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JKLF chairman Yasin Malik detained before protest march in Pulwama

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

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”.

Pampore attack despite strong intelligence warning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About 24 hours before a convoy of Rashtriya Rifles was ambushed near the Kadlibal area in Pampore town on Saturday afternoon, intelligence agencies had dispatched information of a “possible terror attack” on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.While intelligence agencies based in the Valley have, on multiple occasions, dispatched similar inputs, it is the brazenness of this particular ambush that has security forces, especially in areas close to National Highways, concerned.Officials told DNA on Sunday that not only has the highway crossing through Pampore area become increasingly vulnerable to such ambush, but the elaborate planning that takes place before such attacks is a growing concern.For instance, the intelligence input before the Pampore attack on Saturday, in which three Rashtriya Rifles personnel lost their lives, had stated that proscribed outfits were planning a major stand-off with the Indian armed forces on the highway. It even had specifics that there was a strong possibility that convoys would be targeted using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).According to a senior security official in Kashmir, at 12.30 pm on Friday, a message based on human intelligence was dispatched. It warned security forces of the possible attack.”Credible input suggests that militants have planned IED blasts followed by firing on NHW or a major town today (Friday). Take all necessary precautions,” read the portion of the input.According to some senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir police, all precautions were being taken but the race against time was lost when around 2 pm, three motorcycle-borne gunmen ambushed the convoy. The exchange of fire lasted around 10 minutes, following which the militants escaped.What has the security establishment now thinking is the elaborate ambush plans, starting from planting IEDs, surprise attacks on convoys and a well thought-out escape route.Sources say areas in city outskirts like Pampore in south Kashmir is considered more vulnerable to such attacks, especially since the Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) is located near Sempore. The EDI, too, has come under attack on more than one occasion and the area is one of the link roads that connects south Kashmir with Srinagar city.The area is strategic for militant activities as it is located between Tral, Pulwama areas like Kakapora, Ratnipora and Khrew. On the other side of the river are open vast fields, which provides a good escape route.”The presence of militants in Pulwama and in areas close to the banks of Jhelum river is the reason that the highway has witnessed so many attacks,”said a senior J&K police official.This year alone, seven major attacks on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, mainly in south Kashmir, have taken place, with Pampore being the fourth such attack in the Valley since August.What is more troublesome is the indication that emanates from ambush. They suggest the capability and network of groups like the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), which are suspected to behind the Saturday attack.IEDs are an added worry. Sources say the use if IEDs had decreased since the armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir in late 80s.One of the first IED blasts that announced the arrival of insurgency was in July 1988 in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar. Over the years, convoys have witnessed the same tactics. However, the counter-insurgency witnessed in the Valley in the past three decades had rendered the usage of IEDs to a minimal, with militants resorting to attacks using grenades.A senior intelligence official told DNA that local youth who who joined HuM or LeT in the past few years did not get training in making IEDs, but now some of them are trained by “foreign militants, “referring to Pakistani nationals fighting under LeT. It is likely that local militants, who mostly make the Hizb ranks, might have received training in making IEDs as well.Last month, a bullet-proof ‘Rakshak’ jeep of the police came under attack in Awantipora of Pulwama district, which injured three police officials.

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

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

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

He said further details were awaited.

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

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

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

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

With inputs from PTI

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

Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti asks security forces to refrain from using pellet guns

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday asked security forces to restrain themselves from using pellet guns and differentiate between stone-pelters/militants and their families, while noting that force was used to deal with law and order in the Valley during the recent unrest.

“When we have to deal with such situation, we have to use force sometimes and I have no hesitation in saying this. We should all speak truth. We had to use force because we had to protect the lives and properties of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.

The chief minister was speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre in Lethpora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Mehbooba said if force was not used, losses would have been more.

“If we had not done so, there could have been more killings, more losses. But now, our endeavour should be to see towards those people who were confined to their homes because of the situation, strikes and curfew and what they have gone through in these six months,” she said.

The chief minister said now that the situation has improved and the time has come to “change our ways”.

“But now I think that when the situation has improved, the time has come to heal the wounds of the people. Now, we have to change our ways. We have to differentiate between the situation as of on Wednesday and what was four months back. We will have to give special focus to the youth,” she said.

She said security forces have to differentiate between offenders like militants and stone-pelters and their families.

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

File photo of Mehbooba Mufti. PTI

“We cannot weigh every youth by the same scale, we cannot see every youth with suspicious eyes, then the situation will not improve. We have to differentiate between militants and their families. We have to differentiate militants from their parents, siblings and children and we cannot weigh them by the same scale.

“If any youth is a habitual stone-pelter, we will have to differentiate between him and his family. You have to differentiate between an elder person involved in such activities and a student and see how to tackle them,” she said.

Mehbooba asked the security forces to exercise restrain while dealing with law and order situations.

“I hope that you will not deject me because I want J-K to prosper again, where guns or pellet guns are not used. I hope that police and security forces try to not use pellet guns. If there is an attack on your camp or police station, then I understand, but if someone throws stones at you, you should try to restrain yourselves till we find an alternative to pellet guns and ban them completely,” she said.

As many as 86 people, including two policemen, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley that began on 9 July, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces.

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

The chief minister said reconciliation was the only way forward in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am of the belief that there is no way forward in J-K other than reconciliation. PSA and Afspa are temporary and I want you to help me, our government, in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where a time will come when PSA is used only against criminals, drug addicts and smugglers and not against 40-year-old or 80-year-old or 19-year-old or students.

“No one from outside can help us in doing that. We have to help ourselves and in that, the role of police is very important,” she said.

“We had army and security forces here before as well, but when militancy erupted here, Afspa had to be imposed. Now, we all have to try together to create such an atmosphere where such laws like Afspa, PSA or other hard measures are gradually revoked. I or my ministers cannot do this alone, after the role of people of J-K, your role is very important for that,” she said.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisions like paying a visit to Lahore and demonetisation, Mehbooba said no other prime minister would have taken such decisions.

“I am hopeful that you will help me in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where there is reconciliation and dialogue. I want to make it clear that the current PM has guts to visit Lahore and he did it despite criticism but unfortunately Pathankot (attack) happened.

“It is this PM who took such a huge decision of demonetisation, knowing that people will face hardships and will be angry for some time. I do not think any other PM would have taken such decisions,” she said.

The chief minister said once peace is established in the state, it can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan.

“If you all help us in creating peace in J-K, then I assure you, the people of J-K, that the way our PM went to Lahore by keeping everything else on the side and offered a hand of friendship, and when there was unrest, he sent a (all-party) delegation from Delhi to listen to people, understand and talk, so if we can create a better situation, then we can create conditions for dialogue with everyone not
only in J-K, but we can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan (as well),” she said.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 17:08 IST

J&K govt to pay Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia to Burhan Wani’s kin for his brother’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir government has cleared ex-gratia to next of kin of 17 persons, including Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s brother, killed in militancy-related incidents in the Valley, while giving one week’s time for filing of any objection before formal orders are issued. Burhan Wani’s killing by security forces in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area on July 8 this year triggered unrest in the Valley which has left as many as 86 people dead.According to a notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, ex-gratia relief under rules has been cleared by the District Level Screening-cum-Consultative Committee (DLSCC) in favour of next of kin of those persons who died in militancy-related incidents.Among the 17 names in the list of persons killed in militancy-related incidents is Wani’s brother, Khalid Muzaffar Wani, who died in firing by security forces in Buchoo forest area of Tral on April 13 last year.The DLSCC meeting took place under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Muneer-ul-Islam, on November 24. The deputy commissioner has sought objections, if any, to the notice within seven days before the formal orders are issued.Under the rules, an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh is sanctioned in such cases. Army had said that Khalid was an over-ground worker of Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in an encounter. However, locals claimed that he had no links with militancy. Khalid (25) was pursuing Masters Degree in Political Science from the Indira Gandhi National Open University.Also on the list is Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, a contractual lecturer who died when he was allegedly beaten up by the army personnel at Khrew in Pulwama on August 17 this year.Locals had claimed that army conducted house to house searches for the youths, who were leading violent protests in the area, which was resisted by the residents of Khrew.In the ensuing clash, 30-year-old Mangoo died. Army had ordered an inquiry into the incident, saying such incidents would not be tolerated. “These raids were not sanctioned in the first place. It is unjustified. Nobody can support it and it will not be tolerated,” the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda had said.

Security forces targeted using command-wire technique by militants in Kashmir Valley

New Delhi: For the first time in the decades-old militancy in Kashmir Valley, security forces have been targeted by a Naxal-style IED attack prompting agencies to brace up against the menace that has claimed numerous lives and maimed several troops in Left Wing Extremism hit areas.

Taking the development seriously, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), mainstay for anti-Maoist operations in the country, has rushed a team of its counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) experts to train and sensitise its troops, those of the BSF, Jammu and Kashmir Police and others against such blasts trigerred by the notorious ‘command-wire’ technique.

“This is for the first time…There have been IED attacks against security forces and their convoys in the past but using the command-wire technique was unheard and unseen here.

“This technique till now has been used by Naxals to target security forces in the LWE affected areas,” CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad told PTI.

Taking cognisance of the incident, he has asked a team of IED experts, based at the exclusive Institute of IED Management (IIM) in Pune, to rush to the Kashmir Valley and sensitise the troops as to how to be alert against such deadly attacks.

The first of its kind command-wire IED blast was reported about a month back on the night of 4 November when militants targeted a police bullet-proof ‘Rakshak’ jeep under the Dadasara Police Station area in Awantipora of Pulwama district, which led to injuries to three police officials.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The police team was rushing to a nearby spot after some gunshots were heard but as they were targeted by the blast, they had to be evacuated and rushed to a nearby hospital.

The blast was trigerred by joining the wires drawn from the IED and when the jeep, plying on the normal ‘pucca’ road, went over it, the blast severely damaged the entire front and engine portion of the four-wheeler.

“It could have been bad had the blast took place just behind the engine area.This is something new we witnessed. Taking no chances, we have asked all our units in the Kashmir Valley to prepare and plan against command-wire IEDs now,” Prasad said.

The DG said it was part of further investigations to find out how the suspected militants active in Kashmir adopted this much-abused technique of trigerring hidden blasts on security forces and their convoys.

Till now security forces in the valley have been attacked in gunfire ambushes and attacks, grenade lobbing and fidayeen attackers.

A command-wire ID blasts ensure that the electric cable connected to the IED allows the user complete control over the bomb right up until the moment of initiation and Naxals have been found to lay several hundred metres of wire from the main road into the fields to                                                                                                                 trigger it without getting noticed and ensuring fatal casualities on the trapped men, by virtue of accurate timing of its detonation.

The command-wire IED blasts in Naxal violence affected areas has not only claimed lives of hundreds of security forces personnel, largely amongst the CRPF, even as it has severely maimed numerous troops rendering them without limbs.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 15:56 IST

In agitated Newa, Lashkar militants feel quite at home, impose diktat on shopkeepers

The large black crosses look like multiplication signs with squiggles at the top left corner. The edges are uneven, a bit of paint dripping at places, but the strokes are broad and bold, a couple of feet long.

Such signs have been painted on the shutters of some of the shops in the main market at Newa. Newa is a market hamlet on the highway from Srinagar to Pulwama. It is within Pulwama district in south Kashmir. Pulwama is arguably the district worst affected by unrest over the past five months, and within the district, Newa is a nerve centre of agitation.

Not just agitation, Newa is also a centre of Lashkar-e-Taiba militants. Yes, those black crosses on shop shutters are warnings — warnings that those shops have been marked by Lashkar-e-Taiba activists for defying the hartals ordered through the ‘protest calendars’ issued in the name of the joint Hurriyat groups.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Many well-informed Kashmiris, including some Hurriyat leaders, acknowledge that control over the situation in Kashmir has been harnessed by Pakistan, that the broad guidelines come from there for how and when protests and various degrees of violence are to be organised.

In Newa, Pakistan does not need remote control mechanisms. Lashkar, the most aggressively anti-India war group based in Pakistan is right there.

A local asks me quite nonchalantly whether I would like to meet Abu Dujana, as if it were the most natural thing. Since Dujana is Lashkar’s militant head in Kashmir, the suggestion startles me.

I look around to take in how well that surreal suggestion fits with the physical and social landscape. I have just emerged onto a rock-and-mud surface that suffices for a road. We have turned sharply right towards a makeshift bridge that has remained makeshift two years after a flood destroyed the bridge. There’s been no proper reconstruction yet.

I have just had a series of chats with locals in Gudoora village, not far from Newa. Much of the angst expressed in those conversations revolved around forces’ discourtesy — things like their entering houses with shoes on, breaking doors late at night, and disrespecting women’s privacy. These essentially cultural issues plug into receptivity to foreign militants.
So apparently, even a militant head as major as Dujana flits around places such as these, quite at home. Those who want to can get to him.

Continuing instability

For all the recent talk of restored normalcy, Pulwama is one of those Kashmir districts that remains unsettled. Not only was it one of the three most disturbed Valley districts (along with Kulgam and Kupwara) in summer and autumn, it not only still simmers, it is home to militiants. Several are of Hizb-ul Mujahideen, but Lashkar too is embedded in some pockets of the district such as Newa.

There’s more surreality in how the power of the state is exercised. A police officer at the Pulwama police station airily explains the relative lack of protests in places like Tral, compared with Pulwama, saying that “that’s because there are militants there. They don’t attract attention where there are militants”. Visits to places like Gudoora indicate that there are plenty of militants in Pulwama too. So that sort of talk from police officers is either calculated to mislead, or that such officers live in la-la-land.

In places like Newa (which apparently falls under the jurisdiction of the Pulwama police station), people even talk of posters urging shopkeepers to follow ‘protest calendars’, and announcing that Lashkar will deal with those who continue to flout it.

Even that police officer says later in our conversation that a hundred or so local militants are probably active now, 10 or 12 of them in Pulwama. His estimate is that there must be double that number of foreign militants, since, he points out, the ratio of locals to foreigners in encounters with the forces is often 1:2.

His theory is that, for the moment, the HM (often local) boys have been instructed to sustain themselves and survive, rather than get exposed, while Lashkar operatives engage in battle as and when.

That Lashkar not only engages in operations but seeks to impose its will on shopkeepers and others in places like Newa indicates that hard-core militants are entrenching themselves. The future looks as bleak as the wintry landscape of bare poplar clusters standing in a grey-brown haze in sub-zero day temperatures.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 13:12 IST

Cops bust Hizbul leader’s video-production facility

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war on terror notched a major win on Friday when security forces busted a studio-cum-communication centre of Hizbul Mujahideen commander and Burhan Wani’s successor Zakir Rashid Bhat in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.The studio was busted a day after Zakir released a video threatening to target the families of the cops in case the family members of militants are harassed by the security forces in the valley.Sporting a short trimmed beard, Zakir, an engineering drop out, is seen in the video wearing a t-shirt with olive green camouflage waste-coat and trouser in a room covered with curtains. Holding a rifle in his lap, Zakir is seen armed to the teeth with four automatic rifles resting on both sides and a machine gun in front of him.Police said a joint team of cops and 42 Rashtriya Rifles raided the house of Mudasir Ahmed Gunoo at Batipora Dadsara village. They found material and articles used by Zakir for shooting videos.“During preliminary investigation it was also established that Zakir used to record videos in one of the room of the house. Some clothes and other material used by Zakir in different videos and photographs were also recovered,” said a police spokesman.Police sources said the house was converted into a hideout-cum-studio by Zakir. They also said Zakir used different settings for different videos, that he published on social media platforms, to create an impression that they are operating at will.Sources said he had also created a wardrobe of fancy battle fatigues and camouflages which were donned by him for shooting videos.Since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani, Zakir has released three videos in the valley akin to his former boss Burhan Wani who was known for using social media to reach out to the people.

Kashmir faces tough winter ahead as rising infiltrations test security grid

The sensational killing of the two policemen by suspected militants in Kulgam district on Friday afternoon is a troubling sign of changing times in Kashmir Valley. Catalysed by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, the situation in the Valley is deteriorating fast with the number of militants almost doubling since the last year.

According to the police, the attack took place on Friday afternoon in the main market of Kulgam where two to three suspected militants, who were travelling in a private car, fired indiscriminately at a police checkpoint, sparking panic in the area as pedestrians ran for cover.

People gather around the body of Rayees Ahmad Dar, a suspected militant who according to local media was killed in an encounter with the armed forces in Pulwama district a few days back, at his funeral in Kakapora village, south of Kashmir. Reuters

People gather around the body of Rayees Ahmad Dar, a suspected militant who according to local media was killed in an encounter with the armed forces in Pulwama district a few days back, at his funeral in Kakapora village, south of Kashmir. Reuters

“Three policemen were injured. Head constable Tanvir Ahmad and constable Jalal-ud-din, residents of Kulgam, achieved martyrdom while another injured constable Shamis-ud-Din was shifted to Srinagar Hospital for treatment,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

Later, the car, a Hyundai Santro, was found abandoned near Laroo village, a kilometre away from the site of the attack in Kulgam district which has witnessed some of the worst incidents of violence in the last five months of the civilian uprising.

Officials said the security agencies are trying to trace the owner of the car with JK-18 registration plate. Meanwhile, a wreath laying ceremony was held for the slain at the District Police Lines in Kulgam which was led by DIG North Kashmir, Nitesh Kumar.

Following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Kashmir has been reeling under curfew and separatist-sponsored shutdowns with the authorities launching one of the severest crackdowns on civilians, jailing more than 9,000 people, including minors, who are accused of participating in freedom protests.

Although the crackdown has managed to restore some semblance of normalcy on the streets, it has, in absence of any political outreach, only perpetuated anger and alienation in the civilian population who are now openly coming out in support of militants in what is being described as the ‘war on occupational forces’.

To make matters worse, since the 8 July encounter in which Burhan was killed along with his two associates, a senior police officer said there has been a spurt in the disappearance of local youths, many of whom are believed to have joined militant groups.

According to official data, at least 60 rifles were snatched from police personnel in the last four months of unrest, a troubling sign that the Valley might soon slip into the whirlpool of violence which can bring down the facade of normalcy put up by the PDP-BJP coalition government

“Situation is very bad,” a senior police officer, who spoke to Firstpost on the condition of anonymity, “Call it our good luck, these boys don’t have open access to weapons like it was in the early nineties, which is keeping the situation from going out of control”.

The police officer said about 50-60 youths, mostly from south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Pulwama, Anantnag and Shopian, have been reported missing in the last more than four months of unrest. In many cases, the missing youths have told their families not to search them anymore.

“We have managed to speak with the parents of some of them. As per our records, around 30 of them have joined militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen while the rest are in the process of joining. To avoid further deterioration of law and order, we are trying to get them to surrender,” the police officer said.

Coupled with the dangerously rising levels of infiltration along the Line of Control, the deteriorating security situation will pose a tough challenge to the forces who have to deal with street protests on one hand and also carry out counter-insurgency operations.

“Presently we have about 250-300 militants active in the Valley. With locals openly coming to their support and sympathy for militancy gaining ground after Burhan Wani’s killing, the situation is going to only get worse in coming days,” the police officer said.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 15:35 IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another big spurt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A nuanced view

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

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

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

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

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

35 schools set ablaze in last four months in Kashmir: MoS Ahir to Rajya Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As many as 35 school buildings were set ablaze and 11 others damaged in Kashmir Valley in the last four months, Rajya Sabha was informed. “35 school buildings were set ablaze and 11 school buildings were damaged in Kashmir Valley since July 8 till November 11, 2016,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in reply to a written question. As many as 24 persons, identified for being involved in setting the school buildings afire, have already been arrested, he said. Nearly 200 terrorists are now active in Jammu and Kashmir, the Rajya Sabha was informed today. “As per available inputs, nearly 200 terrorists are active in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in reply to a written question.The Minister said a per available inputs, 105 terrorists have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir after crossing the Line of Control till September this year. Replying to another question, Ahir said there were 2,069 incidents of law and order in Kashmir Valley in last two years, of which 627 incidents took place in Baramulla, 507 in Srinagar, 302 in Pulwama and 261 in Anantnag.

Cash-starved militants loot Rs 12.45 lakh from bank, suffer embarrassment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an attempt to rob a bank for some cash, suspected militants barged into the Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Central Kashmir’s Malpora village looting Rs12.45 lakh at gunpoint.The gunmen, however, suffered a massive faux paux when they discovered Rs11 lakh of the total looted money was old currency, that have been declared obsolete post the demonetization process.Police said four masked gunmen had entered into the Malpora branch at Charar-i-Sharief in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Budgam police have registered a case, “ and a manhunt has been launched to nab the culprits,” said a police spokesman.Located on the border of Budgam and Pulwama, the bank is located inside ‘hired shops’ and has never been given any proper security mechanism which police sources said might have been exploited by the gunmen for the heist. “This is a branch that has been operating from inside hired shops. There were no security cameras installed in the branch,” said Abdul Wahid Shah, Senior Superintendent of Police, Budgam.Police sources said four masked gunmen on board a WagonR disembarked near the branch and walked right into the bank. One of them then slapped the cashier and asked him to hand over the cash. They later took the money and escaped in the same car.Police suspect militants in the heist a first in Jammu and Kashmir since the commencement of demonetization. There was no security guard posted in the bank and the gunmen were heavily armed. Police said the masked men spoke in Kashmiri and Urdu. “Investigations have been put on fast track to track down the militants responsible for the heist,” said a police officer.The heist comes at a time when ‘terror financers’ have been hit hard by demonetization. Sources said ‘terror finances’ have shown signs of drying up in the wake of demonetization.Intelligence sleuths and counter terrorism cops are working overtime to gauge the effect of the demonetization on the financing of terror and unrest in the militant hit Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir unrest: Militant killed in encounter in Pulwama district

Kashmir unrest: Militant killed in encounter in Pulwama district

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Srinagar: An unidentified militant was today killed in an encounter with security forces in a village in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, police said.

Security forces this evening launched an anti-militancy operation after receiving a tip-off about their presence at Begumbagh village in Kakapora area, 25 km from here, a police official said.

Hiding militants opened fire on noticing the security forces who retaliated, triggering a gunbattle, he said.

One militant was killed in the gunbattle, the official said, adding the identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 19:26 IST

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Kashmir: Class XII board exams begin peacefully after months of schools being shut

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Class XII board examinations began peacefully in Kashmir on Monday with nearly 95 per cent of the 32,000 students writing their papers, marking the resumption of educational activity in the Valley after schools remained shut for over four months due to the unrest.Barring a few minor law and order incidents in some places, the test on the first day was conducted smoothly at more than 450 centres across Kashmir, including 73 in the summer capital here, officials said.About 94.88 per cent of the total 31,964 students appeared in the examination, an official of Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (BOSE), which conducts the examinations, said.The official said the overall attendance of the students was up by 2.56 per cent from last year.Over 480 centres have been set up for about 48,000 candidates for Class XII board examinations across Kashmir division, the official said, adding that the students who opted for the sixth paper appeared for the test today.The government had decided to hold the exams as scheduled despite demands by parents that they be put off as the unrest had disrupted educational activities in the Valley.Massive security arrangements were put in place across the Valley for the smooth conduct of the examination.However, minor stone-pelting incidents were reported at a few places in Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, and Baramulla, which did not affect the conduct of the examinations.The miscreants were chased away by the security forces without affecting the test, a police official said.The BOSE official said the highest appearance percentage of the students was recorded in central Kashmir’s Budgam district where about 96.10 per cent of the students wrote their papers.Budgam was followed by Anantnag in south Kashmir where 96.01 per cent students appeared in the examination, he said.The official said North Kashmir’s Bandipora witnessed the lowest attendance at 92.80 per cent.Two other south Kashmir districts Pulwama and Shopian recorded 94.65 and 93.66 per cent, respectively.South Kashmir has been the worst hit in the ongoing unrest in the valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in July.North Kashmir’s Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara districts recorded attendance at 92.80, 93.70 and 93.10 per cent, respectively, the official said, adding Srinagar and Ganderbal in central Kashmir recorded 95.83 and 92.93 per cent attendance.

Three potential gun-snatchers arrested in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three youth, allegedly planning to snatch weapons from police and join Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, were arrested in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on Monday, police said.Mohammad Asif Khan, Adil Ahmad Najar and Saqib Nazir Bhat were taken into custody during a joint operation by police and Rashtriya Rifles in Awantipora area of south Kashmir Pulwama district, a police official said. He said police acted after receiving specific information that a group of youth are being motivated by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Rashid Bhat alias “Mosa” to snatch weapons from police and to join the banned militant group.”During question, the trio confessed that they had hatched a conspiracy to snatch weapons from pickets set up by police for the protection of minority communities or police so that afterwards they could join militant ranks,” the official said. He said a case under unlawful activities act has been registered against the arrested persons and investigations started.Over the last three months, there have been a number of incidents in which weapons have been snatched from police personnel in Kashmir valley. At least 67 guns, including INSAS and Carbines, have been looted during this period.

Pampore attack: Gunfight continues near Kashmir’s Pulwama district; 2-3 militants trapped

Pampore attack: Gunfight continues near Kashmir’s Pulwama district; 2-3 militants trapped

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The police said on Monday a group of two to three militants were trapped in a building of the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) complex near Pampore.

“The militants were trapped inside a building in the JKEDI complex near Pampore town,” a senior police officer said.

“Security forces surrounded the building and all escape routes of the militants were sealed,” he said.

The officer said that intermittent gunshots were heard inside the complex as the security forces were moving in cautiously to flush out the militants.

A 48-hour long fierce gunfight took place in the same complex in February in which seven people including a civilian, three paramilitary commandos of the Army and three militants were killed.

The JKEDI complex is situated on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, about 10 kilometres from Srinagar.

Traffic on the strategic highway was also suspended.

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

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

Rajnath reviews security situation in Jammu and Kashmir after Pampore attack

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday reviewed the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which witnessed a deadly attack on a CRPF convoy that left eight personnel dead, and directed security forces to intensify vigil in the state.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

During the hour-long meeting, the Home Minister was briefed about the internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the rest of the country and the steps taken to ensure peace.

The meeting, attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, chiefs of intelligence agencies and other senior officials, analysed the inputs, including on infiltration from across the border, received from various agencies and steps taken on them, official sources said.

While voicing concern over the killing of the eight CRPF men by militants in Pulwama on Saturday, Singh directed the officials to strengthen the security arrangement and intensify vigil across Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.

The Home Minister has already set up a three-member team which will look into lapses, if any, in the Pulwama incident so that corrective steps could be taken. The team would also look into the possible increase of cross border infiltration and practices being followed during the movement of paramilitary forces convoy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Eight CRPF personnel were killed and at least 25 others injured when two militants attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on Saturday.

Pampore attack: CM Akhilesh Yadav announces aid for families of martyred CRPF personnel

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday announced financial aid of Rs 20 lakh each to the families of five CRPF troopers who died in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir on June 25.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. AFPUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. AFP

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. AFP

The five martyred troopers belonged to the state. They are Kailash Kumar Yadav from Unnao district, Sanjay Kumar from Jaunpur, Veer Singh from Firozabad, Satish Chandra from Meerut and Rajesh Kumar from Allahabad.

They are among the eight troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) killed when terrorists fired on their vehicle in Pampore in Pulwama district on June 25.

After attack on CRPF camp, central team to visit J&K to assess infiltration levels

New Delhi: A day after eight CRPF troopers were killed by ‘fidayeen’ militants in Jammu and Kashmir, the government said on Sunday that a central team will visit the state to look into possible spike in cross-border infiltration of terrorists.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The team comprising Secretary (Boarder Management) Susheel Kumar; Special Secretary, (Internal Security), Mahesh Kumar Singla; and Joint Secretary (Kashmir) Gyanesh Kumar will visit the state on Tuesday, a Home Ministry statement said.

“Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has directed for submission of the team’s report at the earliest,” it said.

Eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed and 22 others injured in firing on their bus by two LeT terrorists on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Pulwama district on Saturday. The two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were gunned down, officials said.

A government by the woman, for the woman, of the woman

Women of the conflict-ridden Jammu and Kashmir have a big reason to smile as the state’s first woman chief minister Mehbooba Mufti opened her purse strings to invest hugely in their development and empowerment.From waiving off the fee of all girl students in the state government run educational institutions up to the higher secondary level to reserving 10 per cent area in all industrial estates to women specific police stations. Mehbooba has also focused on the women empowerment in her first maiden budget which was presented in the J&K Legislative assembly on Monday<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government will waive off the fee of all girl students in the state government run educational institutions up to the higher secondary level. Two entrepreneur development centers will be set up at Srinagar and Jammu to help, guide, and train aspiring women entrepreneurs,” said Dr Haseeb Drabu, Jammu and Kashmir finance minister.Fee waiver in schools will instantly benefit six lakh girl students in the Jammu and Kashmir. According to official figures Jammu and Kashmir has 24,265 schools with 16.68 lakh students and 1.43 lakh teaching staff.”Around six lakh girl students will be benefited by the fee waiver scheme. Free books, uniforms and other things will also be covered under this scheme,” said Naeem Akthar, Jammu and Kashmir’s minister for education.Operating women centric buses have been icing on the cakeFour women police stations will be established in Pulwama, Kupwara, Kathua and Udhampur districts. Out of over 73,000 personnel in Jammu and Kashmir Police the women personnel comprise 2,512 that includes 37 gazetted officers and 154 non-gazetted posts officers.”I am earmarking an additional amount of Rs five crore for a dedicated city bus service for women in Srinagar and Jammu cities and a provision to provide exclusive women toilets in the entire state, district and sub district hospitals,” Drabu said.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Tariq Pandit surrenders in Kashmir

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

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jammu and Kashmir: Attack on National Conference leader in Pulwama, one cop killed

Gunmen attacked a National Conference leader on Wednesday leading to the death of one policeman. The National Conference District president Mohi-u-din Mir was injured after gunmen opened fire at him, reports greaterkashmir.com. A policeman too was injured but succumbed to his wounds later.A Personal Security Officer (PSO) was too injured in the attack which took place in the Manghama village in Pulwama district.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The gunmenleft with the service rifle of the PSO.On Monday, militants carried out two strikes within as many hours in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, killing three policemen, including an officer, and decamping with service rifle of one of the slain cops. With agency inputs.

I promise to heal your scars by securing your future: CM Mehbooba Mufti tells youth delegations

Jammu and Kashmir’s youth have been the “biggest casualty” of more than two decades of violence in the state, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said and promised to “heal their scars” by securing their future. “I admire your perseverance to go on, despite the cycle of violence that snatched your childhood. I promise to heal your scars by securing your future,” Mehbooba said during meetings with youth delegations from different parts of the Valley. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief Minister also asked youngsters to become role models in propagating the message of peace and harmony that Islam teaches. “It is very disturbing to see our youth getting sucked into the vortex of violence when they should be attending schools and colleges,” she said. Referring to years of turbulence that have wreaked havoc on all growth indicators, Mehbooba said she wanted to bring the focus back on the potential of youth and channelise the same for rebuilding the state.”Only peace and stability will enable us to invest in empowerment, education and employment of youth in the state.Increasing investment in young people is the key and this includes quality education and skill development that prepares you better for future opportunities,” she said.Mehbooba said she would work for creating an enabling environment that allows abundant employment opportunities for youngsters.The Chief Minister vowed to mobilise all resources at her disposal to firmly entrench a system where merit would be the sole determinant of selection, either in government or private sector.”I look forward to provide them a level-playing field to succeed collectively,” she said.”The government will try to tap the huge potential in tourism, hospitality, horticulture, industry and floriculture segments so that the avenues of productive employment are created for our youth,” she said.She sought co-operation of youngsters in creating a “feel-good factor” for tourists, which would go a long way in increasing visitors’ footfall in the state. She also batted for youth to take upagri-entrepreneurship in a big way, especially in horticulture sector where economic returns are very high.Mehbooba also stressed on a more proactive role for Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) so that it reaches out to talented youngsters at the district level by enhancing their skills and providing them hassle-free access to finance. Youth delegations from Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Kulgam met the Chief Minister and brought into her notice various issues confronting them.

Kashmir: Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in Pulwama encounter

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

Discrimination, disillusionment: What drives Kashmir youths to militancy?

The 12-year old child looks angelic as he stands at the back of the classroom in his bright uniform. The room seems cramped, with the rows of neatly turned out students. Gradually gathering confidence, the child relates a litany of complaints. His theme is discrimination. The army kills Kashmiris, he says. Kashmir students are beaten and badly treated in states across India while outsiders are safe in Kashmir.

Water cannons are used in other states, live bullets in Kashmir.

They fire shells at schools, he adds, his eyes dilating a bit. A teargas shell was apparently fired outside a nearby school during an exam a few days ago, when common people gathered to protest and throw stones during an armed encounter between militants and forces. The students view it as an unjustifiable tactic; it rankles terribly. So do memories of teargas and the blast from ‘sound bombs’ that they have experienced.

These do not repress.

They incite.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Beef is accepted in ‘our religion’, says another student, but Kashmiris have been oppressed over beef. Dadri is in their minds… and Udhampur.

This room full of students ranging from 12 to 18 years of age has been summoned from the playing field by their principal to talk to me. But they are not upset at being kept away from sport. They are eager to share their angst. Even when school gives over, it is only when staff come to say that a particular bus is about to leave, that students who have to take that bus leave the room. The rest say their homes are walking distances away; they want to continue this discussion. They will sit till evening if I will, even talk through the night, they say.

Their litany of complaints is one that has become common across Kashmir. It is the discourse that now undergirds the new militancy. The passion with which it is voiced is a little more intense in this school. For, this school is in a hamlet at the pulsing heart of the rebellion that has overtaken Pulwama district in the south district. The militant commander Abu Qasim, who was killed in an encounter last winter, spent three years living here. A number of militants have emerged from this belt northeast of Pulwama town.

More are ready.

Those in this classroom — including the girls sitting in the right half of the room — announce that they would all turn ‘mujahid’ if arms were available. That is echoed by students with whom I interact in different parts of south Kashmir during a four-day visit that takes me through Awantipora, Bijbehara, Aishmuqam, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama.

One hears the same complaints everywhere.

Comparisons are drawn with state action against the Jat agitation in Haryana and the Patel agitation in Gujarat: Water cannons there, bullets here. Further, students complain that their ‘mothers and sisters’ can’t go into the fields for fear of humiliation. Among students, this discourse is new.

Talk of Islamic identity, jihad, Islamic rule, and discrimination against Muslims too is common. In one room full of students, the only response to ‘Who is your hero?’ is the prophet. ‘Who in the contemporary world?’ is greeted with silence. Not (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani sahib, I ask, or the Mirwaiz (Umar Farooq)? None of them, the students respond.

Not only is there great disappointment with the PDP-BJP coalition, many young people disparage democracy as a system. The Islamic State has no organisational presence here, but minds and hearts are full of notions that would suit it. Many more students talk of Pakistan than did five years ago when I toured the Valley’s educational institutions extensively. Islam is their connection, they say. Some also talk of Islamic rule unbounded by nation states.

There are variations in opinions, to be sure. But some of the alternative voices tend to take a little time to emerge during conversations — anti-India voices being more ready at hand, and louder. Towards the end of my discussion with students at the Pulwama Degree College, a student speaks of corruption and doublespeak in his society. Another said, “The fault is not only with India or the army; we too are at fault.”

Some residents of Pulwama and of Shopian speculate on whether the high levels of anti-State sentiment in the belt where Abu Qasim lived could also be related to the area’s relative economic backwardness and the poor quality of local soil. An extraordinarily high proportion of students in that school classroom say their family earnings are from agriculture.

Five years ago, youths from such backgrounds — with family incomes less than Rs 5,000 a month — tended to prefer peace and opportunities for prosperity. They were against agitations and instability. That this has changed indicates that hope has been extinguished. Exclusivist and political ideas about religion have increased alongside.

Generally speaking, the youngest seem to be the most radical — in religious and political terms. One of the most vocal of the teenaged students in that school classroom speaks of corruption in society, but seems to equate corruption with participation in the establishment. He speaks of all those who work for the government as ‘mukhbir‘ (informers).

An erudite phiran-clad friend in Shopian rues the extraordinary radicalisation among the young. Over steaming salt tea, my grey-haired friend dates the Islamic civilisation’s intellectual decline from Ghazali’s criticism of philosophy (Imam Ghazali died in 1111 CE). He speaks glowingly of India’s spiritual traditions, Mahatma Gandhi, and Kashmir’s Communist traditions. Although anger and a greatly increased sense of religion-based exclusivity are the dominant sentiments, they are not comprehensive. One student comes up after my lecture at a college in south Kashmir to say with a smile that he could not say it in the conference hall but, “I am an Indian”.

He is certainly not the only one in south Kashmir who feels committed to India, but those who talk of Pakistan do so openly, vigorously. The numbers of those who do has jumped over the past five years. Over the past couple of decades, ‘separatism’ generally meant independence from both India and Pakistan.

“No wonder,” observes freelance journalist Sheikh Hilal Ahmad of Shopian, “RSS activists talk of sending everyone they don’t like to Pakistan so often that they have made Kashmiris think Pakistan is the place anyone uneasy with ‘Hindutva’ must go.” Behind the jest is a valid point. The rhetoric and violence of RSS activists has indeed alienated Kashmiris. On the other hand, the kid-gloves the government used for Kashmiris who shouted slogans at JNU has not helped.

That Pakistan is back in focus is no cause for liberal Pakistanis to celebrate, however.

Generally, those Kashmiri youth who talk of Pakistan are extraordinarily radicalised and conservative.

Jammu and Kashmir: Budding cricketer among two killed in Army firing in Handwara

Two youth, including a budding cricketer, were killed on Tuesday in Handwara, about 85 kms from here, when Army opened fire to disperse a stone-pelting mob which was protesting against alleged molestation of a girl by some of its personnel.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the security personnel involved in the killing of the youth will be given exemplary punishment as such incidents cannot be tolerated since these have a “negative impact” on the state government’s efforts to consolidate peace efforts. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army ordered an inquiry while Jammu and Kashmir Police registered a criminal case and began investigations into the incident which triggered more protests in Handwara and had an echo in Srinagar and Pulwama districts of Kashmir as well. Trouble started with protests by locals in Handwara over alleged molestation of the girl student.Giving details of the incident, the police spokesman said within minutes of alleged incident of molestation by an army man, public in large numbers gathered there and attacked the army bunker in Handwara chowk. They assaulted the personnel deployed there, ransacked the bunker and attempted to set fire to the bunker, he said. “In retaliation, the security forces deployed (there) used force to disperse the violent rampaging mob. In the process, two individuals — Mohammad Iqbal and Nayeem Qadir Bhat sustained fire-arm injuries,” the spokesman said. “They were evacuated to hospital where they, unfortunately, succumbed to their injuries,” he said, adding police deeply “regrets the loss of life”.The police spokesman said a criminal case has been registered into the Handwara incident and investigations started to ascertain the facts. Nayeem, a student of Government Degree College Handwara, was a budding top order batsman, who had attended an Under-19 national level camp three years ago, his friends said. Several photographs of Nayeem at various cricketing events, including a net session with Jammu and Kashmir’s star all-rounder Parvez Rasool, were being circulated on social networking sites soon after his death. In one picture, Bhat is seen shaking hands with a senior police officer before the start of a recent cricket tournament in the district.The incident in Handwara had an echo in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, as also in Pulwama in south Kashmir, where protests erupted and stone-pelting incidents were reported at some places, the official said.Additional police personnel have been deployed in sensitive areas of the city to maintain law and order.

Jammu and Kashmir: 2 militants killed in encounter, top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen almost finished, say police

Two top Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including a former policeman, who was in the security detail of a PDP Minister and fled with two AK 47 rifles last year, on Thursday killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, with the army calling it a “major breakthrough”. Naseer Ahmad Pandit and Inamul Haq alias Waseem Malla were shot dead in an encounter with a joint team of local police, CRPF and Rashtriya rifles at Vehil village near Shopian, about 55 km from here, army said. “It was a joint operation of police, CRPF and Rashtriya Rifles. We were able to eliminate the two top terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen. Their killing caused a serious dent in the top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen,” General Officer Commanding of Army’s Victor Force Major General Ashok Narola told reporters in Awantipora.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming the killing of Pandit and Malla as a “major breakthrough” in the anti-militancy operations, the officer said the top leadership of the terrorist outfit was now “almost finished”. Narola said the operation was “clean” with the security forces suffering no casualties. “With the killing of Waseem Malla and Naseer Pandit in Shopian district this morning, the top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen is almost finished. “While Malla was a A++ category militant, Pandit who deserted police to join Hizbul Mujahideen ranks last year was also A-Plus category militant,” Narola said.He said Malla, a resident of Pehlipora in Shopian, was the mastermind behind the killing of three policemen in cold blood at Amshipora village of Shopian on April 6 last year. Pandit, a resident of Karimabad village of Pulwama, had decamped with two AK rifles on March 27 last year from the residence of PDP Minister Altaf Bukhari’s residence. “For the last two years, these people had created a lot of problems for the people and were involved in atrocities and we are satisfied on their elimination,” the Army officer said.The two were among a group of 11 young militants whose photographs were widely circulated on the social media last year. “Of the 11 in the photo, two were eliminated earlier and two today and Insha Allah the rest will also be dealt with, which is a matter of time,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir: 1 terrorist dead in Pulwama encounter, search operations on

Security forces were on Tuesday night locked in a gunbattle with some militants holed up in a house in a village about 30 kms from here and were simultaneously battling violent mobs which tried to march towards the encounter site, leaving at least eight people injured.One terrorist killed in ongoing encounter between security forces and terrorists in Pulwama (J&K), search operations underway. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In late afternoon, security forces cordoned off Gadoora village in Pulwama district after getting specific information about presence of some militants in a house, officials said. The hiding militants opened fire on security personnel, triggering an encounter, the officials said, adding the exchange of fire was going on when last reports were received.Meanwhile, groups of youth staged protests and tried to march towards Gadoora village where the encounter was underway, the officials said. Their march as thwarted, leading to clashes in which eight people were injured. While six sustained pellet injuries, two others were injured after getting hit by tear smoke shells, the officials said. The clashes were still continuing when last reports were received.The officials said reinforcements have been rushed to maintain a tight cordon around the village to prevent the militants from fleeing the scene. Additional deployments were also made to deal with any law and order situation, they said.Meanwhile, security forces were hunting for some militants who had fired at a patrol party this morning in Sheikhpura village in Kupwara district. A brief exchange of firing took place between security forces and militants in the village, 100 kms from here, a police officer said.He said while no casualties were reported in the brief firing, security forces were carrying out search operations in the area to track down the militants.

Jammu and Kashmir – Cop shot at by militants in Pulwama, says Police

Suspected militants on Sunday shot at and injured a policeman in Pulwama district of Kashmir, police said here. Head Constable Mohammad Shafi was fired upon at Murran Chowk in Pulwama, 32 kms from here, this afternoon while he was on duty, a police official said. He said the cop was rushed to a nearby district hospital with injuries to his left leg. LIVE England vs West Indies final T20, ICC World T20The condition of the injured cop is stated to be stable, the official said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Terrorists attack police party in Pulwama, one policeman injured

Terrorists attacked a police party at Muran Chowk in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on Sunday, according to reports.Reports also state that one policeman has been injured in the attack. Terrorists attack a police party at Muran Chowk in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. One policeman injured. pic.twitter.com/rSxn5wDcuk
April 3, 2016More details on the attack awaited.

Pulwama encounter: Udhampur attack wanted Abu Okasha killed

A Pakistani militant carrying a bounty for his role in Udhampur attack last year, Abu Okasha, has been killed in an encounter in Pulwama district but a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander and four other ultras managed to escape the security ring due to alleged connivance of locals.NIA had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh on information leading to arrest of Okasha, a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. It had recovered his photograph during raids at various terror hideouts in the Valley in connection with his involvement in the Udhampur terror attack in which a Pakistani LeT terrorist Mohammed Naved Yakub was arrested.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sources said LeT’s Kashmir chief Abu Dujana was among those who managed to escape from the encounter site as local residents allegedly diverted the attention of security forces by pelting stones at them.The encounter broke out as security forces were conducting search operations in Puchal area of Awantipora and shots were heard from nearby Goripora village, an official said.He said reinforcements were immediately rushed to Goripora and a cordon was laid around the village to prevent the militants from fleeing.The militants fired towards the security personnel who retaliated, leading to fierce exchange of gunfire, the official said.Two militants were killed in the exchange of firing but five of their accomplices managed to escape, the official said adding the bodies of the slain ultras have been recovered.As the security forces were battling the militants, a group of local residents started pelting stones at the security personnel, the official said.The incident diverted the attention of security personnel and allowed the other militants to escape from the cordon, the official said.Dujana took over operational command of Lashkar following the killing of Abu Qasim in Kulgam area of south Kashmir in October last year.

Jammu & Kashmir: Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in encounter in Pulwama

Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in an overnight encounter in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, an army official said on Thursday.Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Dadsara area of Tral last night, following information about the presence of militants there, the official said.The official said in the ensuing gun fight three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The slain militants have been identified as Ashiq Hussain Bhat, Mohammad Isaq Parray and Asif Ahmed Mir, the official said, adding that Bhat was involved in providing shelter to militants involved in Udhampur attack on a BSF convoy last year.Three AK rifles have been recovered from the scene of the gun battle, where search and sanitisation operation are in progress, the official said.

Jammu & Kashmir police issues advisory on encounters

Civilians residing within the radius of two kms of an encounter site should stay inside their homes and make sure their children are indoors too, an advisory issued on Thursday by Jammu and Kashmir police said.The advisory that is to be followed by civilians in case an encounter breaks out in their area also said that if children are outside their homes, they must be called back immediately by parents.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”(They) need not venture out as any stray bullet can hit and cause damage. The residents are also requested not to come out of their houses or peep out of the window panes,” a police spokesman said. He said Section 144 CrPC, which prohibits assembly of five or more persons, comes into force immediately at the encounter site and surrounding areas.”The elders, chowkidars and village headmen are requested to advise people to stay away from encounter site. Assembly of five or more people be discouraged as it is prohibited under the provisions of this Section of CrPC,” he added.The spokesman also asked people not to rush towards the encounter site immediately after the gunfight has stopped.”After encounter, people are requested not to rush towards encounter site as there are chances of unexploded grenades or explosives lying there. It should be ensured that the encounter site and area around is properly sanitised by the police or any other security agency, before people come near it,” he said.The advisory comes two days after Governor N N Vohra directed the police and other security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and take steps for avoiding collateral damage during encounters. His directions came after two university students were killed allegedly in firing by security forces in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on Sunday.

Militant killed in encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of J&K

Srinagar: An unidentified militant was killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on Sunday.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“An encounter broke out in Kakapora area of Pulwama district after a cordon and search operation was launched in the area,” an army official said.

A militant was killed in an exchange of fire between the two sides, the official said.

The militant is yet to be identified, he said, adding that details are awaited.

PTI

Jammu and Kashmir: Encounter breaks out between militants, security forces in Pulwama, one militant killed

An encounter broke out on Sunday between militants and security forces in Pulwama district of south Kashmir.”According to reports, one militant has been killed and arms and grenades have been recovered from his possession. “An encounter has started in Kakapora area of Pulwama district after a cordon and search operation was launched in the area,” an army official said. He said intermittent exchange of firing was going on between the two sides and so far there has been no report of any casualty.

Bandh observed in Srinagar on 26th anniversary of Gawkadal killings

Shops and business establishments remained shut in Srinagar on Thursday in support of a strike call given by separatist groups to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the Gawkadal massacre, in which 52 civilians were killed in alleged firing by security forces on a procession in 1990.Lal Chowk and its adjoining areas of Gawkadal and Maisuma observed shutdown on the call of separatist groups, including both factions of the Hurriyat Conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The killings in Gawkadal on this day in 1990 took place two days after the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley. In Gawkadal, the protesters were demonstrating against the alleged highhandedness of security forces in another part of the city a day earlier.The strike call, however, did not affect public transport.Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani has appealed to international human rights organisations to ensure an impartial investigation into all such massacres in Jammu and Kashmir.Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted about the Gawkadal incident, saying “the next few weeks are dotted with anniversaries of black days/events that should shame & sadden us”.Congress leader Salman Soz said, “January 1990 has got to be one of the worst months in Kashmir’s history. Massive exodus of Pandits and horrific killings in Gawkadal.” Meanwhile, a shutdown was observed in many areas of south Kashmir following the killing of a youth in firing by security forces.The Shutdown was observed in many areas of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir after Parvaiz Ahmad was killed when security forces opened fire on a group of youths who were protesting against an encounter in Naina Batapora village of Pulwama yesterday, the officials said.

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

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Jammu and Kashmir: Encounter on between security forces and terrorists in Pulwama

An operation launched by security forces against terrorists is underway in Naina Batpora area of Pulwama. The gunfight erupted between terrorists and security forces in the area on Tuesday night.The Army, Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF in a joint operation cordoned off Naina Batpora village after information about the presence of militants was received. The militants reportedly fired upon the forces triggering off a gunfight.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Firing resumed at around 6:30 this morning. Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants are believed to be trapped inside the village. Scores of worshippers are reportedly trapped inside a local mosque where they were listening to sermon when the gunfight suddenly erupted.They are reported to be safe.

South Kashmir township on warpath over memorial for militants

Imagine a memorial for the slain militants in Kashmir!South Kashmir Township of Pulwama is up in arms against the authorities for rejecting their demand of constructing a memorial for the slain militants in the `martyrs’ graveyard of the main market.For the last 12 days the township has been observing a shutdown prompting the authorities to invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure the essential services and supplies to the people in the district.The demand for memorial was spurred by the death of a local militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Omais Ahmad Sheikh, in Bandipora district last month. Soon after he was buried, the youth started raising slogans and demanded the memorial be built. The youth wanted the names and pictures of the people slain in encounters and other incidents to be superimposed on the memorial.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Some 400 to 800 youths wanted to erect a sign board. We as elders suggested to them that they should not write anything except Mazar-e-Shohuda (martyrs’ graveyard). They wanted to display the pictures of the people buried in the graveyard. Then we arrived at a consensus that we should put up a simple sign board with Mazar-e-Shohuda written on it,” said Bashir Azam, head of the local Auquaf in Pulwama.Local Auquaf members and traders held several rounds of meeting with the district administration to evolve a consensus. “There has been no progress, however. We want only the sign board to be put up outside the graveyard.No photographs and nothing else. The administration should accept this demand. People are facing a lot of difficulty and traders have suffered losses worth crores of rupees,” said Azam.What, however, added a new dimension to whole saga was the support extended by separatists for the martyrs’ memorial. “Youth who are making sacrifices are our heroes and worth to be respected. Installing martyrs’ memorial board on the entrance of the Shaheed Park is a good move which should be followed by other districts as well. It is beyond our understanding why the police are creating hurdles,” said Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani.District development commissioner Niraj Kumar said talks are on but there has been no breakthrough. “We are holding talks but so far nothing has come out,” he said.

Pulwama paralysed: How a hoarding managed to bring an entire town to a standstill

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Mamata’s ex-chief secretary obstructed development work in West Bengal, alleges Babul Supriyo

On December 28, Mitra was appointed as the Road Transport and Highways secretary after serving as the Chief Secretary, West Bengal government. Mitra, a 1982 batch officer, had earlier served seven years in the Manmohan Singh-led PMO from 2004.

Pooja Mehta

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Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Farooq hopes India, Pakistan will develop positive understanding

He also demanded disbanding of “terror groups with the nomenclature VDCs (Village Defence Committees) which are there to terrorise people of a particular outlook”.

PTI
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