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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

J-K | Give peace a chance, imperative for dialogue & development: CM Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asking people of Jammu and Kashmir to “give peace a chance”, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said it was imperative for dialogue and development and would have a “soothing impact” on India-Pakistan relations.”For achieving the objective of development and dialogue, a congenial atmosphere of peace and tranquility needs to be created. I seek people’s cooperation in creating an environment conducive for development and dialogue,” Mehbooba said while interacting with people after kick-starting various developmental projects in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district yesterday.”The chief minister said her government would work on the twin objectives of development and dialogue and asked the people of the state “to give peace a chance”. The people of J-K have a huge responsibility to ensure a congenial and peaceful atmosphere in the state so that it has a soothing impact on the relations between the two neighbouring countries (India and Pakistan) which ultimately can pave the way for getting the state out of its difficulties,” Mehbooba said.She regretted that every section of society suffered losses during the turmoil of past few months which also delayed the completion of many developmental projects in the state.The Chief Minister said the government has planned a major developmental programme for the state and asked the people to extend their cooperation for its successful implementation.Addressing the students after inaugurating the new building of the Government Women’s College, Pulwama, the Chief Minister said empowerment of women is key to development of the state.She asked the girls to focus on education as it has the potential to bring about the desired social change. Mehbooba said women hold an important place in society and their empowerment would signal a positive turnaround. She asked the students to attain different skills “so that they are not only educated but empowered as well”.

Jammu and Kashmir 2016 review: Curfew, Mehbooba Mufti, Burhan Wani and surgical strikes

Srinagar: The year 2016 saw Mehbooba Mufti taking over as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Army for the first time carrying out surgical strikes on militant camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while violent protests for months hit hard normal life and resulted in shutdown of schools and death of 86 people.

The government had also to grapple with the NIT unrest, mysterious school burning incidents and blinding due to pellet gun firing issues.

The only silver lining during all this mayhem was that the annual Amarnath yatra to south Kashmir Himalayas went on, though with some interruptions due to authorities’ stopping the pilgrims from travelling during day to avoid any casualties.

In fact, local residents of Bijbehara town defied curfew to help a group of Amarnath pilgrims to hospital after their vehicle met with an accident.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

7 January – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passes away

The year, however, started with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had cobbled up an unimaginable coalition government between his PDP and the BJP a year earlier, losing his battle against illness at AIIMS in Delhi on 7 January.

Following Saeed’s death, a smooth transition of power was expected to his daughter and political heir Mehbooba Mufti but the PDP president refused to take charge for over two and half months. As the days passed, it seemed increasingly difficult for the two parties to come together again with the PDP setting some conditions like initiation of the confidence building measures by the Centre.

4 April – Mehbooba sworn in as first woman CM of Jammu and Kashmir

Finally, Mehbooba was sworn in as the first woman chief minister of the state on 4 April.

No sooner had she assumed office, Mehbooba faced her first real test. An unrest began at NIT Srinagar where students from outside the Valley were accused of beating local students following a tiff over an India-Pakistan cricket match.

However, the outside students alleged they were tortured by police inside the campus, sparking off a massive crisis that hogged national headlines for several days. The authorities had to shut down the institute for some time to allow the frayed tempers to cool down.

The NIT dust was yet to settle down when Mehbooba’s government faced with two more controversies. The reported plans to set up Sainik colonies and exclusive colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley drew severe criticism from mainstream Opposition parties as well as separatist groups, which threatened to launch an agitation over these issues.

The government on several occasions, including during the Budget Session of the assembly, stated that it had no such plans.

8 July – Burhan Wani encounter

As it appeared that the worst was over for the PDP-BJP government, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani — who had become the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir — was killed in an encounter with security forces on 8 July.

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

Kashmiris carry the body of Burhan Wani, a separatist militant leader, during his funeral in Tral, south of Srinagar. Reuters

As the news of his death spread, there was an unprecedented outpour of outrage on the streets of the Valley as rumours were abound that the 21-year-old militant was killed when he was unarmed. The security forces dismissed the allegations.

However, violent street protests and clashes between protestors and security forces across the Valley over the next several months left 86 people dead and hundreds — including 5000 security forces personnel — injured.

For the first time in the past 26 years of turmoil in Kashmir, over 300 people were blinded as security forces fired pellet guns to quell the protests, leading to calls from various quarters to ban its use.

Authorities imposed curfew across Kashmir valley, snapped mobile and Internet services, banned newspapers for three days and took several news channels off air in an attempt to end the street violence but protests continued unabated.

The separatists, sensing an opportunity, jumped in and started issuing weekly agitation calendars as they did in 2010.

Almost all separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were either arrested or put under house arrest. More than 8000 people were also arrested on the charges of stone-pelting or incitement to violence.

Curfew and shutdowns brought life in Kashmir valley to a standstill as schools remained closed, businesses shut and transport off the roads.

18 September – Surgical Strikes 

The deadly attack at Uri, close to Line of Control, on 18 September prompted perhaps the strongest peacetime reaction from the armed forces against the militants.

As many as 19 soldiers were killed at Uri before the Army eliminated the four intruders, who had crossed the LoC just a day before launching the attack.

The special forces crossing the LoC into PoK and destroying several militant camps in which over 40 ultras and their sympathisers were killed was a departure from the traditional policy of exercising restraint after every ceasefire violation or an attack on security installation.

As the Valley was going through its worst unrest in 26 years, there was an increase in hostilities along the LoC between armies of India and Pakistan. Both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir along the LoC and the international border.

The surgical strike led to more skirmishes and exchange or artillery fire between the two sides till November, leading to fears among people here of outbreak of full blown war between the two countries.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley several times to assess the situation. In the month of September, Singh led an all-party delegation of national parties in an attempt to reach out to all sections of the society to end the street protests.

A splinter group of delegation including Sitaram Yechury and Assadudin Owaisi tried to meet the separatist leaders including Geelani but they shut their doors on them saying the visitors did not have the mandate to resolve Kashmir issue.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha led a delegation of “concerned citizens of India” and met people from all sections of the society here. This time separatists met them and conveyed their viewpoint.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Curfew was lifted after the visit of the all-party delegation from many parts of Kashmir but the shutdown continued with no end in sight.

The shutdown not only affected the livelihood of the masses but also put a question mark on the future of the students.

The government announced that board examinations will be held in November but promised to make it easy for the students. The examinations were held in November with thousands of students appearing and the government keeping its word by giving 50 per cent relaxation in the syllabus.

While the unrest is dying out, the educational infrastructure suffered massive damage in the Valley as more than 32 schools were gutted in mysterious fire incidents.

The frequency of burning of schools prompted the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to take suo moto cognisance and initiate PIL proceedings, directing the state government to take steps for ensuring safety of the school buildings.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 11:22 IST

Mehbooba govt decides to revoke ban on popular English daily

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ending suspense, Mehbooba Mufti led government in Jammu and Kashmir has decided to lift the three month old ban on one of the most respected English dailies `The Kashmir Reader.The daily was banned on October 2 after district magistrate Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone invoked section 144 of CrPC, Section 3 of Newspapers Incitement of Offences Act 1971 and Section 10 Press and Publication Act of 1989.In his order, the district magistrate had called the newspaper threat to the public tranquility and noted that it contains material and content which tends to “incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility”.Director Information Dr Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary told DNA that formal orders will be issued in a day or two. “The government has considered their representation and other material record and taken a view that there is no need for further ban. We will allow its publication. Former order is under process and that will be issued in a day or two”, he said.HIlal Mir, Editor of the Kashmir Reader, told DNA that director Information has spoken to their bureau chief about this issue. “He spoke to our bureau chief and said we can resume our publication”, said Mir.

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.

Jammu and Kashmir: Independent MLA Sheikh Rashid detained before protest march

Srinagar: Independent legislator Sheikh Abdul Rashid and his supporters were on Thursday detained as he tried to lead a protest march against Jammu and Kashmir government’s move to grant domicile certificates to West Pakistan Refugees.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Rashid attempted to lead the march from Sher-i-Kashmir Park here to Lal Chowk against the government decision. But as the protesters reached the GPO Srinagar, police swung into action and detained the independent legislator from north Kashmir’s Langate constituency, along with his supporters, a spokesman of his Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) said.

Talking to reporters before being detained, Rashid said the government decision to grant domicile certificates to West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) was “totally unacceptable to us”.

He alleged that the state government was behaving as a “proxy” and “extension” of the Union government in Delhi.

“Time has come for Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to break this alliance (with BJP) and go to people once again (to seek votes),” he said. Rashid vowed to sit on a day-long “hunger strike” in front of chief minister’s residence at Gupkar here to protest the government decision.

The WPRs, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. 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.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 16:55 IST

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

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

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

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

File image of Omar Abdullah. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

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

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

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

Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee and women leaders: Linguistic sexism pollutes our political vocabulary

Indira Gandhi was once ‘lauded’ as “the only man in cabinet of old women.” The sexist description – supposedly a tribute to Gandhi – was, simultaneously, a slight to women in general. This, unfortunately, is the kind of linguistic sexism that has peppered our political vocabulary, particularly in the way we tend to describe women leaders. The analytical frameworks within which these women leaders are studied are more often than not layered with sexism.

Unlike their male counterparts, women leaders are usually described with gendered and negative adjectives like ‘mercurial,’ ‘emotional,’ ‘unpredictable,’ and ‘moody.’ Such terms were frequently used in reference to J Jayalalithaa during her long and eventful political tenure.

They are also routinely used in conversations surrounding two other significant women leaders – Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati. These women’s personalities and their political modes of functioning are always commented on using an inherently patriarchal vocabulary.

Though dictatorial tendencies among male leaders are often taken for granted (or even celebrated,) the very same tendencies in women meet with greater flak or acidic criticisms. Jayalalithaa, for instance, was perhaps no more dictatorial than any other male political leader of significance (all political parties are ruled by a supreme leader who rules with an iron hand). Yet, the AIADMK leader’s authoritarian ways arguably attracted more flak than has, say, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s autocratic way of functioning. And this is just one among many examples of male leaders who are known for brooking little or no dissidence within their parties, and for expecting unwavering and uncritical loyalty from colleagues.

(Clockwise from top) J Jayalalithaa, Indira Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee, Mehbooba Mufti, Mayawati.(Clockwise from top) J Jayalalithaa, Indira Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee, Mehbooba Mufti, Mayawati.

(Clockwise from top) J Jayalalithaa, Indira Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee, Mehbooba Mufti, Mayawati.

Jayalalithaa was not very different in this respect – dictatorial and imperious in her style of functioning. She walled herself up behind a screen of inaccessibility. That image deified her, striking fear and admiration in the hearts of her colleagues, as well as the people at large. It’s interesting to note in this context that admirers of both Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee have admiringly depicted these leaders as Goddess Durga; a symbol of divine, feminine power.

In many ways, Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee share some parts of their political trajectory. If the AIADMK chief was the ‘other woman’ (MGR introduced her to politics but she never was the outsider within in his life,) Banerjee had no mentor when she entered politics. Like Jayalalithaa, Banerjee was subjected to personal and political humiliation, to physical attacks by the CPI–M. Both women survived and went to on to become leaders occupying centerstage of regional and national politics.

In her obituary of Jayalalithaa in The Indian Express, Vaasanthi (author of Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen,) writes: “She realised that the leader had to be projected as an exalted being with rare or superhuman qualities and the followers necessarily were mere mortals, upon whom she showered her grace.” The AIADMK chief knew that all over the world, creating a powerful aura has been an effective strategy used by powerful leaders to control their respective party organisations. “It was more of a necessity for her, having to survive in a male-dominated chauvinistic political arena,” Vaasanthi opines.

Herein lies the essence of Jayalalithaa’s personal and political narrative. It would be impossible to undermine the impact of her early years – when she was mentored and dominated by political patron MG Ramachandran – on the personality that she evolved for the public. After breaking free of MGR’s influence she evolved into an independent political power house.

The death of MGR left her vulnerable to attacks within her own party, as well as from her opponents outside. MGR, as Jayalalithaa had on occasions mentioned, did not facilitate her emergence within the party. She faced a tough and lonely challenge, which she did successfully overcome. Once she held the reins of her party in a tight grasp, she became deified as Amma. But the journey to that ultimate position of power was traumatic and tough. Jayalalithaa suffered a great deal of humiliation – both physical and mental – at the hands of her male party colleagues. Not surprisingly, these experiences left an indelible impression on her.

In 1989, in the presence of then DMK Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, she was viciously, physically attacked on the floor of the Tamil Nadu assembly. Jayalalithaa left the assembly precincts, and the next time that she entered that same building was when she was elected chief minister two years later. Similar to Mamata Banerjee who, years after being dragged from Writers’ Buildings by her hair during a protest, eventually took control of that building.

Scandals, corruption, and criticism aside, no remembrance of leaders like Jayalalithaa can overlook these symbolically powerful moments of reversal and triumph, and the battles of sexism that she had to fight.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 08:34 IST

Kashmir unrest: We need to listen to people like Omar Abdullah, says RJD

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has agreed with former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah view that Pakistan can’t be blamed for the unrest in the Kashmir Valley, saying that people like him need to be listened to with bit more understanding.”I think we need to listen to people like Omar Abdullah with little bit of understanding, setting aside some of the phrases which have been used by him. What is the essence of his statement; that we should not stop the conversation process in the valley and should continue engaging. And that was the mandate of the all party delegation,” RJD leader Manoj Jha.Jha asserted that no major political party has ever deferred from the position of the security establishment and alleged that the Centre and the state government of blocking the dialogue process with the people of the Kashmir Valley.”If you don?t talk to the people in the valley, then how will you resolve this issue? Pakistan is a kind of menace we have been fighting and, I think, governments prior to the present regime have fought much more vehemently without making much noise,” Jha said.Abdullah on Saturday had 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.

Kashmir unrest: Omar Abdullah lets Pakistan off, says ‘historic blunders’ by India to blame

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said the unrest in Kashmir cannot be blamed on Pakistan, but was a result of “mistakes” made by the Indian government of not engaging with the people of the state. “Do not be under this false impression that the fire you see in Kashmir has been ignited by Pakistan. It is a result of our mistakes,” Omar said, addressing a function of his National Conference in Baramulla.

Omar Abdullah. PTIOmar Abdullah. PTI

Omar Abdullah. PTI

“To blame Pakistan alone for the political situation or the current unrest in the Valley is a distortion of the truth. The people of J&K have espoused a political sentiment, even when there was no external interference and this political sentiment forms the basis of the state’s special status that has since been eroded by extra-constitutional machinations,” Omar said.

He said the political issue in Kashmir is a result of “historic blunders and broken promises by successive dispensations” in New Delhi. “The situation today stands compounded because of the present central government’s refusal to even acknowledge that
a problem exists in Kashmir,” Omar said.

The National Conference’s working president alleged the ruling PDP’s charade of seeking confidence building measures and political initiatives could not conceal the party’s brazen abandonment of its own ideology and vision document in a bargain to attain power.

There is a stark difference between the Mehbooba Mufti of the opposition and the Mehbooba Mufti of the ruling PDP-BJP
government. It has now become evident that the Mehbooba of opposition was just an elaborate facade to pave way for Mehbooba Mufti’s ascent to the Chief Minister’s chair.

“Her theatrical performances as an opposition leader might have served her well but when people compare her present avatar to her previous posturing she stands exposed. Every single promise made by the PDP to seek votes in the previous elections has been broken with utter contempt shown towards the people of the state,” he added.

Omar alleged that the PDP-BJP alliance has “wreaked havoc” with the state. “The government has ceased to exist on the ground and its mere presence is exhibited solely through indiscriminate arrests and imposition of Public Safety Acts against the youth. The loss of nearly a hundred innocent young lives in the current unrest and the unimaginable and indiscriminate repression of our youth has been the most noticeable hallmark of the PDP-BJP alliance and Mehbooba Mufti s refusal to acknowledge her failure has only compounded the misery of the people,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 20:36 IST

Kashmir activist Khurram Parvez, detained under draconian Public Safety Act, finally set free

Prominent human right activist and coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir coalition for civil society, Khurram Parvez, walked out of jail on Tuesday morning, after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his arrest, made under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

Parvez, who was accused of being a “threat to peace in the Kashmir Valley”, was arrested in September. The state government had faced criticism, both locally and internationally, for booking the activist under PSA.

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvezKhurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Khurram Parvez. Image courtesy: Twitter/@KhurramParvez

Often called “lawless laws”, the PSA was introduced by popular Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah in 1978, to keep timber smuggling in check. However, its use has been often been criticised by people across the political spectrum; rights activists have called for its abrogation. But despite criticism, the J&K government not only continues to use it, but it also just set a new record during the ongoing agitation, booking more than 500 persons, including minors, under the Act.

Successive governments in the state have used the law to crush dissent and political opponents. Khurram, too, was arrested under the same Act, which allows police to detain any person without charge or trail, and hold him/her up to six months or even two years.

Finally, after 76 days of incarceration, Khurram’s name was finally cleared by the court on Friday. However, due to a clerical error — the date of issue of the PSA warrant — jail authorities refused to release him. He was only set free on Tuesday, and is currently in Jammu, and is likely to reach Srinagar on Friday, said Khurram’s colleague, Pervaiz Imroz. “The judgment is the vindication of the fact that his (Khurram’s) detention was illegal and unlawful,” Imroz, himself a well-known human right lawyer, told Firstpost.

Despite release orders from the court, however, jail authorities had refused to release the activist; instead, he was taken by the counter-intelligence wing of the Kashmir police, who interrogated him at Meeran Sahib, Jammu.

The state government under chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has come under harsh criticism from the court, which termed Parvez’s arrest “illegal” and an “abuse of power”, and ordered the government to release him from prison immediately. Upon release, Khurram reportedly expressed gratitude to the local and international solidarity campaigning for his release.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, J&K High Court judge, while referring to the PSA during is pronouncement of the detention order, had said, “A society which catapulted itself to the highest position of democratic values and principles, may not accept the law like the Act of 1978.”

He added that Parvez’s detention order is not only illegal but the detaining authority has also abused its powers in ordering it. “The detaining authority has stated that activities of the detainee were highly prejudicial to the security of the Valley and maintenance of public order. However, they have not elucidated as to which activities were prejudicial to the security of the territory and which were against maintenance of public order,” the order said.

The court held that nothing was brought to its notice, either on grounds of detention or in the reply affidavit that in the investigation of the FIRs involvement of detainee surfaced as accused. “In absence of any such material having been brought to the notice of the court, at this stage, it has to be presumed that the detainee is not involved in any of these FIRs,” the court said.

It also raised serious questions about the police case against Parvez that led to his arrest initially, saying that police witnesses made “parrot-like statements” and failed to provide the content of the slogans the police had accused Pervez of raising and instigating people.

Before his arrest, Khurram was barred from travelling to Geneva to participate in a UN Human Rights Council session. As many as 52 activists, scholars, writers and lawyers had written an open letter demanding his immediate release.

Parvez, programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, he had often accused the government of gross human rights violation and failing the people of the Kashmir Valley. At the time of his arrest, he wasn’t given any reason, and was only slapped with a charge under PSA later.

Srinagar SSP described him as an “anti-social element known for his anti-national activities” and said he’d has “achieved a prominent position in separatist camps under the hidden cover of being a human rights activist”.

But the reasons for his detention, Kashmir observers say, was not connected with the ongoing unrest at all, but rather to a case of alleged molestation of a teenaged girl by an Army soldier in north Kashmir’s Handwara town earlier this year. Khurram has campaigned against the state government for its inability to protect the identity of the teenaged victim, and harassing her instead. His campaigning had caused a huge public outcry in the state.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 19:15 IST

Amid Kashmir unrest, two kids from the Valley clinch gold at international championships

With over four months of shutdown, curfew and civilian killings, the tormented Kashmiris have something to cheer about as two players from the Valley have clinched top titles at two separate international championships recently.

On Tuesday, a seven-year-old boy from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, who represented India in the Asian Youth Karate Championship, has clinched the gold medal after beating his Sri Lankan rival.

Hashim_825

Hashim Mansoor receiving gold medal at Asian Youth Karate Championship.

Hashim Mansoor, a resident of Nadihal village in Bandipora district, represented India in Sub-Junior category in the championship, which saw the participation of 19 countries, at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi.

Hashim had defeated his Bhutanese and Malaysian opponents before reaching the finals.

Mansoor Ahmad Shah, Hashim’s father, said that he has been encouraging his child to pursue Karate since he was five. “It is a wonderful feeling. I hope he gets the necessary support in future to continue his journey and I am sure he would excel.”

Ghulam Nabi Tantray, president of J&K Youth Karate Federation, said: “Mansoor had been performing extremely well in recent matches and his win was only possible because of the hard work put by his coach Fasil Ali Dar.

“He is a gifted child and I hope we would produce more champions from all the three regions of the state,” Tantray said.

Tajamul Islam with J&K Cheif Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Tajamul with J&K Cheif Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Earlier, an eight-year-old girl from the same district, Tajamul Islam, daughter of a driver, battled all odds and went on to clinch a gold medal at the World Kickboxing Championship in the sub-junior category.

Tajamul, who made the history by winning the gold in the sub-junior category at the World Kickboxing Championship in Italy, is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 December in New Delhi.

The political turmoil of last 27 years has dealt a blow to the plans of the state’s hugely talented players who often fail to make a mark at national and international level due to the lack of infrastructure back home. The peace prevailing in the last decade brought out some known faces from the state, like Pervaiz Rasool, who went on to play for team India in international cricket matches.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 19:22 IST

J&K: CM Mufti, opposition leaders express grief over Narwal fire deaths

Sat, 26 Nov 2016-08:35pm , Jammu , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief over the death of three persons and gutting of around 80 hutments in Narwal area of Jammu city on Saturday.The Chief Minister expressed heartfelt sympathies with the families of three persons who were charred to death in the tragic fire incident, officials said. She has directed the divisional administration to extend all humanitarian assistance to the affected families at the earliest, they said.Opposition National Conference leaders and former chief ministers, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah too expressed grief over the incident. Describing as “most unfortunate” deaths, the two leaders conveyed their condolences to the bereaved family and expressed solidarity with all those whose dwelling units were gutted in the fire.
ALSO READ J&K: Fire in Narwal kills 4, 80 slums guttedThree persons were charred to death and as many others sustained serious burn injuries when their huts caught fire in Narwal area of Jammu city in wee hours of Saturday. Over four dozen huts were damaged in the fire which was later brought under control by deploying several fire tenders.

Kashmir: Police probing media reports of vehicle carrying demonetised notes

Jammu: Police on Tuesday said that it is probing media reports which alleged that a vehicle carrying demonetised currency was intercepted in Jammu city.

“We are conducting probe into media reports about the news items”, a senior police officer said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said the media house was also asked about the report and the news report is being verified.

“We have no knowledge about any such incident”, the senior police officer said.

“Police is investigation media report”, DySP Jammu Sugandha Mahajan said on a whatsapp group here tonight.

Reports in a section of media alleged that demonetised cash running into crores reportedly belonging to a minister was intercepted in a vehicle in the city.

Congress today demanded probe into the matter and asked Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to the minister.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, senior vice president JKPCC Sham Lal Sharma along with Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said “we want probe and sacking of those responsible for it by Chief Minister”.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 08:13 IST

Kashmir: Over 94 percent student turnout at board exams amid heightened security

Braving the harsh winter chill, 19-year-old Fozia Ali left home two hours ahead of the exam, hoping to catch an early ride to the exam centre at Kothi Bagh Girls Higher Secondary School in Srinagar city.

With public transport not plying due to the separatist-sponsored strike, it was an arduous task for thousands of young boys and girls, who are writing their board exams, that began on Monday in Kashmir amid heightened security.

According to officials, over 94 percent students appeared for the Standard 12 exam, while the Standard 10 exams will start on Tuesday in which more than 50,000 boys and girls are expected to write their papers.

Students after their board exams in Srinagar on Monday. PTI

Students after their board exams in Srinagar on Monday. PTI

“All of us (friends) decided to appear in this session. Who knows what will happen till March,” Ali, a resident of Indra Nagar locality of Srinagar, said. The Jammu and Kashmir government will conduct the board exams in two sessions, in November and March.

Following five months of civilian unrest during which at least 30 schools were set on fire, huge contingents of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in and around 484 centres for Standard 12 exams and 545 exam centres for Class 10 students.

Over hundred thousand students are appearing in the two exams amid heightened security and night watch run by the teaching and non-teaching staff to protect schools across the valley which have been targeted by arsonists in the last five months.

At least 30 people have been arrested in these cases, according to J&K police.

Officials said 30,213 of the 31,964 students appeared for the exam held across the valley. Surprisingly, south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, which witnessed massive protests since Burhan Wani’s killing, recorded one of the highest percentage of students who appeared for the exams.

Anantnag was one the worst affected districts in the ongoing unrest that has left at least 94 people dead and thousands injured. Officials said, 4,740 of the 4,926 students, appeared for the exams in the district. The percentage of students appearing for the exams was at 96.1 percent.

Another district that recorded a remarkably high attendance, is Kulgam. The district has been at the forefront of the unrest with the maximum number of civilians killed here in the last four months. Around 92.98 percent students turned up to write their paper.

The J&K government, led by Mehbooba Mufti, is facing severe criticism after the state’s Education Minister, Naeem Akhtar, refused to postpone the annual board exams against the backdrop of the civilian unrest, saying: “Examinations are neither being held by me nor because of me.”

Despite Kashmir Valley going through one of the most prolonged periods of shutdown in the history of insurgency in the state, the state government announced the dates for the secondary and higher secondary exams last month. The government has, however, waived off some burden from the students by announcing 50 percent relaxation in syllabus.

“Brisk polling in examination centres,” Sofi Ahsan, a reporter wrote on his Facebook page, “Given the excitement and happiness among students outside the examination centres, it seems the past four months of Naeem Akhtar have been forgiven.”

At many exam centres in Srinagar, anxious parents accompanied their tense children. Many had carpooled to make the journey easier, while the less privileged ones, waited by the roadside, waving at the oncoming traffic, to take them to their destination.

The day, however, passed without any untoward incident, with most of the students walking out cheerfully from the examination centres. They described the question paper as “average” while others, perhaps due to lack of preparation, were seemingly stumped.

Nazish Bashir, a student of Kothi Bagh Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Srinagar, said that most of the students were not ready to sit for the exams earlier because they had neither gone to school in the last five months nor tuition centres.

“The paper was easy. I used to study at home. Sometimes I would face difficulty but I consulted my brother. Despite sitting at home for the last four months, I managed to do very well today,” Nazish told Firstpost.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 09:24 IST

Kashmir: Centre must act on recommendations of Yashwant Sinha’s delegation

The report filed by a high-profile delegation led by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha hasn’t offered any fresh roadmap for resolving the prevailing political crisis in Kashmir. Throughout, the report talks about diverse voices calling for finding a political solution to the crisis, but is New Delhi willing to listen to the voices on ground, acknowledge the reality and address the issues of ordinary people living in this landlocked Valley?

The delegation, comprising of respectable Kashmir observers like Wajahat Habibullah and Sushoba Bharve, came visiting at a time when the Valley was in the midst of one of the most lethal crackdowns on freedom protests. Nearly hundred people have been killed in retaliatory action against protesters by government forces, over 12,000 protesters have been wounded — many of them blinded for life, and around 7,000 are either behind bars or detained in their homes.

File image of Yashwant Sinha. PTI

File image of Yashwant Sinha. PTI

Although the visit was clouded by the unceremonious binning of the report of the three-member Kashmir interlocutor group headed by Dilip Padgaonkar, which was sent by the UPA government to provide a roadmap following the civilian uprising in 2010, the fact that there wasn’t much hope in the new delegation provided the members an opportunity to meet with the cross-sections of society.

After a failed attempt by the all-party parliamentary delegation, the Sinha-led team managed to break the ice with the Hurriyat that is spearheading the agitation in the Valley, and held two meetings on as many days with the separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq; the latter was shifted overnight from a sub-jail to his Nigeen home in order to facilitate the meeting. They also met the mainstream politicians, business leaders, civil society and ordinary people on the streets.

In a curt six-page report, the group has written to the Central government that people of Kashmir believe that “Indian politics has taken such a turn (today) that there is no willingness to listen to even demands for autonomy… In terms of the agenda of alliance (between PDP and BJP), a dialogue process must be initiated with all stakeholders so that peace can be restored,” the report says.

The thrust of the report is on the need of initiating a dialogue process with the stakeholders in Kashmir, including the separatists, which was also explained by Sinha, the senior BJP leader, in New Delhi on Thursday. “In our report we registered grievances of people in Jammu and Kashmir, based on that we have also given a few suggestions to the government,” Sinha told ANI in New Delhi.

The delegation has written that “across the political spectrum, the Kashmiris we met spoke to virtually the same script about the history of the Kashmir issue. They made the point that this is the fifth generation of Kashmiris which was protesting but to no avail.” Clearly, there is anger and dejection among the people. Kashmiris have been historically betrayed. It is time to fulfil some of the promises made to them.

The human and economic toll taken by the prevailing crisis, the “excessive use of force by the security forces”, the wanton use of pellet guns, the reluctance to engage with the people and sort out their problems, once and for all, is pointed out repeatedly in the report. Similar recommendations have been made in previous committees and interlocutor reports but to no avail.

While dialogue is the only way out, it seems that the governments in the state and at the Centre are not ready yet. After a brief spell of freedom, all the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir have been either detained in their homes or sent to jail. With the crisis far from over and relations with Pakistan at an all-time low, dialogue seems like a far-fetched option for now.

However, confusing the semblance of calm in Kashmir these days with the return of normalcy would be suicidal. The policymakers in Delhi should listen to their horses.

It is time to act, lest Kashmir slips into the chaos which may tear apart whatever connection India has with Kashmir.

Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti welcomes Centre’s decision to withdraw Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has welcomed the decision of the Central Government to withdraw currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, saying the step was needed to check the scourge of black money and corruption in the country.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

The Chief Minister described corruption as a “vicious menace” which eats up the vitals of growth and development of a society and the country.

She hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his bold steps to check corruption, illegal transaction of money and other such evils which hamper the development of the country.

The Chief Minister said though the step would entail temporary inconvenience to people but its positive effects would be in the larger and long-term interests of the country and people.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh today welcomed the decision of the Central Government to withdraw currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 maintaining that the step would go a long way in eradication of money laundering and corruption.

While describing the step as a historic, the Deputy Chief Minister said that the Prime Minister has taken several measures to end the menace of corruption.

He said that corruption is the scourge which is eating into the vitals of the country thereby hampering its overall development. He said the historical initiative should be welcomed by one and all.

The Deputy Chief Minister informed that he has already taken up the issue of inconvenience being faced by certain traders at toll posts with the State Finance Minister.

He said the remedial measures in this regard would be soon taken.

Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba Mufti calls burning of schools ‘unfortunate’

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday expressed a deep concern over the burning of schools in the Kashmir valley and termed it “unfortunate”.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“The govt has already taken into custody some miscreants who burned schools. I hope there should be some good news for us in next one week,” she said on the sidelines of the opening of Civil Secretariat in Jammu.

Over 30 schools have been burnt in various parts of the Valley during the past four months of civil unrest.

Commenting on the ceasefire violations on the border with Pakistan, the Chief Minister said: “Neighbours cannot be changed and both India and Pakistan have to live together. My hope is the shelling on the borders would stop and the ceasefire restored.”

Mehbooba also inspected a guard of honour in the heavily-guarded Civil Secretariat building in the heart of Jammu city.

The Secretariat opened in Jammu after functioning from Srinagar during past six months as part of Darbar move.

The Darbar move is a biannual feature in which the civil secretariat stays for six months of winter (from November to April) in Jammu, the winter capital, and returns to the Kashmir Valley for the summer months (May to October). The practice is on in the state since the time of Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh who first introduced it in 1872.

The offices had closed in summer capital Srinagar on 27 October.

The state government functioning in Srinagar had been marred by the unrelenting unrest marked by hartals, lockdowns and curfews that began on 9 July following the killing of a top Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir Kokernag area.

The unrest which entered 122-day on Monday has so far claimed over 90 lives while thousands others have been wounded with over one thousand having received pellet injuries in one or both eyes.

Thousands have been arrested by the security forces during the past nearly four months, with over 400 detained under public safety act (PSA).

J&K situation extremely fragile; around 300 militants still active: DGP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as “extremely fragile”, state DGP K Rajendra has said around 300 militants are active in the state and that continuing infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) is a cause of worry.. “The continuing infiltration along the border is a cause of worry which can change the whole game,” the Director General of Police (DGP) told a meeting of top civil and police officials of the state, chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, here yesterday.Referring to the situation in Kashmir where the unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July completed four months, Rajendra said even though the intensity and spread of the situation has come down, it continued to be “extremely fragile”. “While the intensity and spread of situation has come down, the situation is extremely fragile. At present, 250-300 militants are active. Given the present situation, we need to have a road map for next two-three months,” he said.The DGP said at least 70 buildings have been set ablaze by miscreants during the ongoing unrest in the Valley. “53 of these 70 buildings have been damaged totally,” the police chief said. He said the restoration of normalcy will remain the top priority for the forces in coming days. “While a semblance of normalcy has been restored, there is no scope for complacency. Police will continue its drive against miscreants,” he said.At the meeting, Deputy Commissioners and SSPs of Kashmir division made detailed presentations on the ongoing development works, some of which have been affected due to the situation. They also provided figures on the number of cases filed over the last four months and the arrests made in those cases.

Cross-LoC trade, bus service cancelled in Kashmir after eight people killed in border firing

The fresh escalation along the Line of Control and working International Border has cast a shadow on intra-Kashmir trade with authorities suspending the cross-border trade after two days of intense shelling that has left eight people dead in Jammu and Kashmir.

Tuesday’s civilian deaths are the highest on a single day in the past 13 years, after soldiers from both sides traded fire at each other’s locations across the border in Jammu region. Both sides blamed each other for ceasefire violations as tensions grew in an increasingly hostile relationship between India and Pakistan.

The shelling and sporadic firing, which started in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, continued throughout the day, leaving more than two dozen people injured.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The trade between the two countries in Kashmir region has largely remained unaffected since 2008, when it was started after years of negotiations, but the rising tensions along the de-facto borders seems to have cast a shadow on its future prospects, as India and Pakistan accuse each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire that had brought much-needed respite for the residents living along the tense borders.

“The reasons are unknown but we hope to start the trade again, very soon,” the General Secretary of Salamabad Traders Union, Hilal Ahmad Turki, said.

Earlier on Monday, Karvan-e-Aman, a bus service between two part of Kashmir, was also suspended.

On Tuesday, eight civilians were killed, six in Ramgarh sector and two in Rajouri and at least 22 people were injured in the daylong firing. Thousands of people living along LoC and IB in Jammu have been asked to migrate to the plains.

“Residents of 55 villages have fled from in Ramgarh sector after the firing intensified on Tuesday. Most of these people have taken shelter in temples, schools, and Radha Soami Satsang Beas shelters in safer areas,” Ravinder Sharma, a journalist in Jammu, told Firstpost on phone.

Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Simrandeep Singh, told Firstpost that although the firing has been taking place for a week now, its intensity on Tuesday superseded the recent incidents.

He said the authorities have closed 175 government schools along the border and people have been asked to stay alerted in case of any eventuality.

“We have issued orders to close all the schools and we are planning to keep them closed for some time,” Singh said.

He added that his office, with the help of volunteers, is advising people to either move towards the plain areas or if they want to stay in their homes, they should use underground bunkers during the night.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti too expressed anguish and concern over the loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties in unabated border shelling.

Mufti made a fervent appeal for peace and political dialogue between India and Pakistan to de-escalate the perilously hostile situation prevailing in the region.

“I am deeply pained over the fresh spate of civilian killings, including children and women, in border shelling and urge the political leadership in New Delhi and Islamabad to take effective and urgent measures to de-escalate the situation and bring an end to the miseries of the hapless people of Jammu and Kashmir who are caught in the deadly crossfire,” Mufti said.

She added the unabated border shelling has led to a tragic humanitarian crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, where innocent civilians and their properties are being targeted.

“We in Jammu and Kashmir yearn for peace as we have been suffering immensely because of the hostility and violence in the region and know very well its dangers and perilous consequences,” she said and added that India and Pakistan must open the channels of communication, at the earliest, realising the dangerous consequences of any escalation of ongoing confrontation along the borders.

The Border Security Forces said they have destroyed 14 Pakistani posts in retaliatory action along IB in response to ceasefire violations by the Pakistani rangers.

“BSF gave a calibrated retaliation on IB in response to unprovoked firing and shelling of Pakistan Rangers in Ramgarh area and Arnia Sectors since morning,” DIG, Dharmendra Pareek, said. “Since morning, BSF targeted Pakistan Rangers’ posts across IB in the same sector and caused heavy damage to 14 Pakistani Posts,” he said.

Another school set ablaze in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yet another school was set ablaze in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Sunday by unknown arsonists. Reports said that Government Higher Secondary School, Kabamarg building was damaged in the inferno.Locals immediately called fire-fighters that brought the blazes under control but not before it damaged major portion of the building, local sources said. So far, over 20 schools have been burnt down in the last two months with the unrest in the Valley having prolonged for more than three months now, majority of them government-run, suffering irreparable damage. The attacks have soared after the state government decided to go ahead with the Class 10 and Class 12 Board exams, scheduled next month, despite calls by students, parents for delaying them due to the ongoing agitation.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had, on Saturday, blamed separatists for using children as cannon fodder by not allowing schools to function in the Valley. “Since last three months, schools are closed in Valley. The government tried to open schools and even a delegation from civil society led by Yashwant Sinha went to meet them (separatists) and requested them that the future of children was getting spoiled and for God’s sake help to let the schools open and the reply came in the form of burning of two schools,” she said. Most educational institutes in the Valley have been non-functional since July 9th, keeping in mind the unrest in Kashmir that entered 114th day on Sunday.

J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti says separatists are using children as ‘cannon fodder’

Udhampur: Lashing out at the separatists, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday alleged they were not allowing schools in the Kashmir Valley to function because they wanted a new generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones and can be used as “cannon fodder”.

She said the separatists were exploiting children from the poor families by instigating them to attack army camps, police stations and CRPF camps and were using them as shields, while their own children were safe.

“If the youths gets education they won’t pelt stones for them. The (separatist) leadership want a generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones for them,” Mehbooba said in a scathing attack on separatists during a passing out parade of police officers.

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“Today, I see that big leaders feel if schools open, poor children will get education and then they will not have time for stone pelting or might not be ready for that,” she said.

Stressing that leaders who give preference to the future and education of the children are needed and not the ones who use them as cannon fodder, she said, “for three months our schools are closed, we tried and even Delhi sent big delegations”.

“Our Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) came thrice, our Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) went there and an all-party delegation also went to meet them but they closed doors for them. The reply to the request of a civil society delegation led by Yashwant Sinha, which completed its three-day visit to Kashmir on Thursday, was given by burning of two schools,” the chief minister said.

“A civil society delegation went to meet them (separatists) and they opened their doors for them. The team
requested them that the future of children was getting spoiled and for God’s sake help to let the schools open and the reply came in the form of burning of two schools,” Mehbooba said.

With the unrest in the valley continuing for over a hundred days, she alleged that the separatists wanted that the children should get hurt to keep the “pot boiling”.

“They feel that let the children of poor people die. What will happen if they get injured or die they are not rich kids. It is a big challenge for us because till now they have handed over the gun to poor children and now they are using them as shields,” she added.

“Among all those killed or injured, 99 percent were small kids, not one from the rich family, not a single child of those leaders have been injured, only poor kids” Mehbooba said. She said that first the separatists thought that the uneducated youths would pick guns for them, but the youths in the past 25 years has realised that gun will not solve any problem.

“Children are not ready to pick up guns. Now they want a generation of illiterate children who can pelt stones for them, not only pelt the stones but in the process lose their lives. I was told that girl students want to go to school but are afraid that they would be attacked by stone-pelters when they see them in the white uniform,” Mehbooba said.

Duplicity in Kashmir Police unmasked: War clouds force state to act

There’s good news from Kashmir.

No, the ‘Kashmir problem’ hasn’t been solved. None of the problems have been, actually.

But it’s good news anyway that the government has decided to wake up to one part of the stinking rot under its nose.

The rot has been around forever — at least 1,500 years if one goes by the historical poem, Rajtarangani — but governments of various sorts have either repressed the place or turned a blind eye in or to Kashmir. That tendency has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. The particular part of the rot that the government has just decided to acknowledge is that the state police has been compromised.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

On Saturday, 10 policemen were finally suspended.

They are accused of not having resisted when boys who were taking up militancy snatched their weapons. And it’s about time too. Enough blood has flowed down the fetid drains of Kashmir while the world at large has pretended that things are as the ‘narratives’ say they are. They are most certainly not and the mystery of the snatched rifles is a good illustration of that.

The accusation against the policemen might as well be that they colluded with the wannabe militants who took their weapons. That would mean that they wear uniforms with the President of India’s police medal but assist and abet those fighting the State. It’s a pretty neat bargain for them, for they get salaries, perks, pensions, facilities and the much-favoured delight of oppressing and extorting from those who are not part of the network of power.

So what exactly is the deal with these snatched rifles?

Apparently, the organisers and handlers of the new militancy — which has been gradually emerging in south Kashmir over the past five years or so — did not want to send weapons for the new boys without testing them. So boys who wanted to be militants had to prove their militant capabilities by snatching weapons from policemen or paramilitary soldiers. It would seem that would be easy in a place where collusion and the free flow of power and wealth across presumed dividing lines is commonplace.

The intriguing thing is how the powers that rule the state — and these powers include a variety of security agencies and forces — managed to not know what was going on. One is speaking here of the basic fact that guns were being snatched, not necessarily that those from whom they were being snatched could be colluding with the loot of their own weapons.

That is the amazing vitality of a conflict economy such as this one!

On both sides

That people of all sorts have been playing both sides simultaneously in this unbelievably vitiated place has been well-known to all but the blind, deaf and mute. Those who have been playing both sides include politicians, bureaucrats, militants and mediapersons, so why would the list not include policemen and others charged with fighting militancy?  The uncomfortable fact that stares us in the face is that the police force has been compromised, very deeply compromised, for years. But most of us have gone along with the pretence that lines dividing State and anti-State, ‘mainstream’ and ‘secessionist’, friend and enemy, ours and theirs exist.

It became clear around a year ago that information had been leaked to militants when one of the most effective operatives of the state police was killed when he went to try and nab one of the most important militants of recent years, and a bunch of highly-trained infiltrators.

The victim was a sub-inspector who was nicknamed ‘laptop’ for his immense skills at cyber tracking. He was said to be a walking-talking encyclopaedia of information on militants.

Not only did it become clear that that officer was working with a double (or triple) agent, but also that such a valuable officer whose talent was behind a computer was apparently persuaded to go to the site where he was ambushed and killed by those who he thought he was tracking. Did colleagues who saw him as competition engineer that?

Faced with a tongue-lashing from the highest authorities, and public outcry, the state police killed the militant who had ambushed and killed that operative — and they did it with amazing alacrity.

They did not, however, nab or kill the group of at least eight Pakistani militants who that operative’s killer had gone to receive soon after their infiltration. Those militants have wreaked havoc against the forces in several militant attacks since the beginning of the year.

Blood will continue to flow but this sort of duplicity must end.

J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti calls for de-escalation as cross-border firing continues

Sounds of gun shots and mortar shells being fired heard throughout Tuesday night and in the wee hours of Wednesday across the Working Boundary kept many villagers awake, sending some of them into underground bunkers in Jammu.

An assistant sub-inspector of the Border Security Forces (BSF) was injured on Wednesday morning after the BSF claimed to have destroyed at least six Pakistani posts in the retaliation firing. The exchange of fire continues as the BSF and Pakistani rangers exchange fire across Ranbir Singh Pura.

At least, 11 civilians were injured on Tuesday, in Suchetgarh sector of RS Pura. A mortar shell fired by Pakistani rangers landed inside the lawn of a house and left six members of a family injured.

“We were sitting in the lawn when a shell fired by Pakistani rangers landed. Six, including four girls, suffered splinter injuries,” said Manju Choudhary, a resident of Suchetgarh, who was injured in the shelling on Tuesday. She is undergoing treatment in the Government Medical College Jammu.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The heavy shelling on the border outposts (BOPs) and civilian areas has left a BSF soldier and a six-year-old boy dead, and nine others injured on Sunday. By Tuesday evening, more than 25 structures were damaged by shells as Pakistan rangers pounded more than 15 villages from RS Pura to Akhnoor sectors using heavy calibre weapons, including 82 mm mortars and 120 mm mortars.

Residents said around 70 percent of people have migrated from RS Pura and Suchetgarh area to safer places.

“As the firing continues, villagers are moving to safer areas. More than 100 cattle were killed in our village,” said Soma Devi who is also undergoing treatment. Devi was one among the six people injured in Suchetgarh, youngest among them was 10-year-old Sanjana.

In another village, a shell splinter pierced through a woman’s body while she was running towards a bunker in Chandu Chak in RS Pura.

A BSF officer said that Pakistani rangers targetted their posts and civilian areas from 11 am to 12 noon in RS Pura. “Three outposts in RS Pura were under attack from the Pakistani rangers. The BSF also retaliated and caused them extensive damages,” said the BSF officer. He said five to six PakistanArmy posts were severely hit and damaged from calibrated and effective retaliation from the BSF.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said that the fresh spate of cross-border shelling along the Working Boundary has led to loss of human lives and called for immediate de-escalation.

“Ways and means will have to explored immediately to bring an end to the suffering of the people because of continuous cross-border shelling and escalation of violence in the state and region,” said Mufti while presiding over a meeting of the Unified Headquarters (UHQ) in Srinagar.

The chief minister said the vicious cycle of death and destruction confronting the region must end soon and serious efforts should be made at the political and civil society level to revive the peace and reconciliation process for the larger good of the people. Making a fervent appeal for maintaining peace on the borders, Mufti said the cross-border shelling has led to a humanitarian crisis with people fleeing their homes and scurrying for safety.

“This disquieting scenario has to end so that people can live peacefully in their homes,” she said and added that people in Jammu and Kashmir have always suffered the most in such hostile situations.

Reports said the army and the administration have advised people along the LoC and International Border not to move out of their houses.

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

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

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan will have to stop terror for success in talks: Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistan will have to stop cross- border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for any dialogue with India to be successful, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday while underlining that talks were not possible in the prevailing situation which has “deteriorated”.At the same time, she said she remained hopeful about resumption of talks between India and Pakistan as Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to carry forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy.Mehbooba said Pakistan has a huge role in establishing peace in the region and it has to stop supporting the militancy. “This is not a hidden thing that infiltration takes place and encounters happen on borders. Pakistan has a role to see that infiltration does not take place and there is no support to the militancy,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a function to commemorate the Police Martyrs at Zewan, 14 kms from here.”When the graph of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir comes down, there would be more opportunities for the two countries to talk. Those talks will then be successful,” she added.Mehbooba recalled that during Vajpayee’s tenure, Pakistan had said it will not allow its land to be used for anti-India activities and there was ceasefire on the borders, militancy was down and there was less infiltration.”But, unfortunately that process did not move forward,” she said.”Our Prime Minister went there (Pakistan). Now they have to repeat the promise of (then Pakistan President) Pervez Musharraf to not support the militancy in J&K and help in creating a conducive atmosphere for dialogue,” she said. Noting that Pakistan was itself facing terrorism, Mehbooba said the country has ensure that its soil is not used for anti-India activities.”Thousands of people have been killed there in terror acts in hospitals, markets, schools and colleges,” she said, adding, “if we can create a conducive atmosphere, then a way can be found.”The Chief Minister emphasised that her state has an interest “as the biggest impact of a tussle between India and Pakistan” is on it. “Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated over the last few months and to talk about dialogue in such a situation is not possible, she said.

Pakistan will have to stop militancy for talks to succeed: Mehbooba Mufti

Srinagar: Pakistan will have to stop cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for any dialogue with India to be successful, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday while underlining that talks were not possible in the prevailing situation which has “deteriorated”.

At the same time, she said she remained hopeful about resumption of talks between India and Pakistan as Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to carry forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. AFPFile photo of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Mehbooba said Pakistan has a huge role in establishing peace in the region and it has to stop supporting the militancy. “This is not a hidden thing that infiltration takes place and encounters happen on borders. Pakistan has a role to see that infiltration does not take place and there is no support to the militancy,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a function to commemorate the Police Martyrs at Zewan, 14 kms from Srinagar.

“When the graph of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir comes down, there would be more opportunities for the two countries to talk. Those talks will then be successful,” she added. Mehbooba recalled that during Vajpayee’s tenure, Pakistan had said it will not allow its land to be used for anti-India activities and there was ceasefire on the borders, militancy was down and there was less infiltration.

“But, unfortunately that process did not move forward,” she said. “Our Prime Minister went there (Pakistan). Now they have to repeat the promise of (then Pakistan President) Pervez Musharraf to not support the militancy in J&K and help in creating a conducive atmosphere for dialogue,” she said.

Noting that Pakistan was itself facing terrorism, Mehbooba said the country has ensure that its soil is not used for anti-India activities. “Thousands of people have been killed there in terror acts in hospitals, markets, schools and colleges,” she said, adding, “if we can create a conducive atmosphere, then a way can be found.”

The Chief Minister emphasised that her state has an interest “as the biggest impact of a tussle between India and Pakistan” is on it. “Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated over the
last few months and to talk about dialogue in such a situation is not possible, she said.

J&K: Mehbooba Mufti bats for peace, says AFSPA not permanent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is not permanent in Jammu and Kashmir, adding the same can be revoked provided an environment of peace and tranquility is created.Speaking at the Police Commemoration Day parade, Mufti said, “We have to create an environment of peace and tranquility in Jammu and Kashmir, AFSPA is not permanent.”Speaking over the outrage which enveloped the Kashmir valley post the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Mufti urged for a need to stop militancy.”I want to ban pellet guns but it is possible only if you people support the government. Our children are always used as shields. We can’t force someone to talk by throwing stones on them. If we need a dialogue, we have to stop militancy,” she said.Mehbooba further took on Pakistan over its move to ban Indian content in its territory and said, “Even Pakistan has to help us as we both have to live together. We discuss about films but Wagah border is still moving.”

No formal proposal from Jammu and Kashmir govt to withdraw AFSPA: RTI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Jammu and Kashmir government has not submitted any formal proposal for the withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA Act from the state, according to an RTI reply.”There is no formal proposal from the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for revocation of AFSPA,” Ministry of Home Affairs said in reply to an RTI query. Human rights activist M M Shuja had filed an RTI to the Union Home Ministry seeking information about the state government’s demand for revocation of AFSPA from the state. The Home Ministry also said that the revocation of the AFSPA has been reviewed from time to time.”It has been decided that time is not appropriate for withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K,” it said.Revocation of AFSPA has been on the agenda of both ruling PDP and opposition National Conference, which ruled the state in coalition with Congress from 2008 to 2014. PDP has been in power in the state since 2014 after forming a coalition government with the BJP. The RTI reply said the issue of revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir has been raised by various sections of the society and individuals in Kashmir valley from time to time.”Omar Abdullah (then chief minister of J&K) also raised this issue in meeting with then Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) on November 14, 2011 and during Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security on June 5, 2013,” it added. In July, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that in order to improve the situation in the state AFSPA should be revoked from some areas, beginning with 25 to 50 police stations, as an experiment.In reply to an earlier RTI query in June, the Home Ministry had said that no written request regarding revocation of the AFSPA has been received from government of Jammu and Kashmir state in the last two years.”The situation is reviewed in the Ministry from time to time. However, no formal meeting (has been) held regarding revocation of AFSPA in J&K during last two years,” the ministry had said in response to the earlier RTI application.

Kashmir unrest: 100 days after Burhan Wani, lies and mismanagement run rampant

A hundred days after Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, lies and mismanagement have seamlessly turned a mass uprising into large-scale cross-border militancy.

The lies are so blasé that they have even got the century mark wrong. Kashmir was awash with talk on Sunday that it was the 100th day of curfew. Of course, twisting facts is more or less normal in this ‘conflict zone,’ but this particular twist is bizarre. For, it is precisely because the government did not impose curfew on those fateful days, 8 and 9 July, that South Asia is now set on a terrible course.

Since the news of Burhan’s death only spread after 7 pm on the evening of 8 July, and there certainly was no night curfew, the first possibility of curfew would have been on 9 July, the day of Burhan’s funeral.
Especially those who have reported the many back-to-back funerals (eyewitnesses say half-a-dozen, interspersed with long rounds of speeches) should know how strict the curfew was imposed on that day. In fact, hysterical mobs attacked police stations and paramilitary camps across the valley. Some posts were set on fire. One police station was burned to the ground. Its armoury was looted.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Even after 9 July, curfew was not imposed on most of the last 100 days in significant parts of the Kashmir Valley. In Tral, from where Burhan hailed, there was no sign of police, army or paramilitary until a month ago – i.e., most of the first 70 days. That was excellent strategy. For, there was no death or injury there either.

Of course, the phase of repression and depraved police brutality that has followed will only cause more alienation, and insurgency.

But the ‘narrative’ is oblivious to these variations. It says in its blithe two-dimensional imbecility that the entire place has been locked down for hundred days.

Migrant work ethic

On the morning of 11 July, the Monday after Burhan was killed, I drove through large parts of Srinagar. In many places, I saw large numbers of migrant workers standing or squatting on the roadside — waiting for contractors who would hand out work for that day. No contractors were to be seen. Most of those whom the Indian taxpayer pays salaries were absent from work. A few shops were open, though their owners looked uneasy.

The government was invisible. It remained paralysed for several weeks, as those in power waited in vain hope for things to ‘settle down’ without their having to lose popularity. A very vain (pun intended) hope on both counts, as it predictably turned out. Things didn’t settle down. Their popularity plummeted.
But nobody apparently had the intelligence to figure out that the common pattern of attacks on security establishments across the valley could not have been a gigantic coincidence. A long war would unfold.

Restrictions versus narrative

During the first few weeks, the then divisional commissioner had said that ‘restrictions’ were in place. It was a suitable term. For, in fact, there have been only restrictions, at least in most parts of Srinagar through these 100 days. Security men have allowed one past their barricades, even in the often turbulent Downtown on a Friday afternoon in late July, so long as one was not agitating.

And yet, nobody in government challenged the ‘narrative’ of a total lockdown curfew in those crucial early weeks. I would love to be corrected here. Really, I would!

It is only over the last week or so that they have got a couple of news channels to portray what the stone-pelters have been doing. Coming so late, these bold reports risk being perceived as a less-credible counter-narrative. Nationwide, many viewers complain of being confused. Naturally!

Earlier this month, Education Minister Naeem Akhtar addressed a poignant open letter to the high profile secessionist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, highlighting the priority Islam gives to ensuring education. (Most educational institutions have been shut for three months.) The heart-touching letter would surely have moved Geelani.

The sad fact is that, by and large, the boys on the streets don’t acknowledge the Hurriyat leaders. And in any case, control over what is happening had passed across the Line of Control several weeks before.

In those crucial weeks of July, when the government was paralysed, some of its putative managers were actually trying to cozy up to ‘narrative’ walas on Facebook. It was the same old ‘we are with you, against them’ narratives that have been whispered in Delhi and Jammu and Srinagar far too often — ‘us’ and ‘them’ being as variable as convictions, morality and concern for the people. It happened from 1950-52, 1977, 1982 and 1987, but even those who should know better don’t seem to learn.

More recently, those managers have been trying to buy over  the ‘narrative’ walas. That’s another familiar story — raise the price and then squeeze. Such absolutely intolerable cynicism pervades this ‘conflict zone’ that some of those who kill militants have been known to do much the same with regard to the price on militants’ heads.

The problem with all this is not so much that the world at large is confused or misinformed as a result; the problem is the two-fold anger dividend on the ground. One, the ‘narrative’ raises the anger of the agitating youth, as it is calculated to do. In the bargain, it demoralises and frustrates those of the forces that have exercised restraint. Sooner or later, the resulting anger among soldiers will wreak havoc.

No wonder we are skidding headlong into the quagmire of a war-like situation.

Kashmir: Militants overpower TV tower guards and escape with guns

Separatist guerrillas snatched weapons from TV tower guards in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, police said on Monday.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police said the militants attacked the guards posted at a Low Power Transmitter station of public service broadcaster Doordarshan in Dalvash village late Sunday night. They took away five service rifles.

In a report by DNA, the militants forced their way into the guardroom on Sunday night, in Dangwachi area of South Kashmir, where they beat security before taking the guns and escaping.

Hindustan Times reports that allegedly, senior police officers arrived later for assessment, sounding an alert and closing entry and exit to Dooru village. A search has been launched. One Insas and carnbine rifle and three self-loading rifled have been taken. The security guards of the TV tower have been arrested.

This is the second such incident in recent times. Militants attacked the guard post at the residence of a National Conference leader in Kulgam district of Kashmir and decamped with rifles of policemen on 8 September. The ultras barged into the residential compound of NC block president Abdul Rashid Khanday at Begom in Kulgam late night on 7 September and took away four service rifles of the cops posted on guard duty of the political leader, a police official had said. The militants had decamped with two Insas rifles, one SLR rifle and a 303 rifle from the the cops. A departmental inquiry had been set up to probe the incident and security forces had been put on alert in south Kashmir to track the militants who carried out the incident, he said.

On Sunday evening, a soldier Sudesh Kumar of 6 Rajput Regiment was killed in sniper firing on the LoC in Tarkundi area of Rajouri, on a day when when India hosted leaders of a number of countries, including Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping, for Brics and Bimstec summits. The Pakistani army had earlier on Sunday opened unprovoked firing at Indian positions on the LoC in Rajouri district in the morning.

“Pakistan Army violated ceasefire in Naushera sector of the LoC using small arms. Our troops have responded befittingly using same calibre weapons,” said defence spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Manish Mehta.

“Firing exchanges stopped at 8 am,” he added. In the firing and shelling, five civilians and four armymen sustained injuries in Poonch district.

With inputs from agencies

Rajnath Singh chairs security review meeting in Jaisalmer with states bordering Pakistan

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday reached Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, where he is currently chairing a security review meeting amid repeated incidents of skirmishes along the Indo-Pak international border, according to ANI.

The home minister, on a two-day visit to Rajasthan, was welcomed by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia at the airport. Rajnath is heading a security review meeting in Jaisalmer with chief ministers of four states whose boundaries touch Pakistan and top BSF officials.

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTIFile image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

File image of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

During the two-day visit, Singh will also hold meetings with top BSF officials and chair a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, officials said.

The four chief  ministers will deliberate on ways to completely seal the Indo-Pak border.

“It is a meeting of the Union Home Minister with the Home Ministers of the four states. Since the Chief Ministers and the Deputy Chief Minister (of Punjab) are holding the Home portfolio, they are participating in the meeting,” a Home Ministry official said.

According to Times Now, decission might be taken to fence and seal-off the border where no physical barriers exist. In places where putting up physical barriers is not possible due to geographical limitations, decission may be taken to deploy technological solutions such as including deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc,  according to The Indian Express.

During the two-day trip, the Home Minister will tour border areas of Rajasthan and will visit Munabao, Border outpost in Barmer and interact with BSF personnel.

Singh will also visit Murar, BoP in Jaisalmer and asses the situation along the Indo-Pak border. The meeting is being called to bring a synergy among the state police forces and Border Security Force, which guards the Indo-Pak border. Issues concerning the states are also expected to be discussed in the two-day deliberations, the officials said.

There have been many incidents of infiltration of terrorists through the border in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and trans-border smuggling of goods, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes in Rajasthan and Gujarat, they said.

Of the 3,323-km-long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 km falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 km in Punjab, 1,037 km in Rajasthan and 508 km in Gujarat.

After the security review meet in Jaisalmer, Rajnath will hold a meeting with BSF officials in Barmer on 8 October, according to the Barmer Collector Sudhir Sharma. Elaborate arrangements are being made for the visit, he said.

With inputs from PTI

Cabinet reshuffle likely soon for Mehbooba Mufti ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The five-month-old Mehbooba Mufti government in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be expanded soon with the induction of two PDP MLAs as ministers. The issue came up for discussion when Mehbooba Mufti called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. Immediately afterwards, BJP president Amit Shah met her and the two were also understood to have discussed the issue.As per the arrangement between the two parties, PDP would have 14 ministers, including the Chief Minister, while BJP would have 11, that would include the Deputy Chief Minister.According to sources in the know of the developments, PDP MLA from Amira Kadal constituency Altaf Bukhari is likely to stage a comeback. Bukhari, who was a minister in the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government, was not included in the cabinet when Mehbooba was sworn-in as the Chief Minister in April this year. Mehbooba was also likely to induct an MLA from the restive South Kashmir in the ministry.Besides Bukhari, Javid Mustafa Mir and two Ministers of State Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Abdul Majeed Padroo, who were part of the previous government led by her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, had been dropped.The BJP was likely to drop one of its ministers and replace him with an MLA from the Kashmiri Pandit community, the sources said. The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers and its current strength is 23.

Mehbooba Mufti meets PM Modi, urges him to de-escalate tension along the border

New Delhi: Amid strain in ties with Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to de-escalate tension along the border besides reaching out to the people of the state with “tangible” confidence building measures to address their political, economic and developmental concerns.

Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti with PM Modi. PTI

Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti with PM Modi. PTI

During the meeting, the first after army carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on 29 September across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), the chief minister discussed with the prime minister the law and order situation and the situation along the border following the soaring tension in the region, a state government spokesman said.

“The people in Kashmir have gone through enormous agony and pain and the time has come to reach out to them and apply a balm to their wounds through ample initiatives at political, economic and developmental levels,” she told the Prime Minister.

She impressed upon the Prime Minister the need to view the current situation as an opportunity and start a dialogue process with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “I hope that the Prime Minister, who has received such a big mandate, takes this situation as an opportunity and reaches out to the people of the state by starting a productive dialogue process to end the miseries of the people in the state,” the spokesman quoted her as having said.

While expressing grave concern over the prevailing situation along the border, the Chief Minister called for de-escalation of tension as people in the state have been the worst sufferers of the hostilities and confrontation in the region.

“Today also hundreds of families have to migrate from the border areas of the state and they suffer immense hardships because of the prevailing tense situation in the region,” she said and stressed the need for reviving the peace and reconciliation process.

She also discussed the overall developmental scenario in the state and measures being taken to expedite the implementation of projects under the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Developmental Programme.

J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti calls on PM Modi, discusses situation in the Valley

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the situation in the state in wake of mounting tensions between India and Pakistan and repeated ceasefire violations by the latter along the LoC and International Border.

The meeting lasted for nearly an hour during which the Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister of the law and order situation gripped by unrest after the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, on 8 July, official sources said.

The Chief Minister also discussed with the Prime Minister the ongoing developmental projects in the state and thanked him for continued support for the uplift of the people of the troubled state, the sources said.

Mehbooba met the Prime Minister for the first time after Indian army carried out surgical strikes across the LoC and destroyed seven terrorist launch pads in PoK.

Mehbooba, who is in the national capital since Tuesday, also informed him about the steps taken by her government for evacuating people from the border villages to safer places in view of the escalation of tension between the two countries.

Pakistan has been repeatedly violating the ceasefire, using mortars and small arms, resulting in injuries to five civilians and some defence personnel.

Modi has given another window of opportunity to Pakistan: Mehbooba Mufti

Jammu: Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has opened another window of opportunity for Pakistan by calling for a joint war against poverty, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked the neighbouring country to understand that such opportunities do not come daily.

“The call of Modiji to Pakistan and its people for war against poverty has no answers (from them). Pakistan, its people and its leadership should understand its meaning,” Mehbooba told a gathering in Jammu on Wednesday.

“There is no answer to his remarks… Despite Pathankot, Modiji went to Lahore for peace but Uri happened,” she said.

Mehbooba said Pakistan should understand that Modi has given them another window of opportunity for friendly relations, peace and normalcy in the region.

“Despite this (Uri) and huge pressure, Modiji as a statesman gave another window (of opportunity) to Pakistan…
If Pakistan will not even today understand this, it will not get such opportunities daily,” she said.

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTIA file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

A file photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“Recently there was a cry for war and attack on Pakistan — do this and do this kind of environment. But the reply came from our the PM. It was more than hydrogen or atom bomb when he (PM) declared a war against poverty,” she said.

The Chief Minister said had it been former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in such a situation, he would have said the same thing.

“I am hopeful that the strike, PM called for against Pakistan will definitely have results. Our biggest problem is poverty. If problems of conflicts and smaller problem would have not been faced by India, our country would much more developed and prosperous,” she said.

Referring to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, she said, “We are passing through trying times and a test. The situation is slowly improving in Kashmir.”

Maintaining that war is never an option to resolve the issues, Mehbooba pitched for amicable relations between India and Pakistan to fight the poverty and economic deprivation plaguing the region while underlining the need of a bilateral dialogue to resolve the issues.

“The two nuclear armed neighbors must cooperate in the fields of social development, including eradication of poverty and with their growing economies and energy needs, and the need for newer, more diverse markets and trading opportunities, the future of the troubled region has to be defined by common economic interests instead of hostilities,” she said.

“Instead of fighting wars with each other, the two countries should join hands to eradicate poverty and to address social problems plaguing the region… Modi went to Pakistan with this message on behalf of people of J&K but the Pathankote incident shattered that process,” she said.

The Chief Minister said as in any violent situation, the women have suffered the most in Jammu and Kashmir.

“In Kashmir, women have become primary victims of the violent situation over the last three decades which hasn’t led us anywhere. Our party became the harbinger of peace when my father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, spoke of nursing the wounds of people when the memory of Kargil war was still afresh,” she said.

Unrest over, Kashmir comes alive on Sunday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinagar came alive with unusual hustle and bustle after 79 days of shutdowns and curfew on Sunday.For the first time since the unrest began, markets opened in the Valley during daytime on Sunday. Traffic snarls were back and streets were filled with shoppers. However, public transport was missing as transporters decided to stay back since the relaxation in curfew was only for half a day.The group which calls itself the Joint Resistance Leadership, headed by Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, incarcerated moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Umar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohommad Yasin Malik, has asked people to resume shutdowns during day from Monday and asked shopkeepers to open their shops from 6pm only.Ajaz Ahmad, 45, a small-time wholesaler dealing with bakery items, in the sensitive old city could not believe that he is opening his shop after 79 days. With a turnover of Rs 50 lakh per month, Ahmad has suffered a loss of Rs 3 lakh so far. “I suffered a net loss of Rs 1 lakh per month. Besides losing business, I have to pay idle wages to my employees, which cost me another Rs 25,000,” he said.Figures released by Kashmir business chambers show that the Valley has suffered financial losses worth more than Rs 10,000 crore since the unrest began after Indian security forces killed Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani on July 8. The tourism sector alone suffered a loss of around Rs 3,000 crore due to the unrest. The fruit industry, the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy, suffered a loss of Rs 1,000 crore.”We incur a loss of Rs 120-135 crore each day. The government has to see why it is happening. Kashmir is a political issue and it should be solved politically. Unconditional talks should be held with those spearheading this movement. But unfortunately, the government is acting as a silent spectator,” said Mohammad Yasin Khan, chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, an apex body of trade, transport, tourism and allied sectors.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “The government will provide succor in the revival of economy but those who are out to damage the state’s interests and keep the pot boiling will have to change their mindset and methods so that the people do not suffer”.In the last 24 hours, the police have arrested 39 more miscreants who were wanted for harassing shopkeepers, disrupting traffic movement and damaging public/private property.”Trouble-makers will not be allowed to take law into their hands and they would be dealt with firmly,” said Dr SP Vaid, director-general of police (law and order). The only way to make the population survive is to make sure that the city stays open and the people can go about their business.

Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti says Uri attack aims at creating war-like situation; pays tribute to dead soldiers

The Uri terror strike is aimed at triggering fresh violence in Jammu and Kashmir and creating a “war-like” situation in the region, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said while strongly condemning the attack on the Army in which 17 jawans were killed. “I strongly condemn the attack which seems to be aimed at triggering fresh violence and creating a war-like situation in the region,” Mehbooba said in a statement in Srinagar on Sunday.

The Chief Minister said the heightened tension in the wake of the Uri attack is set to further vitiate the atmosphere in and around Jammu and Kashmir amid growing strains in Indo-Pak ties. “Unfortunately, people in Jammu and Kashmir, who are already mired in an agonising situation, shall have to bear the maximum brunt of the fresh attempts being made to step up violence and trigger fresh bloodshed in the state,” she said.

She said Jammu and Kashmir has always been the worst victim of Indo-Pak hostility and its people have been paying a colossal price for the same for the past over six decades. Mehbooba said the perpetrators of violence must understand that such methods have yielded nothing in the past nor would they yield anything in future except adding to the miseries of the people.

An army soldier guards the army base which was attacked by suspected rebels in Uri. PTI

An army soldier guards the army base which was attacked by suspected rebels in Uri. PTI

Mehbooba also led senior Army and police officials in paying tributes at the wreath laying ceremony for the 17 soldiers killed in the attack.

“Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti laid wreaths on the coffins of the martyred soldiers at a somber ceremony held at headquarters of the Chinar Corps at Badamibagh,” an Army official said.

He said general officer commanding of the Chinar Corps Lt General Satish Dua and Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar were among senior security officials who laid wreaths to pay their respects.

The Chief Minister later visited the soldiers, injured in yesterday’s attack, at the 92 Base Hospital of the Army, the official said.

Following directions of Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar, the Army has made arrangements for transporting the mortal remains of all the martyrs directly to their respective hometowns.

While two of the 17 soldiers hail from Jammu and Kashmir, rest of them belong to Uttar Pradesh (four), Bihar (three), Maharashtra (three), West Bengal (two), Jharkhand (two) and Rajasthan (one).

The Chief Minister while expressing anguish over the attack, paid rich tributes to the slain soldiers. She extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and also prayed for early recovery of those injured in the attack. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the attack. “Terrible news from Uri, 17 soldiers killed & many injured. May their souls rest in peace. Prayers for their families as also for the injured,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

Heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town in the wee hours today, killing 17 jawans and injuring 19 other personnel in the terror strike in which four ultras were neutralised.

Handful of people opposed to peace inciting trouble in Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said a handful of people opposed to peace were inciting youth to violence in the Kashmir valley.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

Speaking at an official function in Bhagwati Nagar area of the city, Mehbooba, who visited Jammu for the first time since violence began in the valley last month, said these people “who do not want peace in Kashmir are inviting youths to violence for their vested interests.”

The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil since the 8 July killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. At least 68 people have been killed and thousands injured in the subsequent unrest in the valley.

Mehbooba said violence was no means to achieve anything. “Guns went into Afghanistan, Syria and Russia. Was anything achieved there by using those guns? Violence brings only destruction and nothing else.”

The Chief Minister thanked the people of Jammu for maintaining peace and harmony at a time the valley was going through difficult times.

“These people started trouble in 2008. They started trouble again in 2010 following a fake encounter in Machil. After I took over, they tried to start trouble on the pretext of Handwara (alleged rape) incident which they failed to do.”

She said these elements also tried to raise the issues of separate colonies for retired soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits but “failed”.

Mehbooba asserted that the predominant majority of Kashmiris were peace loving and want “dignity and development”.

“Certain quarters are not happy with the PDP-BJP coalition in the state and they have been out to unsettle the alliance,” she said.

The Chief Minister said the fact that students from Kashmir studying outside the state did not face any problems because of the unrest proves the fact that people in other parts of the county love Kashmiris.

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

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

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘This is a brazen murder of democracy’,National Conference accuses PDP on Land Transfer Bill

National Conference (NC) accused the ruling PDP of “sabotaging” the Land Transfer Bill on Thursday, which aims at preventing transfer of land to non-state subjects, in the Assembly by supporting the move of its ally BJP to transfer the bill to a select committee.”This is a brazen murder of democracy, ironically and tragically on the same day when (chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti took oath as a member of the Assembly. The bill was sent to the select committee despite the fact that BJP members were part of the cabinet decision on June 23 to introduce the bill in the House. This defies sanity and precedent and questions the very existence and writ of the chief minister,” NC spokesperson Junaid Mattu said in Srinagar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mattu said PDP’s “sellout was exposed” in the Assembly on Thursday when some PDP members rose in open revolt against the party. “Even some members of the ruling party were shocked at how a bill passed through the Cabinet to be tabled in the Assembly could be sabotaged in this manner. NC had announced that it would support the Bill and all such measures that are aimed at safeguarding J-K s special status.”Unfortunately, it is now pretty evident that for Mehbooba, J-K’s special status is negotiable and she can quite easily barter in lieu of BJP’s continued patronage and benevolence,” the NC spokesperson said.He said the transfer of the bill to the select committee was a matter of “shame” for the chief minister. “…PDP has obliged BJP in sabotaging the bill without any consideration for the absolutely damaging message this would send out. This emboldens those voices that have sought erosion of the State Subject Laws and abrogation of Article 370 and this could very well be the first covert step by the PDP-BJP alliance to erode J&K’s special status,” he said.He alleged that the entire “covert plan” is being enacted under the direct supervision of the chief minister. “Nothing could be more tragic,” he said.”Those members of PDP who rose in revolt against their own party at this shocking sellout should realise that their party is now at open loggerheads against the people of this state and their legal and political interests. “PDP’s continued investment in the politics of betrayal and U-turns is a matter of grave concern and the chief minister should know that her deeds will have proportionate and serious consequences,” the NC spokesperson said.

11,270 ceasefire violations since 2002

There have been 11,270 ceasefire violations and border firing incidents by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 2002 which have resulted in the killing of 313 people, including 144 security forces personnel, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the Legislative Council on Tuesday. She said these violations and incidents have taken place between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2015. The highest number of such violations took place in 2002 when 8376 incidents were reported while 2045 incidents of ceasefire violations were reported in 2003, she said in written reply to a question.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and international border in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003. For three years – 2004, 2005 and 2007 – there was not a single such violation on the border, Mehbooba said. The Chief Minister said 169 civilians and 144 security men were killed in the shelling from across the border in J&K since 2002.The highest number of 76 civilians were killed in such violations in 2002 while in 2003, 59 civilians were killed in the border shelling. Over the next 10 years, four people died in the ceasefire violation, she said.In 2014 and 2015, 14 and 16 civilians were killed respectively in ceasefire violations from across the border, she said.A total of 735 civilians and 311 security forces personnel were injured in these violations in these years, Mehbooba said. She said a maximum of 58 security men were killed and other 157 injured in the year 2002.

Over 11,000 ceasefire violations in Kashmir since 2002 have killed 313 people: Mehbooba Mufti

Srinagar: There have been 11,270 ceasefire violations and border firing incidents by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since 2002 which have resulted in the killing of 313 people, including 144 security forces personnel, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

She said these violations and incidents have taken place between 1 January, 2002 and 31 December, 2015.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The highest number of such violations took place in 2002 when 8376 incidents were reported while 2045 incidents of ceasefire violations were reported in 2003, she said in written reply to a question.

The ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control and international border in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003.

For three years — 2004, 2005 and 2007 — there was not a single such violation on the border, Mehbooba said.

The Chief Minister said 169 civilians and 144 security men were killed in the shelling from across the border in J&K since 2002.

The highest number of 76 civilians were killed in such violations in 2002 while in 2003, 59 civilians were killed in the border shelling.

Over the next 10 years, four people died in the ceasefire violation, she said.

In 2014 and 2015, 14 and 16 civilians were killed respectively in ceasefire violations from across the border, she said.

A total of 735 civilians and 311 security forces personnel were injured in these violations in these years, Mehbooba said.

She said a maximum of 58 security men were killed and other 157 injured in the year 2002.

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

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

LeT terrorists ambush CRPF convoy in J&K, kill 8 jawans

A heavily armed group of fidayeen (suicide attackers) ambushed a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus, killing eight jawans and injuring 22 others. The condition of five of them are critical.The ambush occurred on the Srinagar-Jammu highway near Frestbal in the saffron-rich town of Pampore on Saturday. Two fidayeens were later killed in retaliatory firing.Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement to a local news agency, LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi said two militants belonging to a fidayeen squad attacked the CRPF bus on the highway, in which 13 soldiers were killed and 20 others injured. He also confirmed the death of both the fidayeens in the attack<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police said the incident occurred at 4.50 pm when a CRPF convoy carrying jawans was returning to Srinagar after a firing practice at the Lethpora area of south Kashmir. Police said militants hiding in the area attacked the convoy with automatic weapons and tried to barge inside.However, CRPF personnel travelling in two other vehicles immediately retaliated and gunned down the two.”They (CRPF troopers) were coming from Lethpora to Srinagar when the fidayeens ambushed them. We immediately retaliated and killed two militants,” KK Sharma, deputy inspector-general of police, CRPF, told dna.The injured were rushed to the army hospital. “Injured CRPF personnel evacuated to the hospital… Injured CRPF personnel being attended to,” tweeted the Northern Command of the Indian Army.Panic gripped the area after the gun battle. People ran helter-skelter and shopkeepers downed shutters and fled. Traffic on the highway also came to a halt as security forces launched a massive operation to track down any remaining militants.The attack comes just a week before the Amarnath yatra takes off in the Himalayas in Kashmir.The Srinagar-Jammu highway is an important axis for the pilgrims who board buses from the base camp in Jammu to the cave shrine from Pahalgam and Baltal route. The attack has sent shivers down the security establishment, who are now busy rejigging the security plan for the pilgrims.Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the attack and said that such acts would only add to the tragedies and miseries of the people and subvert the government’s efforts to bring peace and prosperity.PTI adds: The terrorists appeared to have carefully chosen the spot for the ambush as every vehicle has to slow down there because of a sharp curve on the road. Security agencies suspect a reconnaisance might have preceded the assault.Asked whether the slain terrorists were from across the border, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police K Rajendra said: “In all probability, they seem to be from Pakistan.”

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

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

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

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anantnag bypoll results: Mehbooba Mufti leads by 1,300 votes; counting resumes after Congress alleges EVMs changed

The counting of votes for South Kashmir’s Anantnag assembly constituency, where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti contesting, began on Saturday morning. In the first round of counting of ballots so far the PDP has scored three votes, Congress one and NOTA one. Mufti is leading in the first round of Anantnag by-election counting. Mufti was leading by over 1300 votes after the first round of counting in the bypoll to Anantnag Assembly constituency. After the first round, Mehbooba had polled 1826 votes followed by Hilal Ahmad Shah of Congress (516) and Iftikhar Misger of National Conference (316), District Election Authorities said. Mehbooba is among eight candidates in the bypoll for Anantnag Assembly seat which was necessitated due to death of incumbent MLA and then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 this year. Polling in the constituency was held on June 22 during which over 28,000 of the 84,000 voters exercised their franchise.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hilal Shah has created a ruckus in counting hall, saying that all EVMs have been changed, are without labels. The counting for the bypoll to Anantnag Assembly seat of Jammu and Kashmir was today suspended after Congress candidate Hilal Ahmad Shah alleged that the EVMs have been tampered with.The counting was stopped after Shah and his agents walked out of the counting hall, officials said. They said Shah alleged that some EVMs were not carrying the mandatory seal and might have been changed in the process to favour Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is a candidate from the seat.However, the counting was resumed later.Eight candidates, including Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress and Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of the National Conference are in the fray.The by-election in Anantnag took place following the death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who represented the constituency in the 87-member legislative house. Sayeed passed away in New Delhi on 7 January after a brief illness. Mehbooba assumed office after being sworn in as the Chief Minister of the PDP-BJP coalition government on April 4.Mehbooba, who is not member of any of the House, is presently MP from south Kashmir Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in Parliament. With agency inputs.

Anantnag bypolls: Initial trends show Mehbooba Mufti leading

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was leading on Saturday by over 1,300 votes after the first round of counting in the by-poll to Anantnag Assembly constituency.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. ReutersJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

After the first round, Mehbooba had polled 1,826 votes followed by Hilal Ahmad Shah of Congress (516) and Iftikhar Misger of National Conference (316), District Election Authorities said.

Mehbooba is among eight candidates in the by-poll for Anantnag Assembly seat which was necessitated due to death of incumbent MLA and then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on 7 January this year.

Polling in the constituency was held on 22 June during which over 28,000 of the 84,000 voters exercised their franchise.

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

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

Anantnag counting begins: Mehbooba’s fate to be decided soon

Srinagar: Counting of votes began on Saturday morning for south Kashmir’s Anantnag assembly constituency where Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is one of the eight contesting candidates.

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

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“The strong room where the EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) had been kept in safe custody after the poll process on 22 June, was opened in the presence of the contesting candidates and their representatives in Anantnag,” an official told IANS.

“The counting process has started and the results should be known before midday.”

Eight candidates including Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hilal Ahmad Shah of the Congress and Iftikhar Hussain Misgar of the National Conference are contesting.

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

The by-election in Anantnag was necessitated because of the death of the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who represented the constituency in the 87-member legislative house.

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

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

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

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

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti for revival of Indo-Pak reconciliation process

Batting for revival of the Indo-Pak reconciliation process to bring about peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said if hostilities between the two neighbours can become news, why cannot cultural bonhomie.”I wonder if hostilities can become news between the two neighbours, why can’t such cultural bonhomie,” she told reporters here. Mehbooba joined thousands of devotees from the two countries at the shrine of Baba Chamliyal near the International Border (IB) in Ramgarh sector of Samba district on the occasion of the annual Mela of the mystic saint. MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, state Industries Minister Chander Parkash Ganga and state Tourism Minister Priya Sethi accompanied the Chief Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehbooba said given its socio-religious significance, Chamliyal could become the hub of a new movement for reconciliation in the region. “I hope our good intentions are reciprocated by our neighbour,” she said, emphasising on people-to-people contact between the two countries “to remove mistrust and create a congenial atmosphere for dialogue and reconciliation”. The PDP leader said like “siblings locked in an endless rivalry”, India and Pakistan have bickered for well over six decades.”Transforming that rivalry into a mature, productive relationship will be difficult but the consequences of continued animosity will be much worse,” said Mehbooba, adding that there is always a possibility of friendship between the two countries as both the cultures share “a fondness for each other”. She said if there is any “silver lining in the grey clouds of competition”, it is the fact that normalising relations would be a boon for business in both countries.”It may sound simplistic but building relationships is the key to peace and economic prosperity in the subcontinent in the foreseeable future,” she said, adding that some “measurable amount of friendship” will become unavoidable “very soon”. She said both the countries stand to gain if bilateral trade, economic and societal relations between the two improve and they are able to resolve their problems gradually.”This can be possible if they are innovative in their thinking and break out of the stranglehold of one-sided, emotionally charged narrative of history,” she said, adding to begin with there can be friendly exchanges in various fields such as art, environment, culture, youth affairs, sports, information and media. The Chief Minister offered chadar at the shrine. Stressing on the need to revive the Indo-Pak reconciliation process, Mehbooba said it is imperative towards bringing about peace in Jammu and Kashmir and beyond.”We are working with the government of India for opening Suchetgarh-Sialkote, Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Mirpur and some other roads to encourage people-to-people contact,” she said, adding that Suchetgarh has the potential of becoming “J&K’s Wagah” as was envisioned by her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.She said in the long run, Suchetgarh can become a trading point like Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bagh with the neighbouring country, adding that the village has been taken up for development as a border tourism destination under the Swadesh Darshan project funded by the Union Tourism Ministry.The various components of the Rs 5-crore project include restoration of old Octroi Post, construction of a multi-purpose hall, development of waterbody and landscaping of lawns to enhance the ambience of the place, she added.

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

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

National Conference, Congress protest in Jammu and Kashmir assembly over price rise

Opposition National Conference and Congress legislators on Saturday protested in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly over the issue of price rise and staged a walkout.As soon as the House met this morning, Congress MLAs raised the issue of rise in prices of essential commodities in the state and were joined by the NC legislators as they demanded a statement from the government. The MLAs raised the slogans of “sarkar ke hai achche din, baki sab ke bure din (good days are for the government, others have bad days)” and “Mehbooba ke raj mein, ration paani mehenga he (in Mehbooba Mufti s government, ration is costly)”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They also accused the government of diverting ration to poll-bound Anantnag Assembly constituency where the chief minister is in the fray. However, as Speaker Kavinder Gupta did not pay any heed to them, the protesting members tried to enter the well of the House but were stopped by Assembly marshals. They continued their protest for a while but when Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan asked the members to raise the issue in a proper manner rather than resorting to sloganeering and creating noise in the House, the opposition members staged a walkout.”Let them raise the issue, we will answer. Why raise slogans? We want the opposition to raise issues here and that makes us happy,” Khan said as the opposition members walked out of the House.

Kashmiri girl detained at Delhi airport over ‘bomb’ scare: Omar Abdullah steps in

New Delhi: Return journey for a Kashmiri girl, a medical student in Bangladesh, turned horrible as she was detained at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Friday after security staff saw “carrying bomb” written on her check-in luggage.

The girl, a resident of Rajbagh in Srinagar city, was taken for questioning after the security staff at the airport informed the police. She was travelling from Dhaka to Delhi via Kolkata. Officials said the incident took place when the girl and her three friends, bound for Srinagar, landed at the airport from Dhaka via Kolkata about 11:00 am.

She was questioned while security agencies carried out background check in Bangladesh and Srinagar. The girl was released after police found that everything was in order, the officials said. The incident was flagged by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who took to Twitter and sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh in this regard.

The Home Minister responded with:

Bilal Ahmad, the father of one of the girls, said that he attempted to seek the help of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti but was refused a meeting with her. “There were four girls who were returning from Bangladesh. They flew from Dhaka to Kolkata and then to Delhi. Their luggage was checked and cleared at all the airports,” Ahmad said in Srinagar.

“After they were detained, the airport authorities or the police did not inform their families. We fear for their safety. We have only talked to them once so far,” he said.

The three other girls decided to stay put with their friend and did not board the flight to Srinagar and waited till she was released. “Delhi Police released her after a few hours of questioning. However, between all this, the girls missed their connecting flight to Srinagar from Delhi and will now take a flight tomorrow,” the official said.

Jammu temple desecration: CM Mehbooba Mufti appeals for calm

Appealing for calm in the wake of the desecration of a temple in Jammu city by a “mentally disturbed” person on Tuesday evening, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said she does not want the state to be “hijacked” by extremist forces.”Jammu and Kashmir is the most secular place and I don’t want it to be hijacked by extremist forces,” Mehbooba said while addressing a function at Jammu University on Wednesday. She said some elements were “hell-bent” on creating communal tension in the region but the people of Jammu, irrespective of their religion, must unite and fight the nefarious designs of such forces.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Separatism and communalism are the two faces of a same coin and they ultimately divide the society and the country,” she said.An ancient temple situated in Roop Nagar area of Jammu was desecrated by a “mentally disturbed” person yesterday, triggering protests across the city. Protestors had last night set three vehicles on fire and clashed with police after the news spread. Authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Jammu region as a precautionary measure.Mehbooba said time and again the people of Jammu have shown their secular credentials and it was evident from the fact that the region gave refuge to people who came there while fleeing from militancy-hit areas.”In 1990, people of Jammu opened their doors for the people who escaped militancy and took refuge here. Jammu has always been a shining example of secular harmony,” she said.She said that it was the people of Jammu who voted her father to the Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1985.”It was the secular character of Jammu that they elected my father, a Muslim from Kashmir, from R S Pura,” she said.The Chief Minister warned that communal politics in Jammu region could have a disastrous effect as the state was already facing separatism in the Kashmir valley. She appealed to students to play a positive role and get involved in political activities, but at the same time cautioned them against politics of religion.

Jammu and Kashmir govt giving importance to power generation and distribution: Mehbooba

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said her government is giving importance to both power generation and distribution fronts, to improve electricity supply in the state.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mebooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mebooba Mufti. AFP

She said the government’s thrust is on upgrading transmission and distribution network to tide over Transmission and Distribution losses.

“To overcome the distressing power scenario, the Government is working on a comprehensive roadmap to augment the generation, transmission and distribution systems so that quality power supply is ensured to the consumers,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a public gathering at Jatwal in Samba district after dedicating a Grid Station and Transmission Line.

The Chief Minister hailed the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) for completing and commissioning the ambitious Grid Station project at Jatwal well ahead of schedule.

“Power sector is crucial to J&K’s economy and this is one of the sectors which has a cascading effect on every other sector,” she said and added that the Power Development Department (PDD) will have to firm up timelines to ensure timely execution of projects.

“The power scenario remains sluggish and we need to do more as the state has the potential to generate far more,” she observed.

Chief Minister asked PDD to avoid unscheduled power cuts especially during the peak hours so that people are not put to any inconvenience in the winter capital amid scorching heat.

She said the consumers should be informed in advance about the power curtailment schedule, if any to be implemented, during any exigencies.

The Chief Minister called for expediting works under R-APDRP (Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme) and DDUGJY to augment the power supply position in the State.

She asked the executing agency IRCON to carry out works in double-shift to ensure completion of the project ahead of the schedule time frame of March 2017.

“RAPDRP has already missed the deadline and the thrust should be on completing the project ahead of the fresh deadline of March 2017,” she said.

Jammu region feels neglected under Mehbooba Mufti’s government, says BJP

Jammu: BJP, the alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir government with PDP, on Monday said people of Jammu region are being neglected and discriminated despite repeated assurances from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“The state government should honour the commitment made by former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and then by his daughter and the incumbent Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the equitable development of all the three regions of the state”, state BJP leader Virender Gupta said.

He said Mehbooba had assured of development of all the regions and that the differences and the alienation existing between people of Jammu and those of Kashmir Valley would be eliminated.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“However, the fact of the matter is that the people of Jammu region are still feeling neglected and discriminated in the present regime,” Gupta said. He said the renovation work of Mubarak Mandi complex as Dogra Heritage is going on at a very slow pace and the ropeway project linking Mubarak Mandi with Bahu Fort is still in limbo.

“In the tourism sector, Jammu got merely 20-25 percent funds allocation and out of 13 newly identified tourist spots for development, Jammu has only four whereas rest are in Kashmir province”, he added. Gupta said that Jammu district which has 11 assembly constituencies was allotted Rs 200 crore whereas some of the districts having only one or two assembly constituencies have been provided almost same amount for the development.

This act is highly unjustified with no reasonable explanation, he added. He said that the Tawi Lake Project in Jammu which was scheduled to be completed in March, has been extended for two years. Gupta claimed no serious efforts are being made about the diversion of four streams carrying the city garbage in the Tawi river.

“In the allotment of indoor stadiums, out of 12 indoor stadiums envisaged only three are allocated to Jammu region and nine to Kashmir province with two in Ladakh. The BJP leader said the discrimination is being faced by the people of the region in the matter of development of roads, infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture and horticulture sector.

Gupta cautioned the government of a great resentment brewing among the people of Jammu province and therefore immediate steps need to be taken for the redressal of grievance of the people.

Mehbooba Mufti expects crossing points on Line of Control along PoK to be opened soon

Srinagar: More crossing points are expected to be opened on the Line of Control (LoC) for greater movement of people and goods to and fro Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and banking system is likely to be introduced for trade, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday.

“The state government has taken up the matter regarding opening of more cross-LoC points with the Centre and I am sure there will be positive movement forward on the issue as serious discussions are on in this regard,” Mehbooba informed
the Legislative Council.

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

File image of Mehbooba Mufti. Reuters

She said during her recent meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, she had pitched for opening of Suchetgarh-Sialkote, Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit, Chhamb-Jourian and some other cross-LoC routes in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am hopeful that, if not all at a time, one or two at a time will be opened, so that we can send Basmati from Jammu to there,” the Chief Minister said while intervening during the reply to a question regarding the measures taken by the Government to expand the ambit of cross-LoC travel and trade.

She said the confidence building measures like opening of more cross-LoC points will not only help consolidate peace efforts but also boost local economy through increased tourism activities in these areas.

Giving examples of items which can be traded, Mehbooba said Pakistan has no hardware industry while Jammu has a hardware industry and the state can benefit from the export of such material.

“Nothing is manufactured there (in Pakistan). They import everything including big cars. From a needle to an airplane, they import everything. But if the road is opened, it will benefit us. The same way, if Kargil-Skardu route is opened, we can go to central Asia via that road,” she said.

“We are working on it with seriousness and I am hopeful that in the time to come, something will happen on one or two routes,” she said. Mehbooba said the Centre has also agreed to facilitate banking facility for the cross-LoC trade to institutionalize the existing mechanism.

“The trade that is going on, is based on the barter system. Now, a proposal has come from the central government that RBI is proposing to introduce banking facility in which trade will be done in dollars and perhaps neither our currency nor theirs will be used.

“We received the proposal and after discussing it in the cabinet, it has been sent back. So, I am hopeful that something will happen on that,” she said.

Sainik Colony row: Mufti does U-turn; releases separatists Geelani, Farooq from house arrest

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has retracted her decision to put separatists leaders, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest to prevent them from holding a protest rally against the proposal to set up a Sainik Colony in Kashmir.

Mehbooba, according to ANI report, has decided to go soft on the separatist leaders and has given a nod to their release.

The issue had been a soft spot for the Mufti government ever since she assumed power after the demise of her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The row started when reports surfaced that the government is planning to allot land for setting up shelters for the Kashmiri Pandits and army personnel in the state.

The Mufti government had however, tried to dismiss it as a “demand made by the state subjects” which is still under review. She also clarified that the colony has nothing to do with ‘non-state subjects’. Taking on the opposition for blowing the issue out of proportion, Mufti had said that gossip mongrels were using a non-issue to “disrupt peace in the valley.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mebooba Mufti. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mebooba Mufti. AFP

However, the proposal for the colony did not specify whether non-state subjects could be allocated the space or not, drawing Mufti government much flak from the Opposition and the separatist leaders, reports said.

Following this, in an unprecedented move, both the factions of separatist groups,  Hurriyat conference and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) had decided to come together against the government’s decision allocate land for separate colonies for Army personnel and Kashmiri Pundits in the valley.

The hard-line separatist leader Geelani and JKLF leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq met and agreed that it was a do or die situation for Kashmiris and freedom fighter, according to an India Today report.

The two groups decided to come together to launch a campaign against the establishment of Sainik Colony in the valley. Following this, the government had ordered a house arrest for the two senior leaders to preserve the law and order situation in the valley, and arrested the JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik— which it later backed away from.

Earlier on 25 May, the Jammu and Kashmir government had ordered the arrest of Malik on the eve of another such protest rally planned in the state.

The separatists have condemned any efforts to establish pockets of kashmiri Pandit and army settlements, stating it is an attempt “to change Kashmir’s demography”. The Hurriyat spokesperson had alleged that the new communal government will use its entire force and machinery to dilute Kashmir’s demography to suit its own agenda, according to a India Today report.

The Mufti government has however categorically denied allegations of giving a go-ahead to Sainik Colony, according to The Indian Express report.

The Opposition has raked up the issue in the Assembly several times, staging protests and walk-out from the House. The National conference leader, Omar Abdullah‘s series of tweets have angered the chief minister much.

Jammu and Kashmir: Ruckus in the House over setting up of Sainik colony

Srinagar: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Monday sparred in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly which witnessed noisy scenes over the issue of setting up of Sainik Colony in the Valley.

Accusing the opposition and some media outlets of raising a “non-issue” which can lead to disruption of peace in the state, Mehbooba lashed out Omar for his tweets but the former Chief Minister hit back, saying it was to make her accountable and he won’t back down from speaking on issues of public interest through the social media.

“My small tweets prick you. Your mood gets spoiled. If I make you accountable by tweeting, I will continue it. I won’t stop and I won’t apologise for it,” Omar said.

Mehbooba Mufti SyedMehbooba Mufti Syed

A file photo of J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti

The issue of proposed colony for armed forces personnel was raised by Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed. Waving a copy of the newspaper, the legislator stormed into the well of the House and sought a statement from the government on the issue.

“Last time the Chief Minister said there was no Sainik Colony being set up in the Valley and now we have this report. What is the truth?” he asked.

An agitated Mehbooba said there was no truth in the story as the photograph published in the newspaper was that of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) quarters being constructed for married serving personnel of the unit.

“I do not know what these newspapers want? Do they want to put the state on fire? They should have investigated before publishing the story.

“The opposition members bring in these newspapers which I will not name as they want to get publicity. If anyone tries to disrupt peace, they will be dealt with sternly,” Mehbooba said.

Targeting Omar, she said despite having been in the chair earlier, he has been tweeting about the issue.

“Omar Abdullah attended four meetings (of the Sainik Board as CM) and in all four meetings, he directed that land be identified for setting up of the Sainik Colony.

“Now, there is tweet, tweet, tweet,” she said about the former chief minister frequently using the social media to put forth his opinions.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. PTIFormer Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. PTI

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. PTI

The opposition benches protested against the Chief Minister’s outburst saying everything was not media created.

Responding to Mehbooba’s charge, Omar said he has never denied being part of the meetings for setting up of Sainik Colony but had never passed any order like the one he had posted on twitter earlier last month.

“If there is any such order issued during my tenure, please bring it forth. If you are here for welfare of the people, I am also here so that people are benefited,” he said.

“I think when the Chief Minister is talking about setting the state on fire, she is confusing herself with me. My tenure is witness…. If we follow your footsteps, the state will be on fire,” Omar said. The NC leader said he will continue to raise such issues.

The Chief Minister said she was not occupying the chair for pleasure. “Whether I stay in the chair for two days or two years, I will not allow anyone to play with the people of the state.”

Mehbooba last week made a statement in the Assembly that the government had not identified any land for setting up a sainik colony in Kashmir.

She said even if any such colony is set up, it would be only for retired soldiers who are permanent residents of the state as provided under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.

Omar has oppose the setting up of the proposed colony, saying “it could be a ruse to settle non-state subjects in Kashmir and hence bypass Article 370”.

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