Total Pageviews

Friday, September 24, 2010

JKLF activist among 8 injured in Bemina shootout

Curfew continues without break on 13th day in Kashmir valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 24: Former “Srinagar District Commander” of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Shaukat Bakhshi, and three more members of his family were among eight civilian who sustained injuries when Police opened fire during a clash with residents at Gausiya Colony in Bemina outskirts of this capital city today. Even as authorities granted some relaxation in four towns, curfew continued without break on 13th consecutive day in Kashmir valley.

SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, told early Times that Dy SP Sajjad and SHO Parimpora, Inspector Ghulam Mohiuddin, were advising residents of Gausiya Colony and Firdaus Colony, Bemina, against violating curfew when some people turned violent and began pelting stones on the Police party this evening. He said that in defence, Police used the non-lethal Pump Action Gun and fired some pellets. Four women and a male, later identified as Shaukat Bakhshi, sustained “minor pellet injuries”.

The injured were evacuated and rushed to SKIMS Medical College, Bemina, where doctors referred them to SKIMS Soura.

Residents, however, insisted that a Police party entered into a heated exchange with Shaukat Bakhshi and his family members and began suddenly smashing doors and windows of a row of houses. According to them, Police allegedly abused and roughed up inmates including a number of women. They said that the angry Policemen opened fire straight on Bakhshi and his family members. Six females and two men, including Bakhshi, sustained injuries.

Informed sources said that six civilians---four women and two men---reported for treatment at SKIMS Medical College, Bemina, with multiple pellet injuries over their bodies. On examination, doctors referred them to SKIMS, Soura. JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, who reached the spot within minutes personally rushed his party colleague and other members of the Bakhshi family to SKIMS Soura.

Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Soura, Dr Syed Amin Tabish, told Early Times that two men and four women with poly-trauma (multiple injuries) were admitted to Accidents & Emergency Department of the tertiary care hospital. He described all the six as stable and said that they were ‘under treatment’. Eyewitnesses said that Bakhshi was found hit in his arm at several spots as also in his head. Sources said that Bakhshi’s sister, niece and sister-in-law were among four women who sustained pellet injuries in the Bemina shootout.

Previously involved in organizing a separatist demonstration during an international cricket match at Sonwar, Srinagar, in 1983, Bakhshi became a prominent commander of JKLF in 1989-90. He was allegedly among half-a-dozen JKLF militants who planned and executed kidnapping of then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter, Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, in December 1989.

After functioning as “Srinagar District Commander” with JKLF for several years, Bakhshi was arrested by security forces. He was later released on bail. While Bakhshi’s elder brother, Shakil Bakhshi, has been functioning as Chairman of Islamic Students League (ISL) since 1987, his younger brother, Shariq Bakhshi, was among four militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad who were killed by Army and Police in a joint operation at Peerbagh on Srinagar-Airport Road in 1998.

Meanwhile, curfew continued on 13th consecutive day without break in Srinagar and other major townships across Kashmir valley. Authorities, however, granted relaxation of two to four hours in Trehgam, Kralpora (Kupwara), Anantnag, Bijbehara, (Anantnag) and Kangan. No significant incident of violation, demonstration or stone pelting was reported from anywhere. One-odd incident was reported from Bemina outskirts in the capital city at the end of the day.

Having already amended his shutdown calendar, Chairman of so-called hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today announced yet another modification. He granted two days of relaxation on Sep 25 and 26. He had earlier called for total shutdown on both days while announcing relaxation on Sep 23 and 24. However, in an obvious attempt to break Geelani’s writ, authorities strictly enforced curfew on Sep 23 and 24. Now that Geelani has announced that there would be no shutdown on Sep 25 and 26, officials are likely to continue curfew for both days.

‘Mainstream separatism’ at its best during Assembly session

MLA calls J&K ‘disputed’, PDP for probe in all ‘killings’ by SC judge

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 23: Forget stone pelters. A fairly good number of elected Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are bracing up to raise separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s 5-point charter assiduously in the forthcoming session of Legislature. Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Geelani has laid five conditions, including declaring J&K as a disputed territory and withdrawal of troops, for his engagement in any political process.

A special session of the state legislature is being convened next week in the summer capital in the backdrop of worst ever street turbulence. For the first time, proceedings are likely to be held under curfew. The autumn session of Assembly, beginning on September 30th and scheduled to end on October 11th, has become a constitutional constraint as the gap between two sessions is supposed to be of less than six months in all circumstances. With four off days, the brief session would have just eight days of business---four reserved for government business.

Assembly Secretariat has received a total of 429 questions, including 236 starred and 193 unstarred from members of different political parties. While as 29 questions (14 starred, 15 unstarred) have been disallowed on account of various reasons, mostly technical, 400 have been listed for reply and discussion. These include 222 starred and 178 unstarred questions.

Members have also submitted 71 resolutions. As many as 49 have been admitted for discussion but 22 have been disallowed by Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, mostly on technical grounds. Members can not bring a particular resolution that has come up for discussion in the House in less than a year. They are also barred from taking up issues governed by the Central government.

Three of the 19 private members’ Bills received have been disallowed but 16 admitted for introduction and subsequent proceedings. As of now, 6 private members’ Bills and equal number of Government Bills are already pending for discussion. For the first time, Government has submitted just one fresh Bill for a session. The Bill, titled J&K Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition), if passed, would ban toilets lacking hygienic sanitary systems in the state.

One-odd private member’s Bill, seeking establishment of yet another religious University, has been pending with a select committee but is unlikely to be moved for discussion due to difference of opinion among members. Members are said to be predominantly in favour of not raising any issues that, according to them, had potential of dividing people on the basis of religion, sect, region and language.

Early Times has learned that members of the main opposition party, PDP, besides the coalition government’s allies, namely CPM State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, PDF Chairman Hakeem Mohammad Yasin and Independent MLA from Langate, Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, would be creating pandemonium on “108 killings” by Police and security forces in Kashmir in the last over three months. Most of them are preparing to rake up Geelani’s 5-point charter, excluding the primary condition of declaring the state as a “disputed territory”. However, sources close to Er Rasheed insisted that the former Peoples Conference activist woul be categorically demanding declaration of J&K as a “disputed territory”.

According to informed sources, almost all of PDP’s 21 MLAs have submitted identical resolutions seeking investigation of “all 108 killings” (by Police and armed forces) by a judge of Supreme Court of India, release of all detainees arrested in the last four months besides asking the Centre to initiate an unconditional dialogue with Kashmiri separatist leaders. Every second resolution seeks withdrawal of troops from not-disturbed areas and revocation of J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Asking Government of India to hand over all the power projects, established and controlled by NHPC in the strife-torn state, to Government of J&K is one-odd non-political resolution being moved by almost all of the PDP MLAs.

Even as the hot-seat coalition partner, National Conference is expected to vociferously plead for restoration of greater autonomy, dialogue with separatists and amendments to AFSPA, Congress party is unlikely to support any change in the Centre-State status---threatening fissures in the alliance and denying BJP luxury of “majestic isolation” in Jammu.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kashmiris sandwiched in curfew v/s hartal

Harvesting, Babri judgment, CWG may get thaw in standoff

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 22: Much-hyped visit of all-party Parliamentary delegation has failed to bring any respite in three-month-long standoff between the government authorities and separatist leadership that has sandwiched over six million Kashmiris. Seeking to neutralize separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s calendar of shutdown with a roaster of curfew, authorities in the Valley have introduced a fresh scheme of the enforcement of curfew on the days Geelani is declaring as free for human movement and ‘shopping’.

On the 11th day of continued curfew, life remained as usual paralysed as the authorities decided to contest Geelani’s writ. Hurriyat (G) Chairman had declared September 22 as free for human and traffic movement and ‘shopping’. Geelani had last week issued his umpteenth calendar of shutdown, granting the Kashmiris movement for two days---Sep 19th and 22nd---in a schedule of 12 days. Sep 19th being a holiday on account of Sunday, there was relaxation for just one working day of Sep 22. Geelani had also asked the Kashmiris to operate business from evening to morning everyday.

However, immediately after largescale mayhem and arson on Sep 11th and 13th, authorities here decided to strictly enforce curfew, particularly for the period Geelani had exempted from shutdown. Strict enforcement of nightlong curfew is a consequence of the fresh proactive policy of the government. People were particularly surprised when the authorities announced curfew for Sep 22, though there was no perceptible apprehension of trouble today. It was late in the afternoon that the authorities granted relaxation in curfew in Srinagar and several rural townships.

Even as Geelani made an impromptu modification in his 12-day-long calendar of shutdown and announced relaxation for Sep 23 and 24, officials yet again decided to enforce curfew on both days. Informed sources said that relaxation of three to four hours was likely after 1400 hours tomorrow. Several separatist groups, including Geelani’s Hurriyat and Jamaat-e-Islami, have issued statements in condemnation of the government policy to enter in a tug-of-war with the Hurriyat patriarch.

With more than 70 days of shutdown and curfew in the last 100 days, over six million Kashmiris have fallen in a fresh crisis that is refusing to die down. One hundred and five civilians have died in firing of Police, CRPF and Army on different demonstrations as well as arsonists during the same period. At least three more civilians and a Police constable have died in the mob violence. All kinds of business, most of the government offices, banks and educational institutions have remained shut. Of late, youngsters in large numbers have been fleeing to outside the Valley in search of jobs, business and studies.

Some of the private schools, with huge elite enrolment, have shifted certain classes completely to their branches in Himachal Pradesh, Utaranchal and Haryana. Even as more than 2,000 Kashmir-based lawyers have been rendered jobless due to bar on appearing in any courts until the release of High Court Bar Association President, Mian Abdul Qayoom, over a dozen of senior lawyers have started appearing in different cases in Jammu wing of J&K High Court.

During the period of continued shutdown and curfew, less than 10% customers have deposited monthly installments of their home and car loans. Business accounts have been equally affected. Thousands of weddings have been either canceled or performed with just a simple function of Nikahkhwani. Consequently, the business of the people associated with marriage event management, particularly the cooks, has also affected badly.

With the season of paddy and apple harvesting beginning this week, most of the people in rural areas would not remain available for responding to the Hurriyat programmes for about a month. This is expected to bring about some sort of thaw in the standoff for the first time since June last. As quite a large number of residents here insist that the turbulence was sustaining over media coverage, shifting of nearly entire media attention to the Babri Masjid judgment from Sep 24th, followed by Common Wealth Games, being held in New Delhi, is also likely to reduce intensity of strife in the Valley.

According to official statistics, Kashmir valley has seen 1730 days (about 5 years) of separatist-sponsored shutdown and government-enforced curfew in the last twenty-and-a-half years of armed insurgency and a secessionist movement. Economic experts believe that the strife-torn state is losing business worth Rs 50 Cr to Rs 100 Cr on each day of hartal or curfew.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Geelani’s Ram katha to Ram Vilas Paswan

APD greeted with pro-Azadi slogans at SMHS Hospital

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 21: Beleaguered Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s long, dark night did not seem to be shrinking around this autumnal equinox. But, does the separatist hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s? Perhaps not. There’s a striking similarity between the 40-year-old and the 80-year-old. Born to a Christian mom and married to a Hindu, Omar needs a Karakuli and the front-row niche at the Hazratbal congregational prayers to assert his Muslim credentials. Islamist Geelani needs Valmiki and Tulsidasa to drive home to a benevolent Hindu guest how deities of his dharma had kept sanctity of a promise.

Since mid-summer, turbulent downtown Srinagar has been out-of-bounds for grandson of the charismatic Sheikh Abdullah who created Hazratbal into a splendid architectural monument. Notwithstanding the highest level of security and a strictly enforced curfew, Omar was conspicuously absent when a troupe of Parliamentarians---BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and the unfaithful communist Sitaram Yechuri included---descended on the Valley’s most revered shrine to pay their obeisance and pray for restoration of peace in Kashmir.

Even his father, Farooq Abdullah, who was prominently present at a similar ritual at this spot on 11th July, 2000, alongwith his NDA colleagues---Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes---was nowhere in sight today. But, someone least acceptable to the Brahmins, Lok Janashakti patriarch Ram Vilas Paswan was. So was an illustrious Sushma, who taunted Pervez Musharraf with being ‘unblessed’ when the General had to wind up his Mission Agra while skipping his itinerary of a pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharief.

Paswan’s advantages in a Muslim land are galore. While Farooq and Omar stood clung to the NDA for latter’s unenviable ministerial slot after Advani’s contemptuous treatment to the NC’s political Bible of autonomy in 2000, followed by Narenda Modi’s genocide in Gujarat in 2001, then JD(U) leader and Minister in Vajpayee’s Cabinet, Paswan, quit the power in a jiffy. Previously in Deve Gowda’s Cabinet, he played a key role in getting railway track to Kashmir. Minister in Manmohan Sigh’s previous UPA government, Paswan also laid Rs 108 Crore steel plant at Lassipora in Pulwama district.

It was not without reason when Paswan broke away from his entourage---Sushma, Yechuri, Shahid Siddiqui and Guru Dasgupta---at SMHS and drove straight to Geelani’s Hyderpora residence. Finding him absent in Yechuri-led team, that called on the Hurriyat (G) Chairman yesterday, the octogenarian made it a point to call Paswan for a Kehwa, if not politics. It was late in the night that Geelani’s son, Naseem, rang up the LJS supremo and wished him to catch up with his father at a breakfast. According to family sources, Paswan had used his good offices to ensure the country’s best possible treatment to Geelani in New Delhi two years ago.

Before setting out for Hazratbal, Paswan got his exclusive trip to Geelani’s home “cleared” in a 5-minute chat with Home Minister Chidambaram.

Geelani expressed to his guest that he was “surprised” on finding him absent in the group of Parliamentarians that interacted with him last evening. He revealed that calling on the bereaved Yasin Malik family was a little more compelling the other day. Both agreed to “strengthen the personal liaison” in future, both in Srinagar and New Delhi. Paswan wished Geelani’s cooperation in restoration of peace and resolution of the Kashmir crisis, though making it clear that he was on a “purely goodwill” visit at Hyderpora and had no political agenda.

Known for religiously pursuing his goal of “Azadi Bara-e-Islam”, Geelani used the opportunity to explain to his guest how the “Indians” had always broken the promises made to the Kashmiris. He seemed to have done meticulous homework to pick up favourable references from Nehru’s speeches to argue that implementation of the 1948 UN resolutions---granting a right to state subjects to determine J&K’s accession to India or Pakistan by Plebiscite---was an obligation to be fulfilled by New Delhi. According to him, that alone was the “lasting solution”.

Geelani eloquently narrated to his Hindu guest how the deities had always kept their word. He also referred to Lord Rama’s 14-year-long vanvasa and asserted that the banishment was just his father’s fulfillment of a promise made to his spouse.

En route from Hazratbal to Hyderpora, Paswan, Yechuri, Sushma, Shaid and Gurudas, crashed into Ward No: 16 of SMHS Hospital to interact with the victims of the Police firing of last three months and their attendants. As soon as Yechuri accosted an injured student of the University of Kashmir and asked as to what went wrong, the angry young man shouted: “We want nothing short of freedom. Your Police and troops are merciless. They shot at me when I was walking to my home. They kill unarmed civilians”.

With that outburst, all 50-odd patients and their attendants raised the slogans: “Ham Kya Chahte, Azadi”, “Aadhi Roti Khayenge, Sar Nahi Jhukayenge” and Geelani’s 2010-model “Go India Go Back”. That was exactly what Omar had been greeted to at SKIMS over a month ago. Those critical of Omar’s staying away from the dead and the injured in the three-month-long turbulence stood humbled in seconds. The delegation vanished without proceeding to Bone & Joint Hospital that, reportedly, had been bedecked since yesterday for a worse demonstration.


Monday, September 20, 2010

All-party delegation meets Geelani, Mirwaiz, Yasin
‘Everybody’ invited for meeting, nobody allowed to move out of home

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 20: An all-party Parliamentary delegation, headed by Union Minister of Home P Chidambaram, today interacted with representatives of almost all mainstream political parties to find an end to over three-month-long Kashmir turbulence that has left one hundred civilians dead in the last one hundred days. Even as all the separatist political outfits and umbrellas had turned down the invitation of participation, individual members of the delegation called on three separatist leaders, namely Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, and engaged them in an informal deliberation on the Kashmir problem in the backdrop of tight security arrangements and curfew in entire Kashmir valley.

Meeting with the mainstream political leaders was merely a formality as most of them had already participated in a marathon interaction with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and representatives of almost all the regional and national parties in New Delhi last week. Decision of sending an all-party Parliamentary delegation to the strife-torn state was taken in that five-hour-long conference. Beginning a dialogue process with the separatists was perceived to be the the main objective of New Delhi’s fresh ‘Mission Kashmir’.

Separatist leaders in Srinagar initially complained that they had not received any formal invitation but turned down the invite within hours while characteristically putting conditions---including withdrawal of troops from the state, declaring J&K as a “disputed territory” and releasing of all political detainees. The delegation of 39 Members of Parliament, including a couple of former MPs, besides Ministers in the UPA government, including Chidambaram and the National Conference patriarch Dr Farooq Abdullah, held a chain of meetings with representative delegations of different mainstream political parties for the whole day at SKICC.

Later, representatives of a number of civil society groups, who included wife of a detained separatist leader, groups of students, lawyers and traders, also met the Central delegation. Deliberations happened amid tight security arrangements and strictly enforced curfew all over the Valley. Even as the Government had sent an open invitation and asserted that the delegation would meet ‘everybody’, nobody other than few protected politicians and the specially ferried mediapersons was allowed to move out of home. Police and security forces did not entertain any curfew passes. They confined holders to their respective homes with the unconventional argument that these ‘pink cards’ stood valid only for the period of relaxation in curfew. For today, separatist hardliner Geelani had asked the Kashmiris to stage a march to the UNMOGIP headquarters at Sonwar.

With a reasonably fair number of people watching developments through television, no major incident of violation of curfew was reported from anywhere in the Valley. In one-odd clash between residents and men of a camp of security forces at Bomai, in outskirts of Sopore township, troops opened fire. Official said that five persons sustained injuries who were all rushed to hospital amid pro-Azadi, pro-Islam and anti-India slogans.

The ruling NC delegation, led by Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, significantly made two thins clear in today’s meeting with the Central delegation and later while speaking to Press. According to his revelations, NC would pursue a campaign for withdrawal of AFSPA but lay key emphasis on its cardinal demand of restoration of greater autonomy. Rather made it clear that Omar Abdullah government would neither quit nor secede from its alliance with Congress even if the Centre turned down its demands.

PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, was conspicuously absent from her party’s 15-member delegation, headed by former Minister, Mohammad Dilawar Mir. Ten of the party’s 21 MLAs were in the delegation that stressed on release of all political detainees, revocation of curfew, reaching out to families of the victims of current spell of turbulence and those under treatment at different hospitals. Quoting varied reasons, Ms Mufti had been blowing hot and cold since Saturday last with regard to the suggestion of meeting with the Central delegation. She finally stood away but sent a 15-member team with her memorandum to SKICC.

As nobody from the separatist leaders turned up for an interaction with the Chidambaram-led delegation, some members of the Left parties asserted that sitting on the prestige would be senseless. In obvious disagreement with the Right wing outfits, including BJP and Shiv Sena, they decided to “individually’ call on three prominent separatist leaders---Geelani, Mirwaiz and Yasin. Late in the afternoon, a highly protected cavalcade of official vehicles dropped CPI (M) leader Seeta Ram Yachuri and four others at Geelani’s Hyderpora residence.

Highly placed authoritative sources told Early Times that modus operandi of Geelani’s first ever public interaction with the Central delegation had been worked out between officials and the separatist leader late last evening. Sources said that a similar exercise had been successfully accomplished with Mirwaiz and Yasin, who met two separate delegations of the individual members at their respective residences.

In virtual reality TV shows, the separatist leaders invariably told their visitors from New Delhi that they too were votaries of peace. Sources said that all three separatist leaders repeated their clichéd conditions, laying particular emphasis on the condition of declaring J&K as a “disputed territory”, withdrawing of military forces from entire state and releasing detainees from all jails before starting a dialogue process. Mirwaiz also insisted that a joint parliamentary delegation of India and Pakistan be constituted for holding a meaningful dialogue for the purpose of seeking a lasting resolution to over 60-year-long political crisis.

Members of the Central delegation made compassionate appeals to their hosts, beseeching them to help in restoration of peace and tranquility in the state. They held out assurances that they would prevail upon the Centre in seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem, consistent with collective aspirations of the people of the state. Contrary to the grammar of conflict resolution processes, all three deliberations at Hyderpora, Nageen and Maisuma, happened under full media glare. A number of television news channels carried these live to their viewers.

The APD included Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Mr. Dinesh Trivedi, leader in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Govind Rao Adik, leader DMK in Lok Sabha, Mr.T. R. Baaki, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Arun Jaitly, Member Parliamentary Lok Sabha, Dr. Prassna Kumar Patasani, Dr Mohan Singh, Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Narindera Kumar Kashyap, Mr. K.C. Tyagi, leader of (AIDMK) in Lok Sabha, Mr. Thambidurai, leader TDP, Mr. Nams Naqeshwara Rao, M.P Lok Sabha, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, leader Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha, Mr. Anant G. Geeta, leader CPI (M) in Lok Sabha, Mr. Vasudev Achariya, leader CPI in Lok Sabha, Mr. Gurudas Des Gupta, leader AIFB in Lok Sabha, Mr. Narahari Mehto, M.P Lok Sabha, Mr. Prashant Kumar Mazumdar, Ex. MP Lok Sabha, Mr. Sahid Sadiqqi, MP Rajya Sabha, Mr. Rajniti Prasad, leader BPF in Lok Sabha, Mr. S. K. Bwiewnuthiary, MP Rajya Sabha & President, LJSP, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan. Leader NC in Lok Sabha, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Mr. Bindu Kumar, Mr. Shetti Raju Allas Devappa (ANNS), leader MLKSC in Lok Sabha, Mr. E. Ahmad, leader JMM in Lok Sabha, Mr. Shibu Souran, leader AIMM in Lok Sabha, Mr. Asaduddin owasisil, leader Kerala Congress, Mr. Jcoo K. Manl, leader JBM in Lok Sabha, Mr. Bahulal Lal Marandi, leader VCK in Lok Sabha, Mr. Thirumanvelavan Thei, Leader Balujan, Mr. Balak Ram Sukur Jadhav, MP Lok Sabha, Mr. Joseph Toppo, MP Lok Sabha, Mr. C.M. Chang, MP Rajya Sabha, Mr. O. T. Lepcha.

The NC delegation, headed by Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, also included Ch. Mohammad Ramzan, Mian Altaf, Sakina Itoo, Dr Mehboob Baig, Saifullah Mir, NC Provincial President, Ali Mohammad Dar, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool and Dharamvir Singh Oberoi.

The PDP delegation by Mohammad Dilawar Mir, comprised the party spokesman, Nayeem Akhtar, Peerzada Mansoor, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Rafi Ahmed Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Abdul Haq Khan, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, Javed Mustafa Mir, Syed Bashir Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, Dr Mohammad Shafi and Qazi Mohammad Afzal.

The Congress deputation led by State President, JKPCC, Prof. Saif-ud-Din Soz also called on the delegation. The other members of the deputation included Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Peerzada Mohamad Sayeed, Aijaz Ahmad Khan, Ghulam Rasool Kar, Muzaffar Parray, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Bashir Ahmad Magray, Abdul Majid Paddar, Mrs Khem Lata Wakhloo, Krishan Amla and Mrs. Ambreen Baddar.

The CPI (M) delegation, led by State Secretary, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, had also in it Ghulam Nabi Malik, Mohammad Amin War, Mohammad Maqbool Ganai and Ghulam Qadir Bhat.

Bharatiya Janta Party deputation led by Sofi Mohammad Yousuf also met the deputation with three other members including Mr. Chander Parkash Ganga, Mr. Mohammad Maqbool War and Mr. Mushtaq Noorabadi. Sources said that bigger delegations of BJP and NPP would be meeting with the Central delegation in Jammu tomorrow.

Democratic Nationalist Party led by its President, Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir met the APD and presented view points. The other members included Mr. G. M. Wani, Mr. G. M. Bawan, Mr. Nazir Ahmad Wani and Mr. Muzaffar Rishi.

An Independent MLA from Langate Er. Abdul Rashid also presents his view point before the delegation.

During the afternoon session, various deputations comprising Trade, Industry, Travel, Tour, Tourism, Transport, Apple Growers Organization, Non-Government Organizations, University Students, Vice Chancellors of various Universities and across section of people representing different shades of opinion also called on the APD.

These include Federation of Commerce and Industry, Kashmir (FCIK), led by Shakeel Qalander, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), led by Mr. Nazir Ahmad Dar, Tourism Alliance and Kashmir Tourist Taxi Operators Federation Travel Agents Association of India and Kashmir Tourist Traders Federation, Kashmir Economic Alliance- a shadow group of both traders and transporters led by Mr. Siraj Ahmad.

Besides, four NGOs including JK Voluntary Health Association, Rahat Ghar, Rural Development Society, Common Cause Trust, Kashmir Society and Kashmir Centric for Social and Development Studies also met the delegation. A five member group of students from Kashmir University also interacted with the Central delegation.

Representatives of Sikh community under the umbrella of Kashmir Sikh Sangat also met the All Party Delegation.

A deputation of Teacher’s Representatives, Sikh delegation of J&K Shromani Akali Dal (Badal), delegation from Kagril and prominent citizens also met the APD and placed their view point on the subject.

The deputations of Gujjar and Bakerwal and Awami National Conference met the APD.

A passage to curfewed Srinagar

Thanks to PDP and NC, 1990 returns in 2010

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Sep 19: Sighting Barkha Dutt in the Valley had an ominous interpretation, not only for Police officials but also for ordinary Kashmiris, in yesteryears of turbulence. Whenever she arrived in, there was something newsy---a fidayeen strike, an IED blast, a massacre of resident Pandits or non-Kashmiri workmen. But, when rows of passengers in the Go Air flight 372 caught the Indian news television’s most familiar face disembark at Srinagar Airport, nobody looked surprised. For, this time round, trouble has already set in. Kashmir is four years down the day a diminutive Dutt had joined Prannoy Roy’s NDTV in 1994.

Barkha had vomited ire on my piece on introduction of ‘embedded journalism’ over a month back though I had not identified her as the New Delhi-based journalist taken to Tufail Matoo’s home by Security Wing of J&K Police with nanny care amid unprecedented curfew. Targeted by many of her ‘well wishers’ in Srinagar, she dismissed my observation as “completely false and fabricated” and believed that I had “stooped to this level of falsehood”. In my prompt reply to her email I did my best to make it clear that the insinuation was not to her visit.

“Are you still angry?” I bumped into her at the departure. “My anger lasts for 24 hours”, she quipped with her familiar smile and, as usual, complemented her affection with a characteristic hug. As Barkha began lining up her all-party delegation schedules with colleague Nazir Masoodi, Well at the terminal, I decided to take a round of the curfewed Srinagar, only to see how different a Kashmiri journalist was a month later from a co-passenger colleague from Delhi.

Exactly at the sunset, I began driving in the direction of late Matoo’s house. There was hardly any resistance from the usually calm Jawahar Nagar to the first major concertina barrier at Barbar Shah. Gun totting Police and CRPF men began waving halt from a distance. “Where are you going?”, asked a constable. “Rainawari and Lalbazar”. “Why?”, asked he tersely. On learning that I was a journalist, traveling with the newly issued ‘curfew pass’ by District Magistrate, men at the first border point relented.

Out of similar checking exercises at around 15 points from Barbarshah to Lalbazar, three gave a go-head with palpable reluctance. Others looked humane. Wending my way through an alley in Lalbazar, residents came rushing and asked to put off headlights. They advised to return in reverse gear. “Somebody has thrown a stone and CRPF are now thrashing whosoever comes their way”, said an elderly woman. There was no point to proceed.

Demeanor of the soldiers had faded out with the fast spreading darkness. After listening to men and women showing their blissful concern, there was no point to even return. “Some people have pelted stones at Nowhatta and both, Police as well as CRPF, are now furious---beating up pedestrians and motorists”, everybody uttered. There was now no option but to arrange return under Police escort. SSP Srinagar was gracious enough to call his SHO of the area to escort me out of the ‘war zone’. As advised, I drove slowly to Mirza Kamil Sahib Chowk.

One among six heavily armed CRPF soldiers signaled a halt. Without asking questions, he directed to return. “I am a journalist, going back to home with curfew pass”. “Nahee chalega (It won’t work), said he with the addition that the DM’s curfew passes were valid “only during relaxation in curfew”. He made it clear that he would not listen to anybody. Next call to SSP assured that SHO would soon contact by phone. It didn’t for next five minutes. As the last resort, I dialed CRPF PRO Prabhakar Tripathi’s number. He quickly revealed to the soldiers on duty that Ahmed Ali Fayyaz was a senior and responsible journalist and deserved to be allowed. “Sir, please proceed”, said a soldier affectionately.

Recalling bitter experiences of 1990, I began asking myself as to how many times at how many points could I repeat trouble to Tripathi. I am aware how the soldiers first act and then begin knowing why someone was driving in a curfewed area, particularly when a grenade or a stone has landed just minutes before. “No, I won’t”, I told the CRPF constable, “until SHO escorts me”. Thereupon luck worked. SHO Nazir Ahmed called and said that he was at the naka ahead of Firdaus Cinema.

On directions of SSP, SHO began piloting. Brickbats, not more in number, and the mood of each and every soldier on duty were tell-tale signs of a total freeze. CRPF nakas had no hesitation in even forcing the bullet-proof Gypsy of the SHO to halt and check every detail of the journalist he was escorting. Façade of the revered Dastgir Sahib shrine at Khanyar presented the look of a veritable war zone. The makeshift encampment formed by a fleet of CRPF Gypsies and bunkers was imposing enough to make the SHO halt. It was the locality of the hapless residents who called me in New Delhi last night, lamenting that CRPF men were shattering doors and windows randomly and thrashing the inmates, including women. “This exactly after 18 years”, they said.

Forcing me to put off all lights, the young CRPF officer exchanged greetings with SHO while trying to learn how he was passing “through our area without meeting us”. I learned, after crossing next four points that the control of state Police and civil administration has now vanished almost completely on the capital city. Phone calls from rural areas said that regular Army had taken over the control in most of the areas.

While making civilian human movement impossible after 20 years, authorities are saying through official electronic media that the all-party delegation would meet “everybody” in Kashmir.

The day began with the news of three more civilians succumbing to injuries at SKIMS and SMHS Hospital. Not all Hurriyat’s Azadi lovers. They include mainstream PDP’s zonal president in Anantnag. With Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the government outsmarting each other in asserting their writ, life on 8th consecutive day of strictly enforced curfew has become a misery in the Valley for one and all.