Srinagar, Jan 05: The workers at the construction sites in the valley could be seen playing with death every day, as a majority of them work without proper safety gears.
Helmets have been replaced by winter caps, sweaters are considered site uniforms to go with torn gloves and boots.
“You see there?” said a labourer Tariq Ahmad Lone, pointing out at the bricks kept on the second floor of an under-construction building.
“God forbid brother, if those bricks fall down, I can’t even imagine the way we will be injured,” Lone said.
Lone works at the construction site just at the entrance of the Department of Tourism’s office.
“If we die, great. Worse is we can get paralysed for life,” Lone added.
Right then, another worker at the site, Shanwaz Ahmad, came down in pain and handed over Rs 10 to Lone, asking him to get a band-aid from a nearby shop.
A minor cut had left Ahmad’s middle finger bleeding, reason being the torn gloves which were of no use.
Asked as to why no proper gloves were provided, Ahmad said, “Who told you these gloves were provided to us? No, we on our own bought these. No safety gears have been given to any of us.”
“These boots too,” he added, showing his ripped shoes which must have been endlessly stitched by a number of cobblers.
Not just these workers are exposed to life-threatening conditions at work, but are also a victim of the callous attitude of the authorities at the construction site.
Javid Gojjr, a 23-year-old helper at the construction site of the grade separator near TRC, shared how he along with his colleagues “feared” the authorities.
“We work here from 9am to 5pm, and that’s because the days are shorter. In summers, we are even asked to work for 12 hours straight. Really unfair, keeping in mind the wages we get,” he said.
Gojjr refused to disclose his earnings.
However, as per other workers at the construction sites near TRC, they, on an average, earn Rs 400 per day, including food and travel.
Site Engineer for the grade separator, Aijaz Ahmad, blamed the labourers.
As per him, the workers are “frequently asked” about their whereabouts and needs.
Talking about the lack of safety gears, he said, “These workers themselves don’t like wearing gears, especially helmets. They give silly excuses. However, I assure you, everyone will be provided basic gears within a week, and anyone refusing to take it will be fired.”
Just two days back, a worker at RAMKY construction site had to lose his life due to non-availability of safety gears.
His colleague, Shahid Wani had taken the issue to the twitter, where he wrote, “He lost his life today on site of RAMKY due to non-availability of safety measures. No safety belt while falling. Blacklist the company immediately. They cannot play with innocent lives. @MehboobaMufti @HaseebDrabu @JKLawmin @parawahid.”
To which Minister for Labour & Employment, Haseeb Drabu, tweeted back.
“No words can console, no compensation enough. Will ensure safety on sites & get safety audit done. Company won’t get away with this,” he wrote.
As per the data, between 2013 and 2016, a total of 1,092 deaths and 377 injuries have occurred while working at the construction all across the India.
The reports say that the workers are mostly men in the most productive age group of 18 to 45 years and either have parents or young children as dependants.
Talking to The Kashmir Monitor, Drabu said he was planning strict actions to ensure the safety of the labourers in the state.
“I have the overall picture, and I am going to look into the matter. I am planning to launch an Accidental Health Disability Insurance Scheme for the labourers. Also, making the safety gears mandatory is as well a part of my vision,” he assured.
Jamaat ban challenged in court
JK HC seeks GoI response by Apr 22
Srinagar, Mar 26: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response by April 22 on a petition challenging the recent ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) in the state.
Acting on a petition by Mehraj Azeem (61), a former member of the Jamaat, a single bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan on Monday directed the Union Home Secretary to file response and objections to the petition by the next date of hearing on April 22.
The notice was accepted by Assistant Solicitor General Tahir Majeed Shamshi, who was present in the court.
The Centre in a notification issued on February 28 banned Jamat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five years under ‘anti-terror’ law on grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and is expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state.
However, the petitioner’s counsel, Syed Musaib, said the government did not follow the procedure while issuing the notification and the Jamaat was banned without giving it a chance to represent its case which was “violative of the constitutional safeguards”.
“Even if certain material is available with the respondents, the same would constitute an incriminating material against a single individual of the organisation and not against the organisation as a whole. The same has to be dealt in accordance with the law of land and could not be used to muzzle and gag an entire political organisation having decades of existence,” the petitioner said.
He submitted that “bans are ineffective in contesting dissenting politics overtly, and are directly responsible for clandestine politics.”
The petitioner’s counsel while praying for setting aside of the ban order, submitted that free speech and right to form unions/associations was intrinsic in a democratic polity.
The organisation, as per the petitioner, played a significant role in bringing the state back on track after the catastrophic flood of 2014 by engaging itself in voluntary work.
“The contribution of the Jama’at in the field of education and other such sectors is commendable. The said organisation had contested elections both Parliamentary as well as Assembly and has a registered election symbol,” he added.
The counsel also challenged the constitution of the tribunal headed by a J-K High Court judge to decide if the Jamaat was an unlawful association, saying the Centre lacks the executive competence to enact such provision in respect of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The group has been banned for five years. It has to be ratified by a tribunal constituted by the Home Ministry.
The outfit, which was formed in 1945 as a chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and separated in 1953 due to differences over political ideology with the parent body, was banned in 1990.
The previous ban lapsed in 1995 and since then it has never been invoked again.
Omar-Mehbooba banter picks up pace
Jibes include: NIA, state flag, fake state subjects, killings, special status, POTA…
Srinagar, Mar 26: Two former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are busy picking holes in each other’s tenures these days in a build up to the Parliamentary elections beginning next month.
Omar, the National Conference vice president, Tuesday said that PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is the person who couldn’t save the flag of the state and she, thus, should not claim to protect the state’s special position.
“It was in PDP’s tenure that an order was passed. It said that state’s flag should be hoisted in every department. Within two days, Mehbooba ji revoked the order,” he said, while addressing a large gathering at Flood Colony Baramulla.
The NC vice president lashed out at Mehbooba, blaming her for the large number of killings and youth joining militant ranks during her regime.
“Basharat Bukhari Sahib is sitting beside me right now. He is the same person who sent Mehbooba ji a file through a minister. In the file, it was mentioned that the fake state subjects should be cancelled. Today, I am asking Mehbooba ji: what did you do with that file?” he asked.
He said in a reference to Mehbooba Mufti, “To remain in BJP’s good books and secure your party, you kept the file under the wraps. Now do you think you will protect the state’s special position? You are mistaken, you can’t do anything. We lost so many youngsters and a large section of educated youth took to arms in your tenure. The same youth who deserved a better future were dragged to the graveyards.”
He was also critical of the BJP-led central government and said that it was the Sikh Community and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi who rescued Kashmiris living in other states from the recent mob violence.
Omar, while launching a scathing attack at Modi Government said that it was Sikh brethren across India who wholeheartedly offered their places for runaway Kashmiris fearing mob violence after the Pulwama attack.
“Do you again want to see the Kashmiris living outside the state being targeted for another five years? Our children studying outside were singled out and forced to leave their accommodations. This all happened because of BJP-RSS camaraderie,” he said.
Omar claimed that for ten days the response of the Prime Minister to the violence against Kashmiris was awaited but nothing happened.
“We waited in anticipation that our PM will speak for our rights and ensure protection for the students. But it was our Sikh brothers in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi who saved Kashmiris and not the Central Government.”
NC brought NIA to Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti
Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday blamed National Conference (NC) for the current proceedings of National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba, while talking to reporters at Baramulla on the sidelines of her party’s rally, said that it was National Conference-Congress regime led by Omar Abdullah in 2009, which brought NIA to J&K.
“When NC forged an alliance with BJP in 2009, they brought in Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) to the state, gave away seven power projects, and also brought NIA to the state,” Mufti said, adding that PDP was “always against such anti-people moves”.
“On the contrary, we categorically told BJP not to tamper with Article 370, demanded the revocation of AFSPA, and withdrawal of army from civilian areas,” she said.
“While in power, we revoked FIRs against thousands of detained youth whereas BJP had planned other nefarious designs which included a crackdown on JEI, Moulvis, NIA raids on separatists but I didn’t allow them to do it,” she claimed.
Mufti said her party introduced several “peace building” measures but got a cold shoulder in return.
“Militants were not supportive when I forced BJP to have ceasefire for a month. I wanted to have a dialogue with separatist leaders and even a parliamentary committee visited Kashmir in 2016 but
they shut their doors. Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as the interlocutor to have dialogue with the separatist leadership but they didn’t support it,” she said.
She also said that oppressive measures through NIA won’t yield any result, but a political solution is the only way out to resolve Kashmir issue. “You cannot resolve the issues by imposing bans and
seizing the properties but a political issue needs a political resolution only,” Mehbooba said.
She also welcomed the reports of opening of Sharda Peeth by Pakistan, saying that the step will benefit Kashmiri Pandits as it was the long pending demand of the particular community.
Indo-Pak relations to remain tense till polls: Imran
Islamabad, Mar 26: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Indo-Pak relations would remain tense till the general elections in India are over.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a strike, hitting what it said was a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot, who was handed over to India later.
Khan said shadows of war were still hovering over Pakistan and India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration could go for “another misadventure” before the general elections.
“The danger is not over. The situation will remain tense till forthcoming general elections in India. We are already prepared to avert any aggression from India,” Dawn quoted Khan as saying.
Khan also claimed that he cancelled his scheduled meeting with the Taliban in Islamabad due to “concerns” expressed by the Afghan government.
The Taliban last month said that its representatives would visit Islamabad to meet Prime Minister Khan on February 18.
Media reports later suggested that the Taliban called off the meeting as most of the members of their negotiating team could not travel to Pakistan due to sanctions imposed on them by the US and the United Nations.