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Army ‘most disciplined force’, time not ripe for AFSPA repeal: CM

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Feb 02: Days after she said that Army could have black sheep in its ranks, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her speech in Assembly on Friday gave out an olive branch to the force after she said that Army was the “most disciplined force in the world”.
The CM also said that time was not ripe to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the special provision that provides armed forces added power and immunity while serving in conflict zones.
Referring to the Shopian incident and the claims of a counter FIR filed by the Army, Mehbooba said that it was actually the Army’s statement that they submitted to the police on the second day of the incident and is now part of the FIR registered against army on the first day.
She added “we have to listen to both the sides before taking any action”.
“We want to reduce footprints of police and security forces in the Valley, but can it happen in a situation when people in hundreds come out to attack security forces during encounters with militants,” she asked while winding up discussion on grants to Home Department in the Legislative Assembly. The footprints and powers of the police and security forces are increasing with the increase in bloodshed and violence in the state, she added.
Mehbooba described Indian army as the “most disciplined force in the world”, saying that “It made sacrifices creating a situation that we all have reached the assembly”.
She also called upon the mainstream political parties to reach out to the people for restoration of peace.
Touching upon the issue of the current crisis in Kashmir, Mehbooba said “all are concerned about the current crisis in Kashmir but a decision taken under the leadership of late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on the states accession with the union of India is final and irrevocable”.
“We have to work for strengthening the decision taken by the popular leader like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The separatist leaders have taken a different position and I don’t say that they have no role. Separatists have a role but we have to explain the fruitfulness of the accession with India to the people in state”
Saying that self-rule does not seek resolution of Kashmir issue outside the Indian constitution but within the Indian constitution. “I tell you with authority that the Indian constitution is flexible enough to accommodate and adjust the wishes and aspirations of the people of all the three regions of the state. As for as the relations with Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir are concerned history is witness to the fact that even after waging three wars and the Kargil conflict India and Pakistan were forced to come to the negotiating table. The Shimla agreement, the Lahore declaration and the Agra summit are testimony to the fact that wars take India Pakistan nowhere but dialogue brings them closer to peace and normalcy”.
Claiming that the only solution for Kashmir resolution with Pakistan is the opening of cross LoC travel and trade routes between the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir, the chief minister said it is for Pakistan and the central government in Delhi to decide whether they won’t to settle the issue within or outside the constitution but we in the Jammu and Kashmir government stress the central government to persuade Pakistan for opening up of trade and travel routes between all the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hitting out at separatists, chief minister questioned the growing tendency of separatists to use mosques for political purposes, Mehbooba asked what they are going to achieve by calling for “Udhar Chalo Edhar Chalo”. She said they (Separatists) are pushing youth to violence that leads to their deaths. Sometime, somehow, somewhere they (Separatists) have to explain that how long they can continue to drive youth to violent paths and in the end dialogue is the only option”.
Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at civilians in Shopian last Saturday. Subsequently, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had ordered an inquiry into the incident. Police had on Sunday filed an FIR under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) against the personnel of 10-Garhwal unit of the Army. The FIR also names an officer Major, who according to the complaint, led the Army unit which engaged in the incident.
The Army then filed in their response which was appended with the FIR lodged by the J&K Police in connection with three civilian deaths in firing by army personnel.
On Monday, Mehbooba had said that FIR against army will not decrease its moral and there could be some black sheep in the force as well.
Facing angry BJP lawmakers, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti then said her government had taken action against the army only after consulting Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“After the killings I immediately spoke to the defence minister and she was very positive. She told me that I should take action if any carelessness or anything wrong has happened. It’s after that we registered an FIR and ordered a magisterial inquiry,” Mehbooba then said in the assembly.
The chief minister also stressed that action against the guilty would not hurt the morale of the Army and pledged to take the case to a “logical end”.


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After mysterious threat posters: Shutdown stages comeback in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 21:  Barely a week into normalcy, Kashmir observed an instant shutdown on Thursday after mysterious threat posters appeared in the old city.

Shops and business establishments remained closed.  Slender traffic movement however was observed on the Srinagar roads.

For the last one week, shops and business establishments, which would normally close before noon, remained open till late afternoon. Public transport had also hit roads after three and half month’s hiatus.

 

But on Thursday, shutdown returned to parts of the valley following mysterious threat posters. On Wednesday unknown people had put up posters in old city asking shopkeepers to observe hartal.

What added to the crisis was the mysterious fire that razed four shops to ground at Bohri Kadal on Wednesday. The incident also prompted shopkeepers to down shutters. Unknown people had inscribed “Last Warning” on the shutters of various shops at Zaina Kadal, apparently to enforce shutdown in the old city.

“None of the shops opened today as some warning posters had come up in downtown yesterday,” said a shopkeeper from Bohri Kadal.

Impact of warning posters was also seen in Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Maisuma and Hari Singh High Street, which for the last one week saw huge rush of shoppers.

Traffic which plied normally till noon, thinned later in the day with few passenger vehicles plying in civil line areas. Complete shutdown was also observed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag, and Shopian. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district too observed shutdown.

Police sources said they are trying to identify the people who put up threat posters in the old city. “We are enquiring. We are looking into the case,” said VK Birdhi, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range.

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WPD seeks help to protect migratory birds flocking Kashmir wetlands

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Nov 21: As migratory birds start flocking wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir, the Wildlife Protection Department (WPD) has sought assistance from the forest protection force and the police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of the winged visitors.

Lakhs of birds start arriving in the valley from the first week of November as Kashmir provides them a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The general public is informed that hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of migratory birds is punishable under Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Any person venturing to hunt, poach, capture or sell these birds is liable to a jail term of one year along with fine up to Rs 10,000,” WPD said in a statement here.

 

It said the hunting, poaching, capturing or sale of these birds is non-bailable and non-compoundable offences.

“The department seeks assistance from the forest protection force and the local police to prevent hunting, poaching, capturing and selling of these migratory birds in the wetlands of Kashmir,” the statement said.

It said these birds are enlisted in various schedules of Indian Wildlife Protection Act and receive complete protection against hunting, poaching, capturing and selling.

The birds found in the wetlands include migratory ducks and geese which include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon.

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Post abrogation of Art 370: Multinationals, manufacturing giants make beeline to set up units in UT

J&K receives `Expression of Interest’ worth Rs 3000 Cr

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 20: Dalmia Bharat Group, Singapore Electric vehicles and Dubai-based Lulu Internationals are among over 40 companies, which have shown interest in investing in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.  

Jammu and Kashmir, which was a no-go- zone for outside investors, has been opened for all national and international business players after the scrapping of special status on August 5.

A source told The Kashmir Monitor that more than 40 companies have submitted their ‘Expression of Interest’ to invest in 10 different sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Hospitality, Tourism, Education, Information Technology, Horticulture, Agriculture, Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) and manufacturing are some of the sectors which companies have zeroed in on.

“Prominent among these companies include Escott Infrastructure, Dalmia Bharat Group, Shree Cements, Jackson Group, Indian School of Business, Singapore Electric Vehicles and Lulu Group. They have submitted the proposals for setting up their units in Jammu and Kashmir,” the source said.

With an annual turnover of Rs 70, 000 crore, Dalmia Bharat Group is a renowned business house in India, which deals with cement, sugar, thermal power and other businesses.

Similarly, Kolkata-based Shree Cement, which has annual turnover of Rs 58.50 billion, has shown interest in setting up its unit in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singapore based Singapore Electric Vehicles Pvt Ltd, a commercial electric fleet company, has desired to invest in the manufacturing sector.

Founded in 2001, Indian School of Business, a private business college, has expressed readiness to invest in the education sector by setting up its campuses in the union territory.

Helmet manufacturing giant ‘Steelbird’ has also offered to set up a plant in Jammu and Kashmir. Hospitality player ‘Lemon Tree’ has also proposed two new properties with 35-40 beds each in Gulmarg and Sonmarg areas.

An official privy to the development said government has received 60 ‘Expression of Interests’ so far, which is worth approximately Rs 3000 crore.

“Some companies have submitted their Expression of Interests twice. Some wants to build tourism infrastructure and others want to set up industries,” he said.

Managing Director SIDCO, Ravinder Kumar told The Kashmir Monitor that a committee has been constituted to review the ‘Expression of Interest’ by these companies. “We are going to review the Expression of Interests in 10 to 12 days,” he said.

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