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Monday, June 25, 2012

Separatists attend book fairs, inaugurations in Valley

Police organizes first ever cricket tournament in Sopore; 56 teams participating

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 24: Weeks after inaugurating a business establishment set up by a Kashmiri Pandit businessman in the heart of downtown Srinagar, Chairman of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, yesterday inaugurated a confectionery and fast food joint, Modern Sweets, at Kaksarai in the uptown Karan Nagar in Srinagar.

Mirwaiz drove all the way to Karan Nagar to cut ribbons of the newly established fast food centre at a place that remained ghost ridden for years with memory of the judge Neelkant Ganjoo's assassination by JKLF militants and paramilitary formations. Modern Sweets has come up near the house of Ganjoo who was gunned down by JKLF guerrillas for having sentenced to death the organisation’s founder leader Maqbool Bhat. Scores of grenade attacks on BSF and CRPF encampments also happened in the same locality for 20 years of the Kashmir militancy.

This change in Srinagar skyline is not altogether new. Telecommunication giant Reliance chose the same place for establishing the Valley’s first FM radio station, FM 92.7, five years back. It survived the Valley’s worst ever street turbulence, first in 2008 and later in 2010. When worse to the worst, FM 92.7 suspended Bollywood music DVDs and switched over to broadcasting religious hymns in praise of Allah and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). All the young female radio jockeys (RJs), all drawn from Srinagar, are firmly perched on their ground, close to late Ganjoo’s house , promoting Hindi movie entertainment---an heretic activity for jihadists. Not only that. None other than Anil Ambani said at a national seminar two years back that Srinagar station was his broadcasting network’s most profitable centre in terms of advertisement revenue, leaving behind all the 46 others, including those of Mumbai and New Delhi.

"Mouth watering delicious fried chicken Kentucky style for the first time in the Valley of Kashmir... Brought to you by chefs trained at multinational fast food outlets all over India... Most modern facility in a state of the art 3500 sft outlet" reads a paid advertisement in today's Greater Kashmir making it public that 'Mirwaiz Dr Umar Farooq' was going to inaugurate the sweets shop. Ironically, Mirwaiz and almost all of his separates colleagues prevented the people of Kashmir from organizing and attending such inaugurations and other events, arguing that these would be projected by India as indicators of peace and normalcy and hence 'anti-movement activity'.

Finding themselves marginalized after the US President Barack Obama's visit to India in November 2010 and massive participation of the Kashmiri voters in Assembly, Parliamentary and Panchayat elections in the last over three years, many of the separatist leaders are now seen at inaugurations and other non-political platforms. Last fortnight, a number of them including Mirwaiz, hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik attended a book exhibition organized by Government of India and inaugurated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at Sri Pratap College in Srinagar.

On the other hand, Government agencies, particularly Police and security forces, are busy in reaping the fruits of peace and normality. As Army today organized a major sports event at Pattan, Police today triggered off Sopore’s first government-sponsored cricket tournament. SP Sopore, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, told Early Times that as many as 56 of the local teams were participating in the tournament that would continue for several weeks. Interestingly, VIP guests at the inaugural ceremony were the ruling National Conference’s Minister (incharge Home, PHE, Irrigation and Revenue) Nasir Aslam Wani and local MLA, Haji Mohammad Ashraf, who for two years viewed it as a dream to make a passage through the apple town.

Police and security forces have yet again almost completely wiped out militancy in Sopore, though search is continuing for dreaded commanders like the Pakistani Fahadullah and the local militant organizer Muz Maulvi. Earlier this year, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s seniormost commander Abdullah Uni had died in an encounter with Police and Army at his hideout, close to Degree College and SP’s office in Sopore town. That gunbattle, according to residents, proved to be a turning point. 


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