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Extension of ceasefire: All eyes on today’s meeting in New Delhi

Mudassir Kuloo

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By Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar, Jun 13: All eyes are on Thursday’s meeting for knowing whether or not New Delhi would extend the ceasefire in Kashmir.

Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, has called a meeting of top security officials from the central home ministry as well as the state to decide the fate of the ceasefire.

 

“Several security meeting reviews have been held for the last one week. The final decision will be taken on Thursday in New Delhi,” a senior security official told The Kashmir Monitor.

Singh, during his two-day visit to the state last week, reviewed the security scenario following government of India’s decision to halt anti-militancy operations during the concluding month of Ramadan.

He has said, “The decision regarding the extension of Ramadan ceasefire will be taken after proper consultation with the public representatives and reviewing the security situation. We need to review the security situation and other related matters at the highest level. It will be done soon and thereafter decision in connection with the extension of ceasefire will be taken.”

He was also told by security officials that the ‘Operation Halt’ has been by and large a success.

He was reportedly told that there was “70 per cent success if not 100 per cent”, following which he apprised the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, about the ground situation of the state assessed by him during his visit.

By favouring New Delhi’s dialogue offer in Kashmir, Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, has dropped hints about the extension in the ceasefire.

Mainstream politicians support extension of the ceasefire to provide relief to the people.

“The ceasefire has provided much relief to the people and shall be extended,” the ruling PDP Chief Spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said.

“The situation has almost remained peaceful since the ceasefire began in the valley.”

National Conference General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said his party wanted bloodshed in the valley to end.

“The government has to find a solution to Kashmir issue,” he said.

Senior Congress leader, G N Monga said the Centre has to decide whether it wanted to extend the ceasefire in the valley.

“Everyone wants bloodshed to end here,” Monga said.

The CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam, M Y Tarigami, said the ceasefire has provided relief to common people.

“It has to be extended post Eid,” Tarigami said.


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Two militants killed in Bijbehara gunfight

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Srinagar, Apr 25: Two militants were killed after a gunfight broke out between militants and security forces in Bagender Mohalla area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district on Thursday morning.

The duo was killed after a gunfight broke out between them and a joint team of the Indian Army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles unit and a Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The exchange of fire began while security forces had been carrying out cordon and search operations after receiving inputs about the presence of militants in the area. An official said that the militants opened fire on the troopers when they were closing in on their hiding spot.

 

A search operation is underway as the forces believe there were three militants in hiding in Bagender Mohalla.

The police spokesman identified the slain as Safder Amin Bhat (25), son of Muhammad Amin of Zirpara Bijbehara and Burhan Ahmad Ganaie (25) of Malipora Hablish Kulgam. He said the duo was affiliated with Hizb-ul -Mujahideen militant outfit.

Incriminating material including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of the encounter, he said, adding that the police have registered a case.

“Citizens are requested not to venture inside encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any,” said the spokesman.

Thousands of people participated in funeral prayers of two slain militants in Bijbehara and SK Colony Lazibal areas of Anantnag.

Meanwhile, internet services were also suspended for “precautionary measures” and a complete shutdown is being observed in the district.

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Ladakh Parliamentary Seat: Karbalai in fray to cut Muslim votes and benefit Congress?

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 25: Ahead of the elections for it, the Ladakh Parliamentary Seat is in the spotlight these days as Asgar Ali Karbalai, who is contesting as an Independent candidate, may play spoilsport for Sajjad Hussain who has support of the NC, PDP and powerful religious groups of Kargil.

Four candidates are in the fray for Ladakh parliamentary constituency that will go to polls on May 6.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, while Rigzin Spalbar is Congress’ candidate. Both the candidates are from Leh district. Sajjad Hussain, and Asgar Ali Karbalai are contesting as independents. Both are from Kargil district.

 

Asgar has claimed that he has left the Congress, however a source within the party said his contesting of elections is to “cut the Muslim vote in Ladakh to benefit the Congress candidate.”

“He has no support of any religious group unlike Sajjad. If he will be able to cut the Muslim vote, Congress will be the hugely benefitted,” the source said. 

It said that PDP and NC decided not to field candidates as they would have divided the Muslim votes and would have benefitted the BJP.

The PDP and NC have decided to support journalist turned politician Sajjad in the parliamentary elections. He is the candidate of Anjuman Jamiatul Ulama Islamia School Kargil (AJUISK), the largest religious organisation of the region and also backed by Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust.

“Both National Conference and PDP have unanimously decided to support Sajjad, who has been fielded by Kargil’s powerful religious organization, Islamia School,” National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, said.

Asked why the National Conference did not field its own candidate, Sagar replied, “We have several top leaders in Ladakh. But when powerful religious organizations decided to field the candidate, we decided to support him. All religious groups are on platform on his candidature. We hope that he would win the elections.”

Senior PDP leader Nizam-ud-Din Bhat too confirmed that NC and PDP have unanimously decided to support Independent candidate, Sajjad.

“We decided not to field our own candidate because this candidate has backing of two religious groups, and he represents the sentiments of people,” Bhat said.

In Kashmir, the PDP and NC have been fighting against each other as both parties have fielded their candidates against one another on all three parliamentary seats. The NC and Congress are jointly fighting the Srinagar, Jammu and Udhampur parliament seats while there is a “friendly” contest between their candidates for Baramulla and Anantnag seats.

In 2014 Thupstan Chhewang of Bharatiya Janata Party won with a margin of 36 votes. Chhewang secured 31,111 votes while Independent Ghulam Raza secured 31,075 votes. Chhewang last year resigned, citing ‘discrimination’ against Ladakh, as the reason.

Spread over Leh and Kargil districts and having four assembly segments including Kargil, Zanaskar, Nobra and Leh, Ladakh is geographically one of the largest and population-wise one of the smallest constituencies in the country. There are about 1.72 lakh eligible voters for the Ladakh seat.

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NIA summon to Shabir Shah’s daughter shameful: Mehbooba

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Apr 25: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday termed National Investigation Agency (NIA) summon to Shabir Shah’s daughter as “shameful”.

Addressing a rally at Kulgam district in south Kashmir, the PDP president while condemning the issuance of ED summon to Sama Shabir, the daughter of Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmed Shah said, “She has been summoned in connection with case of money laundering in 2007 when she was just five years old. The harassment has increased over the years.”

She said that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was summoned by the NIA and Yaseen Mailk faced detention and constant harassment.  “This shows the sheer desperation of centre,” she claimed.

 

She maintained, “The abrogation of Article 35-A and 370 will render the basis of accession null and void. Thus, we should strive towards safeguarding the special status.”

Mehbooba took jibes at the BJP president, Amit Shah over his statement that there is Modi wave in India.

“Had this been true, the Balakote airstrikes wouldn’t happen then?  Incidents like mob lynching and oppression on the marginalized sections wouldn’t be so commonplace,” she said.

She said while taking potshots at the NC vice-president Omar Abdullah, “Omar is living in this delusion that the people in her home town Bijebhera in Anantnag district have rejected her and voted for NC. I want to make this thing clear that it’s my hometown and people are supportive of me and are still unknown to Omar.”

Ruling out that government employees participated in her Pulwama election rally, she said, “This is completely false. No government employees participated in that rally. I have nothing to do with these employees as I am not a part of the government.” 

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