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Saturday, July 24, 2010

16-year-old stone pelters reject 60-year-old militant’s advice
Hizb chief’s effigies burnt in Sopore; Hurriyat (G) issues fresh shutdown calendar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 24: In continued absence of direction and leadership, young stone pelters have turned down Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-din’s advice against enforcing endless shutdowns in the economically and educationally shattered Kashmir valley. While hardline supporters of the radical separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani have issued a fresh shutdown calendar, angry youngsters in Srinagar, Pulwama and Sopore have staged demonstrations against the Pakistan-based Kashmiri “Supreme Commander” of Hizbul Mujahideen, asking him not to damage their “freedom struggle” with “unwarranted moderation and unilateral flexibility”.

Official sources told Early Times that a group of 50 to 60 youth gathered on the streets in Chhaan Khann locality of Sopore in the forenoon today. Expressing their anger against Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-din’s statement that the Kashmiris needed no more endless strikes, they resolved to continue their agitation under the banner of ‘Quit Jammu & Kashmir’. Sources said that the angry crowd bunt Hizb chief’s effigies but vanished quickly. An identical group, though thinner in size, came out on the streets in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar, burnt an effigy of the Hizb commander and shouted slogans.

The youngsters were heard yelling that the militant commander “enjoying life in Pakistan” was aware neither of the ground realities in Kashmir nor of the “peoples’ aspiration”. They too vowed to continue their agitation including enforcing shutdowns and stone pelting against Police and CRPF.

Later, a group of six masked men, believed to be in age group of 16 to 26 years, addressed a quickly organized press conference in close vicinity of Gandhi Memorial College in downtown Srinagar. They too expressed critical sentiments against the Hizbul Mujahideen chief’s “unwarranted moderation and unilateral flexibility” and declared that they would continue to enforce shutdowns “in the best interests of our freedom movement”.

This is first time that such groups appeared on the streets and for the first time in over 20 years somebody dared to burnt effigy of a senior militant commander. Speculation were in circulation for the whole day with regard to identity of these rebels as some people suspected them supporters of hardliners like Massarat Alam and Asiya Andrabi and quite a few took them as saboteurs planted by Police and intelligence agencies.

Sources said that after several days of undeclared curfew restrictions, there was no resistance to the pedestrian or vehicular traffic by Police or paramilitary forces in downtown Srinagar today. However, almost all shops and business establishments, besides banks and government offices, remained closed in downtown, as well as in Civil Lines marketplaces of Lalchowk, Maulana Azad Road, Hari Singh High Street and Residency Road, in accordance with the shutdown calendar in force since last week. Large number of shops were open in uptown localities where official and civilian traffic plied without any disruption but commercial traffic was off the road.

Reports said that some people also expressed their displeasure over the Hizbul Muhahideen chief’s statement at Kakapora, Pulwama, and asserted that shutdown should continue as it had, according to them “brought India on her kneels”.

According to reports available from rural district headquarters, shutdown was complete in half-a-dozen major towns but partial bandh was observed in most of the towns. A large number of government employees resumed their duties and shopkeepers their businesses after they read Hizbul Muhahideen chief’s statement in the morning newspapers today. Syed Salah-ud-din, in an interview to KNS yesterday, had advised the separatist leaders against calling any more endless strikes and instead forge unity.

Reports said that hundreds of people staged sit-in demonstrations in their residential localities in Baramulla in accordance with Hurriyat Geelani’s call issued last week. Reports of stone pelting and clashes came in from Kupwara, Sopore, Baramulla and few other localities. However, nobody was reported dead or injured in today’s clashes.

Meanwhile, hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, led by detained octogenarian leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, issued a fresh shutdown calendar in continuity of its “Quit Jammu & Kashmir” agitation. The outfit called upon the Kashmiris to observe total shutdown on July 26th, hold routine business on July 27th, arrange sin-in demonstrations on the streets in their neighbourhoods on July 28th and 29th, perform congregational Friday prayers in local mosques and stage demonstrations on July 30th, resume their usual business on full day on July 31st and observe yet another complete shutdown on August 1st.

The organization has also asked the Kashmiris to stop paying VAT, sales tax, electricity and water bills from July 28th. It has directed officials of PDD, PHE and Commercial Taxes Department not to collect any taxes from the people from July 28th and indicated that more departments would be included in due course of time.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Hizb chief for a brake to infinite shutdowns

‘No dialogue with Delhi until (separatist) leadership unites on a joint platform’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 23: With the Valley’s separatist leaders being in detention and the mainstream politicians proving themselves spineless before an anarchical upheaval, Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salah-ud-din has called for an end to infinite shutdowns in the economically shattered Kashmir. Operating from Pakistan as uncrowned king of the Kashmir militancy and head of the guerrilla alliance, United Jihad Council, since 1993, politician-turned-militant Salah-ud-din has, however, called upon the separatist leaders not to engage themselves in any political process with Government of India until creation of a joint platform.

Breaking the ice after three weeks of shutdown and curfew in Valley in a telephonic interview with the local news agency KNS, Syed Salah-ud-din asserted that the economically shattered Kashmiris could no more afford to continue endless strikes as they had already made invaluable sacrifices for the separatist movement. He urged the separatist leaders to bring relief to the Kashmiris by calling off endless shutdowns. “No movement can run without strategy and planning”, Hizb chief is quoted to have said.

Sixty-four-year old Hizb chief, who had contested and lost several Assembly elections before outbreak of militancy in 1989-90, has interestingly said that he had never dissociated himself with politics. “I have a masters in international politics and have been continuously involved with politics”, Salah-ud-din has said but justified the addition of gun into politics. According to him, politics sans gun had never forced formidable India to come down to earth in Jammu & Kashmir.

Significantly again, Salah-ud-din has advised the Valley’s separatist leaders against participating in any dialogue or political process with New Delhi until creation of a joint platform. He has asked them to unite and asserted that unification of the much disintegrated separatist leadership was the only answer to current spell of directionless agitation. Barring a couple of organizations, all of the Valley’s separatist political outfits and alliances have split into groups and factions, particularly after Hurriyat’s split into moderates and hardliners in 2003. According to him, certain people in Kashmir had the capability of uniting the separatists and they were all expected to play their role at this “extremely crucial stage of our freedom struggle”.

Operating from Pakistan since 1993, Salah-ud-din has also urged Islamabad not to engage in any dialogue with New Delhi at this stage and, instead, do its best to neutralize “the Indian propaganda” in the world forums.

While asserting that Kashmir was no more in need of endless strikes, Salah-ud-din has advised the separatist leaders to restrict their programme and demonstrations to limited district areas, for example Baramulla to Kupwara or Kulgam to Anantnag, so as to ensure that life was not crippled in rest of the Valley. “This is not a movement of three or four days. It’s a long drawn continuous process till a logical conclusion”, he is quoted to have argued.

“Supreme Commander” of formidable Hizbul Mujahideen since 1991 and Chairman of UJC for over ten years now, Salah-ud-din has also called upon militants to restrict their guerrilla activities to the borders and keep all areas of “mass movement” free of attacks and encounters. According to him, there was no need of guns and grenades in the hinterland as “our movement has smoothly passed on to the next generation”. He claimed that “85 percent” of the Valley’s youth and teenagers were now involved with the separatist movement and their current demonstrations and clashes with Police and armed forces were a proof to the world at large. In his interview, Hizb chief has justified stone pelting with his averment that it was the “only tool of resistance” with the unarmed Kashmiris.

“I’m sure this peoples’ revolution would open the eyes of Indian policy planners and force them to reframe their strategies”, he has said and ridiculed official claims of Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Toiba being behind the uprising. He also dismissed reports of infiltration of militants into J&K from Pakistan and asked what hundreds of the Indian troopers had been doing at their borders.

Like today, Salah-ud-din was the first person who had sought end to infinite strikes in Kashmir during Amarnath land allotment stir in 2008 with his argument that “85 percent” of the Kashmiris were those whose evening meals depend on their day’s labour.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

NC asks Govt to reverse decision of detaining separatists

Omar to continue as CM, Ministers as Ministers, Farooq as President, Nazir as Gen Secy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 22: With the Government already reversing its decisions, one by one, in reshuffle after reshuffle in Police and civil administration, ruling National Conference (NC) today asked its own government to immediately reverse its recent decision of arresting Kashmir’s separatist activists. If not botched up by the Centre, it would straightaway mean release of all separatist leaders----Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Mian Abdul Qayoom and all others---as also hundreds of people detained under allegations of stone pelting in the last one month.

NC’s top decision making Central Working Committee, with almost all of its 22 permanent members, besides over a dozen permanent invitees and special invitees, today deliberated on the current political scenario in a seven-hour-long at the party President Dr Farooq Abdullah’s residence. Dr Abdullah, who presided over the meeting, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, NC’s General Secretary Sheikh Nazir Ahmed, prominent Ministers, Abdul Rahim Rather, Ali Mohammad Sagar and Mian Altaf Ahmed, were present in the day-long session.

According to sources present in the present, most of the speakers stressed on “strengthening the party”, creating a congenial atmosphere for Government of India’s dialogue with the separatist leaders by way of releasing “all political detainees”, carrying out struggle for greater autonomy, providing relief to sufferers of current spell of turbulence besides launching a “visible and timebound employment package” for the jobless youth. They invariable expressed confidence in the leadership of party President, Dr Farooq Abdullah, General Secretary, Sheikh Nazir Ahmed, and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

In his key address, Dr Abdullah said that the party rank and file had complete confidence in the leadership of “our young and dynamic Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Sahib”. He urged all members to strengthen the party as well as the coalition government. Setting aside speculations of changes in party and the government, Dr Abdullah said that he would continue as President of the party and Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister. He referred to yesterday’s high level AICC meeting and asserted that Congress high command as well as entire UPA government had conveyed their total support to the Chief Minister.

In response to a many speakers’ demand that he should spend more of his time in Srinagar and Jammu than in New Delhi, Dr Abdullah assured the meeting that the party would soon get traction with his personal presence and supervision of all urgent matters. He said that a five-member committee would assist him in all important matters. While asserting that the number of “hooligans” was not legion, Dr Abdullah asked NC leaders to fan out in their residential areas and reach out to majority of the people. He claimed that a decisive majority of the people in Kashmir valley was still in favour of peace and development and thus supporters of NC.

Speaking at the conclusion, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that Kashmir was essentially a political problem and its solution would have to be political. He said that, according to his party, one-odd political solution was restoration of greater autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir, as it existed till August 9th, 1953. He reiterated NC’s stated position that in case there was consensus on a better solution “acceptable to all sections of population in Jammu & Kashmir and to the country”, NC would appreciate it without hesitation.

Eight resolutions were passed in the meeting---first of its kind since Omar Abdullah was sworn in as Chief Minister and head of the ruling coalition in January last year. In its key resolution, NC demanded restoration of autonomy in his chaste form as it existed from 1947 to August 1953 and called it the most viable, practicable and imaginative solution of the Kashmir problem.

In yet another significant resolution, NC urged Omar Abdullah-led coalition government to reverse its recent decision of arresting and detaining separatist leaders and activists. It stressed on immediate release of all “political detainees”. While the meeting was underway, detained separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani was, first time since he was arrested under PSA on June 20th, shifted from his specially created jail lodgment at Cheshma Shahi to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura. He was admitted in ICCU. Informed sources revealed to Early Times that under pressure from the NC leadership, Government was asking Advocate General to pave the way of Geelani’s release by putting up minimum resistance during the hearing of his petition in the High Court.

Sources said that, on insistence of a Cabinet Minister, similar relief was likely to be extended to High Court Bar Association’s detained chief, Mian Abdul Qayoom, and many other separatist leaders. Monitoring the Centre’s reaction to this initiative, NC-led coalition government is now expected to stop detaining people under allegations of stone pelting and arson. Implementation of the resolution would lead to release of all the 300-odd people arrested, detained and being detained under PSA since last month. The resolution, nevertheless, stressed on the need to deal with the “hooligans and miscreants’ firmly but offered no elaboration.

In another resolution, NC urged its government to provide relief and compensation to all individuals and traders who had suffered losses in the wake of over month-long turbulence, curfew and shutdown. It also stressed on a visible and timebound employment package for over half-a-million unemployed youth. Speakers contended that disappointment among the mainstream cadres, who had enthusiastically participated in Assembly elections of 2008 as also in Lok Sabha elections of 2009, was a major reason behind the separatists and hooligans capturing considerable political space in Srinagar and few other towns in the Valley.

Dr Abdullah later briefed media about the decisions taken in today’s meeting. When a journalist wanted to know whether any Cabinet reshuffle was on the cards, Dr Abdullah argued that selection of Ministers was the exclusive prerogative of the Chief Minister. He suggested that there was immediately to possibility of any reshuffle in the Council of Ministers or key office bearers of his party.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Delhi gets first politician to contest Geelani in Kashmir

With NC and PDP on one page of Hurriyat appeasement, Soz hits hard on stone pelters, hartal masters

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 21: With almost everybody in the ruling National Conference (NC) and the opposition PDP jostling to clinch a goodwill from the separatists, New Delhi has finally got a politician to contest hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s “politics of anarchy” in Kashmir valley. He is neither incumbent Chief Minister Omar Abdullah nor former Home Minister of India, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, but none other than the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s party chief in Jammu & Kashmir---Prof Saifuddin Soz.

After half-hearted statements against the cult of continued shutdown and anarchical agitation from a couple of mainstream politicians, Prof Soz today came to the forefront to assail the politics of chaos in unambiguous terms. While the PDP has understandably clung to its pseudo-separatist posturing and the ruling NC has become famous for Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar’s public strictures against CRPF and Army, not one in the major mainstream regional parties has asserted against the current hartal culture in Kashmir. Even the NC President and Union Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, according to well placed sources, has been under strict instructions from his party to remain tightlipped. NC and PDP, in fact, appear to be in a competition of India bashing and Hurriyat’s appeasement.

Rather than contesting hardline and extremist politics, both, NC and PDP have engaged themselves in five-times-a-day refrain of Kashmir being a “political problem”. They have been invariably holding New Delhi responsible for the current spate of turbulence with the contention that the UPA government at the Centre had snapped NDA-initiated dialogue with the Kashmiri separatists. Even Mr Soz’ s Congress, which is a partner in the ruling coalition, has remained a mute spectator to the political upheaval with its Ministers enjoying tours in Jammu, Ladakh and Delhi. Former J&K Chief Minister and now Union Minister of Health at the Centre, Ghulam Nabi Azad, known for his frontal attacks on the extremist politics and hardline icons, including Geelani, has also chosen ton remain in oblivion with regard to the situation in the Valley.

In an interview to local news agency Kashmir News Service, Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Prof Soz showed no hesitation in taking on the Valley’s hartal masters and stone pelters. Making the mainstream political camp’s first frontal attack on Hurriyat, Prof Soz said that the separatist leaders had pushed Kashmir to a quagmire of destruction. He said that the people who, according to him, had been enjoying meetings with Prime Minister in New Delhi, had been calling hartal on Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kashmir. He said that the separatist leaders, as also all others involved in the cult of stone pelting, had held hostage entire population of over six million in Kashmir.

Soz accepted that Hurriyat and other separatists had a political agenda that, according to him, needed to be resolved on a table of dialogue with Government of India. He made an appeal to the detained hardliner, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to mellow down his position and engage New Delhi in a political dialogue. He asserted that insurgency and anarchical agitation would never solve any problems.

“Those following the crowds can never become leaders. They have to assert as leaders and end this cult of directionless strikes”, Soz said of the separatist leaders. He asserted that stone pelting was “completely un-Islamic” and it had never been practiced by Muslims to achieve a goal. He said that those spearheading the mobocracy had pushed the Kashmiris to a quagmire of destruction as the masters of hartal had banned education in schools and issued threats to the children going to their schools. He said that even in Vietnam, schools had functioned without interference from freedom fighters.

Soz said it was “strange” that calling for shutdown had become everybody’s craze in the educationally and economically shattered Kashmir. He pointed out that the separatists had been calling such strikes even on the deaths happening in routine traffic accidents. Soz claimed that shopkeepers in the Valley were not in favour of any more bandh and they had downed their shutters for fear of the stone pelters. He also lashed out on the state government employees and said that these people had been enjoying sitting indoors as their salaries, sizably enhanced last year under 6th Pay Commission report, had been automatically piling up into their bank accounts without attending duties. “Government employees have developed the worst vested interest in hartal and stone pelting”, Soz said.


Monday, July 19, 2010

2 DIGs, 7 SSPs shifted in Police reshuffle

Mansoor Unto is new SSP B’mulla, Wattali DIG Anantnag

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 19: In the wake of worsening security and law and order situation in Kashmir valley, Government tonight ordered yet another reshuffle in J&K Police. Two DIGs, seven SSPs and three Dy SPs were transferred and appointed on new places of posting.

Official sources told early Times that SSP Railway, Kashmir, Mansoor Ahmed Untoo was transferred and appointed as the new SSP in Baramulla in place of Sheikh Mehmood, who has been appointed as SSP Traffic (Srinagar city). SSP Traffic Srinagar city, Javed Riyaz Bedar, was transferred as SSP Special Branch, Kashmir, in place of Ghulam Hassan Bhat, who has been attached to Police Headquarters and would be posted separately later.

SSP Anantnag, Dr Shaukat Ahmed Malik, has been transferred and appointed as SSP Railway, Kashmir, in place of Mansoor Ahmed Untoo. SP Awantipore, Bashir Ahmed Khan, has been transferred and appointed as SSP Anantnag in place of Dr Shaukat Ahmed Malik. AIG Welfare, Mohammad Sayeed Panoo, has been transferred and appointed as SP Awantipore in place of Bashir Ahmed Khan.

DIG Security, Shafquat Wattali, has been transferred and appointed as DIG South Kashmir, with his headquarters at Anantnag, in place of Autar Singh Bali who has been shifted and appointed as Director Police Telecommunications.

In a separately issued order from Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, Dy SP headquarters Baramulla, Sheikh Faisal, has been transferred and appointed as Dy SP Hqs Srinagar in place of Aziz Ahmed Khan, who has been transferred and appointed as Dy SP Headquarters Shopian. Dy SP Headquarters Shoopian, Shabir Ahmed Shah, has been transferred and appointed as Dy SP Headquarters in his hometown of Baramulla. Sources said that he has immediately refused to join in Baramulla with the argument that his posting in hometown could create security problems for his family.

SSP SB, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, according to sources was attached to Police Headquarters after he refused to join as SSP Baramulla. Consequently, SSP Railways, Mansoor Ahmed Untoo, was appointed as the new SSP in Baramulla.

Interestingly, with a couple of exceptions, most of the Police officers touched in today’s reshuffle had been appointed at their places of posting only recently.

17th casualty is a bridegroom in Baramulla
Guards near DC’s office open fire on mob; SSP, Dy SP removed

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 19: Raising death toll of the youngsters, killed since June 11th in Police and CRPF firing, to 17, Police guards near Deputy Commissioner’s office in Baramulla today opened fire on a violent mob which was protesting death of a 13-year-old boy in the township on Saturday last. One person has died and several others sustained injuries in the shootout resultant stampede. With the garrison town turning tense afresh and the district headquarters reverberating with anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans, Government has immediately removed Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and Dy SP (Headquarters) as part of its damage control exercise alongwith yet another reshuffle in J&K Police.

Jinxed Baramulla town rose to a new boiling point when dead body of 13-year-old students, Faizan Rafeeq Buhroo S/o Mohammad Rafeeq Buhroo R/o Mohalla Jalal Sahab was spotted and recovered from river Jhulem near Gurudwara Chhati Padshahi at Kakkar Hamam this evening. As already reported, class 7th student, Faizan, had drowned during the course of a clash between an unruly mob and Police at Azad Bridge in Baramulla on July 17th evening. With the residents protesting his death and alleging that the boy had been pushed into the river by a Police party headed by a Dy SP and the Police claiming that he had drowned over 200 yards away from their position, Faizan’s dead body was recovered after 48 hours of his drowning this evening. Army boats and Navy divers conducted extensive search in the river and finally fished out the body this evening.

Informed sources told Early Times that a procession of nearly 2,000 people carried the dead body all the way to DC’s office while shouting anti-India, pro-Azadi and pro-Islam slogans. As the procession halted at R&B Divisional office and restricted its expression to the demand of removing some Police officials, besides, registration of a murder case against them, DC Baramulla, Bashir Ahmed Bhat, and Special Commissioner North Kashmir, Mohammad Sayeed Khan, assured a representative delegation “urgent action” and motivated the angry demonstrators to conduct the boy’s funeral.

When part of the procession was returning to old town and it was negotiating a bridge, another mob of over 3,000 men and women was spotted heading towards DC’s office. Within minutes, over 5,000-strong crowd converged on the premises of DC’s office-cum-residence. On this point of time, one of the Police guards reportedly opened fire when angry youngsters began attacking structures. Another mob began rushing towards Minister of State for R&B Javed Ahmed Dar’s official house, apparently to set on fire SPO Kaka Mir’s quarters.

One youth, who was later identified as 25-0year-old Fayaz Ahmed Khanday S/o Ghulam Mohammad Khanday R/o Dandmoh, Kreeri, got killed and few others sustained injuries. Authoritative sources insisted that the guard opened fire when men in the crowd began attacking structures and attempted to set these on fire. Residents, however, maintained that they were simply shouting slogans to press their demand of removal of Dy SP, disengagement and arrest of SPO Kaka Mir and registration of a murder case against them.

SSP at Police Control Room Srinagar, Javed Farooqui, said that one person, namely Fayaz Ahmed Khanday, was declared as dead at District Hospital of Baramulla and another civilian, namely Ghulam Mohammad Gujri of Mohalla Jalal Sahab, was admitted to SMHS Hospital with a gunshot wound in his hip. He said that immediately there was no information of any one else having sustained gunshot wounds, even as some people had reportedly sustained injuries in the resultant stampede. Local news agency KNS reported that one civilian got killed and 25 others sustained injuries in the shootout and the stampede.

Residents said that 25-year-old Fayaz Ahmed Khanday was a resident of Dandmoh village in Kreeri belt of Baramulla district. He was working as a cook at a hotel in the town. They said that his wedding had taken place three weeks ago at his in-laws’ house in Binner village of Rafiabad where he had decided to live for life. They said that Faizan Rafeeq Buhroo’s burial took place late tonight in his locality but Khanday’ funeral was likely to be conducted tomorrow as none of his relatives from Kreeri and Rafiabad had reached Baramulla till late tonight.

With today’s death in the Police shootout, as many as 17 youth have died in different incidents of firing and teargas shelling by Police and CRPF in Kashmir valley during the current spell of turmoil since June 11th.

Late night reports said that people were shouting pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and asking residents of Baramulla to gather on the streets to register their strong protest against the two killings in the last three days. Groups of youngsters were seen burning rubber tryres on the streets at different places. Authorities were reportedly in control of the situation in Civil Lines and other peaceful neighbourhoods in the garrison town while as thick crowds of angry people had completely captured old town localities across river Jhelum.

In hectic developments, Government disengaged and arrested the main accused SPO Kaka Mir and also removed Dy SP Headquarters Sheikh Faisal from Baramulla tonight. Government also ordered transfer of newly appointed SSP Sheikh Mehmood who had been earlier hospitalized after suffering a cardiac problem. He has been appointed as SSP Traffic (Srinagar City) in place of lately appointed Javed Riyaz Bedar.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vigilance asking scribe to identify ‘billionaire Minister’
Rather, Nasir, Jora found to have visited Dubai in 2010

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 18: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is understood to have taken an extremely serious notice of a newspaper report and directed State Vigilance Commissioner to initiate necessary action against one of his senior Ministerial colleagues in case he was found involved in buying a house worth Rs 120 Crore in Dubai. Commissioner has been asked to initiate action against the newspaper and its correspondent if they declined to identify the Minister or the report was found to be baseless.

Leading Srinagar-based daily ‘Greater Kashmir’ had reported in today’s edition that a senior Minister of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet had recently purchased an 8-bed room villa in Dubai’s posh Palms Island for a whopping Rs 12o Crore. However, the newspaper has identified neither the buyer of the Rs 1.2 billion property nor three other Ministers of Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet who, according to it, were also involved in corrupt practices and had allegedly amassed substantial fortunes.

Quoting unnamed sources, GK report elaborated that the “senior Cabinet Minister” has purchased the villa “recently after hectic negotiations with the villa owners” in Dubai.

Well placed sources in the state government told Early Times that after sessions of deliberations with his Ministerial colleagues and senior bureaucrats, Chief Minister today directed State Vigilance Organisation to check the veracity of the report and initiate “necessary legal action” against the Minister, if any found involved in purchasing of Rs 120 Cr house in Dubai or else against the newspaper and its correspondent in case the report was found to be incorrect. Sources said that Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Khursheed Ahmed Ganai, conveyed Chief Minister’s directions to Vigilance Commissioner, P L Gupta, asking him to check veracity of the report within a week.

According to these sources, Vigilance Commissioner has been directed to first summon the editor and correspondent of the newspaper and ask them to identify the Minister in question and, if necessary, also the source of the report. Mr Gupta has been directed to complete the preliminary inquiry into both, veracity of the report as well as the Minister’s deal, if it is proved to have happened, within a week. It has been, according to sources, made clear to the Commissioner to initiate “legal action” against the reporter and the editor in coordination with the state Law Department if they declined to identify the Minister or if the report was found to be incorrect.

Later this evening, an official press release issued by Department of Information said: “Taking cognizance of the report titled ‘Minister buys Rs. 120 cr villa in Dubai Palms--- Mantris Busy Amassing Wealth Through Illegal Gratifications’, carried in the 18th July, 2010 issue of Greater Kashmir, the Government has asked the vigilance Commissioner to conduct a preliminary enquiry to ascertain the veracity of these allegations and submit a report.

Sources revealed that an immediate bureaucratic exercise found three of the state Ministers to have visited Dubai in the current year. While senior National Conference (NC) leader and the high profile Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, was found to have visited Dubai in the last week of June, Minister of Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora, and MoS Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani, were found to have visited the business hub in the Gulf earlier this year.

During his visit on June 28th, Mr Rather was awarded Life Time Achievement – Achievers Excellence Award by the NRI Institute, Dubai for his outstanding contribution in the fields of economy, politics and social service.

The award was conferred on Mr Rather at the 5th Annual Global NRI Summit by sitting MP and former Minister Oscar Fernendes. Consul General of India in Dubai Sanjay Verma, Chairman, NRI Institute, Dr SK Pachauri and Secretary General, Jagmohan Singh were among the prominent people who attended the function.

The Event was managed by BIB MEDIA PVT LTD which claims to have 26 offices in 21 countries across the globe “ceaselessly working towards achieving socio-economic and political emancipation of NRI’s”.

“The Institute has been forging ties with the Indian Diaspora the world over vis-à-vis the Indian real estate industry for decades. The organization has been hosting global seminars and award ceremonies since 1985”, said a press release of J&K Government on June 29th. Lifetime Achievement Awards were also bestowed upon Dubai-based businessmen Dr Ram Buxani and Ram K Tulani”.

While Mr Rather was not reachable, his family members claimed to Early Times that neither the Minister nor any of his relatives had even a single room anywhere outside J&K.

16th casualty is a 13-year-old in Baramulla
‘Separatist forces’ enforce shutdown with heavy stone pelting on civilian traffic

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 17: On the month’s first normal day in Kashmir valley, unruly groups of youth enforced shutdown in the afternoon while damaging hundreds of civilian vehicles in heavy stone pelting on traffic and business establishments in major townships. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old boy drowned in river Jhelum during the course of a fierce clash between stone pelting groups and Police in Baramulla, raising the number of youngsters killed since June 11th in Kashmir valley to 16.

Residents of Jalal Sahib Mohalla in old town of Baramulla complained to Early Times that two young boys jumped into the river Jhelum when Police and CRPF were chasing the youngsters during a clash across Azad Bridge at the district headquarters. According to them, one of the boys came out of the waters successfully but 13-year-old Faizan Ahmed Buhroo S/o Mohammad Rafeeq Buhroo was believed dead. However, residents and professional divers failed to recover him dead or alive. Residents said that in retaliation to stone pelting from the unruly mobs enforcing shutdown in the afternoon, Police and CRPF used baton charge and also fired dozens of teargas shells. They held Police and CRPF responsible for the boy’s death and asserted that both the boys could have been arrested comfortably.

SSP Baramulla, Sheikh Mehmood, said that according to the preliminary reports available with him, two young boys chose to hide themselves behind a truck laden with flour across the bridge. He said that during the course of clash and teargas shelling, the duo jumped into the river over 200 yards away from the Police and CRPF position. He said that one of the boys was believed to have drowned to death but no dead body had been spotted or fished out till late tonight. He refused to accept that Police or CRPF were responsible for the boy’s death. “They neither chased the boys to the extent of forcing them to jump into the river nor fired any ammunition on them. Police have taken cognizance and begun an investigation”, SSP Baramulla said and asserted that a detailed investigation would reveal the facts.

Faizan is the 16th civilian to have died in different incidents of violence and clashes between the people and security forces since June 11th in Kashmir. All the sixteen are youngsters.

Earlier today, Kashmir valley witnessed first normal day of the month after two weeks of continued shutdown, enforced by ‘separatist forces’, and curfew, enforced by security forces. In the backdrop of unprecedented sales, including distress buying of fuel on all petrol pumps, markets witnessed hustle and bustle. Reports of unending traffic jams came in from almost all parts of this capital city besides rural district headquarters and major townships across the Valley.
With Saturday being a half day of transactions at the banks, thousands of subscribers thronged over 200 ATMs of different banks in Srinagar and other parts of the valley to withdraw sizeable amounts of money in view of Hurriyat Geelani’s fresh calendar of weeklong hartal. There was panic and chaos at petrol pumps and ATMs. Sources said that over Rs 100 Crore were withdrawn as the bank officials kept refilling the cash machines every hour.

Subscribers shuttling from one neighbourhood to another, complained that most of the ATMs were empty in the afternoon and a large number of them were not functioning.

Hurriyat (Geelani) had relaxed its shutdown programme---part of its “Quit Jammu and Kashmir” campaign---and allowed people to perform shopping by 1400 hours today. However, none of the shops or business established closed down at the given deadline. Suddenly youngsters surfaced at streets at different places in Srinagar and many other towns and resorted to heavy stone pelting on business establishments and the civilian vehicles found in movement. No official figures were available tonight but over 200 vehicles and shops were estimated to have been damaged. “Yesterday security forces were enforcing curfew by force. Today it is the separatist forces who are enforcing shutdown without regard to human rights”, many in the capital city complained.

Hurriyat Geelani is enforcing continued shutdown for another seven days from tomorrow.