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Faesal’s no to Hurriyat, yes to politics

‘Mainstream delegitimised, need to change that’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 11: Three days after quitting Indian Administrative Service citing “unabated killings” in Kashmir, Shah Faesal Friday said that he won’t join the Hurriyat camp and instead would enter the electoral politics.

Faesal, an IAS officer who topped the 2009 UPSC exams, said that he would take the decision whether to join any existing mainstream party or contest independently only after “building a consensus with the youth and other stakeholders of the state”.

“I am not trained to do politics. I will like to work within the system and use my skills to do better governance. Hurriyat does not give me that opportunity because they don’t believe in electoral politics.  So I won’t join the Hurriyat at the moment,” Faesal told a jam-packed press conference at a local hotel in Srinagar.

 

He said that people would know representative character of Hurriyat if the latter fight the elections. “We don’t know whether they (Hurriyat) will win or not. It is wrong to presume that Hurriyat has no role to play in our state. I value the suggestion of Hurriyat inviting me to join them,” he said.

Faesal recently returned to India after a stint as a Fulbright fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He arrived in Kashmir last week following which he announced his resignation.

Hailing from Lolab — a picturesque valley in the frontier district of Kupwara — the 35-year-old was a doctor before qualifying the civil services.

Hurriyat (M) chairman and one of the three leaders comprising Joint Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has welcomed Faesal’s decision of resigning from services in protest against “unabated killings” in Kashmir.

“Welcome the stand to resign by @ShahFaesal to protest unabated killing of Kashmiris by GOI. Hope his outrage over killings and his sentiment that Kashmiri lives matterguide his choice of politicsand gets reflected in representing his people’s collective deep driving desire of right to self-determination and their relentless struggle and sacrifice in achieving it – also the reason behind killings and repression on them by the state,” Mirwaiz had tweeted soon after he announced his resignation.

There are a lot of speculations that Faesal may join the National Conference and could be its probable candidate from north Kashmir for parliamentary polls.

The speculations gained momentum after National Conference senior leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah in a tweet said, “Welcome to the fold.”

Faesal praised Omar during the press conference.

“Omar is a gracious and supported me. Omar is a leader, who has been guiding me. The NC never approached me but I went to Omar for suggestions,” he said.

Faesal however said that he has not decided whether to join any existing political party or fight independently.

“My future plans depend after talking to youth and other stakeholders of the state. We will reach to consensus before taking the final decision,” he said.

He announced that he would contest the upcoming polls.

“I believe parliament and assembly is an important space. We need well-meaning people there,” he said.

He said that due to de-legitimisation of mainstream politics, youth were not interested towards it.

“We need to change that. I would like to use parliament as an important and useful tool of engagement for bringing a solution to our state,” he claimed.

“I will make people believe that it is a credible institution and not one to destroy people.”

Faesal said that he was inspired by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal but said it was not easy to work in that space in a conflict region like Kashmir.

Asked that people have been critical on social media for his decision of joining electoral politics, he replied: “The moment you start your own party, people believe it is sponsored by agencies. If you contest independently, even then you are labeled as an agency person. If you join an existing party, people have problems with that as well.”

Faesal said that IAS has given him an opportunity to understand the development problems.

“I resigned against unabated killings, lack of political initiative, denial of justice to Kashmiris, Article 370 and 35 A continuously being invoked for electoral gains, Kashmiri pandits not made to return to valley, loss of lives along the borders,” he said.

Faesal said that constant efforts were being made to undermine the JK sovereignty.

“One region is being pitched against other in the state. There are curbs on the freedom of speech and even institutions like CBI and RBI have been undermined,” he gave these reasons for his resignation.

He appealed the people of India to come to rescue JK people and to bring peace across the country.

“We have to defeat the communal and hateful elements of the country,” he added, adding that Harvard gave him an opportunity to learn how to sacrifice big things for any cause.


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5 dead, as many missing as avalanche hits Khardung La pass

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Five persons were killed and five others missing after their truck came under an avalanche in the Khardung La area of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.

The avalanche hit the truck carrying 10 persons at the Khardung La pass in the Ladakh region at 7 am, an official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said.

The BRO pressed into service its men and machinery to rescue the passengers of the truck, who were believed to be trapped under the debris, he added.

 

The police, Army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel had also reached the spot, the BRO official said.

“So far, the bodies of five persons have been recovered from the avalanche site, while a search is on for the other missing persons,” he added.

A bulldozer driver posted at the Khardung La Pass said two tippers and a Scorpio vehicle carrying about 12 persons left towards K-top area early morning to load snow to Leh.

“One tipper was already loaded with snow. However, the mishap occurred when they were loading another vehicle. Suddenly, an avalanche hit them and 10 people in a tipper were buried under the snow,” he said.

A senior police official said, “At least 10-12 people were trapped under the snow and a body of a local resident from Leh has been recovered from the area. Fresh snowfall took place in the area on Thursday and they had gone to collect snow in a vehicle.”

Rescue teams of police, Border Roads Organisation and Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Force reached the spot.

A high alert for avalanche was sounded on Thursday by the administration following adverse weather advisory by the Met department.

 

Guv expresses grief, announces Rs 5 lakh compensation

Jammu, Jan 18: Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over loss of precious lives due to snow avalanche at Khardung La in Leh district, Friday morning.

In his message, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said, the Governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief.

Governor has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of the kin of those killed in the avalanche.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah too expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the avalanche.

The party spokesman in a statement said that the duo has urged the administration to expedite the rescue operation and ensure all support to the families of the deceased.

Both Farooq and Omar urged the governor administration to gear up its men and machinery to meet any eventuality in wake of heavy snowfall as predicted by the local MeT officials.

Impressing upon the administration to ensure that people don’t have to suffer due to the vagaries of weather, the duo urged the administration to ensure all arterial and other routes are kept open to avoid any suffering to people.

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Kashmir braces for heavy snow spell from today

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Srinagar, Jan 18: As the meteorological department has predicted another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Kashmir region from Saturday onwards, people in Kashmir are readying themselves by keeping ample stock of food and ensuring proper heating arrangements are put in place.

With the western disturbances likely to affect the region, the officials have also warned of disruption of road, rail and air traffic from Saturday afternoon.

“The western disturbances are most likely to affect the state and its adjoining areas from January 19 to 25, with the main activity between January 20 and 23 and gradual decrease thereafter,” Sonam Lotus, director Meteorological department said.

 

He said moderate to heavy snowfall and rain was expected at widespread places of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.

“Some places may receive very heavy rain and snow during this period,” he said, adding that light snowfall would begin at a few places in Kashmir on Saturday morning and increase in intensity and distribution thereafter.

On Friday, Kargil recorded the night’s lowest temperature at minus 19.2 degrees Celsius while neighbouring Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 15.6, Met office said.

Drass town was the coldest in the Jammu and Kashmir at minus 27.1.

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state recorded a low of minus 0.7 while the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 10.0 degrees Celsius while night temperature in Pahalgam – the famous health resort settled at a low of minus 10.3 degrees.

Kokernag town recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius while Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius last night.

Jammu city recorded 5.3  degrees Celsius, Katra 6.3, Batote 2.5, Bannihal 0.7 and Bhaderwah minus 0.8 degree Celsius.

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Twin grenade attacks in city-centre, Shopian

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Less than 24 hours after the Rajbagh grenade attack, militants on Friday carried out two more grenade attacks on government forces in Kashmir, including one in the city-centre Lal Chowk here.

Militants lobbed a grenade at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk in the afternoon, a police official said.

The grenade exploded on the roadside, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the attack.

 

A private car parked on the roadside was partly damaged due to the explosion, the official said.

Window panes of a few shops on either side of the road were also damaged because of the blast.

This was the second such attack on government forces in Srinagar within 24 hours.

Earlier on Thursday, militants had hurled a grenade on police personnel at Zero Bridge here, resulting in injuries to three policemen.

In another incident on Friday, militants lobbed a grenade at a police camp in Gagran village of Shopian district of south Kashmir. However there was no report of loss of life or damage to property.

A police spokesperson came out with the following statement later in the day: Police had to attend two “terror” crime spots today following the reports of grenade attack by militants at Srinagar and Shopian. Officers from the local police units immediately reached to both the crime spot this (Friday) afternoon to initiate the investigation in the matter.

“While attending the crime spot, officers did not receive any report pertaining to the loss of life or property. Police has registered cases for both the incidents. Officers from the local police units are at work to establish the full circumstances which led to these incidents. If you have any information that can assist police in its investigation, you may kindly contact Police,” the spokesperson said.

The three attacks come days ahead of the Republic day and is likely to push government forces for taking even more stringent ‘security’ arrangements, especially in and around the city.

Later in the day, militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility of the grenade attacks in Srinagar and Shopian.

A spokesperson of JeM Mohammad Hassan in a statement to news agency GNS claimed that three forces personnel were injured in the attack at City Centre Lal Chowk.

He also claimed that several forces personnel were critically injured in the attack at Gagran in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

The Kashmir Monitor also received a phone call from one Hamza Rashid, who said he was the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front, and claimed the responsibility of the Lal Chowk grenade attack.

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