By Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, Apr 11: So far this year, at least 102 persons have been killed in the incident across Kashmir Valley, while hundreds of civilians have got injured.
At least 29 civilians have been killed since January this year in the valley. These include the four civilians and one soldier killed during a gunfight at Kulgam on Wednesday.
In other incidents, two people were abducted in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district and later killed by the unidentified gunmen.
Around 48 militants have been killed during the period, while 12 policemen and 13 soldiers are among the government forcs’ men who lost their lives.
The year started on a deadly note as a 36-hour gunfight inside the Lethpora army camp, resulting in the killing of five CRPF personnel and three militants.
The gunfight saw Kashmiri militants taking part in a Fidayeen attack for the first time.
On January 6, an officer was among the four cops killed in a powerful IED blast at main Chowk Sopore.
Government forces on January 8 claimed to have killed a militant in a brief gunfight at Patrigam village of Chadoora town in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
While a militant was killed in a gunfight in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area, forces shot dead a civilian in Khudwani area of Kulgam the same day.
On January 15, the government forces claimed to have killed 5 ‘fidayeen’ militants in Baramulla’s Uri area.
Besides killing two militants in a gunfight, forces on January 24, also shot dead a civilian and critically injured two teenage girls in Chaigund village of Shopian district.
One of the two critically injured girls succumbed to injuries weeks later. A 10-year-old boy, too, who was injured on January 25, by an unused shell used by the forces in the January 24 gunfight passed away on February 1.
Army shot dead two youth and injured as many on January 27 by opening fire upon them in Ganowpora village of Shopian district.
One of the injured youth in the army firing passed away a day later. While managing to free their associate from forces’ custody inside the hospital premises, militants on February 6 killed two cops who were accompanying the detained militant to government SMHS hospital for the latter’s checkup.
A 25-year-old youth, a resident of Unsoo village in Handwara, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Sopore on January 3.
On April 1, 20 people, including 13 militants, four civilians and three forces personnel were killed. Later a Kangan youth, who was injured on the day in forces action, succumbed to his injuries few days later at SK Institute of Medical Science Soura.
Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts
Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.
Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri
Traders fear losses in crores
Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz
Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.