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Ally BJP rejects Mehbooba’s ceasefire demand, says amnesty offer must be reviewed too

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, May 10: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Thursday opposed the unilateral ceasefire that its coalition partner said was unanimously proposed by the participants at the all party meeting.
The meeting, convened here on Wednesday by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, agreed to send a delegation to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for considering a unilateral ceasefire for the holy month of Ramzan and during Amarnath Yatra.
A day later, however, BJP’s State Spokesperson, Sunil Sethi, called a press conference at the party Jammu headquarters to express their opposition to the suggestion.
“There was no discussion over the Ramadan ceasefire nor did BJP agreed to it. However, a meeting of delegation with Prime Minister was agreed upon by both the parties,” he told the media.
“The issue of unilateral ceasefire was not even put to vote in the House. It was just a suggestion by Er Rasheed, supported by one or two members.”
The BJP spokesperson said they were against “any unilateral ceasefire” given the situation the valley has been in.
“We do not want Ramadan ceasefire at this stage,” he said. “We are living in a situation that is different from what it was 10 years back. Unilateral ceasefire was observed during Vajpayee tenure. But if observed now, it will not be in the nation’s interest.”
Sethi said the ceasefire would give militants a chance to “escape and regroup” for carrying out their activities.
“We are at a final stage to eliminate militancy. Stepping back at this time will not be wise. Those who joined militancy are killed in just three days,” he said.
“So, the fight against militancy shall be continued, and it will ultimately help in bringing peace to the valley, as was seen in Punjab earlier.”
“We are looking for the army to eliminate the militants in a shortest possible time. Unilateral ceasefire at the current situation would mean tying the army’s hands and giving the militants a chance to run away, regroup to create a situation that will be difficult to handle.”
Questioning the Chief Minister’s support to the supposed ceasefire, he said:“In the meeting, the CM herself said that they didn’t get a matching response from other side for talks, be it Pakistan or separatist. So, how can she think that a unilateral ceasefire will work?”
Sethi suggested holding a separate meeting for discussing the issue.
“As a representative of people, we can’t go against the interests of the people. Let us have a meeting to decide on it,” he said.
Questioned about the Deputy Chief Minister’s presence while Mehbooba had made the announcement, he said the meeting was a session with some suggestions.
The BJP spokesperson said the government also needed to review its earlier decision of granting amnesty to the stone throwers.
“It has not given the desired results yet, as some continue to throw stones at the forces. Today’s stone throwers are tomorrow’s potential militants. If the amnesty to them continued, it can prove worrisome for the state and requires an immediate review,” he said.
Sethi said that stone pelting was a “strategy” to help the militants escape.
“Stone throwing at the encounter sites is being done to provoke the forces. As per our reports, stone throwers shift to the place of encounters in groups from various places to halt anti-militant operations,” he said.
Calling for constituting a special force to deal with stone throwing in the valley, the BJP spokesperson said that the state’s police was not “equipped and trained” to deal with it.
“JK Police is not that trained or equipped to deal with mobs and stone throwers. The World has become modern and new ways like drone sprinkling, sting guns are there to deal with such situations. We need a new mobile force especially for stone pelting and mob rioting,” he said.
On the army Chief Bipin Rawat’s recent, Sethi said there was a need to strengthen the forces to deal with the militancy in the valley.
“Presently it is a difficult situation for the army fighting militants as well as the stone throwers. We are trying to convey that it is a time to strengthen the hands of the army and other security forces involved in anti-militancy operations so that its all-out mission is completed sooner,” he said.
On safety of tourist and Amarnath pilgrims visiting the valley, he said security for them needs to be enhanced compared to previous years.
“Our concern is safety of tourists and pilgrims. Those who visit heaven (Kashmir) shouldn’t feel like hell there. So far Amarnath Yatra, security needs to be heightened and no room should be left for any kind of mischief,” Sethi said.


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3 militants killed in Shopian encounter

Slain includes IPS officer’s brother; civilians, forces personnel among injured

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Three militants, including the brother of an IPS officer, were killed and an army soldier wounded in a gunfight in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.

Reports said that the gunfight broke out Tuesday morning after a joint party of the army and the state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Shirmal village following inputs about the presence of militants.

They said the militants opened fire on the forces after the latter fired several shots towards their hideout located in an orchard in the village.

 

There was a momentary lull before the firefight resumed, leading to the killing of three militants, news agency Global News Service reported.

One army soldier has also sustained injuries during the course of the gunfight, it reported while quoting unnamed sources.

Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said the slain militants included Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district.

Shamsul Haq was pursuing Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) at government college Zakura when he joined militancy. His elder brother Inamul Haq is 2012 IPS batch officer who is posted in North East.

The identity of the two other militants was being ascertained, police said.

Reports, however, identified the two other slain as Amir Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Late Abdul Aziz Bhat of Chadipora, Shopian and Shuaib Ahmad Shah (19) son of Ghulam Rasool Shah of Zahapora, Shopian.

The slain, as per reports, were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit and were involved in a number of attacks in the southern district.
After conducting all necessary formalities, the bodies of the trio were later in the evening handed over to their families for last rites, reports said.

They added that at least seven persons were injured in clashes near the site of the encounter at Heff Shirmal as government forces resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing.

Later in the day, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and other forces in Shirmal area of

Zainapora in Shopian area after credible inputs about the presence of militants.“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” the spokesperson said.

He added that it was a difficult operation due to the terrain and there were clashes in the area which was handled by the government forces.

“Only five cases of injuries were reported and three of them were discharged after preliminary medical attention. Separately six security forces personnel injured during the clashes have been discharged after medical attention,” the spokesperson said.

Police, he said, has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.

 

Shamsul met ‘sad end’ despite his IPS brother’s efforts: Ex-DGP

Srinagar, Jan 22: Former Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid on Tuesday said that Hizb militant Shamsul Haq met a “sad end” despite efforts by his IPS officer brother to bring him back.
Taking to Twitter soon after the news of his killing in Shopian gunfight started doing the rounds, Vaid, who was the director general of police in J&K when Haq turned to militancy, said: “I remember the efforts that were made by his (Haq’s) brother /other family members and J&K Police to bring him back to mainstream but he met a sad end today.”
Haq, brother of IPS officer Inam ul Haq, was killed along with his two associates in a gunfight in Shirmal village of Shopian.

Militants killed in Budgam affiliated with Al Badr: Police

Srinagar, Jan 22: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said the three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday were affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that the slain militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad son of Ali Mohammad Mir resident of Lassipora Pulwama, Syed Rabani son of Mohammad Hussain resident of Nazneenpora Shopian and Towseef Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Aziz resident of Nowpora Payeen Pulwama.
The slain militants, he said, were affiliated with proscribed outfit Al-Badar and were wanted by the law.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.
Bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities, he added.
The three militants were killed after a daylong gunfight in Hapatnar forests on Tuesday.

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4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.

The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.

Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.

 

Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.

Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.

“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.

Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.

The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.

Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.

“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said

The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.

Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.

“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.

Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.

In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’

“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.

“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.

“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.

He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.

KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.

“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.

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Srinagar youth hit with stone ‘hurled by CRPF’

Admitted to SKIMS with fractured skull; CRPF spokesman claims ‘youth fell down’

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Srinagar, Jan 22: A youth from Habba Kadal locality of Srinagar was hospitalised in a serious condition after a stone allegedly hurled by CRPF trooper hit his head on Tuesday afternoon.

Family sources said the boy identified as Mohammad Younis had left home to buy some vegetable, however, a CRPF trooper hurled a stone from the bunker located near Habba Kadal, resulting in serious head injuries to the boy.

Soon after the incident, the injured was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS, Soura.

 

Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan, as per a local news agency KNO, said that “parietal bone of the youth had fracture and the bone fragment has sneaked into the skull, leading to contusions.”

He also said that CT scan of the patient will be repeated to ascertain the damage. He, however, maintained that they are monitoring his condition as of now.

Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman, Sanjay Sharma, as per news agency KNO, said a group of five to six youth started pelting stones at the bunker and while chasing them away, a youth “slipped and fell down”.

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