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Encounters in Ramban, Ganderbal: 4 militants, soldier killed in twin gunfights

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Sep 28: A day after United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) session, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed two major encounters – one at Batote, Ramban on Jammu-Srinagar highway and another one at Kangan in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district – in which four militants and a soldier were killed. 

In Batote encounter, a police official said that three militants and a soldier were killed while as an unidentified militant was killed in Kangan area of Ganderbal where joint operation of security forces was on till this report was filed.

The official said that in Batote a BJP worker, who was held hostage by the militants, was rescued.

 

He said that the militant group, believed to be five in number,was cornered when they tried to stop a vehicle most probably with an aim to hijack it at Batote.

The trapped terrorists had fired at the Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the Army in the morning and tried to escape but were chased by the security forces and encircled in a house, he said.

The officials said the fresh exchange of fire started between the holed up militants and the security forces at around 1 pm after intense search operation despite inclement weather.

“The militants took shelter in a house where they held Vijay Kumar Verma, booth president of the BJP as a hostage. We took our time and first rescued Verma before launching the final assault against militants,” he added.

 News agency KNO quoted Inspector General of Police Jammu range, Mukesh Singh saying that three militants were killed in the encounter. “But we lost a soldier and two policemen were injured in the gunfight,” he said.

The Batote encounter came just a day after UNGA session where Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The encounter also comes at a time when multiple intelligence agencies had warned the government that at least 60 militants have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir in the last few weeks alone and another 500 were waiting to sneak in.

Meanwhile, another encounter took place at Gangbal area of Kangan in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, an area close to Gurez-Bandipora ridge, a traditional infiltration pass, where one militant was killed.

“One militant has been killed so far and the joint operation is on. Weather is not favorable as it is raining heavily in the area,” an army official said.

Meanwhile, a grenade was lobbed at a CRPF party at Nawakadal area of Srinagar that exploded without causing any damage. 

National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, on Thursday asked the troops to be on high alert in view of the reports that militant outfits may carry out some “demonstrative and sensational acts of terror”. (With inputs from KNO and PTI)

Mastermind of Parihar assassination killed: Police

Press Trust of India

Jammu, Sep 28: A top Hizbul Mujahideen ‘commander’, wanted in connection with the assassination of a senior BJP leader and an RSS functionary, was killed along with two other militants in a nine-hour operation in which a soldier lost his life in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, officials said.

The militants, identified as Osama and his associates Zahid and Farooq, were killed after they tried to escape from a house where they had barged in while being chased by security forces following a brief exchange of fire in Batote area along Jammu-Kishtwar national highway early Saturday morning, they said, adding a house-owner was also rescued after the encounter ended.

Osama, as per officials, was the brain behind several incidents including the killings of senior BJP leader Anil Parihar and his brother Ajit Parihar on November 1, 2018 and RSS functionary Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO on April 9.

He was carrying a reward of several lakhs of rupees and was also wanted in three weapon snatching incidents in Kishtwar town, which was declared militant-free over a decade ago.

“All the three militants were killed in the gunfight, while an army soldier achieved martyrdom,” Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand told PTI.

The deceased soldier was identified as Naik Rajinder Singh from Jaisalmer.

Two policemen were injured in the gunbattle, officials said, adding a huge cache of arms and ammunition were recovered from the possession of the militant. The success for security forces comes days after Inspector General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh said that four cases of killings and weapon snatching in Kishtwar district have been solved with the arrest of three Hizbul Mujahideen activists.

While naming Osama and five other militants, the IGP had on September 23 said the security forces are after them and they will be brought to book soon.

As the pressure on militants increased in Kishtwar, Osama and the other two militants tried to escape from the district and had reportedly spent the night at an abandoned temporary shelter on the highway before being confronted by security forces, the officials said.

“Today (Saturday) morning at about 7.30 am, two suspicious individuals tried to stop a civilian vehicle at the general area Batote on the highway. The driver was alert, did not stop the vehicle and rushed and informed the nearest Army post. “The quick reaction team reacted promptly and contact was established with the suspicious individuals,” Lt Col Anand said.

Following a brief encounter at Dharmund village of Batote this morning, the fleeing militants intruded into a residential house with some shops on the ground floor, the officials said adding the house was immediately cordoned off by search parties comprising Army, police and CRPF and the encounter re-started at around 1 pm. The elderly house owner, Vijay Kumar, was “trapped” in the house while rest of his family managed to come out and were subsequently evacuated to safety, the officials said.

Kumar, who locals claimed was a BJP worker, was rescued after the encounter ended. Earlier, a police spokesman said that they had information about the presence of five militants in the house based on the inputs provided by the rescued family.

“Repeated attempts were made to make the militants surrender but they tried to buy time so that they can make an attempt to flee the house by taking advantage of darkness later in the day,” an official said adding when the cordon was being tightened, the militants fired indiscriminately. Later, they came out of the house while firing indiscriminately on the forces but were eliminated in the encounter.

The movement of traffic on the highway was stopped following the incident as a precautionary measure, they said adding the traffic will be restored as soon as possible once the area is sanitised.


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Centre’s `massive outreach’ programme to begin from Jan 18

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Five months after the abrogation of Article 370, Narendra Modi-led government has embarked on an outreach programme to make people aware about the “positive” impacts of the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Source said at least 36 ministers are scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir for a week from January 18. They are schedule to address people at 59 places including 51 in Jammu and eight in Kashmir. 

Among the five central ministers who will be addressing people in Kashmir are Ravi Shankar Prasad, G Kishan Reddy, Shripad Naik, Niranjan Jyoti and Ramesh Pokhriyal.

 

“G Kishan Reddy will address people in Ganderbal town on January 22 and Manigam on January 23. Ravi Shankar Prasad will address people in Baramulla on January 24. Niranjan Jyoti, Ramesh Pokhriyal and Shripad Naik will address gatherings at SKICC Srinagar,” sources said.

Sources said Prakash Javadekar may also address rallies in Kashmir.  Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, V K Singh, Anurag Thakur, R K Singh and Giriraj Singh are among union ministers who would address rallies in Jammu.

However, the schedule for the visit will be finalised at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on Friday.

Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent background material about developmental activities to the ministers.

A top official said all the preparations are being made for the visit. “Police and central forces have been directed to ensure adequate security arrangements,” he said.

The official said ministers however won’t visit restive south Kashmir. “They will address at those places which are relatively peaceful,” the official said.

A BJP leader said the visit is part of Centre’s “massive outreach programme” to interact directly with the people of J&K. “BJP workers and leaders would also attend these rallies. Ministers will try to make people aware about positive impact of Article 370 abrogation,” he said.

On January 14, Minister for Home Affairs wrote a letter to J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam informing him about the contours of the visit. “Union Minister Amit Shah has desired that all members of the union council of ministers shall pay a visit to the Union Territory with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the government policies with regard to overall development of J&K and its people along with the steps taken by the Government of India in this direction particularly in the last five month,” reads the letter.

The delegation will interact with the people during the visit to different districts and educate the people under various themes including rapid development after President’s Rule from June 2018 and now after re-organization in August, 100 percent coverage of 55 beneficiary oriented schemes to all residents of J&K, rapid infrastructure development including implementation of PMDP, flagship schemes and iconic projects, Good governance and rule of law with equality of opportunity to all, rapid industrial growth with employment and rapid economic growth in all sectors with focus on incomes.

Under the public outreach programme, the Union Ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the Centre’s policies for the overall development of the Union Territory and its people along with the steps taken by the government particularly in the past five months after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of erstwhile state.

If everything is normal, why send 36 ‘propagandists’ to Kashmir: Sibal

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Jan 16: The Congress on Thursday slammed the government over its decision to send 36 Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir and said if everything was “normal” there, what was the need to send “propagandists”.

A group of Union ministers will visit Jammu and Kashmir later this month to spread awareness about the positive impact of abrogation of Article 370 provisions and the development measures taken by th government for the region.

The schedule for the visit of the ministers to the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be finalised at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on Friday.

“Amit Shah says all is normal in Kashmir. If so, why send 36 propagandists to Kashmir? Why not allow non-propagandists to go and understand the situation prevailing there?” tweeted senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Thirty-six Union ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the Union Territory starting from January 18 to January 24 and the Home Ministry is coordinating it.

“36 Ministers running around J&K in 6 days is a sign of Panic not normalcy. Abrogating Article 370 was a blunder & no quick fixes will work Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

This will be the second round of visit by the Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on August 5.

Earlier this month, in one of the meetings of the council of ministers, a presentation was also been made on the development initiatives taken by the Centre following the imposition of the governor rule in the region.

Release detained leaders if Kashmir situation normal: Cong

Agencies

New Delhi, Jan 16:The Congress on Thursday slammed the Modi government’s plan to take 36 Union ministers to Jammu & Kashmir, saying if it believes that everything is normal in Kashmir then itshould release the detained Kashmiri leaders first.

Speaking to IANS, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “Either Modi government trusts the European MPs, who believe in going on tours and that was the reason why they were brought to Kashmir.”

He said that the government was taking its 36 ministers to Kashmir to mislead the people about the situation in the newly-created Union Territory. Slamming the government for putting the opposition leaders under house arrest, Shergill said, “They have made Kashmir as a zoo, where the opposition leaders have been put under house arrest. And now they are taking their leaders to visit the zoo.”

The Modi government on August 5 abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu & Kashmir that gave special status to the erstwhile state and bifurcated the state into two Union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Following the abrogation of Article 370, the government suspended internet and mobile services in Kashmir and also put several opposition leaders including three former Chief Ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under house arrest.

Taunting the BJP government, the Congress leader said, “If the government wants to bring the situation in Kashmir to normal then they need to release the opposition leaders and pay damages to the people of Kashmir whose businesses have suffered in last five months.”

He also said that the government also needs to rework the image of the country after putting Kashmir under a communication blackout.

Slamming the BJP-led NDA government, Shergill said that the government is only “champion in headline management” and they are zero on the economic front and they have no focus on national security and Kashmir.

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Airfares go through roof: SXR –DEL @ Rs 26k, DEL-DXP @ Rs 11k

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jan 16:  Believe it or not, but it is true. Flying to Dubai is cheaper than traveling to Srinagar from -New Delhi.

Thanks to the National Highway closure, air fare has skyrocketed in Kashmir.  For the next three days, one way air fare from Srinagar to New Delhi ranges from Rs 11500 to 25300. It is over 200 per cent higher than the normal airfare of Rs 4000-5000. One way air fare from New Delhi to Dubai on Friday is Rs 10841.

An inter-state trip is equally costlier. The air fare between Jammu and Srinagar has increased by 500 per cent this week. An airfare from Srinagar to Jammu ranges between Rs 11500 to 15000. 

 

Even after hike in air fare, the flights operations from Srinagar airport has been hit due to slippery conditions. Around 14 flights got cancelled on Thursday due to the slippery condition of the runway.

“12 out of 26 flights operated today. The visibility was clear today but the runway was not cleared. After Air Force cleared the runway, the flight operations resumed,” said Santosh Dhoke, Director Airport Authority of India, Srinagar.

The hike in airfare and repeated cancellation of flights is causing huge inconveniences to the people. “My mother who suffers from Asthama needs to travel to New Delhi for monthly follow-ups. We have been reaching airport every morning and the flights are getting constantly cancelled,” said Sajad Ahmad, a resident of Soura.

On the other side, vehicular traffic remained disrupted on Srinagar- Jammu National Highway on Thursday. Only stranded vehicles were allowed at evening hours to cross the landslide prone areas.

“The highway was cleared today. Only few of the stranded vehicles were allowed to pass through the Digdol, Monkey Stand and Panthal towards Jammu. Subject to the weather and road conditions, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move,” said an official at Traffic Control Room Ramban.

 As many as 5000 vehicles have remained stranded on the highway for the last four days.

Meteorological Department has forecasted scattered light rains and snow for next 24 hours in Kashmir regions. A MeT official said that 1.0mm rains were recorded in Qazigund on Thursday while Srinagar received rains which weren’t measurable. He said Batote and Badarwah in Jammu division recorded 2.8mm and 11.9mm rains respectively.

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Police `solves’ two grenade attack cases;Five JeM cadres arrested

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Police on Thursday claimed to have busted a Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) module by arresting five persons who were allegedly involved in two grenade attacks in Srinagar.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range, and VK Birdi said investigation launched by the police revealed that these five persons carried out grenade attacks to “enforce shutdown in Srinagar.”

“Recently some grenade attacks were reported in Srinagar, particularly on January 8 at Habbak crossing which resulted injuries to few civilians. An FIR number 02/2020 under sections 307, IPC and ¾ Explosives Act was registered at Police Station Nigeen,” he said.

 

Birdi said during investigation Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh, a driver from Hazratbal, Umar Hameed Sheikh, vendor from Hazratbal were arrested. “Both these admitted their role in grenade attack. They also provided leads for similar attack at Sir Syed Gate of Kashmir University on November 26,” he said.

The DIG said three more people were arrested during raids at various spots in the area. “Imtiyaz Ahmad Chikla and Naseer Ahmad Mir, both from Hazratbal and Sahil Farooq Gojri from Soura admitted their roles in November grenade attack at Sir Syed gate of Kashmir University,” he said

Birdi said police recovered incriminating material including gelatin sticks, explosives, detonators, arms, explosive body vests, batteries and nitric acids during investigation. “They were active cadres of JeM,” he said

Birdi said the main motive of the arrested persons was “to enforce shutdown and cause IED type blasts in the city.”

“Shops in the market had opened but they wanted to shut them down. Recovery also suggested that they were also planning some IED attack.  Further investigation is underway to unearth conspiracy,” he said.

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