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Saturday, June 20, 2015

'Battle of ideas' fought with baton and curfew in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, June 19: Government on Friday foiled the separatists' mass march to Sopore with enforcement of undeclared curfew in half of the capital city even as all the separatist leaders remained in detention and violent clashes took place at a couple of places.

Officially called as "restrictions to movement", undeclared curfew was enforced in areas under seven Police Stations in downtown Srinagar, denying the people even access to the community mosques for performing congregational prayers on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramazan. Consequently the afternoon prayers could not be held at historic Jamia Masjid, the politico-religious seat of the Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

Mirwaiz, as also the head of Hurriyat's hardline faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani and some other prominent separatist leaders, were placed under house arrest. JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Shah, besides Nayeem Khan and Hilal War had been already picked up and detained at different Police Stations to prevent them from organising the protest march.

The separatists had called "Sopore Chalo" to protest a chain of civilian killings by unidentified gunmen in the last three weeks. Geelani and others have held "Government's secret agencies" responsible even as a new group under the banner of "Lashkar-e-Islam" has owned up its drive against the defaulters of its diktat seeking closedown of mobile telephony in Sopore. All the six civilians have been shot dead in Sopore. Two of them were activists of Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and two more associated with the mobile telephony operations.

Situation was reportedly tense but under control in the potential flash points of downtown Srinagar and Sopore where police and paramilitary forces in large numbers patrolled streets and enforced prohibitory orders under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code.

Nevertheless, unruly groups of the youngsters subjected Police and CRPF to intense stone pelting at Nowhatta, Khwaja Bazar and Zainakoot. A CRPF spokesman said that an ASI was severely injured at Zainakoot while as the vehicles and equipment suffered damage in Nowhatta area.

At Hyderpora, Geelani alongwith his associates was taken into custody and detained at a police station after he attempted to come out of his residence and form a demonstration.

Most of the separatist organisations condemned enforcement of undeclared curfew and prohibitory orders on the very first day of the holy month of Ramazan in their separate statements.


Separatists detained, Srinagar under virtual curfew to foil 'Sopore Chalo'

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, June 18: In an unenviable scenario for it, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government has put half of the summer capital under undeclared curfew on the very first day and the first Friday of the holy month of Ramzan even as all the prominent separatist leaders have been put under detention to foil their programme of a mass march to Sopore.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Farooq Ahmad Lone told State Times that "restrictions to movement" have been imposed in areas falling under the jurisdiction of six Police Stations in downtown and Maisuma. He said that the prohibitory orders would be relaxed in the afternoon so as to facilitate passage of the Muslims for performing congregational prayers at different mosques.

Dr Lone confirmed reports that almost all the prominent separatist leaders had been put under detention either at their respective residences or in different Police Stations. He said that the prohibitory orders and detention of the separatist leaders had become necessary in order to foil their programme of a mass march to Sopore. Both factions of Hurriyat Conference, besides Yasin Malik's JKLF and Shabir Shah's Democratic Freedom Party have suported the call which came in the wake of six civilian killings, one after another, in the last three weeks in Sopore.

Separatists, remarkably the hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, have alleged that the assassins were affiliated to the "Indian secret agencies" even as a nondescript group "Lashkar-e-Islam" has owned up the bloody campaign against those who defied its diktat of the total closedown of mobile telephony. Government has held "a breakaway group of Hizbul Mujahideen" responsible and announced cash reward of Rs 20 lakh for the arrest of the two prominent Hizbul Mujahideen militants Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, both residents of Sopore.

Meanwhile according to a local news agency, a formidable militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed on Thursday that it had identified the killers of the six civilians. It alleged that the killers were operating on behalf of the Indian agencies and threatened that they would soon "feel the heat".

Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman of the moderate faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Aga Syed Hassan and over a dozen others have been placed under "house arrest". Those picked up and detained in Police Stations at different places include JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, DFP chief Shabir Shah, National Front head Nayeem Khan, Mirwaiz Umar’s aide Shahidul Islam and others.

Reports from North Kashmir said that restrictions were also imposed in the apple town of Sopore even as no such order had been imposed in Baramulla.


Kashmir shuts over Sopore bloodshed

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Jun 17: With some of the separatist leaders spending their day under “house arrest” and the Police and security forces intensifying frisking and search operations, Kashmir valley on Wednesday observed a shutdown against continued bloodshed in Sopore.

The call for a Valley-wide bandh had been issued jointly by the two factions of the separatist conglomerate headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, respectively. JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Chairman of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Shabir Ahmad Shah had also supported the call separately.

Six civilian killings in Sopore in less than a month have united the separatists who have started blaming the “Indian secret agencies” for the assassinations. Initially Geelani and others remained tight-lipped and mute spectators to the killing of the two civilians associated with mobile telephony. However, they called for the strike on Wednesday and a masse march to Sopore on Friday following the killing of four more persons who included two activists of Geelani’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

The authorities placed some of the separatist leaders, like Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, under “house arrest” as a precautionary measure. Following minor clashes between Police/CRPF and the unruly groups in Sopore and downtown Srinagar, Police pulled down the Pakistani national flags outside Jamia Masjid and intensified patrolling.

Reports said that the situation was tense but under control. Thin groups of youths lobbed stones on Police and security forces at a few spots in Sopore and Srinagar downtown. They dispersed after retaliation from Police.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Police identifies two Hizb militants as ‘killers’ in Sopore; reward of Rs 20 lakh for their arrest
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Jun 16: In a significant development, Police on Tuesday identified two top militants of Hizbul Mujahideen as the ‘killers’ of six civilians in a chain of terror attacks in Sopore. It announced cash reward of Rs 20 lakh for their arrest even as a Police officer’s Personal Security Officer was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the Police Station in Bijbehara township of South Kashmir.
At several places in the much terrorised township of Sopore, Police pasted posters carrying sketches of the top wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militants Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, holding them responsible for the back-to-back killing of six civilians in less than a month. It announced cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for each militant’s arrest. Facing flak for a series of terror attacks that left six people dead in the last around three weeks in Sopore, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government finally announced the sizable cash reward for anybody who would help the Police in arresting the duo.
Hours after the posters came up in Sopore, suspected guerrillas fired a rifle grenade in Muslim Peer locality late on Tuesday night. Preliminary reports said that it did not cause any damage. IGP Kashmir Javaid Mujtaba Gillani told State Times that the residents of Muslim Peer heard an explosion late on Tuesday night. A Police party rushed to the spot for an inspection of the site.
IGP said that an unidentified person fired pistol shots on Constable Arif Ahmad, the PSO of SHO Bijbehara, outside Police Station Bijbehara, killing him on the spot. “Yes, a Constable has died in the attack and we are just ascertaining the facts”, IGP said.
The cash reward posters appeared in Sopore ahead of a shutdown called by both factions of the Hurriyat Conference, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and Shabir Ahmad Shah of Democratic Freedom Party. The separatists have held the government agencies responsible for the killing of the six civilians and called for a Valley-wide protest shutdown on Wednesday, to be followed up by a mass march from Srinagar to Sopore on Friday.
In reaction to the Police announcement, Pakistan-based militant amalgam United Jihad Council rejected the government’s allegation against the two Hizb militants. Its spokesman Sadaqat Hussain said in a statement that the militant conglomerate would carry out its independent investigation as, according to him, Police carried no credibility. According to him, successors of Kukka Parray were still existing in J&K Police. He asserted that UJC would identify the killers of the six civilians and give him suitable punishment.
In a related development, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba supported the Kashmiri separatists’ call for shutdown on Wednesday and a march to Sopore on Friday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Separatists unite on 6th killing, call for shutdown, mass march to Sopore

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, June 15: With the Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces being continuously mute spectators to the resurgence of terrorism in Sopore after several years of peace, unidentified gunmen on Monday shot dead yet another civilian---sixth in a row in less than a month.

According to the official sources, an unidentified gunman shot dead 38-year-old Aijaz Ahmad Rishi close to his residence at Mundji in Sopore at 8.00 a.m. Once a militant of Harkatul Mujahideen, Rishi had not joined any militant organisation after his release from jail. He was the sixth civilian killed in target fire in less than one month in Sopore.

Significantly for the first time after Hurriyat Conference's split in 2003, representatives of both the factions of the separatist conglomerate, alongwith some leaders of JKLF, held a meeting at Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar to discuss the unidentified assassins' killing spree in Sopore. They jointly called for a total protest shutdown in the Valley on June 17th besides a mass march from Srinagar to Sopore on June 19th, Friday. The participants attributed all the six killings to the Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's revelation.

In May, Parrikar had said that India would use terrorists to neutralize the terrorists, raising an alarm in the Valley’s separatist camp.

Senior separatist leader and head of Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Ahmad Shah issued a separate statement, calling for shutdown on Wednesday and march to Sopore on Friday.

In their separate statements, heads of the formidable guerrilla outfits Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba held the Central secret agencies responsible for the current spell of terror in Sopore. They vowed to strike back on the "India-sponsored gunmen, claiming that the assassins would meet the fate of once the dreaded militants-turned-counterinsurgents Kukka Parray and Javed Shah.

Meanwhile, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik on Monday visited Sopore and held a protest sit-in. He interacted with the residents. Malik alleged that the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was responsible for the fresh spell of terror that began in Sopore with a diktat to the mobile phone operators last month. Six persons, including two associated with the mobile telephony, were shot dead in different incidents of shootout in less than a month.

Mufti Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government has watched the six killings helplessly, making it a point to ignore even a routine statement on the same in its daily handouts. No changes have been affected in Police despite near-total system failure in Sopore.

An official spokesperson said in a press release on Monday that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had taken a serious view of the killings of the civilians in Sopore and issued directions to the Home Department for stepping up investigations and providing secure environment to all civilians.

"The matter is also scheduled to be discussed in the meeting of the Unified Headquarters, which has been convened on June 17th", said the handout from the government. He said that the Police had taken all possible steps to fast-track investigation into all the relevant aspects of the incidents", the spokesperson said. It added that a special monitoring mechanism had been employed "to keep track of proper investigation". He asserted that the State Government was making all out efforts to ensure the safety and security of the innocent civilians.


Monday, June 15, 2015

On 5th assassination in Sopore, Geelani wants Mufti to act

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, June 14: With the fifth civilian assassination in a row in Sopore in less than a month, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Sunday said that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had forfeited his right to rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to official sources, an unidentified gunman shot dead one-time JKLF militant Merajuddin Dar, who had been running a wholesale poultry business in his Badami Bagh neighbourhood after his release from jail in 1993, close to his residence and shop at 9.00 a.m. Residents and family members rushed him to Sub District Hospital of Sopore where doctors declared him as 'brought dead'.

Carried out in broad daylight in a militant-infested locality, the fifth assassination of its kind in Sopore in less than a month spread a fresh wave of terror. The apple town of Sopore was already observing shutdown to protest an identical killing of a Geelani loyalist Khursheed Ahmad Bhat of Bumai when the news of Merajuddin Dar broke in the forenoon. Like the last five killings, no guerrilla outfit claimed responsibility for Dar's assassination.

Current killing spree by unidentified gunmen commenced last month after an unknown guerrilla group 'Lashkar-e-Islam' asked for total closedown of mobile telephony through posters in Sopore. It threatened to eliminate anyone daring to defy the diktat. As the seven day deadline passed, a chain of firing and grenades started. Of the five civilians killed till date, two were associated with the mobile telephony, two more were Geelani’s separatist followers and one was a militant-turned-trader.

Geelani has labeled the assassinations as "the handiwork of the Indian secret agencies" even as many people in Sopore insist that counter-insurgents could not operate freely in a separatist hub like Sopore. A section of the population has alleged that the assassins of Sopore were "government sponsored counter-terrorists".

While expressing his deep grief and shock over another civilian killing (Mehraj-ud-din Dar) in Sopore, Geelani said the civilian killings "by the government gunmen" had taken an ugly turn. He said that the Hurriyat Conference, after holding detailed deliberations over this issue, would inform general public about how to deal with this serious situation. Geelani said in a statement that the common people were being "brutally killed" in broad daylight and the government was "watching as a mute spectator". He alleged there was "no moral justification for him to remain in power".

"If he will not do that, then the people will be right to understand that the Indian secret agencies have got full support of the Mufti Sayed government for the bloodshed of the common Kashmiris and that he was playing the role of a facilitator in implementing this plot", Geelani said.