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Art 35-A challenge: Complete shutdown observed in Kashmir, Chenab

People’s unity heartening, says Joint Hurriyat

Mubashir Bukhari

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 Srinagar, Aug 05: Life in Kashmir Sunday came to a complete standstill due to a complete shutdown observed by all sections of the society against the legal challenge in the Supreme Court on the validity of Article 35-A, which bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

Shops and business establishments were closed across the Valley while all kinds of transport remained off the roads due to the strike call.

The shutdown, on Sunday and Monday, was called by the Joint Hurriyat Leadership as Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a PIL challenging the validity of the Article 35-A on August 06 (today).

 

The state government has filed an application before the Registrar of the Supreme Court, informing that it is going to seek adjournment of the hearing of the petition in view of the “ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state”.

On Sunday, government forces were deployed in strength at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining ‘law and order’.

The situation across the valley remained peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere so far although people strictly adhered to the shutdown call, the effect of which was totally visible from deserted lanes, markets and rolled down shutters.

Various organisations included Bar Association, transporters and traders’ bodies, and several other civil society members had already extended their support to the shutdown call.

Protests have been held across the length and breadth of Kashmir over the past few days with mainstream parties like the National Conference and PDP also holding rallies in support of continuing Article 35-A.

People in Tral township of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Sunday protested against the attempts being made to abrogate Article 35-A, which grants special privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

People on early Sunday morning staged a protest at main town. Carrying placards and banners, the protesters were chanting slogans against scrapping of Article 35-A.

The protesters cautioned that any attempts to abrogate Article 35-A would lead to widespread protests in the valley and any fiddling with the constitutional provision would be catastrophic.

The protest march later culminated peacefully.

Protests were held amid a complete shutdown in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday against any attempt to abrogate Article 35-A.

Reports said that shutdown was observed in Banihal, Khari and Gool areas of the district,

Shops and other commercial establishments were closed while traffic was off the roads.

Markets in Banihal on the highway and in adjoining villages of Nowgam, Tethar, Chareel Kaskoot and Dooligam were also closed.

In Gool, scores of men held a protest against any move to tinker with the constitutional provision.

Train services were suspended in Kashmir on Sunday in view of a strike called by separatists, a senior railway official said.

He added the services would remain suspended on Monday as well given the apprehension of ‘law and order’ problem in the valley.

 

People’s unity heartening, says Joint Hurriyat

Srinagar, Aug 05: Joint Hurriyat Leadership comprising of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik on Sunday said that unequivocal, united and unanimous verdict by the people of Chenab valley region, Pir-Panjal Region, Kashmir valley to Kargil against “planned attack” on the identity and distinctiveness of Jammu Kashmir in the garb of Article 35 A, should serve as an eye opener for rulers and policymakers.

The spokesman in a statement while terming the unity among the people of Jammu Kashmir on state subject law and unprecedented protest as heartening, leaders said that on the leadership’s call people in Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Baderwah, Kishtwar, Kargil to Kashmir valley staged exemplary protest against moves intended at abrogating or tinkering with the hereditary state subject law in the garb of 35 A.

The spokesman said that through this exemplary protest people of Jammu Kashmir have raised their voices against any move or act that is intended to wane, weaken, abrogate or tamper with the identity and distinctiveness of Jammu and Kashmir and have in unequivocal terms and with one voice announced their verdict that no resident of Jammu Kashmir will accept any such move or judgment.

Joint Hurriyat, the spokesman added, said that though the police chief of Jammu Kashmir has announced to allow protests regarding Article 35A but from Saturday evening, police and other forces started a fresh spree of “nocturnal raids”, arrests and other measures.

“Police, as usual, have kept ailing veteran leader Syed Ali shah Geelani under House arrest and have placed leader Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq under house arrest too. Police last (Saturday) evening raided the residence of Yasin Malik who already had gone into hiding to evade arrest,” the spokesman said.

He claimed that the police have also arrested or house-arrested many other leaders and activists including Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Ghluam Nabi Sumji, Agha Syed Hassan, Hilal Ahmad War, Bashir Ahmad Rather (Boya), Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar, Bilal Ahmad Sideequi, Hakim Abdul Rashid, Molvi Bashir Ahmad, Muhammad Yousuf Naqash, Muhammad Yasin Ataie, Fayaz Ahmad Mir, Syed Imtiyaz Haider, Bashir Ahmad Butt, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, Muhammad Ishfaq Khan and others while as police raided many others houses too.


Mubashir joined The Kashmir Monitor as a reporter/ sub-editor in Jan 2013. Since then, he has been consistently covering beats including conflict, politics, education, and health. He is also handling online section of the paper besides working as Video Producer.

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Trump offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue

Press Trust of India

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday offered to be the “mediator” between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as he met Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House where the two leaders discussed a host of issues.

India maintains that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one and no third party has any role in it.

“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. If I can do anything to help, let me know,” Trump said in response to a question during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan in the Oval Office.

 

Trump said that he is ready to help, if the two countries ask for it.

“I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you (Khan) would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be….we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can’t solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that,” Trump said.

“We have a very good relationship with India. I know that your relationship (with India) is strained a little bit, maybe a lot. But we will be talking about India… (it’s) a big part of our conversation today and I think maybe we can help intercede and do whatever we have to do. It’s something that can be brought back together. We will be talking about India and Afghanistan both,” Trump told Khan.

Khan, who was sitting by Trump’s side in the Oval Office of the White House, said that he is ready and welcomed such a move by the US.

“Right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate (on Kashmir),” Khan told Trump.

Khan was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others.

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Corrupt praying elections to escape ACB: Guv Malik

Says militant remark ‘made in frustration’; calls Omar ‘political juvenile’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jul 22: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik Monday said that the political parties in Kashmir want immediate elections to “save” themselves from the ongoing action against corruption.

“Political parties and their leaders want immediate assembly polls to escape from investigations. The ACB is close on their heels. These politicians are involved in misappropriation of funds in various schemes. There will be zero tolerance against corruption,” the Governor said while speaking to media on Monday.

He expressed regret over his remark that militants should stop killing innocent people and target the corrupt, saying it was made in a “fit of anger and frustration”.

 

On Sunday, Malik stoked controversy during his address at a function in Kargil.

“These boys who have picked up guns are killing their own people, they are killing PSOs (personal security officer) and SPOs (special police officers). Why are you killing them? Kill those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir. Have you killed any of them?” Malik had asked.

Day later, the Governor, however, said that he should not have made the comment as constitutional head of the state, but it did reflect his feelings and he will say the same thing when he is not governor.

“As Governor, I should not have made such a statement but my personal feeling is same what I said. Had I not been Governor, I would have no regret for giving such statement,” Malik told the media.

“What I said was my frustration and anger as I have seen huge corruption in Kashmir for the last one year. Otherwise, I know militants will be ultimately defeated,” the Governor added.

Reacting strongly to the Governor’s comments in Kargil, former chief minister, Omar Abdullah had tweeted: “Save this tweet – after today any mainstream politician or serving/retired bureaucrat killed in J&K has been murdered on the express orders of the Governor of J&K Satya Pal Malik.”

Omar said the governor should check out his own reputation in Delhi before sanctioning unlawful killings.

“This man, ostensibly a responsible man occupying a constitutional position, tells militants to kill politicians perceived to be corrupt. Perhaps the man should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings & kangaroo courts,” he said.

Reacting to Omar’s criticism, the Governor called him a “political juvenile”.

“He is tweeting on every issue and media carry them. But media does not carry the comments on his statement. 90 percent people abuse him for his statements,” the Governor said.

Malik said he was appointed Governor because of his reputation.

“I did nothing wrong in my 50 year career. People know whether I did anything wrong. Wherever Omar Abdullah is at present is because of his reputation. He is speaking on every issue in a childish way. I had regards for Omar,” he said.

The Governor said families that have ruled Kashmir have accumulated huge wealth.

“Their grandparents were teachers but they have properties across the world.  Their three generations have accumulated huge wealth. They have one house in Srinagar, one in Delhi, Dubai, one in London and elsewhere. They are shareholders in big hotels.”

Asked whether two prominent political families, Abdullahs and Muftis were also involved in corruption, he replied: “The Anti-Corruption Bureau is investigating and whosoever is involved in corruption has to face the punishment. One of the former ministers has been grilled. Few more former ministers will also be investigated. We won’t spare anyone irrespective of how powerful they are.”

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Power theft costs JK 4000 cr a year

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir suffers a huge loss of around 4,000 crore every year due to power theft.

The department is unable to overcome the huge losses despite the fact that they have installed power meters to tackle pilferage.

An official in the Power Development Department (PDD) said that the deficit of Rs 275 crore in 2002-03 grew to Rs 2,976 crore during 2014-15 and to 4,000 crores in 2018.

 

The economic survey of 2017 blamed the revenue deficit on “high power thefts, illegal uses, unregistered consumers, uncontrolled and unaccounted consumption of power, lesser load agreements, low tariff rates, and poor collection efficiency.”

“We are losing Rs 4000 crore every year on power purchase bill. Last year we purchased power for 6200 crores and we collected only 2200 crores so the total lose we suffered is 4000 crore,” Hashmat Qazi, Chief Engineer PDD told The Kashmir Monitor.

The major reason for losses, he said, is the power theft.

“We lose maximum power due to the illegal usage by the people here. Despite installing meters, people find ways to breach them and use as much electricity as they can,” Qazi noted.

Qazi informed that to overcome the losses, there are many Government of India schemes including ‘Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform program’ (R-APDRP) which will upgrade the infrastructure including installation of Aerial Bunched Cable (ABC) which will restrict power theft by hooking.

“This is Rs 1660 crore plan which is being funded by the Government of India and comprises of 30 towns that have more than ten thousand population,” said Qazi.

“Another scheme is Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) which comprises of 81 small towns, having a population more than four thousand. Apart from these two schemes, there is another scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) for distribution of electricity in rural areas,” he added.

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