Sat, 31 Dec 2016-11:00pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A policeman was killed in firing on Saturday by militants on a naka party in Handwara area of Kupwara district of Kashmir, officials said.The militants, who were traveling in a load carrier, opened fire on police personnel at a barricade at Chogul in Handwara this evening, a police official said.Constable Abdul Karim was injured in the firing, he said, adding he succumbed at a hospital.The militants managed to escape in the load carrier, the official added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the nation for the “suffering” caused to the people by note-ban when he speaks on New Year’s eve and vowed to hold country-wide protests from January 6.Attacking Modi, who is set to address the nation after end of the 50-day period he had sought from the people to ease their problems due to cash crunch, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Prime Minister is good at making announcements that are far from reality.”Even after 50 days of demonetization step, normalcy has not been restored.”PM Modi’s demonetization move has turned out to be ‘Deshbandi’ (lockdowbn of country). Development has come to a standstill. It is a scam and an uncalled move. It has resulted into economic instability in the country. Several people have died due to cash crunch across the country. It is a surgical strike on the country’s poor and has caused them immense suffering,” Surjewala said at a press conference in Jaipur. He claimed that note ban has led to 115 deaths in last 50 days, RBI has changed its rules 126 times and it will take eight months to print the equivalent currency notes.”Starting from January 6, we will continuously hold protests across the country against demonetization. We demand compensation for aggrieved family members, income and sales tax rebate to traders and common man,” he said.Congress leader Meem Afzal said the Prime Minister “has so far not had a word of sympathy for the victims, forget about an apology”.”But we expect him to apologise when he speaks on the issue at the end of the 50 days he had sought,” he told reporters in Srinagar.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create two crore new jobs every year but only 1.5 lakh jobs have been created in two and half years. After announcing demonetization last month, at least 10 crore people have been rendered jobless,” he claimed.Afzal claimed as many as 11 crore man-hours were spent every day in queues outside banks and ATMs as people struggled to withdraw their own money.”Money was taken from people’s pockets and put in the banks. 130 crore people of the country were made to queue up for their money. The time people should have spent earning their livelihood was spent in the queues,” he said.He said the Congress party demands an apology from the Prime Minister to the nation for these deaths and also compensation to the next of kin of the victims.Afzal said the Congress party also demands that 18 per cent interest be paid to the people on the money they have deposited in the banks.Alleging that some BJP leaders have been caught with stashes of new currency notes, Surjewala demanded a high-level inquiry.”Ordinary people are standing in bank lines to withdraw money, but a parallel black market flourishes in converting black money into white by charging commission up to 30 per cent commission,” he alleged.Surjewala also said that PM’s credibility is under cloud as his named has allegedly surfaced in Birla and Sahara dairies for receiving kickbacks when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP has rejected these charges, terming them as false, baseless and malafide.
Prominent daily newspaper Kashmir Reader was back on the stands on Wednesday after a gap of three months. A ban was imposed on the newspaper on 2 October by the state government during the unrest in Kashmir Valley. The government had called the newspaper a threat to “public tranquility.”
An order issued by the deputy commissioner of Srinagar had said that the material and content published by the newspaper “tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility.” Now in its order for revocation, the deputy commissioner said, “Kashmir Reader was directed to abstain from printing and publishing under Section 144 of the CRPC. That order remains enforceable for two months only as such has lapsed on 30 November, 2016. Since no extension has been ordered by the government, there is no ban on publishing of the newspaper as on date.”
During the unrest nearly 100 people were shot dead and 14,000 injured in the street protests and stone-throwing incidents, bringing the state to a halt. It was the media that continued to highlight the stories of killings and injuries caused by the pellets fired by the security forces to control the protests. In many incidents, journalists were threatened, beaten up or not allowed to perform their duties.
The government’s anti-press sentiments were clear when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti walked out of a press conference in August after being questioned about the public protests. She had ridiculed the journalists and said, “Thank you, now have a cup of tea,” while walking off the podium, where she was accompanied by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It is believed that the government’s behaviour towards the media only angered the people protesting on the streets more.
In Kashmir, the ban on Kashmir Reader was seen as a warning to the whole media fraternity. In their first editorial after resuming publication, the newspaper wrote, “When a government decides to ban a newspaper, unheard of in the 21st century until we were arbitrarily barred from publishing, it could either mean the administration’s lack of confidence in addressing the cause(s) of such widespread unrest or a failure to muster required political resources for a process of resolution.”
Now it looks like the government wants to make amends with the media. After the Kashmir Editors Guild elections selected Fayaz Kaloo as its president, the chief minister met the guild members along with Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.
According to a spokesperson, the chief minister during the meeting with the guild, said, “She hoped the guild would play its role in strengthening the institution of journalism in the state and assured the government’s support.”
The guild members later visited the Kashmir Reader office on Tuesday, where Kaloo said that the curbs on the media are nothing new but every time there was a crisis, the media has dealt with it head on and will continue to do so. “Our strength comes from the challenges we face on a day to day basis but it has its own costs,” he said.
First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:38 IST
The Kashmir Reader resumes publication after a government ban of nearly three months.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mexico: At least 27 killed, 70 injured in fireworks market explosionAt least 27 people died and 70 were injured in a massive, multi-colored explosion that leveled a fireworks market outside the Mexican capital on Tuesday, leaving it a charred wasteland. Read moreModi hits right electoral notes: Chandigarh, Maharashtra shrug off note recall woesThose who were surprised that despite long queues, there had been no popular backlash against demonetization may have received some answers from the results of the recent civic body elections. Held in Maharashtra and Chandigarh, the comfortable victories acquired by the BJP in these two places, and the hostile reception accorded to UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav by spectators, who had come to cheer the junior hockey team in Lucknow on Friday, summed up the positive mood amidst the public for the saffron party. Read detailsBuilt at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore, India’s longest road tunnel ready to be commissionedIndia has joined the league of extraordinary nations by constructing the longest road tunnel in the country on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Built at the cost of Rs 3720 crores, the nine-kilometre long Nashri road tunnel is expected to be commissioned early next year. Read moreNo scrutiny on deposit of old notes if total amount paid in one go: JaitleyAfter a flip-flop over rules for depositing illegal old high-value currency notes amounting to more than Rs 5,000 in banks, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday assured that there were sufficient new notes with Reserve Bank of India to replenish the demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency bills. Read moreHong Kong to withdraw visa free entry facility for Indians from JanuaryIn a setback to Indian travellers, the Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, has withdrawn the visa-free facility for Indians and they will now have to complete a pre arrival registration from January. Read more
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A moderate intensity earthquake shook Bhaderwah valley and parts of Doda and Bhalessa in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district this morning, triggering panic among people on Monday.The quake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale struck at 6:31 AM, and was the second such tremor in over a fortnight, Met officials said. The epicentre of the quake was 7 km south east of Bhadarwah, the officials said.The tremor was also felt in adjoining areas of Bhaderwah valley, including parts of Doda, Bhalessa and Matmat. Panic-stricken people rushed out of their homes in some areas of the picturesque valley in the early morning cold.”We have been collecting information from all our police posts and also from local sources since morning, but as of now, there is no immediate report of any casualty or damage to property,” said Bhadarwah SP Sargun Shukla.People of Chenab valley have been apprehensive of tremors after a study by a group of US scientists published last year predicted that there is a possibility of major earthquake in J&K. “We are apprehending big trouble as tremors of moderate and low intensity have become routine in Bhaderwah Valley for some time now. But surprisingly nobody from administration or any seismic expert seems to be remotely bothered to locate the exact cause of these local earthquakes,” said a social worker, Imtiaz-Ur-Rehman Butt from Mohalla Sarafan, Bhaderwah.A tremor measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale had hit the area on December 3. Earthquake tremors measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale were felt in the Uttarkashi region of Uttarakhand yoo. The earthquake hit the region at around 10 a.m. Earlier, a medium intensity earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale had struck the Indo-Nepal border in Uttarakhand.Tremors were felt in parts of Uttarakhand, including Champawat, Srinagar, Garhwal and Almora.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army on Sunday paid floral tributes to the three soldiers killed in a militant attack on an army convoy at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.”In a solemn ceremony at Badami Bagh Cantonment here, many senior officials from security agencies including Jammu and Kashmir Police, CRPF, BSF and SSB, joined General Officer Commanding, Chinar Corps, Lt Gen J S Sandhu and all ranks in paying homage to the martyrs on behalf of a proud nation,” an army official said.Many officials from the civil administration, including Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan were also present on the occasion.
ALSO READ Terrorists attack army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Pampore, 3 soldiers dead Three soldiers were on Saturday killed, while two others jawans were injured in the attack at a place crowded with civilians in Pampore of Jammu and Kashmir.”Martyr Naik (Gnr) Ratheesh C (35) had joined army in 2001 and hailed from Kotolipram, Kannur district in Kerala and is survived by his wife and a son,” the official said. He said 33-year-old Gunner Farate Sourabh Nandkumar of Bhekrai Nagar village in Pune of Maharasthra had donned the uniform in 2004 and is survived by his wife and twin daughters.Gunner Shashikant Pandey (24) had four years of service and was on his way to join his unit in the Valley. Hailing from Zharian area of Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, he is survived by his parents, the official said.The mortal remains of the martyrs would be flown for last rites to their native places where they would be laid to rest with full military honours, he said.In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families of the martyrs and remains committed to their needs and wellbeing, the official said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army convoy attacked on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Pampore, 3 soldiers deadA massive manhunt has been launched to track down the terrorists. Read more hereDemonetization a ‘Modi-made disaster’, PM sparing the 1% super-rich : Rahul GandhiEscalating his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday trashed demonetization of high value currency notes as a “Modi-made disaster”. Read more hereTwo RBI officials arrested in Rs 1.99 crore currency conversion caseCBI has arrested two employees of cash department of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Bengaluru in connection with alleged conversion of Rs 1.99 crore of demonetized currency with specified bank notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 100. Read more hereInternational community has failed Syrian people, Aleppo is now a ‘synonym for hell’: Ban Ki-moonUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the carnage in Syria remains a “gaping hole” in the global conscience. Read more hereIND vs ENG: After visitors score 477 in 1st innings, India off to a sedate startIndia claimed three wickets on the second morning but the 108-run partnership between Dawson and Rashid in a productive second session for the touring side frustrated the hosts. Read more hereConfirmed: Ditya Bhande wins Super Dancer!Another reality show has reached its culmination. Sony TV’s Super Dancer has just wrapped its finale episode and Ditya Bhande has walked away with the trophy. Read more here
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
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After two days of normalcy, life was again affected in Kashmir Valley on Friday due to a strike called by separatists as part of their agitation programme to protest the killing of civilians during the unrest and in support of their other demands. Most of the shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, were shut, while public transport was minimal, officials said.The effect of the strike was accentuated by a public holiday in Kashmir on Friday, they said. Reports of shutdown were also received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley, the officials said.On Wednesday, the separatist groups — both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF — had scaled down their strike call from five days a week to two days. They have extended the protest programme till the end of this month and have asked people to observe shutdown on Fridays and Saturdays.The separatists have been spearheading the agitation since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on July 8. The more than five-month unrest in the Valley has left 86 people dead and thousands others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cold wave tightened its grip in Kashmir Valley on Saturday as the night temperature plummeted to the season’s lowest in many places, resulting in the freezing of fringes of the famous Dal Lake for the first time this winter. The summer capital Srinagar witnessed the coldest night of the season as the mercury settled at the low of minus 4.5 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the MeT Department said in Srinagar.He said the dip in the temperature resulted in the freezing of fringes of Dal Lake in Srinagar and many other water bodies as well as drinking water taps. Leh in Ladakh region also experienced the coldest night of the season as the temperature plummeted to settle at minus 11.9 degrees Celsius. The region was the coldest in Jammu and Kashmir.The nearby Kargil town recorded the minimum of minus 8.2 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said. He said Kupwara, in north Kashmir, recorded a low minus 5.1 degrees Celsius, down from minus 4.9 degrees Celsius on Thursday. This was the lowest recorded temperature of the season so far in the border town.Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 3.0 degrees Celsius. He said the minimum in the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir settled at minus 1.0 degrees Celsius two degrees down from the previous night’s 1.0 degrees Celsius.The spokesman said Qazigund town in south Kashmir registered the minimum of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town recorded the low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius. The MeT Office forecast isolated rains in the plains and snowfall in the higher reaches for at least two days from Saturday night.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A government employee was killed during an overnight counter-insurgency operation in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, but the militants managed to give security forces the slip, officials said on Saturday.The security forces including army launched a counter-insurgency operation in Chancer area of Kulgam district last night, following information about presence of ultras in the area, police officials said.The officials said an employee of the Fisheries Department, Assadullah Kumar, was killed in the firing that broke out minutes after the security forces had cordoned off the area.An army official said the operation was called off this morning after the security forces did not find any militant.The militants might have escaped taking advantage of darkness, the official said.However, the official was tight-lipped about the death of the civilian.Meanwhile, local residents staged a protest against the killing of Kumar and blocked Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Vessu.
Fri, 2 Dec 2016-03:33pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police detained JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik after he, along with his supporters, tried to take out a protest march towards Lal Chowk city centre here.Malik was detained near Maisuma here as he and his supporters tried to take out a protest march towards Lal Chowk after Friday prayers, a police official said.He said Malik was taken to police station Kothi Bagh.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Militants in police uniform attacked an army artillery unit in Nagrota on the outskirts of the city on Tuesday, killing three Army personnel, including an officer, and leaving several others injured. There were unconfirmed reports that four militants were killed in the ensuing gunfight.A senior Army officer said that heavily-armed militants in police uniform stormed the 166 artillery unit, opening indiscriminate fire. An army officer and two other personnel were killed while several others were injured in the attack, the senior officer said. A fierce gunbattle is underway at the site, a senior police officer said.Nagrota is the headquarters of the Army’s 16 corps. In view of the attack, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has been closed for traffic in the area.The district administration has closed all schools in Nagorta tehsil as a precautionary measure. “We have ordered closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.An alert has been sounded in Jammu city.’Message’ sent by Pakistan’s newly appointed army chief: RK SinghThe terror attack is a “message” sent by Pakistan’s newly appointed army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to India, former Home Secretary RK Singh said. “We need to take note of the fact that this is the (Pakistan) new Army chief sending a message. His policy will be same as followed by the predecessor…We (also) need to send across a message to him,” he said.”India will hit back harder every time it is targeted,” he said. The BJP MP’s remarks came after militants in police uniform attacked an Army artillery unit in Nagrota, killing three Army personnel, including an officer, and leaving several others injured.Singh said Pakistan continued to “bleed” India through such terrorist attacks, adding that the recently conducted PoK surgical strike by the Indian Army was not a “one-off” event. “It was a statement of policy…Our policy is that we will hit you back every time you hit us. We will hit you back harder. So, I think a couple of more time we hit them back, it will certainly settle in their mind,” he said.The BJP leader added that India needed to “follow up on its policy of imposing cost” and that the “Army should revisit the security procedure in general, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Jammu: Militants attacked an army camp in Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir early morning on Tuesday, officials said. The attack reportedly started around 5.30 am with militants firing at a field regiment camp located in the garrison town of Nagrota near the headquarter’s of army’s 16 corps in the state.
Two-three suicide attackers are believed to be holed up in the area as a heavy exchange of fire is going on between the militants and security forces, however, their exact number is still not confirmed.
The ongoing firing has killed one jawan, CNN-News18 reported and injured two others, one of them being a junior commissioned officer. According to the TV news channel, the militants entered the area dressed in army clothes.
“A group of heavily armed militants, believed to be four-to-five in number, attacked the 166 field army regiment camp in Nagrota area of Jammu today (Tuesday) morning,” the police told IANS.
According to CNN-News18, the militants are currently holed up inside the officer’s mess. This is the seventh terror attack in the last seven days. “The encounter is currently in progress, however, the number of militants is still not confirmed. We will able to give more details only once the operation is over,” Defence PRO, Manish Mehta told the news channel.
The security forces have cordoned off the area and ordered to shut down all schools Nagrota tehsil as a precautionary measure. “We have ordered closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.
“We have ordered closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack”, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.
In view of the attack, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has been closed for traffic in the area, PTI said.
An alert has been sounded in Jammu city as well.
The attack came around the same time when an infiltration bid was undergoing near the Chambliyal Border Outpost in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.
With inputs from IANS
First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 10:42 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday termed as “unrealistic” the idea of a cashless economy as floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address, saying internet Connectivity in the state was unreliable. “I’d love to move to a cashless economy but given the reliability of connectivity in J&K & the absence of points of sale I fear I’d starve,” he tweeted.The National Conference (NC) working president said it was an unrealistic idea especially for the people living in remote areas of the state.”And I live in Srinagar. Imagine asking people in Gurez, Karnah, Keran & other remote areas to dispense with cash!!! Totally unrealistic idea,” he said.
Srinagar: There was less movement of people and transport across Kashmir on Friday as normal life remained affected due to the strike called by separatists.
The movement of people and transport is less on Friday compared to the other days due to apprehensions of law and order problems after Friday congregational prayers, a police official said.
He said most of the shops, fuel stations and business establishments in Srinagar – the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – were shut due to the strike, while public transport was comparatively less.
However, few of them were open in some areas in the civil lines as well as in the outskirts of the city in Srinagar, the official said.
Few vendors had put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre, he said.
Reports of less traffic and most of the shops being closed were received from other district headquarters of the Valley, he said.
Except for the past weekend, Kashmir has witnessed shutdown for the last 140 days.
The separatists, who are spearheading the agitation since killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July, have been issuing weekly protest programmes.
They have extended the strike till 1 December, announcing two full days of relaxation on the weekend like the past week.
As many as 86 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 13:55 IST
Thu, 24 Nov 2016-11:25pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Militants on Thursday night attacked a police station in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, but there was no report of any loss of life in the firing.Militants attacked a police station in Handwara area of Kupwara by resorting to firing and also lobbed a grenade, a police officer said.He said there was retaliatory firing by the police personnel, forcing the militants to flee.There was no loss of life in the firing, the official said, adding a manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers.
<!– /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.
Tue, 22 Nov 2016-01:57pm , Srinagar , PTI
Director, Airports Authority of India (AII), Srinagar Airport, Sharad Kumar said the visibility at the runway was only 800 metres leading to cancellation of all flights for Tuesday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air traffic at Srinagar Airport remained affected for the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday as no flight could operate due to poor visibility. The condition at the airport is the same.No flight operations took place on Tuesday as well as the visibility was very poor, Director, Airports Authority of India (AII), Srinagar Airport, Sharad Kumar said. Kumar said the visibility at the runway was only 800 metres leading to cancellation of all flights for the day. The visibility has not improved much.While the requirement (for landing and take-off) is 1.3 kilometre, the visibility on Tuesday was only about 800 metres. So all the flights for the day have been cancelled, he said.
ALSO READ Poor visibility leads to cancellation of flights in SrinagarIt was for the sixth consecutive day that the flight operations were affected at the airport. The flight operations were first affected in the afternoon on Thursday. The next day no flights operated from the airport. On Saturday, the air traffic resumed partially as only two flights landed at the airport which then took off. No flight operations took place at the airport on Sunday as well as on Monday.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After two days of relaxation by the Hurriyat Conference, the prolonged shutdown picked up where it left off in Kashmir Valley on Monday as schools, colleges and business establishments followed the protocol and streets resumed their deserted look. The police and CRPF have been deployed across all the district headquarters and in Srinagar city to foil the separatists protest call.The two-day respite from the shutdown by separatists came after private passenger vehicles plied on some routes in Srinagar after being severely hit by the four-month long strike. This was the first time that separatists announced full-day relaxation during the ongoing unrest which began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.The separatists had called on the people to use public transport to make up for the losses incurred during the last few months. “There will be full day relaxation on November 19 and 20. People are requested to exclusively use public transport on these days for the support of transport community,” said a statement.The Valley burst into life following the relaxation, as shops, commercial establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions opened in Srinagar and in other major towns and villages. Authorities had also removed deployments of security forces from all the areas of the Valley including in Srinagar’s downtown.The people in large numbers thronged the markets and there were traffic jams on all major city roads throughout the day.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The city along with rest of Kashmir was buzzing with activity on Saturday with offices, shops and other business establishments opening in the Valley which saw return of normalcy after 133 days of shutdown as separatists suspended their stir for the weekend. The situation has been by and large peaceful over the last few weeks in the Valley, which had been hit by clashes between violent protesters and security forces following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. The unrest had left 86 people dead and many others, including 5,000 security personnel, injured.Shops, offices, business establishments and fuel stations opened this morning for a full day for the first time since the unrest began. While some had started opening earlier defying the separatists, others did business few hours on some days of the week whenever relaxation in the strike was announced.There was massive traffic on the roads in Srinagar the summer capital- as public transport resumed fully and people came out to carry out their day to day activities. The authorities had increased the presence of traffic personnel on the roads to manage the traffic. Similar reports of people resuming their normal life were received from most of the other district headquarters of the Valley.With the start of Board exams for classes 10 and 12 this week, life in the Valley had been gradually returning to normalcy. The authorities last night restored mobile internet services on postpaid numbers due to improvement in situation. However, such facility on prepaid numbers continued to remain snapped and there is no word yet on their restoration.The separatists have been issuing weekly protest programmes. They had for the first time announced a two-day relaxation in the strike beginning today.
Fri, 18 Nov 2016-11:59pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mobile Internet services on postpaid connections were restored tonight in Kashmir four months after these services were snapped due to the unrest in the Valley.Mobile Internet services, which were snapped on July 15, have been restored on postpaid connections, an official said here. The official said the decision to restore mobile Internet services was taken following considerable improvement in security situation in the Valley. Mobile Internet services were snapped following violent protests across Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.
Srinagar: Some shops opened, while passenger vehicles plied in some areas of the city and other towns of the Kashmir Valley on Thursday, where banks witnessed heavy rush of customers.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the ongoing unrest in Kashmir on Thursday rose to 86 as an elderly man injured in security forces action against protesters two weeks ago succumbed at a hospital here.
Ghulam Mohammad Khan, 70, who was hit by a tear smoke shell fired by security forces on protesters at Anchar locality of Soura on 2 November, succumbed to injuries at a hospital this morning, a police official said.
Elsewhere in the Valley, normal life remained affected for the 132nd consecutive day due to the unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in July.
Shops, fuel stations and other business establishments were shut in Srinagar, as well as in other district headquarters of the Valley due to the strike called by the separatists, officials said.
They said while the annual board examinations were currently on, the class-work in schools, colleges and universities remained affected due to the unrest.
Most of the public transport in the Valley was also off the roads.
However, in some areas in the civil lines and the outskirts of the city here as well as in some other towns of the Valley, few passenger vehicles were seen plying, the officials said, adding few shops were also open in these areas. Some inter-district cabs, connecting the summer capital with other districts of the Valley, were also plying.
Many vendors have put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre, while banks were also open across the Valley and witnessed rush of customers.
The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation since Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces on 8 July, have announced two full days of relaxation on Saturday and Sunday in the agitation programme — the first full day relaxation since 8 July.
First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 13:24 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has accepted the resignation of Srinagar MP Tariq Hameed Karra, who put in his papers protesting against the “failure” of Parliament to make “any tangible moves” to end violence in Kashmir.Mahajan announced in the House on Thursday that she has accepted the resignation of Karra with effect from October 17.Karra, a founder member of PDP had sent his resignation letter to Speaker on September 23. He had also quit from his party.In the wake of unrest in the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, 61-year-old Karra had announced his resignation on September 16, blaming the PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir for the turmoil, saying “the seeds of deceit, disillusionment and disenchantment were sown in the minds and hearts of people the day the PDP tied an alliance with the BJP …it was an unnatural alliance.”Karra had said he was forced to take the extreme step to register his “strong protest” against the “unabated killings, grievous injuries and repression and suppression let loose” on the people of Kashmir and the “failure of Parliament”, Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government “to find a way out of this painful situation”.A one time close confidant of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Karra, who had defeated National Conference President Farooq Abdullah in 2014 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 40,000 votes, had also accused the PDP of “working on the RSS-agenda”.
Srinagar: As the rest of the country remains in a turmoil due to the demonetisation of the 500 and 1,000 rupees currency notes, people in Kashmir have accepted the move without any panic.
“No common Kashmiri keeps large amounts of cash at home because of the disturbed situation,” said Elizabeth Maryam who teaches economics in Kashmir University.
“The salaried class gets monthly wages through bank accounts and they usually space out withdrawals to suit daily needs.”
“The skilled and unskilled workers mostly earn as much as they spend on an average. Big industrialists and businessmen never keep large amounts of cash at home in a conflict area. That is the reason why the demonetisation has little impact in Kashmir,” Maryam added.
According to Nazir Qazi, an officer of the local Jammu and Kashmir Bank, all the ATMs of the bank are fully stocked. “For the last eight days there has been no rush on either our branches or at our ATM outlets.”
“Yes, people have been coming in for exchange of the demonetised currency notes or for deposit, but nobody was being hassled,” he added.
Muzaffar Ahmad, a college principal, said: “In a place where the protest shutdown has paralysed life for over four months, who would shoot up their blood pressure further over cash crunch?”
However, people have criticised official claims that the demonetisation move has reduced stone pelting or militancy in the valley.
“The Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar) has said stone pelting ended because of demonetisation. That is something nobody can accept in Kashmir,” said Zahoor Ahmad, a 55 year-old local contractor.
“Do you want us to believe that a youth is ready to be killed with a bullet or be blinded with a pellet because the separatists give him a 500 rupees note? That is absurd,” he said.
Intelligence officials, however, believe that using fake currency notes is part of the ongoing militancy and doing the same with the new currency notes would not take long.
First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 09:50 IST
Srinagar: Thousands of students on Monday appeared in the annual board examinations in unrest-hit Kashmir, where life is showing signs of limping back to normalcy.
There was a significant increase in movement of people and transport across the Valley as the annual board examinations began on Monday, officials said in Srinagar. About 484 centres have been set up for about 48,000 candidates for class 12 examination across Kashmir division.
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 are in place for the smooth conduct of the examinations. However, there were no restrictions on the movement of people anywhere in the Valley, the officials said.
Along with the heavy rush of vehicles, shops were also open in areas like civil lines and outskirts of the city as well as in few of the rural areas in other districts of Kashmir.
Inter-district cabs were also plying on different routes, the officials said. Many vendors had put up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk city centre, while banks were also open across the Valley and witnessed rush of customers.
However, many shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in other areas of the Valley were shut due to a separatist sponsored strike. The separatists have been issuing weekly protest programmes since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.
As many as 85 people, including two police men, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 15:26 IST
Srinagar: Over one lakh students are scheduled to take secondary school exams beginning in Kashmir on Monday following adequate security arrangements in the valley, education officials said.
“One lakh five hundred students are taking these exams,” Zahoor Ahmad Chatt, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (BOSE) told IANS.
“Over 45,000 students are appearing for class 12 exams beginning at 11 am at 484 centres.”
“While over 55,000 students are appearing for class 10 exams which begins in here tomorrow (Tuesday),” the chairman added.
He said 98 percent students have taken their admit cards.
Since all educational institutions including schools have remained closed since 9 July, BOSE has decided to allow a 50 percent cut in the syllabus for those students willing to take the secondary exams.
Elaborate arrangements of security have been made for the smooth conduct of these exams.
Dozens of schools have been burnt by miscreants during the last two months.
State Education Minister Naeem Akhtar has attracted a lot of criticism from the separatist leaders and also a threat from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for trying to re-open the schools.
First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 09:44 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thousands of people participated in Mehbooba Mufti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) Central Kashmir workers convention in the heart of Srinagar on Sunday marking the beginning of political activities of any pro-India party after four months of unrest.The convention was organised almost a month after Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a conglomerate of three separatist leaders overseeing the unrest, called upon people to protest outside the homes of local MLAs for three days from October 21.Defying threats, workers snubbed separatists when they turned up in thousands to join Pro-India party convention outside PDP headquarters near General Post Office in Polo view Srinagar on Sunday. What added another dimension to whole event was that the JRL had called for hartal during the day though it had asked people to resume routine after 4pm.The show was an attempt to make a symbolic statement in the wake of separatists threats and name calling of the pro-India leaders in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti skipped the convention and it was other senior leaders who pulled off the show.Burhan Wani, unrest and hartal dominated the proceedings during the convention with PDP leaders lashing out at separatists for what they call economic subjugation and degradation of ethics.”The party will not be cowed down by any nefarious designs aimed at our economic subjugation, degradation of ethics and values. Resistance against the system is attempts to annihilate the institutions of governance. Socio-economic uplift and empowerment of the people forms the very basis for any forward movement towards any political resolution,” said Muzaffar Hussain Baig, senior PDP leader and Lok Sabha MP from Baramulla constituency.Lamenting over the huge losses suffered by the younger generation and teenagers as a result of protests, Baig implored all the stake holders for an honest appraisal to fix the responsibility for the present uncertainty.”Losses to economic sector, trade and tourism are virtually irretrievable and someone will have to account for it. Misery and agony has been forced upon people due to the political short-sightedness of the detractors of this society,” he said.
Kashmir: Curfew imposed in parts of Srinagar ahead of separatists’ protest march
Srinagar: Authorities on Friday imposed curfew in parts of Srinagar to prevent a protest march called by the separatists, officials said.
“Curfew has been imposed in seven areas to maintain law and order,” the police said.
Separatists have called for the march to the Jamia Mosque in the city’s Nowhatta area.
Congregational Friday prayers have not been allowed inside the mosque.
Separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq has been kept under house arrest while Muhammad Yasin Malik was arrested and shifted to the Srinagar central jail on Thursday.
Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain under house arrest.
Meanwhile, the ongoing unrest has entered the fifth month after it started in Srinagar on 9 July.
Ninety-five people have been killed and over 12,000 injured during the ongoing violence in the valley.
No-first-use is cornerstone of India’s nuclear policy: Omar Abdullah responds to Manohar Parrikar
Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons has been the corner stone of the country’s nuclear policy which has allowed it to lay claim to being a responsible power.
“No first use has been the corner stone of our nuclear policy & allowed India to lay claim to being a responsible power after Pokhran 2,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
He was reacting to the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s remarks in New Delhi that why India cannot say “we are a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly” instead of affirming a “no first use policy”.
“Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my (personal) thinking,” Parrikar said replying to a question as he explained the need to be unpredictable in warfare strategy.
Srinagar: Normal life across Kashmir remained affected on Thursday due to the separatist sponsored strike, though summer capital Srinagar witnessed some semblance of normalcy with brisk movement of vehicles in some areas.
Some shops were also open in the areas in the civil lines and outskirts of the city as well in some rural areas in other districts of the Valley. Srinagar saw movement of private and public transport, except buses, in some areas of the city, officials said.
Schools and business establishments elsewhere remained closed due to the strike called by the separatist groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF.
The ongoing unrest in Kashmir, triggered by killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir on 8 July, has completed four months.
The officials said there were no curbs on movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, but adequate deployment of security forces has been made at some vulnerable points to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day to day activities.
The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in the Valley, have been issuing weekly protest programmes. The separatists late last night extended the strike till 17 November, with a 15-hour periodic relaxation four days.
As many as 85 people, including two police men, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the valley of death, a teenager has brought smiles back on the sullen faces. An 18 -year -old Kashmiri girl has earned a rare honour by winning the prestigious Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE award for inventing the first of its kind `Namda Rolling Machine’.A popular Kashmiri woollen rug with embroidery works—Namda— has a huge demand in and outside the Kashmir valley. Along with the carpet, Namda is also exported to different countries as these exquisite woollen rugs are used as decoration pieces as well.A class XII student of Presentation Convent School Srinagar, Zufa Iqbal was one among 30 people shortlisted out of the 55,000 applicants from 458 districts of the country. The award was presented to her by President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Monday. With the new machine on the block, Namda weaving will be less time consuming, which could help in cost effectiveness and capacity-building besides push the overall sales of this Kashmir artcraft.“There was no machine for Namda weaving. I gave this machine which will reduce time considerably. I am using the mechanism of variable tension which creates firmness. Plus in 15 minutes the embroidery and drawing will be incorporating in the same thing,” she said.“When you get ideas you do not know whether it is a hobby or an interest. I call it an interest because I like what I do. Since childhood, I was much aligned to all this stuff. And today, I have innovated this machine. I made three to four models before trying this successful one,” she shared. Daughter of a businessman dealing in exquisite Pashmina shawls, Zufa wants to be pursue either medicine or engineering. “My parents want me to become a doctor. I am also interested in becoming a doctor. But engineering is also a good option. I do not mind becoming an engineer,” she said. Since Namada rolling machine is the first of its kind, Zufa has formally filed for the patent of this innovation. “Kashmir University is my mentor. I did not apply for the award. They recommended me for IGNITE. I have filed an applictaion to get it patented,” she said.In demandA popular Kashmiri woollen rug with embroidery works—Namda— has a huge demand in and outside the Kashmir valley. Namda is exported to different countries as these exquisite woollen rugs are used as decoration pieces as well.With the new machine on the block, Namda weaving will be less time consuming, which will make it cost effective.
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”.
“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).
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 12 people were injured on Saturday in fresh clashes between protestors and security forces, following death of a 16-year-old boy due to alleged poisoning in Eidgah area of the city. Qaiser Sofi from Eidgah area of the city died at a hospital here in the morning.After his burial, some youth indulged in stone pelting on security forces, prompting use of force by the law enforcing agencies, a police official said. He said 12 people were injured out of which six have sustained pellet injuries.Sofi was reported missing on October 25 and found in an unconscious state in Shalimar area of the city six days later and hospitalised, the official said. However, local residents of the area alleged that the teen was force fed some poisonous substance by security forces.Normal life elsewhere in the valley remained affected for the 120th consecutive day due to the separatist-sponsored strike. While most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations across Kashmir were shut, some were open in few areas in Civil Lines and outskirts of the summer capital Srinagar, the official said. He said most of the public transport continued to remain off the roads but auto-rickshaws and cabs were seen plying at some places in the Valley, including in few areas of the city here.The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces on July 8. The separatists have extended the strike till November 10.While there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPC were in place throughout the Valley, the official said. He said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order as well as to instill a sense of security among the people to carry out their day-to-day activities without fear.As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
Last month, on 2 October, the Government of India banned Kashmir Reader, a four-year-old newspaper published from Srinagar. Our newspaper was accused of publishing content “that could incite violence and disturb public tranquility”.
But sometimes even journalists who avoid proximity with state’s organs, come to know about important developments in advance even if it’s by chance. A month before the ban, a colleague told us that the government was planning to shut our newspaper. The threat, however, never appeared real. Who bans newspapers in the 21st century? Newspapers were not banned even when news bulletins of the state-run Doordarshan Kendra Srinagar were read out from the Jammu station.
But post-ban engagements with the state government have revealed that the grudge against Kashmir Reader are old, the raging Kashmir unrest only hastened the decision to ban it.
What were you publishing that other newspapers not? This was the most asked question. Any attempt to answer this question runs the risk of judging other newspapers. Each media outlet is driven by its own news policy and media ecology. If we published profiles of some of the youth killed during the Kashmir unrest much before other newspapers did, does that make us liable to a gag or them complicit? No.
During the past one month, various players, at the behest of the state, have gone into a desperate huddle and initiated a dialogue with the most vocal and open advocates of Kashmir’s freedom. But when our newspaper provides space to people who engage, through ideas, with questions on the right to self-determination, powerlessness and duplicity of “elected” governments in Jammu and Kashmir, we are charged with “inciting violence”.
In an article in Greater Kashmir newspaper, a former judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently referred to the many articles and reports likening government actions in Kashmir to that of Nazi Germany. He said that such references to Nazi brutality in the “context of security forces excesses” in Jammu and Kashmir and “laments over its adverse fallout on education reminds us of a ghetto (Terezin)” run by the Nazis, north of Prague, after they occupied Czechoslovakia”. However, a newspaper in Kashmir can report about the “excesses”, alluded to by the honorable judge, only at the cost of its existence.
I can’t resist emphasising the date on which Kashmir Reader was banned — Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday — even though it would be beside the point, given the killing and blinding of children in Kashmir and an air saturated with war cries.
Mahatma once wrote in Young India, a newspaper he published:
“The editor of a daily newspaper when he begins writing his leading article does not weigh his words in golden scales. He may be betrayed into a hasty word. Must he pay for it even though he did it obviously in good faith without malice and in the public interest? These libel actions are calculated to demoralise Indian Journalism and make public criticism over-cautious and timid. I am no lover of irresponsible or unjustifiably strong criticism. But the caution to be beneficial must come from within and not superimposed from without.”
Kashmiri journalism, heroic largely, has not been demoralised but intimidated quite often. In Kashmir, therefore, developing a strong awareness of “caution” is part of the journalistic grooming. It is a gradual drawing up of a Lakshman Rekha in one’s mind. During the past month we have been asked, ad nauseam: Were you not cautious enough? It translates into “why push the limit”. Many concerned and well-meaning journalists made us feel as if we had invited the ban on ourselves. Not that they condone the gag. They only point to the futility, or stupidity, of “annoying the state”.
Besides holding more than half a dozen sit-ins and protest marches, we have been discussing what we ought to be if and when the newspaper is unbanned. Learning to be “cautious” is on the menu. We learned it the hard way that “caution” could always be imposed from outside if not learned, like it was in Mahatma Gandhi’s time. Harijan, one of the newspapers he edited, was banned for advocating non-cooperation with British Empire’s war efforts. Not much has changed since the time he put his journalism in the service of achieving Swaraj.
As editor, I feel proud when a man walked into our office a couple of days ago and offered his entire saving of Rs 10,000 “if that can help us”. At the same time I feel sad each time a reporter, itching to sit down in front of a computer to file his story, walks into the office and asks, once again, “Any development on the ban front?”
Mir Hilal is editor of the banned newspaper Kashmir Reader. Read our special interview with him on Firstpost.
Wed, 2 Nov 2016-01:47pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar is scheduled to visit Kashmir on Thursday to pay homage to the country’s first Param Vir Chakra recipient Major Somnath on his 69th death anniversary.The Defence Minister will join senior army officers and other ranks in paying tribute to Major Somnath near the Srinagar Airport in Budgam district, an army official said. He said Parikkar is likely to be briefed by army officials on the situation along the Line of Control arising due to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the wake of last month’s surgical strikes and the anti-militancy operations in the hinterland.Major Somnath was the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military honour. He was awarded the medal posthumously for his bravery in the Kashmir operations in November 1947. He laid down his life while evicting Pakistani raiders from Srinagar Airport during the war with Pakistan in 1947-48 in Kashmir. He belonged to the 4th Kumaon Regiment.
Gowhar Geelani reports on schools in Indian-administered Kashmir that have been set on fire.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Normal life remained affected in Kashmir for the 115th consecutive day on Monday due to the separatist-sponsored strike over the recent civilian killings and in support of their demand for right to ‘self determination’.Although some shops were open in few areas in the civil lines and in the outskirts of summer capital in Srinagar, most of them were shut in the rest of the city as well in other parts of Kashmir.There was some movement of private cars and auto-rickshaws in the city and other district headquarters of the Valley, but it was comparatively less as the separatists have not announced any relaxation in the strike later in the day on Monday.
ALSO READ Normal life affected in Kashmir valley for 114th dayMany street vendors, though, had set up their stalls along the TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through the Lal Chowk city centre.Even as there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere in Kashmir, the officials said restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPC were in place throughout the Valley.Security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable spots and along the main roads as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order as well as to instil a sense of security among the people to carry out their day to day activities without fear.The unrest, which began in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8 and is about to complete four months, has badly affected, business, tourism and education in Kashmir. While shops, petrol pumps and business establishments remain shut during the day and open only in the evening during the relaxation period announced by the separatists on few days of the week, educational institutions have been completely closed since the unrest began.The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in support of their demand for right to self determination, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Wani’s killing. They announce a 14-hour relaxation from 5 pm on some days of the week for people to buy essentials.As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.Thousands of youth, including some top separatist leaders, have been arrested by police over the past three months in an attempt to break the impasse. Over 300 people have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).
Mon, 31 Oct 2016-12:03am , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who was released after four-months of detention on Saturday, claimed on Sunday the ongoing agitation in Kashmir was “indigenous” and “spontaneous” and would continue till people support it. “The situation in Kashmir after the killing of (Hizbul Mujahideen commander) Burhan Wani was a spontaneous reaction. It surprised India and the world but there was nothing surprising in it,” he told reporters here.”People of Kashmir had opted for peaceful means for resolution of the Kashmir issue during similar agitation in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But the military response of the government forced the likes of Burhan Wani to take up arms,” he said. “Burhan Wani and his associates never went to Pakistan but still joined militancy after they realised that the peaceful means for resolution of the Kashmir issue was being crushed by the government,” Malik said.He claimed the burning of schools in Kashmir was a conspiracy to defame separatist leaders.
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police are skipping courts to keep the youth in prisons and instead detain them by getting the orders issued by the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) under the “draconian” public safety act (PSA) in Srinagar.
Instead of turning to courts to grant the remand of those who are allegedly involved in incidents of stone pelting and damage to public property, police have detained the youth under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978. Under the act the Deputy Commissioner grants the permission to detain a person for a period of even 2-years after a dossier of anti-national activities is submitted by the concerned Senior Superintendents of police (SSPs). After the DC approves the PSA following the execution of the warrant by the police, based on the dossier being provided by the police, the PSA board of the Home department meets to approve the period of detention. Police officials admit that the detention is carried out under the PSA to ensure that the youth “don’t get the bail” from the courts. In the last over 110 days of unrest that started after the killing of HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, police have registered at least 2,500 cases and detained over 3,000 people. Over 500 people have been detained under the PSA.
Mohammad Yusf Ganie, of Kawoosa Yarigund, Budgam, said that his 18-year old son, who had dropped out from 10th class, was among the many youth who have been detained by the police under the PSA over 2 months back. He said that his son, Adil Yusf, is currently lodged at Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu and they are not even able to inquire about his condition. “We had asked the authorities to shift him to any of the jails in Kashmir, but the request has not been heeded,” said Yusuf. He said that one Friday afternoon, Adil went out to look for his brother, before they learnt from his relatives that he has been detained at Magam police station. “He had not indulged in any incident of stone pelting and had gone out to look for his brother when he was arrested. There was firing going on outside our house and his younger brother had gone out and didn’t return home.”
Senior Superintendent of police (SSP), Kulgam, Shridhar Patil, however said that the PSA is being slapped against those youth who indulge in stone-pelting and resort to damage of public property. “The normal legal procedure is not so deterrent. Even if we book people under Unlawful activities act and provide the evidence, judiciary takes a comprehensive view. Generally bail gets granted after thorough scrutiny of preliminary inquiry,’’ Patil said. “If one person is causing law and order disturbance and by detaining of one person the property and life of many others is saved,” he added. SSP Kulgam said that even in case of incidents of stone pelting where the attempt to murder charges are also being registered the accused get bailed out. “The PSA has been lodged against people who are a threat to the public order.”
The PSA has been slapped against people not only in Kashmir region, but even to detain the youth in the Chenab Valley region of Jammu. In a recent PSA order which has been issued against one Advocate Hassan Babar of Doda, the Deputy Commissioner of Doda has noted in his order that he has been indulging in inflammatory and objectionable speeches which have the potential to “cause a serious law and order problem.” “Some of your anti-national activities are highly prejudicial to the maintenance of public peace and order,” noted the PSA order. As per the order under section 8 of Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, Hassan Babar Nehru, was detained in central jail, Kot Bhalwal.
“The section 13 of the PSA act provides for that if a person is aggrieved of the order he can approach the Home department to be heard in person by the Advisory Board after making a representation to the government under the detention order,” the order further read.
In a similar such case Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir recently intimated the agriculture department that based on the intimation received from Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara, and on the basis of recommendations submitted by the SSP Kupwara, detention under PSA was issued against one Ghulam Mohammad Mir who works as a class-IV employee of agriculture department “for his involvement in the anti-national activities.”
The PSA issued against human rights activist, Khuram Parvaiz, notes that the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Srinagar issued an order dated 19 September 2016 which said that he achieved “prominent” position in the separatist camps under a hidden cover of being a human rights activist. The dossier mentions that in the ongoing unrest Khuram was found instigating the “disgruntled” elements to resort to “illegal activities.” Noting his involvement, SSP in the dossier mentioned that Khuram joined the human rights organisation, Human Resources, and became its chairman in April 2004 and in 2005 he got associated with the newly floated Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and started working as its co-ordinator. “You (Khurram) have a secessionist ideology and inclination towards secessionism and during the present unrest have remained instrumental in instigating the disgruntled elements to resort to violence by indulging in stone pelting upon security force personnel which in turn disrupts the public order.”
Legal expert and Advocate Bhat Fayaz, who has fought many PSA cases, said that “once PSA is invoked the right of liberty gets curtailed and a person can’t be bailed out during the course of detention order and this is the purport of the act. It is in the interest of the security of the state and to maintain the public order and under the act person’s movement is being curtailed.” He added that the PSA is a measure of deterrence. Fayaz said that even if the high court quashes the PSA against the people and the order specifies that a person has to be released if he is not required in any other case “the authorities invoke other cases against him to keep him under detention.” He added that the period of detention ranges from 6 months to 2 years. “In case of riots mostly the PSA is invoked for at least 6 months,” he said.
Pakistani troops resorted to heavy shelling and firing on Indian posts and civilian areas along the LoC and international border in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts on Friday, taking the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan to over 56 post the surgical strikes.
The victims — two girls and a man — were injured due to mortar shell splinters in Lallai Chak village on Friday.
The cross-border firing on 24 October led to the death of a six-year-old boy and a BSF jawan, injuring 10 people, including eight civilians. Pakistani troops targeted over 25 border outposts in the border hamlets along International Border using small and automatic weapons as well mortar bombs in the border areas.
The troops again violated the ceasefire on 25 October where eight civilians were injured in shelling in RS Pura and Arnia sectors. On 27 October, a BSF trooper was killed and seven civilians were injured when Pakistani troops shelled over 15 Border outposts and 29 hamlets with mortar bombs and fired heavily from automatic weapons over the night in Katgus sector of Jammu which further spread to Hiranagar and Samba.
The ceasefire violations have only increased since the surgical strikes which were carried out by Indian Army on 29 September on terror launch pads in PoK, in which four persons, including three security personnel, died and over 25 were injured.
The Army has constantly been on alert, and have been advising people to stay indoors as firing continues across the Line of Control.
The indiscriminate mortar shellings in Lallai Chak, Pansar, Pahadpur, Londi villages and other places along the LoC have damaged over two dozen houses compelling more than 400 families to migrate to safer locations.
Over a dozen cattle have also perished in these villages.
The entire population of Abdullian village in RS Pura sector has also migrated after Pakistan Rangers targeted civilian and BSF facilities in the area during the last five days.
Meanwhile, curfew imposed in Srinagar
Authorities on Friday imposed curfew in parts of Srinagar in view of the separatists’ call for a march to the historic Jamia Masjid here ahead of Friday prayers.
Curfew has been imposed in Nowhatta, Khanyar, Safakadal, Rainawari and Maharaj Gunj in the old city and Batamaloo in uptown, a police official said.
As many as 85 people, including two policemen, have been killed and thousands of others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Around 5,000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act.
With inputs from agencies
Srinagar: Authorities on Friday imposed curfew in some parts of Srinagar city to prevent post-prayer protests.
The police said curfew has been imposed in old city Nowhatta area while restrictions would remain in force in other parts to maintain law and order.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat group has announced that he would defy restrictions to offer Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta.
Mirwaiz has been placed under house arrest in his uptown Nigeen residence on the outskirts of Srinagar.
For the 112th consecutive day, life across the valley remained paralysed due to the separatist called protest shutdown which is now extended till 3 November.
All educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities have remained closed.
After the authorities announced holding of exams on schedule, over a dozen schools across the were gutted.
Main markets, public transport and other businesses have also remained close during this period.
Ninety-one people have been killed and over 12,000 injured since the present unrest began here on 9 July, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed.
Photographer Abid Bhat documents the story of 14-year-old Insha Mushtaq, who lost vision in both her eyes after being hit by pellets in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Wed, 26 Oct 2016-03:16pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Legendary Kashmiri singer and Padma Shri awardee Raj Begum died on Wednesday. She was 89. Raj Begum breathed her last at her daughter”s residence in Chanapora area of the city, officials said.She is survived by two sons and a daughter. Raj Begum was awarded Padma Shri in 2002 and Sangeet Akademi award in 2013. She was also bestowed with State award by Jammu and Kashmir government in 2009. Raj Begum”s captivating voice has ruled generations of Kashmiri music lovers. Starting off as wedding singer, she gradually rose to become one of the most powerful female voices of Kashmir.
New Delhi/Srinagar: Senior BJP leader and former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha is leading a five-member team to Srinagar for talks with separatist leaders in a fresh bid to break a logjam after more than three months of deadly unrest in the Kashmir Valley.
The team includes former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, who has served in Jammu and Kashmir, ex-Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan and activist Sushobha Barve. Reports said it is an independent outreach programme and that the team is expected to meet separatists.
Sinha confirmed to IANS that he and other “people of goodwill” will try to “meet all” during their visit to the Valley that began on Tuesday. “We came here for humanity. Our motto is to share the grievances and pain (of Kashmiri people),” Sinha said.
He said they have requested many people for a meeting but didn’t divulge more details.
However, informed sources told IANS that the delegation during their three-day stay in Srinagar would meet representatives of the two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Before meeting Geelani, Sinha told PTI that they had not come as a delegation. “We are few people of goodwill who have come here on the basis of humanity. The aim is to share the pain and sufferings of the people. If we can do that, we will consider ourselves as fortunate,” he said.
Asked if the team will be meeting other separatist leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, Sinha said they are trying to meet everyone.
In response to a question about timing of the visit, the former Finance Minister said, “That is an eternal question why did you not do it before. We are doing it at a time which is quite appropriate.”
Asked if they had been invited by the separatists, Sinha said, “We do not have an invitation (from Geelani). We had requested (for a meeting) and we are going to see him.”
The delegation is also scheduled to call upon moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
Mirwaiz was released from Chesma-Shahi sub-jail late last night where he was lodged on 27 August. Geelani, Mirwaiz and JKLF chief Yasin Malik have been jointly issuing weekly protest programmes ever since the unrest started in the Valley. According to ANI
They are also expected to meet Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yaseen Malik, who has been moved from jail to a Srinagar hospital after his health deteriorated. And after two months of detention at a guest-house-turned-jail in Srinagar, the Mirwaiz is now under house arrest at his upscale Nigeen residence.
The fresh bid to break ice between separatist groups and the government comes after 108 days of unrest and shutdown that have disrupted normal life in the Kashmir Valley since the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
At least 92 persons were killed and over 12,000 injured in clashes between protesters and security forces. Police have arrested over 7,000 suspected ring leaders of stone throwers. Some have been let off. The Sinha-led delegation is also expected to meet civil society and trade groups including the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and the Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS).
They will call on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra.
One recent evening, two unsuspecting cops were sitting inside a police post guarding a minority community settlement in south Kashmir, when a group of suspected militants threw chilli powder on their faces and attempted to snatch their weapons. The irritation almost blinded them, but they fought back. The suspects, however, fled the spot.
“They wanted to take advantage of our situation and snatch our weapons. But we called our colleagues and fought back till they escaped,” one of the guards told Firstpost on Sunday. He spoke on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak with media.
This is one of the many incidents that have taken place in Kashmir, most of them being a success, with at least 100 youngsters recently going missing or are believed to have joined militant ranks after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzafar Wani on 8 July.
On Monday, the Awantpora police arrested a group of youths who were allegedly motivated by a militant commander to snatch weapons from minority security pickets or policemen and join militant ranks. When questioned, Shakir Ahmad Khan, one among the arrested youth, revealed his plan to snatch weapons and join militancy.
After years of relative calm, the Kashmir Valley saw the first attempt of weapon-snatching on 3 March, 2014, when a young man surprised a police constable on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Pampore town, 16 kilometres south of Srinagar. The suspect tried to slit the cop’s throat in broad daylight before trying to snatch his weapon.
The attacker was, however, overpowered by other policemen and taken into custody. No one in the security establishment had an inkling at that time that weapon-snatching incident in Pampore will soon become a trend among the militants and those wanting to join their ranks.
Following the killing of Wani, at least 60 weapons have been snatched either from Kashmir policemen guarding minority colonies or on-duty security personnel. Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police, Syed Javed Mujtaba Gilani, said it is a “matter of concern” that more weapons are falling in the hands of people who “may use them for militancy” purposes.
“There has been an increase in the number of weapon-snatching incidents in the last few months. We have taken adequate precautionary measures by sensitising all the personnel and strengthening all the posts guarding minority communities,” Gilani told Firstpost.
“Also, a security feature has been installed in the weapons so that the snatched weapons can be tracked and the culprits are held and dealt with as per law,” he added.
Recently, the purported successor of Wani and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant, Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Zakir Musa, in a video massage circulated on social media, asked youths to snatch weapons from government forces and become part of his militant outfit.
“Many youths have taken to jihad, have snatched weapons and joined our ranks; those who want to join us should do the same; we will always welcome them,” Zakir said in the video shot at an undisclosed location.
On 17 October, militants had stormed a TV transmission tower in Dooru of Anantnag district and snatched five rifles from policemen guarding the station.
According to officials, over two dozen such incidents have taken place since Wani’s death. Last month, unknown suspects decamped with a service rifle of a policeman posted outside district court complex in Kulgam of south Kashmir. The attackers, armed with pistols, sprayed chilli powder into the policeman’s eyes before snatching his rifle.
Last year, when the incidents of weapon-snatching went up, the Kashmir police had asked its personnel not to retain their weapons while going on leave and instead ordered them to deposit them in the post or the nearest police station.
“These days, militants don’t trust people wanting to join them. They want you to snatch a weapon so that all your option of leading a normal life are exhausted,” said a senior police officer based in south Kashmir.
According to official records, at least 28 service weapons have been snatched at eight places in south Kashmir. These attacks took place in “vulnerable” areas or on policemen guarding politicians in the valley. These include rifles such as carbines, AK-47s, INSAS, SLRs and 303. “Most of these weapons have ended up in the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen militants,” the police officer added.
Security agencies believe that of the 140 youths missing from the valley, at least 35 of them have joined militancy in south Kashmir since the unrest began.
“Our local boys, who are missing or have taken up guns or want to join militancy, I request the police to try and bring them back home. What is their future?” Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday, reflecting the growing anxiety in the state about the danger of heightened insurgency.
While the frequency with which the incidents of gun-snatching are being reported now has jolted the security establishment, the state is possibly gearing up for hard times ahead. The group of militants, led by Wani, managed to give a new impetus to the fading insurgency in Kashmir. If the trend of gun-snatching is not controlled immediately, the state may be pushed to the brink of another major crisis which may exceed, in both magnitude as well as scale, the outbursts previously reported in the state.
A lot has changed in Kashmir over the last five weeks, and even more over the past week. Somebody in power — probably the National Security Advisor — seems to be finally trying to pull its act together. As our TV screens relentlessly show, it is too late to avoid a war-like situation, but at least several defensive moves are taking shape.
Changes have occurred at various levels — most visibly in the deployment of armed forces in the Kashmir Valley.
But there’s one more significant change taking place that is less visible: Judging by straws in the wind and the grapevine, the political class appears to have been persuaded to come together.
Soon after National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah returned from a long sojourn in London, he convened a meeting of various parties, including the Congress, in the state. There are signs that some of the most powerful in the land have got him and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to work together.
Conveniently, his son Omar Abdullah has gone abroad, instead. While his father was abroad and Omar held the reins, there was much talk of the agitations being an opportunity for the NC to get back on the People’s Democratic Party for the flames its cadres had fanned in 2010, when Omar was the chief minister. In several places, NC cadre are said to have been active in July, in the weeks following militant commander Burhan Wani’s death.
One of the more unhappy trends in the first couple of months, after Wani was killed on 8 July, was that activists of most political parties fanned the protests seeking local benefits. They got no local benefit, but they did damage the national cause — arguably, the local cause too — just as a war-like situation loomed.
It appears that the decision to sack government employees and policemen who were playing both sides was implemented only after the new political cohesion was achieved.
Although the National Conference has reacted, it has chosen to target a particular minister in the state government — one who the NC older generation leadership hate so much that he was shunted to inconsequential posts; in fact a disciplinary action was taken against him when Farooq Abdullah was the chief minister in the late 1990s.
The NC could have more sharply targeted the government overall and the leadership of the BJP (also the ruling party at the Centre) instead of attacking one long-hated minister.
Indeed, the targeting of particular leaders could reflect the inner dynamics of the new political churning. While the two top leaders of the Valley’s most important parties may have been persuaded to keep the larger picture in mind, there must be factions within both parties which are deeply upset. Surely, the most unhappy leaders would be those who have personally resented the other leadership the most over the years.
In this context, it is worth nothing that the only leading politician to have raised a shindig against the sacking of government employees was the volatile Rashid Ahmed, independent MLA from Langate. That has become predictable. (Rashid had taken on beef vigilantism most strongly in 2015 by hosting an illegal beef party in the Srinagar MLAs’ hostel. He was consequently slapped by BJP MLAs in the house. Ink was thrown at him at the Press Club of India. That is the sort of low-brow tamasha that set the stage for the mass youth anger across the Valley.)
Judging by what is available on Google, most of those who were photographed prominently with Farooq Abdullah at his recent press conference, have held their peace — even those who have made a career out of speeches on workers’ rights.
The political detente that portends out of this should be strongly appreciated. At a time when war clouds loom around J&K, this is the least that can be expected of any responsible politician.
The government has finally acted strongly against the crux of the problem in Kashmir. Nine government employees were sacked summarily on Thursday. That was followed up by the suspension of several policemen in the Valley, for not resisting the loot of their weapons by militants.
Recalcitrant government employees are in fact a much bigger problem than Hurriyat Conference and other separatist leaders who have little choice but to follow orders from Rawalpindi. Government employees take salaries to uphold the constitutional system — openly so, not covertly — but, by and large, they not only abuse their authority, they actively undermine the system.
Generally, their greed, nepotism and systematic corruption, all in the name of ‘India’, alienates the rest of the people. They seem to face no moral crisis in taking Indian salaries to run a government in an Indian state. In fact, arguments in defence of duplicity from those who promote secession in word or deed can be amazing.
At times of rebellion, as over the past 15 weeks (indeed, the past three decades), Kashmiri government employees promote shutdowns. Its a win-win for them: they get their salaries (and the promise of pensions) to stay at home. Meanwhile, they and their children create an environment to ensure that daily-wagers and others dependent on working in order to eat, cannot.
On 11 July, the Monday after Burhan Wani was killed, large numbers of migrant labourers were standing at such central points of Srinagar as Rambagh bridge, waiting for contractors to give them work. But government employees from the top down did not go to work.
Their plea was insecurity, although the Indian taxpayer spends billions on their security, and several shopkeepers, who have no security at all, opened their shops that Monday. In the light of this, the threat of government employees to strike work following the sack orders is bizarre — not to say shameless.
Although it was right to act, the government deserves censure for inconsistency. Its stands — and lack of stands — have left many in the Valley confused, and many of them fuming.
Most people had a wait-and-watch attitude during those first few days after Burhan was killed, while bands of teenagers took charge of ensuring a shutdown, and a polarised media projected a two-dimensional reality that was at best partially true. Wait-and-watch means people were waiting for the government to take action, and watching out for which side would emerge with the upper hand.
For too long, the clueless government did nothing: they hoped during those crucial early weeks that things would ‘settle down’ without their having to show their hand. That gave the wrong signal to the vast number who were watchfully waiting.
At the end of August, the chief secretary even made a statement that the chief minister had been kind enough to release salaries to even those who had not worked, since she was aware that they had to celebrate Eid! That kind of statement is not only objectionable for presuming that government salaries are like a sultan’s beneficence. It also signals that playing truant from work is fine as long as the sultan is in a forgiving mood.
Swinging to the other extreme with orders to sack was a sudden jolt — not the way governance should be done. But then, it was similar to what happened with policing. After abandoning the streets and byways to stone-pelting mobs of boys in a place like Tral for too long, the police suddenly turned up with overwhelming numbers of paramilitary and army soldiers after Eid-ul Adha and rounded up hundreds of boys.
This sort of pendulum-like behaviour does not suit governments. As with all things, moderation is best.
Now that sack orders have been issued to a dozen employees, and several policemen have been suspended over the weekend, the government should stick to its stand, rather than use this order as a bargaining chip.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The situation in unrest-hit Kashmir, which continued to be curfew-free for third day on Tuesday, was by and large peaceful as security forces foiled separatists’ plans to hold protests in the city and elsewhere.Many shops and business establishments including petrol pumps were open in Sanat Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh and Bishembar Nagar, though outlets remained closed in commercial hub of Lal Chowk and adjoining areas, a police official said. “The situation across Kashmir Valley is by and large peaceful. There are no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere,” a police official said. A large number of roadside vendors set up their stalls on the TRC crossing-Batamaloo axis passing through Lal Chowk while a good number of private vehicles were plying. The movement of traffic was thin compared to yesterday apparently due to burning of two commercial taxis by unidentified youths in Parimpora area on Srinagar-Baramulla national highway yesterday. Kashmir continued to be curfew-free for third day but security forces were deployed in strength at various spots prone to protests and street violence, officials said. “Security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear,” they said.However, reports of minor clashes were reported from Rahmoo in Pulwama district of south Kashmir and Naugam in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district after some people tried to stage demonstrations in response to the separatists’ call. The separatists had asked people to “assemble and occupy” roads including in Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the city. Authorities foiled the separatists’ plan by deploying security forces in strength in and around Lal Chowk and other vulnerable areas. The shutdown has affected schools, colleges and other educational institutions which continued to remain shut in the Valley, which is struggling to return to normalcy following the violence which erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. The unrest which has left 84 people dead and several thousand injured has dealt a severe blow to the economy and the development works with major projects now in limbo. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) for the violent protests.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday the army will never “forgive” the country if it is found “sleeping” when it should be awake, in comments that come against the backdrop of the recent surgical strikes.He asserted that the army does not believe in speaking but in displaying its valour. “Our army is happiest when we sleep in peace. They have no complaint. But they will never forgive us if we sleep when we should be awake. Unfortunately, we have been found sleeping when we should have been awake.””Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We have to keep alert always. It will be injustice to the army if we sleep away when we have to be awake,” he said without elaborating.Addressing ex-servicemen and their families at the inauguration of ‘Shaurya Smarak’ (memorial to valour) here, he devoted his speech hailing the role of armed forces and their spirit of sacrifice in adverse situation. “Our army does not speak but displays its valour. When I would say this earlier, they (critics) would tear my hair out. They would say Modi is sleeping and doing nothing. Like our army which does not speak but displays its valour, our Defence Minister also does not speak…” he said with a pause as the audience broke into applause with some raising patriotic slogans.Modi said the ancestors in hundreds of years of India’s history never waged a war to capture a country. “But if it comes to fighting for values and ideals, India is never found wanting,” he said.Lauding the valour and humaneness of armed forces, he referred to their relief and rescue operations in Srinagar during the floods two years ago despite the violence they face from the stone-pelting mobs. “When massive floods hit Srinagar two years ago, the government found it difficult to deal with the situation and the country saw that our jawans were toiling to save people’s lives. “They never thought these are the same people who pelt them with stones, breaking their head and damaging eyes. The attack is sometime so severe that they even face death,” Modi said, praising armed forces’ rescue efforts in Kashmir.He also highlighted their relief work during other natural disasters and recalled their efforts in Uttarakhand, which was hit by massive floods in 2013. Recently, they rescued over 5,000 Indians and people from other countries, including Pakistan, from war-hit Yemen, he said. “Even in international peacekeeping operations, Indian forces have served for long,” he saidOn the occasion, he also asserted that his government has fulfilled all the promises it had made while rolling out OROP for ex-servicemen, saying over Rs 5,000 crore has already been distributed to them. Attacking previous Congress governments without naming, he said they made tall claims but never fulfilled them. “Some governments were so clever that they even made budgetary provisions of a meagre Rs 500 crore,” he said, citing figures for monetary benefits to retired soldiers following the OROP implementation.”We have promised to pay the money due to forces in four instalments under OROP and we are doing so,” he said, adding, “I am content that we are keeping our promises.” He also highlighted the Centre’s efforts to ramp up defence production in India and made it self-reliant in the field. “I have been working on this for the last two years and I am confident that a day will come soon when India will not only become self-reliant but also export weapons… We have a lot of talent.”Praising the armed forces for their bravery, he said they are also among the first ones across the world when judged on the yardsticks of discipline and concern for fellow human beings. Praising the ‘shaurya smarak’, he said it is like a pilgrimage site.Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called Modi ‘super manav’ (super human) who is working to make India a strong country. “The Prime Minister’s policy is we will not trouble anyone but if troubled, then we will not spare any one,” he said.Defence Parrikar Manohar Parrikar recalled there was never lack of valour in the country and cited examples of Shivaji and Maharana Pratap. “The entire world has seen the valour of our soldiers… September 29 was yet another example of the bravery of Indian soldiers,” he said, making a reference to the date of surgical strikes.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah entered into a twitter spat over the Union Cabinets decision to approve the establishment and operationalisation of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Jammu in a transit/temporary campus at Old Government College of Engineering and Technology from the academic year 2016-17. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister termed the move as ‘blatant partisan politics’. “Jammu gets the IIT & gets the IIM also. Where have all those voices that called for balanced regional development in J-K disappeared?” he tweeted.In response to the allegation, Javadekar tweeted, “Better not to politicise education @abdullah_omar. You know there will be off campus of #IIM in Kashmir Valley,Abdullah responded to the above tweet and wrote, ?You mean an “Out Campus”! Thank you for your tweets but none of them address the inherent imbalance of your decision reg IIT & IIM.”The HRD Minister further said that Omar should have helped streamline the Prime Minister’s scholarship programme which was mismanaged during 2011-2014. Omar responded tweeting, “According to you the whole country was mismanaged from 1947 to 2014 and you are too senior to me in age for me to argue with you. The HRD Minister hit back posing a series of questions to the former chief minister.”U know @abdullah_omar Centre has sanctioned Rs100cr for NIT Srinagar modernisation. U should help academic session begins sooner there. You know @abdullah_omar that Centre has granted Rs 50 cr for 7 Girls hostels in J&K of which 3 will be in the Kashmir Valley and that Tequip III has special focus on J&K, You know @abdullah_omar Centre increased super numerical quota from 2-10 for J&K students this year,? Javadekar said in a series of tweets.The project approved by the Cabinet will involve a cost of Rs. 61.90 crore in temporary campus for the initial four years from 2016 to 2020. The student strength intake for this year in the Post Graduate Diploma Programme (PGDP) in Management is 54 which will progressively go up to a cumulative student strength of 120 in the 4th year. Meanwhile, steps would also be taken up for setting up campus at Jammu and an out-campus in Kashmir region. The Detailed Project Report for the permanent campuses is under preparation and thereafter the process for setting up of the campuses would start. The Cabinet also approved formation of an IIM Jammu Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. IIM Jammu will be run and managed by the Society with a Board of Governors (BOGs) to be constituted by the government of India, which will administer the Institute and would be responsible for establishment and operationalisation of the Institute. This is a part of Prime Minister?s development package for Jammu and Kashmir. The Institute coupled with opening of IIT at Jammu, modernization of NIT Srinagar and opening of two new AIIMS institutions, one each in Kashmir region and Jammu region, would go a long way in meeting the requirement of high quality living and education in Jammu and Kashmir. At present, there are nineteen IIMs. Out of these, thirteen IIMs are located at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong, Ranchi, Raipur, Rohtak, Kashipur, Trichy, Udaipur. Another six IIMs which have been started in 2015 are located at Amritsar, Sirmaur, Nagpur, Bodhgaya, Sambalpur and Vishakhapatnam.
Srinagar: Curfew continued on Friday in interior parts of Srinagar and some other areas as a precautionary measure in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week.
Normal life remained affected in Kashmir Valley for the 98th day due to the ongoing unrest which erupted after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July.
“Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) Srinagar, Batamaloo police station and Sopore town in Baramulla district,” a police official said in Srinagar.
He said the curbs on the movement of people in these areas have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week in which a minor boy had died due to pellet injuries.
The official said while there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere else in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.
He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear.
Movement of private transport and auto-rickshaws was thin in the civil lines areas of the city including around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk where signs of normalcy where seen after the separatists had announced evening relaxation in the strike.
The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces, is in its fourth month as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed.
Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew continued in interior parts of Srinagar on Friday and some other areas as a precautionary measure in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week.Normal life remained affected in Kashmir Valley for the 98th day due to the ongoing unrest which erupted after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July. “Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) Srinagar, Batamaloo police station and Sopore town in Baramulla district,” a police official said here. He said the curbs on the movement of people in these areas have been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of violence witnessed after Friday prayers last week in which a minor boy had died due to pellet injuries. The official said while there were no curbs on the movement of people anywhere else in Kashmir, restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc were in force throughout the Valley.He said security forces have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain law and order as also to instill a sense of security among the people so that they can carry out their day to day activities without fear. Movement of private transport and auto-rickshaws was thin in the civil lines areas of the city including around the commercial hub of Lal Chowk where signs of normalcy where seen after the separatists had announced evening relaxation in the strike. The unrest, which has claimed 84 lives and left thousands of others injured in clashes between protestors and security forces, is in its fourth month as shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed. Over 300 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).
Since militant encounters have destroyed Kashmir’s lavish Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in Pampore twice during this year, one might have expected a lot of public dismay over the sudden collapse of what was presumably a vital support system for enterprise, economic stimulus and potential employment.
Fact is, there has been no public disappointment, leave alone dismay or outrage. Rather, people snicker at the mention of EDI.
So, perhaps one should ask questions about what this humungous institution had achieved. Since it ran training modules lasting a few weeks each, it ought to have significantly stimulated the state’s economy since the beginning of this decade.
So now, there should be a public probe into the extent to which the lavishly endowed Institute has promoted entrepreneurship, economic growth and employment – or whether, conversely, it was a massively visible metaphor for misdirected initiatives, sloth, unresponsiveness and mis-governance.
And please, we don’t need a committee to inquire. That could go on for years and yield nothing worthwhile. All we need are quick answers that the EDI staff can compile in a couple of days, if sufficiently pressed.
Let’s seek answers
Three categories of questions need to be asked. One category should pertain to the institute’s actual success in promoting enterprise. Second category should deal with its conceptualization. The third category could deal with its infrastructure.
Questions about its effectiveness in promoting enterprise could include: How many entrepreneurial ventures has the institute promoted? How many on paper? How many functioning? How much has each unit earned on average? What is their combined turnover? How many to they together employ?
A basic question in the second category could deal with how enterprising it was for the government to set up such huge infrastructure for this purpose in the first place. Could enterprise not be promoted, and far more widely, through an internet-based programme, a self-help kit, and a helpline?
The third category of questions should focus on infrastructure: How much public money has been spent on the institute? Why did the 60 rooms of the building each have a bathroom attached? What proportion of that investment for capital and running costs? How much on projects promoted? How much is the land on which it stands worth? How many staff were housed on campus? What is the market value of the river-facing apartments?
These questions are vital. For, at a much deeper strategic level, one could ask whether common people might have converged to protect the institution rather than to assist those battling the state from within it, if they had perceived it as a centre of economic hope rather than as a den of bureaucratic obstruction.
Several young Kashmiris who have sought to set up enterprises in recent years — some of them after returning home after a few years abroad — relate harrowing tales of bureaucratic obstruction, physical destruction and extortion.
The Centre promoted a slew of ill-advised high-spend initiatives to stimulate employment and so try and wean over Kashmiri youth after the ‘summer of stone-pelting’ in 2010. These included the ‘Udaan’ scheme to train Kashmiri youth so that they could get jobs elsewhere in India. Like the EDI, it has been a dead loss.
Meanwhile, the uprising over the past three months has clearly demonstrated the inefficacy of setting up more easy-to-squeeze institutions like EDI, and doling out more money — as if more than enough had not already been invested since the `50s. The teenagers and the boys in their pre-teens who have dominated the streets and byways of Kashmir these past three months are not focused in jobs or livelihoods.
Turning a sharp, critical spotlight on EDI now would be a good starting point for sorting out our priorities.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Heavy bombardment was done on the seven-storey Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) hostel building on Tuesday, to smoke-out the terrorists holed up in the concrete structure for more than 36 hours. One of them is believed to have been gunned down by the security forces.From rockets to rocket-propelled grenades to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the army used everything to drive out the militants. The bombardments led to deafening noise and shook nearby villages, but militants remained inside, literally using the building as a concrete bunker.The army had brought in the Special Forces of 9-Para. The unit was one of the detachments that carried out the surgical strikes on militant launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).The militants, meanwhile, remained silent the entire Monday night, spurring speculations about their fate. On Tuesday evening, however, as the bombardment intensified, they fired indiscriminately on the troops, signaling that they were still alive. The security forces immediately engaged them in a gun battle, in which one of them is believed to have been killed.”Operation is still on. We will share the details as and when we get them,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.The operation started on Monday morning, when the militants cruised through Jhelum and occupied the hostel building. Eyewitnesses said a group of two to three militants came from the rear side and broke open the window to get inside the building.”The watchman said there were two to three men. Since the main door was locked, they broke the window. Nobody knew at the time that someone has entered the building. The first thing they did was to set ablaze the roof of the building,” Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, in-charge of EDI publicity, told DNA.Seeing the smoke billowing, the watchman rushed to call the fire brigade. “As they (fire brigade) tried to enter into the building, militants opened fire. It is a seven-floor building and all have 10 rooms each, except the ground floor. There are two training halls and a cafeteria on the ground floor. CCTVs have been installed on the first three floors,” Mir said.He added, “A few days ago, we had floated tenders to establish security bunkers around the campus.” Security sources said, “It is not easy for a person to withstand such heavy bombardment. The entire area shook but the militants managed to stay on, which proves they are battle-hardened.”Meanwhile, around 10 people, including two CRPF men, were injured when unknown militants hurled a grenade on police and security force deployment at Bona Bazar area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.