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As Kashmir violence threatens to start anew, new state DGP SP Vaid has his task cut out

Jammu: With local miltancy gaining ground in the Kashmir Valley, SP Vaid, a highly decorated police officer who helped tackle the recent unrest in the region, was appointed the new director general of police of Jammu and Kashmir.

He will take over from K Rajendra Kumar, whose extended tenure comes to an end on 31 December.

Stone pelting in Kashmir Valley. ReutersStone pelting in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

The Kashmir Valley witnessed violent clashes . Reuters

The task for 57-year-old Vaid, who is the current special director general (law and order), is cut out as the local youths are again taking up arms, especially after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, whose killing by the security forces triggered the latest round of turmoil in Kashmir.

A 1986 batch IPS officer, Vaid will hold office till October 2019. “My focus will be to keep the flag of the police force flying high in the state,” he told PTI after his appointment.

He said that while the police will be tough against the perpetrators of violence and terrorists, “I will ensure that no common man is harassed. My idea is to make the police more and more people friendly,” he said.

Vaid is the second officer from Jammu to have risen to the post of director general of police, after MM Khajuria, who held the postion in 1985. However, he is the first regular IPS recruit to become the DGP from Jammu, as Khajuria had been absorbed in the IPS from the state cadre.

The state, according to intelligence reports, has more than 200 local and foreign militants with infiltration and local recruitment crossing all pervious records. The prolonged unrest following Wani’s killing also had a bearing on anti-militancy operations.

In the aftermath of Wani’s killing, law and order situation had spiralled out of control and the state government, while taking a serious note of it, shifted him from the position of DG (prisons) and made him Special DG (law and order). After taking over the charge, he camped in Kashmir and initiated various measures to make optimum use of the force so as to check rising casualties of both civilians and security forces through police-public interaction programmes in almost all districts of the Valley.

Vaid was seriously injured when militants ambushed his vehicle in March 1999 near Sopore crossing on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. He was the then range DIG of Baramulla-Kupwara in North Kashmir.

During his career, Vaid has received several medals including President’s Police Medal for distinguished service, Indian Police Medal for gallantry, Police Medal for meritorious service, Indian Army Chief’s citation and Antrik Suraksha Seva Padak by the Home Ministry.

Rajendra, a 1984 batch IPS officer, was granted an extension for three months in September this year.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 21:53 IST

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

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

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

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

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

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

He said further details of the incident were awaited.

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

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

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

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

He said the army personnel retaliated, triggering a gunbattle.

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

Dar had recently joined Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.

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

He said further details of the incident were awaited.

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

Exgratia for Burhan Wani’s kin announced, authorities seek objections within seven days

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has cleared an ex-gratia to next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, while giving one week’s time for filing of any objection before formal orders are issued.

Burhan Wani’s killing by security forces in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area on 8 July this year triggered unrest in the Valley, which has left as many as 86 people dead.

According to a notification issued yesterday by Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, ex-gratia relief under rules has been 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.

Funeral of Burhan Wani. ReutersFuneral of Burhan Wani. Reuters

Funeral of Burhan Wani. Reuters

Among the 17 names in the list of persons killed in militancy-related incidents is Wani’s brother, Khalid Muzaffar Wani, who died in firing by security forces in Buchoo forest area of Tral on 13 April last year.

The DLSCC meeting took place under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Muneer-ul-Islam, on 24 November. The deputy commissioner has sought objections, if any, to the notice within seven days before the formal orders are issued.

Under the rules, an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh is sanctioned in such cases.

Army had said that Khalid was an over-ground worker of Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in an encounter. However, locals claimed that he had no links with militancy.

Khalid (25) was pursuing Masters Degree in Political Science from the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

Also on the list is Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, a contractual lecturer who died when he was allegedly beaten up by the army personnel at Khrew in Pulwama on August 17 this year.

Locals had claimed that army conducted house to house searches for the youths, who were leading violent protests in the area, which was resisted by the residents of Khrew.

In the ensuing clash, 30-year-old Mangoo died.

Army had ordered an inquiry into the incident, saying such incidents would not be tolerated.

“These raids were not sanctioned in the first place. It is unjustified. Nobody can support it and it will not be tolerated,” the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda had said.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 15:19 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

Nagrota, Uri attacks: LeT, JeM and Afzal Guru Squad’s free run in Pakistan should worry Delhi

Now that it looks like the fidayeen attack on 16 Corps at Nagrota in Jammu was carried out by the Afzal Guru Squad (AGS) of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, it is obvious that both the Jaish and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are almost competing to inflict cuts on India’s self-esteem and pride. If the terror attack at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district in July 2015 was the handiwork of the Lashkar, Jaish hit in Pathankot in January this year. Uri in September was a Lashkar operation and now Nagrota carries the Jaish stamp, with a note written in Urdu bearing the ‘AGS’ name.

There is little to distinguish between the two terror groups that are said to be at the beck and call of the Pakistan Army establishment and the ISI. The AGS, a force of about 300 well-trained hardcore terrorists, is meant to carry out spectacular high-profile attacks. The Lashkar also carries out suicide attacks but this outfit is comparatively discreet and less flashy.

The Jaish carried out the Parliament attack in 2001, in which Afzal Guru was named as a conspirator. That is why it chose the nomenclature of AGS, that was formed after the hanging of Afzal Guru in February 2013, to embarrass India.

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTIArmy personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

Army personnel take position during encounter after militants attacked an Army camp in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday morning. PTI

But while the Jaish, through the AGS, always leaves behind its imprint to claim credit, the Lashkar seldom does so. The Lashkar often even removes markings on their clothes which can be traced to Pakistan. Only if they are carrying medicines on them, those may carry a ‘Manufactured in Pakistan’ sign. It is then left to the Indian sleuths to decipher the identity of the fidayeens through seized communication sets.

The mobile phones used by Lashkar operatives have ‘Skipe’, which is an in-house Lashkar communication system developed four years ago. Another voice tool used is ‘Vibar’. Both are similar to the original apps — no originality is shown in designing new names — but the Lashkar has improvised it with a coded matrix sheet. Most of the code language is Urdu, with a few English words thrown in. Each matrix sheet is valid only for a couple of weeks, overlapping terror strikes and is extremely tough to decode.

Security experts point out that on a few occasions the Lashkar has even let Hizbul Mujahideen take credit for a strike, carried out by the LeT. These are non-fidayeen attacks since Hizbul is not known to undertake suicide attacks. This serves the Pakistani purpose of projecting as if it is an indigenous resistance to the Indian state. It makes the Hizbul look better and, on the face of it, gives the so-called movement for azaadi of Kashmir some moral legitimacy.

Lashkar, founded by dreaded terrorist Hafiz Saeed in 1987, is a bigger outfit than the Jaish with a far greater reach. Jaish was founded around 2000 by Masood Azhar, who was freed by India in return for the Kandahar hijack hostages. Both groups co-exist and apparently enjoy a free run inside Pakistan. This anecdote recounted by an asset of the Indian intelligence establishment, who had gotten close to the top commanders of the Lashkar, gives a peep into the free run the terror operatives enjoy inside Pakistan.

“He would be taken around in SUVs along with gun-toting Lashkar operatives. Whenever the vehicle would be stopped by the police at a security barricade, all they had to do was roll down the window and say ‘Lashkar se hai‘ and they would be given a green channel,” said a handler from the Indian side. The same red carpet treatment is given to Jaish operatives as well. Proof that in Pakistan, the state and the deep state co-exist in harmony, united by hate against India. Bans imposed on terror outfits are not worth the Pakistan government paper they are printed on.

The recruitment zone for Lashkar is Punjab province, given that the leadership of the outfit is dominated by people like Hafiz Saeed, who hails from the province. It targets the impoverished peasantry of Punjab, who are largely uneducated or at best, semi-literate. The Ajmal Kasab kind.

Finding young men willing to turn fidayeen is not much of a challenge, given that the Lashkar and the Jaish feed them a toxic cocktail of radicalisation, anti-India and anti-Hindu audio-visual material, with the temptation of 72 virgins in heaven thrown in. Cheaper young boys are available if picked up from the impoverished Waziristan and Sind provinces. While a Punjab recruit gets (Pakistani) Rs 5 lakh for his family after he is gone, the ones from Sind and Waziristan get only about Rs 2 lakh.

From India’s point of view, what is worrying is that over 250 terrorists of both outfits who have infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region between June and November are, according to sources, comfortably ensconced in habitations in small towns and villages. The fact that the locals do not give them up, by reporting them to the state, is a dangerous sign. As winter sets in, their presence on Indian soil is proof that New Delhi and Srinagar’s ability to effectively police many parts of the troubled state, especially south Kashmir, has been severely compromised.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 11:20 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: Shutdown resumes in Valley after two days of relaxation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After two days of relaxation by the Hurriyat Conference, the prolonged shutdown picked up where it left off in Kashmir Valley on Monday as schools, colleges and business establishments followed the protocol and streets resumed their deserted look. The police and CRPF have been deployed across all the district headquarters and in Srinagar city to foil the separatists protest call.The two-day respite from the shutdown by separatists came after private passenger vehicles plied on some routes in Srinagar after being severely hit by the four-month long strike. This was the first time that separatists announced full-day relaxation during the ongoing unrest which began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.The separatists had called on the people to use public transport to make up for the losses incurred during the last few months. “There will be full day relaxation on November 19 and 20. People are requested to exclusively use public transport on these days for the support of transport community,” said a statement.The Valley burst into life following the relaxation, as shops, commercial establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions opened in Srinagar and in other major towns and villages. Authorities had also removed deployments of security forces from all the areas of the Valley including in Srinagar’s downtown.The people in large numbers thronged the markets and there were traffic jams on all major city roads throughout the day.

Kashmir unrest: Train services partially resume in Valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After remaining suspended for over four months due to ongoing unrest in the Valley, the rail service connecting north and south parts of Kashmir resumed partially on Thursday, officials said. The full operations are expected to start within the next 10 days, they said.The rail service resumed from Budgam to Srinagar Railway stations after completion of necessary restoration work on damaged infrastructure and tracks, the officials said. They said the service was resumed along the 11.5 km axis after a trial run on Wednesday. “Two trains were scheduled to run on the route today, one in the morning and another in the evening,” they said, adding the passenger turnout was very low but is expected to pick up in the coming days.The Railway authorities are working on a plan to resume normal operations along the 120-km track between Banihal in south and Baramulla in north Kashmir within next 10 days, the officials said, adding restoration work on the damaged infrastructure and tracks are in full swing and expected to be completed shortly.
ALSO READ Kashmir unrest: Curfew lifted across the valleyNorthern railways suspended the service as a precautionary measure on July 9 following widespread protests over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir a day earlier. The unrest has left 86 persons dead and thousands others injured.The railways suffered heavy losses due to the damages and disruption in its services. “The signal boxes, junction boxes, wiring and other infrastructure have been badly damaged during the unrest,” the officials said.

5 suspected militants, policeman arrested in Jammu and Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six suspected militants, including a policeman were arrested during two separate operations on Friday by security forces in the city and Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. Acting on an intelligence input about the presence of the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, the security forces launched a search operation in Batamaloo police station area of the city, official sources said. Five suspected militants of LeT were arrested during the operation, they said, adding weapons and explosives were recovered from their possession.One of the arrested persons is a policeman hailing from Karnah area of Kupwara district. In another operation, police arrested a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen from Wampora area of Kulgam district, the sources said. Police officials, however, refused to confirm the arrests.

Instead of killing youth who have joined militancy, bring them back: Mehbooba Mufti

Srinagar: Try to bring back to their homes the “local boys” who have joined militancy instead of killing them in encounters, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged police on Friday amid unrest triggered by the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in a gun-battle with forces in July.

File image of Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File image of Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

She also appealed to the police and security forces to refrain from using weapons like pellet guns while dealing with protests and instead “tolerate” stone-pelting as a “sacrifice”.

The Chief Minister said while the police had exhibited patience during the last three months of unrest in the Valley, there were some mistakes which warrant action. She also underlined that “black laws” like Afspa would be repealed from the state only when the situation improves. “We all have to work together, heal the wounds of the people here. The children here are the responsibility of God first, then our police because it is they who see them every day, everywhere,” she said.

“Those who have taken up arms or those who have not but are missing from their homes and want to join militancy, they are local boys. I request the police to try to bring them back to their homes. Instead of their being killed in encounters,” she added.

Mehbooba, who has dealt with the unrest triggered by Wani’s killing on 8 July in a tough manner, told the police, “such youth (who have taken to the gun) need hand-holding…If it is possible to bring them back, make them a part of the mainstream. Give them bats, balls and good education, instead of guns.”

Her remarks at the Police Commemoration Day function at Armed Police Complex in Zewan on the outskirts of Srinagar came close on the heels of a fresh video surfacing which shows a group of local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit is playing weapons. Earlier, similar videos of Wani and his associates used to surface in the Valley, before he was killed in an encounter.

Urging local youth to shun violence, Mehbooba said, “When the situation improves here, we will end the black laws. For that we have to create an atmosphere first. I know that today the situation is not such, but tomorrow, a year after… we have to repeal Afspa as we cannot keep it in force forever.”

While stressing that ending militancy and restoring peace were a pre-requisite for repealing AFSPA and for seeking start of dialogue process in the state, she said, “We cannot force anyone to have dialogue on gun-point, stones or by lathis.”

She said only when there is a “conducive” atmosphere, she can go to Delhi with her “head held high”. “How can I do it today? There is infiltration, there are encounters. We have to end militancy and create peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that we can repeal Afspa from some areas here,” she said. She said the police should deal with militants but civilians should not be troubled.

Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba Mufti govt’s push for ‘normalcy’ in Valley is unwise when none exists

In Kashmir, normalcy has attained a distressing meaning. As the clock strikes five in the evening, people flock marketplaces in droves. The sight at the city centre Lal Chowk in Srinagar is remarkably confounding and soothing at the same time. Within minutes, the barren roads come alive with a mix of cheerful and anxiety-ridden faces. Traffic snarls are a common occurrence. And for a moment, it seems, all is well.

People wait for the shops to open in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Photo courtesy: Sameer Yasir

People wait for the shops to open in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Photo courtesy: Sameer Yasir

As the sun sets and the darkness of night begins to take over, the abnormal normalcy returns. With shoppers long gone, dogs take control of the roads, chasing the last of the cars exiting Kashmir’s largest marketplace.

No matter how much the state government’s propaganda machinery may try to delude itself, normalcy is far from returning to the Valley. Every day, the police tells people of the number of arrests made to bring normalcy to the Valley. The arrest spree may put a lid on the agitation but it doesn’t address the underlying anger and alienation.

Two incidents will illustrate the new low touched by the present dispensation in controlling the normalcy narrative. One was a much-publicised protest in Lal Chowk against strikes and shutdown. Then, a group of veiled women marched towards Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s residence who was kind enough to come out and meet them, notwithstanding the fact that she hasn’t been able to visit her own constituency in the last three months.

In both cases, “protesters” were carrying placards in their hands, and slogans against the strikes were written on government stationery. It doesn’t take a Pythagoras Theorem to calculate who could have been behind these protests. The agenda of alliance has been put on the back burner. Now, the ruling dispensation is fighting hard to reclaim its lost relevance.

Normalcy returns to Kashmir, not because of Mehbooba Mufti, her coterie of advisers, or because police want it to. It returns because an 87-year-old incarcerated man called Syed Ali Shah Geelani wishes so. While the government is supposedly run by the executive, it is a boy with a stone in his hands who is ruling the roost.

Kashmir has seen a remarkable phase of civilian rage since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in July. This fresh spate of violence has left 94 civilians and two security forces personnel dead, more than 14,000 injured while around 7,000 protesters have been arrested or detained to bring normalcy on the simmering streets.

The politics of normalcy-narrative has even seeped into the press statements issued by the Jammu and Kashmir police. These days, the evening press statement first describes the increasing vehicular traffic plying on the streets followed by the number of “miscreants” arrested in last 24 hours.

“The day witnessed increased vehicular and pedestrian movement across the Srinagar city and most of the towns of the Valley. A constant increase in the number of vendors on the streets of the towns was also noticed,” a police release said on Wednesday.

“Barring a couple of stray incidents of stone pelting, situation across the Valley remained largely normal. In its drive to curb the activities of the trouble mongers involved in various crimes of disrupting the public order in different parts of the Valley, police has arrested 104 such individuals during the past 24 hours,” it added.

Seven thousand Kashmiris are already behind bars. No one knows how many more people are going to be arrested for normalcy to take root. No one, except the police, knows for sure how many people have actually been put behind bars. Unofficially, the figure is more than 13,000. Never before in the history of J&K have so many people been arrested to bring back a lost normalcy.

Kashmiri villagers throw stones at Indian security personnel in support of rebels during a gunbattle in Khonshipora. AP

Kashmiri villagers throw stones at Indian security personnel in support of rebels during a gunbattle in Khonshipora. AP

Meanwhile, a verbal war is going on between the functionaries of the government and the ordinary people on the social media over the annual examinations slated to be held in coming months. While the decision hasn’t gone down well in the society, jolted by nearly four months of strikes and shutdowns, the government is adamant on its stand.

Recently, I asked a shopkeeper in Lal Chowk about how many months would he be able to survive without opening his shop. He replied that along with other shopkeepers, he would prefer to open his shop only when “something happens” on the Kashmir issue which will bring permanent peace.

When is that “something” going to happen? No one knows for sure.

For the moment, people are suffering. There is no sign of retreat. Delhi is not interested in any dialogue process. Mehbooba Mufti has realised this. It is making her the Omar Abdullah of 2010. While Abdullah learnt his lessons the hard way, his successor is following suit. These days, whenever Mehbooba speaks, she creates more problems then she resolves.

Kashmir is undergoing a grand transformation on the ground. The shutdown may ultimately die down and protests may ebb away. But any return of normalcy should not be taken as a sign of normalcy, especially since the signs of fatigue are still hard to find. Following the 8 July encounter of Wani, militancy has spiked dangerously, gun-snatching is an everyday occurrence and attacks on forces have increased too. If the question of Kashmir issue is not addressed, next time, the ferocity of the rage will be greater than the current one.

New Hizbul commander asks Kashmiri Pandits to return to Valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> 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.”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 yesterday.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 bizzare 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 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 been 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 July 8. The unrest has so far claimed 84 lives and injured thousands of others.

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.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley completes 100 days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces, on Sunday completed 100 days even as the Valley remained curfew-free in view of the improvement in the situation. The unrest, which began a day after Wani was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir on July 8, has left 84 people, including two cops, dead and several thousand injured. The Valley has witnessed continuous shutdown for the past 100 days with periodic relaxation as announced by the separatists who are spearheading the current agitation. The strike has crippled normal life in the Valley as shops, business establishments and petrol pumps have remained closed except for the relaxation period. The shutdown has affected the education of the children as schools, colleges and other educational institutions have been shut in the Valley. Authorities also imposed curfew and restrictions on most of these 100 days, throwing normal life out of gear in the Valley. However, there was no curfew anywhere in Kashmir today, a police official said, adding restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. He said there was improvement in the situation with each passing day as more people were defying the Hurriyat-sponsored strike and coming out to carry their day-to-day activities. There is increased movement of public transport, except buses, on the days when there are no restrictions. Some shops also opened in some areas in the civil lines and outskirts of the city, the official said. He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear. The authorities had on Friday night restored outgoing call facility on prepaid mobile phone connections after three months in view of the improving situation. However, mobile Internet services continued to remain suspended across Kashmir.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew lifted across the valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Authorities on Saturday lifted curfew across Kashmir following improvement in the situation, but normal life remained affected due to the unrest which erupted after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.A police official said there is no curfew anywhere in Kashmir and the curbs on the movement of people have been lifted across the Valley, including from the summer capital here, following improvement in the situation. However, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day-to-day activities without fear.The authorities on Friday night restored outgoing call facility on prepaid mobile phone connections after three months in view of the improving situation. However, mobile Onternet services continued to remain suspended across Kashmir. Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 99th day due to the ongoing unrest.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, would complete 100 days tomorrow as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed, while public transport continued to be off the roads.However, there was increased movement of private transport and auto-rickshaws in the civil lines areas of the city including around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk. Many vendors set up their stalls in the areas around the city centre while some shops were also open partially, the official said.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew imposed in Valley ahead of Friday prayers

Srinagar: Curfew continued on Friday in interior parts of Srinagar and some other areas as a precautionary measure in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week.

Normal life remained affected in Kashmir Valley for the 98th day due to the ongoing unrest which erupted after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.

“Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) Srinagar, Batamaloo police station and Sopore town in Baramulla district,” a police official said in Srinagar.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the curbs on the movement of people in these areas have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week in which a minor boy had died due to pellet injuries.

The official said while there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere else in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.

He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear.

Movement of private transport and auto-rickshaws was thin in the civil lines areas of the city including around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk where signs of normalcy where seen after the separatists had announced evening relaxation in the strike.

The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives 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.

Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act

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.

India to review most favoured nation status granted to Pakistan: Vikas Swarup

New Delhi: India on Thursday said it will review the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan by it based on the security and trade interests, asserting that terror cannot be the commodity exported. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that the speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in Parliament shows Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism directed against India and was “self implicating”. Sharif had hailed Wani as “son of the Kashmiri soil” while addressing the joint session on Wednesday.

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

“Promoting shared prosperity with neighbours has been government’s priority but terror cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests,” he said when asked if India will review the MFN status given to Pakistan by India, unilaterally.

Asked about the recent conversation between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, he said the Prime Ministers of the two countries had in January agreed that their NSAs will remain in touch and the details should not be made public. “India remains committed not to make it public.” Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that India has agreed to reduce tensions after their NSAs spoke over phone.

This was first such contact after the Uri attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC. Swarup also refused to react to the reports in Pakistani media that Sharif has asked the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials.

On the reports that Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella group of jihadi and Islamist outfits as Hafiz Saeed’s JeM, organising a rally in Pakistan on 28 October, he said India has always voiced its concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti India activities openly. “It is up to the government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes,” he added.

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.

Sharif’s Burhan Wani statement shows Pak’s ‘continued attachment to terrorists’: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yet again showering praise on killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, India on Wednesday said the former’s statement reflects Islamabad’s ‘continued attachment to terrorism’. Disapproving Sharif’s remark, government sources put forth New Delhi’s views in this regard. Sharif earlier in the day accused India of stalling the dialogue process and urged world powers to ensure that UN resolutions on Kashmir are implemented. Addressing a joint session of Parliament on ‘Kashmir issue’ in Islamabad, Sharif said, “The death of Burhan Wani, son of the Kashmiri soil, had reminded India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination.’Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech last month challenging Pakistan to a contest over eradicating poverty and other social ills, Sharif said, “If they (Indian leaders) want us to fight them to end poverty, then they should realise that poverty cannot be eradicated by driving tanks on farmlands.” Addressing the nation at the backdrop of a three-day BJP conclave held in Kozhikode last month, Prime Minister Modi slammed Pakistan for exporting terrorism across the world and said, ‘While India exports software, Pakistan exports terrorism across the world.’ ‘Your (Pakistani) rulers speak of fighting India for a thousand years. Today, there is such a government in Delhi that I am ready to accept your challenge… Pakistan’s ‘awam’ (people), I want to say to you, India is ready to fight you,’ Prime Minister Modi had said.‘Come, if you have the courage, let’s fight poverty…unemployment’illiteracy. Let us fight and see who is able to end poverty first,’ he added.Prime Minister Sharif today said, ‘We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again.’ He also 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.”We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again,” Sharif claimed. “Without any investigation (into Uri incident), within a few hours, India blamed Pakistan for the attack,” he said. Sharif accused India of having some “motives” in blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack when it was “not even established” that who was involved in it. The Pakistan Prime Minister also expressed support for Kashmiris and said the issue should be resolved according to the wishes of people of Kashmir and the UN resolutions.Raking up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Sharif had called Wani a “young leader”, evoking a strong reaction from India. The Hizbul Mujahideen commander was killed in an encounter with the Indian security forces on July 8, sparking off protests in the valley.

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.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh to visit Leh, Kargil on October 3-4

Wed, 28 Sep 2016-10:25pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of Centre’s efforts to reach out to Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Leh and Kargil early next month and interact with a cross section of people there.Singh will visit Leh and Kargil on October 3 and 4 and interact with representatives of political parties, social organisations and individuals to seek their views on the present unrest in the Kashmir Valley, official sources said.The Home Minister has already visited Srinagar twice–the first time with officials and later along with an all-party delegation–since the turmoil in Kashmir Valley erupted following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8. Singh had visited Jammu while leading the all-party delegation.Since the Ladakh region was left out of those trips, the Home Minister will undertake this separate visit for Leh and Kargil to meet locals there, the sources said.

Govt preparing forces in Kashmir for ‘harsh winter’ ahead

The Home Ministry has supplied agencies to provide winter boots, socks, jackets, snow gloves and other warm clothing to the Army. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Apprehending protracted unrest in Kashmir Valley, the Centre has started preparation for providing winter logistics to central paramilitary forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.The Home Ministry has already approached the Army and supplying agencies to provide winter boots, socks, jackets, snow gloves and other warm clothing which would be required by around 70,000 paramilitary forces deployed in the state.A top Home Ministry official is personally monitoring the procurement process and trying to ensure that all required items are delivered before the onset of the “harsh winter” ahead.”We are really worried about the boys on the ground. We have to get all winter logistics well before the time as Kashmir is expected to have a harsh winter,” a senior official said.Unrest in Kashmir continues ever since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8 leading to deployment of paramilitary forces across the Kashmir Valley. “We have to be prepared in case the turmoil continues for a longer period, especially during winter,” the official said.

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.

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.

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.

Uri terror attack: World takes note as India, Pakistan media indulge in mud-slinging

The terror attack in Kashmir’s Uri sector, touted as the deadliest attack on the Indian Army in the last 26 years, garnered enough eyeballs across the world. In a dastardly act, heavily-armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Indian Army in North Kashmir’s Uri and killed 17 jawans. The toll rose to 18 later on Monday when one more soldier succumbed to his injuries.

As the Indian leadership, along with the intelligence and Army chiefs, huddled to decide on their next move, the brazen attack in Uri were condemned across the world — the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany, Japan, Canada and Bhutan were among the nations which denounced the attack. However, the perspective and message in each of their condolences were different.

While China and Germany supported India in their statements, they also said that such “situation” escalates and triggers a “spiral of violence.” “We must not give in to this logic, including in conflicts between India and Pakistan,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Russia, on the other hand, supported India’s claim and condemned the attacks. Russia also cancelled its planned joint military exercises in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, however, Russian officials said that the decision not to hold the exercises in PoK was taken independently of the Uri attack, keeping in mind India’s insistence that the area is illegally occupied.

“Regarding the Pathankot Indian air base attack in January 2016, we are very concerned about the terrorist attacks near the Line of Control. We are also concerned about the fact that, according to New Delhi, the Army base near Uri was attacked from Pakistani territory. We believe that this criminal act will be investigated properly, and that its organisers and perpetrators will be held accountable,” Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Apart from world leaders condemning the attacks, media played a huge role in how the Uri attacks were perceived — both in India and abroad. Indian media aside, Pakistan media had front-page coverage of the attack. Interestingly, the media coverage of the attack was heavy on rhetoric.

Starting from headlines in like ‘RAGE’ in The Telegraph to Pakistan media’s coverage with headlines like ‘Indian officials jump the gun, blame Pakistan’ in The Express Tribune, both the Indian and the international media lent a heavy rhetoric on what was happening between the two neighbours. Relations between India-Pakistan have plummeted in the last few months, starting with Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the Pathankot terror attack in January this year, followed by Pakistan Prime Minister’s interference in the unrest going on in the Kashmir Valley following the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

After Sunday’s attack in Uri, India’s political leadership decided to immediately respond with diplomatic offensive and Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave orders to isolate Pakistan on a global stage. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is attending the UN General Assembly meet in New York, will also raise the issue at the meet.

Here’s what Indian media said about the Uri attack

The Times of India.

The Times of India.

The Telegraph.

The Telegraph.

Hindustan Times.

Hindustan Times.

DNA

DNA

Most Indian newspapers and television channels, while condemning the attack, called for a “befitting” response from the Indian political leadership. Even though many articles carried quotes of Army veterans who favoured an eye-for-an-eye treatment for Pakistan, newspapers dialed down any vitriolic statements in their editorials against Pakistan or its leadership. In fact, majority of the leading newspapers called for reasoning over rage.

Remarks like “for one tooth, the complete jaw” from BJP leader Ram Madhav, was actively discouraged and maybe the more level-headed generals across the board discussed that while Madhav’s approach may play well on TV, letting strategic restraint go, is better said than done. While they condoled the death of the 18 soldiers, op-eds in Indian newspapers maintained that even though India needs to give a reply that will resonate in Pakistan, it still needs to be calm and not act in haste.

Like Akshaya Mishra of Firstpost says in this piece, “Don’t take rhetoric so high that not living up to it becomes a source of embarrassment.”

That they offer no clarity on what the ‘strong and fitting’ response should be though the word ‘war’ is suggested in hints. They forget easily that war is not an easy option for the country. The collateral damage can be heavy on India, a country slowly building itself into an economic powerhouse.”

Utpal Kumar, on the other hand, in an opinion piece in DailyO said that India need not wage a full-fledged war on Pakistan to contain the “rogue nation”.  He suggested, “India, for instance, can throw the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, which unduly favours Pakistan, into the dustbin. Without shelling a single mortar, India can make Pakistan crawl.”

The timing of the attack also can’t be ignored. The militants attacked the Army base on the eve of India’s planned intervention at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meet where New Delhi is to highlight Pakistan’s terror atrocities not just across the border, but in Balochistan as well.

Like Sreemoy Talukdar of Firstpost argues in this piece, “Islamabad, or more correctly the Army apparatus in Rawalpindi, is gambling on the well-considered possibility that the Uri attack will goad India into a knee-jerk response that it may then exploit to its advantage to go with its narrative of “Indian oppression in Kashmir”. Given the fact that the West would surely try to defuse the tension between the nuclear neighbours would mean that India would be at the receiving end of global pressure to “show restraint” and “act responsibly”. Lectures to such effect were already being administered by United States commentators on Sunday evening.”

Most of the opinion/editorial pieces in Indian media maintained that Pakistan-backed terrorists across the border are getting audacious by the day, the articles also noted that it will help India to revisit its overtures towards Pakistan “but it also begs the question of what kind of strategic change can be realistically achieved to expose and bring to justice Pakistan’s currently free-running military-jihad complex.”

Here’s how Pakistan media reacted

The Express Tribue frontpage panel on 19 September 2016.

The boxcar of The Express Tribue on 19 September 2016.

The Express Tribune frontpage panel from 20 September 2016.

The Express Tribune frontpage panel on 20 September 2016.

Frontage of Express Tribune on 19 September

Frontage of Express Tribune on 19 September

Frontpage report on The Dawn on 19 September

Frontpage report on The Dawn on 19 September

Frontage of Express Tribune on 20 September

Frontage of Express Tribune on 20 September

As leaders and sections of the media in India blamed Pakistan for Uri, Pakistani media also lashed out at the Indian authorities, claiming that the Uri attack was “staged” and that India was trying to shift the focus from the ongoing Kashmir unrest. The News International ran an editorial which said:

Assisted by its crafty media, the Indian political and security establishment is notorious for designing bizarre pseudo operations so that it could defame Pakistan in the eyes of the world, muster international support and to cover up its intelligence failures, but on most occasions over the years, even the internal investigative reports have mocked New Delhi’s claims in this context.

The editorial, headlined “Uri attack is an addition to RAW failures”, says how the Uri terror attack was staged “to dilute the effects of Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations.”

This article in The News International is getting a special mention here (over other Pakistani newspapers) because of its strange claims. The article goes on to say how India staged the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as well.

Another leading Pakistani paper, The Dawn, even though reporting on the Uri attacks, stressed on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. “Surely, though, the war of words, at least from the Indian side, will not abate in the days ahead. India’s automatic blaming of Pakistan for major violence in that country is very much a part of the problem,” the report in The Dawn said.

Another report in The Dawn said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh “immediately” blamed Pakistan for the attack and then quickly shifted focus to the violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir. “Almost daily protests against the Indian rule and India’s ruthless use of force to stop the protests have drawn international attention, causing almost every major human rights organisation to demand access to the Valley.”

The report also talked about how India is expected to raise the Balochistan issue at the United Nations General Assembly and said that Pakistan was likely to respond by claiming that it was India, in fact, which was “responsible for promoting militancy in Balochistan”.

Similar words were used against India in a report in The Express Tribune, which called India’s allegations against Pakistan a “knee-jerk reaction”. Another article in Pakistan Observer titled “Also expose Indian interference at UNGA” said, “India misses no opportunity to malign Pakistan at international forums and for this purpose resorts to all sort of rhetoric and baseless allegations. It is time for Pakistan to veraciously expose the double face of India.”

International media

The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and other leading international papers also reported the open scuffle between the two Asian neighbours on Monday. While The New York Times referred to Kashmir as “disputed region”, The Guardian said that India “directly accused” Pakistan of being involved in the midnight raid in Uri. The Guardian reported that there was clamour in India for a less-diplomatic approach from the Narendra Modi government. Even though opinions did not find place in the international reports, it was obvious that the world was watching India and Pakistan war of words keenly, especially days before the UNGA meeting scheduled in New York next week.

The Guardian report said:

“Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their own and have fought three wars over the former princedom since partition in 1947. Sunday attack’s came during a week of diplomatic wrangling between the pair. Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has promised he will use a speech to the UN general assembly on Wednesday to “emphatically highlight” alleged human rights abuses against protesters by Indian authorities. Last week, Indian diplomats at the UN human rights council raised for the first time Pakistan’s alleged mistreatment of its own separatists in Balochistan, a restive province in the country’s south-west.”

The CNN reported that Uri attack has started “a new chapter in the India-Pakistan geopolitical saga.” The report also brought focus to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir for the past two months.

The report in The Washington Post said that the Uri attack has effectively brought Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to square one since Sharif has been “preparing for days to make a forceful appearance at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, hoping to burnish his international credentials with a ringing denunciation of Indian aggression in the disputed border region of Kashmir.”

The report goes on to add that the raid adds a “messy backdrop” for the Pakistan prime minister who was about to raise the issue of Kashmir on a global stage. “Diplomatic fallout, meanwhile, could include India cutting off all talks or refusing to attend a South Asian summit in Islamabad later this year,” the report noted.

Violent protests in Kashmir after security forces kill Hizbul militant

Srinagar: Security forces on Tuesday shot dead a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering violent protests in Sopore to which he belonged.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Police said Sameer Wani was killed after security forces surrounded a house in Nagri village in Kupwara district, some 100 km from here, following information that some militants were hiding there.

A police officer told IANS that security forces came under heavy fire from the hideout, leading to fighting that left Wani, the Hizb divisional commander for north Kashmir, dead.

As soon as reports of Wani’s killing reached his Dooru village in Sopore, hundreds of residents came out to protest shouting anti-government and pro-freedom slogans, witnesses and officials said.

The protesters set ablaze a police vehicle in Shiva area after his body reached the village but its occupants were not harmed.

Dozens of motorcycle borne young men took out a rally as the militant commander’s body was taken in a procession for funeral prayers.

Markets were closed and public transport went off the roads spontaneously following Wani’s death.

The protesters also clashed with police and threw stones at them. Police fired tear gas to disperse them as tension ran high in and around the area.

Kashmir: 3 BSF men killed in ambush on convoy by terrorists; 9 injured

In yet another broad daylight ambush, Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists on Friday attacked a BSF convoy killing three personnel and injuring nine others near Bijbehara on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.The three deceased BSF personnel have been identified as Head Constable Girish Kumar Shukla, Constable Mahinder Ram and Havaldar Dinesh. The incident which took place at 4.30 PM at Guriwan area, a place near a government hospital, 52 kms from here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Its an unfortunate incident. The BSF convoy was attacked on the national highway by terrorists who fired at it from the by-lanes near Bijbehara,” Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police K Rajendra said. He lauded the role of the security forces who exercised utmost restraint after the incident as terrorists had ambushed the convoy from by-lanes of a thickly populated locality.”The boys did not fire back to avoid civilian casualties,” he said, adding “terrorists want that the atmosphere should be vitiated ahead of assembly polls in neighbouring Anantnag”.Additional forces have been rushed to the area which has been cordoned off by CRPF and Rashtriya Rifles. The security forces had to face tough time during their search operations when some of the people hurled stones at them. Hizbul Mujahideen group has sent emails to some of the local news agency claiming responsibility for the attack.In New Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed deep anguish and pain at the incident and asked BSF Director General K K Sharma to rush to the spot to take stock of the situation. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the incident and said it was an indication of worsening law and order situation in the state.The BSF convoy comprising 23 vehicles was coming from Jammu to Srinagar ferrying jawans who were returning to join their duties after their leave. The attack comes 10 days after the Hizbul Mujahideen had killed three policemen in two separate incidents in Srinagar city. They had threatened to carry out similar attacks.BSF convoys have often been the target of terrorist groups. Last year in August, a BSF convoy was attacked by Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists at Udhampur in which two of its personnel and a terrorist were killed. Another terrorist Mohammed Naveed was captured alive after the terror strike.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Tariq Pandit surrenders in Kashmir

Srinagar: A Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander in Pulwama district of Kashmir region surrendered on Saturday, dealing a major blow to the Burhan group of militants in the Kashmir Valley, officials said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Tariq Pandit, a close associate of Burhan Wani, and a commander of HM outfit surrendered before the security forces”, a senior police officer told IANS in Srinagar.

Defence sources said the militant commander surrendered before the officers of 55 Rashtriya Rifles deployed for anti-militancy operations.

Pandit had been prominent in pictures posted on the social media that showed Wani and his associates wielding weapons and wearing army fatigues.

For over six months now, a 22-year-old youth from Pulwama district, Burhan Wani, has become a militant icon to lure educated local youth into the cadre of insurgent groups.

Despite their best efforts, Wani is still at large and the security forces have not been able to arrest or eliminate him.

A reward of Rs 10 lakh has been announced by the security forces for anyone leading to actionable information on Wani.

After Monday’s twin attacks, is Srinagar back on the radar of militants?

The security grid in Kashmir was caught on the back-foot after a series of daredevil attacks by militants in less than 12 hours on Monday in the heart of the summer capital, Srinagar. The attacks, largely seen as a failure of intelligence agencies, have brought this city back on the radars of militant groups, having witnessed a temporary calm for the past few years.

The attacks came days after inspector-general of police, Kashmir division, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilliani, said the poster boy of Kashmir’s militancy, Burhan Wani, was on his own as most of his accomplices have been eliminated in the anti-militancy operations in recent months. Gilliani said different security agencies have maintained pressure on militants and have been cornering them, while also minimising the civilian causalities and damage to public property.

“It’s because of this pressure that militants have resorted to such cowardly acts,” he said, after Monday’s twin attacks.

Senior Police officials inspect the spot where militants attacked police personnel in Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Senior Police officials inspect the spot where militants attacked police personnel in Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Intelligence agencies say the attacks were carried out to show the reach and striking capability of militant groups, whose total strength has reached an all-time low due to large scale anti-militancy operations carried out by different security agencies. “These attacks were carried out to dare security agencies and it is a worrying development considering the importance of capital Srinagar,” an intelligence officer in the Kashmir Police told Firstpost.

A senior police official also confirmed to Firstpost that intelligence agencies had no whiff about the movement of militants in Srinagar, where a huge presence of human intelligence and a technology-driven surveillance grid had been laid to monitor people.

“There was no specific intel about the presence of militants in Srinagar and their plan of hit-and-run attacks,” the official, who wished anonymity, said.

“Otherwise full security measures would have been taken to prevent such fatal attacks which claimed the lives of three cops,” he added.

In Monday’s twin hit-and-run attacks by two motorcycle-borne militants in Srinagar, three cops were killed at point-blank range — much to the discomfort and surprise of the security establishment in the capital.

The first attack took place in old city’s Zadibal area which resulted in the death of two cops — Assistant Sub-Inspector Ghulam Muhammad Bhat and Head Constable Nazir Ahmad. Within hours of the first fatal attack, the second strike took place in the Tengpora area of Srinagar city, resulting in the death of Constable Sadiq Sheikh of the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police.

Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen claimed the twin attacks on the cops in Srinagar and has warned of intensifying such attacks.

“The operation field commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen has directed the squad to continue and intensify the attacks,” Hizb spokesperson Burhan-ud-din was quoted by a local news agency as saying.

In the third attack, Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed to have killed two militants believed to be non-locals in a brief shootout in the Saraibala area in the vicinity of Srinagar’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk.

Late on Monday evening, the Kashmir Police launched house-to-house searches in the Saraibala locality when two militants hiding in a residential building fired on the cops resulting in a gunfight. One of the militants killed was identified as Saifullah of Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, while the identity of the other has yet to be ascertained.

The police said the group had come all the way from north Kashmir’s Sopore town. No additional details were provided by the police about the motorcycle-borne militants — who carried out the twin lethal attacks earlier in the day — or whether it was the same duo that carried out attacks through the day.

Last year, social media was abuzz when two young militants belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit posted photos on Facebook wearing branded clothes and aviators carrying out recon missions in Srinagar. Jammu and Kashmir Police’s director-general K Rajendra Kumar said the attacks were desperate acts by militants and that the cops are investigating the facts.

“This is their (militants) desperation to show their presence. We have managed to eliminate their leadership and other infiltrating groups,” Kumar told reporters after the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops yesterday.

While the northern part of Kashmir like Sopore, frontier district of Kupwara and southern militant hotbeds of Pulwama and Tral witnessed increased militant activities over the past three years, Srinagar city remained largely calm with small gunfights in the outskirts of Zakura and Ahmad Nagar.

Three years ago on 24 June, 2013, eight armymen were killed in one of the deadliest attacks on an army convoy on the National Highway in the Hyderpora area of Srinagar. Two days prior to this attack, two cops were killed in one of the busiest markets of Srinagar, Hari Singh High Street.

Security experts have raised apprehensions about the lack of coordination among security agencies to contain such attacks in the future. They said only time will tell if these attacks can be seen as the return of militancy in Srinagar, where a temporary lull was broken yesterday.

Killing of policemen was a ‘desperate act’, says Jammu & Kashmir police chief

Srinagar: Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police, K Rajindra Kumar on Monday said the killing of three policemen in twin attacks by militants was a “desperate act” by them to show their presence here.

“It (killing of policemen) is a desperate act, attacking unarmed policemen…it is basically a desperate act to show their presence,” Kumar said after praying tributes to slain personnel.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the militants have become desperate after security forces registered success by eliminating their leadership and newly infiltrated groups.

“Of late, you have been seeing that security forces are getting success in neutralising (militant) leadership. Newly infiltrated groups have also been wiped off,” the police chief said.

Kumar said terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen’s claim owing responsibility for the two incidents, will be investigated.

“We will investigate and come back with facts,” Kumar said.

Two policemen were shot dead by militants at Zadibal while another was killed in Tengpora area of the city this morning.

Ending militancy: Counter-insurgency operations hit Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir

Srinagar: A concerted counter-insurgency campaign against mildly resurgent militancy, that had given a semblance of a new wave of insurgency in the region, has resulted in neutralisation of many militants, including commanders, and led to an ebb in violence in Kashmir.

Guarding against militancy. PTIGuarding against militancy. PTI

Guarding against militancy. PTI

The brunt of the campaign led by security forces has been faced mostly by the Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, whose cadres are mostly local and who have been at the forefront of a renewed face of insurgency in south Kashmir.

On 7 May, security forces killed three militants two from Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), while one belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit, before they were asked to surrender in Panzgom village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, 30 km south of Srinagar. The slain militants were identified as Ishfaq Ahmad Dar and Ishfaq Ahmad Baba of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit and Haseeb Ahmad Pahla of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). All belong to Pulwama district.

This fresh assault on Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit was part of dozens of counter-insurgency operations carried out by forces to neutralise around a dozen local Kashmiri militants part of the Hizbul outfit in recent months.

Majority of the militants killed in the recent months have been associated with Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, who, along with dozens of others, became part of a steady flow of recruits for Hizbul Mujahideen. The Hizbul commander and the poster boy of Kashmir’s new militancy is the son of a school principal and is a resident of Tral village in south Kashmir.

But police says the outfit led by Syed Salahuddin, who is based in PoK, is fast losing its cadre in Kashmir valley, after continues and sustained counter insurgency operation by Jammu and Kashmir Police and army particularly in south Kashmir, where a renewed face of insurgency had erupted in recent years.

This new militancy has, and still continues, to draw well-educated boys from middle class families of Kashmir, particularly from south Kashmir.

Inspector General of Police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani says there are 150 to 170 militants, both local as well as foreign militants, presently active in Kashmir. Although, IGP says, the recruitment of local boys by militant groups had increased last year and the focus was contain and prevent them from joining militancy.

He said Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit commander “has been left alone” as most of his accomplices have been killed. Gillani, told a local newspaper that since past eight months Wani has been “quiet”, and most of the people around him have been neutralised. “Now he is on his own with just two or three people around him,” Gillani said.

A home ministry report, released last month, said that 435 militants have been killed in last five years. In 2015, 59 of the 72 new recruits had come from south Kashmir.

In March this year, the state police managed to neutralise the ‘second most wanted militant commander’ of Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, Dawood Ahmed Sheikh, in an overnight encounter in Buchroo village of south Kashmir in Kulgam district. The killing of the Hizbul man was part of a continued effort by the Kashmir Police and army to eliminate Hizbul-Mujahideen group from south Kashmir.

The violence has come down since 2015. Militancy-related incidents had claimed 220 lives in 2014 but in 2015, 197 people died including 102 militants, 12 policemen, 41 civilians, 35 army soldiers, five BSF personnel and two CRPF men.

There has been a slow resurgence of militancy in valley with young and educated boys joining militancy, who, according to police officials, are dependent on weapons snatched form the security forces. Now due to a strict vigil on the Line of Control and the failure to infiltrate towards the Indian side the violence has been curbed to a great extent.

“Barring three we have been able to kill all the militants in that picture that went viral on social media. The time is not far when we will apprehend or kill Wani too,” a senior police official based in south Kashmir, told Firstpost.

Kashmir: Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in Pulwama encounter

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Srinagar: Three militants were gunned down on Saturday in a fight with security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, police said.

“Three local militants belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed today morning (Saturday) in Panzgam village of Pulwama district, a senior police officer told IANS.

Troopers from Rashtriya Rifles, special operations group and central reserve police force surrounded Panzgam village late Friday and the encounter started around 3.30 am.

“When the cordon around the hiding militants was tightened, they resorted to indiscriminate firing at the surrounding security men triggering an encounter.

“Firing at the encounter site has stopped, but search operation was still on”.

The curious tale of Ishaq Newton, a brilliant student who picked up a gun instead of a stethoscope

On a bright Monday morning on 16 March,  2015, Ishaq Ahmad Parray, asked his father if he could lend him Rs 1000 for paying his tuition fees. The father stood up, entered the next room, grabbed his waistcoat hanging on the wall, took out the money and gave it to Ishaq. That was the last time Mohammed Ismail Parray, saw his teenaged son alive. On Thursday, 3 March, 2016, almost a year after he went missing, he returned with a bullet-ridden face on the shoulders of a crowd. He was dead.

Ishaq Newton, 19, as he was known in this beautiful hamlet of Laribal, was famous for his sheer academic brilliance and for being an ‘exceptionally intelligent boy’ in school. One afternoon in April 2015, Kashmir police broke the news to his father that he had become a militant, thereby shocking Mohammed and the entire village.

Newton, the police said, was now part of Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashmiri militant group whose cadre is largely drawn from local Kashmiri Muslims, and which has been fighting the State since an armed uprising began in the early nineties, after decades of political discontent.

Ishaq NewtonIshaq Newton

Ishaq Newton

He, along with dozens of others, became part of a steady flow of recruits for the Hizbul Mujahideen; he was part of a local unit of militants, majority of whom are residents of Tral, a village in the southern district of Pulwama. The Hizb commander and the poster boy of Kashmir’s new militancy, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, son of a school principal, is also a resident of this village.

Tral is a bowl of small hamlets on the foothills of the vast terraneous mountains, 11 kilometers from National Highway IA, which connects Srinagar with the rest of India. It is a picturesque village known for its breathtaking green mountains and lush green forests, and its freshwater streams are a perfect attraction for tourists. But in recent years, it has achieved notoriety for being a hotbed of a renewed face of insurgency in the state, although sparse but deadly.

Newton’s friend remembered him as a pious and a hardworking boy, always reading something or the other, but who hardly discussed politics with anyone, including his own friends. That could be the reason why, when he was termed a militant, no one believed it at first.

“He scored 98.4 percent in Class X in December 2011, securing ninth position in the Kashmir zone. Then 85 percent in his Class XII and was now preparing to be a doctor,” Amir, a childhood friend of Newton, told Firstpost.

“But before he went missing, one day when we were talking in a nearby orchard, he suddenly started talking about the rising presence of forces in and around the Tral; about the regular harassment faced by young boys at the hands of the police and army. The ‘mukhbirs’ (informers), militants, and Burhan Wani!” said another friend Suhail in a surprising tone.

“But I never thought he would soon turn to guns, because he was that guy. He was just a normal boy, who wanted to become a doctor,” he added.

One afternoon in December 2015, I walked through a narrow lane in Laribal, where Newton used to live with his parents and two brothers. I was curious about what had led him to join the militants and to choose a path which has only one ending: death. Unlike others, he was too young and hardly out of school.

Men and women walked quietly on the pavements, their pale faces reddened by the cold drafts. The road leading to the Parrys’ home was dotted on both sides by walnut trees. Empty fields were filled with stacks of dry grass piled under decaying tin roofs.

Mohammed Ismail ParryMohammed Ismail Parry

Mohammed Ismail Parry

When I entered the house of Mohammed Ismail Parray, Ishaq Newton’s father sat on the verandah with produce from the kitchen garden. Parray, a gaunt-faced man with shiny black eyes and a flowing white beard, sighed between sips of Kashmiri nun-chai (tea). He was shocked about his son’s decision and he didn’t want to see him buried in the martyrs’ graveyard.

“I first wanted him to become an Islamic scholar but he was interested in medicine and would read anything that would help him get into a medical college. Because he excessively read books that had nothing to do with his Class XII syllabus, he scored less compared to Class X. He would read books day and night,” Parry said, while staring at the tall mountains, dotted with tall pine trees, behind which deep inside, the militants are generally believed to be hiding.

“But with the passage of the time I made peace with it, although, I had never thought of it before, despite knowing the atmosphere in the area,” he added.

“The decisions they take (young boys joining militancy) can hardly be understood, and there has been a surprising surge, despite knowing well the results of joining a militant groups these days. The forces don’t arrest them now — although they try to — but they are buried alive in the places where they are trapped. They know it but despite that they keep joining. If you don’t ponder over it now when would you? It is not for us but for the leaders to understand why,” he said.

On the second floor, Newton’s room was ordinarily furnished with cement plastered naked walls. It was filled with books: on general knowledge, on medicine, on how to prepare for Common Entrance Test (CET). The only book about Kashmir was a novel by British-Kashmiri writer Mirza Waheed, titled The Collaborator.

As I prepared to leave the house Parray, exhausted till now, grabbed my left hand before opening the gate, “I get nightmares,” he said, in a soft voice, his eyes brimming with tears. “I see him, every week, draped in a white shroud on the shoulders of young boys of this village being carried into this house for the last time.” He turned his face away.

I failed to assure him that his son would be all right, because the survival rate of those becoming militants in Kashmir these days is almost zero.

That nightmare came true for his father on Thursday morning, when news broke that Newton, along with two other local militants, was killed in a nearby village.

Security forces had cordoned off the Dadsara village of Tral on Wednesday evening; many people in the area smelled a gunfight, after a few policemen appeared in civilian clothing in the area. What they did not know was that by the end of this encounter, the 20-year-old boy Newton, named after the English physicist and mathematician, would be one among the three militants killed.

The encounter continued throughout the night in a single-storied house that was reduced to rubble, where the trio were putting up one last battle. Desperate attempts were made by villagers to save the militants; police had to throw teargas shells to disperse the crowd before dusk.

On Thursday I called Amir, Newton’s friend; he, along with thousands of others, had joined his dead friend’s funeral procession for his last rites.

“He was killed today, in the morning, we will miss our Newton he was a gem. We defied restrictions and came out for his funeral,” Amir shouted before the call suddenly got dropped.

Asked why young boys join militancy, political analyst Noor Mohammad Baba says, “The alienation continues and the institutions of state have failed to address it. Something needs to be done, on an urgent basis, to address these young people; otherwise things will become worse.”

Compared to 2014, the violence has come down in 2015; militancy-related incidents had claimed 220 lives in 2014 but in 2015, 197 people died including 102 militants, 12 policemen, 41 civilians, 35 army soldiers, five BSF personnel and two CRPF men.

One of the disturbing trends that has emerged since 2015 for the security agencies in south Kashmir is the increasing number of local youth taking up arms. The fear of more people joining militancy in the Valley has given state officials sleepless nights. As people were taking the dead body of Newton towards his grave, I remembered a police officer once telling me that earlier, politics attracted young people towards guns; now it is dead bodies and funerals.

So it won’t be a surprise if tomorrow you hear that someone has else has gone missing, again, from Tral.

Aspiring doctor Ishaq, 20, among three militants killed in Tral encounter

Srinagar: At 20, Ishaq Ahmad Parray is perhaps one of the youngest militants, who along with two other Hizbul Mujahideen militants got killed on Thursday after a nightlong encounter with the security forces at Dadsara village of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The gunfight had started on Wednesday evening.

File photo of Indian Army soldiers engaged in an encounter with militants. PTIFile photo of Indian Army soldiers engaged in an encounter with militants. PTI

File photo of Indian Army soldiers engaged in an encounter with militants. PTI

Parray is another example of a disturbing trend where militant organisations like the Hizbul Mujahideen have succeeded in catching them young. The security agencies in the recent years have noted the increasing number of local Kashmiri youths taking up arms against the state. For now, the trend is showing no signs of abating in a worrying sign to the security establishment.

Police sources said that the death of the three militants is a big blow to the Kashmiri militant outfit, which has in recent years managed to attract a huge cadre from the local population in south Kashmir.

On Wednesday, forces cordoned off the Dadsara village of Tral near the National Highway, which connects Jammu with Srinagar, and started search operation when the encounter began. The encounter continued throughout the night, in a single-storey house that was reduced to rubble before all the three local militants were killed.

Parray also know as Newton, after the English physicist and mathematician, had joined militancy last year and became part of the Hizbul Mujahideen group.

He had left his home on 16 March, last year, after asking his father if he could give him a tuition fee of Rs 1,000. Parray never returned and in April the Jammu and Kashmir Police informed his father that his son had joined militancy.

Ishaq, an Arabic version of the famous scientist Isaac Newton’s name, was a bright student at his school, according to his friends. He was preparing for his medical exams when he went missing.

“He was just 19 and preparing for the Common Entrance Test (CET) to be a doctor when he left home,” a police officer said.

Ishaq had become part of the Hizbul Mujahideen group and was part of a local unit of militants, all of whom are residents of Tral in Pulwama district. The Hizb commander and the poster boy of Kashmir’s new militancy Burhan Muzaffar Wani, son of a school principal is also a resident of Tral.

Thousands of people on Thursday attended his funeral prayers. Friends in village remembered him as a bookworm, always reading with “focus but silent.” No one would first believe that he had become a militant. He was young, intelligent and hardly discussed politics.

“He scored 98.4 percent in Class X announced in December 2011 and secured the ninth position in the Kashmir zone, 85 percent in his Class XII score and was now preparing to be a doctor,” Amir Ahmad, Ishaq’s classmate since school days, told Firstpost.

Amid pro-freedom slogans, Ishaq’s body was taken to the graveyard in Laribal village where thousands of people participated in his last rites, defying restriction laid down by the state administration.

Located close to the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the village is picturesque and its breathtaking green mountainous forests and fresh water streams is a perfect destination for tourism. But in recent years it has, instead, emerged as a hotbed of the insurgency in the state, with steady flow of recruits like Ishaq.

A complete shutdown was observed in Tral area of Pulwama district following the killing of three militants.

In 2015, the violence as compared to 2014, has come down as 197 people, both militants and civilians, lost their lives. Militancy related incidents had claimed 220 lives in 2014. Among the 197 total killings in 2015, 102 were militants, 12 cops, 41 civilians, 35 Army soldiers, 5 BSF personnel, and 2 CRPF men.

dna morning must reads: From Republic Day celebrations in India to Hizbul Mujahideen on global terror list

1. Republic Day Live: India gears up for celebrations amidst tight security; French President to be chief guestElaborate security arrangements are in place across the country for the Republic Day celebrations on Tuesday with police in the national capital and neighbouring states keeping an eye out on “drones”, which have been perceived as a major threat.The national capital is already on high alert ahead of the official celebrations here — where French President Francois Hollande is the Chief Guest — after inputs were received about the presence of key members of several terror outfits in Delhi. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. India, France include Hizbul Mujahideen in global terror list15 years after luring the lone surviving Kashmiri militant group to talks, the Central government on Monday bracketed the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) with other global terror networks like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani Network and al Qaeda, seeking decisive action against these groups.In August 2000, the then NDA government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had declared ceasefire and held a round of discussion with top HM commanders at a Srinagar government guest house. Read more here3. Arunachal Pradesh crisis: BJP may win round one, but will face Congress “noes” in RSThe BJP may be confident of the President and Court giving the nod for central rule in Arunachal Pradesh, but the decision could hit a hurdle in Rajya Sabha when it comes up for Parliament’s ratification.Any proclamation under Article 356, imposing President’s rule, needs to be ratified by both Houses of Parliament within two months. “If either of the two houses reject it, the pre-proclamation situation would have to be restored,” said PD T Acharya, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha. Read more here4. Never said India intolerant or wanted to leave country: Aamir KhanBollywood actor Aamir Khan, whose “leaving India” comments linked to the “intolerance” debate had kicked up a huge controversy, on Monday said he never meant that he wanted to leave the country and asserted that India was intolerant.Asserting that no other country is as diverse as India, Aamir, 50, said, “I was born here and I will die here.” Aamir’s comments came on a day when he came under fresh attack from fellow actor Akshay Kumar who said “ups and downs” happen in every nation and one should not start giving “bold” statements. Read more here5. Pakistan’s powerful army chief Raheel Sharif says to step down when term endsPakistan’s influential army chief on Monday said he would step down at the end of his three-year term in November, the military’s public relations wing said, breaking a precedent of military leaders seeking to extend their terms.General Raheel Sharif is considered by many to be Pakistan’s most powerful man. Read more here

Hollow threat: Why Islamic State is more a farce than reality in Kashmir

Srinagar: In the 13th issue of Debiq, the mouth-piece of the Islamic State (IS), the outfit claimed that it had strengthened its foothold in Kashmir. It also called for the region’s ‘liberation’. The assertion, however, was vehemently opposed by the senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who also pointed out the group’s ‘insincerity’ towards its global causes.

Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The death toll in Gaza hit 265 as Israel pressed a ground offensive on the 11th day of an assault aimed at stamping out rocket fire, medics said. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFAKashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The death toll in Gaza hit 265 as Israel pressed a ground offensive on the 11th day of an assault aimed at stamping out rocket fire, medics said. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA

Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. The death toll in Gaza hit 265 as Israel pressed a ground offensive on the 11th day of an assault aimed at stamping out rocket fire, medics said. AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA

A lot of discussion ensued as to whether the so-called Islamic State, which has wreaked havoc in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, will find a resonance in the restive Himalayan region which has already witnessed two bloody decades of violence.

A major concern among the security establishment in the past year has been the waving of IS flags, especially in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar, the neighborhood surrounding Jamia Masjid, the central mosque in the city, by young people.

Here, contextualising flag weaving by these desperate youngsters is important.

The hoisting of IS flags has become a routine for protesters, mostly youth, after Friday congregational prayers. While people outside the state are awestruck due this phenomenon, observers, in Kashmir, have dismissed it as a mere ‘mischief.’

Surprisingly, a majority of people in the valley are of the opinion that waving of IS flags is a mere representation of juvenile theatrics which is primarily aimed to ‘provoke’ the state establishment.

The teenage protesters, as young as 13-years-old, are aware that Islamic State is a raging phenomenon in the Middle East, and, have understood the nuisance value these flags now bear to annoy the system.

The youngsters realised this after they hoisted the flag for the first time more than a year ago and the footage they received in the self-indulging vigilante media channels, who ran the flag show over and over again warning against an apparent threat in the already volatile state.

Even after two years, the popularity of IS has not spread beyond the walls of the city and even not beyond the Nowhatta neighbourhood. As for the young protesters, the tactic to unfurl the IS flag in downtown alleys at a distance from where media attention can be grabbed has worked. The strategy of the so-called IS sympathisers is confined to just how and where the state should spot these flags.

To fill the ever-demanding television hunger for breaking news, the television reporters fill the gap in Srinagar and the kids run away happily, knowing they have irritated the state enough for the day.

Over the years, unlike in the beginning, it is gradually becoming quite evident that there will be no takers of the extreme ideology in Kashmir, which is why several other flags or posters of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani have slowly begun to replace the IS flags.

Both mainstream politicians and the separatist camp have been denouncing the violence perpetrated by the ISIS fighters. Severing linkage of IS with Kashmir, Syed Ali Geelani says there are no chances of the presence of “Daesh” in this region, but these kinds of statements can provide a “tool for India and they will try in every possible ways to ‘defame’ the genuine struggle of Kashmiri people in the entire world.”

Rebuking the claims of IS, Geelani questions the direction and right planning of the group and says if the IS were sincere then they should first put the liberation of the Aqsa Mosque from the Israeli occupation as priority.

The Hurriyat hardliner has time and again disassociated from people who wave IS flags in Srinagar city. He has time and again termed the organisation ‘un-Islamic’.

“When they (ISIS) kill Shias, it is wrong. When they ask Christians to convert to Islam by force, it is wrong. I say it publicly with full authority that they do it wrong. Islam never said to force someone to become Muslim.”

Understanding this phenomena has become important than ever for the reason ISIS now claims it would try to expand its outreach to Kashmir and would soon advance expand its reign of terror to Kashmir. One of its leaders Hafiz Saeed Khan said in an interview to the group’s propaganda magazine that “they want free the land occupied by cow-worshipping Hindus.”

“It (Kashmir) had once been under the authority of the Muslims, along with the regions surrounding it. Afterwards, the secularist… cow-worshipping Hindus and atheist Chinese conquered other nearby regions, as is the case in parts of Kashmir and Turkistan,” he said.

There have been attempts to push Islam with an extremist orientation in Kashmir, a state brought up on the Sufi ethos. Even then, the only extreme that people in Kashmir have reached is what Geelani professes given his outreach and following in Kashmir. It does not mean much.

Police officials in Kashmir have the same opinion about ‘ISIS sympathisers’ in the Valley.

They have pointed out how several boys detained last year failed to read what was written on these flags prepared using portable swing machines in Srinagar. Some flags recovered from a group of teenagers by the police also mentioned a painter’s signature on them.

The waving of these flags have remained limited to Srinagar city. Most of the boys who wave these flags know they won’t get any media attention outside the city.

Two guerrillas killed in gunbattle with security forces in Pulwama, Kashmir

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Lessons from Pathankot attack: India needs well-coordinated response to this new terror template

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