registration system but only 400 could turn up at the High Grounds in Anantnag due to the ongoing unrest. But for the Army the response was “mindboggling”.

“The movement boys started gathering outside the camp, we realised we have won in our mission,” an Army officer said at the rally venue.

Those who made it to the recruitment camp had to leave their homes in the dead of the night to escape the wrath of stone-throwing crowds. Some of the aspirants had to face the fury of pro-azadi protesters, who thrashed them and tore apart their documents, a sign of the anger on the streets. A majority of these cases were reported from Pulwama district were protesters caught hold of aspirants and beat them up at many places.

“It was not easy to reach here but I had long waited for this day and come what may I would not have allowed this opportunity to go to waste,” said Tariq Qurashi, another aspirant who qualified the test, no less enthusiastic than the thousands like him who have joined pro-azadi protests.

“I want to request the youths to leave stone-throwing and instead prove their talent,” said Zakir, a youth from Kokernag, in Anantnag district.

As the Army officers at the venue called out their names, these young men would pounce on the space reserved for the aspirants. Most of the recruits carried certificates in plastic bags and without an iota of fear on their faces of stone pelters who had called for a boycott of the rally.

“This rally is being conducted for the youth of Kashmir valley. The online response to the registration saw 11,500 youth applying for the jobs. The number of aspirants who had applied from south Kashmir is 6,000,” said Brigadier JS Sanyal, Deputy Director-General, Recruitment (Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir), who is overseeing the recruitment drive in Kashmir valley.

“The candidates are being screened for physical fitness… and documentation. Successful candidates will undergo a written test on 23 October at the same venue. Basically, our aim is to provide an opportunity to unemployed and educated youth. That is the reason why even those aspirants who had not registered online were provided the opportunity ,” Brigadier Sanyal added.

Hundreds of youth also lined up for SPO (Special Police Officer) posts during the recruitment rally organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in violence-torn Pulwama district, defying separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call for Kashmiri youth not to join the police force in the state.

“We came here to make our future secured and earn some money,” said Adnan Ahmed, a resident of Tral village. The SPOs are engaged on a monthly salary of Rs 6,000, which was raised from Rs 3,000 a month since January this year. They are given a training and work with the Kashmir Police in maintaining law and order situation.

“We got a very good response. Many youths from Tral, Awantipora, Lethipora areas have appeared for fitness tests for SPOs post. Many have qualified as well,” said Iftikhar Chaudhary, DSP DR, Member Recruitment Board of the Jammu and Kashmir police.

Kashmir youth line up for army recruitment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yasir Ahmad Chahuan, 18, looks frail and frightened. Puffing and wheezing in a corner at the High Grounds here, Yasir took a big risk by masquerading as a labourer to crisscross the vulnerable areas of South Kashmir to reach the venue of the Indian army’s recruitment rally here with a hope to become the proud soldier of this country.”I started at 2am from my village on foot. After covering 15 kilometres, I saw a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The driver stopped and asked me where I was heading. I said I am going for the recruitment rally. He said don’t go ahead as stone-pelting was going on there,” Yasir told dna.Son of a poor shepherd, Yasir, who had fallen in love with olive greens ever since he was a child, did not give up and returned home to hire a bike for Rs 500 and set off his journey to reach the venue.”I wanted to take this risk. We are poor people. My father is a shepherd who grazes the cattle of other farmers to eke out his living. I am mentally prepared to become a soldier to serve this country,” he said.Welcome to South Kashmir, the epicentre of the current unrest in the Valley. More than 84 people have died and over 10,000 have suffered injuries since the unrest began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen leader Burhan Wani on July 8. Anantnag district, being the worst hit, has topped the list of casualties in this unrest.Yet the Indian army is the biggest attraction for the restive youth of south Kashmir who are often being stereotyped as stone throwers and anti nationals.More than 12000 youth had registered online for the job of soldiers in the valley. Six thousand candidates had registered online for the five districts of South Kashmir alone. On the first day of four day recruitment rally held here, over 425 candidates turned up for necessary tests for the job of soldiers.”Initially, we had planned the rally for July but because of the situation prevailing that time we had to postpone it. We brought it down to September. I think with the present response it was a good decision under the prevailing situation,” said Brigadier JS Samyal, deputy director general, recruitment, Indian army.Given the prevailing situation and lack of transport due to the shutdowns and curfew, all the registered candidates could not make it to the venue on Wednesday.”None the less 425 candidates have made it. It was definitely a challenge to organize and conduct the rally. But because of the civil government and the army’s involvement we have been able to conduct this rally very well”, said Brigadier Samyal.Passion and enthusiasm was running high among the youth who braved azadi protests to reach the venue for the rally. Such was the zeal that youth who could not make it in the running test struggled and pleaded before the instructors to allow them entry for the second round.Even one of the youth had to be whisked away when he missed the finishing line by a fraction of second. However instructors did not allow him given the tough rules and regulations.”I want to become the soldier not only to serve my country but to feed my family as well. I have traveled a long distance to reach here with a hope that I will make it inshallah (God willing)”, said Mohammad Iqbal, another aspirant.

500 Kashmiri youths turn up for Army recruitment rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defying the separatists’ call of agitation, around 500 Kashmiri youths on Wednesday turned up for an Army recruitment rally in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, one of the worst-hit places in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.”Over 500 youths took part in today’s recruitment rally which took place at Anantnag High Grounds,” an Army official said. He said the recruitment rallies in south Kashmir would continue till September 25.The official said more than 12,000 youths across Kashmir have applied online under the recruitment process. “The number of applicants could have been more had there been no problems in the internet connectivity in the Valley,” he said.The Army’s recruitment drive would move north from September 29, when such a rally would be held in Bandipora district. Anantnag is one of the worst-hit districts in the current unrest in the Valley. Violence broke out in the state in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.While mobile internet was snapped across Kashmir on July 9, authorities have cut wire-line internet in the Valley on a few occasions. As many as 81 people, including two cops, have lost their lives in over two-month-long violence in the Valley.

Chand Khan, acquitted in 2002 Akshardham case, now arrested for ‘cow slaughter’

Chand Khan, who was acquitted in the attack on Akshardham Temple in 2002, which claimed 32 lives, has landed himself in another case, this time for cow slaughter, reported The Indian Express.

Khan, who also goes by his alias Shan Miya, was sentenced to death, along with Adam Ajmeri and Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri in July 2006 by a special court set up to try the case under Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) Act. Khan and the others had used automatic weapons and hand grenades to carry out the attack, in which three commandos, including an NSG and a constable of state reserve police were also killed.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In 2003, Khan was sent to police custody for 18 days by the POTA court, according The Times of India. Later in 2014, Khan was acquitted, along with five others, due to incomplete evidence which was not enough to uphold the sentence of the accused, added the report. The justices serving in the case had slammed the investigating agency for its “shoddy” work and the Gujarat government for “not applying its mind before slapping the now extinct POTA.”

Khan, however, is not a free man anymore.

The Indian Express report mentioned that he has been lodged in Pilibhit district jail for a case filed against him at Beesalpur police station, under the Cow Slaughter Act. The report quoted the police as saying that they had recovered 500 kg of beef —while they were on a vehicle inspection drive on 15 June — and arrested three people including Khan. The police further registered a case against them under the Cow Slaughter Act and seized their car — a Maruti Zen. The police also claimed that Khan did not mention the fact that he was involved in the Akshardham attack, while his family alleged that the police were “falsely implicating him”.

In a 2003 report, The Hindu mentioned that Khan or Chand Usman Khan was an Anantnag-based car mechanic. In another report in 2006, the paper noted that Khan was originally a resident of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, and was only running an automobile garage in Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir. The report noted that he was also responsible for the supply of arms and ammunition.

Curfew clamped in Pulwama, Baramulla districts, normal life disrupted for 73rd day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew was clamped on Monday in Pulwama and Baramulla districts of Kashmir, while it remained in force in some other areas of the Valley including in parts of Srinagar, in view of the separatists call for a protest march to the three districts. Normal life also remained disrupted in the Valley for the 73rd straight day.A police official said that curfew has been imposed in Pulwama and Baramulla districts today, while it remains in force in Shopian and five police station areas of downtown (interior city) along with Batamaloo in uptown Srinagar. He said the curbs have been imposed to maintain law and order in view of the separatists call for a march to the three districts of Baramulla, Pulwama and Srinagar.The official said restrictions on the assembly of people continued to remain in force in the rest of the Valley.The separatists, in the weekly protest programme, have called for a march to the three districts Baramulla (in north Kashmir), Srinagar (in central Kashmir) and Pulwama (in south Kashmir) today. They have asked the people of north Kashmir districts of Bandipora and Kupwara to march towards Baramulla, people of south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag to march to Pulwama and people of Central Kashmir districts of Ganderbal and Budgam to march towards Srinagar. Meanwhile, normal life continued to remain paralysed in Kashmir for the 73rd consecutive day due to restrictions and separatist sponsored strike. The separatists, who are spearheading the current agitation in the Valley, have extended the protest programme till September 22. Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut, while public transport was off the roads.Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut. Mobile telephones, except the postpaid connections of BSNL, and the mobile Internet services continued to remain snapped across the Valley.As many as 81 people, including two cops, have been killed in the unrest that broke out a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir on July 8.

Kashmir: Terrorists attack PDP leader’s house, take away four rifles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorists reportedly attacked PDP leader Javaid Ahmad Sheikh’s house in Dialgam, Anantnag and took away four rifles from the police on guard duty, reported ANI. The incident happened on a day in which four terrorists attacked an army camp close to headquarters. At least 17 soldiers lost their lives and 19 others injured post the terror strike on an army camp close to the headquarters of the 12th Brigade at Uri in Baramulla district. All four terrorists have been killed in what has emerged as worse than the attack on the Pathankot air base earlier in January this year, in which seven army men were killed. With agency inputs

Jammu and Kashmir: One killed in clash between mob and security forces in Srinagar

Srinagar: One person was killed in a clash between a mob and security forces in downtown Srinagar on Sunday evening, shattering the peace that was by and large witnessed in Kashmir through the day with curfew in force in the capital and two other towns.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Irfan Ahmed was injured in a clash between stone pelters and security forces in Fateh Kadal area and he succumbed to his injuries in SMHS hospital later, a police official said.

With this, the toll during the 44-day unrest has gone up to 65, including two policemen.

Earlier, the situation was largely under control through the day with incidents of stone pelting reported only from three places — Kangan in Ganderbal and Trumgund and Behrampora in Sopore.

The miscreants assembled on roads and pelted stones on police and security forces, police spokesman said.

Apart from these incidents, “the situation remained under control across the valley till the filing of this report,” he said.

Curfew was in force in the entire Srinagar district as well as in Anantnag and Pampore towns as a precautionary measure, a police official said.

He said restrictions on the movement of the people were also in force in rest of the Valley.

Shops, private offices and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport continued to be off the roads.

Mobile internet also continued to remain suspended in the entire Valley, while postpaid mobile services and incoming facility on prepaid mobiles were resumed yesterday. However, outgoing facility on prepaid services remained barred.

The separatist camp had called upon people to assemble and occupy local chowks and centers from 3 pm to 5 pm on Sunday.

The separatists have also asked the people to paste on walls the letters, asking all ministers, MLAs and MLCs from all parties to resign from government and party positions.

The separatist camp, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, has extended the agitation till 25 August.

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy CM flags-off first batch of Amarnath Yatris

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh flagged-off first batch of 1282 Amarnath Yatris, who left for the holy cave shrine from Jammu amid tight security on Friday morning. The batch of pilgrims, comprising of 900 men, 225 women and 13 children, left from Bhagwati Nagar at 5 a.m.The authorities have made elaborate arrangements for boarding and lodging of yatris in Jammu and other parts of the State.Jammu and other parts of the State. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will today visit Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier this month conducted mock exercises at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps to assess the preparedness and response mechanism of all those involved in management of the Yatra. The pilgrims will reach the base camps of Nunwan Pahalgam in Anantnag District and Baltal in Ganderbal District this evening.

Pampore attack: CM Mehbooba Mufti says such incidents defaming Jammu and Kashmir

Paying tributes to the CRPF jawans killed in the Pampore attack, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said such incidents are only “defaming” Kashmir while keeping potential investors and tourists away from the state. The Chief Minister laid floral wreaths on the coffins of the eight CRPF personnel killed in the militant attack on their convoy at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway yesterday. She said targeting security forces personnel who were only doing their duty was “condemnable”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is a fasting month when people should be seeking forgiveness and expiation for past sins. This is the time when we should be making sure not to hurt others. This kind of attack where you are affecting families by snatching their bread earner is condemnable. “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 told reporters.She said the militants were also giving a set back to tourism of Kashmir.”People from many countries have started arriving but this would send a wrong signal about the situation here,” she said.The Chief Minister said such attacks also deprived Jammu and Kashmir from its share of development witnessed in the rest of India. “Today there is atmosphere of development. India is attracting lot of investments in infrastructure development and healthcare but when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, the investors shy away because of these incidents. The worst sufferers of these attacks are people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar downplayed suggestions that the CRPF casualties could have been avoided in view of prior intelligence inputs and said the attackers were neutralised due to alertness of the jawans and intelligence inputs. “It is a desperate act by the terrorists. You must have seen over the past few days the attacks at Anantnag, Bijbehara or Pampore, these are desperate acts. Over the past six months, many terrorists and their leadership have been eliminated,” he said.

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.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti wins Anantnag bypoll with over 12,000 votes

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti won the Anantnag bypoll with more than 12,000 votes beating Congress and National Conference candidates.After the four rounds, Mehbooba had polled 8,549 votes followed by Hilal Ahmad Shah of Congress (2,752) and Iftikhar Misger of National Conference (9,526), District Election Authorities said. Mehbooba is among eight candidates in the bypoll for Anantnag Assembly seat which was necessitated due to death of incumbent MLA and then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 this year. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The by-election in Anantnag took place following the death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who represented the constituency in the 87-member legislative house. Sayeed passed away in New Delhi on 7 January after a brief illness. Mehbooba assumed office after being sworn in as the Chief Minister of the PDP-BJP coalition government on April 4.Polling in the constituency was held on June 22 during which over 28,000 of the 84,000 voters exercised their franchise. The counting of votes was briefly suspended following protests by the Congress candidate who alleged that EVMs could have been tampered with in the strong room. An official spokesman of the Congress said the party has demanded deferment of counting in Anantnag, “as the EVMs were found without seal”.Accusing the state and the Central governments of managing lead in favour of Mehbooba Mufti, the spokesman said Congress has asked the Election authorities to stop the counting immediately. “The party strongly urges upon the Election Commission of India to depute observers in the counting hall to ascertain the factual position,” he added.

Anantnag bypolls: As Mehbooba Mufti leads by 3,000 votes, Congress alleges bogus voting, disrupts counting

Anantnag: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was leading by nearly 3,000 votes against her nearest rival as counting in the south Kashmir assembly constituency was briefly disrupted on Saturday after Congress supporters alleged that bogus votes were being counted in the name of postal ballots.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFPJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

But the vote count resumed immediately even as dozens of supporters of Congress candidate Hillal Ahmed Shah shouted anti-government slogans and protested over “unsealed” postal ballots.

Shah alleged that postal ballots were “not properly sealed and were basically bogus votes”.

The returning officer refused to entertain his protest, leading to a ruckus inside the counting hall of Government Degree College, Anantnag and disruption in the vote count.

The counting resumed shortly after the Congress activists walked out but continued their protest in the lawns of the college.

After the first two rounds of counting, Mehbooba Mufti was said to have polled nearly 4,200 votes and Shah had a little over 1,200.

The counting of votes polled on 22 June began in the morning and the results should be known before midday.

Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is one of the eight contestants. Among the others are Shah of the Congress and Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of the National Conference.

The constituency has over 84,000 eligible voters and and nearly 28,500 voted on Wednesday despite a poll boycott called by separatist politicians and militants.

The by-election was necessitated because of the death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who represented the constituency in the assembly, which has an effective strength of 87.

Sayeed passed away in New Delhi on 7 January after a brief illness.

Mehbooba Mufti assumed power after being sworn in as the Chief Minister of the PDP-BJP coalition government on 4 April.

It is mandatory for a Chief Minister or any other minister in the state to become a member of either house of state’s bicameral legislature within six months of being sworn in.

At present, Mehbooba Mufti represents the south Kashmir Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in parliament.

Jammu and Kashmir: Voting underway for Anantnag bypoll where CM Mufti is in the fray

Polling was underway on Wednesday for the bypoll in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency, where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is in the fray, election officials said.Starting on a slow note, voting picked up pace as 23 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 1 PM, an official spokesperson said. There was no report of any untoward incident so far, the officials said. He said out of 19,174 votes polled so far, 10,868 voters were male and 8,306 female.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The total number of registered voters in the assembly segment is 84,067 — 42,840 males and 41,227 females, the spokesman said, adding there are 102 polling stations in the constituency. Voting picked up after a slow start in the morning due to the ongoing holy month of Ramzan, officials said.They said there were some pockets in the constituency where the voting percentage is still less than 10, while in some places, there has been brisk polling.

Mehbooba Mufti seeks mandate to take Jammu and Kashmir out of political and economic uncertainties

Srinagar: Seeking entry into the Assembly as a member from Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday urged voters to give her a strong and decisive mandate so that she can continue efforts to take the state out from the morass of political and economic uncertainties.

Addressing a series of election meetings in Anantnag which will go to polls on 22 June, she invoked her late father and former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed who was a member from this constituency when he passed away in January and said she was seeking the mandate to carry forward his mission of development and progress.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

She insisted that her party PDP is the only dependable party “If you want a change of direction, not just a change of government; if you want new priorities, not just politics.”

Mehbooba, who is heading a PDP-BJP coalition government since April, said the next five years are crucial for not only ensuring good governance but accomplishing the challenging task of rebuilding safe, sustainable and planned infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir.

She is currently a member of Parliament from Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.

“It is my party’s resolve to retrieve Jammu and Kashmir from the morass of political and economic uncertainties and usher the state into an era of peace and prosperity.

“We have started picking up the threads from where we left in 2005 (when the tenure of previous PDP-led government ended) to revive the process of political reconciliation and economic rejuvenation so that we can secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the state and its people,” she said.

The 57-year-old leader who took the party’s mantle after her father’s demise said the people of the state, more than ever before, want today the politicians to stand up and address the political and economic issues that matter to them.

They want leadership, they want commitment, they want accountability, they want political stability, they want economic prosperity, they want development and they want employment.

“As a dependable regional political force, PDP has demonstrated that it can deliver on all these counts with unflinching consistency and has in fact set the momentum for tangible transformation on the ground through path-breaking developmental and welfare initiatives,” she said.

“I urge the people of Anantnag to join us in this enterprise of hope, as together, we can make the difference and rebuild a safe, sustainable and prosperous Jammu and Kashmir for our future generations,” she said.

Urging the electorate to support her, Mehbooba said, “I have come to seek your vote and support to carry forward the mission of my father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed which could not be fully accomplished because of his sad demise.”

She expressed the hope that voters of Anantnag would once again repose faith in PDP and elect her as their representative so that Sayeed’s dream of bringing peace and development to the state is realized.

“Mufti Sahab started his political career from Anantnag and people of the area showed their trust in him during the difficult times. I am hopeful that people will again repose their faith on PDP and give me an opportunity to serve them and realize the dream of Mufti Sahab for the state,” she said.

Mehbooba said PDP’s agenda is not event-related but a process which is being and would be taken to the logical conclusion through tangible initiatives at political, economic and administrative fronts.

“We have demonstrated that during our brief stint in power between 2002 and 2005 and would continue to pursue our core ideals with unflinching consistency in our present tenure in the government,” she said.

The Chief Minister said her government’s focus is on skill development, agriculture, horticulture, handicrafts and tourism sectors which are the mainstay of the state’s economy.

“Various multilateral institutions and major corporate houses have been roped in to build and finetune the infrastructure in these key sectors to achieve the desired levels of growth,” she told the electorate.

Infrastructure building in agriculture, horticulture, tourism and handicraft sectors would not only give a fillip to the state’s economy but would help create more job opportunities for the local youth by fully harnessing their enterprising skills, she said.

Mehbooba said the problem of unemployment especially among the educated youth is a matter of grave concern and needs immediate thought.

“Imaginative policies are being directed to enable the state’s youth to become a productive, self-confident and committed force for its development.

“Not only the government but the whole nation, including individuals, institutions and organizations, have to be brought together in a spirit of creative enterprise to widen the economic and employment space for J&K’s youth,” she said.

dna Morning Must Reads: Fate of ‘Udta Punjab’ at box office; OnePlus 3 first impressions; Euro 2016; and more

1. British MP Jo Cox stabbed and shot dead; EU referendum campaigns suspendedJo Cox was a lawmaker for the Labour Party and a strong advocate for Britain remaining in the European Union. Read more here2. Will Udta Punjab ‘fly high’ at the box office?It’s a common knowledge in the film industry that the fate of a film is decided in the first three days of its release, given the rampant piracy that ensures film is downloaded and watched on computers and mobile phones rather than in cinema halls. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>3. Oppn guns for Mehbooba Mufti after Rs 58.8 lakh seized in poll-bound AnantnagA major political storm has hit Mehbooba Mufti-led Jammu and Kashmir government after police seized Rs 58.8 lakh cash from a car in the poll-bound Anantnag constituency. Read more here4. OnePlus 3: Unboxing and first impressionsIt’s got 6GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 64GB of storage. Of course we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. Read more here5. Euro 2016: Stubborn Poland hold toothless Germany to goalless drawGermany were playing their first game at the Stade de France since the deadly November attacks in Paris when they also failed to score in a 2-0 defeat by the hosts. Read more here

Anantnag attack: Militants involved in terror attack identified

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday achieved a major breakthrough in the Anantnag terror attack when they identified the two militants who had killed two cops in a shoot and scoot attack on Saturday.One of the militants has been identified as 18-year-old Junaid Ahmad Matoo of Khudwani village in the neighbouring Kulgam district of south Kashmir. Another militant has been identified as Ali, who is believed to be a foreign national. Both owe their allegiance to Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The militant duo was caught on camera walking down the streets in Anantnag during the attack. A video of the militants attacking the cops have also surfaced on Sunday prompting the police to issue a public notice with their pictures superimposed on it.PTI”The terrorists who killed assistant sub-inspector Bashir Ahmad and constable Riyaz Ahmad in Anantnag on Saturday have been identified. People are hereby requested that the concerned police should be informed in case these ultras are spotted in their areas…,” reads the public notice in Urdu.Police sources said Junaid, who has studied upto class XII, joined Lashkar in September last year. He has been one of the wanted militants for security forces in south Kashmir. Sources said, a month after his joining Lashkar chief commander and Udhampur terror mastermind Abu Qasim alias Abdul Rehman was killed in an encounter at Khandaypora village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Since then he has been trying to revive the Lashkar in the south Kashmir area.”Culprits would be nabbed and punished. The incident is an act of cowardice. Islam does not allow such heinous acts,” said Abdul Haq, Jammu and Kashmir minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Law, who was deputed by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to visit the slain cops.ASI Bashir Ahmad is survived by his wife and 11-year-old son while as Constable Reyaz Ahmad Sheikh is survived by 30-year-old wife, 11-year-old son, two daughters aged seven and nine years besides aged parents and an unmarried sister.Hundreds of the people attended the funeral of the martyrs at Logripora, Ashmuqam and at Uttersoo. The people condemned the barbaric act of the militants. Local Auqaf too has denounced the killings and expressed anger against the ultras for innocent bloodletting.”Desperate attempts by anti national elements would only strengthen our commitment. Forces will chase the culprits till they are brought to justice,” said K Rajendra Kumar, director general of police.

Anantnag attack: Pictures of gun-wielding militants shared widely online

Striking for a second time in less than 24 hours in South Kashmir, militants on Saturday killed two police personnel in poll-bound Anantnag from where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is contesting.In a targeted action against security personnel, suspected militants opened fire at a police party in the main bus stand in Anantnag at 11.20 AM injuring Assistant Sub- Inspector Bashir Ahmad and Constable Reyaz Ahmad who were rushed to a hospital where they succumbed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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. Today’s attack in Anantnag, 52 Kms from here, is seen as an attempt by the militants to scare the voters as Mehbooba is seeking her election to the state assembly from here.Meanwhile, pictures have surfaced online purportedly of the gun-wielding militants walking on a road after carrying out the attack that left two policemen dead. A police official said they were aware of the photographs and were trying to ascertain the identity of the militants involved.TwitterThe seat, where elections are now scheduled to be held on June 22, had fallen vacant after the death of former Chief Minister and her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on January 7. Mehbooba is among nine candidates in the fray.Police and CRPF have cordoned off the area and were carrying out searches at various places to nab the culprits. Opposition National Conference hit out at PDP-BJP government and said “instead of making tall claims of improved ground situation on papers, the state government should do something concrete on ground and ensure safety and security of people”.Party spokesperson Junaid Mattu said with elections round the corner in the assembly, ongoing tourist season and forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, “one expects that security should be at its best. But every now and then, loopholes within the security establishment stand exposed”.State Congress Chief G A Mir questioned the PDP-BJP government credentials in tackling the law and order situation saying “fear is being created in the mind of the voters and it does not augur well for a healthy democracy”. The attacks also come against the backdrop of a boycott call for elections given by hardline pro-Pakistan Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.Police and civil administration officials were among those who paid homage to the deceased in a wreath laying ceremony held at district police line Anantnag.

Five cops, BSF soldiers killed in Kashmir in two days

Srinagar: Five security personnel have been shot dead by suspected rebels in restive Indian-administered Kashmir in the past two days, police said Saturday.

Two police officers were on a routine patrol Saturday when rebels fired automatic weapons from a moving vehicle in southern Anantnag town, killing them on the spot.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The attackers fled the area after the firing,” Javid Gillani, inspector general of police, told AFP.

On Friday, three paramilitary soldiers from the Border Security Force were killed when militants fired bullets from automatic assault rifles at their moving convoy.

Friday’s attack was claimed by Hizbul Mujahideen, one of the region’s several rebel groups who have been fighting Indian forces for decades, seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Overall violence in the region has declined during the last decade, but armed encounters between rebels and government forces occur regularly.

In recent months the region has witnessed an uptick in rebel attacks on security forces with many dying on both sides.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict so far.

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.

Jammu & Kashmir: Two policemen shot dead by militants in poll-bound Anantnag

Militants on Saturday shot dead two policemen, including an officer, in poll-bound Anantnag town of south Kashmir, police said.Militants opened fire on a police party at General Bus Stand in Anantnag town, 52 kms from here, at around 11:20 AM, resulting in injuries to the two policemen, a police official said.He said the injured policemen were rushed to a hospital where both of them succumbed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deceased have been identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Bashir Ahmad and Constable Reyaz Ahmad.The attack comes ahead of the June 22 polling for by-election to Anantnag Assembly seat where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is one of the nine candidates in the fray.The by-poll for the seat was necessitated due to death of then chief minister and incumbent MLA Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 this year.This is second attack in less than 24 hours in the district. Three BSF jawans were killed and nine others injured last evening as militants ambushed their convoy at Goriwan in Bijbehara town.Security forces have been put on an alert to track down the assailants, the official said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti files nomination for Anantanag by-poll

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday filed her nomination papers for by-poll to Anantnag assembly segment as she seeks to become a member of the state legislature within the mandatory period of six months from her swearing-in as CM.57-year-old Mehbooba, who is currently a Lok Sabha member from the south Kashmir constituency of Anantnag, is contesting from the seat where by-poll was necessitated due to death of her father and the then chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on January 7 this year. After filing her nomination papers before the returning officer for Anantnag assembly segment, the PDP chief voiced hope that the people will repose faith in her father and elect her so that she can complete the work started by him.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People showed their trust in Mufti sahab and gave him an opportunity to be the chief minister. I am hopeful that people will again repose their faith in him and give me an opportunity to complete the work left by Mufti sahab,” said Mehbooba who took over the reins of the PDP-BJP government on April 4 this year, three months after Sayeed’s demise.
ALSO READ Anantnag bypolls first popularity test for Mehbooba Mufti after joining hands with BJPCongress has fielded Hilal Ahmad Shah while National Conference has nominated Iftikhar Misger to take on the Chief Minister. Wednesday is the last date for filing nomination while scrutiny of papers will be conducted on Thursday. The candidates can withdraw their nomination till June 4. The voting will be held on June 19 and counting of votes on June 22.Mehbooba has been elected to the state assembly three times in the past 20 years with her first victory coming in 1996 elections from Bijbehara segment as a Congress candidate. She has never lost an Assembly election and her only electoral defeat so far was in 1999 Lok Sabha elections when she lost to arch rival and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.
ALSO READ Kashmiri Pandits row: BJP defends Mehbooba Mufti, asserts alliance under no pressureShe resigned from the Assembly in 1999 to float regional Peoples Democratic Party along with her father. She won the 2002 Assembly polls from Pahalgam segment in Anantnag district but resigned two years later after she was elected to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag. Her father won the by-poll to Pahalgam seat held that year. She won the 2008 assembly elections from Wachi assembly segment in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and completed first full six-year term in the House till 2014. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from south Kashmir in 2014 general elections and did not contest the Assembly elections held later that year.

First popularity test for Mehbooba Mufti after joining hands with BJP

Ending suspense, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has finally decided to step into her late father’s shoes and contest the assembly polls from Anantnag constituency, which had fallen vacant after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.It will be the first popularity test for Mehbooba after she joined hands with BJP after playing hard ball for two-and-a-half months in a bid to renegotiate the terms of agenda of alliance and pressure BJP-led Centre to announce some confidence- building measures.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehbooba, who is currently People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Lok Sabha member from Anantnag, is filing her nomination papers on Wednesday. The bye-polls for the constituency will be held on June 19.This time the BJP has decided not to field any candidate against Mehbooba from Anantnag. It will be for the first time when there will be a sort of pre-poll arrangement between the PDP and BJP in the state.Last time, BJP had fielded Mohammad Rafiq Wani against late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Anantnag constituency and he had bagged 1,275 votes.”We will not field any candidate against Mehbooba Mufti. We will extend all our support to the honourable chief minister in the polls. She will secure the highest number of votes in this election,” Khalid Jehangir, spokesman of BJP for Kashmir, told dna.However, Congress candidate Hilal Ahmad Shah is giving a tough contest to Mehbooba from Anantnag constituency. Shah had lost to her father by just 6000 votes in 2014 assembly elections.This time Shah is trying his luck against Mufti’s daughter in the same constituency. Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had bagged 16,983 votes while Shah had got 10,955 votes in 2014 assembly elections.”This time Mehbooba will lose her deposit. People are very angry because of her handshake with BJP and RSS. People want to teach them a lesson in a democratic manner. I have been living amongst people all through and I can see the wave against Mehbooba and her party,” Shah told dna.National Conference (NC), which had finished third by bagging 2,403 votes in 2014, has again fielded Iftikhar Hussain Misger against Mehbooba in Anantnag. Misger was last-minute entry in 2014 since NC candidate Mehboob Beg had defected to PDP and supported Mufti Mohommad Sayeed.”It is a one sided contest and Mehbooba Ji will win with the biggest margin. It is a cakewalk for her. There is nobody who can defeat her in Anantnag”, said Mehboob Beg, chief spokesman of PDP.Speculations are also rife that Mehbooba’s brother Mufti Tasaduq Hussain may contest the Lok Sabha polls from Anantnag constituency after his sister is elected to assembly. “Party will decide who will be the candidate for Anantnag parliamentary polls,” said Beg.

Will protect special status of Jammu & Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said she would protect the special status guaranteed to Jammu and Kashmir under article 370 of the Constitution, as she was promise-bound and cannot betray the people.”When we fight elections, be it BJP or Congress or PDP, we take oath that we will protect the constitutions of India and J-K. So, we are promise-bound and we cannot betray. This is our identity and we have to protect it,” Mehbooba said. She was addressing a gathering before flagging-off four new DEMU trains between Banihal-Baramulla and Baramulla-Budgam in Kashmir Valley at Anantnag railway station.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged-off the trains through video-conferencing from Rail Bhawan in New Delhi.Mehbooba said before taking oath as the chief minister, she was asked not to ally with the BJP, but she responded by saying that in 1947 the state had already acceded to the whole country, which included the saffron party.”But what we have to see is how to protect our identity. Those things which the God has given us and the constitution of India has given to us, we have to protect them. Recently, there was a conference in Delhi where Chief Justice and all the justices of the country were present. I told them only one thing that Jammu and Kashmir’s special position under Article 370 is part of Indian constitution,” she said.The Chief Minister, however, said that for protecting the identity of the state, the impression that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is very bad, needs to be changed.”There are a lot of misconceptions about J-K. The girls in our state are safe compared to the rest of the country. The good things about Kashmir do not reach the people outside. The discussion is only about when someone pelts a stone or waves a flag. I feel this (train) service is the start of the coming of good things,” she said.She also asked the people of the state to see the situation in Muslim countries around the world which have been affected by violence, and compared them with India where different people live together in peace.”See the whole world, especially the Muslim countries, Iraq, Syria, Libya or Egypt or even our neighbour Pakistan where only the people of one religion live, but where have they reached. Today, you see that the maximum destruction caused by the gun is in Muslim countries,” she said.”India is such a big country where democracy thrives, where different people live together. This extraordinary Ganga-Jamuni civilization was what (her father and former chief minister) Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) saw in Aligarh during his student days. And when he returned, he held only one flag in his hand and did not change his stance because he was satisfied. Today, you have got the evidence of his satisfaction,” she said.Later, Mehbooba travelled on the inaugural service of the new DEMU train from Anantnag to Baramulla and took the return service from Baramulla to Srinagar. She said the service would benefit the people, especially government employees and students, and also demanded that special trains be started during peak tourist season.”We will now try to increase the frequency of the train services, so that the traffic pressure on the roads is lessened,” she said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Four all-women police stations to start functioning from May 15

Four all-women police stations in Jammu and Kashmir would become functional from May 15, officials said.The police stations have been set up in Anantnag and Baramulla districts of Kashmir division and Rajouri and Udhampur in Jammu region. Orders for deployment of manpower and terms of reference of these police stations were issued on Friday by Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar, an official spokesman said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti after assuming office had issued orders for setting up of four women police stations in the state. In the first cabinet meeting Mehbooba decided to set up the police stations to provide grievance redressal to women in areas close to their homes, the spokesman said.
ALSO READ Implement 33% reservation for women in police force: Maneka GandhiHe said so far two women police stations are working in the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.

Anantnag bypoll: Mehbooba Mufti seeks postponement; Congress terms it ‘big conspiracy’

Congress on Friday termed as a “big conspiracy” the deferment of bypoll to Anantnag Assembly seat and said the Election Commission should not have taken such a unilateral decision at the behest of the state government which was the “biggest setback” to the democratic process.”The way the RSS-backed BJP has started vandalising the democratic institutions, be it educational institutions, universities or the professional institutions and even the elected houses, they have not learnt any lesson from the murder of democracy in Arunachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand. I see the same pattern here that the people of the Valley are being deprived of their democratic rights and this can be a part of a big conspiracy,” state Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that the reason given for the deferment of the bypoll is that the law and order situation is not good in the state, he said, “but the situation is not so bad that the peoples’ representation be taken away.”The Anantnag Assembly constituency was scheduled to go to polls on May 16 to fill the vacancy created by the demise of former Chief Minister and MLA Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Mehboob, who succeeded her late father Sayeed as Chief Minister, is a Lok Sabha member from Anantnag and was expected to contest for the Assembly seat.Mir said it was not about elections or who will win or lose but the question was about giving people a representation in the Assembly. “Situation in 2008 was not good after the Amarnath land row, but the elections happened and people participated in large numbers. In the aftermath of September 2014 floods, the position was worse than a law and order situation but it was these captains on the front who said nothing doing, elections should take place,” Mir said.The JKPCC president said the Election Commission should not have taken the decision to defer the bypoll. Terming it as “the biggest setback to democratic process and the voting right of the people”, he said, “at whose behest did it (EC) take the decision? Who gave such a feedback because EC cannot notify polls till the state machinery does not write to it? After announcing the schedule, how can the EC take a unilateral decision?”He said the EC should have sent its representative to talk to other stakeholders in Kashmir to take their view. “But this process was not undertaken either before announcing the poll or before deferring it,” he added.Mir said Mehbooba Mufti had sought the postponement as she felt she may not be successful in the election. “We understand that Mehbooba has many ways to remain Chief Minister but we thought she would face the people to get elected to the sacred house to remain on the chair. But what we can smell is that she thinks that she does not need people as there are other ways to remain in power,” he said.

Army to vacate four places in Jammu & kashmir on PDP’s demands

Jammu: Army will be vacating large tracts of land held by it at four places in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 212-acre Tatoo ground in Srinagar, by month-end, one of the demands by PDP for formation of government with BJP.

The decision was announced last night after a meeting between Governor N N Vohra and Lt Gen D S Hooda, GOC-in-C Northern Command, during which senior officials including Chief Secretary B R Sharma were present.

It was agreed that Northern Command of Army would hand over 16.30 acres of state land held by it adjoining the Campus of Jammu University, 212 acres of land held by it at Tatoo Grounds, Srinagar and 456.60 kanals of land at High Grounds, Anantnag and land held at lower Khurba Thang in Kargil, to J&K government, an official spokesman said.

The decision is considered vital in the wake of demands by PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti that Army vacate land it has held and revocation of AFSPA from peaceful areas in Jammu and Kashmir as a confidence building measure ahead of formation of the government in J&K with BJP.

Representational image. Firstpost

Representational image. Firstpost

In extensive discussions with Hooda at the Raj Bhavan, the Governor reviewed the implementation of decisions taken in earlier Civil Military Liaison Conferences on all land matters relating to the Army, the spokesman said.

The meeting was attended by Sharma the Chief Secretary; P K Tripathi, Principal Secretary to Governor; R K Goyal, Principal Secretary, Home; Asgar Hassan Samoon, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; and Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu.

It was agreed that the land at the lower Plateau Khurba Thang would be taken over before 31 March when Chief Secretary visits Kargil as Chairman of the Committee set up to deal with all Army Key Location Plan matters, the spokesman said. The land at other three areas would also be handed over before 31 March, the spokesman said.

Regarding the Tatoo Ground Land, the Governor and Army Commander will jointly visit the site before 31 March to discuss certain proposals regarding the utilisation of this land for creating a park, recreational facilities for youths etc, he said.

The Governor directed that the Committee headed by the Chief Secretary shall visit Jammu University, Kargil and Anantnag to satisfy all formalities on the spot and take over the said sites.

Avalanche warning in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand for next 24 hrs

An avalanche warning was today issued for higher areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, advising people not to venture into these places over the next 24 hours. The advisory was issued by the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).’Medium danger’ warning exists for avalanche prone areas in Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipore, Kargil, Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam, Rajouri, Doda and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the advisory said. For Himachal Pradesh, it said ‘medium danger’ avalanche warning exists in areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Kullu, Chamba and Kinnaur districts. Similar warning has been issued for areas of Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and Pithoragarh districts in Uttarakhand. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pharkian, Z-Gali, Kanzalwan, Banihal Top, Gulmarg, Haddan Taj, Neelam and Dras areas of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed fresh snowfall of 53 cm, 39 cm, 9 cm, 12 cm, 25 cm, 70 cm,43cm and 7 cm respectively during the last 24 hours.In Himachal Pradesh, Dhundi and Patsio had fresh snowfall of 60 cm and 32 cm while Bahang and Solang Nala witnessed rainfall of 78.6 mm and 70 mm respectively, it said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Encounter underway in Bandipora between militants & security forces

An encounter is currently underway between the security forces and militants in Hajin area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district. As per the information, two militants are believed to be hiding in the area. The encounter started after security forces launched a cordon cum search operation at Khushi Mohalla in the district, 35 kms from here, following information about presence of militants in the area, a police official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>First visuals of Bandipora encounter: 2 militants believed to be hiding (Visuals deferred by unspecified time) pic.twitter.com/eMpD4uSi14 February 4, 2016Further details are awaited. An unidentified militant was killed on January 26, 2016 in a gunbattle with security forces in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.An encounter broke out at 4 .00 am in Kokernag district. A militant was killed and his identity is yet to be ascertained, police said. One AK 47 and three magazines were also recovered from the slain militant.Kokernag district. A militant was killed and his identity is yet to be ascertained, police said. One AK 47 and three magazines were also recovered from the slain militant.With agency inputs.

Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid alleges curbs, threatens resignation

Controversial Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid on Wednesday alleged curbs on his political activities and sought the intervention of Governor N N Vohra to address his grievances, failing which he threatened to resign from the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and move court.”I have written a letter to the Governor giving details of various instances when police stopped me from carrying out my political activities and humiliated me,” he told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am seeking his (Governor’s) intervention in the matter for its immediate redressal. Otherwise I have no option left but to resign from the assembly,” he said.The MLA requested the Governor to hold an impartial inquiry into all the incidents cited by him, saying “there seems to be some conspiracy either to eliminate me or stop me from doing political activities”.Rashid, who represents north Kashmir s Langate assembly constituency, said he would also approach the courts and bring the matter to the notice of Assembly Speaker as well.”I have written to the Governor as he is the constitutional head of the state,” the MLA said. He alleged that during the past six years, security agencies have been creating hurdles in his peaceful political activities.”The situation since last one year seems to have gone from bad to worse due to reasons best known to their top brass. It seems to be a well-designed plan to create hurdles in my movement, right to speech and way of working,” Rashid wrote in the letter to the Governor.Rashid said he would send a copy of the letter to the Assembly Speaker for treating it as a Privilege Motion against senior superintendents of police of Baramulla and Anantnag districts for “abusing” him.

Jammu and Kashmir: Militant killed in encounter, ammunition recovered

With security heightened across the nation on Republic Day, a militant was neutralised at Kokernag in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag District on Tuesday. The encounter which started at 3.00 am today, lasted for almost three hours ending in the militant being killed.One AK 47 and three magazines were also recovered from the slain militant. More details awaited.

Mother slits throats of her two children to avenge husband for suspected extramarital affair

Shock and anger has swept across the valley after a mother allegedly slit the throat of her two infants to avenge her husband for suspected extramarital affair in Kokernag area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.Bodies of four-year-old Imran Wagay and his two-year-old sister Chandni were recovered from Khretti-Larnoo village in Kokarnag on January 13. Their mother too was found in an injured condition.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The incident had sent shock waves across the restive Jammu and Kashmir. Police had lodged a case of murder and attempt to murder and put the investigation on the fast track.A special investigation team (SIT) was immediately constituted by the SSP Anantnag Abdul Jabbar to unravel the mystery behind the murder.”During the course of investigation it came to fore that the infants were killed mercilessly with a knife by their mother Ruqia Bano. After killing her children she attempted to commit suicide with the same weapon of offence,” said a police spokesman.Police said the murder was committed by Bano just to take revenge from her husband Tariq Ahmad Wagay who she suspected was having an extramarital affair in the village.”It further surfaced that she wanted to teach a lesson to her husband by killing the children as she suspected that he had an extra marital affair with a woman in the neighbourhood,” he said.Police said further investigation is going on and SIT is gathering the evidence to make a fool proof case. “Further investigation is going on and SIT is meticulously looking for evidence and reasons which lead her to commit such a heinous crime,” said the spokesman.The incident has sent shivers down the spine of the people who have demanded stern punishment to the accused. “It is height of brutality. How can a mother kill her tiny tots just for revenge. The culprit should be given exemplary punishment,” said a local villager.

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