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No secret talks were held between Modi-Sharif at Kathmandu last year: Sartaj Aziz

Replying to points raised by other members, Aziz said “India changed its hostile attitude towards Pakistan because of our constructive diplomacy, international pressure and domestic lobbies in India”.

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No interviews for government jobs from January 1; skill test may continue: DoPT

“Report so to be furnished with the approval of the minister or minister-in-charge shall include the details of the name and number of posts where the interview is discontinued and posts for which the exemption has been sought within the purview of the administrative ministries or departments,” the order said. Similarly, the Department of Public enterprises has also asked all ministries to advise PSUs under their administrative control to adopt a revised mechanism of recruitment for the non-executive level posts by dispensing with the practice of interview.

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Mufti Sayeed responsible for hate attacks in Jammu and Kashmir: Omar Abdullah

The former chief minister maintained he had extended support to PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for forming the government in the wake of the hung assembly to keep such elements out of the state.

Omar Abdullah

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday held his successor Mufti Mohammad Sayeed responsible for “hate attacks” in the state, claiming that the latter had “bartered everything” to save his chair.”Our Chief Minister (Sayeed) has bartered everything to save his chair. The Chief Minister is directly responsible for the attacks which have taken place in Rajouri, Udhampur or elsewhere in the state,” Omar told reporters after paying tributes to his grandfather and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on his 110th birth anniversary. Omar, the working president of National Conference, was reacting to questions about the increase in attacks on Muslim transporters in Rajouri and other areas of Jammu region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The former chief minister maintained he had extended support to PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for forming the government in the wake of the hung assembly to keep such elements out of the state.”When the election results were declared, National Conference extended a hand of friendship towards Mufti Mohamamd Sayeed with the intention of keeping such forces out of the state who only want to set the state on fire.”We had an apprehension that allowing the BJP and particularly the RSS into the state would be fraught with dangers. Unfortunately, our apprehensions have been proved correct in the nine months (of PDP-BJP government),” he said.Omar said while large scale arrests were being made in Kashmir, “these people (RSS) are holding armed rallies in Jammu and no one says anything”. On being asked about the denial of the state government to confer ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’ title on National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the leader said that the party founder was not only the tallest leader of the state but was revered in the entire country. The state government, in response to an RTI query, had said it had no record available to say who was ‘Sher-e-Kashmir in the state of Jammu and Kashmir’.Omar, however, noted that, “He (Sheikh) left an indelible impression by his political role and more than that the economic contribution he made to the state by virtue of Land to Tiller (Act) and loan waiver. “No one can have differences with the economic contribution of Sheikh Sahab even though they may differ with his politics. Jammu and Kashmir today has the least poverty and it is only because of these two steps taken by him,” he said.The Sher-e-Kashmir title has been used for the National Conference founder, with many universities, bridges, conference halls, police training institutes and several other public buildings and welfare schemes being run under this title.

PM Modi is most focused PM on Jammu & Kashmir so far: CM Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed

Replying to another question that no talks are being held between India and Pakistan for past nine months, he said “First of all we have to do our home work very well.” On a question related to remarks of Farooq Abdullah that PoK is part of Pakistan, he said, “It is an evolutionary process.

File Photo

PTI
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed on Wednesday said as compared to his predecessors, Narendra Modi is the “most focused” Prime Minister on the state so far.”From the day one (since government formation) there is full focus of Prime Minister on J&K. I have seen Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and V P Singh as Prime Ministers but the Prime Minister Modi is focused more than anybody else,” Sayeed told reporters.”I am not ungrateful. He is totally focused. He is so focused that he called Chief Secretary of J&K twice to know about the rehabilitation of people due to Krishen Ganga Power Project in Valley,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the question of expectations from the Centre, he said, “We have got beyond our expectations from the Centre. From day one, there is full focus of Prime Minister on J&K. I am not ungrateful.”Replying to another question that no talks are being held between India and Pakistan for past nine months, he said “First of all we have to do our home work very well.” On a question related to remarks of Farooq Abdullah that PoK is part of Pakistan, he said, “It is an evolutionary process.”What is the reality? What is the de-facto position, de-juro, there is no need to jump the guns, let us see how the situation evolves. But our efforts will be there.”We want to make it easy on the trade front,” he said.”I want to take the confidence building measures between India and Pakistan forward. The telephone connection, the banking facility and increase in people-to-people connect and journey on two sides of LoC,” he added.”Our government is quite responsive on this front. I feel that there is some reservation from across the border,” he added.On the issue of radicalisation in Kashmir and whether it is threat to government, he said “I don’t think so. Kashmir has gone through very bad times in past. They have seen what it means by taking to guns. How they have suffered. Even the Imamic Qaba said that it is condemnable (terrorism) whatever be the reasons. They said that this should not happen.” Asked whether the graph of militancy has increased in J&K, he said, “I hope that history will repeat itself.”During my past period and since 8-10 years nothing has happen. I must say that reconciliation is the only answer.” “I read it in the newspaper that two of jawans of Pakistan Army were killed in Karachi. They are also suffering from terrorism. But we should all also correct our internal situation here,” he added.On the issue of handshake between Modi and Nawaz Sharif, Mufti said that I don’t know what has transpired between them but I felt the meeting between the two very good.”

Pakistani flag hoisted at Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s ancestral house in south Kashmir

The incident occurred during a funeral procession of the three local Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen militants killed in the encounter with security forces at Siligam on Monday.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suffered a major embarrassment when a group of youth hoisted a Pakistani flag on the ancestral house of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Bijbhera town of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.The incident occurred during a funeral procession of the three local Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen militants killed in the encounter with security forces at Siligam on Monday.Shouting anti-government slogans, thousands of protestors marched through the lanes and bylanes of the area and offered the funeral prayers to the militants.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of youth later hoisted a Pakistani national flag on the outer wall of Mufti’s house. Clashes also broke out in the area with police using smoke shells and lathi-charge to disperse a stone pelting mob.Police, however, played down the row saying the flag was not raised on Mufti’s house but on an adjacent structure. PDP too tried to skid safe of the controversy saying it has become a fashion to hoist Pakistani flags in the valley.”It has become a fashion to raise flags in Kashmir. You can see flags of Pakistan, Argentina and Brazil. If it is a cricket season there is a Pakistani flag and if it is football season there are other flags… Even they can do it on my house if it is abandoned. You have abandoned mobile towers and they do it there too,” said Molvi Imran Reza Ansari, senior PDP leader and J&K minister for sports and technical education.Mufti was born and brought up in Baba Moholla in Bijbhera Township of south Kashmir. His daughter and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti won her first assembly elections from Bijbhera constituency in 1996 on the Congress ticket. She later went on to become Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader before quitting to form her own party.In fact, Baba Moholla is synonymous to Muftis since entire clan is putting up in this historic township. Though Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has been putting up in Srinagar, most of his relatives are still living in this township.”Chief minister does not reside there. He does not own any property there. His relatives live in this Mohollah. Flag was not hoisted on chief minister’s house but next to it. Since whole Mufti family lives there and if they hoist flag on any of the house it is seen as chief minister’s house. Otherwise they do not own any property,” said Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, political analyst to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

J&K MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid calls all party meet on Nov 28 for IIT, IIM in Kashmir

He said even as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had sought votes for his party the PDP in the name of development of Kashmir, “what has he achieved by allying with the BJP”

Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid on Saturday called for a united campaign to press the Centre for sanctioning an IIT and an IIM for Kashmir Valley at par with Jammu region of the state. “I am organising an all party round-table meeting on November 28, so that we all unite to pressurise New Delhi to sanction an IIT and an IIM for Kashmir in a similar way like both the institutions were sanctioned for Jammu,” Rashid told reporters here.He said he would invite all mainstream parties, trade bodies, bar association and students’ organisations for the meeting to put up a united platform. “I am in touch with (opposition National Conference (NC) working president) Omar Abdullah and have written to PDP MPs as well. I hope all the parties and other organisations unite on this issue so that we get what we deserve,” Rashid, who represents north Kashmir’s Langate assembly constituency, said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MLA said he would reach out to separatists as well over the issue and take their suggestions. “We will try to reach to them and I am ready to take their suggestions. There is no politics involved in this and there will be no impact on anyone’s ideology,” he said.He said even as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had sought votes for his party the PDP in the name of development of Kashmir, “what has he achieved by allying with the BJP”. “AIIMS was sanctioned for Kashmir only and Jammu were granted an IIT and an IIM. But the BJP planned an agitation there and they also got an AIIMS. I am not against Jammu, but Kashmir should also have been given IIT and IIM. What has Sayeed achieved?” he said.

Technology comes to the aid of famed Kashmiri apples

Jammu and Kashmir government is starting a trial test of a US patented technology to increase the shelf life of the apples in the non-controlled room temperature environment.

Imagine Kashmiri apple with an American twist!Jammu and Kashmir government is starting a trial test of a US patented technology to increase the shelf life of the apples in the non-controlled room temperature environment.Known as 1-MCP (Methylcyclopropene), the low-cost high-result technology, is used in the US and Europe to maintain the freshness of the fruits for longer periods.Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) has been entrusted with the job of conducting the trial tests to find out how useful 1-MCP will be in prolonging the shelf life of fruit, particularly apples, in Jammu and Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Before we implement this technology, we need to see its ramifications through research,” said Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Official figures reveal that of the total 16.5 lakh metric tonnes of apples produced in the state, only 35 per cent are of the export quality. In comparison, Europe exports nearly 80 per cent of its total apple produce.Use of I-MCP (Methylcyclopropene) is expected to give the fledgling fruit and vegetable industries of Jammu and Kashmir an opportunity to deliver consistently the high quality produce safely to the markets.Jammu and Kashmir is targeting to transform its Rs.3000 crore apple industry into a whopping Rs.15000 crore business over the next five years by rejuvenating orchards and adopting the high-density plantations.Experts say that the ambitious target could only be possible by using the benchmark technologies that ensure freshness of fruit once it reaches the retail markets.Prof Nazir Mir, a Kashmir-born scientist working in Rutgers University, New Jersey, who has done a pioneering research in 1-MCP, said given the volume of production, this technology is going to be very cost-effective.Jammu and Kashmir government said the technology, which is regulated by Environmental Protection Agency of the US, can only be allowed to be used after the registration with the owners of the patent.”New technology is a useful proposition which provides insulation to fruit against high temperatures”, said Mufti.Fruit growers have gone gaga over the government’s decision to implement the technology in Jammu and Kashmir after trials.”Our profits will soar by 30 per cent annually if this technology is put to use. Currently, the shelf life of apple in normal conditions is one to two months. Its life enhances to three to four months in cold storage. If we use the new technology, we can increase the shelf life of fruits considerably”, said Basheer Ahmad Basheer, president New Fruit Association, Kashmir.

J&K CM has no official accounts on social media: Govt

In the wake of “fake” Twitter accounts operational under the name of J&K CM, the state government on Friday made it clear that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed did not have any account on social networking sites.

The debated Twitter account already calls itself a parody account.

Image Courtesy: Twitter
In the wake of “fake” Twitter accounts operational under the name of J&K CM, the state government on Friday made it clear that Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed did not have any account on social networking sites.”The Chief Minister’s secretariat has made it clear that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed doesn’t have any official account on social media, including Twitter and Facebook,” an official spokesman said.A Twitter account under the handle @CMOJK has been operational for the past couple of months, but the spokesman said it was “fake”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Some people are running fake accounts in the name of the CM on social media and it has been brought to the notice of police,” he said.”One such account is operational on Twitter with the link https://twitter.com/CMOJK. A fake account with the link https://twitter.com/jkinformation is also being operated in the name of JK Information on Twitter,” the spokesman added.

PM Modi’s visit will be turning point in J&K’s history: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed

“I met Modi a couple of times and realized that he genuinely wants to win the hearts and minds of people of the state,” Sayeed said.

Urging India and Pakistan to shun confrontation and engage in a meaningful dialogue, Sayeed said the state is the first casualty of tension between the two countries.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit here will be a “turning point” in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and the people of the state have great expectations from it. “People have great expectations from the visit of the Prime Minister who is a visionary and has his eyes fixed on overall development of Jammu and Kashmir. I see this as a turning point in the history of the state,” Sayeed said while recalling former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s address to the people at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium at Sonwar in 2003. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi is scheduled to address a rally at the same venue on November 7. The Chief Minister, while addressing a public meeting here, cited several instances where the Centre extended wholehearted support in core sectors linked to connectivity, healthcare, education and rural development. He said the Prime Minister had personally intervened in speeding up work of four-lanning of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and broadening the scope of railway network in the state. “I met Modi a couple of times and realized that he genuinely wants to win the hearts and minds of people of the state,” Sayeed said.He also praised Modi for inviting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in his swearing-in ceremony last year.Urging India and Pakistan to shun confrontation and engage in a meaningful dialogue, Sayeed said the state is the first casualty of tension between the two countries.He stressed that if India has to emerge as a world power, it will have to foster and maintain friendly ties with all its neighbours, including Pakistan.

Lotus blooms in cold desert as BJP wins Ladakh hill council polls

LAHDC, Leh, comprises 30 councillors, of which 26 are elected and four are nominated. Of the results declared so far, BJP has won 15 seats while Congress and National Conference have won four and two seats respectively.

Modi wave seems to have swept across the cold desert of Ladakh as the BJP is heading for a comfortable majority in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, polls that were held on October 17.LAHDC, Leh, comprises 30 councillors, of which 26 are elected and four are nominated. Of the results declared so far, BJP has won 15 seats while Congress and National Conference have won four and two seats respectively.Around 90 candidates, including five women, were in the fray. Congress had contested 25 seats while BJP had fielded 24 candidates. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference (NC) are contesting eight seats each. A new player New Ladakh Movement had fielded 15 candidates in the polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is a thumping majority for us. Congress has been wiped out in the state and the country. First they lost parliament polls then they were defeated in assembly elections. Now they have been wiped out in LAHDC polls. In coming years they will be wiped out in municipal and panchayat polls,” Ravinder Raina, BJP MLA from Nowshera, who heads its youth wing, told dna.Raina credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and J&K chief minister Mufti Mohommad Sayeed for the victory in LAHDC polls. “All credit goes to Modi ji and Mufti sahab. Congress, which was heading the LAHDC, is nowhere to be seen in Ladakh,” he said.Congress, however, was cautious in its reaction saying the party will wait till the results for all the seats are declared. “Counting is in progress. There were some independents in fray and what happened to them needs to be seen. We are waiting for the final tally. Ladakh is such a place where we are dependent on the feedback of local leaders”, said Ravinder Sharma, chief spokesman of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee.Established under Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Act 1995, the LAHDC Leh was formed to pacify the people who were demanding union territory status for Ladakh. LAHDC’s main task is democratic decentralisation of the planning process at grass-root level with the involvement of people at the grass root level.Congress has won LAHDC elections thrice while BJP backed Ladakh Union Territory Front has emerged victorious once since 1995 when the first elections was held in the cold desert.Ladakh has separate autonomous hill councils for Leh and Kargil. LAHDC Kargil was consitutied in 2003 to assuage the feelings of this Muslim majority district of Ladakh.

Jammu and Kashmir: Mufti Mohammed Sayeed meets PM Modi on fast-tracking development

He referred to the kitty of Rs 6,000 crore allocated to Jammu and Kashmir under the centrally-sponsored schemes.

“Keeping in mind the multicultural ethos of J&K, the decision to go with India has proved to be the right one,” he observed.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss fast-tracking the development agenda of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state.Addressing a party convention here, Sayeed said that the coalition government’s ‘Agenda of Alliance’ remains the binding force that will see a new phase of equitable development in the state. “I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed with him several important issues. He has assured me of Centre’s help in fast-tracking the development agenda of the coalition government,” he said. Elaborating on his meeting with Modi, Sayeed said the Prime Minister has a vision to speed up inclusive development in the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The new think-tank of NITI Aayog has assured us of our share in the Central funds as per recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission Award. We will use optimal utilisation of these funds and ensure that every penny is spent,” he said.He referred to the kitty of Rs 6,000 crore allocated to Jammu and Kashmir under the centrally-sponsored schemes. Welcoming the new office bearers, Sayeed observed that all issues indicated in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ mutually agreed to will be implemented and special focus will be given to return of Uri and Dul Hasti hydel power projects to the state.Highlighting Jammu and Kashmir’s unique position as the only Muslim majority state in the country, Sayeed said the people need to safeguard its special status, which is guaranteed by the Constitution of India. He recalled with satisfaction the farsightedness of the leaders of the state who decided to accede with India. “Keeping in mind the multicultural ethos of J&K, the decision to go with India has proved to be the right one,” he observed.Drawing the attention of party workers towards holding elections to local-self government institutions, Sayeed said he wants to make people at the grassroot level real partners in state’s development. Referring to the recent death of Zahid in Udhampur truck attack, the leader assured that those responsible for his death will not go unpunished under any circumstance. He said the Cabinet in one voice condemned the dastardly act and vowed to defeat the nefarious designs of the divisive forces which are out to damage the pluralistic fabric of the state.The convention was presided over by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and attended by party ministers, MLAs and office bearers. However, party’s Lok Sabha members from Srinagar and Baramulla — Tariq Hamid Karra and Muzaffar Hussain Baig respectively — did not attend the meeting.

BJP ministers battle over police postings while beef theatrics polarise Jammu and Kashmir

By David Devadas

Rifts became evident within the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday, when Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed left a cabinet meeting in obvious displeasure. Ironically, the rift was not over the beef ban controversy which has hogged headlines over the past month. Apparently, it was not even a rift between the major coalition partners, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The issue was far more banal: Some BJP ministers could not agree over some of the proposed police transfers, and argued forcefully during the meeting. The cabinet did order some transfers, but the orders were changed thrice. Obviously, some BJP ministers’ main concern is to exercise power in areas they consider their turf. The state’s police force is extraordinarily powerful, and politicians use and misuse the force to exercise power — often extra-legal power.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AP

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AP

While party satraps tighten their control over the levers of power, they are insidiously polarising the state on communal lines. To-eat-or-not-to-eat-beef grandstanding is the populist scrap they have thrown to gullible voters.

On that sordid front too, there was no dearth of high drama on Monday. Troublemakers purporting to represent Hindus splashed dark ink on Independent MLA Rashid Ahmed at the Press Club of India — copying what Shiv Sena protestors had done last week in Mumbai to Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was once advisor to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Not long after the ink attack, Rashid’s supporters demonstrated at Srinagar’s press enclave. They carried professionally painted banners, which they had apparently obtained during a city shutdown. The target of the banners: ‘Modi’s form of democracy’ and ‘Modi’s Taliban’.

Anger was already intense in Kashmir over the death of 19-year old Zahid Rasool Bhat, who succumbed to burns on Sunday at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. He had suffered those burns when Hindu cow protection activists hurled a petrol bomb at a truck in which he was sleeping on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. That attack was a Hindutva response to a ‘beef party’ the same Rashid had hosted in Srinagar.

While Zahid’s body was buried on Monday morning, angry young Kashmiris pelted stones in inner city areas, in Zahid’s village Botengo and (uncharacteristically) at Narbal, a Shia stronghold. The government closed the highway, Kashmir’s lifeline. The long-awaited first convocation of the nine-year old Islamic University of Science and Technology, scheduled for Tuesday, was also postponed. Some students had apparently planned to demonstrate, and had written to the Registrar protesting against accepting degrees from Union Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani. The chief minister is the Chancellor.

Some observers now fear a repeat of 2008, when protestors demonstrated with stones in the Kashmir Valley following the transfer of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board, and locked down the Jammu division with virulently anti-Muslim-anti-Kashmir demonstrations following the subsequent cancellation of that order. The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway by some RSS activists that year had caused fresh anti-India furore in Kashmir; the government had been at the end of its tether to restore calm. Kashmiri trucks, and a young truck driver, had been burnt then too.
Those ping-pong agitations had generated mutual hate in the state’s two main regions. Narratives of discrimination combined with communal hate to poison minds and hearts. The BJP was the main beneficiary. It could expect a landslide if the lethal beef dramatics were to pave the way to a separate Jammu state.

Although speculation about animosity has been relentless ever since this coalition was formed in early February, well informed observers believed there was a tacit understanding between Mufti and Prime Minister Modi — in place since last summer. If this version is to be believed, the publicly projected negotiations between Haseeb Drabu of the PDP and Ram Madhav of the BJP after the assembly elections were to some extent window dressing.

However, trust seems to be fraying. According to insiders, the prime minister was unresponsive when the chief minister met him in Delhi last week. During that visit to the capital, Mufti had visited Zahid and the other two victims of the Hindutva activists’ fire-bomb attack in hospital. The PDP made another powerful show of solidarity with the victims on Sunday: party president Mehbooba Mufti, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari were at Srinagar airport to receive Zahid’s body, brought there on a state plane. Nine persons accused of Zahid’s murder were arrested and charged with murder, and also under the state’s draconian preventive detention law, the Public Safety Act (PSA).

However, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s response to a television question was unsteady and guarded. Stumbling over what word to use, he called Zahid’s murder an `incident.’

The cabinet’s unanimous condolence resolution evidently papered over divergences in the real feelings of the main coalition partners. If the two parties’ differences continue to widen, it could lead to a division of the state. If that is indeed what the BJP is working towards, it is a tragically flawed adoption of the Two-Nation Theory on which Pakistan was founded.

David Devadas, a political and international affairs expert, is the author of `In Search of a Future, the Story of Kashmir

Udhampur attack: Injured trucker dies in the hospital, 9 held; protests triggered

Zahid, who was admitted in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi with 74 per cent burn injuries, breathed his last at 11.30 am after his condition worsened in the last 12 hours, police and hospital sources said.

Family members of 24-year-old Zahid crying after the Kashmiri truck conductor who was injured in petrol bomb attack in Udhampur district dies in Delhis Safdarjung Hospital, at his residence in Batango in Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Sunday.

PTI
A truck conductor, injured in a petrol bomb attack in Udhampur nine days back, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, triggering protests in some parts of Kashmir even as nine people were arrested for the assault and five of them slapped with the tough Public Safety Act.Zahid, who was admitted in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi with 74 per cent burn injuries, breathed his last at 11.30 am after his condition worsened in the last 12 hours, police and hospital sources said.A resident of Anantnag in South Kashmir, Zahid was conductor of the truck that was en route to Kashmir when a mob attacked it with petrol bombs on October 9. The driver of the truck Showkat Ahmed is also admitted in the hospital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As soon as the news about his demise reached his Batengoo village, a spontaneous shutdown was observed and clashes between protesters and police broke out there and adjoining areas in Kulgam and several places in Srinagar, police said. Police had to use force, like teargas and cane-charge, to control the situation but nobody was hurt.An aircraft of the state government flew Zahid’s body this evening from Delhi to Srinagar from where it was taken to his native village for last rites. Ruling PDP chief and MP from Anantnag Mehbooba Mufti, state’s Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari were at the Srinagar airport to receive the body.Expressing deep shock over the death, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed blamed the “politics of hate and intolerance” for it and said it is posing a “grave challenge to the state and country’s plurality.” He asserted that under no circumstances shall those guilty of this “barbaric crime” be allowed to go unpunished.Nirmal Singh, Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader from Jammu region where the attack took place, also condemned the incident and said the perpetrators should not be spared. Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah attacked BJP and its allies over the incident and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to who would be blamed for the death.Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said nine people have been arrested and five of them booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for allegedly attacking the truck.To protest against the death, both factions of separatist Hurriyat Conference and JKLF called for a shutdown in the Valley tomorrow. A Kashmiri pandit organisation, Kashmir High Court Bar Association, traders’ bodies and transport union have extended support to shutdown call.

Udhampur trucker death: Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammad blames politics of hate

Expressing deep shock and grief, he regretted that “one more precious life has been lost to the politics of hate and intolerance that is posing a grave challenge to the state and country s plurality.

He had assured the family members that stringent punishment will be given to those found guilty

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday expressed deep shock over the death of a truck conductor who was injured in an attack in Udhampur days ago and blamed the “politics of hate and intolerance”, saying it is posing a “grave challenge” to the nation. He asserted that under no circumstances shall those guilty of this “barbaric crime” be allowed to go unpunished. “I have no words to condemn the dastardly act which consumed the life of a poor and innocent young boy for no fault of his,” Sayeed said in his condolence message after Zahid succumbed to injuries sustained in the petrol bomb attack nine days ago.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing deep shock and grief, he regretted that “one more precious life has been lost to the politics of hate and intolerance that is posing a grave challenge to the state and country s plurality.” The Chief Minister said though the loss of life of Zahid in the tragic incident cannot be compensated, he directed the official machinery to extend all possible help to the bereaved family in its hour of grief. Zahid was one of the two persons injured in the attack.Sayeed, earlier on October 14, had visited the Safadrjung Hospital in New Delhi to inquire about the health of the injured. He had assured the family members that stringent punishment will be given to those found guilty of this heinous crime and that the two families shall be provided government jobs for their sustenance, an official spokesman said.

Omar Abdullah hits out at PM Modi, Mufti Sayeed over death of Kashmiri trucker

Two persons from Kashmir were critically injured when miscreants attacked their truck with petrol bomb in Udhampur on October 9. They were hospitalised in Jammu before being shifted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi, where one of them — Zahid — succumbed to injuries this morning.

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah on Sunday blamed BJP and its allies for the death of a Kashmiri trucker, who was injured in a petrol bomb attack at Udhampur district earlier this month.Omar asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a series of tweets, as to who would be blamed for the death of Zahid Ahmed.”The Hon PM passed the buck on to @yadavakhilesh and the UP Govt for #Dadri. Who will he blame for #Zahid’s death now???”Another needless death in the name of #BeefBan for which the BJP and its affiliates including allies are directly responsible,” he tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two persons from Kashmir were critically injured when miscreants attacked their truck with petrol bomb in Udhampur on October 9. They were hospitalised in Jammu before being shifted to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi, where one of them — Zahid — succumbed to injuries this morning.”Zahid, the trucker petrol bombed in Udhampur in the name of beef protest, has died in Delhi earlier this morning. May Allah grant him Jannah (heaven),” Omar said.”I met him yesterday & though he was sitting up & communicating doctors were non-committal about his chances.Prayers with #Zahid’s family,” he added.The NC leader also hit out at the Mufti Sayeed government saying, “And to think that all the state Govt could do was to throw 10,000 rupees at #Zahid & wash it’s hands off the whole thing #BeefMurder.”Zahid, a resident of Anantnag in South Kashmir, was conductor of the truck that was en route to Kashmir when a mob attacked it with petrol bombs on October 9. The driver of the truck Showkat Ahmed is currently being treated at AIIMS in Delhi.The entire incident has been recorded on CCTV and two attackers were arrested immediately by the policemen deployed on patrolling duty.Later two more persons were arrested and a manhunt was launched for three others.The arrested include Harish Katoch Bal Bahadur, Sandoor Singh and Suneet Singh. All are residents of Udhampur in Jammu region.The truck was on its way to Srinagar from Jammu and was stationary near Shiv Nagar area as traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was stopped in view of the strike calledby various Hindu outfits following recovery of three carcasses in the district.

Before breaking silence on Dadri, PM had conveyed angst over incident at J&K Assembly

Modi, while expressing his disapproval of the episode in the assembly to Singh, had also said that such things diverted attention from the development agenda of the government. He had sought details of the incident.

Even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the Dadri killing, he had expressed his concern over the BJP members’ behaviour in Jammu and Kashmir assembly to a state party leader. Modi is understood to have expressed his anguish over BJP members beating up an independent MLA for holding a beef party.While conveying this behind closed doors to the state’s deputy chief minister and BJP leader Nirmal Singh, who met him last Saturday in the national capital, the Prime Minister said that while Jammu was politically important for the BJP, there was need to be sensitive towards Kashmir as well, according to party sources.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The matter also came up during a meeting between Modi and chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Thursday.Modi, while expressing his disapproval of the episode in the assembly to Singh, had also said that such things diverted attention from the development agenda of the government. He had sought details of the incident.A week ago, BJP lawmakers had beaten up Engineer Rashid inside the assembly for hosting a beef party the night before. The Opposition members had to rush to his rescue. This came close on the heels of the Dadri killing of a member of the minority community Mohammad Akhlaq on the suspicion of having eaten beef.While Modi has not made any statement publicly on the Jammu and Kashmir assembly incident, on Wednesday he described the Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali as “sad and undesirable”, in an interview to a newspaper. He also said the centre or BJP had no role in these incidents.During the meeting with Modi, Singh briefed the Prime Minister on the overall situation and performance of PDP-BJP government.Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who met the Prime Minister at his 7, RCR, residence, also raised the issue of behaviour of BJP members and the overall political situation. He discussed measures brought about in bringing transparency and improving governance in the state.”During the meeting, the two leaders discussed wide-ranging issues including relations with Pakistan and cross-LoC trade and travel, skill development, infrastructure building, problems facing PoK refugees and the Agenda of the Alliance of the Coalition government,”said the J&K government spokesman.Mufti told Modi that adverse relations with Pakistan had a negative impact on the political and developmental processes in the state. He pitched for expanding the scope of cross-LoC trade and travel, which he described as a significant confidence building measure.The Chief Minister also discussed with the Prime Minister the Agenda of the Alliance of the coalition government, in particular transfer of Dul Hasti and Uri hydel power projects to the state.The issue of funding for carrying out the repair and restoration of damaged infrastructure in unprecedented floods of September 2014 also figured in the talks.Describing growing number of educated unemployed youth as a real challenge for government, Mufti sought active participation of the Central government agencies in absorbing the talented human resource of the state.The Prime Minister will be visiting the state on November 5 during when he will also inaugurate the Baglihar II Hydel Power Project. There is a possibility of the much-talked about package being announced during the visit.State and the Union governments have evolved a consensus on the quality and quantity of the package that reports suggest would be slightly more than Rs 90,000 Crore. The resource is expected to be spent in next few years by the two governments almost on the pattern of the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan that the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had announced. J&K government is expecting part of the resources to help manage the devastation that September 2014 floods caused.

Dadri lynching: Farooq Abdullah says secularism been ‘killed’, asks Centre to respect all faiths

Amid outcry over lynching of a man in Dadri over rumours of consuming beef, former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today regretted that secularism has been “killed” in the country, as he appealed to the Centre to respect all religions in order to save the nation.

Farooq Abdullah

Amid outcry over lynching of a man in Dadri over rumours of consuming beef, former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today regretted that secularism has been “killed” in the country, as he appealed to the Centre to respect all religions in order to save the nation.”I regret that in India, which was known as a secular country, secularism has been killed. It is the biggest regret. The Constitution of India gives a right to everybody to preach his or her religion and it does not allow anyone to attack any religion,” Abdullah told reporters in Srinagar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said people from all religions had “lived comfortably in the country that is why India has been saved till now”.”But since the atmosphere of RSS has been created, the animosity is increasing. God forbid, something should not happen which endangers India. Those in power in Delhi should think about whether they want an organised and good India or an India where there will be riots every day. “I appeal them that if they have to save secular India, then they should respect all religions and try to understand these religions,” he said.Asked about Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta’s assertion that he was “a proud RSS man”, Abdullah, president of opposition National Conference (NC), said Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should answer what he has got by allying with the BJP.”Ask Mufti sahib. He is the one who has given him the chair. You ask him that he used to make promises that he will not ally with the BJP, but he is now sitting with them. What has he got? He dug out a mountain but discovered only a mouse. God forbid, we fear he may divide the state,” Abdullah said.

Mufti Mohamed Sayeed for dewatering of water-logged areas in Kashmir

He also called for immediate dewatering of Eidgahs and other open areas where congregational Eid prayers are to be offered on Eid-ul-Azha

CM Mufti said concerned agencies should work in close coordination to ensure that people do not suffer any inconvenience because of water-logging

With overnight rains lashing wide parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Tuesday ordered immediate dewatering of water-logged roads and residential areas in the valley.The Chief Minister asked the Roads and Buildings Department, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, the Mechanical Engineering Department, UEED and Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) to immediately press into services the requisite men and machinery to ensure speedy dewatering of water-logged areas so that there is no disruption of traffic and public movement, an official spokesman said here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sayeed asked the Irrigation and Flood Control Department to ensure round the clock vigil along the embankments of rivers and streams especially in the low-lying and vulnerable areas. Preventive measures should be taken in advance to ensure safety of life and property, the Chief Minister said. Sayeed said there should be no disruption of traffic movement due to water-logging of roads and the concerned authorities must ensure that the inter and intra-state traffic moves normally.He also called for immediate dewatering of Eidgahs and other open areas where congregational Eid prayers are to be offered on Eid-ul-Azha. The Chief Minister said all the concerned agencies should work in close coordination to ensure that people do not suffer any inconvenience because of water-logging and other related issues. Widespread rains lashed many parts of Kashmir today with Srinagar receiving 48 mm of rainfall during the day.High altitude areas also received light to moderate snowfall since last night. The MeT Office has predicted scattered rainfall in the Valley over the next 48 hours.

Jammu & Kashmir: Traders call shutdown demanding relief for last year’s floods

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Chief Minister of J and K, had ordered arrest of Trade Body leaders last night, in view of the following shutdown.

Marking the anniversary of the devastating Jammu and Kashmir floods, traders here called for a shutdown on Monday demanding relief for last year’s flood victims.Jammu and Kashmir (J and K) floods, which occured due to the overflow of rivers Jhelum and Chenab previous year, caused heavy loss of life and property.Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Chief Minister of J and K, had ordered arrest of Trade Body leaders last night, in view of the following shutdown.Former chief minister of the state Omar Abdullah wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.com about the shutdown.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In a series of midnight raids Mufti Syed has ensured the arrest of all the Trade Body leaders. Their crime Unhappiness over flood relief,” tweeted Abdullah today.”All these people wanted to do was register their dissatisfaction at the absence of any meaningful flood relief. Shame on Mufti the Dictator,” he added.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in June had declared that 2,437 crore rupees was being immediately released for the state, but a Home Ministry press release issued later said 1,667 crore rupees additional assistance was being released.The figures were lower than the 44,000 crore rupees that the National Conference-Congress government had demanded from the Centre post the floods.

Political storm hits Jammu and Kashmir after Omar Abdullah accuses Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of spying on him

Omar was referring to the quizzing of a journalist who had gone to interview him at his residence in Srinagar. She, according to Omar, was asked several questions by a cop from the CID branch of Jammu and Kashmir.

Omar Abdullah

A major political storm has hit Jammu and Kashmir after the former chief minister Omar Abdullah accused the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP government of spying on him.Omar was referring to the quizzing of a journalist who had gone to interview him at his residence in Srinagar. She, according to Omar, was asked several questions by a cop from the CID branch of Jammu and Kashmir.Visibly angry, former chief minister took to Twitter and spewed his angst against the Mufti government.”Mufti Govt brazenly spying on me. A journalist interviewing me for a national daily just got stopped right outside my gate by CID person… She was asked who she was & what the purpose of her visit was! Seriously guys if you want to know just ask me, I couldn’t care less if U do,” Omar tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Omar also lampooned the government for “unleashing apparatchiks” to spy on him. “Dear Mufti Sahab if you & your apparatchiks want to know what I’m up to pick up the phone & ask me. Please don’t accost people outside my gate,” he said. The ruling People’s Democratic Party was quick to react and give it back to Omar in the same coin. “Basically one of his (Omar’s) workers was there and he was not allowed to go inside. He asked this lady (journalist) who are you and how you were allowed and I was not. Then the lady said a CID guy had asked her questions,” said Wahid ur Rehman Para, PDP spokesman and political analyst to J&K chief minister.Para also mocked at the claims that Omar was being spied by the government. “Even if you do spying you don’t do this way. He is a Z-plus protected person and he is the ex-chief minister. He is vulnerable and police are worried about who is who and what is going on. They also frisk there and that is the security concern,” he said.

Omar Abdullah accuses Jammu and Kashmir government of spying on him

Taking to twitter, Omar Abdullah levelled the allegations.

Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah has accused the ruling PDP- BJP government of spying on him. Taking to twitter, Omar Abdullah levelled the allegation. According to Omar, a journalist working for a national daily was coming to interview him. She was reportedly quizzed by the CID personnel about purpose of his meeting outside the gate. He said that Mufti government is resorting to brazen spying and they should merely call him up if they are interested in knowing his whereabouts. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is what Omar Abdullah said about the entire incident: Jammu and Kashmir government is yet to respond to this serious accusation.

Ceasefire violations: PDP calls for immediate Indo-Pak DGMOs meeting

Leaders from both sides to rise to the level of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statesmanship to resolve all issues cordially,” Mufti said.

There should be an immediate meeting of the DGMOs of the two countries to sort out the issue amicably: Mufti

Ruling Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti called for an immediate meeting of the DGMOs of India and Pakistan to sort out the issue of ceasefire violations amicably so that innocent lives are safeguarded. “I appeal for ending the bloodshed of innocent people residing near the borders. There should be an immediate meeting of the DGMOs of the two countries to sort out the issue amicably so that lives of innocent civilians, including women and children who are under virtual siege from the past several months, are safeguarded,” Mehbooba, an MP from south Kashmir, said in a statement here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Condoling the death of three civilians in continued shelling from across the border, Mehbooba said the border skirmishes have brought untold miseries upon the people, in particular those residing near the International Border and the Line of Control (LoC). Terming as unfortunate the cancellation of NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan, Mehbooba said the meeting was supposed to discuss critical issues like cross-border shelling and terrorism. “The need of the hour is for leaders from both sides to rise to the level of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statesmanship to resolve all issues cordially,” she said. The PDP President conveyed her sympathies to the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls. She also asked the Divisional Administration to provide advance medical treatment to those who have been injured in the shelling.

Hurriyat blames India for stalling NSA-level talks

Mirwaiz said New Delhi was not serious about dialogue and they wanted to put Kashmir off the table which is not acceptable.

Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah shouts pro-freedom slogans in Srinagar on Saturday

AFP
Hurriyat Conference, which was the main bone of contention for India and Pakistan, squarely blamed New Delhi for stalling the NSA-level talks, saying the sidelining of Kashmir issue will not be acceptable at any cost.”Unfortunately, India put unnecessary conditions for the talks with an intention to stall them in the tracks. In Ufa, it was decided that all issues will be discussed. What was the big deal if Kashmir was also discussed,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, told dna.Mirwaiz said New Delhi was not serious about dialogue and they wanted to put Kashmir off the table which is not acceptable.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kashmir is a core issue and we are the primary party and stakeholders to it. New Delhi and Islamabad may have other issues as well. But when it comes to Kashmir, there can be no movement forward unless its primary parties are involved,” he said.Moderate Hurriyat chief, who was supposed to lead a delegation to meet Aziz, said New Delhi has gone back from the stand taken by the NDA-1 led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”During Vajpayee era it was decided that Hurriyat would talk to both New Delhi and Islamabad. But the new NDA government has revoked it which is very unfortunate,” he said.Earlier in the day the centre had tightened noose around separatists and detained two senior leaders at the Delhi airport in a bid to prevent them from joining the reception of visting Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz.Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and moderate Hurriyat Conference executive council member Bilal Gani Lone were detained soon after they landed at the Delhi airport and later placed under house arrest.Shah along with his aide Mohammad Abdullah Tari and Zamir Ahmad were supposed to join the reception of Aziz in Pakistani high commission office on Sunday evening.Lone was supposed to join the delegation of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Delhi on Sunday before going to the Pakistani high commission in the evening.”I had told Mirwaiz sahab that I will join the delegation in Delhi on Sunday. When I arrived in Delhi this evening, a police posse took me into custody and put me under house arrest,” Lone told dna.Zamir Ahmad, the spokesman of Shah led Democratic Freedom Party, told dna that they have been placed under house arrest in the guest house in South Extension Delhi.”When we were disembarking from the plane we were taken into custody and placed under house arrest in the guest house which we had booked for the stay,” said Ahmad.The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led Jammu and Kashmir government too had chipped in to ask separatists to listen to their conscience whether they want to become a bridge or spoiler for the talks between the two NSAs.”Leadership should ask themselves whether they should facilitate or unfacilitate dialogue,” Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, political analyst to J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told dna.

Ex-IPS officer DG Vanzara denies that defamation suit filed at Hindu groups’ behest

Former IPS officer DG Vanzara on Tuesday denied the allegation that he filed the Rs 101-crore defamation suit against Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri, a Muslim cleric acquitted in the Akshardham temple attack case, at the behest of Hindu right wing groups.

DG Vanzara

Former IPS officer DG Vanzara on Tuesday denied the allegation that he filed the Rs 101-crore defamation suit against Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri, a Muslim cleric acquitted in the Akshardham temple attack case, at the behest of Hindu right wing groups.”The statement (by Mansuri) that the defamation suit was filed in nexus with Hindu extremists and old political friends of the applicant (Vanzara) to frame the respondent was not true,” Vanzara said in his affidavit filed in the sessions court here on August 12.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mansuri has written a book titled `Gyarah Saal Salaakhon Ke Peechhe’ (Eleven years behind the bars) on his experiences as an under-trial in the Akshardham terror attack case.Vanzara sued him last month, seeking damages of Rs 101 crore claiming that Mansuri’s book contains derogatory and defamatory content about him.Mansuri said in his reply that the book was based on the the Supreme Court verdict which absolved him and Vanzara’s suit was filed at the behest of Hindu groups and some politicians.Vanzara said in the rejoinder that he had read the apex court’s verdict and Mansuri’s allegation that Vanzara had not read the records of the apex court further defames him.The case will come up before Additional Sessions Judge JV Pandya in further course of hearing.

Mobile phone, internet services snapped across Kashmir on Independence Day

Mobile phones and internet services on mobile devices were snapped at about 8 AM as people started assembling at Bakshi Stadium, the main venue for the Independence Day celebrations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in his Independence Day address at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, said the state had rejected the two-nation theory propounded by Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

PTI photo
Independence day functions were held across Kashmir amidst heightened security even as mobile phones and mobile internet services were snapped on Saturday as a precautionary measure, in wake of the recent spurt in militant activities in the Valley. Mobile phones and internet services on mobile devices were snapped at about 8 AM as people started assembling at Bakshi Stadium, the main venue for the Independence Day celebrations in Jammu and Kashmir. The services were resumed at 12 PM, minutes after the official function at the stadium ended.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a departure from decade-old practice, the authorities had allowed uninterrupted mobile services on the Republic Day earlier this year. However, the practice could not be repeated today in view of increase in militant attacks in Kashmir ahead of the Independence day.”The increase in militant attacks especially in the run up to the celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday demanded extra vigil,” a police officer said. At least 15 persons, including five security personnel, were injured in three grenade attacks and a firing incident in the Valley on Wednesday and Thursday.Snapping of mobile phone and mobile internet services were added to the security drill in 2005 after militants detonated a bomb using a cell phone near Bakshi Stadium on Independence Day that year. Meanwhile, heightened security measures were put in place to ensure incident-free Independence functions across the Valley. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength across the city and other vulnerable areas in the Valley, the police officer said. Sharp shooters were deployed on high rise buildings around Bakshi stadium, where Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed unfurled the national flag and took salute at the march past, he said. He said all the functions in the Valley passed off peacefully.Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in his Independence Day address at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, said the state had rejected the two-nation theory propounded by Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He said Jammu and Kashmir should “get the (special) status and identity within the Constitution of the country” on which the state and the leadership of that time decided to join hands with India.

Eight injured in Anantnag grenade attack

Eight people, including four paramilitary soldiers, were injured in the incident.

Militants sent a chilling reminder to the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-BJP coalition government on Wednesday when they hurled a powerful grenade at a CRPF party deployed for the Amarnath Yatra security duties in Anantnag town of south Kashmir.Eight people, including four paramilitary soldiers, were injured in the incident.This is the second attack in the Anantnag district in the last four days. Militants on Saturday lobbed a powerful grenade at a busy bus stand at Achabal killing an ice-cream vendor and injuring six others including a CRPF constable.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police said militants hurled a grenade at a CRPF Road Opening Party (ROP) of 96 battalion at KP road in the afternoon which exploded injuring eight people including four paramilitary soldiers. The injured were immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment.”Our men were in pickets when militants hurled a grenade. Four of our soldiers were injured. They have been shifted to district hospital Anantnag where their condition is stated to be stable. Four civilians were also injured in the incident,” said Ashish Kumar Jha, CRPF spokesman at Srinagar.Panic gripped the area which was bustling with activities when the explosion ocured. People ran helter-skelter for safety. Police and paramilitary forces immediately reached to the spot and brought the situation under control.Security forces immediately launched a search and cordon operation in the area to track down the ultras responsible for the incident. “We are trying to find out whether the grenade was hurled from the lane or a road divider,” said Jha.The incident occurred five days after summer capital city of Srinagar was rocked by series of grenade blasts injuring a civilian. Three back-to-back attacks were launched on Friday on two mobile company showrooms and a cell phone tower at Karan Nagar and Shaheed Gunj areas in Srinagar.In a separate operation, Indian Army and J&K Police busted a militant hideout at Mugalpura in Kupwara district and recovered large quantity of war like stores.”At around 8.15am on July 28, a hideout was found under the trunk of a tree. The cache recovered include one AK 56 Rifle, Pika Belt without rounds, one Chinese pistol, seven UBGL Grenades, two Pakistani Grenades, two Smoke Grenades, one Chinese Grenade, M-16 Rifle Rounds – 54 and 2 Radio Sets,” said a defence spokesman at Srinagar.

Over 800 doctors, 4,000 para-medics to be appointed in Jammu & Kashmir

The information was given to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by Secretary Health Department M K Bhandari during the former’s visit to Kashmir University’s South Campus in Anantnag yesterday.

Jammu and Kashmir government will appoint over 800 doctors and 4,000 para-medics within next four months, besides setting a medical college in Kashmir Valley’s Anantnag district.”As many as 845 vacancies of doctors and 4,000 vacancies of para-medics in the state will be filled up over the next four months on a fast-track basis,” an official spokesman said here.The information was given to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by Secretary Health Department M K Bhandari during the former’s visit to Kashmir University’s South Campus in Anantnag yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhandari informed the Chief Minister that land has been identified for setting up of new medical college at Anantnag and the indent placed before the authorities concerned.”We will be able to source funding after the Cabinet grants approval to change in the land use,” the official said.Bhandari said the Anantnag District Hospital is fully equipped in terms of logistics and manpower and it will match the facilities extended in any district hospital in the state.The Chief Minister directed the Health Department to complete modalities for taking over of Rehmat-e-Alam Hospital Trust at Anantnag so that it can be developed as a 50-bed hospital, which will ease pressure on the new 110-bed hospital.Sayeed also asked the Health Department to make the Trauma Hospital at Bijbehara fully operational.The chief minister also issued directions for preparing a ‘Concept Plan’ for establishing colleges of skill development, physiotherapy-cum rehabilitation, nursing training and emergency medical services at the South Campus.”The University should coordinate with Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department and prepare a Concept Plan so that new courses are started at an earliest,” Sayeed said while directing Vice Chancellor Khursheed Andrabi to make South Campus an advanced centre of higher education.The CM was briefed that around 400 students are undergoing studies in South Campus for which 24 senior faculty members have been permanently positioned.

Uddhav Thackeray attacks BJP; questions raising of Pakistani flag in Kashmir

“Every morning when we open a newspaper, we keep reading the same news that once bored us…The thought which comes to our mind is that we used to read the same news before. Be it farmers’ suicide, protests of the unemployed people, crimes against women,” he said.

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray today took a dig at its ally and said that ground realities have remained unchanged despite BJP coming to power at the Centre, promising ‘Acche Din’.”Even 50 years are not enough to clean up the mess created by the erstwhile government. But a lot has to be done in the next five years to fulfill the aspirations of people. You (the BJP) had promised ‘Acche Din’ to people and thus cannot cheat them now,” Thackeray said in an interview in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.To a question, Thackeray said that even though the governments have changed at the Centre and in the state, nothing much has changed on “ground”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Every morning when we open a newspaper, we keep reading the same news that once bored us…The thought which comes to our mind is that we used to read the same news before. Be it farmers’ suicide, protests of the unemployed people, crimes against women,” he said.When asked to comment on Pakistani flags being raised in Kashmir, Thackeray said, “Haven’t seen it happen in a long time.”Replying to another query, he questioned the change the BJP has brought after allying with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. “What can I do? It is surprising. I do not have personal enmity with anyone but what stand did you (BJP) have on Mufti Mohammed Sayeed before (election)? How can you forget his style of politics ? If Kashmir progresses, it is good. But bringing in a change does not mean giving the state a big financial package. People there should be turned back towards India,” Thackeray said.The Sena chief also reiterated his stand on freeing farmers from their debts and said they should be financially sound so that they can take new debts if they wish to, in future.

Any cross-border infiltrations will be dealt with, assures Lt General KH Singh

On Wednesday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh had held a review meeting on security provisions for the yatra. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had also reviewed the arrangements made for the pilgrims in the state’s Baltal area.

Image Courtesy: ANI
General Officer Commanding of Nagrota-based 16 Corps, Lieutenant General KH Singh on Saturday warned that militants are trying to cross the Line of Control (LoC) to create problems during the Amarnath Yatra, and assured that any such intentions of infiltration will be dealt with. “We are aware that militants are trying to cross the border to create problems during the Amarnath Yatra. Let me assure you that their intentions of infiltration or trying to create trouble will be dealt with. There are approximately 36 launch pads and the training camps are also acting. We are trying to carry out more people friendly operations,” said Lt Gen Singh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “According to our inputs, ISIS has not yet taken off on the other side in PoK, but they are trying to gain a foothold. They are trying to re-energize their activities,” he added. On Wednesday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh had held a review meeting on security provisions for the yatra. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had also reviewed the arrangements made for the pilgrims in the state’s Baltal area. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure a safe and secure yatra for the pilgrims. This year’s Amarnath Yatra will commence from today and end on August 29. The registration for this year’s Yatra, via selected bank branches, began in March.

Jammu & Kashmir: Police move court to block Facebook pages of young militants

The central security agencies have sought details from the social networking site about the Internet Protocol addresses from where the photos were uplinked and then deleted.

Image source: Facebook

Police today moved a local court seeking directions for blocking the pages on Facebook which carried pictures of 11 young Kashmiri militants donning army fatigues and holding firearms. “We have initiated legal action and approached court for orders to block it,” Inspector General (Kashmir) SJM Gilani said here.Once an order is received, the Jammu and Kashmir police will ask the social networking site to block the pages carrying pictures of the Hizbul Mujahideen militants which included Burhan Wani, who has become a poster-boy for the terror outfit. While the pages have been taken off, the Police was eager to block the page from the server itself.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The pictures, according to official sources, were clicked in orchards of Shopian or Pulwama in South Kashmir.The central security agencies have sought details from the social networking site about the Internet Protocol addresses from where the photos were uplinked and then deleted, the sources said.Preliminary enquiry show that the IP seems to be masked and it was difficult to know the exact location from where it had been uploaded, the sources said. Those in the photograph include ex-constable of Jammu and Kashmir Police Naseer, who ran away with two AK-47 rifles while on guard duty with Altaf Bukhari, a Minister in the Mufti Sayeed-headed PDP-BJP government, and Wani, a resident of Tral, who has emerged as the young face of Hizbul Mujahideen in the Valley.Innumerable images of Burhan and posts extolling him were uploaded on social networking sites like Facebook which the security agencies have got removed but his popularity has not diminished.Young militant leaders like Burhan, with an appeal among the youth of the region, are helping swell the militant ranks, a development, security agencies feel, carry grim portents for the Valley. It is however, still rare for militants to upload their photograps on social networking sites lest it should facilitate swift action against them by the law enforcement agencies.

dna impact: Help pours in for terror victim who cracked IIT

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti assured Zahid all sort of help in pursuing IIT, after the latter called on her. “Mehbooba asked him to just start the journey and leave the rest to us,” party spokesperson Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra told dna.

Zahid Qureshi

Help is pouring in for Zahid Ahmad Qureshi, the Kashmiri youth who created history by cracking the IIT despite facing all sort of odds and impoverishment, after dna broke his story on Friday. Zahid, who despite being orphaned by militancy and living in abject poverty, showed grit and cracked the IIT bagging an enviable all-India rank of 89.From PDP-led government to corporate sector to social organisations, everyone lined up to help Zahid to live his dream.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PDP president Mehbooba Mufti assured Zahid all sort of help in pursuing IIT, after the latter called on her. “Mehbooba asked him to just start the journey and leave the rest to us,” party spokesperson Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra told dna.Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was scheduled to meet Zahid but could not due to his prior engagements.Several business houses, social activists, journalists, lawyers, corporate honchos, filmmakers’ et al. too have offered help. Internet was buzzing with people posting comments and offering help to Zahid to pursue his higher education.”I have offered Rs 10,000 for counselling fee. Rest I will arrange from film industry,” a senior film fraternity member told dna.Help has also poured in from overseas with people offering finances to Zahid. Qatar-based Mohammad Faizal, who offered Rs 10,000 for admission, wrote: “You won’t have to stop studies owing to financial problems, that is taken care.”dna’s Mumbai office too received a large number of calls, including one from an MHRD (Ministry of Human Resources Development) official, who rang up on behest of the ministry.Mubeen Masudi, IIT Bombay alumnus who mentors IIT students, has offered to bear all financial and other expenses plus the mentorship for Zahid for all four years.”I am getting so many calls… am really elated,” Zahid told dna.People willing to help Zahid can email him at [email protected]

Jammu and Kashmir set to become yoga capital of India

PTI

Thanks to the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led government, the famed resort of Mantalai in Udhampur, which once housed the sprawling Ashram of late Yogi Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, is being developed as International Yoga Centre (IYC), which will be “second to none” in the country. Swimming pools, airstrips, spa, helipads, gymnasium, auditoriums, hostels and business convention centre are all planned for the International Yoga Centre which will come up in the sprawling 125 acre Ashram of late Yogi. “Our detailed project report will be completed within a month. It will be then submitted to the ministry of tourism for funding. Once the funds trickle in, it will take us two years to complete the project which will be second to none in the country”, RK Verma, director tourism Jammu, told dna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Situated 130 kilometres away from Jammu, Mantalai is a picturesque resort in Udhampur district where late Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari had set up his ashram to teach yoga to his disciples. Spread over 125 acres of land, the Ashram housed airstrip, helipad, swimming pool, zoo, stud farms, cow shelters, orchards, forests et al. However after Swami’s death in the air crash in 1994, the Ashram has remained shut. After prolonged legal battle, the Ashram has been taken over by the state government. Now Mufti government has announced to make Mantalai the yoga capital of the country with state of art infrastructure. “We will factor-in existing infrastructure of the Ashram and in addition we will be adding more like convention centre swimming pool and in improvised form. The project will cost around Rs 60 crore”, said Verma. Jammu and Kashmir government is trying to hard-shell the centre to attract as many people from across the world in order to make Mantalai a stand-alone tourist destination. “We will be having state of art auditorium and classrooms for the students who will come to learn Yoga. Plus we are also creating adequate hostel facilities for the students visiting the centre”, said Verma. What is being seen as icing on the cake is the setting up of a state-of art business convention centre in the complex to attract the corporate world. “It will not only be IYC but yoga-cum-wellness centre. We are planning to create business convention centre to attract the corporate world. Corporate would be encouraged to come and hold their meetings at the centre which will serve as wellness centre too”, said Verma.

Reciting mantras during Pranayam and Surya Namaskar un-Islamic, says Darul Uloom

Saharanpur: Islamic seminary Darul Uloom on Friday said that reciting mantras during ‘Pranayam’ and ‘Surya Namaskar’ is “un-Islamic” but refused to issue fatwa against it.

Darul Uloom’s Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani on Friday told reporters that there is no harm if Yoga is practised as physical exercise, asserting that it is not prudent to associate Yoga with any particular religion.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“People of different religions in Hindustan live their lives in their own way. Islam also talks of exercise to keep the body fit. But it is inappropriate to forcibly impose any particular way of life on them,” he said.

However, he said it is wrong to put religious label on Yoga.

PTI

Reviving Ikhwanis? Parrikar’s terrorism remark sparks political row in Kashmir

Srinagar: Union Defence Minster Manohar Parrikar’s statement on eliminating militants in J&K by “targeted killings” sparked a political row with both political leaders as well as separatists hitting out at the PDP-BJP coalition government for trying to take back Kashmir to the early nineties.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Hours ahead of his visit, Parrikar said in New Delhi that “terrorists” in the state can be neutralised with the help of terrorists. “We have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists only. Why can’t we do it? We should do it. Why does my soldier have to do it?” he said.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah accused the coalition government of trying to revive the brutal years of ‘Ikhwan Raj’, when militancy was at its peak and state-sponsored militia ruled the streets of Kashmir.

“Looks like Mufti Syed (CM) is reviving & empowering the Ikhwanis. That’s the only way to carry out “terrorists killing terrorists” policy of MOD,” Omar tweeted.

Reacting to the remarks made by the former chief minister, state Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said, let Omar Abdullah keep tweeting and that his government was “widening the democratic space in the state.”

“Everyone in the state knows the parentage of Ikhwan and no one should have any doubt about it that it was National Conference which unleashed terror in Kashmir continuously between 1996 to 2002. They had established structure of their own. It was Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who ended it all and people heaved a sigh of relief,” Akhtar claimed.

When insurgency was at its peak in Kashmir in the first half of the 1990s, the state-sponsored counter insurgent groups were employed to tackle the militants, particularly in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. These counter-insurgents, known as Ikhwanis, were notorious for their disregard to human rights and torture.

While they actively helped security forces in tackling militancy, these groups were disbanded and many of them were absorbed in regular forces like the Army and Jammu and Kashmir police when the PDP-Congress coalition government came to power in 2002.

In far-flung villages of Kashmir, it was not the Army or police but the gun-wielding civilians who were feared the most and were often blamed for some of the worst cases of human rights violations. The disbanding of these private militias by then PDP-Congress coalition government had earned remarkable goodwill for the chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his party.

But the Defence Minister’s statement has put Mufti-led coalition government in a fix, not for the first time though. Ever since assuming office in March this year, the coalition partners have been speaking in contradictory voices on political issues. The latest addition to the list of contradictions is the issue of providing passport to senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, where both the parties have made public their disagreement.

Moderate Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said the government of India wants to reintroduce the gun culture in Kashmir. “It is a warning, that if you are on their side, we can kill you and no power on earth will hold us accountable, like the thousands of killings which are so often blamed on unidentified gunmen. This shows how India has ruled Kashmir in the last 25 years,” Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of moderate Hurriyat told Firstpost.

Khurram Parvez, who works with the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent rights group, told Firstpost that Defence Minister Parikkar was only reminding people of how India has fought militancy in Kashmir’s two decade old conflict so far. “Using government sponsored militants has been a norm since 1994. It has been going on unabated, and in recent years due to decline in violence, the government sophisticated their tactics vis-a-vis government militants,” he said.

“It is an ugly truth of the dirty war tricks that have been unleashed in Kashmir for years,” he added.

Fahad Shah, the editor of Kashmirwalla.com, an online magazine, wrote on his Facebook page that the defence ministers statement can only mean two things.

“The government is going back to mid 90s and reviving counter-insurgency groups, who were lethal and instrumental to kill thousands of civilians. And they will kill anyone they like under “intelligence-backed targeted killings”. This means more killings by “unidentified gunmen” who are never traced,” he wrote.

Kashmir’s controversial lawmaker and MLA Langate Engineer Rasheed told Firstpost that Parrikar’s remarks indicate that BJP has started showing its “true colours” He said the intentions of the coalition government are clear, that it wants to revive counter-insurgency renegades.

“Parrikar’s threat to sponsor terrorists speaks of his arrogance and disrespect towards human rights. India must explain the constitutional validity of counter-insurgents and Village Defence Committees. These are all extra constitutional and illegal creations meant to give cover to the massacres of Kashmiris, by labelling the killers as unknown militants.

“Mr Parrikar’s statement is a confession that Indian Army and other agencies lack professional skills and have not been able to control militancy, despite all the atrocities,” he said.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed promises to ensure conducive conditions for return of Kashmiri Pandits

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Saturday asserted that Kashmiri Pandits are a part of collective culture of the state, adding that his government would ensure that the conditions are conducive for their return.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Saturday asserted that Kashmiri Pandits are a part of collective culture of the state, adding that his government would ensure that the conditions are conducive for their return. “Kashmiri Pandits are part of culture, our collective culture. They are very learned people. It has been 25 years since 1990, and we still haven’t been able to bring them back. Our collective culture won’t be complete till they come back. They are highly placed, they are intellectuals; many are doctors, engineers and in the corporate sector. We will ensure that atmosphere is suitable for their return,” Mufti Sayeed told mediapersons.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Earlier Thursday, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs official spokesperson Tasneem Aslam had stated that creation of special townships for Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir would violate the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Last month, Kashmiri separatists had called for a shutdown across the Valley over the issue of creation of special townships aimed at resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits.

Hoisting of Pak flags: CM Mufti Sayeed promises action against Geelani

At Friday’s rally, the first by him at militancy-hit Tral in south Kashmir, Geelani’s had demanded restricting the Amarnath Yatra to 30 days keeping in mind the safety of pilgrims and protection of environment. His supporters had chanted pro-Pakistan slogans and waved that country’s national flag. The Mufti insisted that the yatra will be held as scheduled as “people of Jammu and Kashmir are in its favour.

PTI
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Saturday promised action against those responsible for waving Pakistani flags at Friday’s rally addressed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani even as rightwing Hindu organisations held a protest demanding the separatist leader’s arrest.The Chief Minister also rejected Geelani’s demand to curtail the duration of the Amarnath Yatra to 30 days from the planned 59 days and said it will take place as scheduled. “Some people were involved in such activities. Action will be taken against those involved in such an act,” Sayeed told journalists in Ahmedabad, recalling how separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who had himself raised pro-Pakistan slogans and waved Pakistani flags at a rally attended by Geelani was put behind bars.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When Masarat Alam was released, he had already spent five years under PSA (Public Safety Act). Then, I myself saw him with Pakistani flag. We then took immediate action (against Alam, who was again arrested),” Sayeed, who is on a visit to Gujarat to promote tourism in his state, said, adding “law will take its course”. At the April 15 rally Pakistani flags were waved by Geelani’s supporters which led to filing of case against him, his close aide Masarat Alam Bhat and others on sedition and other charges. Bhat was arrested the next day and booked under the stringent Public Safety Act a week later.At Friday’s rally, the first by him at militancy-hit Tral in south Kashmir, Geelani’s had demanded restricting the Amarnath Yatra to 30 days keeping in mind the safety of pilgrims and protection of environment. His supporters had chanted pro-Pakistan slogans and waved that country’s national flag. The Mufti insisted that the yatra will be held as scheduled as “people of Jammu and Kashmir are in its favour.” The Chief Minister appeared to share the view of Geelani against creating exclusive townships for Kashmiri Pandits who wanted to return to the Valley when he spoke about the “culture of living together”.”They are part of our culture, a culture of living together. They had to leave (the Valley) in an atmosphere of militancy in 1990. In the past, we attempted to bring them back but did not succeed in our efforts,” Sayeed said. “Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also made such attempts. Those (displaced) three lakh Kashmiri Pandits are intellectuals and learned. They should come back. My Government will make all possible effort to bring them back,” he said when asked about resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits.Sayeed did not take a question about Pakistan’s stand that creation of “dedicated” townships for Pandits will change the demography of the state and will be in violation of the UN resolutions. Meanwhile, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has condemned the waving of Pakistani flags at Geelani’s rally and said he was confident that the Sayeed government will take steps to stop recurrence of such incidents.”It (waving of Pak flags) is condemnable. The government has reiterated there is no place for Pakistani flags being hoisted (in India), but at the same time, I would add that the government in the state is capable of handling any situation like this and we expect that they would rise to the occasion,” he said in Jammu.”The state government should go by the promise of not allowing such activities. The state government and the Chief Minister have already taken appropriate action in similar incidents in the past,” the MoS in Prime Minister’s Office said, apparently referring to Masarat Alam’s arrested under the Public Safety Act. Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, too, slammed Geelani over his demand to curtail Amarnath Yatra, saying the separatists had become “irrelevant” in the state.Asked whether government was considering action against Geelani after Pakistani flags were waved at his rally yesterday, Singh said, “Law will take its own course. The government is working and police is also working on it. Action will be taken against those who have indulged in such activity.” “Everything will move forward as per our Common Minimum Programme (CMP). In the coming days nobody would dare to indulge in any anti-national activities in J&K and stringent action would be taken against any such element,” he said, dismissing suggestions that the BJP-PDP government was soft on separatists.Meanwhile, rightwing Hindu outfits VHP and Bajrang Dal held a demonstration in Jammu to demand the arrest of Geelani. Led by Bajrang Dal convenor Rakesh Kumar, around 200 activists of the two organisations staged a protest near the Press Club area where they raised slogans against Geelani and the state government. P

Separatist leader Masarat Alam received 50 calls from Pakistan after his release in March: Report

The central security agencies had reportedly told the Union Home Ministry and Mufti government that nearly 50 phone calls from Pakistan were made to Masarat Alam.

Separatist leader Masarat Alam had received around 50 calls from Pakistan shortly after he was released from jail on March 7, said news reports on Saturday.According to The Tribune report, after the release of Masarat Alam on March 7, the central security agencies had reportedly told the Union Home Ministry and Mufti government that nearly 50 phone calls from Pakistan were made to Alam. Report also said that calls were reportedly made by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, including Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz. However, the central security agencies had no proof whether Hafiz Saeed had made a call to Masarat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recently, Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD) chief had called India ‘the number one enemy’.On April 23, tightening the noose around Masarat alam, Jammu and Kashmir authorities slapped the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against him and shifted him out of the Valley to a jail in Jammu.Bhat, who was released by the PDP-led government after spending over four years in jail under PSA, was again arrested on April 17 on charges of waging war against the country and sedition after he hoisted The separatist leaders have been booked under Sections 121-A (waging war against the country), 124 (Sedition), 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy), 147 (rioting) of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and other minor offences.

The opinion survey that led to a fatwa: What it reveals about the law and Muslim women

Shumaila Anjum popped out of the inside pages of a national newspaper before she stopped coming, at least temporarily, to the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule (MJP) Rohilkhand University in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

Perhaps this Ph.d student is lying low in the hope that the controversy triggered by a fatwa decrying her academic survey subsides, and her life returns to what it had been before the episode.

AFPAFP

AFP

Anjum’s survey became contentious because she elicited the opinion of 100 Muslim women in Uttar Pradesh’s Rohilkhand region on the personal laws governing them. Worse, three of her findings turned popular beliefs about Muslim Law on its head – 60 percent of the women said they wanted to have the same right to divorce as Muslim men; 50 percent felt that the mere payment of mehr or dower by a husband to his wife at the time of divorce was grossly insufficient for her maintenance; and a whopping 80 percent said they wanted equal property rights.

The women who were surveyed were drawn from different economic classes and included working women, housewives, and those who do the purdah.

“Anjum had planned to seek the opinion of 500 women for the survey, but could manage only 100. It is difficult to access women in the region infamous for patriarchy, regardless of which religion they belong to,” said Dr Amit Singh, who heads the department of law of MJP University.

Anjum’s survey was stridently criticised by the three muftis (those who give opinion on religious matters) of Bareilly’s much-revered Dargah Ala Hazrat. They said Anjum had erred because she had sought the opinion of women on those aspects of Shariat, or Muslim Law, which they believe are immutable.

It would have been alright, they say, had her questions pertained to those laws which are changeable.

One of the muftis, Mohammed Saleem Noori, told this writer, “The Muslim woman’s right to divorce can’t be expanded. A divorcee’s settlement can’t exceed the amount of mehr affixed at the time of marriage plus the gifts her husband gave her during their marital relationship, and women can’t ask for a larger share in the ancestral property than fixed under the Shariat.”

Undoubtedly, Mufti Noori’s interpretation of Muslim law is not only a manifestation of an extreme, and enslaving, notion of patriarchy, but is also both outdated and bad in law – secular as well as Islamic. Muslim women do have the unilateral right to divorce through the process called khula.

Over the last three decades, it is also a settled legal principle that a fair and reasonable provision for the maintenance of a Muslim divorcee can be in excess of mehr.

Against this backdrop, it would seem the respondents in Anjum’s survey, as also the muftis of Bareilly’s Dargah Ala Hazrat, are oblivious of the expansion of women’s rights under Muslim Law.

Says Supreme Court advocate Saif Mahmood, who with his father and legal luminary, Tahir Mahmood, has authored the seminal Muslim Law in India and Abroad, “Even courts in India are unaware of the rights community members enjoy under Muslim Personal Law.”

So then, how was the Muslim woman’s right to divorce expanded to match that of her male counterpart?

They always had the option of khula, or separation from the husband in return for payment. This included remitting the mehr the husband paid to her, or waiving it in case he hadn’t already. But she could also free herself from the knots of marriage through a payout heftier than mehr.

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, specifically laid out conditions which the woman could invoke to opt for khula. These included cruelty to the wife, or if the whereabouts of her husband were not known for four years, or insanity and such like. Over the years, though, the scope of the Act has been widened to allow women to seek khula regardless of any conditions.

Then again, khula earlier required the woman to ask her husband to release her from marriage, but the divorce came into effect only when he gave her talaq. But this requirement is no longer mandatory. Should a husband refuse to accede to his wife’s wish for divorce, she can now approach the court or the qazi (judge) to have khula enforced.

In fact, khula constituted the nub of the controversy surrounding the marriage between cine star Sanjay Dutta and Manyata. Her former husband, Meraj Ur Rehman, petitioned the magistrate’s court in Mumbai claiming he hadn’t divorced her and she was, therefore, guilty of bigamy. Manyata’s counter was that she had obtained the decree of khula from a qazi and her marriage to Dutt was therefore legitimate. The magistrate’s court asked the couple to appear before it for responding to the charges of adultery and bigamy.

The case then went in appeal to the sessions court. Mahmood was among the three lawyers who represented her. He said, “The court went through cases in Pakistan and examined the practice of khula as it evolved there (following the 1939 Act.)” The sessions court ruled in Manyata’s favour, upholding the view that a Muslim woman doesn’t have to depend on the husband to divorce her for the annulment of marriage. This view the Bombay High Court subsequently upheld as well.

In the Masroor Ahmed vs State (NC of Delhi) and Another, Justice BD Ahmed of the Delhi High Court ruled in 2007, “Khula is a divorce which proceeds from the wife which the husband cannot refuse subject only to reasonable negotiation with regard to what the wife has offered to give him in return. (Italics mine).” He further noted, “It is important to note that…under khula…there is no need for specifying any reason for the divorce.”

AFPAFP

AFP

Justice Ahmed also opined that the Muslim woman could obtain divorce outside the court through khula.

Bareilly’s Mufti Noori hasn’t heard of these judicial pronouncements on khula. He insists that the wife can either ask her husband to release her from marriage or approach the qazi to persuade the husband to do the same. But her marriage wouldn’t be annulled until the husband accedes to her request and gives her talaq. “If the husband doesn’t agree, then the woman remains his wife,” said Mufti Noori.

His opinion is in violation of the court rulings which mirror the practice of khula in many Muslim countries and is also followed by the Islamic Sharia Council in London. Call it a consequence of illiteracy or patriarchy or the sway of orthodoxy, the muftis and qazis as well as ordinary Muslims, evident from Anjum’s survey, are not aware of the evolution of Muslim Law which has helped expand the divorce rights of women.

This ignorance is precisely why Muslim women believe their right to maintenance at divorce includes only the payment of mehr and possession of assets mutated in her name. This the Shah Bano case sought to alter, making it incumbent upon her husband to pay her monthly allowance for her upkeep.

However, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, sought to overturn the judgement, reaffirming the notion that maintenance to the divorcee entailed merely the return of mehr and making provision for her during the iddat period, which corresponds to roughly three months.

The 1986 Act was challenged in the Danial Latifi & Another vs Union of India.

The Supreme Court interpreted the Act creatively to find a way out for Muslim divorcees. It held, “A Muslim husband is liable to make reasonable and fair provision for the future of the divorced wife which obviously includes her maintenance as well. Such a reasonable and fair provision extending beyond the iddat period must be made by the husband within the iddat period.” This meant a certain amount for the “maintenance” of the divorcee until her remarriage could be fixed.

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1986 Act has had women approach the courts to seek maintenance in excess of the one-time payment of mehr. But do shariat courts, considered an informal mechanism for dispute resolution, recognise and execute the Supreme Court verdict in Danial Latifi? Mahmood says the shariat court in Phulwarisharif, Bihar, has indeed handed out very generous settlements to divorcees who have approached it.

This is decidedly not a universal practice. As Mutfi Noori told this writer, “No, the divorcee is entitled to just mehr and gifts her husband gave her. She or her family should have foreseen the future and fixed a higher amount of mehr at the time of marriage.” This is easier said than done – a demand for a high amount of mehr can become an impediment to her marriage.

Complicating the issue even further is that a large percentage of Muslims prefer to take family matters to the qazis and muftis, both because it is a process infinitely less expensive than going to the courts, and because they believe it is the religiously right course to adopt. The denial of rights to divorce and maintenance to Muslim women arises because of the variance between the judiciary’s interpretation of Muslim Law and that of the mufti and the qazi.

However, there is no difference between them as far as property rights under Muslim Law go.

Property rights under Muslim Law are both hellishly complicated and iniquitous, even though Islam was arguably the first religion to bestow on women a share in ancestral property. It was indeed a radical measure for the seventh century, not so for the 21st century. To begin with, a Muslim can bequeath only one-third of his property. The female’s share is roughly half of that of male. Other relatives of the deceased too have rights to his property. For instance, the mother of the deceased is entitled to a one-third share in case he had no children, but it is reduced to one-sixth in case he had an issue or issues.

The inequitable shares of males and females under Muslim Law have been justified on the grounds that the woman is entitled to a percentage in the husband’s ancestral inheritance as well. But Mahmood and others feel the unequal property right of Muslim men and women is patently unfair. However, nobody quite knows how to overcome this inequity without flouting the sacrosanct Shariat. Perhaps the way out is to have the Muslim couple declare at the time of marriage whether they wish to be governed under secular or Muslim laws.

The debate over property rights apart, there is no denying the pressing need to educate Muslim women on their rights to divorce and maintenance under the personal law governing them. It is because of their ignorance, and perhaps the self-serving orthodoxy of males, they have been denied their just and fair due. It’s time pressure is mounted from inside the community on the mullahs to adjust to the changing times and laws.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores. Email: [email protected])

Police asked him to run, then shot him as he began fleeing: Cousin of teen killed in Kashmir

Narbal: As the body of 17-year-old Suhail Ahmed Sofi was being carried through the narrow lanes of Bazar Mohalla in Narbal area, angry mourners filled the streets and rented the air with anti-India slogans.

Narbal is barely nine kilometres away from Srinagar, but it took this correspondent three hours to reach there as police and protesters engaged in pitted battles at several spots on the way.

According to eyewitnesses who recollected the events of the fateful day, around half a dozen protesters had gathered at Narbal to block the Srinagar-Gulmarg highway. The road-block was planned in protest against the arrest of separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat. Earlier in the day, the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani had urged Kashmiris to protest Alam’s arrest.

At around 9 am, a contingent of police and paramilitary forces arrived at the spot to clear the road. The protesters started pelting stones at the security forces, who retaliated with gunfire.

Suhail Ahmed Sofi's kin mourn his death. AFP.Suhail Ahmed Sofi's kin mourn his death. AFP.

Suhail Ahmed Sofi’s kin mourn his death. AFP.

“Suhail was not part of the crowd of protesters. In fact, he was all ready to leave for the Government High School in Narbal where he studied. However, as a news spread that a crowd had gathered on the bridge near his house, he left the house, perhaps out of curiosity. Even if the security personnel thought that he was a part of the protest, they could have shot him in the legs.  Why did they kill him? He didn’t try to harm anyone,” Sofi’s inconsolable mother, Firdousa, told Firstpost.

“He lay on the road, bleeding, for fifteen minutes. They (forces) didn’t allow people to take him to hospital,” she added.

Suhail’s cousin Shakeel Ahmad, who had accompanied the teenager to the witness the protests, said that the situation was ‘normal’ till the police arrived.

“At around 9:15 am, four or five boys started throwing stones at the police who had just arrived. Immediately after, one of the cops caught hold of Suhail and asked him to run. When he ran, they shot him. Suhail lay in a pool of blood. I tried to pull his by his arm, but failed. When I saw police coming towards us, I fled from the spot,” he said.

Shakeeel said that by the time he had managed to gather women from neighboring houses, Suhail has lost considerable amount of blood, “We begged police to leave him alone as he was wounded. But they were kicking him. We couldn’t save him,” he said.

“He was in his school uniform – grey pants and white shirt – when he was killed,” Ahmad said.

After the police allowed Suhail’s kin to take him to the hospital, the doctors at the JVC Hospital pronounced him ‘brought dead’. Dr Ajaz Ahmad, Medical Superintendent of the JVC hospital said Sofi had already lost a lot of blood before he was brought to the hospital. “He was hit by a bullet in his back. By the time he was brought here, most of his vital organs, including kidneys, had been irreparably damaged,” Dr Ajaz told Firstpost.

The Jammu and Kashmir police has booked two of its personnel in regard to the case. Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gillani, said the killing of Suhail could have been “avoided” but the forces violated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and killed the youth. “We have been investigating the matter and whoever was deployed there violated the SOP,” IGP Gillani said

He admitted that after primary investigation, it was found that Constable Javaid Ahmad had fired with his service rifle on the directions of In-charge police party, ASI Manzoor Ahmad, in violation of laid down SOP.

“Both the ASI and Constable have been arrested and further investigation is underway. Inspector Khursheed ur Rehman, the station house officer of Magam police station has been attached for lack of supervision,” a statement issued by police said.

However, the FIR that has been registered in the case mentions several charges like murder, arson, criminal conspiracy. It is not clear what charges have been slapped on the policemen.

Suhail’s death has pushed Kashmir to the edge once again with hundreds of young boys are pouring on to the streets across the Valley and clashing with heavily armed police and paramilitary personnel. .

Suhail’s killing is the first civilian death in police firing under the newly elected PDP-BJP government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who preferred not to speak on the issue. The PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti, issued a statement, condemning the killing and sought action against the culprits.

However, the killing has put CM Mufti’s claim of ‘zero tolerance’ for human right violations under the scanner. Soon after he was sworn in, Mufti had asserted that he will hold the armed forces accountable for such incidents, in order to instill a sense of security in the state.

The opposition National Conference condemned the killing and lashed out at PDP for being “culpable” in both the Tral and the Narbal killings. A spokesperson for the party said that it was “tragic” that PDP’s much touted “Year of the Youth” had started with the killing of a youth in Kashmir.

Saturday’s killing comes four days after 24-year old Khalid Muzaffar, brother of a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, was killed by the Army allegedly in custody in south Kashmir’s Tral.

The twin killings have turned on the heat on the political and security apparatus in the Valley with the Hurriyat issuing a fresh call for strike on Sunday.

As anger rises over Masarat Alam’s arrest, Sayeed’s plan for separatists seems doomed

Srinagar: After the controversy over the ‘pro-Pakistan’ rally held in Srinagar on Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday arrested Masarat Alam Bhat, co-founder of the Muslim League, on charges of indulging in subversive activities.

Alam has defended his actions saying it wouldn’t deter them from their goal.

“It was a normal rally. This is not the first time that boys were raising pro-Pakistan slogans or had a Pakistani flag in their hands. It has been happening here since decades. I did not raise the flag. If they want to arrest me for that, let them do it,” Alam told Firstpost on Friday, moments before he was arrested by police from his Srinagar residence.

“The state has been using force against us for decades but it will not deter us from fighting for our goal. For us there is no difference in who is in the government. They are all same,” he added.

Alam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP imageAlam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

Alam’s arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

The arrest made on Friday morning is seen as a major setback to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s initiative of “battle of ideas” which aimed to make separatism and separatists irrelevant in Kashmir by following the path of dialogue and reconciliation with them.

Alam, the architect of civilian unrest in the Valley in 2010 which left more than hundred people dead, was booked along with Syed Geelani and Peer Saifullah under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for “provocative activities and hoisting of Pakistani flags.” On Wednesday, Alam organised a rally in Hyderpora in which more than 3000 people, mostly Kashmiri youth including school children, participated and raised slogans in favour of Alam.

Alam had then reportedly shouted slogans like, “Kashmir Banega….” to which the youth responded with cries of “Pakistan”. He also shouted slogans like “Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan (Long live Pakistan)” at the rally which sparked a furore, following which the Jammu and Kashmir police filed a case against him.

Under pressure from the Centre, the state government gave a go-ahead for the arrest of Alam ahead of his scheduled visit to the Tral area of south Kashmir. Geelani along with other Hurriyat leaders who were to join him have been put under house arrest. The visit was to protest the killing of 25-year-old Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, which locals have alleged was a “custodial killing.”

This comes after the chief minister had earlier directed the Kashmir police on 4 March to initiate a process to release all political prisoners against whom no criminal charges are registered.

Although Alam’s release was not ordered by the PDP-BJP government in the state, the PDP had attempted to extract political mileage out of it. But after the arrest of Alam, the issue seems to have backfired on them. On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had phoned Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who assured him of action against those involved in ‘anti-national activities’ during the rally.

Social media was full of people ridiculing the Sayeed-led government for not standing up to promises made to the electorate.

“What happened to Mufti’s battle of ideas? Where is Mufti’s democracy? It is democracy, Indian ISHTAYLE,” Kamran Sayeed wrote on his Facebook page.

As Alam was being taken into custody, many gathered outside his home.

“What happened to Mufti who used to say democracy is a battle of ideas and it should not be held hostage to the agreements or disagreements on issues,” Irfan Malik, a sociology scholar in Kashmir University said outside Alam’s residence in Srinagar.

There is anger on the streets of Srinagar following the arrest of Alam against Sayeed for allowing the Centre to ‘dictate’ terms to the state government with people accusing the PDP patriarch of being a “puppet” Chief Minister installed by the New Delhi in Kashmir.

However, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, President of youth wing of the PDP told Firstpost that they hadn’t arrested Alam under pressure from the Centre.

“It is all about procedure, not about pressure. Jammu and Kashmir police works under a system. They thought it as proper to arrest him and they did that. The law took will its own course. But jails can’t be solution to any problem. There was a cognizable offense against him and law took its own course,” Parra told Firstpost.

No one’s buying the ruling party’s explanation though.

“The message that comes out of this case is clear; that in Kashmir, it doesn’t matter whether PDP, which came on the promise of change, is in power, or National Conference led by Omar Abdullah. By arresting Alam, the PDP led government has exposed its own vulnerabilities and that the real power lies in the hands of New Delhi. The chief minister may say that this is the law taking its due course but then there are many cases registered against Army and policemen for rights abuses, why doesn’t ‘law take its own course’ in those cases as well?” Srinagar based journalist Jehangir Ali told Firstpost.

“Peoples Democratic Party has bowed before BJP and they want to choke the voices of dissent. Even if India says there is democracy in Kashmir, is this democracy? It is a dictatorship where media and so called civil society is allowed to issue diktats,” Tariq Hameed, a shopkeeper said in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

Kashmiri separatist leader arrested

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir arrest a prominent separatist leader who they say has been responsible for encouraging his supporters to wave Pakistan flags in the valley.

Pakistan flag row: Pressure mounts on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to arrest Masarat Alam

Pressure is mounting on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government to arrest Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam who has said he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro-Pakistan slogans would be raised in future rallies too.

Shiv Sena and Dogra Front workers in Jammu burn an effigy of separatist leader Masarat Alam on Thursday demanding action against him for hoisting Pakistani flags during a rally in Srinagar on Wednesday

PTI
Pressure is mounting on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government to arrest Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam who has said he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro-Pakistan slogans would be raised in future rallies too.Police have registered a case under section 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 336 (does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life), 427 (commits mischief) of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against Alam, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Peer Saifullah and other separatist leaders for provocative activities and hoisting Pakistani flag in Hyderpora on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Twenty four hours on, nobody has been arrested or questioned by the police so far, sparking fresh wave of anger among Congress and the BJP, which is the ruling alliance partner of the People’s Democratic Party.”Investigation is on and it (arresting Alam and others) will be decided accordingly. Case has been registered and investigating officer is doing his job,” Koondaveeti Rajendra Kumar, director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir, told dna.Facing flak Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed broke his silence saying law will take its own course. “I think law will take its own course, action will be taken… But something which is not acceptable (hoisting of Pakistan flag or raising Pakistan slogans) will not be tolerated,” said Mufti. But Mufti’s alliance partner BJP is not buying the argument saying nothing but arrest of Alam would serve the purpose.”I want action against Masarat Alam as soon as possible. I am hopeful that state government will take action as per the law. The issue of national security cannot be compromised. The case has rightly been registered against them. It is a straight case of sedition,” said Rajiv Jasrotia, BJP State General Secretary and MLA from Kathua constituency.Alam however remained defiant saying he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro Pakistan slogans are part of Kashmir’s struggle.”Since 1947 people have been raising slogans in favour of Pakistan and there is nothing new. Was not Pakistani flag unfurled on Ghanta Ghar Lal Chowk in 2008? It is not first time this is happening. In future these slogans would be shouted again in the rallies,” Alam told dna.Hurriyat hardliner noted that the arrest is nothing new for him. “We will never be cowed down by these FIRs. I am not afraid of my arrest,” he said.

Mufti denies permission for separatist rally; says pro-Pak slogans ‘unacceptable’

Srinagar/New Delhi: Coming under attack from all quarters including PDP ally BJP, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed today decided to deny permission for a rally by separatists tomorrow even as he said waving of Pakistani flags and raising pro-Pak slogans were “not acceptable” and “will not be tolerated”.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFPJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFP

Flayed for allowing hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to hold rally in Srinagar yesterday where pro-Pakistan slogans were shouted and Pakistani flags waved, Sayeed asked police to deny permission for a rally which was scheduled to be taken from Srinagar to Tral where a youth was killed
allegedly by army while in their custody.

The police may put Geelani and other separatists under house arrest or may enforce prohibitory orders under section 144 to restrict movement of people.

Geelani, against whom police has registered a case, issued a statement late in the evening saying that he would not be cowed down by the state government.

Sayeed was called hours after the rally in Srinagar on Wednesday by Home Minister Rajnath Singh asking him to take “immediate and stringent” action against the law breakers.

The Home Minister today again asserted, “We will not tolerate anyone raising slogans like ‘Pakistan zindabad’ on Indian soil.

“There can be no compromise on national security. Politics cannot impinge on national security,” he told Sayeed.

Pushed on the backfoot, Sayeed tried to defend his decision of giving permission to the rally but made it clear that hoisting of Pakistan flags and raising pro-Pakistan slogans “is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

“I think authorities have taken note of that. They have taken a video of what has happened. I think law will take its own course, action will be taken.

“As far as the public meeting is concerned, I think it is okay. As I say, democracy is a battle of ideas. They are free to have their own way, speak their own mind but something which is not acceptable (hoisting of Pakistan flag or raising Pakistan slogans) will not be tolerated.”

The state government, in which BJP is an alliance partner, came in for flak over its decision to allow Geelani to hold the rally in Srinagar city which comes after a gap of five years.

During the rally, separatist Masarat Alam, released from jail last month, praised founder of Lashker-e-Taiba terror outfit Hafeez Mohammed Sayeed and asked people to join hands with his outfit.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police has registered an FIR against Geelani, Alam and another separatist leader from Hurriyat Conference under various sections of Ranbir Penal Code and Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act.

PTI

Army chief reviews security situation as J&K seeks to revoke AFSPA

Jammu: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh on Wednesday visited Udhampur-based Northern Command in Jammu and Kashmir and reviewed overall security situation of the State.

The meeting assumes significance in wake of Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed meeting five top Commanders, including chiefs of Northern and Western Commands and 34 Corps commanders looking after the operational command of Jammu and Kashmir, where Mufti government is batting for revocation of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. Image courtesy PIBIndian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. Image courtesy PIB

Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. PIB

The Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh arrived on a day’s official visit to Headquarters Northern Command at Udhampur today, PRO, Defence Northern Command Col SD Goswami said on Wednesday.

He was received by the Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, who later briefed him on the overall security situation in the Command theatre and the relief operations undertaken by the Indian Army for the people during recent heavy rains and snowfall in the valley.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) also interacted with other senior Commanders present at the Headquarters, PRO said.

The COAS addressed and commended all ranks for the recent operational successes and the high state of operational preparedness.

He also complimented the officers and men of Dhruva Command for extending humanitarian assistance to the Awam, he said.

Mufti met top commanders under Command of Northern Command including its Chief Lt Gen DS Hooda at dinner meeting on Monday.

The GOC-in-C Western Command Lt Gen KJ Singh and General Officer Commanding (GoC), 9 Corps, Lt Gen Rajiv Tewari called on Chief Minister at his residence on April 6 here.

During the meeting, Lt Gen Singh briefed the Chief Minister about the overall security situation in the areas of his responsibility, particularly along International Border in Jammu region and beyond.

PTI

What about voting rights of Kashmiri Pandits?, asks Shiv Sena

Pointing out that not a single Hindu MLA was elected from the Kashmir Valley, it alleged that there wasn’t a single Hindu in the valley.

Sanjay Raut is the editor of Saamana

dna Research & Archives
Even as its demand for disenfranchisement of Muslims community has evoked sharp reactions from political parties, the Shiv Sena on Monday sought to know why the issue of voting rights of Kashmiri Pandits has not been raised in the same manner. “There has been a furore across the country over the voting rights of Muslims. But have these people ever spoken about the voting rights of Kashmiri Pandits? How many Hindus were able to cast their franchise during the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections? Did any Owaisi or one of his secular supporters speak up for the Kashmiri Pandits?” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pointing out that not a single Hindu MLA was elected from the Kashmir Valley, it alleged, “No Hindu was left there who could vote. Only because the people who support Pakistan (separatists) could win there, the voting rights of Hindus were taken away, right? But there is nobody to speak about this.””Nobody is concerned about the voting rights of Hindus, but people are getting worried for Muslims and making a hue and cry over their right to franchise,” the Sena said.Notably, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi had yesterday sought action against ‘Saamana’ editor Sanjay Raut, while reacting to Sena’s demand for withdrawal of voting rights of Muslims.The Sena in its editorial today also questioned the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir over lack of clear plan for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. “Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s government has come in power with the support of BJP, hence they have to take a decision about the ‘ghar wapsi’ (home coming) of Kashmiri Pandits. While the Mufti government is busy making arrangements for terrorists who have been released from jail, questions still remain on the fate of Kashmiri Pandits,” the party said. “Sayeed says there will be a separate colony for Kashmiri Pandits. Does he mean to say he will create a slum-like colony for them or will he start an SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) kind of scheme for them? On top of it, the separatists are opposing this as well,” it further said.Advocate General A L Somayaji submitted that the Freedom of Expression and for forming an assembly peacefully, as enshrined in 19(1)(a)(b), was subject to reasonable restrictions. He submitted that Section 41(2) empowers the Commissioner to prohibit any assembly or meeting if he considers such prohibition was necessary for preservation of public safety.

Jammu and Kashmir the biggest challenge that India faces: Mufti Mohammad

Mufti’s statements come after he assured the assembly on Thursday that he will take all the stake holders in confidence before accepting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s request of creating separate zones for Kashmiri Pandits in the state.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday said that his state is the ‘biggest challenge’ that India faces, calling for members of the opposition to help his government work towards growth.”We decided to give the position of the main opposition to the National Conference in the Lower House and to the Congress in the Upper House of the state assembly, because the coalition between the BJP and the PDP is not to rule the state. Jammu and Kashmir is the biggest challenge that India faces,” Mufti said at the state assembly here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>I want to work on a larger canvas and want to be inclusive in working towards growth. The people of the state have given us a large number of votes and I feel that we should not lose this opportunity to work for them. It is the determination and the will of the people that will count. Our journey is one of progress, good governance and transparency. I am confident that the members of the House, no matter which party they belong to, agree with me,” he added.Mufti’s statements come after he assured the assembly on Thursday that he will take all the stake holders in confidence before accepting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s request of creating separate zones for Kashmiri Pandits in the state.”We will create an environment of secularism in the valley. The issue should not be politicized. This is a human issue and we don’t want to create an Israel. We want the people of all the communities to live together,” he had said.Mufti had earlier assured Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that his government would immediately start the process for creating the zones and has accepted the demand for creating separate zones for Kashmiri Pandits in the state.

Pandit settlements: It’s Jammu vs Kashmir again

It is déjà vu 2008 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Displaced Kashmiri Pandits burn effigies during a protest against separatists, on Saturday

PTI
It is déjà vu 2008 in Jammu and Kashmir. The purported composite townships for migrant pandits have divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir on regional and religious lines akin to 2008 when people of both regions launched two separate agitations for and against the transfer of 39.88 hectares of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). While separatists have launched a fresh bout of agitation against the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government against composite townships in the Valley, Kashmiri pandits and saffron outfits have upped the ante in Jammu demanding the arrest of separatists for alleged mass killings.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Kashmir valley observed a shutdown on Saturday after a call by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) against townships. Shops and business establishments remained closed and public transport was off the roads. “Kashmiris cannot remain silent spectators to the conspiracies being hatched to divide people in the name of faith. Construction of Israeli type settlements would promote only hatred. JKLF will organise a 30-hour-long symbolic hunger strike and seminar on April 18 and 19 against these conspiracies”, said Mohammad Yasin Malik JKLF, chairman. What, however, triggered another controversy was a statement made by a senior minister of the Mufti Cabinet, who termed Saturday’s hartal as part of a composite culture. “This (Hartal) is part of a composite culture. Mufti Sahab has already made a statement (on the issue of pandits)”, said Syed Altaf Bukhari, J&K minister of roads and buildings. Agitation politics notwithstanding, Kashmiri pandits and saffron outfits have also stepped up their offensive in Jammu demanding strong action against separatists for allegedly opposing the return of migrants to the Valley. “Mass murderers and perpetrators of terrorist violence against the community need to be tried in fast track courts and brought to justice, which would work as a big confidence building measure”, said Virender Raina, national spokesperson of Panun Kashmir, an apex body of Kashmiri migrant pandits. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) too has joined the chorus saying they would launch a massive campaign across the country to inform people about the designs of those separatists who are against the return of Pandits. “We will go to the people across the country over this issue. Centre should not be misled by the rulers of the state and show their girt to implement their plans”, said Rama Kant Dubey, VHP patron in J&K. Protests rocked Jammu and Delhi against the separatists for opposing the townships for the pandits in the valley. Scores of people were raising slogans and demanding action against these elements. The issue seemed to have polarized Jammu and Kashmir on religious and regional lines with people in both Jammu and valley launching protests akin to Amarnath land row Police figures reveal the Amarnath land agitation claimed 51 civilians in Kashmir and nine in Jammu. More than 979 people were injured in Kashmir and 494 in Jammu. As many as 333 policemen and paramilitary soldiers were also injured during the agitation across the state. The land agitation was also responsible for the fall of Ghulam Nabi Azad led government as his alliance partner PDP withdrew support forcing him to put in his papers. The agitation had started after people in Jammu demadned restoration of the 39.88 hectares of forest land to SASB which was earlier transferred to SASB through a cabinet decision. But after Kashmir erupted against the deal, the then Ghulam Nabi Azad led government cancelled the deal. It however angered the people in Jammu which launched a counter agitation for restoring the land to SASB. After two months of deadlock, the government “set aside the land for the exclusive use by the SASB”. Three jawans injured in firing at WagahAttari: Three BSF jawans were injured when alleged smugglers fired from across the border at their patrol vehicle along the Indo-Pak border near the Attari-Wagah crossing area. Officials said the incident occurred around 1 AM when troops of the 163rd battalion of the Border Security Force were out on patrol on a Tata-407 vehicle near the Bhikiwind post, which is about 16 km from the retreat ceremony area. “Three troops received bullet injuries.We suspect the shots were fired by smugglers from across the border fencing between the two countries. Further inquiries are on,” officials said. They said a total of 11 rounds were fired after which the alleged shooters ran away.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government wants AFSPA removed despite terror attacks

On a day when three terror attacks rocked the Valley claiming lives of three policemen, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said it would work towards a phased withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA from areas in the state that are free from militancy for some time.

On a day when three terror attacks rocked the Valley claiming lives of three policemen, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said it would work towards a phased withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA from areas in the state that are free from militancy for some time.In a written reply to a question of National Conference MLA Devender Rana, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said, “Keeping in view the improving security scenario, the state government will examine the need for denotifying disturbed areas which have been free from militancy related incidents for quite some time so as to enable a phased withdrawal of AFSPA from such areas.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rana wanted to know whether the government proposes to revoke AFSPA and the criterion being adopted to identify the areas where AFSPA can be removed. Kashmir on Monday witnessed three terror attacks. In the deadliest of the attacks, three policemen were killed in a militant ambush at Ashipora area in South Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Will combat terrorism with tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, says Union minister

Gulmarg: Union Minister for Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Sunday said the Centre will “combat terrorism” in Jammu and Kashmir with tourism and advised Pakistan to mind its own business.

A Union minister said the Centre will counter terrorism in Kashmir with tourism. AFP

A Union minister said the Centre will counter terrorism in Kashmir with tourism. AFP

“Let the neighbouring country mind its own business, we will mind our own. We will work for Jammu and Kashmir and our country. Let them work for themselves…they do not have an identity. If their actions are dangerous, then we will strengthen ourselves,” he said.

Sharma said that the state will be made a paradise by the new alliance.

“We will combat terrorism by means of tourism…Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have the dream of taking this paradise on earth to newer heights of peace and development and we will work towards that,” he said in Gulmarg.

The Union minister of state (independent charge) was speaking at a tourism conclave at the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

The minister assured that his ministry would look into the demands of night flights and international flights at the Srinagar Airport.

“I assure you that I will look into your demands and inform you of my decision within a week. I will try to have one to two flights per day from Srinagar to Jeddah,” he said.

Referring to BJP-PDP coalition in the state, the Union minister said it was a “good bond” which would give a new direction to the state.

“I feel that there has been a good bond between Jammu and Kashmir and the government of India this time, which will give a new direction to the state both in terms of tourism and development. I understand that the people of Kashmir and the whole world will feel good about this bond,” he said.

Sharma said, “the Centre was duty bound to take Kashmir to those heights in tourism which the whole world expected us to”.

“The vision of this pair – the PM and the CM – will take this state and the country forward,” he said.

Sharma also assured the state government of reviving three hotels which are under the Union ministry – ITDC Hotel at Gulmarg, Centaur Hotel in Srinagar and Ashoka Hotel in Jammu.

“I will take this up and you will see that I will do it in three months time,” he said.

The Union Minister said the Central Government is committed to provide all assistance to the development of tourism sector in the state. He announced three circuits for Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh divisions under the new Central scheme named ‘Swadesh Darshan’.

“Under this scheme, the Union Government will fund Shankaracharya -Chatti Padshahi-Hazratbal-Chrar-e-Sharief Spiritual Circuit, State-of-the-art Yoga Centre at Mantalai, Jammu and Leh Buddhist Spiritual Centre in Ladakh,” the minister said.

He assured the state government of releasing Rs 127 crore package for restoring the tourism infrastructure damaged in the floods last year.

“The Central government will also provide financial assistance to restore Tagore Hall at Srinagar and Abhinav Theatre at Jammu to its pristine glory,” he said.

The conclave was attended by a galaxy of hoteliers, tour and travel operators from all over the country, who also shared their views on the occasion.

Earlier, the Chief Minister, along with Union Tourism Minister, inaugurated the helicopter service for heli-sightseeing and sorties to Srinagar Airport.

The chopper service will also operate paid sorties from Gulmarg to Mount Apharwat, Sunshine Peak and Tosa Maidan in Budgam district.

PTI

Alliance with PDP necessitated by developmental politics: BJP

Seeking to allay concerns in the party over alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP’s national executive on Saturday dwelt at length on the issue, underscoring that “conventional positions” would not have met the developmental aspirations of the people of the state.

File Photo
PTI
Seeking to allay concerns in the party over alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP’s national executive on Saturday dwelt at length on the issue, underscoring that “conventional positions” would not have met the developmental aspirations of the people of the state.A special briefing on its partnership with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led party, for which BJP put several key issues including Article 370 on the backburner, was made by the party’s General Secretary Ram Madhav during the concluding day of the meeting and the decision received “complete endorsement” of the national executive, senior party leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been a sense of unease in the BJP over the alliance, more so after Chief Mufti Mohammad Sayeed credited Hurriyat, militants and Pakistan for smooth polls in the state and hardcore separatist Masrat Alam was released from jail, inviting strong reaction from the saffron party and the Modi government.”It is the nature of the mandate which decided the possible course of the coalition. Secondly, there is a popular feeling within the state also that the governance deficit must go and developmental politics must come. And, thirdly, behind the national agenda of developmental politics it is extremely important that more and more political parties come and endorse the developmental politics which the rest of the country wants in Jammu and Kashmir. You need peace, you need developmental politics and therefore conventional positions would not have achieved that,” Jaitley said during his briefing after the meeting ended.Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the explanation by Madhav, who was the party’s pointsman in stitching up the alliance with PDP, was received with applause from the executive members. The session on J&K focused particularly on the Common Minimum Programme of the alliance government and the particular context in which it took place, Jaitley said.

Kashmir floods Live: Centre sanctions Rs 200 cr for relief and rescue measures

Mar 30, 2015

Highlights

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The Jhelum river on Monday crossed the danger level in Srinagar and Sangam area of South Kashmir with heavy rains lashing most parts of the state which sounded an alert asking people to move to safer places.

A senior official said water level of river Jhelum at 6 am at Sangam (South Kashmir) and Ram Munshi Bagh (Srinagar city) has touched 22.4 feet and 18.8 feet respectively. Danger level at Sangam is 21 feet and at Ram Munshi Bagh it is 18 feet.

People living on the banks of the river Jhelum have been asked to remain alert and advised to move to safer places. Old persons and children have also been asked to shift to specially set up camps, a government spokesman has said.

AFP imageAFP image

AFP image

He said all the employees deployed for flood control have been asked to report for duty immediately.

If the water level breaches 23 feet mark, the state will have to undertake a massive rescue operations and evacuate people from areas adjoining the river.

Flash floods triggered by incessant rain have damaged scores of houses, school buildings and other structures besides snapping road connectivity in the Kashmir Valley, an official said on Sunday.

“Over 80 structures, including residential homes, school buildings and other structures, have suffered damage due to flash floods since Saturday,” an administrative officer told IANS in Srinagar.

The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed following landslides at a number of places on Sunday. The Srinagar-Gulmarg road was also closed after a bridge in Kunzar village was washed away by the swollen Ferozepur Nallah.
There was water-logging in many commercial and residential areas in Srinagar.

Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed took stock of the flood threat and reviewed the preparedness of the administration that has already been put on high alert.

The University of Kashmir has postponed all examinations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

The Meteorological Department predicts heavy rainfall will continue for another six days, according to CNN-IBN. Around 300 people had died when flash floods had hit Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.

Meanwhile, 45 villagers are trapped in Poonch and the police and army personnel have been sent for rescue. “We are monitoring the sitaution,” a government official said.

DG NDRF also told CNN-IBN that there is no need to panic as they were working with government officials and everything was under control.

JVMC hospital, a government hospital on the outskirts of Srinagar, was waterlogged. Patients were being evacuated from the hospital. No casualties have been reported due to the floods so far, according to NDTV. Flood relief camps have also been set up in Srinagar.

with inputs from agencies

Rajnath Singh calls up CM Mufti, promises all help to deal with floods

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh today spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and conveyed to him that relief materials are being air dashed to the flood-affected valley in the shortest possible time.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. ReutersHome Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Reuters

During the telephonic talk, the Chief Minister briefed the Home Minister about the prevailing flood situation in Kashmir valley and the steps being taken for rescue and providing relief to the affected people.

Singh assured full central assistance to tackle the flood situation and conveyed to Mufti that relief materials are being airlifted to the valley in shortest possible time to help the state government in rescue and relief operations, official sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always rushed Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to Kashmir for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage and assured the state of all assistance.

Seven months after the devastating floods, Kashmir valley is facing yet another flood following incessant rains with river Jhelum in spate at several places while 16 people were feared trapped after two houses collapsed in Budgam district.

PTI

Issue of unmarked graves returns to haunt Mufti government

Unmarked graves have returned to haunt the 26-day old Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Unmarked graves have returned to haunt the 26-day old Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), spearheading the campaign for the people missing in security forces’ custody, have formally written to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed urging him to set up an independent commission of inquiry co-chaired by two credible retired Supreme Court judges to investigate the 7,000 unmarked graves.”The letter reminds Mufti Mohammad Sayeed that the responsibility of investigation and prosecution for 8,000-plus disappearances and 7,000-plus unknown, unmarked and mass graves lies with the Indian state, and its functionaries, including government of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Tahira Begum, spokesperson of APDP.A 2011 official inquiry report on unmarked graves conducted by the investigative wing of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had detected 2,156 unidentified bodies buried in 38 graveyards across five districts of north Kashmir.This excluded 574 bodies that were buried as unidentified but later identified that those of locals. The inquiry has also found 18 such graves in which more than one body is buried. It has also detected 20 charred bodies and five bodies comprising only of skulls.The SHRC report had come three years after APDP came up with ‘Facts Under Ground’, an investigation detailing 940 to 1,000 nameless graves of unidentified slain people.A year later in 2009 International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) came up with a report “Buried Evidence” documenting 2,700 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves, containing 2,943 bodies, across 55 villages in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts of Kashmir. It was based on applied research conducted from November 2006-November 2009.”The issue of unknown, unmarked and mass graves is closely connected to the issue of enforced disappearances… Our work was recognized by the European Parliament who passed a resolution in July 2008 urging Government of India to hold an investigation into the issue of unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Further, the European Commission was called upon to offer financial and technical assistance to Government of India”, reads the APDP letter to Mufti.APDP has demanded that an Independent Commission of Inquiry, co-chaired by two credible retired justices of Supreme Court assisted by a relevant panel of international experts, and under scrutiny of independent observers, be tasked with the mandate of investigations of enforced disappearances and unknown, unmarked and mass graves, within a set time frame.”This Commission should carry out forensic examinations, DNA profiling, identify accused persons responsible and devise a framework for reparations”, said Tahira.APDP has also asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to put pressure on centre to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and invite/permit the following United Nations Special Rapporteurs / Working Groups to visit Jammu and Kashmir.”Without addressing structural and prevalent conditions, and more importantly, in the absence of justice, there can be no peace or normalcy. Therefore, the healing touch that is required of your government as an immediate step is, as stated above, mechanisms in place to address the issues of enforced disappearances, and unknown, unmarked and mass graves,” the APDP letter said.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani calls for adopting serious approach on Kashmir

Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Friday said India and Pakistan should move beyond their traditional dialogue process and adopt a serious approach for resolving Kashmir issue.

File Photo

Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Friday said India and Pakistan should move beyond their traditional dialogue process and adopt a serious approach for resolving Kashmir issue.”The present governments of India and Pakistan should come out of the traditional and customary dialogue process and adopt a serious and far sighted approach towards the final and lasting resolution of the Kashmir dispute,” Geelani said.Geelani said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif can write a new chapter in the world history by resolving Kashmir issue that will bring in peace and stability in the region.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif, if willing, can write a new chapter in the history of the world and they can play an important and memorable role in making the whole South Asian region a region of peace, stability and prosperity,” he said.The unresolved Kashmir dispute is the only reason which has resulted in a wall of hatred, enmity and rivalries between the two countries, he said. Geelani said “Kashmir is not the issue of good or bad governance so, it can neither be solved by changing the governments nor can this ulcer be treated through cosmetic measures”.Commenting on the change of guard in Jammu and Kashmir, Geelani said Kashmir is not the issue of good governance and providing better facilities which could be solved by the changing the government.”The common minimum program on which (Chief Minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has agreed to work with his alliance partner is all about the administrative issues and it has nothing to do with the final resolution of the Kashmir issue.”The status quo on Article 370, stage wise withdrawal of the AFSPA and releasing of few political prisoners can be a political assault of Mufti to degrade the National Conference but it can’t impact the status of the Kashmir issue,” he added.

Pakistan, militants allowed conducive atmosphere for polls: J&K CM Mufti

Jammu: Soon after taking oath, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday stoked controversy saying Hurriyat, militant outfits and “people from across the border”, an oblique reference to Pakistan, allowed conducive atmosphere for assembly polls, drawing sharp reaction from NC leader Omar Abdullah who demanded that BJP clarify its stand.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFPJammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFP

Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. AFP

“I want to say this on record and I have told this to the Prime Minister that the we must credit the Hurriyat, militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections in the state,” Sayeed said during a press conference in Jammu after being sworn in as head of the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir at a ceremony which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Flanked by deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh of BJP and newly inducted cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu, Sayeed said, “God forbid if they (militants) would have done something. It would not have been possible to have smooth conduct of the elections.”

Sayeed said that he felt proud that the people in the heart of Srinagar city came out in large number to vote and thanked the “people from across the border” for the “conducive atmosphere” for the smooth conduct of the elections.

“People from across the border made the atmosphere conducive. They also allowed the democratic process to continue in the state. This gives us a hope,” he said in a reference to Pakistan.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah hit out at Sayeed’s remarks and asked BJP to explain its stand.

“Pakistan, Huriyaat & Militants ALLOWED Peaceful conduct of elections” says Syeed, I guess we should be grateful to their generosity (sic).

“Dear @BJP4India Please explain role of security forces & Polling staff considering your CM just said, “Pakistan allowed elections in J&K”, Omar tweeted.

On a retweet about BJP worker in Jammu celebrating, Omar wrote, “Or Just thanking Pak for JK elections.”

Speaking to reporters, Sayeed also voiced hope that the induction of separatist turned mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone in the Ministry would open avenues for others to follow the suit. “Sajjad Gani Lone has given an opening, an avenue for others (separatists) to follow,” he said.

He said peace is a pre-requisite of governance.

“They (referring to Pakistan) also have assets Hurriyat, other militants, if they had done something (during the election) such a participation of people was not possible. I am proud that heart of the Valley Sringar also came forward and participated in the elections,” Sayeed said.

“If Jammu and Kashmir have to be a model of growth. Like people in Gujarat say ‘Good Governance’. Peace is prerequisite,” he said.

Lauding the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a great statesman, Sayeed said the government will take forward his philosophy of “Insaniyat, Jamhooriat and Kashmiriyat”.

“We believed that Hurriyat and separatists also have a view point. We did not keep them locked in homes,” he said.

Sayeed said BJP and PDP have put together a great team to work together.

“History has given us an opportunity. Kashmir remained a problem before every Prime Minister be it Nehru, Shastri, Morarji and even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We want to change it. We want to make this alliance a turning point in trying to meet hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

Sayeed said people like it or not but it was his decision to bring together “North Pole and South Pole”.

He said Kashmir was the only Muslim majority state which rejected Jinnah’s theory and acceded to India.

“In Kashmir complete autonomy and in Jammu ‘Ek Pradhan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan’. This has happened. We want to connect Kashmiri People with rest of the country, what is the purpose of connecting Kashmir with Jammu?…History has given us a chance. We have a majority in Kashmir, BJP has got 26 seats in Jammu,” he said.

PTI

Security intensified in Jammu ahead of Mufti Sayeed’s swearing-in ceremony

Jammu: A multi-tier security cover has been put in place in the city for the swearing-in on Sunday of the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed-led BJP-PDP government with the ceremony to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

“Massive security arrangement has been made in and around Jammu city for the swearing-in ceremony and Prime Minister’s visit tomorrow,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Uttam Chand.

The swearing-in-ceremony will be held at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium at Jammu University.

The venue has been declared out of bounds for the public and sanitation operations with metal detectors and sniffer dogs have been launched while an SPG team is already in Jammu for the function.

A meeting was held by the Chief Secretary on Saturday to review the measures, said Shant Manu, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Division.

Meanwhile, in Jammu city, over 200 to 300 municipal workers have been deputed to clean the various areas of the city, particularly that around Jammu University.

Watched by Modi, 79-year-old Sayeed will take oath as the J-K Chief Minister along with 12 members each from PDP and BJP. BJP’s Nirmal Singh is expected to be the Deputy Chief Minister.

The two parties were engaged in intense negotiations since December, after the elections threw up a hung Assembly, as part of efforts to put together a coalition government on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), which will be released tomorrow.

The CMP will cover all controversial issues like Article 370, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and resettlement of West Pakistan Refugees.

PTI

Amit Shah talks to RSS over govt formation in Jammu & Kashmir

BJP today intensified its efforts for government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir with party President Amit Shah rushing to RSS headquarters to pacify Sangh leaders and another set of saffron leaders approaching PDP leaders who include patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, to find an amicable stand on controversial AFSPA.

Amit Shah

BJP today intensified its efforts for government-formation in Jammu and Kashmir with party President Amit Shah rushing to RSS headquarters to pacify Sangh leaders and another set of saffron leaders approaching PDP leaders who include patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, to find an amicable stand on controversial AFSPA.While PDP spokesman Naeem Akthar said “talks were on and we are hopeful of a positive outcome soon”, sources in the know of the developments said that both sides were finding a solution on withdrawal of controversial of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).PDP has been demanding a written assurance for withdrawal of AFSPA from certain areas of the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region, an idea first floated by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. BJP, however, has started dragging its feet and made it clear that it will not dilute its stand on issues like Article 370 and AFSPA.BJP sources said the dialogue with PDP leaders is continuing to iron out differences on crucial issues and come out with a consensus and make it a part of the common minimum programme of the proposed alliance government in the state.Amit Shah rushed to meet top RSS leaders this morning and is learnt to have discussed these crucial issues with them.The meeting comes in the backdrop of opposition from RSS over reported dilution of BJP’s stand on Article 370 and giving citizenship to West Pakistan Refugees.BJP and PDP are keen to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir where assembly elections threw up a hung verdict. Earlier, the two parties wanted a government in place before budget session of parliament session beginning February 23 but the differences on crucial issues has delayed such an exercise.While PDP emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats, BJP won 25 seats in the 87-member state assembly in results declared in December last.The leaders of the two parties have been in constant talks with each other to iron out differences and come out with a CMP. Leaders also admit to differences between the ideologies of the two parties on certain crucial issues including AFSPA and Article 370.The protracted talks between BJP and PDP has evoked reactions from National Conference (NC) which said the two parties should now come in the open and stop “fooling” people in the name of good governance.Working President of the party Omar tweeted “I have to ask – PDP/BJP support each other for the RS polls, repeat for the Legislative council seats and expect people to believe no tie up yet???”

Eyes on the border as BJP, PDP get closer

As the BJP and PDP inched closer to forming a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, both parties are keeping their fingers crossed in the wake of tensions along the India-Pakistan border.In the course of informal talks, the two sides are understood to have worded a proposal that government will “strive for normalising relations with Pakistan to begin a meaningful dialogue process to discuss all contentious issues.” With this being a crucial aspect of an understanding between the BJP and PDP, there is concern about the firing at the border casting a shadow on the talks, sources said.However, the BJP and PDP struck conciliatory notes on Monday.In the Capital, BJP’s Ram Madhav said there has been some forward movement. “There has been an initiative from the PDP’s side. To take this forward, we discussed to hold further discussions on issues,” he said after the state’s core group leaders met BJP President Amit Shah here.During the 90-minute meeting, the state leaders entrusted the party leadership to take forward the process of negotiations, sources said. While they conveyed their keenness on BJP’s participation in government to break the jinx of being perpetually in Opposition in the state, the state leaders cautioned against compromising on the party’s basic ideology.Sources said they also expressed misgivings over the central leadership sending a response to PDP through an intermediary on Saturday when Shah had invited them for discussions on Monday. They objected to the BJP agreeing for PDP’s Mufti Mohd Sayeed being the chief minister for the entire six years. The BJP president told them no such assurance has been given during the informal communication to the PDP and so far only “talking points” have been circulated to work out a common minimum programme for running the government.The intermediary who took the BJP’s points to the PDP has not yet come back with a response from the PDP and as such the BJP put off any interaction with the Mufti’s party till Wednesday, the sources said.While the two parties had neared an understanding on issues like chief ministership and Article 370, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) continues to be a bone of contention between the BJP and PDP, sources said.Both parties are forming four-five member high-level teams to hold talks on the proposed alliance.In Srinagar, PDP chief spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said if government formation was the only issue they could have aligned with any party be Congress, BJP or even National Conference. “But the question is if we go with Congress or NC can we solve the issues which are in the domain of central government.”He said reconciliation, dialogue, cross-LoC trade, revocation of AFSPA and return of power projects are some of the basic issues which PDP has promised to people. “Can we get back even one power project from the center if we go with NC or Congress?” Akhtar asked. He said rehabilitation of flood victims needed Rs 50,000 crore.But, he said that his party will never make any compromise with regional aspirations and political issues.Finance minister Arun Jaitley was quoted by PTI as saying it was “very difficult” for political parties to give up their ideological position but hinted that controversial issues could be set aside.

Tie-up with BJP might put party’s future in Kashmir in danger, feel some PDP MLAs

The newly-elected MLAs of PDP have voiced apprehensions about the party’s future in the Valley if it was to enter into an alliance with BJP for government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.The MLAs conveyed their concerns about an alliance with the BJP to top PDP leadership after interacting with cross section of people in their respective constituencies, a senior PDP leader said on condition of anonymity.”The MLAs after visiting their constituencies came back with the feedback that the future of PDP might be at stake if the party joined hands with the BJP for government formation,” the PDP leader said.He said there was a consensus among the MLAs that there is a vast gap to fill for their party in order to enter an alliance with BJP.”Given the agenda of the BJP like Article 370, revocation of AFSPA and our stand on these issues, the two parties have a lot of distance to cover in order to reach a common ground,” the leader said.The election results on December 23 threw up a hung Assembly with the PDP emerging as the single largest party winning 28 seats — 25 in Kashmir and three in Jammu region.The BJP came a close second by winning 25 seats — all in Jammu — and is pulling out all stops to form its first government in the only Muslim-majority state of the country.National Conference (NC) bagged 15 seats while Congress won 12 seats with smaller parties and independents winning on seven seats.However, no combination of political parties has been able to cobble up an alliance to form the government in the state due to ideological differences of all three major parties with the BJP.NC, Congress and three unattached MLAs have offered unconditional support to PDP for forming the government.As PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and president Mehbooba Mufti were unable to make up their mind on possible alliance partners, they asked the newly-elected MLAs to get a feedback from their constituents, particularly in regard with an alliance with the BJP.

BJP cautions PDP over meeting separatists

Prof Abdul Gani Bhat

Even before the alliance for government formation could be stitched, an angry BJP went on an overdrive cautioning the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for meeting the separatists. What is the controversy all about?The controversy broke out after PDP supremo Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s purported secret meeting with the former moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. The meeting raised many eyebrows as the talks beteen PDP and BJP for stitching an alliance to form the government are in the preliminary stage. Who are opposing the talks with separatists?BJP, which emerged the second largest party with 25 MLAs in the 87-member House, has strongly objected to Mufti-Bhat meeting since it was the party which called off Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level dialogue because Pakistani high commission had invited the Kashmiri separatists for talks in New Delhi. “PDP should tread cautiously on this issue. These separatists have been defeated because 70 per cent people have voted and reposed faith in democracy. PDP should also maintain distance from these people,” Ramesh Arora, BJP in-charge for Kashmir affairs, told dna. Will it cast any shadow on the talks for alliance?BJP though is objecting to the talks with separatists, it is hopeful that such issues will not impact the progress of the dialogue. “Some talks have started and this issue will not and should not impact the progress”, said a BJP leader. What is PDP saying?PDP has played down the matter saying Bhat has been a friend of Mufti for long. “I do not see any significance (of the meeting). Those who see any plot in it should understand that politics is about meeting people not keeping them away,” said Naeem Akthar, chief spokesman of PDP. Akthar noted that Mufti is one of the senior-most politicians of the country who is heading PDP which has emerged as the single-largest party in J&K. “He has been the home minister of the country. He has been the chief minister of this state. Should he quarantine himself?” Akthar asked. What is Bhat’s take on this issue?Bhat, who is also the chairman of Muslim Conference, said there is no harm in meeting anyone as agendas are not discussed individually. “Mufti has been my class fellow. We used to study together at SP College, Aligarh Muslim University and are really good friends but we belong to two different ideologies. There is no harm of talking to anyone or meeting anyone,” he said. How is the opposition reacting to this development?Omar Abdullah’s National Conference has lampooned what they claimed a sly leak about the meeting. “First invite a separatist leader, then a deliberate, sly leak to the media about the meeting. Very Mufti-esque. Poor separatist leader,” tweeted Junaid Azim Mattu, NC spokesman.

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