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Balakot strike done for sole purpose of winning LS polls: Farooq

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Mar 11: National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah Monday made serious allegations against the BJP-led Centre, saying it ordered the air strike in Pakistan’s Balakot with the “sole purpose” of winning Lok Sabha elections.
The Srinagar MP alleged the BJP has “failed” on all fronts and it was apprehended that there would be a fight or skirmish with Pakistan before the polls so that Prime Minister Narendra Modi becomes some kind of an “avatar” without whom India cannot survive.
“This surgical strike (air strike) was done only for the purpose of election…Totally for the election. We lost an aircraft worth crores of rupees. Be thankful that the IAF pilot (Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman) survived and returned from Pakistan with respect,” Abdullah told reporters here.
In a predawn exercise on February 26, the Indian Air Force targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed’s ‘biggest training camp’ in Balakot. The air strike came in response to a attack in Pulwama on February 14, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Abdullah said Monday, “In the Parliament, we knew they have failed on all other things and that there would be a fight or a skirmish with Pakistan in Kashmir so that he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) becomes some kind of an ‘avatar’ without whom India cannot survive. But I want to tell him that whether he or I live or not, India will live and move forward,” .
The NC president said an atmosphere of fear was being created to help the BJP in the polls.
“They want to create an atmosphere of fear. There would be no war. The whole world is watching. This government is only using the senior officer for winning the election, the officer whom they got by superseding many others and who is now dancing to their tunes. Otherwise, there is no danger,” he said, without naming the “officer”.
“This atmosphere of fear that they have created in the country that without him anything will happen, I want to tell him that you were neither a God and never will be,” he said.
Abdullah said there is no other way than to talk to Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.
“They (New Delhi) have brought this (Kashmir) into international limelight. Several countries are now involved in making India and Pakistan to talk over Kashmir and they will have to engage themselves as it is the only way forward,” he said.
Asked about the Election Commission of India’s decision to delay the assembly polls in the state, Abdullah said he feared some “mischief” by the Centre in J-K.
“I think they must have thought of doing some mischief, that’s why they delayed the polls. I do not understand that when thousands of people took part in the Panchayat and municipal polls, what danger they think there is now when forces are present in larger number than they were. And they are present in every nook and corner of the state,” he said.
The NC president said all parties are in favour of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls and now the public should understand what their motive is.
“If we unite, their designs will fail. We should prepare for that..For not giving a chance to the Centre for destruction. So, we all should stand to confront them…Where is the mighty government of India which cannot conduct an election here? If this is not surrender, what is,” he said.
He said if the EC is saying that the environment is conducive for Lok Sabha polls, then why is it not conducive for the state polls.
“Then they should not conduct the Parliament polls. I am surprised over what they are saying. They are contradicting themselves. It is unfortunate that our EC has become the election commission of the government. A political EC. There is no independence. I hope there is a new government which gives full independence to the EC,” he said.
Asked if his party was thinking of a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, Abdullah said, “We have not yet decided on that. We will see that”.
He welcomed the ECI’s direction on keeping forces away from electioneering.
“It is good. I have seen in my state that soldiers press the button of machines in far-flung areas and I hope the forces are kept at bay this time and they will only be used for security purposes. This should be a free and fair election,” he said.


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Principal’s ‘custodial killing’: Probe officer meets family, locals

Global News Service

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Pulwama Qazi Masood probing the “custodial killing” of a school principal Saturday met the victim’s family in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.
Rizwan Asad Pandit, the Principal of Sabir Abdullah Public School Tral, was picked up by the police from his home late on March 17 during a raid and was killed in police custody at the Cargo Building two days later, according to his family.
Although the police had initially admitted that Rizwan had “died” in custody and that the matter was being probed under “procedure laid down in Section 176 of CRPC,” it later filed an FIR against him for “escape or attempts to escape from custody”, lending a new twist to the case.
The magisterial inquiry that was ordered in Srinagar was also closed and a fresh probe ordered in Pulwama district and a report sought in “four weeks.”
“Government has appointed me as an inquiry officer, I assured the family that I will conduct the fair investigation into the case,” the inquiry officer Qazi Masood told GNS after meeting Rizwan’s family members and local residents.
Masood said he has sought a report from SP Awantipora on why and how Rizwan was detained and the circumstances that led to his death.
“I have also sought a postmortem report from the SP,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, reports said that soon after the inquiry officer arrived in the area and met the family members, locals held a protest demonstration demanding stern action against the guilty.

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Civil society, traders, Bar demand special inquiry commission

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Kashmir business community, civil society, and High Court Bar Association on Saturday asked Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Paul Malik to set-up an independent Special Commission of inquiry in the custodial killing of Awantipora school teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, they said that there have been countless instances of inquiries being ordered in killings without any results.
“To deter future violations, we appeal to the Governor for setting up of a time-bound Independent Special Commission of Inquiry,” they said.
The members said that till the time the commission submits its report, it would serve justice if the case is treated to be one of custodial killing and all persons associated with it are put behind bars and kept away from active duty.
“Such inquiries, suffering from institutional bias and state interference, have rarely served the interests of justice,” they said.
“We have a reason to believe that this killing would also suffer the same fate and the killers would again roam free to kill, more confident in the fact that their crimes will never be brought to account,” they said.
They said that the repeated perpetration of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law needs in-depth fact-finding and investigation.
On Tuesday, Rizwan Asad Pandit, a 29-year-old school teacher, died inside the Jammu and Kashmir’s CARGO camp in Srinagar.
He was picked up for questioning from his home in Awantipora on Sunday.
The family had said that his body bore evidence of being subjected to extreme physical violence.
The press conference was jointly held by KCC&I, High Court Bar Association, KTMF, KEA, KTMF (R), FCIK(A), FCIK(M), JKSECC, KCSDS, KHARA, CCIK, All Transport Welfare Association, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Dealers Association, Houseboat Owners Association, KHAROF, Pvt School Association, Kashmir Bakers Association, All Kashmir Chemist & Distributors Association, Hoteliers Club, All Traders & Transporters Coordination Committee, All J&K Taxi Owners Association, Association Of Kashmir Tour, Environmental Protection Group, Shehr E Khaas Coordination, Beopar Mandal S R Gunj, Rehabilitation Alliance, and Batamaloo Traders Association.

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ED imposes Rs 14.4 lakh penalty on Geelani

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Srinagar, Mar 22: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday imposed Rs 14.4 lakh penalty, on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally” possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000, news agency PTI reported.
After completion of the probe and adjudication proceeding, the ED an order on Wednesday under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), levying the penalty and confiscating forex of $10,000 that was allegedly recovered from Geelani, they said.
The ED will also impose a penalty on Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and confiscate foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik are in progress.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court also allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case.

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