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Govt action to be based on probe report on death of Burhan’s brother: Nirmal Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on Saturday said the government action on the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani’s brother will proceed “as per the outcome” of the probe into his death and an FIR has been registered in this connection.His comments came amid protests by several organisations over the PDP-BJP coalition government’s decision to compensate the family of Khalid Wani, who was killed in an “encounter” with the Army in Pulwama district on April 13 last year. Singh said an FIR has been lodged and “whatever be the outcome of the probe, government will act accordingly”. “There is a law of the land applicable to it. Whatever be the outcome of the investigation, action would be taken as per that,” Singh told reporters at a function here.”If it is proved that he was a terrorist as the FIR has been lodged, action would be taken as per that,” he said replying to a question on giving compensation to Khalid’s family. Khalid’s brother Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by security forces on July 8, and his death had led to months-long protest in the Valley in which 86 people died. Asked about the impact of Union government’s move to demonetize old high-value currency notes on unrest in Kashmir, Singh said the exercise has “badly-hit” terrorism and ‘hawala’ transactions, which is believed to support the militancy.”That is why the terrorists are engineering cases of looting of money from the banks because they are facing dearth of money,” he said, adding that the government was making “full security” arrangement to ensure such incidents do not recur. “There is a dip in smuggling of weapons from Pakistan. They are frustrated by the demonetization,” he said. He asked Hurriyat leaders and other separatists to think “positively” so that normalcy returns and added that shutdown by separatists is “causing loss to everyone,” he said.

Five days of peace every week in Kashmir Valley, as Hurriyat parties issue fresh calendar

The unified Hurriyat conference has sent out a fresh calendar to the people of Kashmir, asking them to strike only on Fridays and Saturdays, meaning the Valley would witness five days of peace every week now, coming as a relief to the strife-torn region, which has been facing unrest since July.

The move comes after pressure was mounting on the Hurriyat to relax the existing calendar which had brought normal life to a grinding halt. “The leadership feels that a sustainable long-term strategy based on proactive initiatives, programmes and sustainable modes of protest is the way forward. We want maximum public participation and implementation, and minimum costs for the people,” a statement issued by the joint Hurriyat leadership said.

A protester throws a stone towards Indian policemen in Kashmir. APA protester throws a stone towards Indian policemen in Kashmir. AP

A protester throws a stone towards Indian policemen in Kashmir. AP

In the statement, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said, “People’s uprisings of the last six months have taken our freedom struggle forward, and have opened out the possibilities and the scope of our struggle. We have moved closer to our goal.”

The new calendar was issued by the separatist leadership only called for two days of strikes, while giving people time to relax or to conduct their other businesses.

Citizens in the Valley have welcomed the move, saying the calendar should have been relaxed two months ago, to ease the economic blockade that rendered thousands of people jobless. The Valley has been simmering ever since the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on 8 July in an encounter. A sense of weariness has since crept in, as weeks have gone by without any let up in curfew or shutdown.

The Valley has been witnessing a complete shutdown since 9 July, one a day after security forces killed Burhan Wani, the local commander for south Kashmir, triggering clashes between security forces and protesters. Over 100 people have been killed and thousands have been injured in these clashes since.

Even Mehbooba Mufti, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, acknowledged that unwarranted force was used on protesters during the last five months. “During the past five months, excessive force was used and I don’t deny that, but normalcy has started prevailing. I hope police will cooperate and change their behavior while dealing with people,” Mufti had said, speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre in Lethpora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 22:35 IST

We have to differentiate between militants and their families: Mehbooba Mufti to security forces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday asked security forces to restrain themselves from using pellet guns and differentiate between stone-pelters/militants and their families, while noting that force was used to deal with law and order in the Valley during the recent unrest.”When we have to deal with such situation, we have to use force sometimes and I have no hesitation in saying this. We should all speak truth. We had to use force because we had to protect the lives and properties of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said. The chief minister was speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre here in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.Mehbooba said if force was not used, losses would have been more.
ALSO READ J&K govt to pay Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia to Burhan Wani’s kin for his brother’s death”If we had not done so, there could have been more killings, more losses. But now, our endeavour should be to see towards those people who were confined to their homes because of the situation, strikes and curfew and what they have gone through in these six months,” she said. The chief minister said now that the situation has improved and the time has come to “change our ways”. “But now I think that when the situation has improved, the time has come to heal the wounds of the people. Now, we have to change our ways. We have to differentiate between the situation as of today and what was four months back. We will have to give special focus to the youth,” she said.She said security forces have to differentiate between offenders like militants and stone-pelters and their families. “We cannot weigh every youth by the same scale, we cannot see every youth with suspicious eyes, then the situation will not improve. We have to differentiate between militants and their families. We have to differentiate militants from their parents, siblings and children and we cannot weigh them by the same scale.”If any youth is a habitual stone-pelter, we will have to differentiate between him and his family. You have to differentiate between an elder person involved in such activities and a student and see how to tackle them,” she said.Mehbooba asked the security forces to exercise restrain while dealing with law and order situations.”I hope that you will not deject me because I want J-K to prosper again, where guns or pellet guns are not used. I hope that police and security forces try to not use pellet guns. If there is an attack on your camp or police station, then I understand, but if someone throws stones at you, you should try to restrain yourselves till we find an alternative to pellet guns and ban them completely,” she said.As many as 86 people, including two policemen, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley that began on July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes. The chief minister said reconciliation was the only way forward in Jammu and Kashmir. “I am of the belief that there is no way forward in J-K other than reconciliation. PSA and AFSPA are temporary and I want you to help me, our government, in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where a time will come when PSA is used only against criminals, drug addicts and smugglers and not against 40-year-old or 80-year-old or 19-year-old or students. “No one from outside can help us in doing that. We have to help ourselves and in that, the role of police is very important,” she said.”We had army and security forces here before as well, but when militancy erupted here, AFSPA had to be imposed. Now, we all have to try together to create such an atmosphere where such laws like AFSPA, PSA or other hard measures are gradually revoked. I or my ministers cannot do this alone, after the role of people of J-K, your role is very important for that,” she said. Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisions like paying a visit to Lahore and demonetization, Mehbooba said no other prime minister would have taken such decisions.”I am hopeful that you will help me in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where there is reconciliation and dialogue. I want to make it clear that the current PM has guts to visit Lahore and he did it despite criticism but unfortunately Pathankot (attack) happened. “It is this PM who took such a huge decision of demonetization, knowing that people will face hardships and will be angry for some time. I do not think any other PM would have taken such decisions,” she said.The chief minister said once peace is established in the state, it can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan. “If you all help us in creating peace in J-K, then I assure you – the people of J-K – that the way our PM went to Lahore by keeping everything else on the side and offered a hand of friendship, and when there was unrest, he sent a (all-party) delegation from Delhi to listen to people, understand and talk, so if we can create a better situation, then we can create conditions for dialogue with everyone not only in J-K, but we can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan (as well),” she said.

Burhan Wani ex-gratia: Ashoke Pandit slams J-K govt, seeks PM Modi’s intervention

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Upping the ante on the Mehbooba Mufti government for announcing an ex-gratia payment to Burhan Wani’s brother Khalid Wani, social activist Ashoke Pandit on Wednesday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention into the matter.”I as a citizen of this country make an appeal to our Prime Minister that he should intervene in this matter and see to it that this mistake is rectified, because the signal which we are giving to the neighbouring country is to send your terrorist and we will take care of them?,” he said here adding that the decision is dangerous step.The Mehbooba Mufti government had earlier on Tuesday sanctioned ex-gratia compensation to slain terrorist Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s father in the case of killing of his other son, Khalid Wani.”Compensation to a family of a terrorist, who has killed people and raped women and who has been busy with anti-national activities, nothing can be sad and dark than this. I am amazed and shocked that what the family of a security forces must be feeling. Probably we have made a mistake by not picking up the guns. If terrorist is being given compensation then I think things are going on very wrong track,” he said.Questioning the motive behind state government’s decision, he further said, “We should not be shocked the way things are going. Tomorrow the next compensation will be given to Hafiz Saeed, Yakub Memon family. This hypocrisy and entire mindset of state government is absolutely questionable.”According to a notification issued on Monday by the deputy commissioner of Pulwama, ex-gratia relief under rules were cleared by the district-level screening-cum-consultative committee (DLSCC) in favour of next of kin of those persons who died in militancy-related incidents.As per report, the ex-gratia relief entitles a victim’s family to a payment of Rs four lakh or employment for a member of the family.Burhan had left home at the age of 15 in October 2010 to join the Hizbul Mujahideen, while his brother Khalid lived in Tral in Pulwama with his family.Twenty five-year-old Khalid was pursuing a Masters in political science from IGNOU, reportedly told his mother on the afternoon of April 13, 2015 that he was going for a picnic. However, his body was found in the nearby jungle hours later.

J-K govt aid for Burhan’s kin will generate more sympathisers in Valley: Defence expert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Mehbooba Mufti government for announcing an ex-gratia payment to Burhan Wani’s brother Khalid Wani, in the next of kin killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, defence expert Colonel Sunil Deshpande has said the government’s decision would only encourage terrorists to generate more sympathisers and give boost to terrorism in the valley.”Khalid Wani, the brother of Burhan Wani, was killed in action and he was a supporter of terrorists. It was proved that he was working for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the civilian authorities announced the list of the supporters who were working for terrorists, and he was ranked ninth on the list. It is incorrect on the part of the government to give money to Khalid Wani,” said Deshpande.Deshpande further said, “Khalid Wani was not an innocent person. He was a known sympathiser and, after his death, a payment of Rs. 4 lakhs is absolutely incorrect on the part of Mufti government. This money is given to those who are killed in action. This will help terrorists to create more sympathisers in the valley and it will give a boost to terrorist activity in the valley.”The government yesterday cleared ex-gratia payments to the next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the valley.The government has given one week’s time for filing of any objection before formal orders are issued.According to a notification issued on Monday by the deputy commissioner of Pulwama, ex-gratia relief under rules were cleared by the district-level screening-cum-consultative committee (DLSCC) in favour of next of kin of those persons who died in militancy-related incidents.As per report, the ex-gratia relief entitles a victim’s family to a payment of Rs. four lakh or employment for a member of the family.Burhan had left home at the age of 15 in October 2010 to join the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen, while his brother Khalid lived in Tral in Pulwama with his family.Twenty five-year-old Khalid was pursuing a Masters in political science from IGNOU, reportedly told his mother on the afternoon of April 13, 2015 that he was going for a picnic. However, his body was found in the nearby jungle hours later.

Kashmir unrest: Stone pelting may have stopped for now, but youths still agitated

The 12-year-old who looked angelic last spring has become an obstreperous teenager this winter. He still sits at the back of the room, but is confidently full of beans, not shy or red-faced. He speaks glibly, jokingly, not breathless with the effort of talking — the way he was in spring.

The room has changed too. In spring, I met a large group, including many of the same students, in a classroom in their school. Now, they squat on rugs in the home of one of their senior teachers, so that they might prepare for, and take, exams. The private school premises have been shut since July, but the teachers (backed by parents) insist on exams even though the state government has granted mass promotions.

The students, mainly teenagers, are in pherans — black-on-fawn checks seem to be in fashion. A few of them are in bright, thick anoraks. Last spring, they were neatly turned out in bright uniforms, and sat in orderly rows at desks.

File photo of Kashmiri youths. PTI

File photo of Kashmiri youths. PTI

The look is not the only thing that has changed. The youngsters’ mood seems generally more relaxed than it was last spring. Girls in particular appear less angry than they were back then. Perhaps the angst of that season has been eased by stone-pelting, barricading and other protests through the summer and autumn.

A couple of them mimic Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s talk of ‘kaasmeer.’ Another complains that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was travelling while people were being killed in Kashmir. Yet another says he requests Modi to check the breaking of white goods such as fridges during forces’ operations within homes. They do not specifically disparage democracy, as some of them did last spring.

One points out that there is no Kashmiri in the Indian cricket team, citing it as proof of discrimination. Another student says Kashmir is a piece of Pakistan in India. Others respond that they want to be independent from both countries.

Beef and Hindutva figures such as (believe it or not) Baba Ramdev, Kashmiris having to show identity cards to ‘outsiders,’ … — the teenagers’ reasons for wanting ‘azadi’ have not changed much,  but the means have, their expressions are relaxed than last spring – when the same students were taut with tension.

There are angry complaints about sisters and mothers being vulnerable during searches and when forces swoop in to take ‘pelters’ into custody. Some talk of being treated like ‘animals’ at the police station. That turns out to be a complaint about the level of chillies in the food given to detainees. Indeed, one who forgets the value of courtesies, hospitality, and ‘izzat’ in Kashmir is doomed.

They specifically mention that Irfan, who lived down the road, was killed in the second week of July, rather than all the other scores of teenagers who were killed in forces’ action this year. That gives a glimpse of the great impact the killing of even one locally known youth makes in Kashmir.

One teenager seems more angry than the rest. He seems staunchly anti-India. It turns out that he suffered assault and humiliation when he was locked up by the police for ‘pelting.’ Another boy has visible signs of injury on his face, but he refuses to say anything despite repeated requests from me and his schoolmates sitting around him. They prod him physically, and I approach so that he need not be heard by the entire room, but he looks diffidently down, silent.

Since he seems bashful amid all the attention, I do not even ask if I may photograph his injuries. He, like the rest of this room full of teenagers, and the area, have been through a lot already this year. And they will, one fears, go through worse yet.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 12:32 IST

Kashmir unrest: In novel move, cops carry out counselling session with young stone-pelters

On a cold Friday morning last week, a group of around 200 young boys and their parents huddled in a large hall with wooden interiors in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. As anxious fathers spoke in whispers with their sons, their sense of dread was unmistakable.

Over the last five months of civilian unrest, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed more than 2,400 cases against stone-pelters, some of whom were sitting in Baramulla’s Dak Banglow. It was not a usual affair, though.

Along one side of the hall, a group of police officers sat on large sofas, facing the gathering. Imtiaz Hussain, a broad shouldered man in his early forties wearing a khaki jacket and pointed shoes, took centre-stage, laying out the reason behind the ‘counselling session’ to the boys who have been arrested and let off by the police recently.

The counselling session held by the Baramulla Police. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

The counselling session held by the Baramulla Police. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

“We want to understand you and let you understand us,” Hussain, the senior superintendent of the Baramulla Police, told the gathering, without mincing words. The meeting that was attended by presidents of mohalla committees, also had in attendance some minors caught pelting stones.

“Apart from the rhetorical underpinnings, at the end of this, you have to understand that these five months have brought nothing but misery and destruction,” Hussain continued.

This is the first time during the ongoing phase of turmoil that the Jammu and Kashmir Police has organised a counselling session for the youth who, according to police, have been involved in “violent activities” as the streets of Kashmir were filled with rage following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

However, the occurrence of the meeting is not a mere coincidence. In the Kashmir Valley these days, a meeting between police and stone-pelters starts and ends in chaos on the streets. But inside the hall, an eerie clam prevailed as Hussain addressed the young boys who allegedly participated in stone-pelting during these months of unrest.

“You are our own children. Your future is in your hands. You have to differentiate between good and bad. We can only show you the path. But you have to chose for yourself,” he said.

The atmosphere inside the hall was emotive but, in reality, the five months of unrest on the streets and an abject failure to address the rage on the streets politically has pushed the younger generation of Kashmir towards the extreme end which is fraught with dangerous consequences.

“But everyone does not understand this anxiety and psychological conundrum,” Dr Arshad Hussain, a psychiatrist based in Srinagar, told Firstpost. “There is a sense of defeat. The counselling is a must.”

Inside the hall, a young boy stood up, telling the police officers that there should be some kind of relaxation in the cases filed against them. “If someone has eight cases, why don’t you show some
kind of relaxation so that they can get bail and lead a normal life?” the boy asked.

Then the interaction turned towards the heavy-handedness of the government forces. Some residents alleged that when the police, accompanied by CRPF and the army, come to arrest stone-pelters, they go on a prowl in the particular locality by breaking windowpanes of houses and assaulting those who protest such actions.

During the ongoing unrest which started on 8 July, the police in Kashmir has arrested more than 7,800 people of whom around 350 have been booked under the draconian Public Safety Act. But reports say 5,500 of them have been let off on the promise of good behaviour.

Apart from human intelligence, police has been using videos and CCTV footage which strengthens the cases against protesters. But the cops are aware that very few youths who have come for counselling will leave the path of stone-pelting and whenever tensions rise and protests break out, they will again throw stones.

“We have tried to explain to the students to concentrate on their studies and their careers rather than indulging in stone-pelting. We are doing our best to wean them away from violence. But they have to understand that they will get nothing out of the violence and there are people who try to push them into chaos for their own benefit,” Hussain told Firstpost.

In the absence of any political outreach from the leadership in New Delhi, it is highly unlikely that the counselling sessions will have their desired results, although they may succeed in breaking the communication barrier between the two warring sides.

“This (counselling sessions) also signifies a change in the situation. The police and other security forces have worked together to get Kashmir to this level. We have to understand that we are getting nothing out of this violence. Our education is suffering and those who are pushing the children of poor to adopt violence should be told: For God’s sake, let us live peacefully,” Hussain added.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 10:02 IST

Burhan Wani had asked Hafiz Saeed to form united front against India: CNN-News18

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani had spoken to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed just a few days before Wani was killed in an encounter, and had offered to form a united front against India.

Burhan Wani (left) and Hafiz Saeed. Agencies

Burhan Wani (left) and Hafiz Saeed. Agencies

In an exclusive, CNN-News18 reported that it had accessed an audio tape of the conversation between the two terrorists which had been intercepted by Indian intelligence agencies. Wani, from his jungle hideout, had called Saeed in Pakistan.

Security agency sources told the channel that Wani talking to Saeed pointed out at a combined effort by Kashmiri militant organisations to ignore their differences and instead pose a united threat to India.

CNN-News18 has, however, also said that the channel could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio tape.

“You people are living in very difficult conditions. But you don’t have to worry. Whatever you need just tell us we are ready for every help. Will be ready for anything. You just have to tell us,” Saeed reportedly told Wani.

“We have to go all out on attacks and shouldn’t lose this opportunity. For this we need ammunition and support from the back. We should work together for this (Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba),” Wani reportedly said.

After Wani’s killing earlier this year, ANI had also reported that Saeed had said that Wani was prepared to die after talking to him.

“A few days before his death, Burhan Wani told me over phone that it was his desire, his last wish, to talk with me. ‘Now that my desire has been fulfilled, I am waiting for martyrdom,’ he told me,” ANI quoted Saeed as saying.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 14:13 IST

Kashmir: As India-Pakistan tensions grow, Mehbooba Mufti’s political appeal shrinks

As tensions between India and Pakistan refuse to die down and terrorism recaptures centre-stage with a sudden uptick in militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, the state’s beleaguered chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, is finding her political appeal losing relevance with every passing day.

The criticism was already mounting in the Valley on Mehbooba’s PDP-BJP coalition government for launching one of the worst crackdowns on protesters with more than 8,000 — including minors — behind bars, and many of them slapped with the draconian Public Safety Act.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

While the crackdown brought some semblance of normalcy on the streets and the situation seemed to be limping back to normalcy, the worst crises in years started unfolding on the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. Following the Uri attack and the ‘surgical strikes’, the intensity of clashes between armies of the two countries has grown ferociously. Mehbooba’s Peoples Democratic Party is a strong votary of a sustainable and meaningful dialogue between the two countries but there are few takers for peace on the subcontinent today.

The party which wants to be seen as a “bridge of peace” between the two nuclear armed countries, has, despite being in power in an alliance with the BJP, failed to convince the Central government to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in the Valley.

On Thursday, Mehbooba once again reiterated that the people in Kashmir have been the biggest beneficiaries of the peace process between India and Pakistan and also worst victims of hostility between the two countries. “I hope the national leadership, especially the prime minister, will continue to spearhead the movement for peace and reconciliation started by him in spite of the unfortunate disruptions in the follow up and attempts to derail it”, she said.

Mehbooba recently met senior cabinet ministers of the BJP in New Delhi, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and she spoke of the need to initiate ‘confidence building measures’ for the bruised Valley and a dialogue with Pakistan. But the attack on Nagrota army base leaves New Delhi with little choice but to further freeze any engagement with Pakistan. That, Mehbooba knows, is a problem which will reflect poorly on her political beliefs.

When Mehbooba’s late father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, became the chief minister of the state for the first time in 2002, he galvanised support for some historic measures, like the opening of cross-LoC travel and trade, which significantly eased tensions between Delhi and Islamabad. He launched a policy of ‘healing touch’ in the state which in turn benefited his core political constituency.

However, since she took over the reins of the state after Sayeed’s sudden demise, Mehbooba has been battling crisis after crisis in Kashmir that threatened to rip the social fabric of the state and also polarised the communal divisions between Muslim majority Kashmir and Hindu-dominated Jammu.

With the Kashmir Valley on boil following the killing of Burhan Wani and the hostilities between India and Pakistan likely to increase in the coming days, it is the PDP that will have to pay the cost in the long run. A party which promised self-rule for the divided Kashmir is today lost in translation; its political agenda lying in tatters. An unyielding partner, the BJP, is only making matters worse.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 10:15 IST

Kashmir: Separatists-led strike extended till 10 December, continues to disrupt normal life

Srinagar: There was less movement of people and transport across Kashmir on Friday as normal life remained affected due to the strike called by separatists.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The movement of people and transport is less on Friday compared to the other days due to apprehensions of law and order problems after Friday congregational prayers, a police official said.

He said most of the shops, fuel stations and business establishments in Srinagar – the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – were shut due to the strike, while public transport was comparatively less.

However, few of them were open in some areas in the civil lines as well as in the outskirts of the city in Srinagar, the official said.

Few vendors had put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre, he said.

Reports of less traffic and most of the shops being closed were received from other district headquarters of the Valley, he said.

Except for the past weekend, Kashmir has witnessed shutdown for the last 140 days.

The separatists, who are spearheading the agitation since killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July, have been issuing weekly protest programmes.

They have extended the strike till 1 December, announcing two full days of relaxation on the weekend like the past week.

As many as 86 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 13:55 IST

Kashmir unrest may be down, but it’s far from over: We could see a reemergence in 2017

The recent provocation at the Line of Control (LoC), in which a soldier’s body was mutilated, was one more indication that the troubles in Kashmir are not over. There are other indications too, which together paint a sombre picture of what might happen next summer.

Many in positions of authority hope that things would settle down since school examinations have been held, markets are bustling, and traffic is back on the roads. But their expectations ought to be tempered with caution.

The respite is tenuous and it might turn out to be temporary.

A file picture of protesters pelting stones at police in Kashmir. PTI

The first thing that one needs to recognise about the 2016 unrest in Kashmir is that it was not a repeat of 2010. There is no doubt that the internal and external dimensions of the challenge faced in Kashmir have been more intricately linked this year.

So, the return of traffic and exams can’t take away the heavy shelling — including high-calibre artillery — which has killed many people near the LoC and forced even more to relocate.

Besides, militant attacks have taken place sporadically, and there is no doubt that there are plenty of foreign and local militants in the Valley.

Stone-pelting too is not a thing of the past. There have been recent instances of it, including a major one in the Pulwama area on Wednesday.

Another big spurt?

A large-scale unrest such as that witnessed over four months this year could well be repeated next summer. All it would take is a trigger like the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, which started the unrest on 8 July.

As more evidence continues to emerge, it is pushing analysts to the view that the unrest was planned for the period following Eid this summer. In fact, Lieutenant-General DS Hooda, the commander-in-chief of the Northern Command, is among the many who believe that this year’s eruption had been planned.

From the very next day after Burhan Wani was killed on 8 July, mobs across the Valley, showed a sort of uniformity in their tactics — as if they were following a pattern. The most significant of these tactics were mob attacks on police stations and paramilitary camps.

However, he says that if Burhan Wani had not been killed some other trigger would have been used. Further, those who had planned this year’s unrest are likely to look for an opportunity next summer too, adds Hooda, who is set to retire from the army at the end of this month.
Such a prognosis makes sense. And, the agents provocateurs who have taken control of coordinating the agitations in various parts of the Valley appear to be controlled from across the border.

Leading activists of several organisations including the Jamaat-e-Islami, have played key roles at the ground level. At times, they have benefited from a benevolent attitude from very high functionaries of the state.

In tandem, large numbers of foreign militants have infiltrated Kashmir in 2015 and 2016 —  a hundred during the first ten months of this year, according to Hooda.

A nuanced view

Unlike many of the military men who held control of state power during the 1990s, the erudite Hooda is keenly aware of the distinctions between different sorts of militants, and variations in the ideologies of those active on the ground.

He points out astutely that “the more (a) local is killed, (the more) you will have a reaction”. However, asked if this summer’s unrest might have been avoided if the widely popular Burhan had not been killed, Hooda replied: “We were not aware that Burhan specifically was there. But even if we had known, would we have done it differently?”

He alludes to the fact that the Indian Army cannot by itself make a distinction between one militant and another. He is, however, acutely aware of the need for political initiatives. “Everything cannot be fought kinetically,” he says.

Clearly, much needs to be done — on various levels, and through several channels. Such initiatives are very urgently required in light of the various prognoses that another summer of unrest is in the offing.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 12:21 IST

J&K: Fire engulfs six houses in Srinagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A massive fire engulfed half-a-dozen houses in the residential area of Buchwara Dalgate in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Fire tenders were quick to douse the flames. The fire started from one of the houses and spread to others. A gas cylinder blast is said to have caused the massive fire.”The government should do something for the victims of this tragedy,” a local resident, Mushtaq Ahmad said. “Only 50 percent of the fire has been controlled,” fire officer, Ali Mohammad said.Firefighters faced difficulty reaching the house as no proper roads were there in the locality.After two days relaxation called by Hurriyat Conference leaders, the Kashmir valley was again shut down on Monday. Schools, colleges and other business establishments were also closed. In the visible effects of the recent demonetization move by the Centre, the 133 day-long shutdown was called-off by the separatist leaders two days ago. The valley had been caught in a series of protests and shutdown since security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.

Life comes back to normal in Kashmir after 133 days of unrest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the first time in the last four and half months of unrest, Kashmir came alive with the usual hustle and bustle on Saturday.Markets reopened in the valley for full day for the first time since Hizbul Mujhadeen poster boy Burhan Wani was killed on July 8. Traffic snarls were back and streets were filled with the shoppers. Few schools reopened and government departments were buzzing with activities.This follows the two full day relaxation in the shutdowns from Saturday announced by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) — a conglomerate of Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and JKLF leader Mohammad Yasin Malik spearheading the unrest.The 133 days of unrest, however, has inflicted heavy human and economic losses to the Kashmir valley. More than 90 people have been killed and over 13,000 people injured in the unrest. Over 1,100 people, mostly teenagers, have suffered injuries in their eyes when security forces fired pellets to quell the violent mobs across Kashmir.Figures released by Kashmir Inc reveal that the valley has suffered more than Rs 16,000 crore financial losses due to the curfews and shutdowns since the unrest began after the killing Burhan Wani on July 8.”Our estimates show we have incurred losses of Rs 16,000 crore so far. It happened with us in 2008, 2010, and now in 2016 again. We are living in a conflict and therefore permanent solution of Kashmir issue is necessary. We have lost over 100 boys and many others have lost eyes to pellets,” Mohammad Yasin Khan, chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance, an apex body of trade, transport, tourism, and allied sectors, told DNA.Tourism sector has taken a big hit in the four and half months of unrest. Official figures reveal that the tourism sector suffered a loss of Rs 3,000 crore. Official data reveal that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015. The footfalls of tourist, however, was reduced to trickle in the corresponding period of the current year because of this.”We need continuity. This change has to be there for all days of week. That will give confidence to our clients outside so that they can think of coming to Kashmir. We have to make efforts ahead of the season,” said GM Dag, chairman Kashmir Hotel and Restaurants Owners Federation.For shoppers, it was a delight to walk the fashionable markets in Lal Chowk again. “I could not believe my eyes that markets are open. I finally bought a shawl for winter,” said Aisha Khan, a school teacher.

After four months of unrest, people in Kashmir resume normal life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The city along with rest of Kashmir was buzzing with activity on Saturday with offices, shops and other business establishments opening in the Valley which saw return of normalcy after 133 days of shutdown as separatists suspended their stir for the weekend. The situation has been by and large peaceful over the last few weeks in the Valley, which had been hit by clashes between violent protesters and security forces following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. The unrest had left 86 people dead and many others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.Shops, offices, business establishments and fuel stations opened this morning for a full day for the first time since the unrest began. While some had started opening earlier defying the separatists, others did business few hours on some days of the week whenever relaxation in the strike was announced.There was massive traffic on the roads in Srinagar the summer capital- as public transport resumed fully and people came out to carry out their day to day activities. The authorities had increased the presence of traffic personnel on the roads to manage the traffic. Similar reports of people resuming their normal life were received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley.With the start of Board exams for classes 10 and 12 this week, life in the Valley had been gradually returning to normalcy. The authorities last night restored mobile internet services on postpaid numbers due to improvement in situation. However, such facility on prepaid numbers continued to remain snapped and there is no word yet on their restoration.The separatists have been issuing weekly protest programmes. They had for the first time announced a two-day relaxation in the strike beginning today.

Kashmir unrest: Normal life remains unaffacted in the valley; banks see heavy rush of customers

Srinagar: Some shops opened, while passenger vehicles plied in some areas of the city and other towns of the Kashmir Valley on Thursday, where banks witnessed heavy rush of customers.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the ongoing unrest in Kashmir on Thursday rose to 86 as an elderly man injured in security forces action against protesters two weeks ago succumbed at a hospital here.

Ghulam Mohammad Khan, 70, who was hit by a tear smoke shell fired by security forces on protesters at Anchar locality of Soura on 2 November, succumbed to injuries at a hospital this morning, a police official said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Elsewhere in the Valley, normal life remained affected for the 132nd consecutive day due to the unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in July.

Shops, fuel stations and other business establishments were shut in Srinagar, as well as in other district headquarters of the Valley due to the strike called by the separatists, officials said.

They said while the annual board examinations were currently on, the class-work in schools, colleges and universities remained affected due to the unrest.

Most of the public transport in the Valley was also off the roads.

However, in some areas in the civil lines and the outskirts of the city here as well as in some other towns of the Valley, few passenger vehicles were seen plying, the officials said, adding few shops were also open in these areas. Some inter-district cabs, connecting the summer capital with other districts of the Valley, were also plying.

Many vendors have put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre, while banks were also open across the Valley and witnessed rush of customers.

The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation since Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces on 8 July, have announced two full days of relaxation on Saturday and Sunday in the agitation programme — the first full day relaxation since 8 July.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 13:24 IST

Kashmir students take exams despite four-month school shutdown

More than 100,000 students take exams in Indian-administered Kashmir despite not being able to attend school for nearly four months.

Kashmir: Normal life remains affected even as shops begin to open in rural areas

Srinagar: Normal life across Kashmir remained affected on Thursday due to the separatist sponsored strike, though summer capital Srinagar witnessed some semblance of normalcy with brisk movement of vehicles in some areas.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Some shops were also open in the areas in the civil lines and outskirts of the city as well in some rural areas in other districts of the Valley. Srinagar saw movement of private and public transport, except buses, in some areas of the city, officials said.

Schools and business establishments elsewhere remained closed due to the strike called by the separatist groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF.

The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, triggered by killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on 8 July, has completed four months.

The officials said there were no curbs on movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, but adequate deployment of security forces has been made at some vulnerable points to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day to day activities.

The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in the Valley, have been issuing weekly protest programmes. The separatists late last night extended the strike till 17 November, with a 15-hour periodic relaxation four days.

As many as 85 people, including two police men, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

Kashmir unrest: Easing exam norms doesn’t help students, only encourages stone-pelters

At 16, Qasim (name changed) is quiet but very talented. He has a mind of his own. During the first few weeks of the agitations following militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing on 8 July, Qasim sometimes walked down to the main road, curious about the stone-pelting, tear-gas and other sorts of commotion.

It’s possible he threw a stone or two, to join the fun. Make no mistake, it was fun for many of the boys who paralysed Kashmir with their demonstrations of youth power. But his stern mother kept him indoors most of the time, with loud warnings against him getting hurt or getting into trouble.

Qasim has been studying in his room through most of the past four months of unrest. Daily, he says. He was often joined by one or two friends. They would study together before working out in the attic with weights, or play music or watch TV or the few films they had downloaded before internet was suspended.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Today, Qasim is studying harder than ever as the Jammu and Kashmir board exams are round the corner, and Qasim is in Class 10 — a ‘board year’. But he is frustrated and upset. Exams are basically a competition, he points out, and the advantage that he and others like him who studied hard had, is now lost.

The state government has announced that students will only have to attempt 50 percent of the questions in the exams. They can choose any half of the questions, not necessarily from each of the sections — pertaining to different portions of the syllabus.

The government’s argument apparently is that schools had only covered half the syllabus before they were closed.

For Qasim, the point is that, “even those who didn’t study, wasted their time and threw stones, will score 450. What’s the point?”

Wrong signals

This decision is indeed flawed. On the one hand, with this sort of thing Kashmir could end up with another generation that has degrees and certificates obtained by mass copying and promotions, a ‘zero year’ and days, months and years of not being able to attend regular classes, like in the 1990s.

On the other hand, this decision gives a message to young men like Qasim that throwing stones would not only have been more fun (not to speak of the joys of macho preening in the neighbourhood) than studying, his months of hard work was pretty much pointless in terms of competing for marks, future admissions or the job market.

The more insidious flaw is that this decision signals to stone-pelters and others who have held the population at large to ransom that the government can be depended upon to bail them out. Remember, most of those manning barricades with stones have been school students.

Given the coercive efficiency that those intent on disruption have shown this year, I expect that what passes for ‘normalcy’ in Kashmir will be elusive again next year. I fervently hope I am wrong but, in case that happens (next year or even in the more distant future), those who urge students to take to the streets will be able to credibly assure them that they will not risk much damage to their academic records. The government will make sure they are at no great competitive disadvantage.

More immediately, this has given an oblique stamp of governmental approval to those who instigated and participated in this year’s disruptions. After the first few days following Burhan’s death, most common people either sat on the fence or actually wanted to get back to what they call ‘normalcy’.

They could not, partly because the state government waited for more than two months to assert its authority in many parts of the valley. Agents provocateurs were well entrenched by then. If the government initially hoped that the agitations would lose steam on their own, that hope was obviously misplaced.

Governments can’t thrive on hope. This government owes Qasim an explanation.

J&K: Fire at residential quarter of educational institute in Shopian

Tue, 1 Nov 2016-11:45pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a suspected case of sabotage, a fire broke out at a residential quarter of an educational institute in Shopian district of Kashmir on Tuesday night, police said. The fire broke out in the residence of the principal of District Institute of Education and Training at Shopian around 10 PM, a police official said.Local residents and fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot and put out the fire, he said. Officials said the cause of the fire was not immediately known, but did not rule out the possibility of sabotage. Over the past few months, around 25 schools have been burnt down mysteriously across the Kashmir Valley which is under the grip of unrest following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in early July.

Situation in Kashmir wasn’t surprising: Mohammad Yasin Malik

Mon, 31 Oct 2016-12:03am , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who was released after four-months of detention on Saturday, claimed on Sunday the ongoing agitation in Kashmir was “indigenous” and “spontaneous” and would continue till people support it. “The situation in Kashmir after the killing of (Hizbul Mujahideen commander) Burhan Wani was a spontaneous reaction. It surprised India and the world but there was nothing surprising in it,” he told reporters here.”People of Kashmir had opted for peaceful means for resolution of the Kashmir issue during similar agitation in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But the military response of the government forced the likes of Burhan Wani to take up arms,” he said. “Burhan Wani and his associates never went to Pakistan but still joined militancy after they realised that the peaceful means for resolution of the Kashmir issue was being crushed by the government,” Malik said.He claimed the burning of schools in Kashmir was a conspiracy to defame separatist leaders.

Normal life affected in Kashmir valley for 114th day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Normal life remained affected in Kashmir for the 114th consecutive day on Sunday due to the separatist-sponsored strike over the recent civilian killings and in support of their demand for right to ”self determination”. Although there were no curbs imposed by the authorities, normal activities remained badly affected due to the strike called by the separatists.A large number of street vendors had set up their stalls at the weekly flea market, known locally as Sunday Market here, while fair number of of private cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in the city. However, normal life continued to remain affected in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike. Shops, petrol pumps and business establishments were shut, but are expected to open this evening as the separatists have announced relaxation in the strike from 5 pm onwards.Security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day to day activities without fear. The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in support of their demand for right to self determination, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8.As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.Thousands of youth, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police over the past three months in an attempt to break the impasse.Over 300 people have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Jammu and Kashmir: Primary school building set ablaze in Baramulla

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A primary school building and two vehicles were set ablaze by some persons in Kashmir in separate incidents of arson over the past 24 hours, police said on Friday.This was the 19th school building set on fire by unknown persons since the current unrest began in Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.A police official said Government Primary School at Taaper in Pattan area of Baramulla district was set on fire by unknown persons late on Wednesday night, a police official said.He said the three-room building was gutted in the fire.In another incident, miscreants set on fire an autorickshaw at Rainawari in the city for violating the strike call given by the separatists, who are spearheading the agitation.The autorickshaw was destroyed in the fire, the official said.Unconfirmed reports said a truck was set ablaze at Parimpora in the outskirts of the city this morning.However, police denied any such incident having taken place.

Situation in Kashmir returning to normalcy after four-month-long strike

Srinagar: Summer capital Srinagar witnessed significant improvement in public transport on Thursday even as normal life elsewhere in the Valley remained affected due to the strike called by separatists.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Many people have started defying the separatist-sponsored strike over the past week, as they are slowly picking up the threads of their lives affected by the nearly four-month-long strike, officials said.

While there is increased movement of private traffic in the summer capital, the city has also witnessed a significant improvement in the public transport, except buses, they said.

The officials said the inter-district transport has also improved as many cabs were plying on the routes connecting Srinagar with other districts like Anantnag and Baramulla.

They said as the traffic in the city has significantly increased, additional traffic police personnel have been deployed at some intersections to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Many shops were also open in the civil lines and the outskirts of the city, while many street vendors set up stalls at many places around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk.

However, normal life continued to remain affected in the rest of the Valley due to separatist-sponsored strike.

While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, the officials said restrictions on assembly of four or more people were in place throughout the Valley for maintaining law and order.

They said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure.

Security forces have also been deployed at many market places to instil a sense of security among the public to carry out their day-to-day activities, the officials said.

Shops, business establishments and fuel stations remained shut and are not expected to open this evening as separatists have not given any relaxation.

The separatists, who are spearheading the agitation have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July. They have extended the strike till 3 November.

The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, apart from business and tourism, has also affected education as schools, colleges and other educational institutions continue to remain shut in the Valley.

As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.

Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.

Terror emanating from Pak serious concern for India: Rajnath Singh tells Bahrain

Manama: India on Monday told Bahrain that terrorism emanating from Pakistan remains its most important concern and support from across the border has incited the current unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

This was conveyed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Bahraini Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa during a bilateral meeting in Manama. Bahrain is a key member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in which Pakistan is also a member.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Singh, who is on a three-day visit to the Gulf country, apprised Khalifa about Islamabad’s open support and participation to glorify slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Pakistan, saying it indicates continued free movement that terrorists and their supporters enjoy there.

Wani was killed in an encounter on 8 July and since then the unrest has been continuing in Kashmir Valley. Pakistan is a country which refuses to give up use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, he said. The Home Minister raised the issue of the arrest in July of Pakistani terrorist Bahadur Ali, who was armed and trained in LeT camps and then exfiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir with instructions to mingle in crowds for throwing grenades at security forces.

“Since there is no change in Pakistan’s approach of sponsoring terrorism we cannot take at face value any of the assurances that Pakistan provides in regard to stopping terrorism,” Singh is said to have conveyed to his Bahraini counterpart.

Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India and no interference is acceptable, Singh said the central government as well as the Jammu and Kashmir government and other relevant authorities in India are involved in addressing the situation in the state and various efforts have been undertaken to redress the grievances of the local population.

The Home Minister conveyed that there is complete political consensus in India on reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and substantial progress has been made in this regard.

Singh also told Khalifa about the lack of progress in the investigation into the Pathankot airbase terrorist attack and on the Mumbai terror attack trials in Pakistan. “It betrays Pakistan’s selective approach to terrorism. We have conveyed to Pakistan that we are ready to discuss various aspects of the challenge of terrorism that is directed from Pakistan against us, which has been our core concern and is at the centre of the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he is believed to have said.

The Home Minister also met Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at Gudaibiya Palace and discussed various bilateral issues. Singh will meet Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Addressing the Indian community last night, the Home Minister said terrorism is a global problem and the international community must join hands to root out the menace.

Singh had also said the Narendra Modi government has made several structural and procedural changes and that resulted in successfully reducing the “wholesale corruption” in the country.

Video of Hizbul militants carrying weapons, greeting and hugging each other surfaces on social media

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A new video of Hizbul Mujahideen has surfaced on social media, showing a group of armed militants greeting and hugging each other, in a reminder of the campaign undertaken by its erstwhile commander Burhan Wani before he was killed in an encounter three months back.In the four-and-a-half minute video, 12 militants are seen in an orchard, carrying weapons, including INSAS rifles apparently snatched from police forces.They are seen greeting and hugging each other as well as laughing in an attempt to lure youth to join militancy.Wani had actively used social media to attract the youth to militancy. He made many such propaganda videos before he was killed in the encounter with security forces on July 8.In another video which also surfaced recently, the new Hizb commander Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Musa is seen asking youth to join militancy by snatching rifles from security forces.During the recent months, there have been a number of incidents in which weapons were snatched or looted from police and security personnel. At least 67 rifles have so far been snatched. These include INSAS and Carbine rifles, which are exclusively used by the police and security forces.

Jammu Kashmir govt sacks over dozen employees on charges of inciting unrest

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has issued orders to dismiss over a dozen of its employees for their alleged involvement in the ongoing unrest, a top official said on Thursday.

A massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTIA massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTI

A massive bout of protests broke out in Kashmiri following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. PTI

“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,” the officer said.

The dismissed employees include an assistant registrar of Kashmir University, besides others from education, revenue, public health, engineering and food supplies.

“The state government invoked Article 126 of the state constitution to carry out the action,” he added.

Authorities said some of the dismissed employees were already booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), while others have evaded arrest.

At least 91 people have been killed and over 12,000 injured in the last 104 days of the ongoing unrest since 9 July, a day after the killing of top militant Burhan Wani.

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)

Hizbul Mujahideen asks exiled Kashmiri Pandits to return home, guarantees ‘protection’

Srinagar: Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has asked migrant Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee the Valley in early 1990 after the eruption of militancy, to return to their homes, assuring protection to them, and also said it was planning to raise a group of Sikh youths.

Security challenge in Kashmir. ReutersSecurity challenge in Kashmir. Reuters

Security challenge in Kashmir. Reuters

“We request Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes. We take responsibility of their safety,” Zakir Rashid Bhat alias ‘Musa’, the self-styled commander of the militant outfit, said in a brief video message released on Tuesday.

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee the Valley after they were targeted by militant groups during the outbreak of militancy and have been living in Jammu and other parts of the country.

“They should look at those Pandits who never left Kashmir. Who has harassed or killed them?” asked slain
militant Burhan Wani’s ‘successor’.

Dressed in military camouflage and fiddling with a grenade in the video, Bhat, who dropped out of engineering
course from a Punjab college and joined Hizbul Mujahideen some years back, also gave a bizarre argument that Pandits were forced out of the Valley under a planned strategy to target Muslims.

He claimed that the government was planning to take action in the Valley in an operation similar to ‘Operation
Blue Star’ in Punjab.

Bhat revealed in the 1.38-long minute video that the militant was planning to raise an exclusive group of Sikh youths in the outfit.

“Our Sikh brothers are requesting us to join Hizbul Mujahideen…We are with them on every front and God willing,
we will try and make an exclusive group for Sikhs in the outfit,” he said.

About the latest trend of weapon snatching in the Valley, especially in south Kashmir districts, he said, “Many youths have taken to Jihad, snatched the weapons and joined our ranks.”

Two green banners with religious slogans and as many weapons on both sides behind him could also be seen in the
video which was shot at an unknown location.

South Kashmir witnessed a spurt in weapon snatching incidents over the past three months of unrest which was
triggered by the killing of Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.

The unrest has so far claimed 84 lives and injured thousands of others.

Hizbul Mujahedeen says it will set up Sikh armed group

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorist outfit Hizbul Mujahedeen has announced that it will set up a separate group of Sikh armed youth to fight against the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.Releasing a fresh video, Hizbul commander Zakir Rashid Bhat said the outfit has received requests from Sikh youth for joining the militant ranks in a bid to ‘avenge’ the Operation Blue Star in Punjab.”We have received several requests from oppressed Sikh brothers to join us. KPS Gill with the help of RAW killed our Sikh brothers during Operation Blue Star. The Sikh brothers want to join us to take revenge from India (sic),” said Zakir.Sporting a short trimmed beard, Zakir is seen in the video wearing at-shirt with olive green camouflage waste-coat and trouser in a well-laid out room. Sitting on a chair, Zakir is seen composed with two automatic rifles resting on both sides of his seat and a banner in the background wall.This is the second time since the death of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani Zakir Bhat that it has released a video in the Valley akin to his former boss who was known for using social media to reach out to the people.Hailing from Noorpora in Tral, Zakir had left civil engineering at a Chandigarh college and joined Hizbul in 2013. Coming from an affluent family, Zakir’s father is also an engineer by profession.Zakir also appealed to migrant Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes and assured them security from the militants. “We request Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes and we will take full responsibility of their safety and security,” he said.Hizbul commander asked youth to snatch weapons from the security forces in order to join the militant ranks.

How India can tackle China’s myriad mischief and increasingly assertive hegemony

It is not often that we get to hear voices from China on Sino-Indian relationship and various pulls and pressure that the intriguing pirouette between two neighbouring powers entails. It was therefore informative to go through Kai Xue’s column on The Times of India‘s edit page on Tuesday.

Most interestingly, the Beijing corporate lawyer starts by complaining about India’s ‘aggressive posture’ near its north-eastern border.

“India has recently deployed 120 tanks in Ladakh, cleared deployment of around 100 supersonic BrahMos missiles in Arunachal Pradesh, and within this year has reactivated and upgraded five advanced landing bases in Arunachal Pradesh. These actions are the culmination of a large scale multi-year arms buildup near the border with China that has included drilling of new bunkers and additional troops and artillery at the edge of the disputed line. China has during this time not moved new weapons to the border” and has merely “engaged in upgrading non-military transportation infrastructure in border provinces.” 

In an act of supreme victimhood, the author suggests that all of India’s actions were “unilateral”.

I have quoted the paragraph in full because it reflects somewhat the way China approaches the Sino-Indian relationship. Unlike Pakistan, whose enmity towards India is one-dimensional and replete with rhetorical flourishes (and hence, open to reception), Beijing’s moves are deceptive. It plays the aggressor and the victim at the same time. It provokes, needles and bullies New Delhi, yet does not hesitate to play the victim card when India reacts.

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

File image of Chinese president Xi Jinping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The author, for instance, magnificently ignores the weight of history, China’s frequent, unprovoked incursions into India’s territory and the way Beijing has traditionally treated Arunachal Pradesh, calling it ‘south Tibet’ and claiming it in full.

To jog the memory, in 2006, just a week ahead of former President Hu Jintao’s India visit, China announced that Arunachal Pradesh was “our territory”. It criticised Japan last year for calling the region a part of India and reportedly even went to the extent of lodging an official protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit, adding that the move was “not conducive” to developing bilateral relations.

This deft interspersing of dandabaazi and diplomatic sleight of hand was again on full display during the just-concluded Brics Summit. While Chinese obstinacy on not letting the names of Pakistan-based terror outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba be mentioned in the Goa Declaration was on expected lines, more surprising has been Russia’s ambivalence on terrorism emanating out of Pakistan.

Nobody was surprised by China’s umbrage at Modi’s ‘mothership of terrorism’ jibe against Pakistan but India’s discomfort was evident at Vladimir Putin’s silence on terrorism at the Brics Plenary. Firstpost had argued on Monday why the Brics Summit was actually a huge success for India despite Chinese machinations, but it did rankle Indian negotiators that Russia failed to do its bit in pushing more for Indian concerns while ensuring that the terror outfit with which it engages with finds mention in Goa Declaration.

It would be erroneous to attach too much important to Russia’s joint military exercise with Pakistan beyond an obvious attempt to provoke India into splurging on defence deals. More instructive would be to look at the Sino-Russian relationship in the wake of Moscow’s plummeting ties with Washington.

As Indrani Bagchi writes in The Times of India, “As the West has shunned Russia, slapped sanctions on it, Russia has moved East. To China. Chinese students go to Russia, as do Chinese tourists. Russia is now almost completely subservient to China… Indians have been alarmed at the depth and quality of the Russia-China relationship. Moscow is sharing military technologies with Beijing that would have been unimaginable earlier.”

It is not difficult in this context to interpret why Russia was forced to dump its “old friend” from the Cold War era and settle for a more pro-Chinese stance.

The lesson for India, therefore, is manifold. A nation’s geopolitical influence and its ability to bend the regional curve in line with its strategic interests depends almost entirely on its economic heft. Three decades of robust growth have given China unprecedented hard power and in President Xi Jinping, it has a president willing to wield that power to assert its hegemony, have a say in international relations and in the long run, even challenge the supremacy of the US.

India’s problem is that it shares China’s economic ambition but lags behind woefully on developmental scale, a point Kai Xue also makes in his aforementioned column where he says that “India… has withered under mediocre governance and slow-growth socialist economics.”

India wishes to have peaceful and friendly relationship with its neighbours but must somehow tackle China’s burning global ambition and its usage of various of levers (which includes using Pakistan’s nuisance value or heavy infrastructural spending aimed at throwing a military-strategic ring around India) to check New Delhi’s rise.

The extent of China’s belligerence under Xi can be gauged by taking a look at the most recent defence white paper, Chinese Military Strategy, published in May 2015. According to Richard A Bitzinger in Policy Forum, “the PLA will continue to de-emphasise land operations, all but abandoning People’s War (except in name and in terms of political propaganda), particularly in favour of giving new stress and importance to sea- and airpower.”

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What must India do to if not tackle, at least maintain a reasonable equilibrium against such an aggressive power with whom it runs a trade deficit of $52.7 billion?

For starters, it must invest in new ties as the prime minister has tried to do with the Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) initiative. The new conglomerate of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand and Myanmar may not be a Saarc substitute but provide a vital hedge against Chinese manipulation since many of these nations are themselves victims of China’s naked aggression. The investment gave a handy early return to India when it said in the outcome document that terrorists cannot be called “martyrs” which was a direct jab at Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s attempt to glorify Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani at the UN.

Two, India must develop its ties with Japan on a war footing. As The Financial Times noted (subscription required) during Modi’s 2014 visit to Japan when he famously gave Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe a bear hug, Modi’s decision to make Japan his first “foreign port of call” was “informed by hard-nosed calculations of how India and Japan can work together on undertakings of mutual interest and concern — reviving their respective economies, and grappling with Chinese expansionism”.

Much needs to be done on this front beyond a symbolic hug or a bullet train project. Commerce and industry minister N Sitharaman’s urge to Indian industry to make more use of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is important.

What must India do to if not tackle, at least maintain a reasonable equilibrium against such an aggressive power with whom it runs a trade deficit of $52.7 billion?

India must also get over its distrust of US and understand that for Washington, courtship of India isn’t an act of benevolence but a necessity to gain an Asia pivot against China. Towards that end, India must shed its coyness over the crucial Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with US that allows both militaries to work closely and improve logistical cooperation. If that paves the way for future pacts, India must not be defensive. Non-alignment as a foreign policy has expended its usefulness.

Of particular importance is Brazil’s acquiescence on India’s NSG membership. An outcome of a bilateral between Modi and Brazilian president Michel Temer on the sidelines of the Brics Summit, the development has far-reaching consequences. Brazil, as The Times of India points out, was one of the very few countries along with China to refuse a waiver for non-NTP signatory India in the NSG. However, as MEA secretary Preeti Saran noted: “Prime Minister (Modi) conveyed to Brazil India’s aspiration for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership and Brazil president conveyed its understanding of India’s aspirations and conveyed that he would work with other countries of the NSG in helping India to move towards its membership”.

This portends well for India. New Delhi cannot match Beijing’s economic heft and consequent influence in the medium to short term. But India’s action plan must include avoidance of direct confrontation and rhetoric, developing relations with powers not tied to China’s apron strings and initiating reforms and growth measures domestically.

PM Modi misleading Brics and BIMSTEC, trying to hide brutalities in Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

Islamabad: A top Pakistani aide, accusing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misleading” Brics and BIMSTEC nations, has asserted that New Delhi has no moral ground to talk about counter-terrorism as it is itself involved in terrorism in Kashmir.

File image of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

File image of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

“Modi is misleading his BRICS and BIMSTEC colleagues and has no moral ground when his own government is involved in state terrorism in Kashmir,” Radio Pakistan quoted Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, as saying on Sunday.

Aziz’s remark came in response to Prime Minister Modi’s statement at the BRICS Summit in Goa in which the Indian Premier said Pakistan was the “mothership of terrorism”.

“The Indian leadership is desperately trying to hide its brutalities in Jammu and Kashmir, an internationally recognised dispute on the UN Security Council agenda, where innocent people are being killed and injured by security forces daily with impunity,” said Aziz.

The Kashmir valley has been gripped with violence for the past 100 days following the 8 July killing of top militant Burhan Wani in a clash with the security forces.

More than 90 persons have been killed and over 12,500 injured since the violence – the worst since the 2010 unrest – began on 9 July between the security forces and protestors in Kashmir.

Aziz said the people of Kashmir Valley were being “subjected to genocide by India” for demanding their fundamental right to self-determination, as promised in the relevant UNSC resolutions.

He said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have called for sending a fact-finding mission to Kashmir.

“The UN and OIC have rejected Indian attempts to equate Kashmiris’ movement for self-determination with terrorism,” the adviser said, adding that the UN has emphasised that people fighting for their self-determination cannot be categorised as terrorists.

According to Aziz, Pakistan joins all the members of Brics and BIMSTEC in condemning terrorism and reaffirms its full commitment to fighting the menace without discrimination.

“Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism are well acknowledged and repeatedly appreciated by the leadership of most countries in the world,” he said.

Aziz further said that Islamabad is a victim of Indian “interference and subversive activities” which, he claimed, were aimed at destabilising Pakistan.

“Unfortunately, in complete disrespect of international law and the UN Charter, the Indian government is pursuing its hegemonic designs.”

The adviser called upon the international community, especially the Brics leaders, to “ask India to stop the bloodshed in Kashmir immediately, release Kashmiri leaders and thousands of Kashmiris taken away forcibly and address the humanitarian crisis” in the valley.

Earlier on Sunday, while addressing Brics leaders in Goa, Modi called for a strong united stand against the “mothership of terrorism in South Asia”, a reference to Pakistan.

“In our region, terrorism poses a grave threat to peace, security and development,” Modi told the leaders at the Brics Summit.

Protest at venue of Arvind Kejriwal’s rally in Surat, 35 detained

Protest at venue of Arvind Kejriwal’s rally in Surat, 35 detained

Updated: Oct 16, 2016 21:33 IST

#AAP #Arvind Kejriwal #Gujarat #India #NewsTracker #Surat

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Surat: The city police detained several protesters ahead of a rally of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal this evening. Those detained were protesting against the AAP supremo for his comments “seeking proof” of the army’s surgical strikes on terror launchpads in PoK.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Protesters, waving black flags and breaking black earthen pots, dubbed Kejriwal as “pro-Pakistan” and asked him to leave Surat.

Members of an organisation, ‘Brahm Padkar Samiti’, were detained by the police from outside the Yogi Chowk venue of the rally.

Members of a Patidar group too staged a protest near the venue and were detained. “Around 35 protesters were detained and later released,” a police officer said.

Ahead of Kejriwal’s visit and rally here, banners came up at various parts of the city, depicting him as one of the “Heroes of Pakistan” by putting his photo alongside Osama bin Laden, Burhan Wani and Hafiz Saeed.

Banners about the “dubious” track record of several ministers of the AAP government in Delhi were also put up.

In some societies in the Patel-dominated Varachha area, posters warning the AAP leader against entering the area had also surfaced a few days back.

India, Pakistan must have talks on Kashmir to end terrorism: Farooq Abdullah

India, Pakistan must have talks on Kashmir to end terrorism: Farooq Abdullah

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Srinagar: India and Pakistan must talk and solve the Kashmir issue to end terrorism in the region, former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said, speaking for the first time since the ongoing unrest erupted in the Kashmir Valley.

“Both countries must sit and have talks on Kashmir. That is the only solution to end terrorism, otherwise it will keep on escalating,” Abdullah told reporters after a meeting of opposition parties here.

“All of us are looking for the way forward and not looking back at what happened,” he said, adding he was “always in favour of peace”.

The National Conference President said he was concerned about the turmoil in the Kashmir Valley that has left over 90 people dead and thousands injured since the 8 July killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

The meeting of opposition parties discussed the Kashmir situation and the way the state and central governments were dealing with it.

Abdullah said the situation demanded that “a solution needs to be found” to the vexed Kashmir issue.

With inputs from IANS

Farooq Abdullah calls meeting of opposition parties in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Friday called a meeting of opposition parties of Kashmir to discuss the prevailing situation in the Valley which has crippled normal life for more than three months.”Abdullah has called a meeting of opposition parties and individual leaders to discuss the ongoing situation in Kashmir,” a National Conference spokesman said. He said the aim of the meeting was to find a way out of the situation.Life in Kashmir has come to standstill for the past 98 days due to street protests which erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.The unrest has claimed 84 lives, including two cops, and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces.Shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions have largely remained closed.Thousands of youths, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police in an attempt to break the impasse. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

J&K cop in the dock for leaking sensitive information to Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Jammu and Kashmir police officer is under scanner for allegedly leaking sensitive information about the security force deployment in the state during the current unrest to Pakistani players. A high-level probe has been ordered to unravel the truth. Sources said the leak could have compromised the safety and security of the personnel deployed to maintain law and order in the state.Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar admitted to DNA that some negligence took place. “There is some negligence. We are inquiring into it,” Kumar said.The lid was blown off the conspiracy when a call from Pakistan was traced to the officer. The caller introduced himself as a senior army officer, wanting to know the details of deployment of the police and paramilitary forces in the state.Intelligence agencies immediately informed the police higher-ups, who swung into action and found that the caller was from Pakistan. “This is a sensitive issue because the call came from Pakistan. How was the officer not able to track the call?” said an officer.More than 88 people have been killed and over 13,000 others have been injured since the unrest began on July 8, after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) leader Burhan Wani. The injured included over 6,000 police and paramilitary personnel.Meanwhile, according to some unconfirmed reports, the police officer concerned has been placed under suspension. An officer said, “It is not an issue of a particular individual. We need to see the chain of the events. We need to look into the background. We need to find whether there were more persons involved. We need to see whether it was willful fault or negligence.”

Masood Azhar’s surgical strike on Pakistan is deadlier than the one carried out by India

Masood Azhar just did a surgical strike on Pakistan more effective than the one carried out by Indian Army’s Special Forces on 29 September. In one editorial, published in the newest issue of terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad’s weekly pamphlet, he blew away Nawaz Sharif’s fig leaf and made Islamabad stark naked in its brazen bullying glory before the entire world. In the process, the JeM chief also raised some uncomfortable questions for China ahead of President Xi Jinping’s Brics visit to India.

Masood Azhar. ReutersMasood Azhar. Reuters

Masood Azhar. Reuters

During last month’s UNGA address in New York, Nawaz Sharif had stretched the last tendril of credulity when he went against history, reason and a mountain of evidence and proclaimed Kashmir violence as a “popular and peaceful freedom movement” led by “young leader Burhan Wani”.

Taking into account the pulls and pressures of Pakistani Deep State over its civilian government; Nawaz’s compulsions of ratifying Pakistan’s prized assets in the hybrid war against its neighbours; the need to stoke the embers of Kashmir fire — the speech was still a bravura display of defiance where the Prime Minister of a nation was found openly backing a self-declared militant of a designated terrorist organisation from the ramparts of UN. It showed Islamabad’s steady flight down the nihilistic slope of terrorism on the wings of denial.

Masood’s appeal to the Pakistan government to let loose the dogs of terrorism and use the ‘historic opportunity’ to snatch Kashmir, therefore, is the next logical step to Nawaz’s UN address. He was merely ratifying what the Pakistan PM had said and the world (except China and the House of Saud) already knew.

More interestingly, however, Masood’s address provides the context for Kashmir violence. It lays bare the reasons behind Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession — the need to avenge 1971 humiliation and the burning ambition for one Islamic Ummah in the Indian subcontinent. And it exposes, not for the first time, Rawalpindi’s historic role behind the insurgency and its steely resolve to use all terrorist groups, “non-state actors” and tools of insurgency at its command to engage ‘Hindustan’ in a never-ending jihad.

“If the government of Pakistan shows a little courage, the problem of Kashmir, as well as the dispute over water, can be resolved once and for all right now. If nothing else, the government simply has to open the path for the mujahideen. Then, god willing, all the bitter memories of 1971 will be dissolved into the triumphant emotions of 2016,” reads Azhar’s front-page editorial, according to Praveen Swami in The Indian Express.

In the editorial, Azhar exhorts Pakistan’s policymakers and argues that the “jihadist policies it backed in the 1990s had brought strategic benefits to the country” and left India profusely bleeding, with “every one of its limbs badly injured”. He goes on to add that “what remained of India’s military prowess was exposed in Pathankot and Uri,” according to the newspaper.

Shorn of rhetoric, this is the damnedest indictment yet of Pakistan’s hand behind the twin terror attacks and yanks off the last vestige of Islamabad’s deniability. It is difficult to name and shame a puppet government but it could be worthwhile taking a reaction from Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who claimed that Uri was “staged by India itself” to malign Pakistan and take focus away from Kashmir, on what he made of Masood Azhar’s statement.

The JeM founder, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange for kidnapped 155 passengers and crew members of IC 814, writes further that “terror in Kashmir has weakened India” dramatically and a comparative evaluation of “India before and after the jihad in Kashmir” shows that it has “reduced from a serpent to an earthworm.”

“When we entered the tent of the jihadist movement,” writes Azhar, “it had no branch in Kashmir, nor was there lightning in Iraq or Syria. There were just two fronts, in Afghanistan and Palestine… We have watched as the jihad we befriended grew from a glowing ember into the sun…”, according to the newspaper.

The Indian Army unit that crossed over into the LoC and rained fire on launch pads, could destroy just five of the substantial terror infrastructure. Masood, through one article, established the chain that links jihad in Kashmir to global terrorism.

As Firstpost had argued back in July (Not Burhan Wani, it’s Pakistan’s proxy war that’s behind Kashmir tragedy, the neutralising of Burhan Wani wasn’t an inflection point in “Kashmir intifada” as Pakistan would have the world believe, but merely the kicking off of the latest phase in a long history of Rawalpindi-manufactured violence.

Masood’s statement indicates the extent of Pakistan’s collusion in The Kashmir Project — a venture launched by that humiliated and bitter former ISI chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul in mid-1970s. Right from Kalashnikov-wielding Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militants in early 90s to Hizbul Mujahideen, from Lashkar-e-Taiba to Jaish-e-Mohammed, the history of “peaceful and popular freedom movement” is now clear.

For Beijing, the al-Qalam editorial poses some tough questions. Only last week China’s state-controlled media had accused India of seeking “political gains” in getting UN to ban Masood Azhar. It would be interesting to note now how China justifies its stand of extending “technical hold” on designating the JeM founder as a global terrorist whom India has accused of masterminding the attacks on Indian Parliament in 2001 and on an IAF base in Pathankot, the last of which has been acknowledged by Masood himself.

If Beijing continues to stand as the only impediment behind Azhar’s designation as a terrorist, it would have done a cost-benefit analysis of the losses it may suffer by withdrawing the hold in terms of its heavy investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Beijing’s conduct over the South China Sea should tell us just how ‘seriously’ it takes global opinion when it comes to own strategic interests. So it would be foolish to think that Masood’s statement will force its hand any which way. What it may do is make its bargaining chip vis-à-vis India a little weaker. A position New Delhi would no doubt have noted ahead of the Brics Summit.

Ashoka University embroiled in free speech debate: Two staff members quit after signing petition on Kashmir

Another university campus, touted to be a bastion of “liberal education” that lets its students “think critically about issues from multiple perspective”, is making news for reportedly stifling free speech.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Ashoka University in Sonepat has allegedly prompted resignation of two of its staff members, who had signed on a petition asking for plebiscite and demilitarization in Kashmir. Following the massive protests that raked the Valley ever since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian Army, 88 members of the university signed a petition addressed to the state and central government, pleading demilitarization of the state.

Ashoka University. University websiteAshoka University. University website

Ashoka University. University website

A report in a Kashmiri newspaper, the Kashmir Reader — which incidentally has also been banned by the state government raking up a fresh debate around press freedom — quotes from the open letter written by students and staff of the varsity. “Kashmir is the world’s most densely militarized colony with over 700000 military, paramilitary and militarized police. We demand that Army is withdrawn from civilian areas in the Valley and not to use the Army for maintaining regular law and order. We also appeal to the Indian State to confine the job of the army to just the ‘borders’,” the letter reads.

The petition further adds, “We believe that the self-determination right of the Kashmiris is an inalienable right. We demand the Indian state to retreat from Kashmir, and let the Kashmiris decide their future and sovereignty.”

Another Kashmiri magazine, Kashmir Lifealso reproduced the letter and mentions the name of all the signatories. Amid the 88 students, it includes the names of two employees, Saurav Goswami, deputy manager of academic affairs, and Adil Mushtaq Shah, programme manager of academic affairs, of the Young India Fellowship.

According to The Indian Express report, on 7 October both these employees sent out farewell emails citing personal reasons behind their decision to quit. That they were the only two employees on the list of signatories (apart from a professor, who is also reportedly being pressured to quit) is what has sent the students in a tizzy. A student on the condition of anonymity told The Indian Express that until two weeks ago both the employees were actively participating in planning and execution of college programs and gave no indications that they were planning to quit. The fact that both the signatories decided to quit suddenly and so close behind each other, is hard to dismiss as a mere coincidence.

Meanwhile, Rajendra Narayan, the assistant professor who also signed the petition, has been reportedly asked to resign while his department has been informally informed to look for his replacement, The Indian Express report claims.

Officially, the university had at the time condemned the act of “using the good name of the Ashoka University to represent personal views and ideas.” Shortly afterwards the university revised its email policy so as all emails being exchanged between students, staff and alumni will go through a moderator, which became the flash point of the freedom of speech debate and prompted the students to submit a pettition to the varsity chancellor. The university however denied that the decision was taken in the backdrop of this issue. It claimed that the policy shift is reflective of the “best practices” in leading world universities and was meant to deal spam mails, The Indian Express report states.

As the issue made news, twitterati expressed outrage and disappointment over the alleged infringement of free speech in the college campus.

However, some people expressed a different opinion.

This, however, is not the first time a university is accused of muzzling free speech. The sedition debate that ensued in Jawaharlal Nehru University, after student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid among others were charged with sedition, also made headlines. In this case however, not only the varsity but the state and judiciary were also roiled in the controversy giving rise to the debate whether, restricting freedom of expression on charges of “anti-national behaviour” was even rationally valid. The university, a premiere liberal arts institute in India, cracked down heavily on its students as it slapped fines and rusticated students embroiled in the controversy.

More recently, JNU was again in news on Thursday as a section of students chose the visages of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to represent Ravana effigies burnt on Dussehra. Last week too, some students burnt effigies of the Gujarat government and ‘gau-rakshak’ (cow vigilantes) groups. The university has served a show cause notice and ordered a proctorial enquiry in the last week’s case and it has launched an enquiry into the Dussehra incident.

Jammu and Kashmir: Curfew in parts of Srinagar, normal life affected for 96th day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew remained in force in parts of Srinagar on Wednesday as a precautionary measure in view of the tenth day of Muharram, even as normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 96th day due to the ongoing unrest.Curfew has been imposed in the five police station areas of downtown Srinagar, a police official said here. He said the curbs on the movement of people in the police station areas of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal and Maharaj Gunj have been imposed to maintain law and order in view of the tenth day of Muharram. The official also said that curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in four police station areas of Soura, Lal Bazar, Zadibal and Nigeen.The traditional Muharram procession used to pass through these areas, but has been banned since eruption of militancy in 1990 as authorities maintain that the religious gathering has been used for propagating separatist politics. Meanwhile, normal life remained affected for the 96th consecutive day in the rest of the Valley following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives including that of two cops and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces, is in its fourth month as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed, while public transport continued to be off the roads. The shops and other business establishments open during the periodic relaxation announced by the separatists on some days of the week.

Are missing Kashmiri youths becoming jihadis?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An estimated 100 young men have gone missing from their homes in various parts of the Kashmir Valley over the last three months. According to a secret internal report by security agencies, following the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani in July this year, 80-100 youth are reportedly untraceable.Security agencies believe that these men may have been part of a mass recruitment drive by terrorist outfits. A review done by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also indicated that the recruitment of local youth was likely to increase in the coming months.”We expect a big surge in local recruitment in the next few days. It’s difficult to give an accurate number as of now, but in the last three months, the numbers have gone up considerably,” a top security official told DNA.
ALSO READ Kashmir tense as Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani killedSources in the security establishment said with the local armed movement gathering momentum, security forces and particularly the Army have been asked to carry out area domination exercises in parts of the state considered especially prone to terrorist activity. Areas and neighbourhoods in south Kashmir have been identified as potential recruitment hubs which are now under watch.AT A GLANCEClashes between raging stone pelting protestors and security forces have killed more than 80 people and left thousands wounded in the Valley.Figures show just how alarming the situation in the Valley has become. Last year, security agencies estimated that 80 Kashmiri youth had joined the terror ranks.This year, till July, before Wani’s death, only 35 Kashmiri youth had been recruited.Post Wani’s death, agencies say the number of radicalised Kashmiri youth has risen to 90, out of the total number of 145 militants in the Valley.”Before Wani’s killing around 35 locals had taken up arms this year. We had expected the numbers to be low. But now everything has changed in the last three months and the number of militants are likely to go well over 100 this year,” said an official.
ALSO READ Latest video of new Hizbul Mujahideen commander emerges in KashmirOfficials privy to the situation say that it is no surprise then that Pakistan-based terror outfits are taking advantage of the situation and luring local men. Just like Wani who soon became the posterboy of indigenous militancy in the conflict hit state, another rung of young men are now being prepared to be showcased as local militants.The rise in local militants is alarming as it can help Pakistani-based terrorists to carry out attack on security forces with greater ease. “Not only do the local recruits gather support for an armed insurgency but also play a crucial role in assisting fidayeens who infiltrate from Pakistan to carry out terror strikes,” says a security official.
ALSO READ Who is Burhan Wani? All you need to know about the Hizbul Mujahideen poster boyIt’s not the first time that recent events have caused Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun. In 2013, the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted for the Parliament attack of 2001, became a catalyst for local youth in the state to join terror groups.The Burhan Wani killing could well just be another catalyst for an even bigger indigenous militant movement against Indian security forces.

Kashmir unrest: Three months after Burhan Wani’s death, protests in Valley far from over

In the three months since militant commander Burhan Wani was killed on 8 July, the youth uprising in Kashmir has been temporarily suppressed, but it would be a great mistake to consider it over. Indeed, the youth uprising is now only one dimension of the developing situation in and around Kashmir. India-Pakistan tension has flared, particularly over the past three weeks, and the Kashmir issue is back in the global spotlight.

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. CNN-News18Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. CNN-News18

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. CNN-News18

This is not just escalation. The fact is that the uprising was not taken seriously enough at the outset. It should be clear at least now that it was (and is) no more than the tip of an iceberg fit for the Titanic.

The government thought the agitation would die down if the forces showed sufficient restraint, and the home minister did enough sweet-talking. But it was already clear in July that the home ministry had failed miserably, and that the defence ministry ought to be gearing up. Sadly, it took several weeks for that to sink in with the powers that be.

Even eight weeks after Burhan was killed, the plethora of agencies that are meant to advise the government on such matters evidently thought that the agitation would be diffused if a parliamentary delegation were to hold talks with Hurriyat Conference ‘leaders.’ Those unintelligent ‘intelligence’ walas yet to figured out that this was not a repeat of 2010. One hopes those `intelligence’ clowns have figured at least that much by now.

Even when talks might have diffused matters – long before Burhan was killed – talking to the Hurriyat was already pointless: not just boys Burhan’s age (22 when he died) but teenagers and boys in their pre-teens were, and remain, at the forefront. They have been increasingly taken the lead more decisively since 2008 – more decisively since Burhan became their icon last year.

Young Rafqat Sonwaire, a political and social activist of the rural Sumbal area north of Srinagar, makes a pertinent point about the country’s political leadership: “They keep trying to talk to the secessionist leaders. They should go out into the field and talk to the youth.”

Fanning the flames

Of course, it is true that that very real youth anger has been smartly channeled, coordinated and sponsored – but not necessarily by Hurriyat activists. Activists of just about every political party other than Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference fanned the flames in various places, at least for the first couple of months. And activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami have been very active – although, as with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (which declared itself Jamaat’s askari baazu or sword-arm) in the 1990s, the Jamaat’s Amir and Shoura council may not formally be behind it.

Three months into the mayhem that Burhan’s killing sparked, one hopes the powers that be have begun to comprehend that the unrest is not over. In fact, it may get far worse. Rafqat Sonwaire pointed out that, while returning home from Srinagar on Thursday evening, he found that mobs of boys had stoned cars on his route, although stone-pelting had been much reduced over the past few days.

One more youth died of pellet injuries in Srinagar on Friday, leading to more protest.

A harvest dip

No doubt one major reason for the temporary dip in ‘stone-pelting’ is the arrest and detention of thousands of boys across Kashmir over the past few weeks. But, another important reason is that all the very many rural families that own small or big orchards are busy harvesting apples and the saffron crop (around Pampore). This year’s walnut and almond crops have already been picked.

It is only when all the crops are in by the middle of this month will we know how much impact the arrests and detentions have actually had. According to the grapevine, the fruit industry got the separatist leadership to allow them to get their crops down and send to markets across the country by 12 October.

If that grapevine is credible, the ‘calendar’ through which the separatists dictate the nature and venues of protests will become much tougher after Wednesday.

Gas bags of hope

The hope-filled ‘analyses’ of the powers-that-be that things will simmer down once the state government moves to Jammu, and the cold sets in, could prove as ill-founded as their earlier series of hope spurred ‘analyses’ – that things would die down by the end of July, or by around Independence Day, or by around Eid-ul-Zuha (13 September in Kashmir), or once the UNGA session ended, … They have had several hope attacks in these three months!

In fact, oblivious to all that hope, the focus has expanded to the international arena, much more so since the lethal attack on an army brigade at Uri on 18 September.

The fact that security camps and police stations were attacked right across the Valley on 9 July, within hours after Burhan was killed, should have indicated that there was a pattern, and a certain level of coordination, behind the apparent mayhem. Further evidence has piled up since infiltration of trained militants from across the Line of Control has increased, grenades and guns have occasionally been used, and weapons are still being snatched from security personnel – as they have been over the past few years by new local recruits to the militant ranks.

Three months after Burhan was killed, the portents are not good. Not good at all.

Pakistan Parliament passes resolution, says Kashmir is not an integral part of India

Islamabad: Pakistan Parliament on Friday unanimously passed a resolution rejecting India’s assertion that Kashmir is an integral part even as it called for a result-oriented dialogue with New Delhi for resolution of all outstanding issues including Kashmir.

File image of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

File image of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

The joint session of the Pakistan Parliament, which has been discussing the current tension with India since Wednesday, unanimously passed the resolution, urging the international community to carry out an independent investigation into “gross human rights violations” in Kashmir.

The resolution moved by Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called upon the world community to play its role in stopping “Indian brutalities” in Kashmir. The resolution also expressed concerns over the detention of Hurriyat leaders and human rights activists and urged the Indian government to release them.

“It strongly deplored the draconian laws which have created an environment of impunity” for Indian forces, Radio Pakistan reported. The resolution rejected India’s assertion that Kashmir is an integral part of India, recalling that it is a “disputed
territory” on the agenda of the United Nations.

It urged the Indian government to immediately stop “terrorising” the people and fulfill its commitment regarding international and humanitarian laws. The resolution condemned the repeated “ceasefire violations” by India. It also reiterated Pakistan’s desire for a “result-oriented dialogue” with India for resolution of all outstanding disputes including that of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the start of the session on Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had hit back at his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying poverty cannot be eradicated by “driving tanks on farmlands”. He had also needled India again by calling Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani the “valiant son of Kashmir”.

Kashmir unrest: Upset over shutdown, distressed people in valley protest against Geelani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Distressed by continuous shutdown in the valley against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, scores of Kashmiris held a protest march against separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar on Thursday.With Kashmir entering its 90th day of shutdown, the locals in Srinagar have been finding it difficult to feed their children as they are unable to earn due to the strike. “Due to the shutdown since the last three months, our livelihood has been getting adversely affected. We are unable to pay the school fees of our children,” one of the locals said.The locals also criticised the Hurriyat leaders for not showing sympathy towards them and their family members.Internet services are still suspended except for mobile-phone services in several parts of the restive valley.Local shops and schools have been closed and public transport has been severely affected due to the shutdown.The police and paramilitary forces have been put on a high alert across the valley following the Uri and Baramulla attacks.Wani (22) was killed by the Indian security forces in an encounter in the Anantnag district. His killing has triggered massive protests in Kashmir.More than 83 persons, including two cops, have been killed and thousands others injured in clashes between the protestors and security forces since the unrest began.

Nawaz Sharif’s comments on Burhan Wani shows Pakistan’s attachment to terrorism: India

Nawaz Sharif’s comments on Burhan Wani shows Pakistan’s attachment to terrorism: India

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New Delhi: India on Wednesday said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s comments describing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani, whose encounter killing by security forces triggered the current unrest in the Valley, as “son of the Kashmiri soil” shows that country’s attachment to terrorism.

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

“The speech by Sharif at the joint session of Parliament shows Pakistan’s continued attachment to terrorism,” senior government sources said. Their remarks came after Sharif, while addressing a joint session of Parliament convened to discuss the security situation in the wake of increasing Indo-Pak tensions, accused India of running away from dialogue and instead creating a war-like environment by blaming Pakistan for the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.

Sharif expressed support for Kashmiris and said the issue should be resolved according to the wishes of people of Kashmir and the UN resolutions. “The Kashmiri youth have taken it upon themselves to carry on the movement of freedom against Indian aggression and atrocities…The death of Burhan Wani, son of the Kashmiri soil, had reminded India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination,” Sharif said.

Women are safest in Kashmir: Mehbooba hits back at Kapil Mishra’s ‘Burhan Wani’ taunt at tourism event

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The was a furore at the launch function of Bharat International Travel Bazaar (BITB) held at Pragati Maidan in Delhi which was attended by Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra and Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, among others. During his speech at the event Mishra attacked Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and it’s leadership by saying that the state doesn’t accept Burhan Wani as a terrorist and expects tourism to increase. “It can’t be that you don’t accept Burhan Wani as a terrorist and then expect tourism to increase. Terrorism and tourism can’t go together. Mahesh Sharma said Kashmir is our pride, but terrorists are treated as tourists there,” he said.”We can fight Pakistan, but how do we fight with people who give shelter to terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added. The AAP minister underlined that it is “painful” to see that “terrorists are being treated as tourists in Kashmir.” However, Mufti hit back at the AAP leader by saying that J&K can offer safety, which Delhi cannot. “When you take any place in the world, including Delhi, women are safest in Kashmir. There is no fear of getting raped in a car,” she said.She appealed to tourists to trust her by saying, “Biggest confidence building measure is if you visit our state, it shows that you trust us.” Asking people to invest in Kashmir’s peace, she said, “Haalat to aapne isse bhi kharaab dekhe hai; lekin aaiye aur Kashmir ki shaanti mei invest kijiye.” “We need you,” she declared, “I don’t know if you need Kashmir or not, but Kashmir needs you,” as she invited investors to Kashmir.However, she broke down earlier during the event when she heard her father and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s voice in a video clip on Kashmir tourism. Mufti in the month of July had said that she would have given Burhan Wani “a chance had she known he was trapped in the encounter.” Burhan Wani was killed by the security forces on July 8 following which there was a huge unrest in the state. With agency inputs

Ruckus at tourism event after AAP’s Kapil Mishra taunts Mehbooba Mufti on terrorism

Aam Aadmi Party minister Kapil Mishra managed to make Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti cry after he asked her if she considered Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and Afzal Guru as terrorists or not, during his speech at the Bharat International Tourism Bazaar function in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Terrorism and tourism cannot go together, he said, inviting protests from Mufit’s entourage. He referred to the CM while saying, “We can fight Pakistan but how do we fight with people who give shelter to terrorists in Kashmir.”

Attacking Mehbooba, Mishra said Pakistani flags were being hoisted in kashmir and nobody was stopping it.

Chaos ensued soon after his statements.

He told Mufti that she cannot expect tourism to boost while not accepting Wani as a terrorist. After the uproar and protests, Mishra had to leave the venue. However, before making an exit, he said that he does not want to share the stage with Mufti.

Mishra’s sharp statements and accusations brought Mufti to tears. She said that she was in two minds about attending the event because “things are not good back home.”

While promoting tourism in the state, the chief minister raised the issue of safety of girls which is the primary concern for a lot of tourists. She said that girls are safer in Kashmir than any other place in the world. “There is no fear of getting raped in a car in Kashmir and the safety of women is the biggest thing that the state can offer,” she added.

She appealed to the people saying, “We need you. I don’t know if you need Kashmir or not but Kashmir needs you.” She considers tourism to be the biggest confidence building measure. By investing in tourism, people are investing in peace and in the emotions of the Kashmir people, according to Mufti. This is significant because it can accelerate the process of restoring normalcy in the state.

She referred to her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed while saying that he was a lover of nature and Kashmir was his life. He went around asking people to come to the state and the number of tourists was huge this before the unrest started. However, it has died down and normalcy is returning, she said. Mufti then appealed to the people again to visit Kashmir and help it.

With inputs from agencies.

Modi govt won’t allow anyone to dent India’s honour, says Rajnath Singh in Ladakh

Kargil: Amidst the ongoing hostilities with Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the Modi government will not allow anyone to dent India’s honour and every citizen has faith in the country’s armed forces. Singh, who is on a two-day trip to Ladakh, dismissed queries about doubts being raised by some quarters on the surgical strike carried out by the Army on the terror launch pads in PoK.

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“I have not read any such statement. Desh ke bache, bache ko sena par bharosa hain aur garv hain, aur rahega (The entire nation has faith in our armed forces and are proud of them and it will remain so),” he told reporters. “Our government will not allow anyone to dent the country’s honour and prestige at any cost. We will ensure that the country’s head is always held high,” he said.

Asked about the demand for Union Territory status for Ladakh, the Home Minister said he has listened to the people of Kashmir, Jammu as well as Ladakh but a decision will be taken only on the basis of consensus. “We always try that any decision is taken only on the basis of consensus,” he said.

BJP’s ally PDP on Tuesday expelled its Leh district chief Tashi Gyalson from its basic membership for signing a memorandum submitted to Singh demanding Union Territory status for Ladakh, saying under no circumstances will it endorse any move aimed at dividing the state.

The head of PDP’s Disciplinary Committee Abdul Rehman Veeri expelled Gyalson for violating the party’s whip, a party spokesman said in a statement. The Union Minister said during his trip to Ladakh since Monday, 21 delegations of political parties, religious groups and civil society members have met him and placed before him various demands.

“We will try to resolve their problems as much as possible. If there are issues concerning other Ministries (of central government), we will write to them or tell the concerned Ministers,” he said. The Home Minister said he paid homage to the martyrs at the war memorial at Drass.

This is Singh’s fourth visit to Jammu and Kashmir ever since the unrest began in the state following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on 8 July. Singh had led an all-party delegation to Srinagar and Jammu on 4-5 September.

The leaders of various political parties met over 400 people who came in 50 different delegations representing various sections of society in Srinagar and Jammu. Earlier, the Home Minister had visited Srinagar on 24-25 August and 23-24 July . Singh was accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officials.

India, Pakistan NSAs talk to diffuse tensions between two countries along LoC: Sartaj Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an attempt to diffuse the escalated tensions between two nations along the Line of Control (LoC) after India’s surgical strike, National Security Advisors (NSA) of India and Pakistan have reportedly had talks, even though Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned that Islamabad was also capable of executing surgical strikes.According to The News International, Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan’s Nasser Janjua and India’s Ajit Doval spoke to diffuse tensions between the two countries. “Both officials stressed on the need to establish contact to reduce tensions along the Line of Control,” Aziz told the portal.However, Aziz also claimed that India was escalating tensions with Pakistan at the Line of Control to deflect the attention of the world from Kashmir. Aziz said that Pakistan wanted to bring down tensions at the Line of Control so that the focus could be on the issue of occupied Kashmir.Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called a special Cabinet meeting last week to discuss the latest tension with India and the situation on the LoC, a day after Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.In a first, India carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, with the Army saying it inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Uri attack would not go unpunished.India and Pakistan are witnessing growing bitterness after Pakistan and its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made provocative statements on the Kashmir situation in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8.Recently, raking up Kashmir at the UN, Sharif had glorified slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a “young leader” even as he expressed readiness for a “serious and sustained ‘dialogue’ with India for peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, especially Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir: Night raids by security forces send Valley’s youth into hiding

Srinagar: By day, the Kashmir Valley is in the grip of an uneasy calm. But at night, raids by security forces looking for youths supporting the militant cause are causing widespread fear.

Even as the valley remains shut for the 86th day, a semblance of normality has returned, barring some parts of south Kashmir, the epicentre of a seemingly unending unrest.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

More people and vehicles are seen during the day and no major incident of violence has been reported from south Kashmir for over a week.

The outward calm, however, seems to melt away after sunset.

Residents here and in south Kashmir say that night-time raids by security forces have forced scores of youths to go into hiding.

The night raids are being conducted jointly by the police and paramilitary forces, almost daily, in the south, central and north Kashmir areas.

“Night-time raids do not take place in Kashmir alone. They take place across the country when police has to catch any criminal,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Nitish Kumar told IANS over telephone, adding: “We raid in the morning, afternoon, evening and similarly during night.”

The forces are looking for youths involved in stone-throwing and other street protests since anti-India protests gripped the valley after the July 8 killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

Police have reportedly arrested thousands from different parts of Kashmir, but no official figures were available.

Residents in south Kashmir’s Achabal area said police personnel in civilian dress come to the town at night and enter houses. A resident said they are very rough with anyone who opposes them.

Kumar denied charges of police brutality. “The Jammu and Kashmir Police is a professional force. Such allegations are baseless.”

Reports of the night-time raids have also come from Kupwara, Sopore, Budgam, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Srinagar.

A resident of Kulgam town told IANS that security forces raided his house looking for his son.

“My son was not at home. They roughed me up and tried to arrest me but the strong resistance put up by neighbours forced the police to retreat. I received four stitches on my foot,” he said, asking not to be named.

The fear of arrest has forced many youths of the town to spend nights away from their homes.

Another resident said when security forces come for raids announcements are made over loudspeakers asking people to defend themselves.

Mohammad Abbas, President of the Anantnag Bar Association, said most of those caught have been charged with arson, rioting, instigating riots, conspiracy and attempt to murder. A few have been accused of anti-national activities.

Night-time raids, he said, “are unlawful and unfortunate”.

Most arrests have taken place in south Kashmir (Anantnag, Pulwama, Awantipora, Kulgam and Shopian) followed by north Kashmir (Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Sopore, Handwara) and central Kashmir (Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal).

Official sources said that over 3,500 youths had been arrested in south Kashmir, about 1,500 in north Kashmir and around 1,000 in central Kashmir in recent weeks.

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.

Curfew imposed in Koimoh town in south Kashmir after separatists call for a march

Srinagar: Curfew was imposed in Koimoh town of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Wednesday in view of the separatists call for a march, while restrictions on the assembly of people continued in the rest of the Valley.

A police official said the curbs in the town were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in the wake of the separatists call for a march to the area.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The separatists, who are spearheading the current agitation in Kashmir, have asked people to march to various tehsil headquarters, including Koimoh, on Wednesday.

The official said while there was no curfew in any other areas in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under section 144 CrPc were in place in the rest of the Valley.

Meanwhile, normal life continued to remain affected in the Valley for the 82nd straight day today due to the separatist call for shut down but there was increased movement of private vehicles in the city, indicating mass fatigue among the populace due to the prolonged unrest.

Shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments remained closed. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also remained closed across the Valley.

As many as 82 persons, including two cops, have been killed and thousands of others injured in the ongoing unrest that started after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on 8 July.

Kashmir unrest: Mass arrests of youth will cost India as much as ignoring their rage did last year

A country that ignores the rage of a very important section of its youth should expect an insurrection. A country whose security managers are oblivious to a dangerous external threat is in for a battering. A country whose rulers mess up on social, political and military fronts all at once condemns itself to a bleak future.

Such a future looms before India. The most tragic aspect of this situation is that at least the youth rage in Kashmir could have been handled before it became a full-blown uprising. When it did, it was not handled. The harsh suppression now underway will build up tinder for more trouble.

Over the past two years, our rulers ignored the rage among Kashmiri youth, as it built to fever pitch. Indeed, the state apparatus presided over the coalescence of that rage like an emperor fiddling while his citadel burnt. Since it happened at a time when an extremely serious external threat was building, one might even compare it with Muhammad Shah carousing while a Nadir Shah approached.

It was obvious over the past year that youth rage had coalesced visibly, particularly in south Kashmir. Some of the proximate causes: no flood rescue or relief, beef vigilantism, perceived threats to identity, the perception of a national anti-Muslim bias, and disgust at the PDP’s coalition with, and perceived humiliation by, the BJP.

The PDP, which won a number of assembly seats in 2014, is based largely in south Kashmir. But even after youth rage began to visibly boil in Pulwama, Kulgam and other parts of south Kashmir last autumn, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to snub former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed at a public meeting in Srinagar — and then starve the state of promised funds.

So oblivious did the state apparatus remain even by this summer that it had no idea that rage would explode forcefully over the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. Either the powers-that-be were taken totally by surprise, or some of them calculated that letting it explode would help them consolidate an anti-Muslim ‘nationalist’ vote elsewhere in the country. If indeed that sort of cynical calculation was at play, it is unforgivable.

Kashmiri youths protest against the killing of civilians, at Barzulla in Srinagar last week. PTI

Kashmiri youths protest against the killing of civilians, at Barzulla in Srinagar last week. PTI

The state apparatus gave the explosion of youth rage space for several weeks after Burhan’s death. Leave alone the police, even army convoys turned away from stone-pelting mobs in some places. That was a sensible tactic for the first few days, especially in light of the unpreparedness and miscalculations that resulted in a huge toll of deaths and eye injuries in the very first couple of days after Burhan’s death. But thereafter, restraint became increasingly costly.

For, three trends unfolded simultaneously: one, agents provocateurs took increasing control of teenaged mobs. Some of them were from political parties and organisations. Many of them disbursed money. Two, narratives about what was happening became polarised, uni-dimensional and provocative. Three, more and more common people became restive, eager for ‘normalcy.’

For two months, the state apparatus failed to handle the first two, or build upon the third. Political workers were largely invisible, particularly in the crucial first month. Over the past couple of weeks, the state apparatus has swung to the other extreme, opting for ham-fisted suppression.

Thousands of boys have been picked up. The state’s draconian Public Safety Act has been liberally applied. Adolescents have been locked up and brutalised. There is talk of desperate parents paying large sums to get them released. This may well succeed in imposing surface calm. But in terms of easing youth rage, it is even worse than ignoring it cynically over the past year and more. It will initiate a fresh cycle of fury, alienation and revolt.

In fact, the youth rage before which the state has been so helpless for two months has been building since the state employed exactly the same sort of repressive tactics in the wake of the stone-pelting uprising of 2010. Then, the issues were specific: the killing of innocents by counterinsurgency forces. The names of Wamiq Farooq, Tufail Mattoo and Machil reverberated through that summer and beyond.

The suppression that followed over the next year shaped a new wave of local militants — boys like Burhan Wani, who went underground aged 15 in October 2010 after he was brutalised by policemen of the Special Task Force.

The country’s top security managers refused to take this new militancy, and the youth rage that fed it, seriously until last year, when public anger over militant attacks against security forces became politically costly. Then, they ordered the armed forces to kill militants.

That they allowed the rage to build until then makes one wonder whether they glimpsed political benefit in framing developments in Kashmir as Muslims at war with India.

Either way, the state has damaged the nation both in the lead-up to Burhan’s killing as well as in the weeks since. One has a sinking feeling about just how high a price the country will yet pay for its rulers’ mistakes.

Stone pelters in Kashmir target civilians; woman dead, 2 injured

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A woman was left dead and two persons were injured on Tuesday as stone pelters targeted vehicles which ventured out defying the diktat of separatists.Two sisters, Fozia (20) and Nadia (18), were hit by an SUV (sports utility vehicle) that was reversing after it came under stone pelting near Rogan Gali at Parimpora area here, a police spokesperson said. “The two were critically injured in the incident. Both were shifted to hospital where the elder sister succumbed to injuries,” he said.The stone pelters apparently targeted the SUV as they thought it was an official vehicle. The spokesperson said a case has been registered and investigation initiated into the incident. Meanwhile, one person was injured when stone pelters attacked him as he was riding a scooty near Aalie Masjid in Safa Kadal area.”Furqan Hamid suffered an injury in his head and has been shifted to SKIMS Soura for treatment. His condition is stable,” the spokesperson added.Kashmir has been hit by unrest since the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani, with separatists calling for bandh and asking people to stay indoors except for few hours of relaxation in the evening.

Curfew-free Kashmir for second consecutive day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew-free for the second consecutive day, Kashmir was by and large peaceful on Monday but normal life remained affected due to the shutdown call of the separatists.”The situation remained normal and peaceful throughout the valley where greater movement of vehicular traffic was observed during the day,” police spokesman said. He said 55 people, wanted in various offences of creating disruptions in normalcy, were arrested during past 24 hours from various parts of the Valley.There was no curfew anywhere in Kashmir even as restrictions on the assembly of people were in place in many parts of the Valley as a precautionary measure. He said the decision to not clamp curfew was taken in view of the improving situation.However, normal life continued to remain affected due to the shutdown call of the separatists who are spearheading the agitation since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed on July 8. Markets had come to life yesterday afternoon in the wake of relaxation announced by separatists.Shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments remained closed today due to the separatist call for shut down, while public transport remained off the roads for the 80th straight day. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also remained closed across the Valley.

No curfew in Kashmir for second day; normal life continues to remain affected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kashmir continued to remain curfew-free for the second consecutive day on Monday after the curbs on the movement of people were lifted from the entire Valley on Sunday following improvement in the situation. However, restrictions on the assembly of people were in force in most areas.There is no curfew anywhere in Kashmir today as well, but restrictions on the assembly of people were in place in many parts of the Valley as a precautionary measure, a police official said here.He said the decision to not clamp curfew was taken in view of the improving situation.However, normal life continued to remain affected in Kashmir, where the markets came to life in the afternoon yesterday in the wake of relaxation, from 2 PM, announced by separatists.Shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments remained closed today due to the separatist call for shut down, while public transport remained off the roads for the 80th straight day.Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also remained closed across the Valley.The separatist groups are spearheading the ongoing unrest in Kashmir against the civilian killings in security forces action during violent clashes that broke out in the Valley a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8.They have been announcing weekly protest programmes with periodic relaxation on some days. However, there is no relaxation today.As many as 82 persons, including two cops, have been killed and thousands of others injured in the ongoing unrest.

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.

Pakistan accuses Narendra Modi of ‘well thought out vilification campaign’

Islamabad: Pakistan on Sunday rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s assertion that it was exporting terror, saying the remarks were part of a “well thought out vilification campaign” to distract attention from Kashmir.

Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement, said Prime Minister Modi in a public meeting in Kerala “tried to malign Pakistan”.

“It is unfortunate that Indian leadership continues to indulge in a well thought out vilification campaign against Pakistan by making provocative statements and baseless accusations. Such irresponsible display of behaviour at the highest political level is regrettable,” the Foreign Office said.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIFile image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

“It is evident that, as an act of desperation, India is trying to distract world attention from the atrocities perpetrated” by its forces in Kashmir against “innocent and defenseless” Kashmiris, including children and women, the statement said.

The “atrocities” in Kashmir intensified since the “extra-judicial killing of Kashmiri youth leader” Burhan Muzaffar Wani in July this year, it said of the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander.

Pakistan’s reaction came after Prime Minister Modi launched a blistering attack on it yesterday in his first public address after last Sunday’s deadly Uri terror attack.

Modi said the sacrifice of 18 soldiers will not go in vain while all out efforts will be made to isolate Pakistan globally.

“Terrorists should hear out clearly that India will never forget the Uri attack…I want to tell the leadership of Pakistan that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain,” Modi told a public meeting on the Kozhikode beach held on the sidelines of the BJP national council meet.

He said while countries in Asia are working to make the 21st century Asia’s, Pakistan is engaged in a conspiracy of causing bloodshed across the continent by sponsoring terrorism and killing innocents.

The Pakistan Foreign Office statement alleged, “In the last seventy-five days, Indian occupation forces have brutally martyred more than 100 Kashmiris, blinded hundreds and injured thousands.”

The Foreign Office claimed that the international community has taken notice of these “blatant human rights violations” with concerns expressed by several countries as well as UN and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

It also accused India of continuing to sponsor terrorism in Pakistan through state apparatus.

“The arrest and confession statements of a serving Indian Navy officer and intelligence operative, Kulbhushan Jadhav, reveal beyond a shadow of doubt as to how India fuels terrorist activities in various parts of Pakistan, including Balochistan and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas),” the statement said.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew lifted from all parts with restrictions on assembly

Kashmir unrest: Curfew lifted from all parts with restrictions on assembly

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Srinagar: Curfew was lifted from all parts of Kashmir on Sunday but restrictions on assembly of people remained in force in most areas as a precautionary measure.

“The entire Kashmir Valley is curfew-free today but restrictions are in place in many parts as a precautionary measure,” a police official said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

He said the curfew was lifted following improvement in the situation on Saturday.

There were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Valley on Sunday.

Shops and other business establishments remained closed due to separatist call for shut down for the 79th straight day while public transport remained off the roads.

However, markets are expected to open at 2 pm as the separatist groups have announced a 16-hour relaxation in the shutdown till 6 am on Monday.

As many as 82 persons 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 8 July.

Curfew, restrictions in Kashmir ahead of Friday prayers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew was imposed in parts of Srinagar in view of apprehensions of law and order problems after Friday congregational prayers. “Curfew has been imposed in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) and Batamaloo and Maisuma areas in the uptown,” a police official said, adding restrictions on assembly of people would remain in force in the rest of the Valley.He said curbs on the movement of people were imposed as there were apprehensions of law and order problems after the Friday prayers.Normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 77th straight 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 29 but have announced periods of relaxation in the strike on some days, unlike the previous week s protest programme where there was no relaxation.They have called for marches to various tehsil headquarters across the Valley today. Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley, while public transport was off the roads. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut.Mobile internet services also remained suspended, while the outgoing calls on prepaid numbers continued to remain barred 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.

Nawaz Sharif’s glorification of Burhan Wani at UNGA is an act of self-incrimination: MJ Akbar

New York: Strongly reacting to Pakistan Prime Minister’s remarks at the UN, India on Thursday described them as non-factual and full of “threat bluster” and said glorification of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani by him at the world forum is an act of “self-incrimination” by Pakistan.

File image of MJ Akbar. AFP

File image of MJ Akbar. AFP

“We just heard a speech full of threat bluster and rising immaturity and complete disregard of facts,” Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said at a press conference at the India’s permanent mission after Sharif’s address to the UN General Assembly.

He also criticised Sharif for glorifying Wani, who was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July, and said India “will not succumb to blackmail tactics of the Pakistan Government that seems eager to use terrorism as policy”.

“We heard the glorification of a terrorist. Wani is declared commander of Hizbul, widely acknowledged as a terror group. It is shocking that a leader of a nation can glorify a self-advertised terrorist at such a forum. This is self incrimination by Pakistan PM,” Akbar said.

Rejecting Sharif’s offer to India to enter into a serious and sustained dialogue for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, the minister said, “Talks and guns don’t go together”.

“Pakistan at this moment seems to be run by a war machine rather than a government. Pakistan wants dialogue while holding a terrorist gun in its hand,” he said. He also rejected Sharif’s allegations against India with regard to the current unrest in Kashmir and said, “Kashmir occupation is by Pakistan occupation army. The world also knows that Pakistan has been indulged in ethnic cleansing of its own people,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir HC rejects plea to ban pellet guns, adduces unruly mobs

Srinagar: Rejecting a plea seeking ban on use of pellet guns in controlling street protests in Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has cited the ground situation and observed that as long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A bench comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also declined the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns or fired them even as it directed the authorities to provide adequate medical treatment to the injured by specialists in or outside the state.

“Having regard to the ground situation prevailing as of now and the fact that Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs has already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated 26 July, 2016 for exploring other alternative to pellet guns….”

“Before filing of the report by the Expert Committee and a decision taken at the government level, we are not inclined to prohibit the use of pellet guns in rare and extreme situations,” the court said in its order in Srinagar on Wednesday.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking ban on use of pellet guns for crowd control.

The court said “it is manifest that so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable”.

What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time or in a given situation or place, has to be decided by the persons in-charge of the place where the attack is happening, it said.

“This court in the writ jurisdiction without any finding rendered by the competent forum/ authority cannot decide as to whether the use of force in particular incident is excessive or not,” the court said.

The bench also declined the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.

“Same cannot be considered in this petition as no findings on use of excessive force, violating the guidelines issued in SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), have been recorded by any fact-finding authority,” it said.

Hence the persons alleging use of excessive force due to which death or injury has occurred, can very well approach the appropriate forum to establish the same and seek redressal, the bench ruled.

However, the court said the pendency of the PIL with regard to other prayers will not be a bar for the state government for paying compensation to deserving family members of the deceased or injured persons.

The court directed the concerned authorities to ensure that all the injured are extended adequate medical treatment for whatever injury they sustain and provide all possible required medical treatment to the injured by specialists.

If specialists are not available in the state, appropriate arrangement has to be made to treat the patients by inviting specialists in the state or to shift the patients to hospitals outside the state wherever specialists are available, the court said.

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