By Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, Mar 18: The demand for revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from north eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir has grower louder, with politicians and political experts calling several provisions in the Act “offensive”.
Over 25 years have passed to the introduction of AFSPA in J&K.
The law remains a bone of contention in J&K and in several north eastern states.
Congress M P, Shashi Tharoor on Saturday voiced support for amending the AFSPA, which according to him was causing “more harm than good”.
Describing the language of the provisions in AFSPA as “offensive” to the sensibilities of any democrat, he said, “I think a significant section of the political establishment, certainly speaking for my party, would be in favour of amending (the) AFSPA.”
“The provision for arrest without warrant is far too blanket. But, the revocation of the Act may be a step that would be politically difficult,” he said.
Senior Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has sought the United Nations’ (UN) intervention on the AFSPA, urging the world body to influence New Delhi to abolish it.
“It is long overdue that the UN takes cognisance of the grave situation prevailing in the Valley, especially the daily killings,” he said recently.
AFSPA grants government forces executive powers to search and arrest without a warrant, to open fire on a mere suspect Action cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts unless the Centre allows it.
Opposition National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said that his party has always demanded revocation of the AFSPA.
“It shall be revoked as soon as possible as it is being misused,” he said.
Ruling party PDP’s Chief Spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said his party wanted removal of the AFSPA.
“Earlier, we thought it could be withdrawn partially. We stand with the recent statement of CM that it should be removed from the state once the situation becomes conducive,” Mir said.
Political expert, Prof Gul Mohammad Wani said that people of JK were united in seeking revocation of the AFSPA.
“This draconian and harsh law has to go where army man can kill anyone on mere suspicion and search any one. There are provisions in it, which are harsh and need to be diluted,” Wani said.
He said there were several provisions in the AFSPA, which, as per international human rights standards, were “offence”.
“The interlocutor reports also recommended it removal or be diluted,” he said.
Indian defence experts have mixed opinion about its removal.
Editor of the Force Newsmagazine, Pravin Sawhney said the UPA government announced its removal in a few areas.
“But the question is whether the army will accept it or not. Army will not accept any government’s decisions that go against the wishes of the army,” Sawhney told The Kashmir Monitor over phone.
Asked whether there are several provisions in it “offensive”, he replied, “Any provision is a tooled weapon. Security forces see it in one perspective and call it their protection while the affected people think it other way and believe it is offensive. I believe that army should be withdrawn from civilian areas and posted along the LoC.”
Defence expert Ajai Sahni said that that Congress led government while being in power for 50-years never called AFSPA as offensive.
“Today its leaders believe its provisions are offensive when they are out of power,” Sahni said, who is the Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management.
He said, “Supreme Court reviewed the AFSPA and did not found provisions in AFSPA offensive. This law does not give any protection to army if they indulge in human rights violations.”
He said there was disagreement only on the clause 6 of the act, which says that states where the AFSPA is in place have to get approval from the centre to prosecute army man if found involved in any offence.
“This is applicable for all centre government employees. The states have to get approval from their parent department to prosecute for any offence. This law is not being used. Army can’t operate in any disturbed area with the protection,” he added.
Stopping of trucks on Sgr-Jmu highway: Mutton, fruit, vegetable dealers suffer huge losses
Srinagar, Apr 23: The mutton, vegetable and fruit dealers Tuesday claimed that they have suffered losses worth crores due to routine stopping of vehicles carrying these items by the traffic police on Srinagar- Jammu national highway.
The dealers said that trucks carrying livestock and other items are being stopped at various junctions on highway without any reason.
As per the dealers, the practice is prevalent from a long time, resulting in the escalation in the prices of essential commodities including mutton, vegetables and fruits.
General Secretary, All Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association (AKMDA), Kashmir, Mehraj-ud-din Ganie said that for the last three months, the truckers ferrying livestock to the valley are facing difficulties while travelling on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
“For the last almost one week, 150-200 trucks have been stopped at Udhampur’s Jakhani area, resulting in loss to the tune of Rs 1 crore daily to the mutton industry, “he said.
Ganie added that “we have nothing to sell as our stocks are over.”
“We have taken advance from the customers, who require mutton for marriage purpose. We were not able to give consignments to them. If stock didn’t reach at an earliest, we won’t be able to provide consignments for next two days as well, “he said.
President, Jammu and Kashmir Goods Transport Companies Association (JKGTCA), Mohammad Sidiq Ronga admitted that truckers are being stopped for no reason.
“Attempts are being made to shatter our economy. The traffic police are stopping our trucks everyday. Usually trucks carrying goods reach Kashmir from Delhi in 24 hours but now it takes three to four days,”he said.
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Traffic, J&K, Alok Kumar said that “landslides at Manki Morh have been causing disruption in the traffic movement.”
“Earlier, we allowed traffic to move towards Kashmir but it resulted in congestion .Once congestion is over, we would allow them to proceed, “he said.
Meanwhile, traders at Fruit Mandi Parimpora are planning to go indefinite strike from Monday 29.
The Mandi comprises more than 300 shops and around 3000 people are directly associated with it for earning their livelihood.
President, New Kashmir fruit Association Parimpora Bashir Ahmad said that they have called an indefinite strike from Monday 29. “Every day our fruit and vegetables- laden vehicles are stopped unnecessarily in Udhampur by police. Fruits have short life and get destroyed due to stopping of our vehicles on highway. We understand that Losses are inflicted deliberately, the president claimed.
He said that though they raised the issue many times with the top authorities but no heed has been paid in this regard. “Now we have decided to shut our business till our problem won’t be resolved,”
He said that they are not satisfied with the assurances given by the government and therefore they have decided to go for strike.
He claimed that due to unnecessary stopping of vehicles, the traders at fruit mandi are losing crores every month. “Deliberately our trucks are being stopped in the Udhampur region. We have seen that when a truck offers money to the police, only then they allow them to move towards Kashmir,” Bashir Ahmad claimed.
He further alleged that even on Sunday when traffic was not allowed on highway, they received several vegetable and fruit- laden trucks from Jammu, and “they told us that they paid money to the police who later allowed them to move”.
Sources said that supply of vegetables and fruits could be hit, triggering a price rise, if the strike begins and continues.
The supply of vegetables, fruits such as onions, Potato, Mangoes, oranges, Grapes, chillies, cauliflower, cabbage and tomatoes is largely dependent on this mandi.
ECI’s assurances over fool-proof security have fallen flat: Mir
Srinagar April 23: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President and party candidate from Anantnag parliamentary constituency, G A Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit with great enthusiasm.
In a statement issued Mir also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.
Mir has expressed gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag, saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free, which was matter of enormous pleasure for Congress party.
Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag. The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir, he said.
Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident free elections, he added.
Geelani’s son questioned by NIA in funding case
New Delhi, Apr 23: Nayeem Geelani, son of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, appeared before the National Investigation Agency for questioning in connection with a case related to funding of groups and separatist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here.
Nayeem Geelani, who had been evading questioning by the NIA for long, appeared on Monday and a detailed questioning took place on Tuesday.
Geelani’s questioning comes days after the NIA quizzed moderate Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq in connection with the same case. The NIA probe seeks to identify the chain of players behind the financing of militant activities, stone pelting on security forces, burning down of schools and damaging of government establishments.
The case names Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, as an accused. It also names organisations such as the Hurriyat Conference factions led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Mirwaiz, the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat.