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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ramzan’s last Friday marks anti-US, anti-Israel, anti-India rallies in Valley

Mirwaiz files environmental caveat in peoples’ court against road widening to Amarnath cave

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 17: On occasion of Iran-sponsored ‘Yaum-ul-Quds’ and Hurriyat-sponsored ‘Yaum-e-Kashmir’, thousands of Kashmiri Muslims today staged demonstrations against USA, Israel and India immediately after attending congregational Friday afternoon prayers at different mosques in the Valley. Over a dozen people, including Policemen and stone pelters, sustained injuries in a post-prayers clash between Police and separatists at Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar.

With a unique combinations of two calls, one from Iran asking Muslims all over the world to observe last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan as ‘Yaum-ul-Quds’ and another from Hurriyat Conference asking for observance of ‘Yaum-e-Kashmir’, people in Valley today staged demonstrations against USA and Israel for occupying the Muslims’ first Qibla (direction of prayers) and against India for “occupying” the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Reports said that clergymen organized demonstrations at different mosques on the day of Jumat-ul-Vida (last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan) after concluding the congregational afternoon prayers. Participants shouted slogans against USA, Israel and India, calling for liberation of Baitul Muqqadas from the Israeli occupation and Kashmir’s separation from India.

At Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar, a group of people staged a demonstration at the conclusion of Friday afternoon prayers. They shouted anti-USA, anti-Israel and anti-India slogans. Reports said that national flags of the three countries were also set on fire at some places. Demonstrators clashed with Police while shouting slogans and pelting stones.  Police resorted to baton charge and firing of tearsmoke canisters to disperse the crowd. Even as over 100,000 devout Muslims participated in the Valley’s largest Jumatul Vida congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid, not more than a couple of hundreds participated in the political demonstration.

Authoritative sources said that a total of 13 persons, including half-a-dozen Police personnel, sustained injuries in the ding dong clashes at Nowhatta. Festivity in the bustling pre-Eid shopping was marred by stone pelting and baton charge as scores of shopkeepers downed shutters and ran for safety.

Earlier, addressing the prayers congregation, separatist politician-cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called for liberation of the Muslims’ first Qibla from the Israeli occupation and Kashmir’s “freedom” from the Indian occupation. Significantly, in his speech Mirwaiz opposed plans of widening of road to Amarnath Cave. He said it was “strange” that some Hindu groups were seeking judicial intervention in such matters. Mirwaiz expressed concern that widening of road, under consideration of Supreme Court of India, would involve felling of thousands of conifer trees that, according to him, could badly disturb ecological balance.

Mirwaiz expressed solidarity with the Muslims in Burma (Myanmar) and observed that the world was helplessly witnessing massacre and persecution of Muslims from Burma to Assam. He complained that nothing was being done to protest Muslims from tyranny of religious and ethnic groups in the region.

Second largest congregation of the day was witnessed at Hazratbal where more than 70,000 Muslims participated in the afternoon prayers. However, there was no political demonstration at the historic shrine-cum-mosque complex that functions under the state-controlled Wakf Board. Reports said that thousands of Muslims performed prayers at their local community mosques. Only few of the mosques witnessed political demonstrations.

Contrary to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s addressing the gathering at Jamia Masjid and another separatist politician-cleric, Aga Syed Hassan at Budgam, most of the separatist leaders remained confined to their homes as Police did now allow them to move out. Head of the radical faction of Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani put up resistance and attempted to depart for Baramulla to attend prayers at Masjid-e-Baitul Mukkaram. However, Police lifted him in a Gypsy and whisked him away to Police Station Humhama. He was detained for the day.

Geelani’s old-time Jamaat-e-Islami colleague, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai made a separate attempt to reach Baramulla but Police took him into custody near Narbal and detained him for hours of the day at Police Station Tangmarg. Reports said that yet another separatist leader, Shabir Shah, was intercepted and forced to stay under “house arrest” at his home. He planned to attend a gathering in hometown Anantnag.

Earlier today, Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chairperson, Asiya Andrabi, appeared near Press Enclave in Civil Lines alongwith dozens of her female activists, all draped in black Hijab from top to bottom. The group demonstrated against carnage and persecution of Muslims in Burma and Assam. It urged the comity of Muslim nations to put their act together and protect the oppressed Muslims in the region. It also called for end to Israeli-American occupation of Quds and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian Muslims.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Bandipore ‘encounter’

ASP removed as Army angry over leakage of probe findings to media

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 12: Additional SP of Bandipore, Waseem Qadiri, has been removed and shifted back to a junior position in Special Operations Group (SOG) Srinagar as Army has taken umbrage over his alleged act of leaking findings of an investigation to media. Without holding a press conference or issuing a formal press release, some Police officials are alleged to have disclosed to a Srinagar-based newspaper that the July 24/25 ‘encounter’ in Bandipore was “fake” and officers of Rashtriya Rifles 27th Bn had actually gunned down a 22-year-old civilian and labeled him as a militant.

Even as none of the Police officials agreed to make comment, well-placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that ASP Bandipore, Waseem Qadiri, has been immediately removed from his posting and directed to report back as a Dy SP with SOG Srinagar. He will have to function under his 2001 batch-mate, Zulfikar Choudhary, who is holding the charge of SP SOG Srinagar. Earlier this year, SDPO Kothibagh Mr Zulfikar, who officiated as SP East for over a year, was appointed as head of SOG Srinagar and Dy SP Mr Qadiri as ASP Bandipore.

In the last two weeks, Qadiri had carried out a detailed investigation into the killing of a youth, namely Hilal Ahmad Dar of Aloosa village, in an alleged fake encounter by troops of RR 27 Bn. Twenty-two-year-old Dar had died in a controversial shootout in close vicinity of his residential village in Bandipore during the night intervening July 24th and 25th. While as in initial press release, Army claimed that Dar was a militant who died in an ambush and his AK-47 rifle was also recovered alongwith his body, his family members and residents staged massive demonstrations, claiming that Dar was an innocent youth (working as a security guard in a private cement factory in Khrew area of Pampore) and he had been killed in a fake encounter and labeled as a militant.

With a valley-wide shutdown on the separatist hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call, Bandipore remained shut in protest for five days. It was in the wake of this outcry that union Defence Minister, A K Antony, overruled Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Udhampur-based Northern Command’s version and ordered an inquiry into the circumstances that led to Dar’s death.

While the Army’s internal probe was underway, a Srinagar-based English daily reported on the basis of unidentified Police sources that Police had cracked the whole episode. It reported that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Police, supervised by DIG North Kashmir Rajesh Kumar, had found Army’s own local helpers involved in staging the “fake encounter”. According to the newspaper report, Police had arrested an Army helper, namely Mohammad Ramzan alias Rameez, and his associate, Nazir Ahmad, who spilled the beans during interrogation and revealed how an officer of RR 27 Bn had given an AK-47 rifle to Ramzan who handed it over to Dar and told him falsely that a group of militants was keen to meet him at a hideout.

While Dar was on way to the destination given to him by Ramzan, troops in ambush (over Ramzan’s fabricated tip off) opened fire. Dar died in the shootout and troops claimed to have recovered his AK-47 rifle. Both, Ramzan and Nazir, have been in Police custody.

Police did not officially react to the report, initially carried by one English language daily and later followed by almost all the newspapers, news agencies and television channels.

Sources told Early Times that senior Army officials objected to leakage of the Police findings and communicated their displeasure to the top level authorities in J&K Police. They insisted that the Police investigation should not have been leaked to media before Army would complete its own investigation. Sources said that Police launched an internal inquiry as to how the SIT probe findings had been leaked to media. It was during this inquiry that ASP Qadiri was held responsible for leakage to a friendly reporter.

While the new DGP, Ashok Prasad, laid an embargo on all Police officials below the rank of IGP Kashmir and warned them against sharing such details with media, ASP was removed and directed to join back as Dy SP in SOG Srinagar. Sources said that Qadiri has been relieved on Saturday.