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Three Hizbul militants among four killed in Kashmir encounters

Srinagar: Four militants, including three of Hizbul Mujahideen, were on Monday killed in two gunfights during search operations in Anantnag and Kupwara districts of Kashmir valley, officials said.

The Hizbul militants – Sartaj Ahmad Lone, Adil Ahmad Sheikh and Tanveer Ahmad Bhat – were killed in the gunfight with a joint search party of police, Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF at village Siligam in Ashmuqam, 80 km from Srinagar, in Anantang district of south Kashmir, a police spokesman said.

He said the encounter took place when the trio, hailing from Bijbehara area of Anantnag, opened fire on the security forces who had moved to the village following specific information about their presence.

Representational image. Image courtesy: PTI

Representational image. Image courtesy: PTI

Terming the killing of the three militants as a “major success”, the spokesman said Aadil and Tanveer were involved in the killing of a policeman and a civilian in Bijbehara on 22 March and 16 June.

While the policeman, Arif Nazir Khan, was killed on 16 June, Javid Ahmad Sofi was shot dead on 22 March.

Three AK-47 riffles, six magazines, a UBGL with three grenades, a pistol with a magazine were recovered from the encounter site, the spokesman said.

Commenting on the encounter, a defence spokesman said, “It was a major blow to the terrorist organisations as also a true homage to the sacrifices of all soldiers fighting terror.”

In a separate operation in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, which entered its 11th day on Monday, the security forces killed one militant while efforts were on to flush out his accomplices, the official said.

The unidentified militant was killed in the encounter in the dense forests of Manigah, where Colonel Santosh Mahadik was killed last week, he said.

Security forces are continuing a massive search operation in the forest near the Line of Control (LoC) since 13 November following information about presence of a group of heavily-armed militants.

On 17 November, an encounter between the militants and the security forces left Colonel Mahadik, Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, dead.

In another exchange of fire on Sunday, two army personnel including a Lt Colonel were injured in the district.

PTI

Live grenade defused and suspected LeT worker arrested in J&K over the past 24 hours

Srinagar: A suspected overground worker (OGW) of Lashker-e-Taiba militant outfit was arrested in Pulwama district, J&K police said on Monday.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Security forces apprehended Ashfaq Ahmad Bhat from Bargam village in Awantipora area of Pulwama district last night, a police official said.

He said Bhat was working as overground worker of LeT.

A pistol along with some ammunition were recovered from his possession.

In another incident, local residents of village Dohama in Handwara area of Kupwara district found a live hand grenade in an orchard last evening, the official said.

He said a bomb disposal squad was rushed to the spot and the grenade was destroyed on the spot without causing any damage.

PTI

Indian Army captain Ashwini Kumar dies in Siachen avalanche in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu: A captain of the Indian Army was killed in an avalanche on Saturday at the Siachen Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, an official said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Captain Ashwini Kumar of Ladakh Scouts was killed when an army patrol was hit by an avalanche in the southern ridge of the Siachen Glacier,” Colonel S.D. Goswami, spokesman of the army’s Udhampur-based Northern Command, told IANS here.

The others in the army patrol were rescued, and the injured were being treated, he said.

Siachen is regarded as the world’s highest battlefield where the Indian and Pakistan Army face each other in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation.

IANS

Capt Amarinder slams Manohar Parrikar on OROP issue, says his comments ‘add insult to injury’

Chandigarh: Taking exception to Manohar Parrikar’s remarks against the protesting war veterans, Congress Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said it was “unbecoming” of him (Defence Minister) to make observations which can badly affect the morale of the existing soldiers, who are going to be ex-servicemen tomorrow.

“This is adding insult to the injury,” he remarked.

Amarinder Singh. AFPAmarinder Singh. AFP

Amarinder Singh. AFP

In a letter to the Defence Minister, Capt Amarinder referred to his recent statements where he had bluntly said ‘no more concessions on OROP’ and ‘the behaviour of ex-servicemen protesting the notification on the OROP scheme is unlike that of a soldier’.

Stating that it was an insult to the military fraternity to accuse them of “indiscipline”, Capt Amarinder asserted, “if this country has an institution that is completely loyal and disciplined, it is our armed forces and your statement is nothing but an insult”.

Sharing the sentiments of the ex-servicemen returning the medals, Capt Amarinder said, “if today the ex-servicemen are returning their medals, this is the ultimate that they can do”.

He pointed out, these medals are a soldier’s prized possession and not government charity.

These were won by them on the battle field for gallantry or distinguished service, and are worn with pride, he said adding that this was all he has to himself after his life spent in the defence of our country.

“I hope this will bring home to you the deep hurt, anguish and humiliation faced by all who once donned the uniform of our country”, he told the Defence Minister.

Making a strong case for undiluted OROP, the former Punjab Chief Minister pointed out, “your government can give a hundred and twenty five lakh crores to Bihar, obviously to ensure votes, and Rs 80,000 crores to Jammu and Kashmir and yet deny an extra Rs 1,000 crore to those patriots who have helped in keeping J&K in this country by shedding their blood and sweat over the past 68 years. Does any day pass without pictures of the tri-colour wrapped coffins arriving from Kashmir that appear in our papers?”

PTI

Modi announces Rs 80,000 cr package for J&K, says Delhi treasures and his ‘dil’ are for Kashmir

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a Rs 80,000 crore economic package for the development of Jammu and Kashmir.

As soon as Modi made the announcement, the large gathering of people who had come to hear him broke into a joyous rapture at the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium.

PM Narendra Modi in Jammu and Kashmir. Screenshot from CNN-IBN footage

PM Narendra Modi in Jammu and Kashmir. Screenshot from CNN-IBN footage

Announcing the much awaited economic package that will cover relief for 2014 flood victims, farmers, businessmen, tourism, youth employment and infrastructure in the state, Modi said: “This is not the end, but the beginning.”

“Not only Delhi’s treasures, but Delhi’s ‘Dil’ (heart) is always for the people of Kashmir”, Modi said.

Modi also said that he wanted to make Kashmir a dream destination for tourists.

He addressed a public rally during his day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that in the past, when people had some money, they wanted to visit Kashmir. He added that he wanted to bring back those glorious days.

“Love for Kashmir draws me here. Kashmir has suffered a lot over the years. I felt the pain of flood victims,” the prime minister said.

Stressing on the development of Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said: “We will spend Rs 34,000 crore on Jammu-Srinagar Highway. It will cut the journey time from 12 hours to three-and-a-half hours.”

“Without Kashmiriyat, India is incomplete. This is the land that gave birth to Sufism, which taught us to bring everyone together,” Modi said, adding that solution of all our problems lies in the employment of the youth.

“We must also provide employment opportunity for the youths in the valley and Ladakh region.”

PM Modi also talked about technological development and establishment of call centres in Kashmir. “Only highways won’t do. We need ‘I ways’ too,” he said.

Stressing on the strengths of Kashmir, he said “pashmina, kesar, apples, tourism” were its strengths in Srinagar. Mentioning cricket, he said, “If Sachin, Sehwag hit sixes, the wood for the bat came from Kashmir…Why should there be no cricket in the land where Parvez Rasool come from?”

He also said the central government was fully ready to work with the Jammu and Kashmir government. “Delhi govt will work together with the J&K government…For the past few years, Kashmiri youth are performing well in IITs, IIMs, IAS. And I am ready to do everything possible for them,” said the PM.

Modi also said that he did not celebrate his birthday last year because the floods in Kashmir pained him. “My mother used to give me Rs 5 or Rs 11 on my birthday, but last year she gave me Rs 5000 for the flood-affected people of Kashmir,” ANI quoted him as saying.

He added that when Diwali came last year, he decided to visit Jammu and Kashmir instead of celebrating with friends in Delhi.

(With inputs from IANS)

PM Modi to visit J&K on Saturday, elaborate security arrangements made

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday where he would address two public rallies and also inaugurate the second phase of the Baglihar hydel project.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made with additional police and paramilitary forces deployed on the strategic Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

Modi will address a public meeting at the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar.

PM Modi. Agencies

PM Modi. Agencies

“The Prime Minister will inaugurate the 450 MW Baglihar Hydro Electric Project Stage-II, and lay the foundation stone for the 4-laning of the Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal section of National Highway 44, at a function in Chanderkote, Ramban. He will also address the gathering there,” an official statement said.

The venue for the Prime Minister’s rally here – Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium – has been turned into a virtual fortress with Special Protection Group (SPG) taking over it, officials said, adding a large posse of police and paramilitary personnel have also been deployed in and around the area to secure it.

Many CCTV cameras have been installed in and around the venue to keep an eye on the movement of people.

As separatist groups have called for a parallel rally to that of Modi at Tourist Reception Centre ground – a stone’s throw from cricket stadium, the authorities have carried out a crackdown on them to foil their plans.

Several of the top separatist leaders have been taken into preventive detention while some leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have been placed under house arrest.

A senior police officer said BSF guards, manning the International Border in the Jammu region, too have been asked to remain on high alert to foil any infiltration attempt from across the border.

Arrangements for the Prime Minister’s visit were reviewed in a high level meeting in Jammu chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.

Meanwhile, Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir government has issued instructions to government employees including police personnel and daily-rated workers to attend Modi’s rally in Srinagar .

“Colleagues tell me that their JK police guard has been drastically scaled down & the personnel ordered to participate in the 7th Nov rally (of the Prime Minister),” Omar tweeted.

The former chief minister also claimed that similar instructions have been issued to special police officers, anganwadi workers and daily wagers as PDP workers are reluctant to attend Modi’s rally.

In another tweet, he said it was shameless on part of the government to use state apparatus for Modi’s rally.

“Just saw State Govt employees in an AMBULANCE tying up banners welcoming the PM on behalf of the state Health Minister. #Shameless,” he wrote.

PTI

Heavy hangs the head: More than just an economic package at stake for Mufti as Modi heads to Srinagar

Could a whopping economic package make up for silence on India-Pakistan rapprochement? Would handing over key power projects for management by the state government cut ice with anti-India propagandists? Will a vast but minutely-orchestrated prime ministerial audience make up for curfew at large?

From such vexing questions hangs the fate of the beleaguered Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. This Saturday is one of the most crucial days of his tenure. His coalition partner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is to visit Srinagar that day — and those gloomy issues are mistily hanging over Kashmir.

Mufti’s friends and ostensible foes alike have compared Modi’s visit to that of another prime minister — and perhaps Mufti too sees it in that light. Atal Behari Vajpayee had visited Srinagar on 17 April 2003. It was a sudden visit, announced just two days before. Standing beside Mufti, who was chief minister then too, Vajpayee had addressed Pakistan from Srinagar.

File image of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and PM Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Vajpayee had told Pakistan he was ready to dispatch a foreign service officer the next day if it were willing to engage in talks. It was just a few months after the two countries’ troops had been withdrawn from a year-long eyeball-to-eyeball face-off on the border following the Parliament attack on 13 December 2001.

Vajpayee’s Srinagar speech — about which he had not consulted even his principal secretary and national security advisor Brajesh Mishra, leave alone Home Minister LK Advani — kicked off one of the three most promising sets of negotiations between the two hostile neighbours during the past seven decades.

Nothing came of it, but Mufti had adroitly projected himself as the fulcrum of those talks and the confidence-building measures which accompanied them, such as the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

Insiders say they don’t expect Modi to make that kind of bold gesture to Pakistan on Saturday. In fact, Mufti did his best to persuade a closed meeting of party workers last Saturday that multiple power centres in Pakistan had queered the pitch for bilateral talks, which India actually wanted.

As for Kashmir, he said he had no doubt that Sheikh Abdullah had been right to back accession to India. Mufti is walking a dangerous tightrope to try and motivate his disgruntled workers with such candour amid widespread alienation.

Rather than a grand opening to Pakistan, Mufti is apparently hoping that this prime minister might open the way for talks with a range of political forces, including the Hurriyat Conference.

Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has as good as responded in advance: He told an interviewer that the Hurriyat Conference which he chairs, would be willing to engage in talks if the prime minister were to initiate talks with Pakistan too. That is the inflexible position of his rival, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Taking an alternative line would require great political adroitness.

Far more than any possibility of talks, Mufti has apparently pinned hope on a major economic initiative, including a huge monetary ‘package’. There have been several false starts on that since the PDP-BJP coalition took office nine months ago. The state’s finance minister Haseeb Drabu even announced a ‘package’ which did not materialise.

This time, Mufti’s own reputation is on the line. He has micro-managed preparations for the visit after preparatory talks with the prime minister in New Delhi. BJP general secretary and point man for the state, Ram Madhav, has also been in Srinagar to prepare the ground.

Mufti apparently hopes that, although the long-expected ‘package’ will be essentially economic rather than political, it may obliquely address one of the oft-repeated anti-India propaganda points among Kashmiris — that the state’s water resources are appropriated for the power needs of other northern states, leaving Kashmir in the dark.

He apparently hopes that the ‘package’ will include a sum to underwrite compensation to the National Thermal Power Corporation for handing over a couple of power projects to the state government.

Mufti must be hoping against hope that such a manifestly ill-advised step will yield some political dividends for him — and ease alienation. For, given the state’s abysmal performance in managing mirco-hydel projects, power distribution, and such ambitious and high-investment schemes as an Entrepreneurship Development Institute, handing over power projects is likely to be economically disastrous.

Mufti’s challenge to project an essentially economic initiative as politically sufficient has been vastly increased by the gauntlet thrown by separatist leaders led by Geelani. They have called for a ‘million march’ to protest the prime minister’s visit.

The government faces the unenviable task of imposing strict curfew on those who respond to that call even while facilitating the congregation which MLAs of both the PDP and its coalition allies are mobilising.

The chief minister is personally making a back-breaking effort to ensure that Modi’s visit passes off successfully. He sees it as a key turning point for his current tenure. The problem is that success in this case will be counted in both positive and negative terms; repression is as vital as mobilisation.

First foray into the Valley: Hope and scepticism in J&K ahead of PM Modi’s rally

Srinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a rally in Srinagar’s Sheri-e-Kashmir Stadium on 7 November — his first after the Peoples Democratic Party and the BJP stitched an alliance in the state in March early this year. While Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayed has already described the upcoming rally as a “turning point in the history of Jammu and Kashmir”, people in general are sceptical of the claim.

The prime minister is scheduled to first inaugurate phase-II of the Baghlihar hydroelectric power project in Jammu, and then visit Srinagar to address a rally. “I see this visit as an opportunity for history to repeat itself,” Sayed said on Sunday, while recalling an earlier address by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to the people during his visit in 2003, at the same venue.

This scepticism is drawn from the fact that the Central government, according to people, has failed to deliver when it comes to reconstruction and rehabilitation of the flood effected people. By far the most serious natural disaster in living memory of the state, the flood of September 2014 affected at least two million people. At least 2.61 lakh structures, including residential houses, were damaged — 21,485 of them completely in the flood.

File image of PM Narendra Modi addressing a rally. PTI

File image of PM Narendra Modi addressing a rally. PTI

Mehraj-ud-Din Bhat, a resident of Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar, whose house was marooned in the floods, said he expected little from Modi’s visit. “The rehabilitation and reconstruction was part of the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and the BJP, but despite that both parties have failed to deliver on ground,” Bhat told Firstpost, while emphasizing that it took him more than Rs 10 lakh just to make his house livable for his family.

“We were paid Rs 75,000 for a fully damaged house, which has a market value of Rs 1 crore. We expect little from the government now,” he added.

However, the PDP is optimistic and has mobilized its cardre and leaders to attract as many people as possible for the 7 November rally. For the party’s leadership it would be a litmus test as the Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has given a call for a ‘Million Man March’, on the same day Modi is scheduled to address the rally in Srinagar. This has prompted the state government to launch a crackdown on several separatist leaders who have been allegedly detained ahead of the propose march.

Finance minister in the BJP-PDP coalition government, Haseeb Drabu, said the fresh visit by the prime minister would give “fresh impetus” to implementation of the PDP-BJP Agenda of Alliance. People are expecting him to announce tangible confidence-building measures aimed at addressing the political and economic challenges confronting the state, he added.

“The priority has to be the young people of Jammu and Kashmir who feel alienated. Apart from that the Centre should ensure long-term economic prosperity of the people in all the regions of the State,” Drabu said recently while addressing a rally in south Kashmir. “The government has identified power, agriculture, tourism, horticulture and handicrafts as thrust areas which have not only the potential to boost the state’s economy but create huge employment avenues for the local youth,” he added.

People in the Valley are curiously waiting for what the prime minister will say at the rally as an announcement regarding the supposed economic package that has been delayed for the past eight months.

Newspapers in Kashmir reported on Sunday that the state government is likely to get just Rs 5,000 crore in flood assistance. Of the Rs 5,000 crore, Rs 2,500 crore to Rs 3,000 crore has been earmarked for the rehabilitation of people whose houses were either partially or fully damaged in the flood and for compensating losses suffered by traders and business community. The previous government than led by the National Conference had submitted a proposal of Rs 44,000 crore to New Delhi for the financing the reconstruction programme.

“There is a sense of loss and fatigue from this alliance in Kashmir valley, I suppose, people are waiting for some political initiative rather than an economic one. But that doesn’t mean there is no need for a massive economic package that would be a face saver for the Peoples Democratic Party in the Valley,” industrialist Shakeel Qalander, told Firstpost.

Sources said PDP leaders are aiming at getting 25,000 people for the PM’s rally. “Had Geelani not called for a counter rally, the target would have been at least 50,000 but since restrictions are likely to be imposed in the Valley we are aiming half the number,” a senior PDP leader told Firstpost.

Earthquake claims four lives in Jammu and Kashmir, 20 others injured

Srinagar: Four persons, including three women died while 20 others were injured in Jammu and Kashmir, following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that jolted northern India.

“As per the latest reports presented by DGP K Rajindra Kumar and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Asgar Samoon, four people – two each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions – have died, while 20 persons were injured in Monday’s earthquake,” an official spokesman said.

A total of 53 houses were damaged in the quake, he said.

An injured people take first-aid at Govt Medical College hospital after earthquake in Jammu on Monday. PTI

An injured people take first-aid at Govt Medical College hospital after earthquake in Jammu on Monday. PTI

The officers were briefing a meeting chaired by Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation Syed Basharat Bukhari in Srinagar. This was the second meeting in 24 hours to review the impact of the earthquake in the state.

The spokesman said while two women died in Kashmir division, a woman and a boy were reported dead in Jammu division.

With regard to loss of property, the spokesman said around 40 residential houses in Kashmir Division and 13 in Jammu Division have been damaged besides some non-residential structures have also been damaged.

Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families, the Minister gave directions to the Divisional Commissioner to ensure immediate assessment of the damage to property by the concerned Deputy Commissioners so that relief is paid to the affected as per norms.

Bukhari also addressed a meeting of Relief and Rehabilitation Department and reviewed the status with regard to establishment of Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) at the divisional and district levels in the state for quick and immediate response in case of any eventuality.

A massive earthquake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale and lasting for about a minute jolted north India on Tuesday, with panic-stricken people rushing out of houses.

The earthquake epicentred in the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan.

PTI

Live: At least 180 dead after massive earthquake hits Afghanistan, Pakistan

Oct 26, 2015

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A massive earthquake of magnitude 7.7, with its epicentre at Hindukush region near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, hit parts of North India and Pakistan on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The earthquake epicentred in the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan struck at around 2.40 pm, sending ripples across several states like Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, reported PTI.

People frantically rushed out of their houses and offices as the ground shook. In the national capital, metro sevrices were briefly halted.

In Srinagar, residents said they saw the buildings “swinging”, remindig them of the devastating quake in 2005.

The Delhi Metro had been temporarily halted after the tremors were felt in the region.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre lay 45 km south-southwest of Jarm in Afghanistan, around 240 km from capital Kabul. It put the intensity at 7.7 on the Richter scale. USGS also said that the depth of the earthquake was 213 km.

The Pakistani meteorological department put the intensity even higher – at 8.1, reported IANS.

Phone lines are down in Srinagar, according to TV reports. Reports have also said that the tremors felt across north India lasted for more than 5 minutes.

PM Narendra Modi tweeted on the earthquake, saying India was ready to provide full support to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted, asking people to remain calm. He also said that disaster management teams have been activated.

A senior metro official also said that metro services have resumed although trains are running at a very slow pace.

“Metro services were put on hold from 2.40 pm to 2.55 pm in view of the earthquake. Thereafter, train services were brought to normal routine after ensuring safety check of the structures,” the official said.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) DG OP Singh also spoke to CNN-IBN and said 24 teams have been put on alert to deal with the crisis.

“We are trying to contact the officials in J&K. We have alerted battalions in Bhatinda and Ghaziabad. 24 teams are on alert. We’ll immediately respond to this crisis,” Sigh said.

On the situation in Kashmir, Singh said that the power is completely down there. “We are still trying to get in touch with those people,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

Live: Four killed in Pak, tremors felt in India after 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Afghanistan

Oct 26, 2015

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A massive earthquake of magnitude 7.7, with its epicentre at Hindukush region near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, hit parts of North India and Pakistan on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The earthquake epicentred in the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan struck at around 2.40 pm, sending ripples across several states like Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, reported PTI.

People frantically rushed out of their houses and offices as the ground shook. In the national capital, metro sevrices were briefly halted.

In Srinagar, residents said they saw the buildings “swinging”, remindig them of the devastating quake in 2005.

The Delhi Metro has been temporarily halted after the tremors were felt in the region.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre lay 45 km south-southwest of Jarm in Afghanistan, around 240 km from capital Kabul. It put the intensity at 7.7 on the Richter scale. USGS also said that the depth of the earthquake was 213 km.

The Pakistani meteorological department put the intensity even higher – at 8.1, reported IANS.

Phone lines are down in Srinagar, according to TV reports. Reports have also said that the tremors felt across north India lasted for more than 5 minutes.

“We are trying to contact the officials in J&K. We have alerted battalions in Bhatinda and Ghaziabad. 24 teams are on alert. We’ll immediately respond to this crisis,” NDRF DG OP Singh told CNN-IBN.

On the situation in Kashmir, Singh sait that the power is completely down there. “We are still trying to get in touch with those people,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

Pakistan Rangers target 9 BSF posts in overnight firing, 1 civilian injured

Jammu: Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire again with heavy firing and mortar shelling overnight that targeted nine Border Outposts (BoPs) of BSF and civilian areas in Samba district along the IB, leaving a labourer injured.

After over a month-long lull, Pakistani troops on Friday resumed the ceasefire violations along the international border, killing one civilian and injuring three so far.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Pak Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing on BSF posts along IB in Samba sector from 2025 hours last night”, a BSF officer said in Jammu on Saturday, adding BSF troops carried out effective retaliation.

The Rangers fired on nine BoPs of BSF along IB in areas between River Basantar and River Treva in Samba sector, he said, adding that they used 82, 82 and 51 mm mortar bombs at few places along IB.

BSF troops guarding the borderline retaliated resulting in exchanges which continued till 0220 hours today, he said, adding that there was no loss of life on Indian side but a civilian, who was working as a labourer in maintenance work near fence, was injured.

A civilian was killed and two others were injured last evening when Pakistani troops indulged in heavy firing along IB in Mangu Chak border outpost.

The ceasefire violations, which became a routine, had stopped after the Director General (DG)-level talks between BSF and Pakistan Rangers on 12 September.

PTI

After a lifetime of being a world citizen, why am I now a Kashmiri Nationalist?

My wanderings and education in many parts of the West had rendered me into more or less a cosmopolitan person. I deemed and held myself to be a ‘rootless’ cosmopolitan with no real attachment to any nation or country — a citizen of the world. This did not mean or imply irresponsibility but more or less a commitment to humanity and the human condition. This was lent poignancy given that my formative years were spent in Kashmir at a time when Kashmir was in the throes of conflict and insurgency.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Tremendous psychical conflict gripped me and my existential travails made me into a wanderer. While this meant that I did not ‘settle’ down in some place, the concomitant of the extended wandering cycle or spree meant that my conflicted psyche attained a degree of closure: I was neither of here nor there but of everywhere, so to speak.

My wandering cycle was broken by my father’s injury; he broke his back in 2011. I had to return to Kashmir.

Fast forward to 2015.

While the military dimension of the conflict in and over Kashmir has been contained, the vale, as it stands now, is on the threshold of deep and pervasive uncertainty. This uncertainty is overlain by what seems like a multi-pronged assault on the vale and its people, Kashmiris. Like perhaps every Kashmiri, I am not immune from the gale of this assault and what can be deemed political conspiracies to alter the ideational, ideological and the political super, and substructure of Kashmir. I relate to and am affected by this.

I can philosophise about the human condition and what have you, but in the final analysis, my ‘objective reality’ at this moment is that I am in Kashmir and I am a Kashmiri. Their heightened and poignant sense of feeling and being Kashmiri has been catalysed by the political forces that appear to be arrayed against Kashmir: the BJP and its allied organisations or the Sangh Parivar. My post-Western ‘imagined identity’ may have been that of a rootless cosmopolitan but hostile political forces tell me and validate for me my Kashmiri-ness. What does my re-imagined and re-conceived self mean here?

Nothing really.

The story that I tell myself is that I am Kashmiri.

This has political connotations. What kind?

The political implications of the identity that has been ‘thrust’ upon me are that I will think of and assert myself as Kashmiri. Disaggregated, this means that I will be sensitive to what is dished out to me politically; I will feel more acutely the pain and anguish of Kashmiris caught in the vortex and crucible of the conflict in and over Kashmir. It will mean that both corporeally and psychically , I will be one with fellow Kashmiris. It will perhaps even mean activism to protect my identity and sense of being Kashmiri.

Having said this, I know and understand that all identities are constructed and even imagined ones.

But this will not deter me from wearing my Kashmiri-ness on my sleeve as a badge of pride. At the same time, all this will not mean that I will be chauvinistic or aggressive or assert cultural superiority. This will be the legacy or more accurately the residual legacy of my cosmopolitan self. If I do the maths, so to speak, do I stand enriched from the convoluted journey back to my roots? Or do I stand pauperised?

Enriched I would say.

My cosmopolitan odysseys have left an indelible and enduring imprint on my personality. This wont be erased but I am reminded by events and contemporary politics who I really am. The rediscovery is both a joy and a matter of pride but of course, not prejudice.

Who do I thank for this? The BJP, of course.

Disempowered and neglected: Status of women remains a worrying aspect in Kashmir narrative

By David Devadas

The suicide of a young married woman in Srinagar a few days ago not only shocked Kashmiris but also brought to the fore a generally neglected facet of Kashmir’s social realities. The stresses that married women endure have increased manifold over the past three decades. These decades have been a time of militant violence. The environment of violence has vastly increased the challenges that women face. Yet, most narratives on violence have either ignored women or treated them as objectified victims. Such deeper social trends as the social disempowerment of women have gone largely unnoticed.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to neighbours’ and relatives’ accounts, the woman who died of burns had suffered great torment and humiliation at her marital home. Finally, she could take it no more on Eid this year, and set herself on fire. Her desperate act is surely only the tip of an iceberg of societal distress.

Although a much larger number of women are educated now than a couple of generations ago, the ironic fact is that they generally feel more disempowered than their grandmothers did. This is partly a result of the waves of rural-to-urban migration over the past three decades, during which vast sprawls of erstwhile farmland and wetlands have become suburbs. Albeit illiterate, the woman of a rural household had great autonomy, even authority, over not only her kitchen but the household and farm too.

As in much of south Asia, an educated woman works, perhaps as a teacher, but must also take care of all the housework. University professors complain sotto voce that they must take off their burqa as soon as they get home after work and go straight to work in the kitchen. By evening, they must supervise the children’s homework, have everything clean and tidy, and smile warmly while serving tea to any guests their husbands might bring home – generally without notice. “I cannot complain that I have a headache,” says one with a wry smile.

Educated women face another kind of disempowerment from rising tides of social and religious conservatism. Just a few weeks ago, young women were groped and assaulted for trying to attend Kashmir’s first marathon. The most galling aspect of this repression is that after they suffer such indignities, women’s voices and narratives are flatly denied, even on purportedly gender-sensitive media platforms.

This sort of denial of their narratives combines with repression by clerical and other culture police – including, ironically, members of the police force – to frustrate them. An all-girls rock band had to wind up after facing threats and vicious abuse a few years ago. It must be said that this too is common enough in other parts of south Asia but, in contemporary Kashmir, many feel the implicit threat of violence more keenly than elsewhere.

Since the state is used to viewing Kashmir through the prisms of ‘terrorism’, ‘radicalisation’, ‘alienation’ and ‘insurgency’, whatever space is given for the expression of talents or fulfilment of economic and cultural aspirations is provided primarily to young men. Such strategies are oblivious to the fact that young women not only have a key role in moulding society, they are also inherently likely to have a greater stake in peace.

Ironically, one of the reasons for such skewed policies is populism, which many politicians feel impelled to adopt. As Prime Minister-cum-Sports Minister of the state before 1953, Sheikh Abdullah used to stand on the Polo Ground in the centre of Srinagar and supervise sports for women students. Principals of the Government College for Women such as Mehmooda Ali Shah were exemplars and courageous enthusiasts of such co-curricular activities as theatre.

Contemporary political leaders have not given the same importance to promoting women and their rights as Abdullah, GM Bakshi and GM Sadiq did. Although today’s women leaders such as Mehbooba Mufti and Sakina Itoo are courageous in their own right but, apart from Hina Bhat of the BJP, they have been discreet about espousing women’s rights.

Policymakers would do well to address this lacuna. For, young women urgently seek space for the fulfilment of their aspirations. Leaving a women’s college in the heart of downtown after conducting a survey a few years ago, one found a couple of young women in the college uniform waiting at the gate. “We want to thank you, sir,” they said. Perplexed, one asked why. “Somebody came to ask what we want,” they replied. “Koi poochhta nahi hai, ke hum kya chahate hain (Nobody asks what we want).”

(Author of `In Search of a Future, the Story of Kashmir,’ David Devadas is an expert on Kashmiri politics and society.)

Blacked! Alleged Hindu Sena members attack J&K MLA Engineer Rashid over beef party

In the latest in the series of such acts by fringe Hindutva groups across the country, members of Hindu Sena attacked an independent MLA from Jammu & Kashmir, Engineer Rashid, at the Press Club of India in New Delhi and smeared black ink all over his face. The incident took place on Monday afternoon.

Eye-witnesses claimed that while thrashing Rashid and throwing black ink and engine oil on him, the members of the outfit shouted, “Gau Mata Ki Jai” and said “it was a befitting punishment for hosting a beef party in Kashmir and again trying to do that in Delhi.”

The lawmaker was addressing the media on the issue of death of one of the three persons attacked in Udhampur over beef rumours earlier this month.

Ink attack on J&K MLA Rashid. PTI

Ink attack on J&K MLA Rashid. PTI

According to news channels, Vishnu Gupta-led Hindu Sena has claimed responsibility for the ink attack on the MLA. Two people allegedly involved in the attack have been detained by the police.

After the incident, Rashid told reporters present at the Press Club, “This is Talibanization of India. It’s not only happening in Pakistan, but also in India. This is what they do to Kashmiris in Modi’s India.”

He further claimed, “I do not eat beef, mutton, or chicken but that was a form of protest to tell the authorities that do not interfere in anyone’s religion. If the UP government can be held responsible for Dadri incident, the BJP is equally responsible for the Udhampur incident along with its ally PDP.”

This is the second attack on Rashid after he hosted a party in Srinagar earlier this month on the lawns of his government residence where beef was served. The first attack was by BJP MLAs on 9 October inside the J&K Assembly.

He was detained on 10 October with his supporters after he staged a sit-in demonstration at the entrance to the Assembly and accused Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of deliberately sabotaging the anti-beef ban bill.

However, Sayeed condemned Monday’s incident in Delhi and said “In a vibrant democracy like India, we need to have courage to respect dissent and provide space to different points of view. The spate of unpleasant incidents such as this is most disturbing.”

But there are many within the BJP and beyond, who haven’t taken Rashid’s Srinagar party kindly.

Ashwini Upadhyay, Delhi BJP spokesperson told Firstpost, “It’s unfortunate that the lawmaker himself doesn’t have any respect for the law of the nation, and he has broken it shamelessly. Some politicians for their vested interested and ulterior motives resort to such acts like Rashid did by publicly hosting a beef party. This act of his will end the faith of the common man in our democratic system. By hosting a beef party, the MLA has also violated the J&K Representation Act, which clearly lays down certain codes of conduct for the state’s lawmakers.”

“Personal Muslim law has nowhere mentioned about consuming beef. In fact, in many places, it has prohibited eating of beef. Moreover, there’s a court’s ban order on the sale of beef in J&K, though a temporary stay has been granted, but that doesn’t absolve the MLA from his act. If Rashid had to do it, he should have done it at home or at a private space, and not in a public space. By doing so, he has not only hurt the Hindu sentiments, but that of the Muslims as well,” added Upadhyay.

Former J&K chief Omar Abdullah tweeted on the micro-blogging site Twitter: [Attack on Eng. Rashid is unacceptable & condemned in the strongest possible terms. This climate of intolerance & violence is very worrying.]

BJP leader from J&K, Hina Bhat said, “I condemn what happened to Rashid. Such incidents are heart-breaking”.

“Since, I haven’t seen the incident, I can’t comment right now,” said Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed.

The party hosted by Rashid had angered the Hindus in J&K, including the Kashmiri pandits.

Raj Nehru, secretary, All India Kashmiri Samaj, told Firstpost, “This irresponsible act of MLA Rashid has not only hurt the sentiments of Kashmiri pandits, but millions of Hindus in J&K and across India. It’s his deliberate attempt to polarise the people of the state. He used the party, where he had served beef as a tool to foment religious sentiments in Kashmir. It’s a tactic of majoritarian suppressing the minority in Kashmir. Under the garb of radicalization, the legislator tried to incite communal fire. He’s a trouble-maker and must be behind the bars for his criminal act of violating a court’s order.”

Ink attack on Jammu and Kashmir MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh by Hindu Sena

Photos: 1 of 2

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Apex court dismisses plea seeking HC hearing of J&K beef ban case in Jammu

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking that the hearing on the beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir be heard by a three-judge bench of the high court at Jammu.

Image courtesy: AFPImage courtesy: AFP

Image courtesy: AFP

An apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra dismissed the plea, which contended that there was an apprehension of a law and order situation if the hearing would be held in Srinagar.

Chief Justice Dattu while rejecting the plea, said that he had spoken to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice N. Paul Vasanta Kumar on Tuesday night and he had said that there was no apprehension of a law and order problem if the hearing took place in Srinagar

The petitioner, Parimoksh Seth, had sought the hearing be either held at Jammu or outside the state.

In view of the conflicting orders on the beef ban passed by the Jammu and Srinagar benches of the high court, the Supreme Court had on October 7 asked its chief justice to constitute a three judges bench to decide the issue.

IANS

Blows over beef: Watch BJP MLAs assault Jammu and Kashmir MLA for hosting beef party

Srinagar: Several BJP MLAs on Thursday assaulted Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, a day after he had hosted a beef party in Srinagar.

As BJP MLAs assaulted him, several NC and Congress MLAs rushed to save him.

The legislator from Langate had hosted the beef party in the lawns of MLA hostel in Srinagar on Wednesday, with the guests being served beef kebabs, ‘ristas’ (meat balls) and beef patties.

Screengrab from the video. IBNLiveScreengrab from the video. IBNLive

Screengrab from the video. IBNLive

Rashid had claimed that he did not want to offend anyone but wanted to send a message that “no courts or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want”.

The step was “just to give them (legislators) a clear message that it hardly makes any difference whether you accept or reject the bill… religious matters cannot be kept subservient to courts and assembly,” the MLA had said.

“Nobody on earth, no assembly, no court and no institution can stop us from having what we want to have,” he added.

The beef row erupted after a division bench of High Court in Jammu directed the state to strictly implement the ban in the state as per the law.

The order had evoked strong resentment from various quarters with many separatist and religious organisations terming it as “interference in religious affairs” and sought revocation of the law, besides pressing for implementation of ban on liquor in the state.

The issue is now before the Supreme Court.

Condemning the assault incident, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said what happened in the House was impossible to digest.

“What happened today is impossible to digest. An honourable member being assaulted in the House. It seems that they wanted to murder him (Rashid). If he had done anything that was objectionable that should have been put on record,” the former Chief Minister said.

On the beef ban issue, Omar said, “Our sentiments are also attached to this issue… We don’t force our religion on you. My religion prohibits consumption of alcohol and pork… Do I assault everyone who eats pork or alcohol,” he said, demanding that the Chief Minister make a statement on the issue.

Condemning the assault, the Chief Minister said sentiments should be kept under check.

“I condemn this incident. The House has good tradition….sentiments should be kept under control. I ask Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to apologise for the misconduct of his party MLAs.”

Singh, however, stopped short of apologising.

“We do not approve of what happened in the Assembly today. But what happened in the MLAs hostel yesterday was also wrong,” he said, referring to the beef party.

PTI

RSS organ calls for freeing PoK from Pakistan, says it’s ‘only solution’ to end issue

New Delhi: After Pakistan failed to elicit a response at UN on Kashmir, RSS organ ‘Organiser’ has said freeing Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir from its illegal occupation is the only solution to end this issue.

“That Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism is a well known fact now. On the other hand Bharat is widely recognised as the power centre in global matrix. Therefore, ‘K’ word is no longer a currency in international politics.

IUnrest in PoK. Image courtesy: CNN-IBN

IUnrest in PoK. Image courtesy: CNN-IBN

“Now freeing the PoK (Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) from the illegal occupation of Pakistan, ….. is the only solution to end this longstanding issue,” the editorial in ‘Organiser’ has said.

It said Pakistan has raised the bogey of Kashmir word with plebiscite in the UN General Assembly as a custom, but Nawaz Sharif could not garner international attention a earlier.

The RSS organ also said that to the contrary, videos showing Pakistan brutality and protests against Islamabad in the Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoK) are going viral and a leader from J&K Moulana Syed Athar Hussain Dehlavi after touring the areas has stated that people residing there want to be a part of India as they are impressed with governance here and are distressed with growing extremism in Pakistan.

“This transformation is a sign that the discourse on Jammu and Kashmir is set to change forever,” it said.

The editorial “Forget about K, talk about POK” said people of Jammu and Kashmir have time and again voted for the Assembly and Parliamentary elections in India ….., which Pakistan funded fringe elements such as Hurriyat always try to sabotage.

On the other hand, it claimed, demography on the other side of J&K was ‘forcefully changed’ and basic rights as equality before law and right to freedom of association or formation of political parties have been denied to the people, which Pakistan courts have also accepted.

“The region did not get any democratic representation… People of this occupied region always live under the shadow of violence, as POK is the main centre for terrorist training camps. The protests in Mirpur-Muzaffarabad have just started getting the limelight, Gilgit Baltistan is still in dark as there is no media coverage of atrocities and aspirations of these neglected regions,” it said.

PTI

Two Jaish-e-Mohammad militants killed, soldier hurt in Pulwama encounter

Srinagar: Two militants of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit were killed and a soldier was injured on Sunday in an encounter in Pulwama district of Kashmir, police said.

The encounter erupted after a joint team of police and army cordoned off Hari village in Tral in Pulwama and started a search operation following an intelligence input, police said.

Representational image. Firstpost

Representational image. Firstpost

As the search operation was going on, the militants, who were hiding in the area, tried to break the cordon and opened firing on the forces, Superintendent of Police (SP), Awantipora, Irshad Ahmad, told PTI.

He said two militants were killed in the encounter.

“They belonged to JeM and have been identified as Adil Pathan and Burmi,” the SP said.

Army said a soldier was injured in the encounter.

“One Army soldier who sustained a gunshot wound was immediately evacuated and his condition is reported to be stable,” an army spokesman said.

He said the operation led to the recovery of two AK-47 rifles and other “war-like stores” from the slain militants.

JeM has been responsible for several major attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, including the one on Parliament on 13 December, 2001.

The outfit was founded by Masood Azhar, one of the three terrorists released in exchange of passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane in December 1999.

PTI

Mobile internet services suspended in Kashmir for two days to prevent communal tension

Srinagar: In order to prevent uploading of inflammatory posts and pictures on social media, authorities on Thursday decided to suspend internet services on mobile phones for two days in the Kashmir Valley.

Although there has been no official word on suspension of internet services on cell phones from either the service providers or the government, highly-placed sources in state intelligence confirmed to IANS that these service will remain suspended for two days beginning Friday morning.

Representational image: Reuters

Representational image: Reuters

“In order to prevent anti-social elements from uploading inflammatory posts and pictures that could stoke communal passions, it has been decided to suspend Internet services on mobile phone for two days,” a top intelligence sources told IANS.

The suspension is aimed at preventing anti-social elements from uploading posts and pictures during the Eid festival on Friday.

Since the state high court re-asserted strict compliance of an 1982 provision of the Ranbir Penal Code earlier in September regarding ban on slaughter, sale or possession of beef in Jammu and Kashmir, a public controversy has been raging on the social media whether such a ban amounts to interference in religious rights of the majority Muslim community in Srinagar.

In a statement in Srinagar on Thursday, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has also appealed to Muslims not to do any act during the Eid festival that can hurt the religious sentiments of other communities.

IANS

Shutdown hits normal life in Srinagar, separatists protest murder of four-year-old

Srinagar: A protest shutdown called on Sunday by separatists against the murder of a four-year-old child and his former militant father impacted life here, with markets being shut and public transports going off roads.

Although it is a public holiday here, the weekly Sunday pavement market remained closed because of the shutdown.

The shutdown has been called by separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.

Representational image. Image courtesy: APRepresentational image. Image courtesy: AP

Representational image. Image courtesy: AP

Public transport also remained off the roads in Srinagar city and all other major towns and cities in the Kashmir valley.

Unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants had on Friday shot dead former militant Bashir Ahmad Bhat in Sagipora area of Kashmir’s Sopore town. While Bhat died on the spot, his son was critically injured in the firing incident and succumbed to injuries on Saturday.

Six mysterious killings have happened in Kashmir’s Baramulla district in the past seven days.

On Monday, bodies of three youth riddled with bullets were recovered from an apple orchard in Dangerpora (Pattan). On Friday, former militant Bhat and his son were killed by unidentified gunmen in Sopore and on Saturday, the bullet riddled body of Fayaz Ahmad, a militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, was found in Devbugh village near the Tangmarg town in Baramulla district.

Police said the three youth and the Hizbul commander were killed in internecine rivalry between the Hizbul and its breakaway faction, the Lashkar-e-Islam. The Hizbul has blamed the security forces for all these killings.

IANS

Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi arrested for hoisting Pakistani flag on its independence day

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday arrested the chief of radical women’s outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat, Asiya Andrabi, in connection with a case registered against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for hoisting Pakistani flag last month.

Asiya Andrabi. Image courtesy: ReutersAsiya Andrabi. Image courtesy: Reuters

Asiya Andrabi. Image courtesy: Reuters

“Andrabi has been arrested in connection with the case registered under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act on August 17,” a police official said here.

Andrabi has been lodged at women’s police station here. The DeM chief celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14 at her residence by singing that country’s national anthem and unfurling the flag of the neighbouring country on the outskirts of the city.

Hours after that, Andrabi had stoked another controversy by addressing via phone a rally in Pakistan which was organized by Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD).

Saeed was sitting on the stage during Andrabi’s address. Andrabi had earlier also celebrated Pakistan’s National Day on March 23 this year and hoisted the flag of the country and sung its national anthem, following which the police registered a case against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

PTI

Hizb militants kill members of breakaway faction: 3 bodies with torture marks found in Kashmir’s Baramulla

Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen militants suspectedly killed two activists of a breakaway faction along with an unidentified person, reflecting growing struggle between militant outfits in Kashmir.

Bodies of the three were found in an orchard about 30 kms from here in Pattan in Baramulla district this morning. Two of them were later identified as Aamir Qadir Reshi of Sopore and 23-year-old Ashiq Wani of Lolipora of Pattan, police said, adding efforts were underway to identify the third one.

Reshi and Wani have been associated with Lashker-e-Islam, a breakaway outfit of Hizbul Mujahideen formed by its rebel leader Abdul Qayyum Najjar, sources said. Wani was an active militant since last last year while Reshi had joined ranks with the terror group in July this year, they said.

Police said the three could have been killed by Hizbul Mujahideen members led by Fayaz Wailoo, who has reportedly been tasked to neutralise members of the Najjar faction. Najjar broke ranks with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin earlier this year to float his outfit which carried out attacks on mobile towers and other telecommunication installations despite being warned not to do so.

Representative image. ReutersRepresentative image. Reuters

Representative image. Reuters

He was also responsible for killing of some separatists sympathisers in Sopore who were associated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, sources said. After discovery of the bodies in the morning, there were protests in Pattan and Palhalan towns on Srinagar-Baramulla highway and markets in the area were closed down.

“The protestors resorted to stone-pelting on law enforcing personnel. Additional forces have been rushed to the area to bring the situation under control,” police said. Working President of opposition National Conference and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed sorrow over the mysterious killing of the three youth and demanded a high-level probe into the incident.

“The killing of the youth is inhuman and heart-rending act….A high-level probe should be immediately ordered into the incident,” Omar said in a statement here. He said the incident needs to be thoroughly probed to identify the culprits and expose their motive behind the killings.

Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) termed the incident as “sorrowful and condemnable” and assured “appropriate action” as per law against the culprits. “It (killing of three youth) is condemnable and sorrowful incident and police should investigate it on fast-track basis,” PDP General Secretary Rafi Ahmad Mir said in a statement here.

Expressing sorrow and anguish over the incident, he said “I am sure the investigation will take place and taken to the logical conclusion and action would be taken against the people behind this.”

He said the “Valley has a fragile political atmosphere where the people have been the worst sufferers of conflict and such incidents leave them psychologically numb and disturbed.” He asked the opposition parties to desist from playing politics over the incident.

“This a serious issue and opposition should desist from playing politics over it,” he said adding the government would take appropriate action as per law and the expectations of the people.

PTI

Three bodies with torture marks, bullet wounds found in Kashmir’s Baramulla

Srinagar: Bodies of three men with bullet wounds and torture marks were on Monday found in a village in Pattan township of Baramulla district in north Kashmir.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Bodies of the three unidentified youths, aged between 20 and 30 years, were recovered from Dangerpora on Nihalpora-Wailoo road,” 30 kms from Srinagar, a police official said.

The police got the information about the sighting of the bodies in the village and immediately rushed to the scene, he said.

“The bodies of the youths bore torture and bullet marks,” the officer said.

“The police has taken cognizance and started investigations,” he said.

PTI

Three bodies with bullet wounds, torture marks found in Kashmir’s Baramulla

Srinagar: Bodies of three men with bullet wounds and torture marks were on Monday found in a village in Pattan township of Baramulla district in north Kashmir.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Bodies of the three unidentified youths, aged between 20 and 30 years, were recovered from Dangerpora on Nihalpora-Wailoo road,” 30 kms from Srinagar, a police official said.

The police got the information about the sighting of the bodies in the village and immediately rushed to the scene, he said.

“The bodies of the youths bore torture and bullet marks,” the officer said.

“The police has taken cognizance and started investigations,” he said.

PTI

Days after HC order, J&K BJP leader organises beef party to spread the ‘message of tolerance’

Over the past week, a series of meat bans has sparked controversy in BJP-ruled states, sharply dividing public opinion. However, in Jammu and Kashmir, a BJP leader has taken the initiative to throw a ‘beef party’, which is said to be to spread the message of tolerance.

Representational image. Image courtesy: AFPRepresentational image. Image courtesy: AFP

Representational image. Image courtesy: AFP

The Times of India has quoted the leader, Khurshid Ahmed Malik, as saying that he will organise a party for both Hindus and Muslims. The Muslims will be served beef while the Hindus will be served an exclusively vegetarian meal, he is reported to have said. Malik had unsuccessfully contested Assembly elections from Kokernag in the southern part of the state.

To a question about whether he had the approval of his party for the initiative, The Indian Express has quoted the leader as saying that it had nothing to do with the political party.

However, his initiative raises questions over whether it perpetuates stereotypes about food habits associated with religion. A study reported in The Hindu finds that only 31 percent of the population are vegetarians. Only 21 percent of families are vegetarians, with all members identifying themselves as such. This indicates that a large number of Hindus do eat meat.

Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court imposed a stay on the sale of beef across the state. This was in response to a public interest litigation claiming that the practice of the slaughter of bovine animals was against the law, but was continuing without any restrictions.

Srinagar half marathon: 12 arrested for allegedly eve-teasing and molesting women runners

Srinagar: Clashes between youth and security forces marred the first-ever international half marathon in Kashmir Valley in Srinagar on Sunday, following which 12 persons were arrested for allegedly eve-teasing and molesting women runners.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Soon after the run, organised to spread awareness about saving Srinagar’s iconic Dal Lake, was flagged off at Kashmir University at Hazratbal, some youth shouted “anti-India” slogans, raised Pakistani flags and pelted stones at forces, who resorted to lathicharge and firing of teargas shells.

“The situation is under control now,” police said, adding that there was, however, no report of any injury to anyone.

The incident drew flak from both PDP and NC. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was to take part in the event but pulled out of it owing to security situation, said on Twitter: “The theme for the run was ‘save the Dal’. It’s such a pity that politics had to come in the way of that also (sic).”

A PDP leader said those who indulged in sloganeering and raising of Pakistani flag were also behind eve-teasing and molestation, leading to the disturbance.

PDP president and MP Mehbooba Mufti expressed her dismay over the alleged incidents of molestation and eve-teasing and said, “Such a rowdy behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society. The state’s civil society should rise against such unruly behaviour where our daughters are being dishonoured by misguided, disruptive elements.”

“I do not know what was wrong with this marathon and why the youth tried not only to disrupt it but also to humiliate the female participants both from within and outside the state,” she said.

Waheed Para, PDP’s youth wing president and political analyst to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, accused the slogan-shouting youths of eve-teasing and molesting women participants. “We condemn the incident,” he added.

“The function was going on smoothly till some miscreants within the crowd started passing obscene and lewd comments at girl participants and those in the audience… FIRs have been registered… at Police Station Nigeen and 12 miscreants involved in molestation and eve-teasing have been arrested so far,” a police spokesman said.

The 21-km half marathon was to pass through the banks of Dal Lake along Foreshore Road. Besides some international marathoners, a large number of locals also participated in the event.

PTI

India will not hesitate to retaliate if disturbed, says Rajnath Singh

Bhopal: In a strong warning to those disrupting border peace, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said the country will not hesitate in retaliating if someone fires first and asserted the government is ready to talk to Pakistan over PoK and not Kashmir.

Home Minister Rajnath Singhm. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singhm. Reuters

“India always wants good friendly relations with its neighbours and continues with its policy of not disturbing anyone. But if someone fires at us first, we will not count the retaliatory bullets. Chhedenge nahi, par chhodenge bhi nahi (will not disturb anyone, but if disturbed, then won’t spare anyone),” Singh said.

He was addressing an inaugural programme of the first YN Singh Memorial Foundation Lecture Series on ‘National Security, Challenges and Strategy’ here last night.

Late YN Singh had served in co-operative department of Madhya Pradesh government. He was remembered for enhancing agriculture production through fertiliser distribution strategies.

On Pakistan raising the issue of Kashmir, Rajnath said, “During my meeting with the Pak Rangers and its delegation, I have cleared to them, Kashmir was, is and will remain India’s integral part and if you wish to talk, then talk about Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) only.”

“I have also tried to convince?? Pak Rangers that why they fire at the uniform (soldiers). First you fire, then we retaliate. Why not both of us will together fire at terrorism to end the menace,” he said.

The Home Minister said it was a challenge to protect the country’s over 23,000-km-long border, but assured it was well protected.

He also exuded confidence that India will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years.

“The world over it was believed that down the line India will emerge as a major economy along with US and China. However, I am confident that because of India’s core strength, it will become the world’s largest economy in next 10-15 years. But, some anti-national forces don’t want to see India in that position,” he said.

Singh said India believes in co-existence and it is the only country in the world where Islam’s all 72 ‘firke’ (sects) exist. In no other country, even in Islamic nations, all these 72 firkes were found. The same thing also applies for Christianity and Buddhism, he said.

Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s diplomatic skills, Rajnath said it is because of his leadership quality that even a country like United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stood with India on the issue of fighting against terrorism.

“It was unthinkable earlier,” he said.

On the steps taken by the government to enhance vigil on borders, he said in the last one year, the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh has come down to 2.5-3 lakh from the earlier figure of 22 lakh.

“This figure is not just provided by the Border Security Force (BSF) but also by NGOs working on the issue,” he said.

Referring to North East region, he said 70 terrorist organisations are active there and dealing with them is a challenge, but added that change is visible there also while citing the recent agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), to prove his point.

On the issue of Naxalism, he said 26 districts in the country are affected with the menace and that the respective state governments are dealing with the problem in an effective manner with the active support from the Centre, both in terms of deploying Central forces and required funds.

Earlier, addressing the function, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh termed “Naxalism as a bigger threat than terrorism.”

It (Naxalism) is persisting in the country because of an international conspiracy to destabilise India’s economy, he said.

The Chhattisgarh CM also highlighted various steps taken by his government, including setting of educational hubs in hardcore Naxal areas, to deal with the problem which helped in checking the menace to a great extent, especially in the state’s Sarguja district.

Chhattisgarh Government’s Principal Secretary Aman Singh, in whose father’s memory the lecture series was launched, highlighted the objectives of the YN Singh Memorial Foundation.

Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Dr Sitasharan Sharma, Chhattisgarh Assembly Speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh TS Singhdeo and a host of retired and serving bureaucrats were among others present on the occasion.

PTI

Pakistan Senate panel condemns ‘unprovoked firing’ by India along LoC

Islamabad: A defence committee in Pakistan’s Senate on Friday passed a resolution condemning “unprovoked firing” by India along the LoC in Kashmir and said its “aggressive and jingoistic” actions were part of an organised policy to “trigger” instability in Pakistan.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The resolution, which asked the international community to take notice of the Indian “aggression” at the Line of Control, was adopted unanimously by the Defence Committee during a meeting chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain in Parliament House in Islamabad.

“The Indian aggression is part of an organised policy to trigger instability in Pakistan. There is no justification for such a belligerence,” it said, condemning “unprovoked firing” and shelling by India along the LoC.

It stated that “the defence committee feels that enduring peace, security and stability in South Asia can only be attained once India starts to abide its commitment to United Nations’ resolutions regarding the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The resolution also said that ever since Prime Minister Narendera Modi has come to power, actions and statements of the Indian government have become “aggressive, jingoistic and war-like.”

It called upon the UN, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other international organisations “to take immediate notice of Indian aggression along the LoC and Working Boundary.”

Briefing the committee, Secretary Defence Lt Gen (Retd) Alam Khattak warned that “a strong and befitting reply would be given if war is imposed on Pakistan by India.”

“India wants to impose war but let it be known that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and eruption of a war would destroy both countries,” he said.

“Indian forces routinely target civilian zones inside Pakistan, and Pakistan retaliates by returning fire on legitimate military targets only, and not civilian zones inside India,” the defence official said.

The resolution was passed against the backdrop of heightened tensions and cross-border firing between Indian and Pakistani troops along the LoC recently.

PTI

1 army jawan, four militants killed during gunfight in Kupwara in J&K

Srinagar: An Indian Army soldier and four militants were killed in a night-long gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, an official said on Thursday.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

“Security forces, including troops of the army’s para regiment, Special Operations Group of state police (SOG) and CRPF, surrounded Vilgam (Handwara) village late Wednesday following information about a group of militants hiding in the village,” a police officer told IANS here.

“When they were challenged they resorted to firing at the security forces triggering the encounter in which four militants and an army soldier were killed,” he added.

He said search operations were still on in the area, adding that the identity of the militants was being estsablished.

It must be recalled that an army soldier and a separatist militant were killed on Wednesday in Ladoora village of the same district.

IANS

Why this is an opportune moment for India to call for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir

India should immediately hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.

Call it a referendum or plebiscite, but India will win hands down. There will be very few takers for a merger with Pakistan or independence. The resounding verdict will put an end to the debate once and for all. So let’s just get it over and done with.

I must admit that I wasn’t aware of the win-win situation for India in Jammu and Kashmir until 10 August, when I attended the launch of former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat’s book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, at the Oxford bookstore in Kolkata. As a result of Dulat’s presence at the event, the strategic community – serving and retired senior RAW, IB and army officers – was also in attendance.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The chief guest of the evening was General Shankar Roychowdhury, retired chief of army staff. After he did the honours, the audience heard with rapt attention a no-holds-barred discussion between Dulat and Sunanda K Datta-Ray, famous columnist who once edited The Statesman, about the book. .

After the tête-à-tête, the discussion was thrown open to the house. Several speakers stood up to ask questions or express an opinion. Without much ado, Lt Gen John Ranjan Mukherjee — the GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps in Jammu and Kashmir until 2001 — told the house that a plebiscite is the best solution for the festering problem because the will of the majority of people in Jammu and Kashmir is with India.

Pakistan, according to him, is living in a world of fantasy as 80 to 90 percent of the population of the state stands staunchly behind India regardless of their gripes over the quality of governance for decades.

After these stunning opening remarks, General Mukherjee provided a detailed community-wise break-up of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions in Indian-administered Kashmir and the southern and northern areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, to bolster his case for a plebiscite.

In the Jammu region, 66 percent of the population is Hindu anyway. Muslims account for 30 percent, in addition to four percent belonging to other ethnic groups. But 65 percent of Jammu’s Muslims are Shias who are bitterly anti-Pakistan because of the treatment meted out to Shias in Pakistan. Between eight and 10 percent of the Muslim population are ethnic Kashmiri Sunni Muslims — representing three to five percent of Jammu’s population. By General Mukherjee’s reckoning, at least 95 percent of Jammu’s population would vote for India in a referendum — barring Kashmiri Sunni Muslims.

In the Kashmir region, the mountain tribes like Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Paharis, Baltis and Shins comprise 20 percent of the population, and are staunchly pro-India. They regard ethnic Kashmiri Sunni Muslims — accounting for 65 to 70 percent of the population — as exploiters. Among the rest, 10 to 15 percent are Hindus and Sikhs, and five percent are Shias.

Among Kashmir’s Sunni Muslims, 20 to 25 percent are pro-India, while five percent are pro-Pakistan. Ten to 15 percent are pro-independence and 50 to 55 percent are fence-sitters, who wish to get on with their lives and are not concerned about who rules, as long as they can live in peace. But at the heart of their requirements is greater autonomy.

General Mukherjee said that if greater autonomy is ensured and if the Hindus, Sikhs, Shias and mountain tribes continue being as pro-India as they are, 70 to 80 percent of Kashmir’s population would passionately vote to remain in India.

In the Ladakh region, the entire population is pro-India, anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir as Buddhists and Shia Muslims account for 52 percent and 45 percent of the population respectively.

The General concluded that an objective analysis of ethnicity and religious patterns in the state left no doubt in his mind that India enjoys the backing of a formidable 80 to 90 per cent of the total population.

In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, barely 10 percent are ‘real’ Kashmiris entitled to vote in a plebiscite. The rest are Punjabi ex-servicemen, Afghans and Mirpuris settled there by the government of Pakistan to engineer a radical change in the region’s demography.

The speech totally blew my mind. It wasn’t Tom, Dick or Harry holding forth but a straight-talking army commander with inside knowledge of what Bill Clinton once called the most dangerous place on earth, addressing a gathering of those in the know of things.

Having always been under the impression that an overwhelming majority in Jammu and Kashmir is pro-Pakistan, I decided to cross-check his assertions with my contacts in the security establishment. They told me that what the General had said was accurate and known to those who dealt with Kashmir on a regular basis, the information-cum-analysis wasn’t in the public domain for obvious reasons.

After having the privilege of listening to such an honest, powerful and logical advocacy of a referendum in the troubled state, I’m convinced that despite three full-blown wars, Kargil incursions and the unending export of terror to India by successive Pakistani regimes, we should still call Islamabad’s bluff and agree to a plebiscite.

SNM Abdi is a Firstpost columnist and former Deputy Editor of Outlook

Captured terrorist Sajjad Ahmed had been tasked to set up LeT base in Kashmir, say officials

Srinagar: Sajjad Ahmed, the Pakistani terrorist caught on Thursday, had been tasked to set up a base for Lashkar-e-Taiba in Rafiabad, some 76 kms from Srinagar, and curb the influence of local militant Qayyum Najjar, who has defected from Hizbul Mujahideen to form his own group.

Captured Pakistani terrorist Sajjad Ahmed. PTI

Captured Pakistani terrorist Sajjad Ahmed. PTI

Officials interrogating Ahmed said he had joined LeT in 2012 and had made two attempts earlier to enter the Kashmir Valley from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) but failed because of heavy deployment of the Army.

Ahmed, who has studied till 4th standard, told his interrogators that he was a Baloch settled in Muzzafargarh of Punjab province in South West Pakistan, the officials said.

The terrorist, who was captured after a two-day operation in which his four associates were killed, had also worked with Jamaat-ul-Dawa, which is headed by Hafiz Saeed, the chief of LeT and mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, the officials said.

Ahmed, aged 22, has undergone all the three kinds of training in terrorism – ‘Daura-e-Aam’, ‘Daura-e-Khas’ and ‘Daura-e-Sufa’, they said.

In Daura-e-Aam, the cadres of the terror outfit are given basic training in small arms and grenade-throwing for 21 days which is followed by a three-month specialised training, known as Daura-e-Khas in which they are taught handling of AK riles, rocket launchers, making of Improvised Explosive Devices and LMGs.

The third kind of training, known as Daura-e-Sufa, involves motivating and brainwashing youth for terror acts.

Ahmed is believed to have said that the main objective of sending him and others here was to enable LeT re-establish its base in Rafiabad area in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

LeT’s influence in Rafiabad has seen a decline since Najjar’s rift with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and formed his own dissident group sometime back.

Ahmed said he had been recalled recently from his home to cross over into Kashmir and was given a task for undermining the influence of Najjar, who is a local resident of Sopore and allegedly involved in killing of five people in May and June this year besides carrying out blasts at the telecom towers.

If Ahmed’s statement is to be believed, then it indicates that Salahuddin has joined hands with LeT in targeting Najjar, who has been fighting a bitter battle with Hizb chief and refused to follow his diktats.

PTI

Jammu and Kashmir: Three killed, 17 injured after Pakistan targets civilian areas

Jammu: Two people were killed and 16 others were injured when Pakistani Rangers heavily shelled civilian areas and Army posts along the International Border in R S Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu district on Friday, drawing retaliation from the BSF.

“Pakistan Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing. Initially small arms were used but later on mortars bombs were shelled on BSF posts and civilian areas in R S Pura and Arnia sectors since midnight”, a BSF spokesman said.

The firing and mortar shelling started around 0145 hours along the IB in Kishanpur, Jora Form, Jugnu Chak, Nawapind, harna, Sia, Abdullian and Chandu Chak areas, a police officer said.

The Pakistani troops fired mortar bombs and used automatic weapons in the firing. The shelling was so heavy that the shells landed deep inside villages much away from IB, he said. Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said two persons are dead and 16 others were injured. He said there were reports that another person has also been killed in the firing.

Representational image. AP.Representational image. AP.

Representational image. AP.

However, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal told PTI that three persons were killed in the firing. BSF troops guarding the border retaliated resulting in heavy exchanges which are going on when the reports last came in from the area, they said.

“Undeterred and resolute BSF troops deployed in these forward post areas gave a befitting reply and fired on the forward areas of Pakistan along the Line of Control, reportedly, causing damage to them”, the officer said.

“No damage and casualty to BSF troops on own side has been reported till the last reports came in”, he added. There have been 55 violations of the border ceasefire agreement of 2003 by Pakistan in August and over 245 ceasefire violations during the year so far.

Pakistani Rangers had pounded civilian areas and military positions along the International Border (IB) in R S pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu district on the intervening night of August 17-18, injuring a villager.

On the intervening night of August 16-17, Pakistan troops had resorted to ceasefire violations in Saujiyan and Mandi sectors of Poonch district and shelled forward posts and civilian areas with 120 mm and 82 mm mortar bombs and heavy machine guns (HMGs).

On August 16, a woman was killed and five persons were injured as Pakistani troops fired 120 mm and 82 mm mortars bombs, HMGs and RPGs on border posts and civilian areas in Poonch and Rajouri districts.

On Independence Day, six civilians, including a sarpanch were killed and five others injured in heavy firing and mortar bomb shelling by Pakistani troops at several Indian posts and civilian areas. Last month, there were 19 ceasefire violations in which four persons, including three jawans, were killed and 14 others injured.

Meanwhile, Pakistan military claimed that at least six civilians were killed and 46 others, including 22 women, were injured in alleged firing from the Indian side in the Charwa Sector near the Sialkot Working Boundary.

PTI

On three-day visit to J&K, Rahul Gandhi makes surprise visit to separatist hub

Srinagar: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday made a surprise visit to Maisuma locality, the hub of separatist protests in the city, near the city centre of Lal Chowk for a tea and snacks break at a local vendor.

“Just after leaving the Congress party office (at M A Road here) for airport, Rahul ji expressed a desire to visit Lal Chowk, so the cavalcade made a u-turn at Jehangir Chowk and halted at Maisuma Chowk (near Lal Chowk),” Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President G A Mir told PTI.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

At Maisuma, which is the bastion of separatist leader and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, Rahul walked up to a local vendor at the busy market place, sending his security team into frenzy.

“Rahul had tea, pakoras (snacks) and Bakirkhani (local bread) at the vendor. He also bought potato chips and ‘nadrumunj’ (the famous Kashmiri snacks made from lotus stems) from the vendor and took them home,” Mir said.

The JKPCC president said Rahul felt very happy after visiting Maisuma. “He was extremely happy and excited,” he said.

Earlier, the congress vice-president visited many religious places in the Valley including the revered shrines of Kheer Bhawani and Hazratbal.

“Rahul paid obeisance at the temple of Kheer Bhawani (in Ganderbal district), at Hazratbal Shrine (on the banks of the famous Dal Lake here) and at a temple in Ishber Nishat,” Mir said.

He said Rahul also wanted to visit the shrine of Makhdoom sahib atop the Hariparbat hillock in downtown Srinagar. “However, the security agencies did not allow the visit at such a short notice,” Mir said.

Rahul also visited the party headquarters – his first visit there after the last years’ flood.

Rahul, who was on a three-day visit to the state, concluded his tour after his Ladakh visit was cancelled earlier. “The Ladakh visit could not fructify as there was some change in his earlier schedule. Rahul will visit the state again in the coming months and that time he will only go to Ladakh,” the Congress sources said.

PTI

Three civilians killed, several injured after firing by Pakistan forces in Jammu and Kashmir

Three civilians were killed and nine injured on Friday in heavy and indiscriminate shelling by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, police said. However, TV channels are reporting that the number of injured may rise.

Subhash Chander, 45, and Bimla Devi, 42, both residents of Sai Khurd village, and Pawan Kumar, 55, who lived in Abdullian village, were killed, reports IANS

Injured persons being taken for treatment. Image courtesy: ANIInjured persons being taken for treatment. Image courtesy: ANI

Injured persons being taken for treatment. Image courtesy: ANI

Pakistani troops launched an attack with heavy mortar shelling in border outposts in both the sectors, NDTV reported.

“Pakistan Rangers resorted to shelling and firing at 1 am and our side has appropriately retaliated,” a senior police officer told IANS.

DNA reports that the firing had started at about 10 pm on Thursday night and ended in the early hours of Friday morning at around 3:30 am.

This latest violation of ceasefire by Pakistan comes days before the meeting between the Director Generals of Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force is set to take place in New Delhi on 6 September.

On 25 August, an Indian soldier was killed in unprovoked firing in the Nowgam sector. This was said to have been the first major violation after the cancellation of the NSA-level talks.

On Independence day, a ceasefire violation by Pakistan had killed three persons and injured five persons in Poonch.

According to the NDTV report, so far in 2015 there have been more than 245 violations this year and 51 ceasefire violations in August.

With inputs from IANS

After Sushma Swaraj’s salvo, Hurriyat Conference leaders Bilal Lone, Shabir Shah and 2 others detained in Delhi

New Delhi: As uncertainty loomed large over Indo-Pak NSA talks, moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Bilal Lone and Shabir Shah were among four separatist leaders detained today at Delhi airport to prevent them from meeting Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz in the event of his arrival here.

All the four separatist leaders were put under house arrest in the capital, official sources said. Lone, who is the executive member of moderate faction of Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, was stopped at the ladder of the aircraft as he deplaned and was informed that he was under detention and would remain confined to his rented accommodation in South Delhi, the sources said.

Separatist leader Bilal Lone. AFPSeparatist leader Bilal Lone. AFP

Separatist leader Bilal Lone. AFP

Lone is the fourth separatist leader from Kashmir who was detained at the Delhi airport. Earlier, Shabir Shah, who broke away from Hurriyat last year and formed his Democratic Freedom Party, was detained along with two senior members of his party in the morning.

Bilal refused to make any comments about his detention. The separatist leaders were told that “restrictions have been imposed on their movement in the national capital” ahead a possible talks between Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, official sources said.

Shah along with two other separatist leaders Mohammed Abdullah Tari and Zamir Ahmed Sheikh are under house arrest in a south Delhi guest house and the trio will remain confined to that place only.

All the separatist leaders have been given an option that they were free only to travel to Srinagar, in case they wanted to. While leaving Srinagar, Shah had said the he would like to meet Aziz. “Today we are going to ask the people of India whether former Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, their leader L K Advani or Manmohan Singh were wrong. During their tenure, they never blocked us from meeting Pakistani officials when they came to India…

“Kashmir is an important issue…Pakistan’s stand is clear. They are saying that they will come for talks and present whatever they want to say. India can also put forward its argument but Kashmir issue must be included,” he insisted.

The top separatist leaders have received an invite from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a reception being hosted for Aziz, who is scheduled to arrive in Delhi tomorrow afternoon to hold talks with Doval on Monday if everything goes as per plans.

The Pakistan High Commission’s invitation to hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatist leaders to meet Aziz has upset New Delhi but Pakistan has stuck to the line that such meetings were “routine”.

PTI

Militants kill policeman, civilian in Kashmir’s Baramulla district

Srinagar: Separatist guerrillas on Tuesday gunned down a policeman and a civilian at a shrine in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, police said.

Militants sprayed bullets at the policeman who was guarding the shrine.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

“Militants fired at constable Fayaz Ahmad at the Tujarsharief shrine,” a police officer told IANS. He succumbed to his injuries.

A civilian, Abdul Rahim Lone, 70, was also killed outside the shrine.

The militants fled after the killings. “Reinforcements have been rushed to the area to trace the assailants,” the officer added.

IANS

Udhampur attack aftermath: Captured terrorist Naved will undergo lie detector test on Tuesday

New Delhi: The NIA on Monday got permission from a Delhi court to conduct a lie detector test on LeT terrorist Mohammed Naved Yakub, who was captured by villagers after an attack on a BSF bus in Udhampur earlier this month which had left two of its personnel dead.

Mohammad Naved will undergo a lie detector test on Tuesday. PTI

Mohammad Naved will undergo a lie detector test on Tuesday. PTI

Naved, in his early 20s, was produced before a court in New Delhi where the anti-terror agency also secured permission to collect his DNA and voice samples. The lie detector test on Naved, who is in NIA custody till 24 August, will be carried out at 11 am on Tuesday at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in CGO complex, after his interrogators claimed he was lying on many accounts.

During the in-camera proceedings, District Judge Amar Nath granted NIAs prayer for the polygraphy test after taking consent from Naved, a resident of Faislabad in Pakistan. Naved gave his consent for the test in writing in Urdu.

“Keeping in view the seriousness and gravity of the offence I am of the considered opinion that polygraph test of accused is required to be conducted in the facts and circumstances of the instant case as fully explained in the application.

“Accordingly, I allow the present application permitting the NIA to take the accused to Central Forensic Science Laboratory, CGO Complex, Lodhi road, New Delhi on August 18 at 11 am for conducting polygraph test,” the judge said.

There are many “loopholes”, especially about his infiltration route and his association with certain people in the Kashmir Valley, a senior NIA official associated with the probe said, hoping the lie detector test will help unravel the truth.

Naved was overpowered by two young villagers who he had taken hostage after the attack on BSF personnel. The LeT terrorist’s accomplice Mohammed Noman alias Momin was killed in retaliatory firing by the BSF.

The sources said DNA sample was being taken to be furnished to the Pakistani authorities if they expressed doubts about the militant’s identity. Naved was brought here from Jammu last week for carrying out scientific tests.

NIA Chief Sharad Kumar, who returned from his two-day visit to Jammu, had earlier said the agency has evidence of his Pakistani nationality and links to LeT, which trained him in use of arms and ammunition and for recruiting cadre for expansion of the terror group.

Naved has said he had undergone a refresher course for six weeks in Pakistan from march this year with 25 others before infiltrating Kashmir. This was after he had undergone two training modules – ‘Daura-e-Aam’ and ‘Daura-e-Khas’. While the first module teaches LeT cadre physical fitness, mountaineering and use of small arms, in the second they are trained in using assault rifles and manufacturing small explosives.

PTI

Pakistan may want to botch the dialogue but it’s best for India to stick to diplomacy

‘Two martyred in Indian firing across LoC,’ claims the News International Times based in Rawalpindi. Another Pakistan newspaper blames India for unprovoked firing along the Nakial sector.

Across the border, in villages of Jammu the reality is in stark contrast to the headlines in Pakistan. Hundreds of families have fled their homes in Poonch district, along the LoC, due to heavy shelling by the Pakistani forces.

On 15 August, in one of the biggest incidents of firing along the LoC in recent times, six people were killed and several others were injured as shells rained on Poonch within hours of Pakistan claiming that it will never give up its support for the cause of Kashmiris.

Pakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTIPakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTI

Pakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTI

“No matter how much more time does their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause,” Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Abdul Basit said, during his country’s Independence Day celebrations in Delhi.

It is evident that Pakistan wants to needle India and yet play the martyr, an innocent victim of unprovoked firing. Since nobody knows who fires the first shot in border skirmishes, or who is retaliating to which previous incident, Islamabad has the luxury to obfuscate the genesis of every conflict.

When dealing with Kashmir, Pakistan’s policy is generally inspired by the tactics of Afzal Khan, a general of Bijapur loyal to the Adil Shah dynasty, against whom Maratha warrior Shivaji fought a long war.

During a battle with Shivaji for a fort near Pune, Khan sent his emissaries to negotiate peace. But his real motive was to attack and kill Shivaji on the pretext of negotiating truce. When the two met, Khan first embraced Shivaji, then suddenly gripped his neck and struck him with a hidden knife.

Pakistan often shows classic symptoms of the Afzal doctrine: offer talks and then try to stab India in the back, either through a terror strike, shelling on the border or with poisonous barbs and comments. So, it is not a mere coincidence that shelling along the LoC and terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups have increased in India since the two nations agreed to discussions between their national security advisors.

India, like Shivaji, is playing the game right this time. Instead of calling off talks, giving Pakistan a ruse for wriggling out and blaming India for failure to negotiate, it has decided to stick to the scheduled discussions. Alongside, India is also counterattacking, pounding the Pakistani border and issuing stern warnings.

In Kashmir’s context, talking to Pakistan serves two purposes. That the two countries can’t afford a military solution to the Kashmir dispute is obvious. The threat of escalation into a nuclear exchange rules out misdaventure by both sides, unless, of course, Pakistan falls into the hands of a mad man. So, the only sensible option is to continue dialogues.

Even Kashmiris want the two sides to stay engaged. Javed Sheikh, 52, a resident of Khayam Chowk of Srinagar plies an autorickshaw for a living. On 15 August, while Srinagar was completely shut and communication network, including mobile phones, were jammed, because of security restrictions on Independence Day, Sheikh drove me around the city’s vacant roads and offered his version of the problem.

“The more you suppress Kashmiris, restrict their movement and harass them with help from security forces, the greater would be the backlash. You can’t turn us into prisoner’s in our own city,” Sheikh argued. His sentiments reflect the mood of the majority of Kashmiris, who feel that militancy rises when civil liberties are curbed and people are harassed and tortured.

But, Sheikh argued, there is one more factor that instigates Kashmiris: the breakdown of dialogue between the two neighbours. “When the countries are talking to each other, people feel there is still hope of a solution. They wait with patience, peacefully,” he said.

Sheikh is an ordinary Kashmiri, but his observation that Kashmir remains relatively calm when India and Pakistan are at the negotiation table may have some merit. The Kashmiri mindset is reflected in the choice of their favourite Indian Prime Minister in recent times.

Kashmiris feel Atal Behari Vajpayee was the best Indian PM for them because of his peace initiatives and focus on dialogue with Pakistan. Many like Sheikh believe he was on the verge of solving the Kashmir problem during the 2001 Agra summit with Pervez Musharraf, before hardliners in the BJP derailed negotiations.

Soon after being sworn in as CM, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had also raised expectations in the Valley when he hinted that Pakistan could soon be part of the peace process. When he thanked Pakistan for peaceful elections in the state, Kashmiris believed that it was part of a strategy discussed with the BJP, his ally in the state government.

It is, thus, in India’s interest to remain at the diplomatic table to ensure that in the eyes of the world we are seen doing our best to deal with a pesky, provocative neighbour. And in Kashmir, hope for a peaceful negotiation keeps separatists away from strikes, stones and other violent measures.

India should remember that the best strategy to deal with the Afzal Khan doctrine is the one immortalised by Shivaji: Never say no to peace negotiations, but carry a wagh nakh (tiger’s claw) to deal with treachery and deceit.

Pakistan may want to bungle dialogue but it’s best for India to stick to diplomacy

‘Two martyred in Indian firing across LoC,’ claims the News International Times based in Rawalpindi. Another Pakistan newspaper blames India for unprovoked firing along the Nakial sector.

Across the border, in villages of Jammu the reality is in stark contrast to the headlines in Pakistan. Hundreds of families have fled their homes in Poonch district, along the LoC, due to heavy shelling by the Pakistani forces.

On 15 August, in one of the biggest incidents of firing along the LoC in recent times, six people were killed and several others were injured as shells rained on Poonch within hours of Pakistan claiming that it will never give up its support for the cause of Kashmiris.

Pakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTIPakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTI

Pakistani troops shelled along the LoC in Balakot sector in Poonch on Monday. PTI

“No matter how much more time does their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause,” Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Abdul Basit said, during his country’s Independence Day celebrations in Delhi.

It is evident that Pakistan wants to needle India and yet play the martyr, an innocent victim of unprovoked firing. Since nobody knows who fires the first shot in border skirmishes, or who is retaliating to which previous incident, Islamabad has the luxury to obfuscate the genesis of every conflict.

When dealing with Kashmir, Pakistan’s policy is generally inspired by the tactics of Afzal Khan, a general of Bijapur loyal to the Adil Shah dynasty, against whom Maratha warrior Shivaji fought a long war.

During a battle with Shivaji for a fort near Pune, Khan sent his emissaries to negotiate peace. But his real motive was to attack and kill Shivaji on the pretext of negotiating truce. When the two met, Khan first embraced Shivaji, then suddenly gripped his neck and struck him with a hidden knife.

Pakistan often shows classic symptoms of the Afzal doctrine: offer talks and then try to stab India in the back, either through a terror strike, shelling on the border or with poisonous barbs and comments. So, it is not a mere coincidence that shelling along the LoC and terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups have increased in India since the two nations agreed to discussions between their national security advisors.

India, like Shivaji, is playing the game right this time. Instead of calling off talks, giving Pakistan a ruse for wriggling out and blaming India for failure to negotiate, it has decided to stick to the scheduled discussions. Alongside, India is also counterattacking, pounding the Pakistani border and issuing stern warnings.

In Kashmir’s context, talking to Pakistan serves two purposes. That the two countries can’t afford a military solution to the Kashmir dispute is obvious. The threat of escalation into a nuclear exchange rules out misdaventure by both sides, unless, of course, Pakistan falls into the hands of a mad man. So, the only sensible option is to continue dialogues.

Even Kashmiris want the two sides to stay engaged. Javed Sheikh, 52, a resident of Khayam Chowk of Srinagar plies an autorickshaw for a living. On 15 August, while Srinagar was completely shut and communication network, including mobile phones, were jammed, because of security restrictions on Independence Day, Sheikh drove me around the city’s vacant roads and offered his version of the problem.

“The more you suppress Kashmiris, restrict their movement and harass them with help from security forces, the greater would be the backlash. You can’t turn us into prisoner’s in our own city,” Sheikh argued. His sentiments reflect the mood of the majority of Kashmiris, who feel that militancy rises when civil liberties are curbed and people are harassed and tortured.

But, Sheikh argued, there is one more factor that instigates Kashmiris: the breakdown of dialogue between the two neighbours. “When the countries are talking to each other, people feel there is still hope of a solution. They wait with patience, peacefully,” he said.

Sheikh is an ordinary Kashmiri, but his observation that Kashmir remains relatively calm when India and Pakistan are at the negotiation table may have some merit. The Kashmiri mindset is reflected in the choice of their favourite Indian Prime Minister in recent times.

Kashmiris feel Atal Behari Vajpayee was the best Indian PM for them because of his peace initiatives and focus on dialogue with Pakistan. Many like Sheikh believe he was on the verge of solving the Kashmir problem during the 2001 Agra summit with Pervez Musharraf, before hardliners in the BJP derailed negotiations.

Soon after being sworn in as CM, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had also raised expectations in the Valley when he hinted that Pakistan could soon be part of the peace process. When he thanked Pakistan for peaceful elections in the state, Kashmiris believed that it was part of a strategy discussed with the BJP, his ally in the state government.

It is, thus, in India’s interest to remain at the diplomatic table to ensure that in the eyes of the world we are seen doing our best to deal with a pesky, provocative neighbour. And in Kashmir, hope for a peaceful negotiation keeps separatists away from strikes, stones and other violent measures.

India should remember that the best strategy to deal with the Afzal Khan doctrine is the one immortalised by Shivaji: Never say no to peace negotiations, but carry a wagh nakh (tiger’s claw) to deal with treachery and deceit.

Tremors felt in Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan as earthquake of magnitude 6.2 hits Afghanistan

Srinagar: An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Afghanistan on Monday and tremors were felt in India in Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Rajasthan, authorities said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The earthquake, at a depth of 210 km, had its epicentre in Hindukush region and occurred at 3.35 pm (India time), an India Meteorological Department official told IANS.

“That was a hell of a tremor. Hope everyone is safe & well,” tweeted former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, minutes after the tremors.

In Srinagar, people fled their homes and offices in panic. Some of them began to pray as the tremors shook buildings.

Worried people called up their relatives and asked for their well being.

However, the US Geological Survey measured the intensity of the quake at 5.7. It said that the epicentre of the temblor was 34 km west southwest of Ashkasham in Afghanistan.

An earthquake also hit Pakistan on Monday, with tremors being felt in several cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, a media report said.

Tremors were felt in Islamabad while the Punjab’s cities impacted by the temblor include Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sargodha and Haripur, reported Geo TV.

Tremors were also felt in Peshawar, Mardan, Parachinar, Lower Dir, Tank, Abbottabad, Swabi and several other areas.

IANS

Shifting focus? Jammu on edge as ceasefire violations, terror attacks rise

Sabzian (Jammu): Displaying evidence of the most recent attack, Saleem Choudhary points to an ugly hole in the wall of his bedroom. A short, frail man with an unkempt beard, Choudhary lives with his wife and two-year-old son in the Sabzian village of Poonch district. A sudden escalation in violence has meant Choudhary’s family, like hundreds of others who live along the Line of Control and International Border in Jammu, live in doubt about staying on.

“It is a nightmare that never ends,” Choudhary says in a sullen voice. “It is a difficult choice. Either I have to risk the lives of my family members and stay put, or I have to search for another place. But where will we go?”

The bullet that made the hole in his bedroom came just when Choudhary, his wife and son were about to enter the bedroom after having had dinner.

“We lay glued to the floor for about 25 minutes before running towards the back of the house. It was a near-death experience,” he says.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The Sabzian sector, which is about 262 km from the winter capital of the state, has witnessed multiple number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in recent months to push more infiltrators into Jammu, an Army official said.

Early on Friday morning, Pakistani troops began firing across the border for the fourth consecutive day, leaving an Indian army soldier injured. This was the fifteenth such incident in past six days. On 5 August, when the armies of India and Pakistan exchanged fire, three civilians were killed on both sides. A day earlier, a young man was killed and two others, including a BSF jawan, were injured.

National Conference president and former chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, travelled across Sabzian village on Friday. He rued the fact that while people were suffering in these villages along the Line of Control, the state government as well as the Centre were showing no concern.

“The people are yearning for peace. They want good neighbourly relations between the two countries. Pakistan should understand and appreciate this and help in diffusing the situation as people can’t be allowed to become fodder to mortars and shelling all the time,” Abdullah said, after interacting with affected villagers of Sabzian.

In July, 18 ceasefire violations were reported in the Jammu region along the India-Pakistan border in which four persons, including three jawans were killed and 14 others injured. But what is worrying security agencies in the state is the unusual spike in the number of terror attacks and ceasefire violations in Jammu region since 2013.

Interestingly, these attacks come after an alleged rise in the number of local militants joining militant outfits in Kashmir. According to a census by J&K Police, about 33 youths have joined militant groups in Kashmir Valley this year alone.

“Before that, the focus of the terror outfits was on Kashmir. Now the focus seems to have shifted towards Jammu. And if intelligence inputs are indications of anything, it is behind the increase in the number of attacks like these (in Jammu),” an intelligence official based in Jammu said on condition of anonymity.

Although there have been many instances where militants were prevented from carrying out attacks, he said not every effort has yielded results.

“There is vulnerability. The LoC and International Border is almost impossible to guard impeccably. Despite continuous efforts to keep a lid on infiltrations, they (militants) manage to sneak in,” the official said.

But for those living on the border, there is no question of moving despite the threat of things getting worse.

“We can’t leave our house forever. Even if we do, we have to keep someone here to keep an eye on the livestock. Even in this tough time, there is a possibility of thieves robbing the livestock,” Numaan Ahmad, another resident of Sabzian, said.

In Jammu, politics over terror has already started with the opposition, National Conference and Congress, blaming the ruling PDP-BJP alliance for failing to curb the ceasefire violations. On Wednesday, two Pakistani militants carried out the audacious attack on a paramilitary convoy on the highway, killing two BSF jawans before one of them was shot dead by security forces. The other militant, identified as Naved, has allegedly started spilling the beans on how focus has shifted from the Kashmir valley to Jammu.

“It is possibly a new strategy adopted by militants to inflict more and more damage in Jammu,” an Army official said on condition of anonymity since he isn’t authorised to speak to the media. “With the insurgency gaining momentum in Kashmir Valley, the attacks in Jammu are not a good sign.”

Two days after Udhampur attack, heavy exchange of fire along LoC

Jammu: Heavy exchange of fire took place between India and Pakistan on Friday on the line of control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Representational image. Image courtesy- ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy- Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy- Reuters

“Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked shelling and firing on the LoC in Sauji yan area of Poonch district at 3.30 a.m. today (Friday),” defence spokesman Colonel Manish Mehta told IANS in Jammu.

“Our troops are effectively responding with same calibre weapons. Firing exchanges are still on in the area,” the defence official said.

IANS