Boniyar (Uri): On December 10, Azim Nazir Khan woke up to the sight of wooded mountains facing his room in Arunboo village of Boniyar in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
He wore his brand new black jacket and asked his mother how he looked. She teased him, saying, “You resemble a Bollywood actor”.
When she saw her son’s face next, it was lifeless, without eyes, tongue, or ears.
Azim, that day, boarded a cab to Azadgunj, Baramulla, where he had been working as a trainer in the Hulk Gym Centre for the last 10 years.
He stayed there for three days and went missing from the gym proprietor’s home on December 13.
The next day, the family of the deceased filed a missing report in Baramulla police station, stating they were unable to contact their son.
Police began its investigation and searched for the boy in the localities surrounding the gym, but in vain.
On December 18, police found Azim’s body hanging from the ceiling of a room in the building housing the gym.
Police subsequently constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the gruesome murder of the 25-year-old.
Azim’s family accuses Abdul Khaliq Buroo, the proprietor of the gym, of killing him.
“I had trust on that family, but they broke my trust by killing my son,” Nazir Khan, Azim’s father, alleges. “I did not ever think that they will brutally kill my son.”
“My son would come home on Sundays and return on Mondays. His uncle left him there to work at Buroo’s transformer repairing workshop. He worked out at gym there and eventually became its trainer.”
He, however, said that Azim never complained about any ill-treatment by Buroo’s family.
“He was never threatened neither I know the reason for his murder,” the father, a driver by profession, who has six other children, said.
Azim’s mother, Nishat Begum, said she went from the pillar to post praying for the safety of her son.
“I prayed at shrines for his wellbeing,” she said, with tears welling up in her eyes. “My son treated them as his family and they reciprocated by killing him.”
Azim’s elder brother, Asif Khan, said that he never complained about any fight with Buroo family.
“He told me several times that I don’t want to work there. He wanted to start his own business and had also submitted the form at Boniyar Higher Secondary for class 12th,” he said.
The Baramulla family, however, denied the allegations.
“Azim was like our other children. He was God fearing and honest,” the family’s daughter-in-law, Rehana, told The Kashmir Monitor.
“Why would we kill him? We can never forget him,” she said, consoling her mother-in-law.
All five children of Abdul Khaliq Buroo have been detained by police for questioning.
Another daughter-in-law, Pinky, a native of Haryana, said Azim brought milk and bread on December 13 morning.
“At 12 in the noon, he left home and did not return. Initially, we thought he might have gone to meet his friend at Rajasthan, as he did in October. We then started looking for him. Later his body was found in the gym,” she said.
“He was trustworthy. We treated him like our biological children. Why would we keep his body in the gym if we had killed him?”
She said the killers should be hanged.
The Senior Superintendent of Police Baramulla, Imtiaz Hussain, said police was investigating the matter.
“Details can’t be shared till the investigation is completed,” he added.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.