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J&K: Partition refugees deserve domicile status, but this is not the time to play with fire

It is enough to make one want to scream!

Just five months ago, various sections of the ruling class seemed to be at the end of their tether with regard to Kashmir. Enraged teenagers held large parts of the Valley to ransom for several months. During that time, India’s Parliament humiliated itself by knocking on various leaders doors, only to be rebuffed. The army was called out in Kupwara and right across south Kashmir – although that last resort that was not used even when there was a greater rage on the streets in 2010.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. ReutersUnrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

There is every reason to believe that the unrest of 2016 has only subsided; it is not over. Anger still simmers. Indeed, many observers within Kashmir not only predict more unrest in 2017 but that it will surface much earlier in the year than it did in 2016.

And yet, various sections of what pass for political leaders have been playing short-term politics of the sort that prioritises expected advantage to one’s party over the national interest or the objective of long-term stable peace.

Even National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah did it in early December. And Mehbooba Mufti’s government did it in July.

The latest is the controversy over granting domicile certificates to those who are called ‘West Pakistan refugees’ in the state. These are the about 100,000 descendants of those who, during the murderous mayhem of the 1947 Partition violence, scrambled across the border from Pakistani Punjab into areas around Jammu.

Many of them are of Dalit background and have little political or economic clout. Ergo, they need positive discrimination from the state more than others.

The ‘West Pakistan refugees’ are distinct from those who fled that horrible year from Mirpur and Muzaffarabad areas on what are now Pakistan-controlled parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large numbers of them and their descendants too live in Jammu – with all the rights of state subjects.

Several states, including Himachal, deny domicile rights to those who are not, or are not descended from, longtime residents. However, the denial of domicile rights — which basically boils down to access to state educational institutions, state government jobs and ownership of freehold property — to those who have been residents of the state for 70 years is clearly unjustified.

There can be no doubt that, owing to the special circumstances of their migration to the state, and the length of these families’ stay, they deserve the domicile status they were given a few days ago.

However, this is an inappropriate time to grant it. For, that grant has been resisted for decades by Kashmiri Muslims who fear that domicile status could be a first step towards their getting full citizenship of the state. That, they fear, could dilute their own demographic and political domination.

Explosive situation

I have pointed out before that the Kashmiri uprising of 2016 was different to the uprising of 2010 or 2008. One, Pakistan has been in far greater control this year than it was, particularly in 2008. Two, India does not face Pakistan alone on the battlefield that Kashmir has become. It is a Sino-Pak axis now. Three, the challenge may only have begun to emerge. Worse lies ahead than we experienced in 2016.

Of course, the BJP feels pressure to fulfill the poll promise it made to the refugees. Politically, it touches more than the 100,000 persons it directly affects, for the issue strikes a chord among many in the Jammu-Samba-Udhampur-Katra heartland of Hindu identity consciousness. So the BJP would fear an electoral backlash if its promise remains unfulfilled.

And yet, the dangers inherent in implementing this at this point are huge. Intelligence analysts may have advised that the beginning of the peak of an extraordinarily cold winter was the safest time to do it. Energy is low as people across the Valley try and cope with the cold and power outages.

Yet, anger over the issue has gathered steam. Hartals and stone-pelting demonstrations have begun again over the past few days. Independence leaders such as JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Bar Association president Abdul Qayoom have been given a fresh lease of popular support to demonstrate against the domicile status.

Once again, Pulwama has been a hub of unrest. The generally well-informed Ghulam Rasool Pandit had predicted to me that the unrest would revive again in 2017. “Why do you talk about summer?” he asked. “It could begin much sooner.” When I asked him about spring, he smiled laconically and asked why I did not consider January. Pandit is well connected on both sides of the conflict. His son, Naseer, became one of the best-known and popular militants of the area after he left the police to take up the gun. Naseer was killed last spring.

At that time, the police and government had made much of having demolished the insurgency with arrests and ‘kills’ of militants. A couple of months later, they seemed to be at the end of their tether in the face of mass rage.

The move to give West Pakistan Refugees domicile status may be entirely deserved on the face of it, but it stems from a similar sense of misplaced complacency. The nation may have to pay a huge price for such complacency and narrow political calculations.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:07 IST

Property Act: Opposition to SC ruling ‘misplaced’, says J&K finance minister Drabu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the opposition to SC ruling on the SARFAESI Act with respect to Jammu and Kashmir as “completely misplaced”, state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Saturday said the apex court has only reaffirmed that the state laws prevail.”I think we will have a lot of occasion to discuss this in the Assembly, but I think it (opposition to the SC ruling) is completely misplaced… the Opposition has been doing this for very very long.”While speaking at a Jammu and Kashmir Bank event here, Drabu told reporters that “there is nothing in the Act (to be opposed). In fact, it reaffirms quite a few things, one of which is that the Transfer of Property Act actually prevails over SARFAESI (the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act)”.According to him, banks cannot sell any immovable mortgaged property to non-state subjects.”In the event of a bank taking recourse to property, they cannot sell it to a non-state subject and in the last budget, I had already made a provision for an asset recovery company with the J-K Bank which can buy these impaired assets,” he said.”So, I think the Opposition is completely clueless in what they are saying and bears no relation to what the Act has and it is not today, this has been going on since 2003,” he claimed.Referring to his stint in the bank as its chairman, he recalled making some pertinent proposals.”But I think what eventually has happened is we have got clarity on it that the Transfer of Property Act of J-K will actually prevail over this (SARFAESI) and you cannot sell any immovable mortgage property to non-state subjects.” It can be a huge business opportunity for J-K bank, he felt.Asked if the state would bring any other law on the issue, he said the law department will have to discuss the same.

JKLF chairman Yasin Malik detained before protest march in Pulwama

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was on Friday detained at Pulwama as he led his supporters to stage a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistani Refugees.Malik was detained along with several of his supporters.They were taken into preventive custody, a police official said.Separatists groups had called for protests on Friday against the government decision to issue identity certificates to West Pakistan Refugees living in the state since partition in 1947.The state government has decided to issue identity cards to the refugees and had to issue clarification after protests from opposition parties and separatists against the move. Initially, reports had said the opposition was against the government move to issue domicile certificates, but the state government said it was issuing identity certificates.Other political organisations, including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, have slammed separatists for opposing the issuance of certificates to the refugees.The refugees, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary polls. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the state assembly and local bodies.

Absurd even by their standards: India slams Pakistan for calling RSS, Shiv Sena ‘terrorist organizations’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India slammed Pakistan for labelling certain Indian political parties and social organisations as terror outfits, calling it a “desperate attempt” at deflecting international focus from Islamabad’s complicity in “spawning” terrorist groups like LeT, JuD and JeM. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s statement yesterday linking political parties and social organisations to terror was “absurd even by Pakistan’s standards”. “Labelling bonafide Indian political parties and social and cultural organisations as terrorist organisations seems a desperate attempt to deflect international focus from Pakistan’s own complicity in spawning internationally proscribed organisations like LeT, JuD and JeM, which continue to target Pakistan’s neighbours from territory under Pakistan’s control,” he said. Swarup was responding to a query on Pakistan’s comments ysterday on Jammu and Kashmir and allegations against certain political parties and organisations.The official spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign Ministry had yesterday said, “Terrorist organisations such as RSS, Vishwa Hindu Prasad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and other terrorist elements” are engaged in the drive to change demography of Kashmir.

J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Poonch, one civilian killed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One civilian was killed as Pakistani Army indulged in heavy cross border firing targeting Indian positions and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting the Indian side to retaliate.”Pakistani troops targeted the Indian Army posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch sector with small arms, automatic and mortars at 1655 hours,” an army officer said.He said the army was retaliating strongly and effectively to the ceasefire violation.One civilian has been killed in the ongoing firing, a senior police officer said.On December 16, Pakistan had violated ceasefire by targeting Indian positions along the LoC in Balakote sector of the same district.The ceasefire violation had come after a lull of over three weeks after the Indian troops had launched a counter- offensive against Pakistan on November 23 against the killing of three soldiers in the Machhil sector of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on November 22, with body of one of them being mutilated. Following the incident, Indian Army had vowed a heavy “retribution”.The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with over 300 incidents of firing and shelling along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops.Over 26 people, including 14 security personnel, have been killed in ceasefire violations since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

J-K: Encounter underway between security forces and militants in Bandipora

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-08:41am , Jammu and Kashmir , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Bandipora district of north Kashmir this morning, police said.Acting on specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in Shahgund village of Hajin area of the district, security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation, a police official said here.He said as the forces were conducting the search operation, the hiding militants fired upon them, triggering an encounter.The operation is still going on, the official said.

Tackle ‘human wrong’ in the region: Hamid Ansari

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vice President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday emphasised that there is a “crying need” to address ‘human security and human wrong’ in the region to ensure that perception and capacity can be developed for correctives. Ansari was in the city to release the book, ‘August Voices: What they said on 14-15 August 1947’ authored by Sudheendra Kulkarni, who heads Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Ansari also spoke of better respect of rights and dignity of citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and encouraging movement of people and trade including that of films for better relations in the region even as SAARC was failing. The function was held at the Fort Campus of Mumbai University after the venue was shifted from Anjuman-e-Islam in CST due to security reasons. It was attended by Vinod Tawde, education minister, Subhash Deshmukh, vice chancellor of Mumbai Univeristy, Dr. Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-E-Islam among others. The book pitches for rapproachment of India-Pakistan, and in Kulkarni’s words looks to “end the poisonous two-nation theory into three peace promoting nations” and bring “reconciliation and reunion” among them. For it, the book has speeches of eight eminent personalities from the freedom struggle and what they said. This, Kulkarni said, can be core for better relations and bigger union of the entirety of South Asia. “The thought did persist with some decision-makers that the impending happening was somewhat unreal, not altogether desirable, and hopefully transitory. The latter aspect, however, was not investigated or spelt out… The theme of the book before us is to project a scenario of the possibility of South Asian Union with the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh confederation at the core,” said Ansari. Backing solutions to ease relations between people that Kulkarni advocates, Ansari said, “Our author seeks a solution of plunging headlong into the core differences. He suggests a ‘cultural and spiritual confederation’ that would subdue and overcome extremist perceptions.” Such solutions, said Ansari come from common actions that are easier in times of convergence by moving beyond the “traditional paradigm of conventional security into those of human security and human wrong.”Ansari advocated this by better human security, movement of people, and trade without reasonable restrictions, and “conscious promotion” rather than “studied prevention of cultural exchanges, films and other cultural activities”. “The experience of SAARC has not been encouraging and therefore alternate strategies need to be explored. The proposed new structure would have to be voluntary and devoid of overt or covert coercion… Political commitment and modalities have to surface to resolve outstanding areas of disagreement. Foremost amongst these is what the Simla Agreement of 1972 called ‘a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir’. Its domestic dimensions as well as trans-LOC incursions have been in the news of late. The state is doing all that is necessary to confront and repel terrorism. The state also has a duty to ensure that rights and dignity of our citizens in the state are respected and ensured and shortcomings effectively addressed.”

Jammu: Farooq Abdullah attacks people calling him ‘Pakistani’

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

Jammu and Kashmir: Masarat Alam’s detention held illegal, HC orders release of hardline Hurriyat leader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered release of senior hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Masrat Alam Bhat, who has been in preventive custody under the Public Safety Act since April 2015.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, while allowing Masarat’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, held his detention illegal on several grounds.

“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said in its order on Wednesday.

Bhat has been booked under PSA several times since April 2015 and the latest order in the series was issued by District Magistrate Baramulla. According to the order, Masarat was accused of making the ongoing agitation “successful” while in custody of the state authorities.

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The order was passed on the basis of Masarat’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited him at District Jail, Baramulla. The persons had requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.

The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, they met Masarat, who allegedly advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the turmoil. A case was registered against Masarat at police station Baramulla on 30 August, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.

“Even otherwise, record would show statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded.Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Barrack No.7, whereas (Masarst) was lodged in Barrac No.8.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.

The court also rendered the detention order illegal for the reason that the bail application of Masarat had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in state custody.

The detaining authority, in this situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Masarat) being released on bail.

The Court said, “democratic society not only swears but lives by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings”.

Masarat was released after four-and-half years of detention soon after the PDP-BJP government took charge in March last year.

However, he was re-arrested on 17 April, 2015 and detained under the PSA for alleged anti-national activities during a rally to welcome Geelani home from Delhi.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:07 IST

Mehbooba Mufti hopes to turn Kashmir into a world-class tourism destination

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing tourism as the best mean to promote people-to-people engagement, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said her government was making efforts to create a world-class tourist infrastructure.”Tourism promotes people-to-people contact and tourists become goodwill ambassadors of a place. Like the maxim ‘seeing is believing’, a tourist can testify the veracity of the claim about a place only after visiting it,” she said.She dismissed the notion that the state was unsafe for tourists in the aftermath of months-long unrest in the Valley. “Jammu and Kashmir is as safe for tourists, particularly women, as any other place in the country,” she said here at an meeting with a delegation of tour operators from across India.Mehbooba said her government plans to create a world-class tourism infrastructure in the state.”Road connectivity to tourist destinations, bed capacity at tourist spots, wayside facilities etc are being improved and upgraded to address the requirements of every segment of tourists. Theme-based parks and places are being added to provide variety of attraction to tourists.”Similarly, heritage lovers and trekkers would be having more spots and treks to visit by adding new heritage sites and routes to their check list,” the chief minister said.Every region in the state has a unique attraction for tourists and they should be promoted, she said.The state’s tourism department has organised a three-day familiarisation tour to the Valley for travel agents from Bangalore, Mumbai, Gujarat and Indore.The agents, who arrived here yesterday, pitched for point- to-point rail services from Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata to the Valley to facilitate the travel of tourists to Kashmir, and sought subsidy in aviation fuel charges to bring down air fares.

Kashmir Valley experiences slight relief from cold

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kashmir Valley experienced a slight relief from intense cold as the minimum temperature went up in the region while the mercury plummeted in Ladakh by several degrees.Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 2.2 degrees celsius which is an increase of over two degrees from the Saturday night’s minus 4.4 degrees celsius, an official of the MET department said.He said along with the capital city, the night temperature marked an increase across the Valley, except the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, where the mercury went down by nearly three degrees to settle at a low of minus 4.6 degrees celsius. The resort had registered the low of minus 2 degrees celsius on the previous night.Pahalgam hill resort, in south Kashmir, witnessed a low of minus 2.9 degrees celsius, which is an increase of nearly two degrees from minus 4.6 degrees celsius 24 hours earlier.”The night temperature in Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir Valley, went up by over four degrees from Saturday’s minus 4 degrees celsius to settle above the freezing point at a low of 0.3 degree celsius,” the official said.He said Kokernag, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum of minus 4.5 degrees celsius. Kargil, in Ladakh region, was the coldest recorded place in the state as the night temperature there went down by nearly six degrees from the previous night’s minus 4.1 degrees celsius to settle at a low of minus 9.9 degrees celsius, the official said.He said the nearby Leh town recorded a low of minus 9.4 degrees celsius, a decrease of nearly eight degrees from minus 1.5 degrees celsius.Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ considered the harshest period of winter, when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.’Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21, ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues.The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

Leh safest route on Kaliash Manasarovar yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Focus has shifted to the Centre after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti favoured starting the Kaliash Manasarovar yatra from Leh.“I am in favour of opening of more routes. I strongly favour starting of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra through Leh so that the area gets a tourist and economic boost,” said Mufti.Situated at the altitude of 22,028 feet, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva in Tibet. Pilgrims perform parikrama at Mount Kailash after the arduous trek. En route is the Manasarovar lake in which a dip is considered holy.So far, yatris took two routes—Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim. This involves trekking at altitudes of up to 19,500 feet in inhospitable conditions. An easier route is via Damchok, in the Leh district. However, the Chinese government is reluctant to open this as it falls on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).Leh-Damchok-Mansorvar is the shortest and safest route. In fact, the Ladakhi people have been demanding the opening of this route for economic prosperity as well. A memorandum presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 by former Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, said, “From here, pilgrims can make the trek in two days. This would also give a much-needed fillip to the local economy.”Nawang Rigzin Jora, who represents Leh constituency in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, said India has taken up the matter with China from time to time, but they are reluctant.“They may have their own reasons. There have been incursions off and on (from China) on the Indo China border. Another reason could be Ladakhis are big followers of the Dalai Lama,” Jora said.Jora said there is a road up to the Kailash Mansrovar right from Leh. “Safest route is through Leh. You can fly to Leh, take one or two days to acclimatize and then drive up to Kailash Mansarovar.”

West Pakistan refugees row: Jitendra Singh accuses NC of politics of convenience

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming separatists and National Conference over their stand on West Pakistan refugees issue, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said on Saturday while separatists are doing politics of “convenience not conviction”, the mainstream parties too toe their line when out of power.Terming the opposition to the issuance of identity cards to West Pakistan refugees (WPRs) as a “needless controversy”, he said it is “inhuman” to resist any help to refugees who have been languishing without any livelihood for past 70 years. He said that refugees who chose J-K as their home cannot be held to ransom, “while some their counterparts in rest of the country have become Prime Ministers like Inder Kumar Gujral and Dr Manmohan Singh”.Accusing separatists and NC of “politicking” on the issue, he said, “Separatists lobby of Kashmir are separatists due to their convenience and not because of conviction.” “Similarly the so-called mainstream politicians tend totake the separatist line because the moment they take to power they swear that J&K is integral part of India and when they are shunted out of power, they overnight start questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh told reporters here. The Minister of State in PMO was replying to questions about opposition by the separatists and National Conference to issuance of identity certificates to WPRs.”This is politicking which is happening by some who are devoid of conviction and ideology.”It is the duplicity of these elements to hoodwink the innocent masses of Jammu and Kashmir but the saving grace is that youth of the state is wiser than before,” Union Minister said. Singh, while replying to other questions on the issue, said, “It is meaningless controversy. It is avoidable controversy”. “They (refugees) can not be held to ransom for the simple reason that they chose their residence in Jammu or Jammu and Kashmir after partition.”Therefore the nation owes a dignified livelihood to them. This politicking which has just started for past two days is primarily motivated by considerations of Kashmir- centric constituencies,” he said.Singh said it is time for all, regardless of political affiliations and ideologies, to take a holistic view regarding the issue. He said those raising their voice against the step include many who failed to address the issue despite being in power during the last seven decades. “This set of activists are unable to digest it,” he said. While separatists have alleged that the move is aimed at changing the demography of the state, the NC claimed that the step will dilute Article 370 on special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Decrying the “false and contrived” impression being created regarding the change of status of WPRs, Jammu and Kashmir Government had on Thursday made it clear that such reports are deliberately being circulated to destabilise the situation and hit the political and economic interests of the people. “It seems an orchestrated and misleading campaign has been launched to create an impression that the Government is changing the status of the WPR and they are being provided domicile certificates,” Minister for Education and state government spokesman Naeem Akhtar has said in a statement on Thursday.To facilitate them to get jobs in paramilitary forces and other central government establishments, the Government has issued them identity certificates which is in the same format as exists in the voter list for Parliamentary polls, Naeem said.”Issuance of Identity Certificates does in no way change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees and they continue to be non-state subjects,” he said. Several political organisation including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and refugee organisations have hit out at opposition parties and separatists for opposing identity certificates to West Pakistan refugees.

BJP defends J&K government’s decision to issue domicile certificates to Pakistani refugees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amid snowballing row, Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh defended the decision of Jammu and Kashmir government to issue domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees and slammed those opposing the move to address the matter which has been lingering for 70 years.Singh, a senior BJP leader from Jammu, said the country owes it to them since they have been living in the state for last 70 years and have been languishing without jobs and proper livelihood since Independence.Kashmiri separatists have criticised the move by the Jammu and Kashmir government to give domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees, saying it was an attempt to change the demography of the state.”This has absolutely nothing to do with citizenship right per se…those who are trying to make an issue out of it or oppose this should first address the issue of some foreign nationals who have settled down in the suburbs of Jammu,” Singh said.”They (refugees) don’t have the citizenship right and State Subject certificate in absence of any identity proof as a result they can not apply jobs. Therefore, the state government in consultation with Union Home Ministry devised a mechanism where each of them could be provided proof of identity to ensure them a dignified means of livelihood,” the minister said. Singh noted that the counterparts of such refugees like I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh, who settled in other parts of the India, rose to occupy the office of Prime Minister.JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik attempted to stage a protest demonstration in Srinagar today against the move, saying it was a bid to change Muslim-majority character of the state.An Independent MLA of the state Sheikh Rasheed also launched a 48-hour protest outside the residence of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today against the decision.

Electric bulbs glow after 70 years in cold desert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It took more than 70 years for the people in the upper reaches of Kargil to see an electric bulb glowing.Thanks to solar energy, Stakchey brok and Fooker Bodh Kharbu villages situated at the altitude of 14000 feet, have been electrified for the first time since Independence.Since the villages are located at a higher altitude, the authorities had not laid electric cables and poles in these remote areas. This resulted in the people living in abject darkness and using traditional and hazardous means of lighting.Come 2016, the Kargil Renewable Energy Development Agency (KREDA) has installed 12 grids using state-of-the-art DC Nano Grid solar technology to electrify the two villages. Three grids with 250W, 100W, and 70W capacity have been installed in Stakchey brok. Nine grids — three each with 70W capacity, one grid with 250W and five grids of 100W capacity — have been installed in Fookar Bodh Kharboo .”It is for the first time that the villagers are seeing an electricity bulb glowing in their homes. We had given them a home lighting system (solar lantern) in 2010, but its life was only for five years. Now we have used Nano Grid technology to electrify the villages”, Kacho Ahmad Ali Khan, Project Director, Kargil Renewable Energy Development Agency (KREDA), told DNA.Located 80 kilometres away from the town of Kargil, and situated at an altitude of 14000 feet, the two villages house 38 families comprising 150 souls. Most of the villagers eke out their living by rearing cattle. Some of the villages migrate to the plains during winters to graze their cattle.”What we have done is that we have connected three to four houses with one grid. We have given 7-10 LED lights to each family. Every room of the family will now have an LED bulb. The technology is such that the grid is capable of handling the load. Plus the kids of these villagers will now be able to study at home”, said Kacho.After achieving this incredible feat, the Jammu and Kashmir government has set another goal of setting up a 100 KW solar power project to electrify the bigger village on the higher altitudes.”Under this project we will be installing a 100 KW plant to tap the solar power which could cater to a large population in the area”, said Kacho.

Leopard trapped in wire fence at LoC rescued

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A six-year old leopard was trapped in a multi-layer razor wire fence on Line of Control (LoC), while trying to cross over. The Army sprung in to action and sent an SOS to the wild life authorities to save the animal in distress.The male leopard had injured his leg when it tried to cross the LoC fence in the Poonch sector a few days ago. The fence is an effective anti-infiltration obstacle system established by the Army to prevent the ingress of militants into Indian side from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). It was not immediately known whether the leopard was trying to infiltrate or exfilitrate into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”We got a call from the Army that leopard has been trapped in the fence. We immediately rushed a rescue team to the area. They found leopard trapped in the fence. Its leg had got stuck in between the wires and the animal was trying hard to pull it out. In that process the animal suffered injuries,” Nain Chand Sharma, Wild Life Warden, Rajouri-Poonch range, told DNA.Wild life rescuers pulled out the animal from the fence in a meticulously planned operation. A veterinarian was immediately summoned who administered first aid to the animal before it was shifted to the Jammu zoo for specialised treatment.”Our veterinary doctor at zoo examined the animal and administered injection. After check up, he declared animal fit for releasing in the wild. We later took animal back and released it in its natural habitat near Mughal Road,” said Sharma.What added an interesting feature to the whole saga was that the concern shown by the Army troops who dutifully informed the wild life authorities to rescue the animal in distress.”They did not fire at the animal. Had they fired the animal would have died. In the morning troops when troops saw the animal trapped in the fence they immediately called us up,” said Sharma.Wildlife authorities said the population of leopards have increased manifold in the upper reaches of Poonch where the LoC is located. However the authorities have not been able to conduct any census since the area is highly sensitive.”It happens in this area quite often that wild animals like leopards try to cross the fence. It is not an untold story. It is a forested area. There is no fence at the zero line. At some places fence is half a kilometer ahead of the zero line in our area,” said Mohommad Harun Malik, deputy commissioner of Poonch.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Pampore attack despite intelligence warning; India lifts Junior Hockey World Cup trophy; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. J&K: Pampore attack despite strong intelligence warningAccording to some senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir police, all precautions were being taken but the race against time was lost when around 2 pm, three motorcycle-borne gunmen ambushed the convoy. Read more.2. Junior Hockey World Cup: India colts on cusp of new era, beat Belgium to lift trophy after 15 yearsWith junior hockey team manager Oltmans promising perfect hockey, hosts will hope to recreate history as they face Belgium in final today. Read more.3. Wary of increasing Chinese activity in neighbourhood, India to revive Special Service BureauThe move to revive the Bureau, in addition to a dedicated Mountain Corps and deployment of the Brahmos missiles along the Indo-China border. Read more.4. Writer from Kerala charged with sedition for allegedly insulting national anthemKamal C Chavara, alias Kamalsy Prana, was taken into custody on charges of insulting the national anthem in a Facebook post. Read more.5. Army chief appointment: Govt cites Rawat’s track record to blunt opposition’s attackOpposition has attacked the govt and asked for compelling reason behind not adhering to long established norms of seniority in Army Chief appointment. Read more.

PDP-BJP govt allowing step-by step erosion of Article 370: Omar Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Supreme Court held that Jammu and Kashmir has “no vestige” of sovereignty outside Indian Constitution and its own statute which is subordinate, Omar Abdullah on Sunday hit out at PDP-led government saying its “weak” legal defence of state’s special status was “alarming” as it was allowing “step-by-step erosion” of Article 370.Asking the state government to come clean on the issue, the NC leader targeted the PDP, alleging that it seems it has decided to facilitate the “long-cherished desire” of its alliance partner BJP “to circumvent and subvert the Constitution of the state” and attributes of Article 370.”The state government’s weak legal defence of various sensitive attributes of the state’s special status is alarming. The deliberate callousness shown by the state government indicated the tacit connivance of PDP in allowing the step-by-step erosion of Article 370 through a series of politically patronised cases and litigation. The PDP-BJP Government should come clean on its stand on this vital issue that could have far reaching implications for the State,” the former Chief Minister said in Srinagar.
ALSO READ Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir within Constitution of India: Supreme CourtThe opposition National Conference (NC) working president said the state government’s counsel in the Supreme Court has made it evident that the state government prima facie “does not oppose” the application of the SARFAESI Act in Jammu and Kashmir.”This has far reaching implications as the application of the SARFAESI Act to J-K was debatable in the context of Article 370 of the Constitution of India as also the provisions of the J-K Transfer of Property Act. Instead of highlighting these arguments and points of view, the state government’s counsel virtually conceded before the SC that Parliament was competent to extend SARFESI Act to J-K,” Omar said, alleging this “implicates” the state government in a visible pattern of such incidents that “are aimed at undermining” the state’s Constitution and Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
ALSO READ J&K residents are ‘first and foremost’ citizens of India, state’s sovereignty within Indian Constitution: SCOmar was reacting after the apex court held that provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.The bench set aside the verdict of Jammu and Kashmir High Court that had held that any law made by Parliament, which affects the laws made by state legislature, cannot be extended to Jammu and Kashmir.”The State of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India,” a bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman has said.”It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India,” it has said.

Pampore attack: Army conducts intensive search, cordons off three villages after militants kill three jawans

Following the Saturday’s attack on an Army convoy in Pampore that claimed the lives of three soldiers, the Indian Army on Sunday conducted a house to house search in the area in a quest to nab the militants behind the attack.

According to a report by India Today, the Indian Army has cordoned off three villages in the region and a massive search operation is on in the region.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In the lethal attack on an army convoy on Saturday, three Indian soldiers were killed, while two other jawans were injured. The attack was staged at a place crowded with civilians in Pampore of Jammu and Kashmir on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

According to a report in PTI, army sources said that the militants were able to inflict casualties as the forces exercised restraint and did not retaliated in order to avoid civilian casualties.

The army convoy was on its way from Jammu to Srinagar when the attack took place in Pampore.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the militants might have used motorcycles to carry out the deadly attack and search operations were going on in the surrounding areas since Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army on Sunday payed tribute to the martyrs: Naik (Gnr) Ratheesh, Gunner Farate Sourabh Nandkumar and Gunner Shashikant Pandey.

In a solemn ceremony at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar, many senior officials from security agencies including Jammu and Kashmir Police, CRPF, BSF and SSB, joined General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps, Lt Gen J S Sandhu and all ranks in paying homage to the martyrs. Many officials from the civil administration, including Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan were also present on the occasion.

“Martyr Naik (Gnr) Ratheesh C (35) had joined army in 2001 and hailed from Kotolipram, Kannur district in Kerala and is survived by his wife and a son,” an Indian Army official told PTI.

He said 33-year-old Gunner Farate Sourabh Nandkumar of Bhekrai Nagar village in Pune of Maharasthra had donned the uniform in 2004 and is survived by his wife and twin daughters.

Gunner Shashikant Pandey (24) had four years of service and was on his way to join his unit in the Valley. Hailing from Zharian area of Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, he is survived by his parents, the official said.

The mortal remains of the martyrs would be flown for last rites to their native places where they would be laid to rest with full military honours, he said.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 17:54 IST

Army pays tributes to 3 soldiers killed in Pampore attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army on Sunday paid floral tributes to the three soldiers killed in a militant attack on an army convoy at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.”In a solemn ceremony at Badami Bagh Cantonment here, many senior officials from security agencies including Jammu and Kashmir Police, CRPF, BSF and SSB, joined General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps, Lt Gen J S Sandhu and all ranks in paying homage to the martyrs on behalf of a proud nation,” an army official said.Many officials from the civil administration, including Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan were also present on the occasion.
ALSO READ Terrorists attack army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Pampore, 3 soldiers dead Three soldiers were on Saturday killed, while two others jawans were injured in the attack at a place crowded with civilians in Pampore of Jammu and Kashmir.”Martyr Naik (Gnr) Ratheesh C (35) had joined army in 2001 and hailed from Kotolipram, Kannur district in Kerala and is survived by his wife and a son,” the official said. He said 33-year-old Gunner Farate Sourabh Nandkumar of Bhekrai Nagar village in Pune of Maharasthra had donned the uniform in 2004 and is survived by his wife and twin daughters.Gunner Shashikant Pandey (24) had four years of service and was on his way to join his unit in the Valley. Hailing from Zharian area of Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, he is survived by his parents, the official said.The mortal remains of the martyrs would be flown for last rites to their native places where they would be laid to rest with full military honours, he said.In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families of the martyrs and remains committed to their needs and wellbeing, the official said.

Cong says Rahul would have exposed PM, BJP leader asks where is he going to explode bomb

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that if Rahul Gandhi would have been allowed to speak in Parliament, the Prime Minister would have been “exposed”.”Well he (Rahul Gandhi) was not given the opportunity as he wanted to say something on the floor of the House. Had he been given the opportunity to speak in the Parliament, he (Prime Minister) would have been exposed,” the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters here.Azad said that if there was nothing to hide, then why the government and the MPs of the ruling party did not allow Rahul Gandhi to speak.”(It was) because they did not want him (Prime Minister) to be exposed (by Rahul Gandhi),” Azad said.Azad, who is also the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, blamed the BJP for the five-month long unrest in the Valley, stating that BJP being part of the government did not go well with the people of the state.Meanwhile, reacting to Congress vice-President’s ‘Modi-made disaster’ remark, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Rahul Gandhi is yet to make ‘earthquake’ like revelations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”I expected Rahul Gandhi to explode his earthquake statement in Belgaum, but I did not see any of it. Some of the Congress spokesperson were claiming on Friday that Rahul Gandhi will speak about it. What happened, where is he going to explode that bomb,” said BJP leader S. Prakash.He said that making hollow and sensational claims is a very but it is difficult to prove them as is the case with Gandhi.”A person of his calibre should weigh every word before commenting or claiming something against the Prime Minister. Today, his reputation has been completely tarnished and his image is dented. So, he should bother about the disaster he has created for himself,” added Prakash.On the issue of Robert Vadra’s Bikaner land row, Azad said that the BJP government in order to hide its own failures was “befooling” the people of the country by raking up “non issues”.”Let me tell you whenever there has been an attack on the BJP or its corruption or misdoing (is exposed) they will try to divert the attention by saying this has happened and that has happened,” he said.On the Augusta Westland issue, Azad said, “Sometimes they raise Augusta. Same Augusta thing which was discussed for six hours in the Parliament and we had said about Augusta there was nothing and whatever deal was struck it was not concluded the government came to the conclusion that there was something fishy and it was the UPA government which initiated the CBI enquiry.”

Army convoy attacked on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Pampore, 3 soldiers dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Militants on Saturday attacked an army convoy by opening fire on it at Pampore on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.According to initial reports, three soldiers have been killed in the attack. Two others are injured The terrorists fled after the attack and a manhunt is on to nab the culprits. Preliminary investigations suggest that the militants might have used motorcycles to carry out the deadly attack, according to an army official quoted by PTI. The ultras opened fire on the army convoy at Kadlabal in Pampore town of Pulwama district this afternoon, a police official said. Security forces have cordoned off the adjoining residential area and launched search operation to track down the militants, he added.With agency inputs

Jammu and Kashmir: Three soldiers killed in terrorist attack on army convoy in Pampore

Three soldiers were killed and two others injured in a terrorist attack on an army convoy at a crowded place at Pampore on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway on Saturday.

“Three soldiers have been martyred in a terrorist attack on a convoy at Pampore. Search operations are underway,” an army official said.

He said further details were awaited.

A police official said two soldiers were also injured in the attack that took place at the place crowded with civilians at Kadlabal in Pampore town of Pulwama district on Saturday afternoon.

He said the security forces exercised restraint and did not retaliated in order to avoid civilian casualties.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the militants might have used motorcycles to carry out the deadly attack, the official said, adding search operations were going on in the surrounding areas to track down the assailants.

The army convoy was on its way from Jammu to Srinagar when the attack took place.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 16:34 IST

Sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir within Constitution of India: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s assertion that the state’s sovereignty cannot be challenged or altered, reports the Indian Express. The apex court said that the state has “no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India”.It has also declined the HC’s view that the state’s Constitution was equal to that of India’s Constitution. Citing the preamble of the Constitution of J&K, 1957, the top court said, “It is clear that the state of Jammu & Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India… they (residents of state) are governed first by the Constitution of India and also by the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.” In a landmark ruling last year in July, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said that the sovereignty of the state remained “legally and constitutionally” intact and could be challenged, altered or abridged. “The sovereignty of the State of J&K under the rule of Maharaja, even after signing of Instrument of Accession and in view of framing of its own Constitution, thus ‘legally and constitutionally remained intact and untampered’,” a division bench of the court said.The SC bench said that it found several parts of HC judgment in the appeal, which spoke about the absolute sovereign power of the state, disturbing. The judges said, “It is necessary to reiterate that Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which was framed by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, makes a ringing declaration that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. And this provision is beyond the pale of amendment.” It also said that that HC needs to be reminded that the state subjects are “first and foremost” Indian citizens and it was completely incorrect to describe it as being sovereign and as a separate and distinct class itself. “The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the High Court, are first and foremost citizens of India… permanent residents of the state of J&K are citizens of India, and that there is no dual citizenship as is contemplated by some other federal Constitutions in other parts of the world,” it said.The SC ruling came during a decision on a legal question on whether the 2002 SARFAESI Act is applicable to the state or if it is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as the provisions will clash with Section 140 of the Transfer of Property Act of J&K. The HC bench had said in its ruling last year that the SARFAESI Act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir owing to this unique constitutional position. “Provisions of the Act can be availed of by the banks, which originate from the State of J&K, for securing the monies which are due to them and which have been advanced to the borrowers, who are not State subjects and residents of the State of J&K and who are non State subjects/non citizens of the State of J&K and residents of any other State of India excepting the State of J&K,” it said. The State Bank of India appealed against this High Court order.The SC has rejected the arguments of the state government that SAFRESI Act was not applicable to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and that it encroached upon the property rights. The state also said that Parliamentary legislation would need to concur with the state government before it could apply to it under Article 370. ““Entries 45 and 95 of List I clothe Parliament with exclusive power to make laws with respect to banking… the Act as a whole would necessarily operate in the state,” the SC bench said. It added that there was a special provision for sale of properties in the state under SAFRESI Act.“It is clear that anything that comes in the way of SARFAESI by way of a Jammu & Kashmir law must necessarily give way to the said law,” said SC judgment, adding that it had no on effect on Article 35A which gives permanent residents of state special rights and privileges regarding acquisition of immovable property in the state.

SC downs shutters on liquor stores along highways

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move to curb the menace of drunken driving, the Supreme Court banned liquor shops along national and state highways on Thursday. Stressing the importance and the need to improve road safety, a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur further ordered that no liquor shops can operate or been seen within 500 metres of the highways.Liquor shops that are functional have been allowed to operate till April 1, 2017, however, licenses will be not be renewed or issued post March 31, 2017. The bench has ordered the chief secretaries of all the states to chalk out a plan to enforce the ban in consultation with excise and municipal officials.The SC gave this directive in response to a PIL filed by the NGO Arrive Safe. According to the NGO, around 1.42 lakh people were killed in road accidents, a majority of which were caused by drunk driving. The NGO claimed that the easy availability of liquor along highways was one of the main reasons for the road accidents.While reserving its order on December 7, the apex court had then expressed its concern over the fatalities reported every year in road mishaps, and indicated that it may direct the closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation. The bench had also stated that it would direct the removal of the signages indicating their location. This move, the bench said was for the safety and security of the commuters on the highways who got “distracted” by seeing the shops and causing accidents.Expressed his unhappiness at the states’ inaction to curb the rising number of shops, Justice Thakur said, “We would not like any vends on national highways, state highways, advertisements, or signage about the availability of liquor shops. We will direct all highway authorities to remove all sign boards. It should be absolutely free from any distraction or attractions. It should not be visible. Visibility is the first temptation.”The bench pointed out that instead of curbing the number of shops, states had increased the number of licenses issued. Lashing out at the Central government for not doing anything concrete for the last 10 years, the court said it was forced to “step in.”The ban order came when the apex court was hearing petitions challenging various high court orders that disapproved the sale of liquor on highways. However, not all states were in the favour of the ban. Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab were in the forefront of voicing their opposition to the ban.The court heavily came down on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vends are under or near it. “Look at the number of licences you (Punjab) have given. Because the liquor lobby is so powerful, everyone is happy. The excise department is happy, the excise minister is happy and the state government is also happy that they are making money. If a person dies due to this, you give Rs one or 1.5 lakh. That is it. You should take a stand which is helpful for the society,” the bench had said.The court also criticised Punjab for defending the interest of the liquor lobby saying, “You are acting like a mouthpiece for the liquor lobby by defending the policy.” The advocate representing Punjab appealed to the bench that also comprised of the CJI along with Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageshwar Rao, that the ban should be made effective from April 1, 2017 to avoid a loss of Rs. 1,000 crore to the exchequer.To the Jammu and Kashmir government, the apex court had said “You can start a door delivery of liquor,” in response to their argument that if the vends are away from the highway, people would have problems accessing them due to the terrains.Dry states (and union territories) in IndiaGujaratBiharNagalandLakhswadeepKerela (partial ban)State Actions against AlcoholRecently deceased Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha shut down 500 liquor stores on May 23, the first day of her fourth term as Chief Minister.In Bihar, the government issued a notification where those consuming alcohol could be jailed for up to seven years and fined by Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, two days after the Patna High Court quashed its order on banning alcohol consumption.

Terrorists loot Rs 11 lakh from Ratnipora branch of Jammu and Kashmir Bank

Thu, 15 Dec 2016-03:23pm , Pulwama , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In yet another incident of robbery, the terrorists looted Rs 11 lakh from Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s Ratnipora branch here on Wednesday.A similar incident had taken place earlier on December 8 when unidentified men targeted the same bank’s branch in Pulwama, looting Rs 13.38 lakh.Several cases of bank loot have come to the fore in the state post the demonetization move announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want assurance that pellet guns will not be used indiscriminately: Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday said pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government while seeking their replies on a plea alleging “excessive” use of pellet guns in the state. The apex court also sought assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the issue and asked him to submit copy of the report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted for exploring other alternatives to pellet guns.”Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is requested to assist this Court and to place on record a copy of the report, if any, submitted by the Expert Committee, constituted by the Government of India in terms of its Office Memorandum/Order dated July 26, 2016… Needful be done within six weeks from today,” the bench also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud said while posting the matter for hearing on January 30. “All that we want is an assurance that pellet guns will not be used indiscriminately or excessively in the state and will be resorted to after proper application of mind,” the bench observed.The court was hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the High Court order seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.Taking note of the statement, the High Court had disposed of the petition, saying that no further direction was required since the matter was being looked at by the Centre. The High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should not have disposed the petition and instead waited or called for the report of the expert committee. The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.It had also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that all the injured are extended adequate medical treatment by specialists for whatever injury they sustain.

Former Pak army man arrested on the International Border in Jammu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has been exposed again after Border Security Force (BSF) arrested 65-year-old former Pakistan army man when he was trying to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir from the International Border (IB) in Ramgarh sector of Samba district in Jammu division.Mohammad Baksh hailing from Village Gandiya of Sialkot was arrested on Monday night when he was attempted to sneak in under the cover of dense fog and thick sarkanda (elephant grass) growth.Two Pakistani 500 rupee currency notes, two identity cards, one small knife and one paper with “CMA Lahore Cantt” written on it with pen was recovered from his possession.”It would be relevant to mention here that the Pakistani agencies are making desperate and regular attempts to infiltrate militants/intruders with ill intentions inside Indian territory in order to execute their nefarious designs,” said a BSF spokesman.Giving further details, the spokesman said suspected movement of four to five persons was noticed inside Pakistan territory close to the International Boundary on Monday night.”The vigilant BSF troops kept their movement under close observation despite poor visibility in the area. In order to have a better observation of the area, BSF troops fired Para Illuminating Bombs; the suspected persons retreated back towards Pakistan territory”, he said.However after some time, movement of another suspected person was again spotted by the alert sentries close to the International Boundary at about 50 meters ahead of fence.”The alert BSF jawan challenged the intruder but he kept on moving without any heed. A few precautionary rounds were fired in his direction. However, the intruder escaped unhurt due to the undulating ground in the area. After that, the entire area was kept under strict vigil. Subsequently, the intruder again showed up at some distance and was apprehended by BSF party ahead of fence,” he said.On preliminary questioning, Baksh revealed his name and mentioned that he has served in Pakistan Army and is now a pensioner.Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontier, DK Upadhyay told DNA that generally old people work as guides for infiltrators and when they are caught they pretend to be insane.”He could have been guide or he might have to be sent to see whether BSF is vigilant or not or to do recci of some route where from people could be infiltrated. His interrogation is still on,” he saidLast time on September 23, Border Security Force (BSF) arrested a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander when he was trying to infiltrate into the Indian side of IB at Pragwal sector of Akhnoor area in Jammu division. Abdul Qayum, 32, of Pul Bajuan village in Sialkot, Pakistan, was arrested when he was trying to negotiate border fence to infiltrate into Indian territory.

Jammu and Kashmir: Former Pakistani army man arrested by BSF along IB in Samba

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An ex-army man from Pakistan was arrested by BSF while he was trying to sneak into the country from the International Border (IB) along Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.The intruder, who was nabbed last evening, has been identified as Mohammed, 65, of village-Gandyal in Pasroor tehsil of Sialkot, which is in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a senior BSF officer said, adding that the man disclosed that he had retired from Pakistan army.”Late last evening, alert BSF troops noticed suspicious movement on Pakistani side near the fence in Ramgarh Sector and they fired a few rounds,” a senior BSF officer said.The officer said visibility was hindered due to fog and wild growth.”Later, at some distance at about 01:00 hours, a BSF jawan on duty again observed suspicious movement of a person in front of a fence on Indian side of IB,” he said.The intruder was forced to surrender and was arrested, the officer said.

Dream of a madman: Pakistan on Rajnath Singh’s ‘splinter into 10 pieces’ comment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India’s dream of splitting Pakistan into several geographical entities is “nothing but a fallacy”, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said today, terming it as “dream of a madman” which will never be realised.”BJP’s dream of splitting Pakistan is nothing but a fallacy. In fact it is dream of a madman which will never be fulfilled,” Khan said in a statement a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh warned that Pakistan would get “splintered” into 10 pieces if it failed to quell terrorism. Khan described Rajnath’s remarks as just a “shallow claim”. “India is being divided not by any other country, but its own policies,” Khan said, accusing ruling BJP of following anti-minority polices and targeting Muslims, Christians, Dalits and other groups.Addressing a Martyrs’ Day function in Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir, Singh yesterday said, “Pakistan came into existence after India got divided on religious lines but it could not keep itself united. In 1971, it got split into two and, if it does not mend its ways, it will get splintered into 10 pieces and India will have no role in it.” Responding to Singh’s remarks, Khan claimed that life has become miserable for minorities in India and they are “facing risks and threats under the Modi government.” “Indian government has erected a wall of hatred in the whole country. BJP government’s hands are stained with the blood of innocent Kashmiris,” he said.
ALSO READ Pakistan will splinter into 10 pieces if it doesn’t stop conspiring against India: Rajnath SinghThe latest spat between the top ministers came amid strained relations between India and Pakistan after a series of terror attacks in India by militants crossing over from Pakistan. Khan went on to accuse India of openly interfering in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. “We wish peace in the region, however, will not accept Indian hegemony,” he asserted. Khan claimed arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav and other Indian agents in Pakistan is “clear proof of Indian meddling into Pakistan affairs.”Jadhav, who was reportedly arrested in Balochistan after he entered from Iran, has been accused by Pakistan of planning “subversive activities” in the country.

No rift in BJP-PDP coalition: Jitendra Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh on Saturday said the coalition regime in Jammu and Kashmir is running smoothly and following the development agenda.”This is just a normal exchange of views and ideas on different issues which normally comes up in any discussion among the various cabinet colleagues and it should be looked in that spirit. There is no need to look too much into it,” he said.”Overall the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir is running smoothly and seriously pursuing the agenda of development which is envisaged in its coalition,” he added.In a first major rift within the ruling alliance in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti walked out of a cabinet meeting yesterday over differences with BJP ministers.The dispute cropped up over the issue of restructuring of Kashmir Police Services or KPS.Mufti got furious after BJP ministers, including deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, objected to the proposal of KPS restructuring.As she left the meeting midway, BJP ministers convened a meeting in the office of the deputy chief minister.

Mehbooba Mufti has a rift with BJP minister, leaves cabinet meeting midway

Sat, 10 Dec 2016-12:40am , Jammu , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti left a Cabinet meeting midway after a rift with a BJP minister over police service restructure. The Chief Minister, who had the rift with the BJP minister over her proposal to restructure the Kashmir Police Service (KPS) officers’ cadre, left the meeting midway, a source privy to the meeting said.She became angry over the issue and immediately left the meeting hall and the secretariat, the source said. As soon as the Chief Minister left the secretariat, the meeting was shifted to the office of Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. Soon a delegation of the ministers headed by Singh also left for the official residence of the Chief Minister and the meeting was still going on. The ministers are trying to placate the chief minister, the source said.

India, Pakistan wasted 70 years in enmity, time for uninterrupted bilateral engagement: Abdul Basit

New Delhi: Striking a conciliatory note amid rising tension in ties, Pakistan today said it does not want to live in “perpetual hostility” with India, noting time has come for the two neighbours to decide whether status quo should continue or a new beginning be made.

Calling for an “uninterrupted and uninterruptable” bilateral engagement, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said the two countries must overcome the differences in order to embark on a “irreversible trajectory” of cooperative relationship.

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. News 18

Maintaining that Pakistan was ready for comprehensive talks with India, Basit, however, said the desire for engagement was missing from the Indian side, adding his government has patience and was ready to wait for resumption of dialogue.

“I think we have wasted 70 years of our existence. Time has now come to make up our mind on what do we want. Whether we would like to continue with the status quo or we want to make a new beginning in our ties,” Basit said.

His comments at a discussion on Indo-Pak relations came amid escalating tension between the two countries over a number of cross-border terror attacks, including at army establishments in Uri and Nagrota, and India’s surgical strikes across the LoC in September.

“Pakistan does not wish to live in perpetual hostility with India. We remain positive and constructive but it takes two to tango. There are serious problems between the two countries. We cannot shy away from them but at the end of the day we can engage in purposeful diplomacy, we can realise results for mutual satisfaction and make a good beginning,” he said.

At the same time, he said, for Pakistan Jammu and Kashmir was the core issue between the two countries and finding a solution to it could bridge the trust deficit them.

“We need to move from conflict management to conflict resolution and that obviously cannot happen unless we talk to each other with sincereity and seriousness of purpose,” Basit said.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 22:54 IST

Jammu and Kashmir: MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid to file motion against cops for assaulting him

Srinagar: Alleging some policemen had assaulted him in Anantnag district last week, Jammu and Kashmir Independent legislator Sheikh Abdul Rashid on Thursday said he would move a privilege motion in the Assembly in this regard.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“There was an attack, a murderous assault, on me on 2 December by some police officials… It was not just a physical attack but it has also destroyed my ego and self-respect. I have decided to file a privilege motion in the Assembly against the attack,” Rashid told reporters in Srinagar.

The legislator, who represents north Kashmir’s Langate in the Assembly, said the incident took place when he was on way to Dooru area of Anantnag for offering condolences to the family of Sajad Ahmad Malik.

Police had claimed that Malik was a history-sheeter and had decamped with a rifle from a police station after which he fired towards an army patrol where he was killed in the exchange of firing.

However, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) has claimed that Malik was an ex-sarpanch belonging to the party and termed the killing as a “politically motivated custodial murder”.

Rashid said on the way to Dooru, he was stopped by police at Khanbal, Anantnag and told that he cannot go further.

“I was manhandled, my clothes were torn, they abused me, kicked me and hit me with gun barrels. They then took me in their vehicle to Bijbehara police station, where a senior police was apologetic about the attack,” he said, adding the Deputy Inspector General of Police concerned told him that the Station Head Officer and a sub-inspector have been placed under suspension.

The legislator said he has also approached Chief Judicial Magistrate, Anantnag for filing a case.

“We have approached the CJM, Anantnag. He took cognizance of the matter and received my application. He has fixed 24 December as the date of hearing in the matter,” he said.

He said his Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) would take out a peaceful march on the occasion of World Human Rights Day on 10 December in Srinagar.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 16:34 IST

Hurriyat made a spelling mistake, think they meant terrorists: Ram Madhav mocks invitation to tourists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Hurriyat’s invitation of “tourists” to Kashmir, BJP leader Ram Madhav said the separatists were more interested in welcoming “terrorists” to the state. “I consider it a spelling mistake by Hurriyat people.They might have mistakenly said tourists in place of terrorists. They always welcome terrorists (to Kashmir),” he told reporters here.The separatist leaders, who have been spearheading the five-month-long unrest in Kashmir, had in a surprise move yesterday invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety. The BJP National General Secretary said nobody trusted the separatists and if they were so “sincere” about peace, they should stop issuing calendars (of shutdowns). “On one side, you (Hurriyat) preach terrorism and on the other, you issue calendars by shutting down shops, business establishments and educational institutions. Then, you do this drama of issuing statements of inviting tourists to Kashmir,” he said.Stating that this was the “biggest hypocrisy” by the Hurriyat, Madhav said, “If they want tourists in the Valley, they should first restore peace in the Valley. But unfortunately, they are the biggest hurdle in restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir.”
ALSO READ Farooq Abdullah’s statement on Hurriyat shows NC was involved in Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba MuftiHe also hit at National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah for supporting the Hurriyat’s call in this regard and questioned the leader’s “change of mind”. “Farooq Abdullah’s statement is very unfortunate and surprising. He is the same Farooq, who used to release statements against Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir Valley and today suddenly he wants to move forward on the path of Hurriyat,” he said. Abdullah, while addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal on December 5, had said his party was not against the Hurriyat and supported the Kashmiris’ demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma welcomed the “initiative”. “My big salute goes to all those who support tourism, and yes, we are for it. The vision of our great Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is to see that the Valley comes back again. We are all prepared to see and ensure that the tourism industry in the Valley flourishes and for that any steps need to be taken, we will come a step forward. “Tourism will change the shape of the Valley and will bring the glory back…as a Tourism Minister I welcome their initiative and of course other calls will be taken by the Government of India,” Sharma told reporters here. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said everyone should promote tourism as Jammu and Kashmir has been “very, very important” for the sector. “If there is peace in the Valley, tourism will flourish there and if tourism increases, it will economically benefit the state and its people. Promotional tourism is absolutely necessary to revive the economy because it is very important part of their social life,” Rijiju said.Two factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF, which have been spearheading the five-month-long unrest in Kashmir that has thrown life into complete disarray, had in a surprise joint statement last night invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety. Separatist leader Yasin Malik on Wednesday invited the tourists and pilgrims to visit Kashmir, adding that the people of the valley have been ‘safeguarding and providing exemplary hospitality’ to them. Malik said the people of Kashmir have always respected, safeguarded and served their guests even during tough times.‘In 2014 there was a flood, every Kashmiri suffered because of the flood’.This year this is the fifth month as far as the unrest is going on. The pilgrims were here, tourist were here. So, do you have any one single complain from them that they are facing any kind of fear factor in Kashmir’ So, we reiterated that though the people of Kashmir are facing the worst kind of suppression through the end of the forces. As far as the tourist and the pilgrims are concerned, they are always welcomed here,’ he told ANI. ‘The tourists and pilgrims should not feel any kind of fear here. The people of Kashmir are famous for their hospitality,’ he said while extending the whole-hearted welcome to the tourists and yatris intending to visit Kashmir.Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said tourism is ideal for economic revival of Kashmir, adding it is in the interest of everybody.‘Promotion of tourism is absolutely necessary to revive the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. It is very important part of their social life. So, it is in the interest of everybody. We want to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir because Kashmir has been very important for the tourism sector,’ he said. The separatist leaders have in a surprise move invited tourists and pilgrims to visit the Valley to enjoy the traditional hospitality of its people while promising them safety.Leaders of the two factions of Hurriyat Conference issued a joint statement asking people from outside to visit the Valley reminding them of the “exemplary hospitality” extended by the Kashmiris.The Kashmir Valley is witnessing continued turmoil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces on July 8. With inputs from PTI and ANI

300% increase in terrorists deaths in Jammu and Kashmir compared to last year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of terrorists killed in Jammu and Kashmir this year has seen a three-fold increase while casualty for security personnel has recorded a rise of over 80 per cent compared to last year, Lok Sabha was informed today.Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in response to a written question said the number of terrorists killed this year was 140, a figure which stood at 46 last year.The number of arrests and surrenders this year was 76, which was seven-fold increase from last year when the figures stood at 10.He said the number of army personnel killed this year stands at 71. This number had been showing a declining trend up till last year with 53 in 2013, 47 in 2014 and 39 in 2015. He said the number of terror incidents has increased to 305 till November 27 this year as compared to 208 for entire last year. Also the number of security forces injured has shown over 100 per cent increase and it stands at 208 this year compared to last year’s 103.Similarly, the number of civilians killed this year has seen a marginal decline so far and stands at 14 compared to 17 last year.

Urdu poetry has done wonders to calm hearts in Kashmir: CJI Thakur

Jammu: Urdu poetry has done wonders to calm the hearts of people, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, which has seen so much violence and bloodshed, Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur has said.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. CNN-News18

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. CNN-News18

“Urdu is a beautiful language. It warms the hearts of even those who have no relation to this language,” he said at an ‘Urdu mushaira’ in Jammu on Sunday.

“In today’s situation where there is so much of violence and bloodshed everywhere, especially in this state (Valley), the effort of Urdu poets to present the reality is worth appreciating,” he said.

The mushaira was organised by the department of Law and Justice and JK Academy of Art Culture and Languages in honor of the Chief Justice of India.

Noted poets of the state participated in the event and enthralled the audience with their creation.

Besides others, the programme was attended by Chairman Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali, Minister for Law and Justice Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Syed Basharat Bukhari, Minister of State for Education Priya Sethi, Secretary JKAACL Aziz Hajini and senior jurists.

The mushaira was presided over by noted poet Aresh. The poets depicted the contemporary socio-political scenario through their poetry and also highlighted the issues faced by the common man.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 11:53 IST

Kashmiri politicians can’t utter a word against Pakistan: Jitendra Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kashmiri politicians can speak anything against India but they they had no courage to say a word against the separatists and Pakistan, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Sunday.Without naming former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, Singh criticised him for his remarks that Nagrota attack was a “result of statements” made by various union ministers against Pakistan. “I don’t think such type of a childish statement need any response, but unfortunately the people who say that statements from India or the ministers of India provoke Pakistan,… to launch terrorist attacks, I wish they had such courage to say a single word against Pakistan and its supporters living in India or the those who support terrorism”, Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.”The Kashmir centric politicians cannot do that because they know it is the vibrant democracy of India with its large heart that they can speak anything and if they utter a word against Pakistan or against separatists, the same can put them in distress”, Singh said. Speaking to party workers in Anantnag on December 1, Omar Abdullah had said, “The Nagrota attack is a result of statements made by various ministers against Pakistan”.
ALSO READ Centre failed, blaming Pakistan wrong: Omar Abdullah on Kashmir unrestSeven soldiers including two officers were killed and three terrorists were eliminated when terrorists’ disguised in police uniform attacked an army camp in Nagrota area in the outskirts of Jammu on Tuesday. Earlier, while speaking at a function, Singh said drive against black money will ultimately benefit the farmer and enrich the agricultural and rural economy of India.The money added to state exchequer will eventually go to those sections of society which were so far being held to ransom as a result of black money hoarded by a few. He said, “Narendra Modi is the only Prime Minister, who could have taken this decision (demonetization) because of his impeccable honesty, sincerity and courage of conviction, with no vested interest whatsoever or nothing to hide.

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah slams ‘pellet effect’ at fashion event

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Sunday, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah hit out at GQ India for posting a tweet which showed a ‘pellet effect’ as part of its ‘Kashmiriyat’ collection in a fashion show. Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter: “Are any part of the proceeds of the show or the “Kashmiriyat” collection going to help rehabilitate any of the victims of the pellets? These pellets have blinded scores, to have the injuries recreated for a fashion show is inexplicable even if collection called Kashmiriyat. And quietly deleting the tweet doesn’t make it any better @gqindia. Here’s a screen grab in case people wonder what my tweets are about.”The GQ India Twitter handle had posted: “”#Backstagepass @sonicsarwate creates a bullet pellet effect for Shantanu and Nikhil’s Kashmiriyat collection.” The collection was titled Kashmiriyat 1990 by fashion designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil which is reportedly inspired by ‘tribesmen of the valley’. The fashion show had a theme with a live performance to Kashmiri music and Sushant Singh Rajput walked the ramp for the duo.More than 90 people have been killed and around 13,000 people injured in four-month unrest that started after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen poster boy Burhan Wani on July 7. It’s believed that over 1,100 people have suffered injuries in their eyes when security forces fired pellets to counter violent mobs across Kashmir.

Simplistic to blame Pakistan for Afghanistan’s troubles: Under-fire Sartaj Aziz at Heart of Asia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Under severe attack over terrorism emanating from its soil, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz hit back saying it is “simplistic” to blame one country even as he raked up the issue of strain in Indo-Pak ties at the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference on Afghanistan. Aziz asserted his attending the meet despite “escalation” along the LoC was testimony to Pakistan’s “unflinching” commitment for lasting peace in Afghanistan and expressed unhappiness over cancellation of SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November, terming it as a setback to regional cooperation.He did not mention the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Noting that Pakistan was aware about serious challenges being faced by Afghanistan, Aziz said, “The first and foremost in our view is continuing violence and acts of terrorism claiming scores of human lives. This needs to be addressed urgently and effectively through collective efforts.”The security situation in Afghanistan is very complex. It is simplistic to blame only one country for the recent upsurge in violence. We need to have an objective and holistic view.”His strong response came after India and Afghanistan hit out at Pakistan for sponsoring and supporting terrorism and called for “resolute action” against terrorists as well as their masters.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who jointly inaugurated the annual Ministerial conference here along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, directly hit out at Pakistan for “launching an undeclared war” against his country and demanded an Asian or international regime to verify Pak-sponsor terror operations. In his address at the HoA conference, a platform for Afghanistan’s transition, Aziz said,” My participation in the event, despite escalation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary with India, is testimony to Pakistan’s unflinching commitment for lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.”I look forward to meaningful deliberations today towards this objective,” he said and pressed for a politically negotiated settlement of the Afghan issue.Observing that regional cooperation plays an important role in ensuring political stability and promoting economic cooperation, he said postponement of the SAARC Summit scheduled in Islamabad in November was a setback to these efforts and “undermined the spirit of regional cooperation”.”SAARC is an important forum, not only for promoting regional cooperation but also for the improvement of relations,” he said.India had pulled out of SAARC Summit, citing cross-border terror strikes emanating from Pakistan. Afghanistan and other SAARC countries had also sought cancellation of the eight-nation meet on the grounds that there was incitement of terrorism in the region.Aziz arrived here last night amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan over a series of cross-border terror attacks on India by Pakistan-based terror outfits and India’s surgical strike across the LoC two months back.

Demonetisation: Retailers can’t be forced to accept old Rs 500 notes for mobile recharges, says COAI

New Delhi: Amid complaints about non-acceptance of old Rs 500 notes for mobile recharges at some places, cellular operators body COAI has said the companies have given strict guidelines to accept these notes from customers but retailers and distributors cannot be forced.

COAI Director General Rajan Mathews told PTI that operators have provided strict guidelines to their distributors and retailers for accepting and processing Rs 500 demonetised notes so that no inappropriate activity, contrary to the objectives of the government, takes place.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“However, these retailers and distributors cannot be forced to do something they do not want to do, if they believe the process is tedious. “This is unfortunate for customers who wish to use these distributor and retailer points of sale and companies are disappointed with this companies can only encourage their distributors and retailers to follow the guidelines and assist customers who are facing difficulties obtaining currency from banks,” Mathews said.

He said that company-owned points of sale are accepting these notes and hopefully this will help reduce some of these problems for customers. Government allowed use of old Rs 500 for pre-paid recharges to a limit of Rs 500 per recharge till 15 December after telecom operators requested it that dealers and distributors should be permitted to accept withdrawn notes till adequate replacement currency is available for the daily needs of ordinary citizens.

However, retailers said that company distributors and agents are not accepting old Rs 500 notes from them even as they are accepting them from customers along with ID proofs for recharges. “None of the companies is accepting old notes from us. So we are unable to entertain any customer if he comes with old Rs 500 note,” Jai Prakash, who runs mobile recharge shop in Nadesar area of Varanasi said.

Another retailer Nand Kumar Rai from Ghazipur said that telecom companies are accepting Rs 500 notes at their offices but not from retailers. “Collection agents are saying that they don’t have time to fill up forms required for accepting Rs 500 notes. I am accepting every currency note number with ID card and mobile number details but agents are not ready for it,” Vinay Popli, a retailer in Basti district of Uttar Pradesh, said.

Anjeev Thakur, who runs a mobile recharge shop at Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, said, “Retailers here are accepting old Rs 500 notes along with valid IDs preferably for high value recharges due to shortage of change. Distributors are accepting new currency notes only, and we are depositing old notes in our own accounts.”

Aijaz Ahmad from Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir said that he is required to deposit recharge amount in his bank account which has led to 10-fold rise in his deposits. “I get recharge balance from distributors only after paying from my bank account. Most of the customers these days are opting for entire Rs 500 recharge. I have to stand for almost entire day to deposit old Rs 500 notes in bank,” Ahmad said.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 15:11 IST

Samba attack: Focused research is necessary for detection of underground infiltration

Pump a rat with narcotics from both ends and see how it burrows through the mud like a mole, rabbit-eared bandicoot bilby, or an inebriated chipmunk. It is no surprise that the three terrorists who were killed near Chamliyal on 29 November carrying AK-47s, 8mm pistol, 20 grenades, GPS set, chained IED, explosives and food items, had according to DG BSF KK Sharma, ‘probably’ crawled through an 80 metre-long cross-border tunnel that was detected by the BSF along the International Border (IB) the next day — on 30 November.

Sharma said there might more tunnels and the matter would be raised with Pakistan. He also said there is no technology to trace tunnels easily and that the BSF is in touch with several countries, including Israel, and institutions like IIT-Delhi to look for solutions.

Speaking to the media, Sharma made the following points: The three terrorists killed in Samba, Jammu on Tuesday (November 29) might have crawled through an 80 metre-long tunnel under farmlands to cross the IB. After the operation in Samba at the Chamliyal border outpost, no breach of the border fence was found; on Wednesday (30 November) morning, a small 2×2 metre tunnel was found in a field where farming is done and the soil is soft; the tunnel is about 75-80 metres from the IB and about 35-40 metre from the fence. By the end of 2017, the BSF will have a patrol-less, multi-layered smart fence along its borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh as 20 big global firms are undertaking a technical evaluation for the same.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

It will be prudent to examine the following in the above context: One, taking up the issue with Pakistan is routine procedure but amounts to asking a confounded terrorist if he believes in violence; two, breaching the border isn’t simply cutting through the border fence – breach also implies getting across via the underground tunnel. In this instance, the IB was very much breached; three, this is not the first time that Pakistan has infiltrated terrorists through tunnels – there have been such occurrences in the past, and; four, a “patrol-less smart fence” is Utopian considering that the opening of this tunnel was 75-80 metres on our side of the IB.

Patrolling can’t be just along the fence especially when infiltration at times is assisted from the Indian side, even if for smuggling narcotics. Besides, traitors can always orchestrate ‘temporary technical failure’ of particular section of the smart fence. So, there can’t be any shortcut to patrolling. Smart fence is only a more powerful force multiplier.

Tunneling for operations, terrorism, smuggling is a global phenomenon. North Korea is estimated to have dug some 103 tunnels under the heavily guarded and well-fenced demilitarised military zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. Two have been discovered and opened for public viewing. These are large enough to push a brigade-sized force across in one hour with small vehicles. These were discovered by chance when a farmer observed smoke coming out of the ground. Properly fortified and lighted, these tunnels are meant for military offensive by North Korea. Israel suffers similar menace of multiple tunnels made by Hamas from the direction of the Gaza Strip. These are for terror attacks and to escalate conflict, but if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enter Gaza, they would encounter a network of tunnels, which implies the problem of first locating individual tunnel and then destroying it. So Gaza Strip has both offensive and defensive tunnels.

After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas seized control in 2007, the tunnels became a weapon that Hamas could deploy at will. The tunnel system branches beneath many Gazan towns and cities, running some dozens of kilometres within the Gaza Strip. They are used for hiding weapons and ammunition, facilitating communication, plus concealing and deploying militants, rocket teams and mobile anti-tank missile teams, making detection from air difficult. Hamas used cross-border tunnels to capture Gilad Shalit in 2006 and many times during the 2014 conflict. In July 2014, it was Hamas’ use of a tunnel near Sufa that spurred Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a ground operation in Gaza. During 2014, the IDF went in to neutralise 32 of these tunnels, 14 of which crossed into Israel. The IDF estimates Hamas spent around $30-$90 million, using 600,000 tons of concrete to build 36 dozen tunnels, some individually costing $3 million to construct.

Many tunnels dug from the Pakistani side have been discovered in India in recent years for smuggling and terrorism, including targeting urban areas. These include: March 2016, 10 feet underground tunnel, 3×4 feet diameter, 30 metre inside India in RS Pura sector to target Jammu. The tunnel was 200-300 metre inside Pakistan; 2014, 50 metre tunnel discovered near Pallanwala in Jammu sector, 10 feet underground, 3×4 feet diameter; 2014, 23 metre tunnel discovered in Chillyari in Samba district; 2012, 400 metre long and 20 feet deep tunnel with ventilation discovered near Pathankot; 2012, 540 metre long tunnel found dug into the Indian side cutting through Pakistan from the zero line. In 2009, a tunnel was found near Chakkla post along the LoC when it caved in due to heavy rains; 2008, tunnel found in Rajasthan’s Barmer sector probably meant for smuggling; March 2001, tunnel found in Gurdaspur area running 135 metre into India.

In Pakistan’s case, it is not the terrorist-rodents that are nurtured by the military, but also is assisted by godmother China and China’s second protégé – North Korea. Pakistan-North Korea nuclear nexus is well-known and goes as far back as the mid 1990s, North Korean technicians and engineers were developing missile silos in Pakistan. China is presently developing some 22 tunnels in Gilgit-Baltistan where the locals are denied entry. Some of these obviously would house strategic weapons. With China’s expertise in tunneling including the Metok tunnel, China may well be assisting Pakistan in establishing a tunnel network in PoK to surprise Indian forces against any offensive in case of conflict. Tunnels also have strategic significance if a weapon of mass disturbance (if not destruction) can be smuggled through it. The fact that some of the tunnels discovered could not have been dug without machinery and are proximate to Pakistani posts along the IB/LoC prove they are part of the offensive plan of the Pakistani military at sub-conventional level. We must also acknowledge that more our border fence is strengthened, making it smart, more would be the Pakistani effort towards tunneling.

In August 2014, the IDF announced they had successfully tested a system that could be used to detect tunnels, using combination of sensors and special transmitters to locate underground tunnels. The IDF expects development to cost up to NIS 1.5 billion. However, Amir Oren, senior correspondent with Haaretz wrote on 26 April, 2016, “In another two years, perhaps Israel will have perfected its response to the tunnels”. This is one area that must become priority in India-Israel cooperation, in addition to research within India. Tunneling affects our security and should not be treated as the baby of the BSF alone. The MoD should be looking at this seriously including developing a concept for our armed forces – both defensive and pro-active. In addition, we must have 24×7 satellite surveillance of our borders. Where Isro is helping chart the underground course of Saraswati river below the Thar desert, perhaps focused research could lead to detecting underground infiltration.

(The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army.)

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 14:44 IST

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

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

J&K govt employee killed during counter-insurgency operation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A government employee was killed during an overnight counter-insurgency operation in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, but the militants managed to give security forces the slip, officials said on Saturday.The security forces including army launched a counter-insurgency operation in Chancer area of Kulgam district last night, following information about presence of ultras in the area, police officials said.The officials said an employee of the Fisheries Department, Assadullah Kumar, was killed in the firing that broke out minutes after the security forces had cordoned off the area.An army official said the operation was called off this morning after the security forces did not find any militant.The militants might have escaped taking advantage of darkness, the official said.However, the official was tight-lipped about the death of the civilian.Meanwhile, local residents staged a protest against the killing of Kumar and blocked Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Vessu.

J&K: Kulgam encounter ends as terrorists flee spot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The encounter between security forces and militants that broke out in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district this morning has ended as the terrorists fled the spot.Following an intelligence input about the presence of militants, the security forces launched a combing operation in the area.Last night, a Pakistani infiltrator was shot dead by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in Bamiyal sector in Pathankot district of Punjab.Earlier on Tuesday, two terrorists were killed in an infiltration bid in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir. One BSF jawan was also injured in the infiltration bid.

Cross-border infiltration: BSF to scan borderline for possible tunnels

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With militants infiltrating via a 70- feet long tunnel along IB in Samba district before being gunned down, BSF has decided to scan the borderline to detect more such tunnels. BSF does not want to give any chance to the militants to engineer infiltration along the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts in Jammu frontier, a senior BSF officer said. “We will scan the borderline to find if any more such tunnels are in the area”, the officer said.Apart from manual and mobile patrolling and three tier fencing, the BSF is keeping a hawk’s eye on the movement along the IB.Playing down the detection of tunnel in Chamliyal-Ramgarh sector in Samba district after gunning down of three terrorist, BSF had on Thursday said it was mere a “rat hole tunnel” used only one time by the terrorists. “Militants had come out to this side via a tunnel on the intervening night of 28 and 29 November in Chamliyal area. The operation was conducted there. Details have been shared with you (media)”, Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontier, DK Upadhayaya had said yesterday.Ahead of the press conference, BSF had played a video to show the tunnel and route taken by the terrorist, who came from Pakistan while crawling through the tunnel. “We have given you the full details of the tunnel. There were various reports coming in the media about the tunnel and old profile pictures of some tunnels were shown which were totally different in shape and size,” he had said.Upadhayaya had said, “As per the pictures shown to you it is a rat hole tunnel and it is generally used one time, which opens up in a plain area.The area was ploughed two to three days ago. BSF and farmers were keeping a watch over the area”.

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

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

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

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nation pays homage to martyrs of Nagrota

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patriotism filled the air as senior army officers and state officials paid homage to the martyrs of Nagrota.Leading the nation in paying homage was the Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who visited the Nagrota-based 16 Corps headquarters and was briefed about Tuesday’s terror attack in which seven officers and jawans were killed.In a solemn ceremony at Jammu, General Suhag laid wreaths on the mortal remains of the bravehearts and paid rich tributes to the gallant officers and men of the White Knight Corps.“As the entire nation salutes the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice in yesterday’s terror attack in Nagrota, the Army gave a befitting farewell to its seven brave hearts today,” said Lieuteant Colonel Manish Mehta, defence spokesman at Jammu.Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also paid homage to the martyrs and expressed her grief over the tragic loss.

Cabinet approves Rs 2,000 crore package for refugees from PoK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Rs 2,000 crore development package for displaced people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) living in the country was on Wednesday approved by the government.The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the Home Ministry’s proposal to provide enhanced financial aid to 36,384 families, who are mostly living in Jammu region after their displacement from PoK post Independence. Each of these families will get around Rs 5.5 lakh as aid, a senior official said.The amount is “one time settlement” for the displaced families and will be released to the Jammu and Kashmir government to be disbursed to eligible families through Direct Benefit Transfer.The refugees from West Pakistan, mostly from PoK, settled in different areas of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. Some of the families were displaced during Partition in 1947, and others during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.The displaced people can cast their votes in Lok Sabha polls but not in the elections to Jammu and Kashmir assembly.Jammu and Kashmir Sharanarthi Action Committee (JKSAC), an organisation representing the displaced people of the PoK has been maintaining that the package should not be seen as final settlement as Rs 9,200 crore was required to settle all of them.The Modi government had in January 2015 approved certain concessions for the refugees from West Pakistan settled in Jammu and Kashmir after considering the problems being faced by them. The concessions include special recruitment drives for induction into paramilitary forces, equal employment opportunities in the state, admission for the children of refugees in Kendriya Vidyalayas, among others.

Government approves inclusion of 15 new castes in Central OBC list

The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government on Wednesday approved inclusion of 15 new castes and modification in 13 other castes in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal. The National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) had recommended a total of 28 changes in respect of 8 states — Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.Out of these 28, 15 were new entries, 9 were synonyms or sub-castes of the castes which were already in the list and 4 were corrections. “The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy,” according to an official statement.They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes, it added. On the NCBC recommendation, a total of 2479 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 25 States and 6 Union Territories. The last such notification was issued till September, 2016.NCBC examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists. Its advice is binding upon the Central Government. Meanwhile, the Centre is already considering to relax the creamy layer norms for the OBC and note in this regard was already under consideration.

Home Ministry claims Pathankot militants entered from Punjab, BSF says theory still a conjecture

New Delhi: The BSF on Wednesday said the exact area from where terrorists who attacked the Pathankot IAF base infiltrated is still a matter of “conjecture” and that there was no direct evidence of a breach in the security system along the Indo-Pak border.

Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had on Tuesday said in a written reply in Lok Sabha that “four Pakistan-based terrorists entered Punjab via Janial road, Dhusi turn, near Ravi river bridge, Gulpur Simli village-Akalgarh and attacked airforce station in Pathankot.”

Pathankot air base. AFPPathankot air base. AFP

Pathankot air base. AFP

Border Security Force chief KK Sharma said there are many “variables” on the border, marked by riverine gaps and other unguarded patches and Pathankot could be one of those. “That is still a matter of conjecture. It is suspected they came from this area (as mentioned in the Minister’s reply)… But there is no direct evidence of a breach (of the border fence),” he said.

The DG added that due to riverine areas and other gaps in the undulating terrain on the border, it is “not possible to erect a fence” everywhere.

Putting an end to speculation about the number of terrorists involved in the Pathankot attack, Ahir’s statement made it clear that only four militants had entered the airforce station to carry out the strike.

The answer was seen as contrary to a statement made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 4 March. He had said that charred remains, apart from four bodies of terrorists, were found at the debris after security forces searched the Pathankot airforce station when the operation ended.

Talking about the Indo-Bangla border, the DG said non-lethal weapons given to BSF troops will “stay” as both the sides are determined to reduce the number of deaths on the frontier.

He said the incidents of smuggling of fake Indian currency notes along the border, especially in the notorious Malda area, has “drastically” gone down post demonetisation.

Asked if hostilities could increase in the wake of new Pakistan Army chief taking over, he said it was a “million dollar question” to him too.

Sharma added that the 2.5-lakh personnel strong force is running a special financial literacy programme for its troops so that they can save and invest better for their future.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 20:38 IST

Illegal funds being sent to Kashmir to create unrest: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Illegal funds are being sent through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical forces in Kashmir Valley to incite protests, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Rijiju said the practice of sending illegal money through ‘hawala’ and other channels to inimical elements in the Valley to incite protests have been going on. Rijiju’s colleague, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said separatists and militants were receiving funds from foreign countries through ‘hawala’ and inward remittances. Referring to the tension along the Indo-Pak border, Rijiju said 24 suspected militants, who were trying to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, were killed, while 78 attempts of infiltration were foiled till October-end this year.Till October this year, there were 201 incidents of infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir and 30 cases of infiltration into Punjab. He said five BSF personnel killed were and nine others injured due to cross-border firing between September and October this year. Replying to another question, Ahir said there was no information about espionage being carried out by Pakistan using pigeons.However, some pigeons with rubber tag with Pakistani telephone no/name of persons have been found in border areas, he said.

Nagrota attack: Indian Army Chief visits site; similarities with Uri attack, say reports

To flush out any remaining militants, combing operations resumed at the army camp in Nagrota, where seven defence personnel were killed in a terror attack on Tuesday.

The army recovered a huge catchment of arms and ammunition from the site of the encounter, according to ANI.

The combing operations are yet to conclude and the intelligence agencies are yet to reconstruct the chain of events that led to the major security breach, however, media reports are citing evidence to suggest several similarities between the Nagrota attacks and Uri attacks, the worst in last 26 years on an Indian Army base.

Indian TV channels reported that various incriminating documents were also seized, along with huge cache of firearms, which prove Pakistan’s complicity in the attack . Times Now reported that some evidence recovered from the site points towards Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) links of the terrorists. JeM is the same organisation that has allegedly been responsible for a slew of untoward incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 18 September Uri attacks, wherein 20 soldiers lost their lives.

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

Security personnel stand guard during the search operations following the militant attack on Nagrota Army camp, near Jammu. PTI

CNN-News 18 states that one of the slain terrorists in the Nagrota attack was complicit in the Uri attacks as well. The TV channel, however, said the precise role that the terrorist played could not be ascertained.

The Economic Times reported another major security breach along the International Border, in the Samba (around 40 km away from Nagrota) attacks, which were staged around the same time as the attack in Nagrota.

The report quotes the Border Security Force (BSF) as saying that a cross-border tunnel along the International Border (IB) in Samba was found, which was probably used by the terrorists to infiltrate into India. The BSF, however, in a prompt response, cornered the three infiltrators and gunned them down after a brief gunbattle. The BSF director general stated, according to the report, that the tunnel was approximately 80 metres long, stating that there is no equipment to detect such tunnels.

Following the attacks, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag visited the Nagrota Corps headquarter on Wednesday to review the situation.

Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks on Tuesday in which seven army personnel, including two major-rank officers, were killed and eight other security men, including a BSF DIG, were injured, before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in the separate fierce encounters.

In one incident, a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, about three kms from the corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for hours.

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

In another incident, three terrorists were gunned down by BSF in Ramgarh area of Samba near the IB after an encounter that lasted several hours and was followed by intense cross-border firing by Pakistani troops. Four security personnel, including BSF DIG, were injured in this incident.

The two terror incidents in Jammu came on a day General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Chief of Pakistan Army from General Raheel Shareef.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:05 IST

Nagrota attack: Qamar Bajwa or Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s India policy will not be any different

The dastardly terror-attack on the Nagrota army camp in Jammu and Kashmir took place on the same day that Pakistan got a new Chief of Army Staff in General Qamar Javed Bajwa. No wonder then that India’s former home secretary and now member of Parliament RK Singh said: “We need to take note of the fact that this is the (Pakistan) new army chief sending a message. His policy will be the same as followed by the predecessor.”

Whether Tuesday morning’s attack was Bajwa’s “opening stroke” or the “parting shot” of his predecessor in General Raheel Sharif is not exactly clear. As the attack, masterminded by the Pakistani Army and implemented by its ‘non-state’ agents, took place when Sharif was still in charge – he handed over the command to Bajwa on Tuesday afternoon.

Worse still, in his farewell speech, Sharif had virtually threatened India: “I want to warn India that considering Pakistan’s policy of patience and restraint as its weakness will be dangerous for India.” In contrast, in his interactions with the press soon after assuming office, Bajwa said: “Everything will be all right on the Line of Control (LoC) soon.”

The Nagrota attack took place on the same day that Pakistan got a new Chief of Army Staff in General Qamar Javed Bajwa. APThe Nagrota attack took place on the same day that Pakistan got a new Chief of Army Staff in General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

The Nagrota attack took place on the same day that Pakistan got a new Chief of Army Staff in General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

What did the new army chief mean when he said “all right”? This question assumes significance in context of the prevailing situation at the LoC, that is marked by high tensions between India and Pakistan, manifested in repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, terrorists attacks in Uri and now Nagrota, unrest in Kashmir and India’s surgical strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Does this mean that peace will be restored? Or does it point to an escalation of the war-like situation that Sharif believes will be such that “India would not be able to forget it for generations to come and will be teaching its children about Pakistan’s surgical strike.”

It may be noted here that Sharif was quite hawkish towards India, the common perception being that his hostility stemmed from the 1971 war that Pakistan lost, in which two of his family members had died. On the other hand, Bajwa has a reputation of being a pragmatist. Though he has a rich experience of serving as Commander FCNA (Force Command Northern Areas) of Gilgit-Baltistan and as General Officer Commanding of 10 Corps (the Rawalpindi-based Pakistani Corps responsible for operations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir), his tenure was a period of relative quiet following the 2003 ceasefire accord between India and Pakistan.

As it is, Bajwa was the proverbial dark horse for the post of army chief. And if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose him for the most powerful office in Pakistan, superseding two officers in the process, it was mainly because he prefers to keep a low profile and is not known for his hawkish views on what Pakistan’s politics and foreign policy should be.

The choice of Bajwa, therefore, is based on political considerations; though one cannot doubt his professionalism and experience. Nawaz expects his new army chief to be less-interfering in areas that any elected prime minister would consider as his exclusive domain. He does not want any interference while determining and implementing the core policies for governing Pakistan and promoting its cause and image in rest of the world. In other words, Nawaz hopes that Bajwa will go along with him in restoring the delicate civil-military relationship in Pakistan.

It may be noted here that it was Nawaz who, as prime minister back in 1999, had chosen General Pervez Musharraf as the army chief. And it so happened that it was Musharraf who eventually toppled Nawaz in a military coup. It was Nawaz again in 2013 who chose General Sharif (no relative of his) as the army chief.

It is true that Sharif did not turn out to be a ‘Musharraf’ and peacefully handed over the command, but the fact remains that a hyperactive Sharif did gravely undermine the prime minister’s position. He literally took over the responsibility of internal law and order by establishing numerous military courts to deal with those indulging in acts of terror; brought television and other forums of media under control; and dealt directly with policies concerning India and Afghanistan. In effect, Pakistan was ruled by Sharif from Rawalpindi, and not by Nawaz from Islamabad.

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

It is also worth-noting that Sharif was a ‘popular’ army chief, in the sense that Pakistani people at large supported his policies in fighting terrorism emanating from the so-called Pakistani Taliban. Unlike politicians like Nawaz and Imran Khan, who talked of “good Taliban, bad Taliban” and favoured “negotiations” with the religious extremists and coexistence with their hatred against non-Sunnis, Sharif decided to take them on.

After all, Pakistan has also been a victim of religious fanaticism, having lost as many as 50,000 people since 2001, including 16,000 military personnel, at the hands of Pakistani extremists. Sharif wanted Pakistan to come out of this partially “self-created bloodbath of terrorism.”

In a way, Sharif was pursuing, though more vigorously, the thesis of his predecessor General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that, “the war against extremism and terrorism is not only the army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. The army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people.”

In fact, it was under Kayani that the Pakistani Army had come out with a new doctrine that, for the first time, talked of Pakistan facing a “multifaceted threat” and not just the threat “from India”. Sharif took this doctrine further by forcing the civilian rulers to agree upon a “National Action Plan” to defeat terrorism, under which 20,000 registered and 40,000 unregistered madrasas, or religious schools (where three million children are enrolled), were regulated to impart education on ‘moderate Islam’.

In his fight against fundamentalist extremists in Pakistan’s frontier areas (North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions bordering Afghanistan), Sharif also started curtailing the activities of extremist groups (including the Al Qaeda) coming from Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Chechnya, and many Arab states. These groups, according to experts, have turned between one-quarter to one-third of Pakistan into “no-go” areas.

The only dichotomy in Sharif’s approach was that he did not pursue this with regard to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other Punjab-based Sunni extremist groups because they were targeting India, including Kashmir.

In fact, he allowed the ISI to train and finance them and used these terrorists groups as a potent weapons against India. Here, he differed with Nawaz who wanted to respond constructively to the peace gestures coming from the Narendra Modi government. But ‘hate India’ is such a unifying slogan in Pakistan that Sharif vetoing Nawaz’s India-policy did not dent the former’s popularity.

The other reason for Sharif’s growing popularity was the increasing incompetence and corruption of the elected government, whose politicians depended on patronage, bribes, and a backward feudal culture for their survival. Of course, this trend did not start with Nawaz, but he is now its signing symbol, particularly after the release of the so-called Panama papers that “established” money-laundering by his family in foreign banks.

In fact, the situation is such that with each passing year, Pakistani people are becoming more comfortable with the Pakistani Army running even the country’s economy. The army now runs the banks, industries, vast housing projects, and the largest transport and construction company in the country. The army’s economic muscle is already so strong that it does not allow Parliament to make a full disclosure of its annual military budget.

As Ayesha Siddiqa wrote in her book, Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy: “‘Milbus’ (military capital used for the personal benefit of military fraternity) operates in three areas: Agriculture, manufacturing and services and at three levels: Through direct involvement of the military, obtaining unfair economic advantage for its subsidiaries and obtaining direct favours for individual members of the military fraternity.”

Despite constraints to evaluation posed by the lack of transparency, which the author laments, she puts through her main argument that the commercial ventures of the military’s subsidiaries use the influence of the military to obtain business contracts and inputs, financial as well industrial, at subsidised rates. This puts these ventures ahead of their competitors in the private sector. Obviously, this profitable connection with the economy is the reason why the Pakistani Army is unwilling to yield to civilian power.

All told, Pakistan has already become “an army with a country” rather than “a country with an army”. It is well established that there are three lakshman rekhas (limiting lines) that the army has drawn for the civilian prime ministers and presidents: One, they would not interfere in any manner in the organisational and administrative work of the armed forces. Two, they would abide by the advice of the army chief on matters of foreign and defence policies. Three, they would not interfere with the army-controlled nuclear weaponisation and missile programmes.

Will Bajwa forgo this legacy and make himself a pliant army chief of the prime minister? It is highly unlikely. There is a remote possibility of any significant shift in the existing civil-military imbalance in Pakistan. And this means that there will be no radical change in the heightened tensions with India. RK Singh is right in saying that Bajwa’s policy will be the “same as followed by his predecessor.”

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 17:34 IST

Nagrota attack: Stop meaningless debate on surgical strikes and focus on security lapses

The Nagrota attack has expectedly given rise to questions on the efficacy of India’s surgical strikes. The Indian Army, which took another major hit with two of its officers and five soldiers falling to fidayeen bullets, is yet to complete its combing operation, but critics and some political parties have already started suggesting that the operation carried out by India’s elite commandos across the LoC was much hype and little substance.

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

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

The death of 26 Indian soldiers since 29 September is a clear indication, goes the argument, that instead of restraining Pakistan, the strikes seem to have emboldened our neighbour to carry out more terrorist attacks. The contention is that the surgical strikes were more a political confabulation for the Narendra Modi government rather than an effective anti-terror tool.

There is a lot of room for criticism in Modi’s blow hot-blow cold Pakistan policy. Like many of his predecessors, the incumbent prime minister was also driven by an initial urge to author a new chapter in India-Pakistan history. Subsequent developments have perhaps taught him that one cannot rationalise a relationship with a revisionist nation — one that continues to be driven by Ghazwa-e-Hind dreams.

Be that as it may, the haste to label surgical strikes a failure for another terrorist attack on an army base is more than a little problematic. Such an argument is guilty of oversimplification. It is more an exercise of our confirmation bias and strikes at our ideological fault lines than focus energies on a hard-nosed, rational analysis.

Aversion or affinity towards current political dispensation must not cloud our judgement on the efficacy of the strikes, which were carried out by a professional army unit and was the culmination of an extraordinary synchronisation of efforts. It was also a welcome departure from India’s reflexive stoicism towards Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks. The rush to call it “ineffective” stems from a lack of understanding of the operation’s objectives.

As this columnist has argued in the past, the surgical strikes were not meant to prevent Pakistan from abandoning its decades-old terror policy. Nobody in their right minds would assume that one covert operation is enough to persuade Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure and reverse its policy of using terrorism as a foreign policy tool — one that has brought it rich dividends.

The Pakistani Army would be a fool to let go of terrorism — its one strategic lever against a much more powerful and prosperous neighbour. What, then, was the point of those surgical strikes? There was never a doubt that the covert op, which was subsequently publicised, was an effort by India to raise the bar for retaliatory attacks while staying below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. For a country that drops the nuclear threat at every possible opportunity, the cross-LoC attacks exposed Pakistan’s nuclear bluff.

It proved to the rest of the world, and also to some in India, that Islamabad’s frequent nuclear threats were meant more as a strategic deterrence against India’s response to terror attacks. Surgical strikes annihilated that deterrence.

But while deriding surgical strikes is pointless, it is important to highlight the grave and repeated security lapses that have contributed towards yet another attack on an Army base. Alarmingly, since 29 September, there have been at least a dozen attacks as terrorist infiltrated the border and launched attacks in different areas of Jammu and Kashmir including Nagrota, Baramulla, Bandipore, Sopore, Shopian and Pampore, among others. Altogether, 26 Indian soldiers including BSF personnel, and army jawans and officers have been killed.

While at one level, it reflects Pakistan’s outgoing chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s desperate attempts to save face after getting bruised in the surgical strikes, at another level it also points to crucial lacunae in India’s security apparatus. Apprehending suicide attackers is tougher since their motivation levels are high but the repeated breaches of heavily-guarded army bases send a worrying signal about our preparedness or lack of it.

As disturbing details emerge of the fidayeen strike on Nagrota where a hostage-like situation involving civilians have luckily been averted, questions must be raised on an apparent lack of standard operating procedure when it comes to blocking or preventing such attacks. Heads must roll if it is found that our security intelligence network isn’t up to scratch or fatigue and complacency played its part.

The 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu is 55 kilometres away from the border. It must be asked how heavily armed terrorists — albeit dressed in police attire — managed to remain undetected before launching the attack.

A report in The Huffington Post claims that the terrorists had infiltrated the border at least a week ago and had done a thorough recce of the camp before launching their mission. Quoting a Ministry of Defence official, the report states that the police uniforms that the terrorists were wearing were stitched in India and couldn’t have been “done in a day, indicating that the terrorists were already in India for some time”. They had also purchased medicines from local pharmacy, added the report.

This, if true, raises several more uncomfortable questions on our intelligence and monitoring system and whether our military bases and security installations are “soft targets”.

A Times of India report points out, quoting defence sources, that there was “very little follow-up action” to the comprehensive recommendations of the tri-service committee, led by former army chief Lieutenant-General Philip Campose (retd), which was constituted after the 2 January terror strike on the Pathankot airbase.

These are damning indications. Discussions must be centred around these loopholes instead of meaningless, politicised debates of one-upmanship over surgical strikes.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 15:27 IST

Nagrota attack: Let’s make mobile commando units the arrowhead of army ops

The suicide attacks at Nagrota and at Samba on Tuesday morning highlighted the urgency of reorienting war tactics radically.

The key first response to such attacks is what the army calls a QRT (quick response team). Within minutes (zero minutes, ideally) after such a surprise attack gets going, the nearest QRT is meant to spring into action and take on the attackers in combat. That’s how it has worked in several of the attacks over recent months.

A QRT responded on Tuesday morning, just as another one had at the Uri brigade headquarters on 18 September, and during the attack on an army convoy on the highway at Baramulla on 17 August.

The way warfare is developing, war planners must examine how QRTs can become more central to the army’s range of tactical options.

Army 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

The reason for this proposition is that suicide attacks and other forms of surprise attacks have emerged as the chief method of offence over the past quarter of a century, and seem likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. As in the past, shelling at the Line of Control and the border continues to be another major tactic in what passes for peace time. We ought, however, to come to terms with the fact that this is not peace. Undeclared war by other means (call it proxy war if you like) has become more or less the norm. It was in play in — or over — Kashmir from 1989 to 2005 and has returned with intensity over the past couple of years.

To be sure, it has been intertwined with an indigenous freedom struggle each time, but the Pakistani Army has taken on the Indian Army and the Indian State in tandem with that indigenous struggle. One might even say it has done so under the cover of the indigenous struggle — a point that a group of Kashmiri journalists made volubly to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India not long ago.

It is the need to refine army tactics for that proxy war, rather than for the indigenous struggle, that the long series of recent attacks have brought into focus.

Most modern armies have evolved from the armies of Europe and West Asia, which were conceptualised around infantry and cavalry. Horse cavalry gave way to tanks exactly a century ago.
The nature of war underwent another sea-change after the Second World War. Nuclear weapons brought deterrence into play. However, armies have remained organised in the same ways, based on the same concepts about how wars are fought.

That changed radically in the battlefields of Afghanistan during the 1980s. Rag-tag forces with non-standard equipment but extraordinary mobility took on a superpower army, and forced it to withdraw.

No doubt the orientations of surrounding populations played a key role — vast support for those rag-tag groups, and antagonism towards the superpower.

Then came another phase of war — symbolised by the aeroplane attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre on 11 September, 2001. Surprise of every sort was the hallmark of this phase of neo-warfare. Surprise attacks can take various forms. And there has been no dearth of surprise tactics in Kashmir — from the emergence of suicide strikes to the coordination of public demonstrations and militant attacks.

The army has responded in many ways. It spawned the Rashtriya Rifles for internal security operations, for example. However, in many ways, RR has become little more than a variation of army units. The idea of the QRT needs to evolve now. Small, highly alert, extremely mobile, units should, ideally, be able to take on militant groups even before the latter get to their targets. Small units, tiny in terms of the strengths to which armies have got accustomed, should be able to operate relatively independently — the way contemporary attackers do.

Like them, these units would need to be trained for commando operations and survival so that they could operate without the sort of logistical and other sorts of vast support systems that armies are used to.

Of course, such units would need to be backed by far more sophisticated intelligence inputs than now seem to be available.

Given the inertia that sets into any established way of functioning, it will be very difficult to conceptualise — leave alone operationalise — refined tactics of the sort that the situation requires.

It is time the various flatulent security think-tanks put what minds they have to work on this challenge.

So far, they have done precious little to help the nation face these cutting-edge challenges.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 09:44 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: 7 jawans killed in Nagrota terror attack; latest on demonetization & Sheena Bora murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir: Terrorists kill 7 Army men in Nagrota, 16 hostages rescuedOn a day General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Pakistan Army Chief from General Raheel Sharif, who sent out a warning to India over its “aggressive stance”, terrorists attacked security forces in two separate strikes in Nagrota and Chamliyal in the Ramgarh sector of the Samba district in Jammu. The attack killed seven Army personnel and left eight security men wounded. In retaliation, the Forces killed six terrorists. Read detailsDemonetization: For Modi, probity begins at home, asks BJP lawmakers to submit bank a/c detailsPrime Minister Narendra Modi took his battle against black money to his own party on Tuesday by asking BJP MPs, including ministers, to submit their bank account details from November 8 to December 31 to party president Amit Shah. The details have to be submitted by January 1. Read moreNote ban sees 30 lakh new bank accounts, SBI alone opened 11.8 lakh accountsDemonetization is forcing banks to open savings accounts at a breakneck speed. It is estimated that banks have opened about 30 lakh (and still counting) new accounts since the demonetization drive began on November 8. Read more Nevada man pleads guilty to conspiring to carry out attacks in IndiaA Nevada man who prosecutors say conspired to provide materials and support to co-conspirators to carry out terrorist attacks in India aimed at creating an independent Sikh state pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges. Read moreCBI’s ‘secret witness’ blows lid off Mukerjeas’ dealingsA Nevada man who prosecutors say conspired to provide materials and support to co-conspirators to carry out terrorist attacks in India aimed at creating an independent Sikh state pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges. Read details

Jammu and Kashmir: Terrorists kill 7 Army men in Nagrota, 16 hostages rescued

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Pakistan Army Chief from General Raheel Sharif, who sent out a warning to India over its “aggressive stance”, terrorists attacked security forces in two separate strikes in Nagrota and Chamliyal in the Ramgarh sector of the Samba district in Jammu. The attack killed seven Army personnel and left eight security men wounded. In retaliation, the Forces killed six terrorists.In Nagrota, a group of heavily-armed terrorists donning police uniforms stormed into an Army mess in the highly fortified camp near 16 Corps headquarters and killed seven soldiers, including two officers, at Nagrota on the strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway on Tuesday.Three militants were later neutralised in the day-long gunfight. Sixteen hostages, including 12 soldiers, two women, and two children, were safely rescued by Army troops.This is the first time since the September 18 Uri attack that terrorists have managed to storm into the Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. Since Uri, the troops have successfully foiled three terror attacks in Baramulla, Langate and Pampore by killing and forcing militants to retreat. But the growing infiltration bids have also seen a higher death toll. Since the surgical strikes by the Indian Army after the Uri attack, 25 security personnel have been killed in the last two months in Jammu and Kashmir.The terror attack was mounted at 5:30 am when the guards were changing their duties in the formation. A group of terrorists lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately on the sentries before forcing their way into the formation. The militants then barged into the officers’ mess complex triggering a massive gunfight. Three soldiers, including a major rank officer, were killed in the initial gun battle with the militants.”In the early hours of November 29, a group of heavily armed terrorists disguised in police uniforms targeted an Army unit located three kilometres from the Corps Headquarters at Nagrota. The terrorists forced their entry into the Officers Mess complex by throwing grenades and firing at the sentries. In the initial counteraction, one officer and three soldiers of the Army were martyred,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters.Colonel Joshi said the terrorists later entered two buildings which were occupied by Officers, families and men. “This led to a hostage like situation. The situation was very quickly contained and thereafter, in a deliberate operation all were successfully rescued, which included 12 soldiers, two ladies and two children,” he said.Earlier in the day the Border Security Force (BSF) managed to kill three terrorists but a DIG and another official were injured when IEDs planted on them exploded, as they lifted their corpses.The three militants were carrying handcuffs, suicide belts, nitro-glycerine bottles (liquid explosives), chained improvised explosive devices, grenades, daggers and automatic rifles.BSF officials were surprised to find so many arms and ammunition spurring fears that the militants were being sent into India for a long haul. “They (militants) had big plans. Had they entered, I do not know what they would have done,” DK Upadhyay, Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontier, told DNA.The militants were killed in an encounter after they crossed into Indian side and hid themselves in a small structure near the tubewell station near Chamliyal. Alert BSF troops, had been following the ultras since Monday night, after they noticed suspicious movements. In the morning, a heavy exchange of fire took place in which all the three militants were gunned down.”We had controlled them in the tube well structure. We had observed their movements and kept them under fire and observation cover during the night. Since it was pitch dark we started our operation in the morning and eliminated all the three militants,” said Upadhyay.

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