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After Shopian, death knocks at Kulgam; 4 civilians killed, over 60 injured as militant’s manage to escape

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By Nisar Dharma

Srinagar, Apr 11: Eleven days after 18 people were killed at Shopian, Kashmir Wednesday woke up to the news of another gunfight in south Kashmir that devoured four civilians and left over 60 injured.
The gunfight involved “two to three” militants cornered by the government forces at Khudwani, Kulgam.
A police official said the forces had cordoned the village during the night and zeroed in on a cluster of houses in Wani Mohalla, where the militants were suspected to be hiding. “During the search operation, some gunshots were heard after which an encounter started,” the official said. He said three forces’ personnel were wounded in the firefight and were evacuated to an army hospital. An injured soldier succumbed soon after, he said.
Early in the morning, the civilians from Khudwani and its adjoining villages started moving towards the encounter site and engaged the government forces, deployed in strength, in pitched battles.
By 9 am, firing by the forces had left as many as 35 civilians wounded, including Sharjeel Ahmad Sheikh, a groom-to-be in his 20s.
Shot in the abdomen, Sharjeel succumbed at the District Hospital Anantnag.
By noon, 16-year-old Bilal Ahmad Tantray, a resident of Hawoora-Mishpora village, was hit in the chest. He succumbed at the hospital in Qaimoh.
Half an hour later, another teen, Faisal Illahi (14), of Melhoora, Shopian, was hit by a bullet.
He was removed to the Qaimoh Sub-district hospital, where he, too, succumbed.
The killings sparked more widespread clashes, a spontaneous shutdown, and internet blockade across Kulgam and in other districts.
The authorities ordered closure of all the educational institutes in several areas of south Kashmir.
In the evening, Aijaz Ahmad Palla, 28, of Bijbehara, suffered critical injuries in the clashes with government forces at Khudwani.
He died before reaching the hospital.
The house in which the militants were hiding was razed to the ground using explosives.
Government forces, as per witnesses, had pressed in helicopters during the firefight.
At least, two adjacent houses also caught fire during the bombing. The forces, however, found no body in the debris of the houses and decided to call off the operation by around 6 pm.
The militants are believed to have escaped the cordon. Several hospitals of south Kashmir and Srinagar reported attending to at least 60 injured civilians.
While this report was being filed, eight injured were admitted to the SMHS Hospital, while five victims were taken to SK Institute of Medical Sciences and one to the Bones and Joints Hospital.
Two of the injured were in a critical condition.
These included 45-year-old Abdul Salam Bhat, of Khudwani, who received a bullet in his neck which exited from his shoulder.
He was immediately put on a ventilator at the SMHS Hospital, where doctors said that his chances of survival were less.
Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain civilians. All the slain later laid to rest amid sobs and tears while people were seen shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
The three militants who escaped re-appeared at the encounter site after the cordon was withdrawn and shouted slogans.

 
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Assembly, Parl polls: ECI seeks security report from JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 19: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir government about the security situation in the state before taking a final call for conducting parliamentary and J&K Assembly polls.
Almost all the political parties have suggested holding assembly elections simultaneously with parliamentary polls in the state.
The ECI has sought the report from the Chief Electoral Officer about the security situation in J&K.
“The decision about holding of polls will be taken once the final report is submitted to the ECI,” an official at Chief Electoral Office said.
The CEO, the official said, has already briefed the ECI on the preparedness for the parliamentary and assembly elections.
“The CEO JK is set to meet the ECI next week in connection with the polls and submit the final report about the security situation in the state,” the official said.
He added that the state government has constituted two teams headed by divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu. “The CEO will first hold meeting with them before submitting the report to the ECI,” he said.
Following which, the ECI team will visit the state and hold a review of preparedness for the polls.
CEO J&K, Shailendra Kumar, said they held several meetings with the ECI about the preparedness of the polls. “We also held a meeting with the ECI on January 10 and responded to poll body’s queries. Rest I can’t say anything,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
On Friday, Kumar held a meeting with representatives of political parties to discuss holding of polls. Almost all the parties were of the view that parliamentary and assembly elections should be held together.
The CEO told the political parties that his office has already taken necessary steps for holding the elections, but decision lies with the ECI.
Kumar said more than three lakh new voters have been added to the voters’ list in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that many as 3,07,813 additions, 1,25,834 deletions, 94,565 corrections and 14,989 transpositions have been made in the latest voters’ list.
J&K is under President’s rule after six months of Governor’s rule, which began after the BJP withdrew support from the PDP in June last year.

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Woman delivers on road after LD refuses admitting her, newborn dies soon after

Govt orders probe; concerned health officials, facilities widely criticised

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Srinagar, Jan 19: The J&K government Saturday directed Principal, Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar to probe the incident in which a woman was forced to deliver on the roadside in sub-zero temperatures in Srinagar leading to the death of her baby.
The woman from the far-flung area of Moori, Kalaroos in north Kashmir’s Kupwara was reportedly refused entry by doctors late Thursday night after which she gave birth to a baby on the roadside near Lal Ded, Kashmir’s premier maternity hospital here.
Suraya Begum delivered a girl around 8.30 pm in chilling weather and her baby died soon after birth, The Indian Express reported.
The woman’s brother, Hami Zaman, as per the report, said Suraya had developed labour pain on Thursday at home.
With nearly 3-feet snow in the area, the road between Mooree and Kalaroos, where the nearest hospital is located, was not motorable. “Around 15 people put my sister on a charpoy and we walked for six hours to reach the hospital (in Kalaroos, around 14 km away),” he said.
Doctors there referred her to Kupwara hospital, from where she was further referred to Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar.
At Lal Ded, the family said, Suraya was kept under observation for a few hours. Hospital authorities, as per the Express report, subsequently refused to admit her.
“At around 8.30 pm, my sister developed severe pain again and delivered a baby girl on the road. The newborn died immediately,” Zaman said.
The normal delivery by the woman also puts a question mark on the functioning of peripheral hospitals especially in Kupwara from where she was referred late in the evening to Srinagar.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan said that a formal order has been issued to Principal GMC requiring him to look into the factual position as regards denial of entry of the woman into the hospital leading her delivering on the roadside as a consequence of which her baby died.
“This incident needs a thorough inquiry to find out the factual position, so that appropriate action is taken against the concerned if found liable for such negligence/act,” reads the order issued by the Divisional Commissioner to the Principal GMC.
“You are accordingly directed to enquire into the matter and furnish the inquiry report along with your explicit comments within two days, treating the matter most urgent,” the order added.
Medical Superintendent of Lal Ded hospital, Dr Shabir Sidiqui said that the matter has been already taken up with the head of the Department Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Farhat Jabeen.
“Pending inquiry, the doctor who was on duty on Thursday has been attached to Principal GMC, Srinagar,” the Superintendent said.
The incident was widely condemned.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti expressed pain and anguish over it.
Taking to Twitter, Omar said he hoped the administration led by governor Satya Pal Malik would take immediate take action in the tragic case.
“I hope the state functionaries working under the command of @jandkgovernor take immediate action in this tragic case,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Mehbooba expressed her pain for turning away the pregnant woman from the lone maternity care hospital in capital city, saying “she cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel.”
“Heart wrenching that a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital, which ironically is named after the great Kashmiri mystic saint Lal Ded. She later gave birth to a still born in frigid temperatures. Cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel,” she tweeted.
JJ panel directs CWC to register case
The Juvenile Justice Panel Saturday expressed deep shock and anguish over the “criminal negligence” of Lal Ded hospital Authorities in refusing to admit and to provide medical assistance to the woman from Kalaroos, Kupwara.
Justice Hasnain Masoodi, Chairperson, Selection cum Oversight Committee and G A Sofi, Mission Director, ICPS lamented over the gross negligence of the doctors at LD, while inaugurating one day Capacity Building workshop for Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) for Chairperson and Members of CWCs of Jammu Division.
It was pointed out that right to be born and right to survive are important rights of a child, recognized under International Convention on Child Rights (CRC), Constitution of India and the State and any violation of the rights is not only condemnable in strongest words but punishable under Law. The incident was said to indicate insensitivity of stakeholders to the Child Rights and Child Protection issues.
Justice Masoodi requested government to initiate a time bound probe into the matter so that erring Doctors/officials are identified and dealt with under Law without any delay and consider overhauling the Hospital Administration in the meantime.
The CWC, Srinagar has been asked to enquire into the matter and on the basis of outcome get a case registered against the Doctor responsible for the incident, under relevant provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 as also Ranbir Penal Code.

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PDP expels Altaf Bukhari for ‘anti-party’ activities

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Srinagar, Jan 19: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday expelled its leader Altaf Bukhari from the party alleging he was involved in “anti-party” activities, which were being “watched with concern for quite some time”.
“Ever since the passing away of our founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he (Altaf) has been pursuing his personal political ambition at the cost of the party and state interest,” a PDP spokesperson said in a statement.
“Bukhari inspired and led dissent in the party at its most crucial stage, which resulted in serious damage to our efforts at implementing the agenda of alliance of our coalition government. While the party leadership was engaged in negotiations with its partner and the Government of India insisting on implementing some agreed points before forming the new government, the dissension weakened its bargaining position forcing subsequent events against its will,” PDP said.
“In spite of this obvious backstabbing and subversion of people’s interest, the party leadership believed in subsequent explanations and assurances of Bukhari and reposed complete trust in him by reinducting him in cabinet,” PDP spokesperson added.
“Unfortunately, ever after the end of the coalition, Bukhari, instead of pursuing party interest in accordance with the expectations of our voters and workers, started open attempts at breaking the party by hobnobbing with its rivals,” the statement said, adding that newspapers have been running stories almost on daily basis to create impression of Bukhari being at the centre of a ‘rebellion’ brewing in the Party.
“The leadership waited in the hope of Bukhari rejecting these reports to clear the air. But unfortunately he did nothing to remove this impression. It was therefore decided to expel Bukhari from party’s basic membership with immediate effect,” the spokesperson added.

 

Bukhari welcomes move: ‘Was imprisoned, feel free now’

 

Srinagar, Jan 19: Former finance minister, Syed Altaf Bukhari on Saturday welcomed the decision taken by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to expel him, saying that he feels “freed from the confinement”.
Soon after being expelled, Bukhari, as per Kashmir News Service, said: “I am happy that the party has taken a decision to expel me. I feel that I have been relieved from a huge burden and I am freed from the imprisonment and confinement.”
He added that to be in the party was against his voice of conscience. “I am happy that the party has taken this decision. I welcome the party’s decision.”
Altaf was considered as the top leaders of PDP ever since he joined the party. He was inducted in the cabinet twice and served in different portfolios.
In political circles, he was presented as the Chief Minister candidate from the party after the death of former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
Notably, the political maneuvering in Jammu and Kashmir is getting momentum as various political leaders are moving to other political parties ahead of the parliamentary and assembly elections here.
The decision of expelling Altaf from the party is likely to strengthen the third front that is currently being revived in the State.
Several leaders including Altaf Bukhari, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Ghulam Hassan Mir and Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen are among the leaders who are in talks to revive the third front.
The leaders had told KNS that the third front will be reemerged in the state likely ahead of the elections

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