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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Father of seven killed in Kupwara blast
Hizb ‘District Commander’ had 7 civilian killings on his head


SRINAGAR, Jan 12: A middle-aged civilian, who happened to be the father of seven children, has died in a mysterious explosion in Kupwara district. Recovery of a military helmet from the spot has led to allegations of cold murder against Army even as the deceased was known for his connections with both, security forces as well as militants. Meanwhile, one-odd militant killed in the 30-hour-long encounter in Pulwama district has turned out to be the “District Commander” of Hizbul Mujahideen, Riyaz Deedar, who had at least seven murder cases on his head in south Kashmir.

Informed sources in North Kashmir said that residents of Boninar and several other villages in Kalaroos area of Kupwara head a blast at around 2230 hours last night. Nobody dared to come out of home for the whole night due to fear of security forces and militants. In the morning today, residents of Boninar spotted the dead body of fellow villager, Mohammad Lateef Malik S/o Mohammad Hussain Malik, just 300 metres from his home. With splinter and burn injuries on his body, 52-year-old Malik seemed to have died in a grenade blast.

Police and Army rushed to the spot and recovered smithereens of tinted glasses of a vehicle, some AK-47 rounds and a military helmet. Nature of the recovery led to allegations of the ‘cold blooded murder’ against Army. Hundreds of people gathered and put up a demonstration while demanding registration of a murder case against a local camp of Army. Deputy Commissioner, Shaukat Ahmed Mir, and SSP, Uttam Chand, assured them that Police would conduct an investigation and necessary action under law would be initiated against anybody to be found involved in causing the blast and killing a civilian.

Sources said that for his alleged militant connections, different units of security forces and Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police had arrested Malik in the past. After remaining in jail for some time, he had been released. Thereafter, he maintained open contact with Army and Police. A senior official confirmed that Malik had worked as a source with security forces and helped them in conducting some counter-insurgency operations. However, this could not be confirmed from independent sources.

Family members and residents said that Malik had gone to the district headquarters of Kupwara in connection with the hearing of a case at the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate. Quoting unnamed eyewitnesses, they said that Malik had boarded a red colour Tata Sumo at around 1630 hours at Kupwara, most likely to travel back to his home. However, he did not turn up at his home till this morning when his dead body was spotted in the periphery of his village.

Sources said that father of two married daughters, four unmarried daughters and one twice married son, working at a hotel in Delhi, Malik had gone to the court of CJM Kupwara to pursue a suit of maintenance against his son. His already married son had kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman which led to registration of an FIR against him under sections 366 and 376 RPC. However, under the pressure of local population, he married the victim but later divorced her in a few months. Claiming right to sustenance, she filed against him a maintenance suit which was listed for hearing on Monday.

SSP Kupwara, Uttam Chand, told Early Times that Police had taken cognizance and subsequently registered a murder case against unidentified persons. He said that inspite of the recovery of some ammunition and a military helmet, it was a matter of investigation and there was immediately no prima facie evidence against any particular individual or agency. He said that Malik had maintained links with security forces as well as militants. Whosoever found involved, would be dealt with under law, SSP said.

Meanwhile, informed sources in South Kashmir said that the overnight gunbattle at Abhama village of Kellar in Pulwama-Shopian belt ended in the afternoon today with the death of one-odd militant who had been trapped at the residential house of one Abdul Hameed Sheikh last evening. He was identified as Riyaz Deedar. Special Operations Group (SOG) of District Police Pulwama and troops of a unit of Rashtriya Rifles 53 Bn carried out the operation and killed the militant in a 30-hour-long gunbattle without destroying the target house. Officials claimed that there was no collateral damage.

Sources said that the recoveries from the slain militant’s possession included a hit list which had names of about a dozen of females and other persons suspected to be as SOG’s and Army’s counter-insurgent sources.

SSP Pulwama, Syed Kifayat Hyder, told Early Times that Hizbul Mujahideen had appointed Riyaz Deedar as its “District Commander” after Rehman Gorsai got killed in an encounter with security forces in December 2009. Gorsai had become “District Commander” when forces had eliminated dreaded militant and a top ranking commander Saquib last year. Riyaz was known for his proximity to Hizbul Mujahideen’s South Kashmir “Divisional Commander”, Fayaz Pir.

SSP said that Riyaz Deedar was involved in a number of civilian killings. As many as seven murder cases stood registered against him with Rajpora and Kellar Police Stations. He said that the slain militant had been directly involved in the killing of Sheeraza of Kellar over a month ago besides three to four girls and a child, all gunned down in the last seven months in Pulwama-Shopian belt. According to residents, it was he who had kidnapped and killed one Mohammad Yusuf Wagay whose dead body had not been recovered till date. Even yesterday, he had snatched away mobile phones of some women in the village and threatened to eliminate them.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Omar Govt indecisive on IUST VC’s appointment
Mufti’s blue-eyed boy continuing by default since Sep 22, 2008


SRINAGAR, Jan 10: Even as the State Finance Commission Chairman, Mehmood-ur-Rehman, has completed his second post-retirement assignment in Jammu & Kashmir and his first ever report is now understood to be in the final stage, recommendations of a search committee previously headed by the former IAS officer are gathering dust in the Civil Secretariat for the last 16 months. Paradoxically, the beneficiary of Omar Abdullah government’s indecisiveness over the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) is none other than a man for whom the PDP patriarch Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was bent upon subverting the law even after his exit from the top office.

Prof Sidique Wahid’s three-year term as the first VC of IUST Awantipore had expired during Governor’s rule on 22nd September, 2008. It could have been extended by two years under the provisions of law but neither Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad nor his successor head of the government, N N Vohra, granted any extension in view of a hostile atmosphere to such proposals in the faculty as well as the student community on the campus.

Days before Prof Wahid’s date of retirement, Governor Vohra, in his capacity as head of the Government (who happens to be the Chancellor and appointing authority for VC) constituted a search committee for appointment of the new incumbent. The search committee, under the Act, comprises four members----one each nominee of Chancellor and University Grants Commission (UGC) and two more to be nominated by IUST’s Executive Council. Founder of IUST, Mufti had reportedly played a key role in Governor’s rule in one particular nomination of the University’s Executive Council, known for his intimate relationship with the PDP patriarch.

In November, 2008, search committee headed by Mr Rehman submitted to the Chancellor a panel of four candidates. Those recommended for the coveted position included former Head of PG Department of Economics and Dean Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Kashmir, Prof Nisar Ali, then Chairman of J&K State Board of School Education and Professor of Law at University of Jammu, Prof Nisar Ahmed Ganai, then Director of Computer Science at KU, Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Pir and a Professor of Jamia Millia Islamia.

Even as the search committee finalized four nominees under Section 2 (clause 1) of the Act, the fourth member recorded his recommendation in favour of his own nominee and a Mufti favourite, Sidique Wahid, whose term had expired on 22nd September 2008 and had not been granted extension by the competent authority.

According to section 2 (clause 4) of the Act “The Vice Chancellor shall hold office for a minimum of three years, extendable upto five years from the date on which he enters upon the office and shall, on expiration of his term of office, be ineligible for appointment to that office”.

Ineligible for a second term by the law governing appointment of VC for IUST, Prof Wahid has now overstayed for nearly 16 months. In Chancellor Omar Abdullah’s government, he has been waiting for his reliever since 5th January 2009. It appears that custodians of the Muslim Auqaf have no time for taking such decisions!