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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Geelani slams PDP for silence, media for shouting on JNU

Almost all the Kashmiri separatist groups express solidarity with SAR Geelani, JNU students

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 19: Senior separatist leader and Chairman of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has castigated Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party for its continued silence on the Delhi Police crackdown on the former professor of Delhi University Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani and students of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) who on February organised a strong anti-India demonstration on the campus in New Delhi.

In a statement issued from New Delhi on Friday, Geelani said it was reprehensible that the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti was conveniently stitching the power alliance with the BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav at a time when Government of India had launched a crackdown and the “biased Indian media” a tirade on SAR Geelani and the JNU students. Joining hands, he said, both were “charging the atmosphere for hanging of SAR Geelani and other students the way Afzal Guru had been hanged”.

“Mehbooba Mufti Sahiba is busy with BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav in discussing the crown ceremony in the state”, he said

Geelani said although the PDP leader had made her way to the corridors of power “by wailing over the funerals of the martyrs” but now the real face of her party stood exposed before the public. Like National Conference, he said, PDP too had now fixed its achievement of power as its goal.

Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar said in a statement that only to create justification for the government formation, PDP wanted to befool the people by talking about implementation of the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ while as everybody knew that “the fascist Hindu rulers of India are never ever going to give any kind of relaxation to the Kashmiris”. “It is just the jugglery of words which is being used to find a new justification to assume power”, he said.

Akbar said that expecting any favour from New Delhi for the Kashmiris was as impossible as expecting an apple from a thorny plant. Our nation has a bitter experience of this for the past 68 years now, he said. He said that from Sheikh Abdullah to Mufti, all the pro-India politicians had exploited the Kashmiri peoples’ sentiments for assumption of power. In turn Delhi gave them nothing, he said. “If this was the treatment with the founder of NC, then who is PDP and why would India relent and why would Ram Madhav agree on anything which would benefit the Kashmiri people or which could restore their pride and honour?”, Akbar asked.

While expressing its apprehension with regard to the safety of SAR Geelani and other Kashmiri students, Hurriyat (G) said: “Had NC-like and PDP-like people not been available to New Delhi in Kashmir, neither Maqbool Bhat nor Afzal Guru would had been hanged. These people act as the only link for India through which they continue their illegal control over Jammu & Kashmir”.

Hurriyat (G) warned that PDP and NC would be equally responsible if anything untoward happened with the Professor Geelani and other Kashmiri students in Delhi. “These people had played a criminal role at the time of hanging of Afzal Guru and this time too they are engaging in the power politics”, he added.

Hurriyat (G) also expressed its sorrow over the “extremely negative role of the Indian media houses who have now left Kanhaiya Kumar and the JNU and started a media trial against SAR Geelani and Kashmiri students. This is a sheer Hindu fascism and terrorism in the name of journalism”. The spokesman said that the Times Now anchor Arnab Goswami had started “a fanatic way of anchoring and now the anchors of other news channels have started following him and are seen beating their drums against Muslims and other lower castes of their own country. This situation has completely exposed India’s democracy and secularism”.

In a barrage of statements, other separatist groups too expressed their solidarity with SAR Geelani and the JNU students and warned invariably that the Delhi Police crackdown could only accentuate New Delhi’s trouble.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Madhav meets Mehbooba on government formation in Srinagar

 Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 17: Six weeks after her father and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death on January 7, BJP’s National General Secretary and co-author of the two parties’ ‘Agenda of Alliance’ Ram Madhav on Wednesday had the first formal meeting with the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar on formation of the new government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Madhav flew from New Delhi to Srinagar in an 8-seater aircraft and drove straight to Mehbooba’s residence, Fairview, on Gupkar Road in the evening. Sources at Fairview told STATE TIMES that a senior officer of a Central intelligence agency also arrived in at the same time and he kept waiting outside till the hour-long one-on-one meeting concluded between the two leaders.

Nobody in the two parties had an inkling of what transpired in the meeting about which the Government agencies had not received any information. Officials said that Madhav returned to New Delhi by the same aircraft at 8.50 pm. An unconfirmed report said that he also interacted briefly with some BJP leaders at Circuit House before his departure.

It is widely speculated that Madhav called on Mehbooba only after her consent. Reportedly she had remained disinclined to meet Madhav and other BJP leaders in absence of a commitment on the “assurances” and “confidence building measures” she had publicly demanded as a pre-condition to forging a fresh alliance with BJP after her meeting with Governor Narendra Nath Vohra in Jammu on January 2. A day before, Governor had written to the BJP State President Sat Pal Sharma and the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti to make their respective party stands clear to the Raj Bhawan within 24 hours.

While as BJP sought time of 10 more days, Ms Mufti made it clear that she would take an initiative for the government formation only after a commitment from the alliance partner with regard to timebound implementation of the commitments agreed upon between PDP and BJP and recorded in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’. Previously, on the day of PDP Core Group’s meeting, senior leader Naeem Akhtar had specified that PDP needed an assurance with regard to the commitments like Smart Cities, removal of security forces from the properties occupied by them and commencement of an initiative of addressing the “internal dimension” of the Kashmir problem.

However, in a volte face, senior PDP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister told the media at a workers meeting in Jammu the other day that PDP had not made any demand of CBMs from the BJP. He indicated that formation of the new government was imminent.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just one checking for vehicles carrying tourists, pilgrims to J&K

Governor’s administration takes serious note of extortion, harassment to drivers and passengers on highway, other routes
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Feb 16: Taking a strong notice of the reports and complaints from different quarters that both, the Traffic as well as the Executive wings of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, were subjecting the non-J&K vehicles carrying tourists and pilgrims to unwarranted checking at around 25 points, Governor’s administration has ordered that such vehicles would be checked nowhere other than the entry point of Lakhanpur.
Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that Governor’s Advisor Parvez Dewan last week directed Secretary Transport Kifayat Hussain Rizvi to come up with a policy that would ensure that no tourists, pilgrims or the drivers of such buses would be subjected to extortion or harassment by anybody during their stay and visit in Jammu and Kashmir.
As previously reported by this newspaper, this matter of grave consequences on the tourist flow had been first flagged by a senior official of the Department of Tourism in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regime. As primarily proposed by the official, Secretary Transport proposed that the vehicles, alongwith their passengers, should be thoroughly checked at the entry point of Lakhanpur. After necessary clearance, authorities would paste a distinguishable sticker on the windscreen of the vehicle and hand over another copy of it to the driver.
Thereafter, no authority or organisation of the Government would be authorised to stop such vehicles for any kind of checking except those specified in traffic rule violations. However, only a gazetted Police officer would be competent to stop such vehicles but it would be mandatory for him to immediately report such an action to the Traffic Police control rooms in Srinagar and Jammu. Government has arranged for printing such stickers within a week.
Government had received complaints that tourists, pilgrims and their vehicle drivers were being subjected to extortion at an average of 25 points beginning with Lakhanpur. It had been pointed out that not a single vehicle of the big transporters, who had been operating fleets of buses and trucks on Jammu-Srinagar-Highway and other routes had been stopped or subjected to such harassment as there had been “special instructions from the top” that nobody would stop buses or trucks of particular transporters anywhere in the State.
Others, as per the complaints, were being stopped with one or the other excuse and let off only after the fleecing.
An official release on Tuesday said: “In a communication issued by the Traffic Police Headquarters, it is informed that the vehicles (private LMVs as well as commercial passenger vehicles) coming from outside the State carrying tourists/pilgrims and entering into the State by road via Lakhanpur shall be stopped for checking of documents only by an officer of the rank of Inspector (DTI) and above.
“The officer after checking the relevant documents shall issue a sticker for the permitted vehicles having a validity  for fifteen days or for single entry/exit, whichever is earlier from the date of checking of documents of the vehicle. These  vehicles having the sticker thereafter shall not be checked at any subsequent traffic check post by any officer except of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above during the validity period of the sticker.
“It has however maintained that for suspicious commission of any of the visible traffic violations pertaining to drunken driving, over speeding, rash driving, (visible) overloading, use of mobile phone while driving, not wearing of seat belt or obstructing free flow of traffic, the vehicle even with the sticker can be stopped at any place by an officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police also (Inspector, Sub-Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector only) who are authorized to take  action  as warranted under the Law.
“The sticker   given to the driver of the vehicle after checking of documents by the DTI would also contain all relevant instructions printed on it besides telephone numbers of the Traffic Control Rooms .People can register their grievance in this regard on   following phone numbers TCR Jammu: 0191-2459048, TCR NHW Ramban: 9419993745 and  TCR Srinagar: 0194-2450022. They can also send the complaint or any such information through SMS or Whatsapp messages/photographs/videos to the Traffic Headquarter on the mobile No.9622882222".

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MHA asks DP to spare J&K students to protect BJP’s possible alliance with PDP

IB asked to profile as Kashmiri participants of JNU demonstrations

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 15: Even as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has begun profiling all the Kashmiris---masked as well as unmasked---who participated in last week’s and today’s pro-Azadi demonstrations at the campus of Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, Government of India has, in a significant development, directed Delhi Police to avoid detaining any student from Jammu and Kashmir “for the moment”. This is said to be an attempt to protect the BJP’s formative alliance with PDP for the government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources in New Delhi told STATE TIMES that officials of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs communicated verbally to senior officials of Delhi Police that none of the Kashmiris, particularly the students, even if found involved in organising or attending the recent anti-India demonstrations, should not be immediately booked in any FIR or arrested. Reasons behind withholding the action have not been specified. However, sources added, it was being done only to protect churning out of BJP’s possible coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP in Jammu and Kashmir.

It is believed that the Police action against the Kashmiri students could around this crucial time, ahead of Parliament’s Budget session, could make it harder for the PDP to form the new government with the BJP.

A middle-rung DP officer questioned two Kashmiris, including a student’s brother, in Hauz Khas area of New Delhi on Monday. He too made it clear to them that the students from J&K were “only under surveillance”. During the conversation, he revealed to the duo that the DP had been asked to immediately book and detain the students and others from all other States if found involved in the anti-India demonstrations. “Regarding the J&K students, we have been directed not to book or arrest anybody as it could botch up the BJP’s alliance with the PDP”, one of the DP officers clarified to the two students but recorded their particulars and whereabouts with a caution that they should avoid visiting that area for a few days.

“He behaved well took our particulars”, one of the two students told STATE TIMES.

Knowledgeable sources said that the IB had been, nonetheless, directed to profile “each and every person, particularly the Kashmiris, students or otherwise” who had organised or attended the JNU Students Union’s anti-India demonstrations at the University campus besides at Press Club of India. The IB, according to these sources, has started an extensive exercise in coordination with the organisation’s wings in Srinagar, Jammu, Hyderabad and New Delhi.

An exercise is underway to first identify around half-a-dozen masked men who, on Monday, shouted explicit slogans in favour of the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Kashmir operations chief Burhan Muzaffar Wani, Hurriyat Conference, Afzal Guru, Maqbool Bhat and the Kashmiri militants and separatists in general.

The masked men also shouted by name against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Chief Ministers Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Umar Abdullah besides the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti telling them that the Kashmiris would not rest until “snatching away azadi on gun point” from India. Followed by an enthusiastic student gathering, including some female students covering their heads with scarves, the masked men shouted that one Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat would arise from each Kashmiri family and that the war with India would continue till India’s destruction and fragmentation into pieces.

According to the sources, at least seven of the unmasked participants have been found as “persons of doubtful background”. In an interim report submitted by IB to the MHA, a JNU student from Kashmir Omar has been described as a “Jaish-e-Mohammad sympathiser” who, according to the agency, had visited Pakistan and met key functionaries of the militant organisation involved in alleged terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. He, according to the report, is a close associate of the JNU student leader Omar Khalid.

Even the Delhi University teacher Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, who had been exonerated in the Parliament attack case, has been put under scanner.

Meanwhile, the BJP is understood to have advised its emissaries to “go slow” in their secretly held talks with the PDP as the Central ruling party has been cornered by the Leftists and the Congress party publicly on continuing a crackdown on the Afzal Guru sympathisers on hand and forming the government in J&K with the pro-Afzal PDP on the other hand. PDP has been alleging that awarding death sentence to Guru was “travesty of justice” and hanging him to death from amongst a long row of convicts selectively was “political”. It has publicly demanded return of Guru’s mortal remains to the family.


Monday, February 15, 2016

2 civilians killed in clash after militant’s death in Pulwama encounter

Curfew imposed, separatists put under house arrest, magisterial inquiry ordered

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Feb 14: Two university students got killed and 46, including 25 civilians, injured when intense clashes broke out between the local population and the security forces during the course of an operation in which a Kashmiri militant of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba was shot dead at Lelhar-Kakapora in Pulwama district of southern Kashmir on Sunday.

Informed sources at the spot told STATE TIMES that troops of Rashtriya Rifles 50 Bn, CRPF and Pulwama District Police launched a joint operation after learning about the movement of a local group of Lashkar-eTayyiba militants at Astan Mohalla, Kakapora. As soon as the troops swooped down on the neighbourhood, four militants carrying AK-47 rifles were seen fleeing towards the adjacent Lelhar village. Troops chased them and engaged them in a gunfight.

An ‘A’ category local militant, namely Adil Ahmad Shergujri alias Abu Bakar alias Mohammad Ashraf of Banderpora was gunned down by the security forces. However, three of his accomplices managed to escape towards Lelhar. Even as the troops cordoned the village and started the search operation, large number of the residents, including a large number of the youths of different villages playing cricket at the local playground, gathered and began shouting slogans in favour of ‘Azadi’ and against what they called “Indian occupation”.

Thereafter, a fierce clash broke out between the demonstrators and the security forces. Eyewitnesses said that the protesters resorted to heavy stone pelting on the security forces who retaliated with automatic weapons and tearsmoke canisters. Around 25 civilians and 21 personnel of security forces and Police sustained injuries. Out of the civilians, at least 8 had gunshot wounds. Of them, 20-year-old Engineering student of Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora, Danish Farooq of Ratnipora, and 22-yearold M Ed student of IGNOU, Shayista D/o Abdul Hameed Bhat of Lelhar, succumbed to injuries at hospital.

Condition of another critically wounded civilian, Ghulam Mohiuddin of Kakapora, was stated to be precarious. Officials insisted that 14 civilians got injured while as two more civilians died. Of the civilians 14 were under treatment at SMHS Hospital and one at Bone & Joint Hospital in Srinagar. Reports from Pulwama, however, added that at least 10 of the civilians injured in the clash were treated at the local hospitals. Subsequently, tension prevailed in a vast locality and clashes took place between the demonstrators and the security forces at four more places in Pampore-Pulwama belt.

Funeral rites of the two civilians were performed amid anti-India and pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans at Lelhar and Ratnipora. Officials said that 4,000 to 5,000 people participated in each of the civilian’s funeral procession. They said that the slain militant would be buried in the forenoon on Monday.

Police version

As search was going on, militants hiding in the house opened indiscriminate firing on security forces. The police started evacuating civilians trapped inside the cordon. A large number of people were evacuated but a lady namely Shaista while taking cover was hit by a bullet. She was evacuated to hospital where she was declared dead. Some more miscreants / stone pelters received bullet injuries in the cross fire”, said a press release issued from the J&K Police.

“A large number of people despite imposition of sec 144 Cr PC came near encounter site where militants were firing indiscriminately on security forces from inside. They were pelting stones on Security forces. One terrorist was killed in the encounter identified as Adil Ahmad Shergojri @ Abu Bakar s/o Mohd Ashraf Shergojri R/o Banderpora affiliated with LeT tanzeem (A category). Due to heavy stone pelting and ensuing law and order situation the security forces had to resort to tear smoke shelling. As a result of which some protesters received injuries. Due to heavy stone pelting two terrorists managed to escape. Six armymen received injuries two in head in the stone pelting. Apart from this 15 policemen also got injured in stone pelting. Case registered and investigation taken up”, it added.

While as the officials claimed that two militants managed to escape when the residents disrupted the operation, locals insisted that three militants escaped. They alleged that troops opened indiscriminate gunfire and fired teargas shells to break away the gathering.

An official spokesman said that Deputy Commissioner of Pulwama has ordered a magisterial inquiry to look into the circumstances that led to the civilian casualties including the death of the two university students.

Curfew imposed

Officials said that curfew would remain in force in the disturbed Pulwama-Pampore belt besides downtown Srinagar on Monday. DC Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone, told STATE TIMES that restrictions under section 144 Cr PC (euphemism for curfew) would be enforced in areas falling under five Police Stations in downtown besides Maisuma in the uptown.

Almost all the separatist groups and leaders, including Yasin Malik of JKLF and both factions of the Hurriyat Conference called for a total shutdown in Kashmir on Monday in protest of the killing of the two civilians. They alleged that both the unarmed youths were killed in target firing by the troops.

After the death of a labourer Pervez Ahmad Gujri (after two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, namely Riyaz Ahmad Naik and Lateef Dar, were killed in an encounter) at Naina Batpora (Pulwama) on January 20, this is the second mincident of the civilian fatalities in a counter-insurgency operation in the Valley during Governor’s rule.

Separatists under house arrest

Official sources said that all the prominent separatist leaders including JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, were placed under house arrest at their residences in Srinagar and other towns late on Sunday night in view of the mounting tension after the death of the two youths in Pulwama.

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and NC President Omar Abdullah are among a number of the political leaders who condemned the death of the two civilians during the clashes after today’s encounter.

Mehbooba’s guarded condemnation

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, who did not react on the death of a civilian in Naina Batpora on January 20, came out with a condemnation for today’s civilian casualties in the clash. However, she did not harshly level allegation of the human rights abuse, characteristic of her when PDP was not in power.

“She lamented that the unfortunate incident, which can be avoided, has claimed lives of two students, including a female one, and injured nearly a dozen civilians. In a statement issued here today Ms Mufti expressed her heartfelt condolences to the families, who lost their dear ones in the firing. She said that such incidents are uncalled for and security forces must observe restraint while dealing with civilians in such a situation. PDP president expressed her solidarity with the families of firing victims”, a PDP press release said.

A mild condemnation also poured in from National Conference.

Extending heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families on behalf of the party, NC Spokesperson Junaid Mattu said such heartbreaking incidents were “major setbacks to reconciliation and peace” and could add to the perception of alienation among the youth.

“This is a very tragic and heartbreaking incident. Honourable Governor should ensure the guilty are identified and brought to justice in a time bound manner. Our hearts go out to the families of the two deceased youth and we pray for the smooth and complete recovery of those who have sustained serious injuries in this incident” Mattu said in the statement.