Srinagar, Apr 14: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that no harm whatsoever is done to the common masses while carrying out ‘anti-militancy operations’ in the state.
Top officials in the MHA on condition of anonymity said that all the security forces including the Army, the Central Armed Police Forces and the State police have been asked to avoid civilian killings and carry out anti-militancy operations without any collateral damage. “Centre and the State government want to ensure a peaceful summer, as tourism has taken a massive hit in the past two years,” the sources maintained.
However the official maintained that heads of various security agencies have been asked to “deal sternly” with militants. “We need to deal with the militants strictly but there should be no civilian causalities at the encounter sites. A close synergy between forces is a must for ensuring smooth anti-militancy operations,” the MHA quoting directions said.
Sources however said that the MHA has made it clear that the operation against militants will continue. “MHA is watching the situation very closely and the summer ahead is crucial for the State. Normalcy has to be restored in the Valley at all costs as people have suffered huge losses,” sources said.
Sources in the MHA said that the youth have been asked to stay away from encounter sites. “It is for the safety of the people that they should avoid their presence at encounter sites and people are also appealed not to create obstructions in anti-militancy operations,” sources quoting MHA said.
The situation in the Kashmir Valley has been fragile since July 8, 2016 when Hizbul commander Burhan Wani and two others were killed in an encounter with security forces.
Meanwhile one of the top officials of the Army said that they have already asked police to keep crowds off from encounter sites during gun battles with militants to avoid civilian casualties as they (Army) were not carrying mob control weapons. “Our job is not to deal with the crowd since we are not carrying non-lethal weapons. It is the police and para-military forces who are carrying weapons to disperse the mob,” an Army officer said, wishing not to be quoted by name.
“Since February 2016, the police had cautioned people many times through repeated advisories, asking them to stay away from the encounter sites. Despite that people have been rushing to encounter sites in a bid to help militants to escape,” one of the police officials said on condition of anonymity.
Police sources said the security agencies have been told to ensure better coordination during encounters. “Police have been told to ensure that people don’t come close to encounter sites. If protestors come closer to encounter sites then Army may fire at them like what happened in Kulgam,” a police official said.
Dark homes, waterlogged streets: Story of Kashmir after few inches of snow
Srinagar, Jan 17: The public utility services, especially power and transportation, have been badly hit by Wednesday’s snowfall exposing the authorities’ lack of preparedness.
Kashmir received light to moderate snowfall since Wednesday morning and with it, the supply of electricity, which was already patchy, became even worse.
People, even after the snowfall stopped, complained of facing abrupt power cuts.
Mohammad Altaf, a resident of south Kashmir’s Kokernag, said that electricity was yet to be restored in his area.
He termed the assurances given by the government regarding the early restoration of electricity as “baseless”.“People of this constituency have been suffering terribly due to the absence of electricity. In addition, many roads have not been cleared yet,” he said.
The residents of main town Anantnag and its adjoining Dialgam and Kadipora areas too complained of unscheduled power cuts.
The situation is almost similar in the summer capital.“For the last two days, we face abrupt power cuts. Our children are not able to prepare for the exams due to power cuts in the evening hours. They have to study under candlelight and lanterns,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Habak, an otherwise metered area.
In non-metered ones, the supply is even worse.“We face frequent power cuts. We don’t know when the power will remain on and off,” said Kaisar Ahmad, a resident of Qamarwari.
The residents of the main town Baramulla too complained of facing unscheduled and frequent power-cuts, especially since Wednesday.
Chief Engineer, Power Development Department, Kashmir, Hashmat Qazi, claimed the electricity had been “restored almost in all areas”.“Some areas face power cuts due to overloading,” he added.
Waterlogged streets were another issue that people had to deal with.“There is immense water logging in our area due to lack of drainage system,” said Ghulam Jeelani, a resident of Qamarwari.
Due to waterlogging, the city areas including Tourist Reception Centre, Jehangir Chowk, Batamaloo, and Budshah Chowk witnessed heavy traffic jams.
An official of Srinagar Municipal Corporation said that only 40 per cent Srinagar has a proper drainage system in place.
“Under AMRUT scheme, the centre will provide Rs 390 crore in the next five years for the drainage system in Srinagar and Rs 300 crore will come from the World Bank project for it,” the official added
He agreed that there were several by-lanes, which have not been cleared yet due to lack of adequate snow clearing machines.
Kin of 9 arrested youth protest for their release
Srinagar, Jan 17: Scores of women Thursday protested at Rajouri Kadal here demanding the immediate release of their sons and kin, who, they claimed, were being handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA) after being detained by J&K Police last year.
Shouting slogans against the state police and the NIA, the women, most mothers of those arrested, assembled at Rajouri Kadal square in the morning and blocked the main road.
They demanded an immediate release of the nine boys, who were arrested by the police in November.
The detained persons, as per news agency GNS were identified as Tahir Ahmad Khan son of Ali Mohammad of Chandrigam, Tral, and Haris Mushtaq Khan son of Mushtaq Ahmad of Wathoora, Budgam.
The duo was arrested by the police in Srinagar on November 23.
On their disclosure, police sources said that seven more persons were arrested in subsequent days.
They included Abdul Ahad Mir son of Ghulam Mohammad of Khurhama, Kupwara and six other Srinagar residents: Asif Suhail Nadaf son of Latief Ahmad of Rainwari; Irfan Ahmad Seeru son of Mohammad Shaban of Nawa Kadal; Wahid Abbas Bhat son of Mohammad Abbas of Rajouri Kadal; Ashiq Hussain son of Bashir Ahmad of Nowhatta; Haris Rashid Langoo son of Abdul Rashid of Malik Sahib Gojwara; and Arif Majeed Khan son of Abdul Majeed of Hawal.
Quoting police sources, GNS had reported that all the arrested were “working as over-ground workers (OGWs) of militant outfits and police had also recovered two pistols along with 14 rounds, three grenades, one bara bore single barrel rifle, one ISIS flag and one cutter.”
The protesting women, however, claim their sons and kin are “innocent”.
“Police had assured he will be released soon but even after frequent visits to the police station, he has not been released yet. We read from the internet a few days ago that they will be sent to Jammu for NIA investigation,” said Sameena, whose brother is among those arrested.
Another woman, who has already lost her husband, said her son is in jail for the last around two months “without any charges”.
The police have already refuted the reports claiming the youths were being handed over to the NIA. “In this context, it is clarified that the instant case FIR No 93/2018 was registered at Police Station Kothi Bagh under the relevant sections of law. This case was subsequently taken over by NIA and all the arrested accused persons in this case are presently in Judicial Custody,” the police spokesperson said.
Alok Mittal, NIA spokesperson too denied such reports saying: “We did not receive any such cases.”
IGP Kashmir and SSP Srinagar did not respond to repeated phone calls.
Political astuteness not economic packages needed to resolve Kashmir: Mehbooba
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and President People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday reiterated that dialogue and reconciliation between India and Pakistan have become inevitable for the resolution of Kashmir issue and that the decades old conflict cannot be resolved by the announcement of the economic packages.
While addressing the party functionaries and activists from Rajpora assembly segment, Mehbooba said that the resilience of the PDP workers is worth to hail as they in spite of the harsh weather attended the meeting in large numbers and gave a clear message that the party is going to emerge victorious and more stronger in the coming time.
Hailing the impeccable courage and determination with which the PDP workers have been strengthening the party on the ground, Mehbooba said that the real asset for the PDP since its foundation in 1999 has been its ground level workers.
PDP President stated further that after the 2014 polls accorded fragmented mandate to state’s political landscape, PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to stitch the common ground with BJP will the sole motive to reincarnate the Vajpayee era in the state and to stop the vicious cycle of unabated killings and violence. “Even when I told my father that the decision to join hands with the BJP has more risks than rewards and would decline party’s popularity in the state, he said he was ready to sacrifice everything including his own self if that resolves the decades old conflict,”
Mehbooba said, adding that her father was confident that dialogue and reconciliation would be initiated and same measures taken during Vajpayee’s time shall be witnessed once again. “However, when on November 7, 2015 Prime Minister Modi addressed a rally in Srinagar, he announced 80 thousand crore package but exhibited reluctance in pitching for a thaw between India and Pakistan for peace in the state. This disheartened everyone including the people who had come from far flung areas to listen to the Prime Minister,” Mehbooba said.