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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Gill tipped as J&K Governor in September

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 15: Former Director General of Punjab Police, P.S. Gill, who proceeded on deputation to his home State after nearly 30 years of service in Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2009, is yet again in the NDA government’s top consideration zone as the next Governor in Jammu and Kashmir.

On Wednesday, STATE TIMES learned from knowledgeable sources that change of Governor in Jammu and Kashmir could occur anytime in the month of September after conclusion of the two-month-long Amarnath yatra. The BJP and its ideological arm RSS are understood to have zeroed in on two high profile names, including a retired Secretary to Government. Sources revealed that Mr Gill, who supervised and coordinated BJP's election campaign in Kashmir after joining BJP in 2014, had of late emerged as a favourite of the BJP and RSS high command.

If these sources are to be believed, Gill was last fortnight called to New Delhi for a closed-door meeting with RSS supremo Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat. "It appears that his name has been finalised but his appointment is still subject to a discussion bdetween BJP and RSS", said a source privy to the significant political development. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he said, would be taken on board.

The incumbent Governor Narendra Nath Vohra, according to highly placed authoritative sources, had conveyed to New Delhi his desire to quit in the middle of his second term after the change of regime last year which witnessed replacement of over a dozen Governors appointed by the Congress-led UPA government. However, he had been asked to continue, making it clear to him that the Narendra Modi government had no immediate intention of the gubernatorial reshuffle in the sensitive State. Rumours of General (retd) Ata Mohammad Hasnain's possible appointment as J&K Governor were "appropriately" discounted to the Raj Bhawan by the Centre.

Mr Vohra, who also worked as the UPA government's pointman for Kashmir, was appointed Governor of J&K in June 2008 when Lt Gen (retd.) S.K. Sinha, was removed in the wake of a controversy that led to the Amarnath land row and fall of Ghulam Nabi Azad's Congress-PDP regime. Mr Vohra was granted extension of another term at the completion of five years as Governor in 2013.

A J&K cadre IPS officer from Punjab, Gill held key positions including SSP Jammu, DIG Kashmir, IGP Kashmir twice (during which he played a decisive role to uproot the secessionist militancy), additional DGP Armed Police, DG Prisons, Transport Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner. He also held a tenure as Director of Sher-e-Kashmir Police Training Academy Udhampur.

However, Gill's contribution to creating an extensively linked counter-insurgent force and eliminating militancy in close coordination with Army, paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies, remained unmatched. He, nevertheless, faced tremendous criticism to his working from human rights activists to different political parties, all invariably accusing him of ordering extrajudicial killings of the captured militants and their civilian sympathisers in fake encounters. It was during his leadership that the hardcore counter-insurgent officers like Farooq Khan, Munir Khan, JP Singh, Ashkoor Wani, Jagjit Kumar, Manohar Singh, Ramesh Kumar Jalla and many others wiped out militancy with hundreds of operations by Special Operations Group, initially known as State Task Force (STF).

Officers like K. Rajendra Kumar (now DGP of J&K) and Shiv Murari Sahai (now ADGP Armed) subsequently played prominent role in putting an end to the militancy which is officially claimed to be currently at its lowest ebb.

Gill's father, who was a Congress MLA in Moga, had been shot dead by militants during the armed insurgency in Punjab. Gill's elder brother also retired as a DGP in Punjab. After his retirement, PS Gill contested but lost Assembly elections in Punjab on Akali Dal ticket. However, in 2014, he joined BJP.

When STATE TIMES contacted Mr Gill in Chandigarh to know his reaction to the reports of his likely appointment as Governor of J&K, he asserted: "I am here with my family since last week. I have no knowledge of any such development in recent past".


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BJP embarrasses Mufti with boycott to Iftar party, Martyrs Day function

◆Omar says PDP is BJP's collaborator in desecration of martyrs

◆BJP says it's no martyrs day, just Sheikh-type hoodwinking of Kashmiris

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, July 13: For the first time since the formation of government in March this year, BJP has created an embarrassing situation for the coalition partner PDP and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed with its 'boycott' not only to the latter's Iftar party in New Delhi but also to the State ceremonial function on occasion of the Martyrs Day in Srinagar on Monday.

As exclusively predicted by STATE TIMES in its edition of July 11, BJP Ministers without exception boycotted the State function at the Martyrs Graveyard which was nonetheless presided over by Chief Minister Mufti and attended by a number of his Ministerial collegaues in the PDP and other senior leaders of the principal ruling party. In keeping with the tradition of the last 67 years, Chief Minister paid floral tributes to the 22 Kashmiri martyrs who fell to the bullets of Maharaja Hari Singh's armed forces during a mayhem at the hearing of a political detainee Abdul Qadeer outside Srinagar Central Jail on July 13, 1931.

The massacre led to a mass uprising, providing a popular political platform to the National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah whose struggle terminated the Dogra monarchy in 1947 and replaced it with democracy.

Jammu and Kashmir Police contingents paid their tributes to the martyrs with a traditional guard of honour. Senior government functionaries, including Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar, participated in the remembrance ceremony.

It was for the first time in over half-a-century that the government’s own Ministers boycotted the Martys Day function and a coalition partner asserted this day and the martyrs carried no significance for it. Some of the BJP leaders were quoted by media as saying that the July 13 martyrs were of the same mentality and mindset that had been adopted by the post-1990 separatists and militants.

BJP's spokesperson Khalid Jehangir had told STATE TIMES on last Friday that his party would stay away as Chief Minister or his PDP had never organised or attended an event in honour of the Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee.

Significantly, all the national and State level BJP leaders, with the one-odd exception of Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, had been conspicuously absent at Chief Minister’s Iftar party at Hotel Ashok in New Delhi on Sunday evening. Participants described it as a "lacklustre show", saying that not a single BJP leader turned up at the high profile venue.

A senior officer associated with organising CM's Iftar party claimed that most of the CM's guests could not attend as the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hosted a similar Iftar party at the same time on Sunday evening.


With the discomfiture becoming evident in the PDP, the party’s authorised spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg issued a statement promptly. He said that to attend the official function to pay respects the Martyrs was an obligation that the Ministers ought to have fulfilled and any deviation from such a precedent was inappropriate. He stressed that it should be amply clear that the martyrs belonged to the state and not to any particular religion, region, caste or creed and their sacrifices must not be forgotten or belittled.

Dr.Beg pointed out that Mufti "paid his respects to the martyrs not as the PDP Patron but on behalf of the people of the state as their Chief Minister". He emphasised that it was "in indebtedness and gratitude that we salute these martyrs and that the martyrs transcended way beyond party lines".

One of the senior PDP leaders and a Cabinet Minister revealed to this newspaper that his party and the government had viewed BJP's "disrespect to the martyrs" so seriously that it would be taken up directly with the Prime Minister and the BJP President Amit Shah in a couple of days. "They have committed insult to the State and the government of which they are a pert. Even Governors Jagmohan, GC Saxena and NN Vohra attended this function and paid tributes to the martyrs during Governor’s or President's rule", he pointed out.


Meanwhile, leader of the principal opposition party and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too reacted to the absence of BJP ministers at the Martyrs Graveyard. He said he had already cautioned that BJP’s coming to power would be "dangerous for the state of Jammu and Kashmir". “You should ask this question to the PDP which opened the doors for the BJP in Kashmir. We had already said that BJP will be dangerous for the state,” Omar told reporters after paying floral tributes to the martyrs at their tombs on the premises of the reverred Naqashband Sahab shrine between Nowhatta and Khanyar.

Drawing an analogy between late Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad and the PDP patron Mufti, Omar said that Government of India was trying to "purchase the conscience of the Kashmiris" as it had done from 1953 to 1963. His uncharitable insinuation was unambiguously to the reported Rs 70,000 crore economic package Prime Minister Modi was expected to unfold for J&K during his visit to Jammu on July 17.

“Do they really think that by bringing in Rs one lakh crore, they will win over hearts of the people? Just like they did during the time of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. Sher-e-Kashmir (Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah) was arrested and lots of funds were given to Bakshi, thinking that Kashmiris will sell their values and honour. Kashmiris did not sell their honour then and they will not do it now,” Omar asserted.

He also castigated Centre over the delay in the relief package for flood victims, saying they were left in lurch despite 10 months have passed since the occurrence of floods in Kashmir.

The former chief minister maintained that the promises PDP made to the people of Kashmir ahead of coming to power had been outrightly ignored by the party. “Those with whom dialogue was ought to be started have been arrested. There is not even a single talk over reducing the number of forces deployed in Kashmir and furthermore there is complete lull over revocation of AFSPA,” Omar said.

Let me also say the people of J&K are not saleable and cannot be bought and sold through economic packages while their political rights and their dignity is bartered. When Sheikh Sahib was incarcerated, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad got numerous economic packages and a flood of funds. We all know how futile that nefarious plan turned out to be. Our party and our people are the vanguards in a battle to safeguard our State from all evil plans – and economic packages won’t change that”, the NC Working President said.

BJP's Ministers avoided speaking to media on their boycott but its spokesman in a conversation with mediapersons defended staying away from the Martyrs Day function.


“We have seen since decades that such exercises are done to exploit people, gain political mileages and hoodwink masses at large,” he said. He alleged that Sheikh Abdullah used the same slogan of July 13 to become the chief minister and NC continued "to exploit people of the state even today with that slogan". BJP maintained that it entered into alliance with the PDP "for giving good governance to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and not for participating in the events like these of July 13".

Authorities enforced virtual curfew in downtown Srinagar and did not permit the separatists' joint march to the cemetery. All the prominent separatist leaders were either detained at Police Stations or placed under house arrest. However, there were no reports of any clashes with Police or paramilitary forces.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kulgam crowd roughs up PDP MP, sets ablaze 2 vehicles of his cavalcade

◆Nazir Laway rescued by Police amid violent clashes as youth hit by rubber bullet

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 11: While shouting pro-Pakistan, anti-PDP and anti-RSS slogans, a thick gathering of the separatists on Saturday torched two vehicles of the ruling PDP activists even as Police and security forces foiled their attempts to hold hostage PDP's Rajya Sabha member Nazir Ahmad Laway at Bogam village in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.

Eyewitnesses from the spot told STATE TIMES that Mr Laway had fixed a schedule of visiting some Higher Secondary Schools in his home district of Kulgam. He wanted to donate computers to some educational institutions out of Member Parliament's Local Area Development (MPLAD) Fund. As soon as he reached Higher Secondly School of Bogam after visiting two schools in Yaripora, hundreds of the angry residents resisted his entry, objected to his visit and made sustained attempts to hold him hostage.

The high spirited separatist crowd shouted slogans in favour of Pakistan as also against India, PDP and RSS.

Police and security forces in large numbers foiled the mob's attempts to take Mr Laway hostage. Amid a violent clash with the crowd, Laway and his associates were rescued by two Dy SPs and the local SHO with the help of SOG and CRPF.

During the clashes, a 17-year-old Class 11th student Nadeem Ahmad Dar was hit by a rubber bullet fired by Police or CRPF. He was evacuated to a hospital for treatment. Sources said at least six persons, including three Policemen sustained injuries. During the melee, the crowds set on fire a Bolero (JK02B-1829) and a Santro (JK22-4260) belonging to the PDP activists Mubarak Ahmad Koka of Kulgam and Tauseef Ahmed Dar of Tarigam. Both the vehicles suffered extensive damage.

DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar told STATE TIMES that Bogam village had a history of separatist activism and arson. Not a single vote had been polled in the village in last year's Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. "We foiled the mob's attempts and rescued the honourable MP successfully even as the crowd torched a vehicle", DIG said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Kulgam, Mumtaz Ahmad, added that the crowd held Chief Education Officer and some other officials of Education Department in wrongful confinement after the Police rescued Mr Laway. "Police swung into action and got the captives rescued", he said. He told STATE TIMES that the Police filed two FIRs against the miscreants and got four four if them arrested. "We have arrested their kingpin Mohammad Shafi Wani and four others", SSP Mumtaz said.

Mr Laway was not reachable on phone for his comment. However, PDP's authorised spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg said: "I called Laway Sahab by phone immediately after I learned about the attack on his cavalcade. He maintained that it was an attack by supporters of the CPI(M) State Secretary and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami. When I asked him why Mr Tarigami's followers would attack him, Laway Sahab said that the CPI (M) leader was labouring under envy and jealousy due to the PDP MP's activity and support among the public". Dr Beg said that the unruly crowd also torched a PDP worker's vehicle.

Asked for his reaction, Mr Tarigami told STATE TIMES that he or his workers were not instrumental behind the attack on PDP MP. "It's an open secret as to who did it. Everybody knows well. It's bullshit if PDP holds us responsible", Tarigami asserted. He pointed out that Bogam had witnessed total boycott to the Assembly elections.

Later, a CPI (M) spokesman elaborated that Bogam village stood predominantly under the influence of Jamaat-e-Islami and followers of Syed Ali Shah Geelani's faction of the Hurriyat Conference. He said that District chief of Geelani's organisation Mohammad Shafi Wani, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik, Zamrooda Habib had frequently visited Bogam and set up their base there. "It has become some sort of a liberated zone. Police or forces or any mainstream politician doesn't dare to enter this village", he said, claiming that Mr Laway had been attacked by the separatists.