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Farooq Dar is a broken man a year after human shield incident

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Srinagar, Apr 08: An embroidery artisan who created magic on fabric till a year ago and now shunned by neighbours as the army’s “human shield” against stone-pelters, Farooq Ahmed Dar is a broken man, struggling to pick up the threads of his life.

Suffering from insomnia and depression, boycotted by villagers branding him a government agent and unable to find a job, even as a manual labourer, the 28-year-old says his life was upended exactly 12 months ago.

On 9 April last year, a team led by Major Leetul Gogoi tied Dar to the bonnet of an army jeep to escape heavy stone pelting in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, the image going on to make global headlines and spotlighting once again the civilian-security polarisation in the Valley.

 

It was Election Day in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency and Dar says he was on his way to cast his vote, braving the boycott call by separatist organisations. Eight people were killed in police firing on the day.

Investigations by central agencies and local police backed Dar’s account of events of the day, blowing away the army’s claim that he was a stone-pelter.

Investigations found he was on his way to his sister’s place for a condolence visit after voting when the army picked him up and beat him mercilessly before tying him with ropes and parading him through nearly 28 villages.

“What was my mistake? Going to the polling booth and casting my ballot?” Dar asked with tears rolling down his cheek.

“I am unable to sleep. Even medicines are ineffective. No one is giving me any work. The government is silent and the judiciary is moving at its own pace,” Dar told PTI in a video interview.

Prodded to speak about his life after the incident, Dar said he faced a social boycott as people in his village Chill, in Budgam district, had distanced themselves after they learnt he had participated in the election process.

“I regret moving out of my house on that day,” he added in Kashmiri, as a friend who had stuck by him through the 12 months consoled him.

One of five brothers and sisters, Dar, whose father passed away some years ago, said the incident has snatched his fundamental right to live.

“No one is giving me any work. I decided to work as a labourer but my human shield tag walks a pace ahead of me. At times, I wonder whether such an act of cowardice could be rewarded by the Army. Is this the message that India wants to send to Kashmir?” he asked, referring to Gogoi being commended by the army chief for his act.

“I am not a politician nor do I intend to become one. But if casting a ballot is a crime, who is going to come out to vote,” Dar said.

Dar pointed to television discussions on the issue. “Neither those who defended me nor those who defended the army officer had even the remotest idea of my mental state,” Dar said.

He said his mother Fiza Begum suffers from heart disease and he does not have money for her treatment. “I have been living on the dole from my friends and some relatives as I have no source of income.

“I wanted to make it big by making a beautiful Kashmiri shawl but I became famous for all the wrong reasons,” Dar said.

His ordeal has entered mainstream discourse. The ‘human shield’ episode is even referenced in the recent Bollywood film “Baaghi 2”, where the hero, an army officer, is reportedly shown tying a civilian to his jeep for disrespecting the national flag, leading to criticism that the film was trying to glorify human rights abuses.

Last July, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission awarded Dar Rs 10 lakh as compensation. But this was rejected by the state’s PDP-BJP government, which said there were no rules under which it could pay the money.

“The news about the compensation made this worse for me. People in my neighbourhood made sarcastic remarks about the compensation and criticised me for seeking justice for myself.

“It is not about the money but my dignity. If it is proved I was pelting stones, hang me. Or punish those responsible for my miserable present and bleak future,” Dar said with a note of desperation in his voice.

“If Ahsan Untoo and advocate Zafar Qureshi had not highlighted my plight, the world would have never known what I underwent,” he said.

Mohammad Ashan Untoo, head of the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights group in the Valley, has filed a review petition against the decision to not give Dar compensation in the State Human Rights Commission. A plea on the matter has also been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

“One day we will get justice,” Untoo said.

In his view, New Delhi should be eager to hear the case of a person who believes in democracy but has become a victim of the army’s high handedness.

Untoo added that is also planning to sue the producer and director of “Baaghi 2”.

“An act of cowardice is being used to stoke so-called nationalistic passions,” he said.

The video of Dar tied to the bonnet of the Gogoi’s jeep had gone viral, triggering a public outcry. Some former generals said the move went against the “ethos” of the Indian Army.

The state police registered a case of abduction with intent to cause grievous hurt, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation.

The police, in its investigations, said Dar was “tied to an army vehicle as a human shield under threat, kept in wrongful confinement and has been paraded around…”


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Northern Army Commander reviews security in Valley

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Srinagar, May 22: The Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh arrived in south Kashmir today to review the prevailing security situation in the region.

The Army Commander visited hinterland units/ formations in South Kashmir and was briefed about the current situation as also the recent counter terrorist operations.

The Army Commander complimented the troops for their successes in eliminating terrorist leadership from South Kashmir and also commended them for their dedication to duty.

 

The Army Commander was accompanied by the Chinar Corps Commander, during his visits. The Army Commander reinforced the need to be fully prepared for the emerging security challenges and lauded the exemplary synergy amongst all security forces.Later in the day, the Army Commander called on the Hon’ble Governor Shri Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhawan in Srinagar and apprised him about the overall security situation in the Valley including stringent enforcement of the Counter-Infiltration Grid along the Line of Control. 

They also discussed the vital importance of a fully integrated inter-service approach being used for planning and operations. The Governor appreciated the Army’s strong support to security forces in carrying out counter-terrorism operations in the Valley. Governor and the Army Commander also discussed the security arrangements for Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2019.

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Nahida creates history, becomes first Kashmiri woman to scale Mt Everest

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Srinagar, May 22: History has been created after twenty three year -old Nahida Manzoor from Srinagar became the first Kashmiri woman to scale Mount Everest.

Transcend Adventures, an Hyderebad based adventure company, which took Nahida to Everest expedition confirmed this development on their official Facebook page.

The adventure company posted, “The Fourth summit of the day is Ms.Nahida Manzoor along with her Sherpa Guide Mr.Nima Kancha.”

 

 “Nahida hails from the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The 26 year old lady has been passionate about the snow peaks and took to the mountains at a very young age. We wish her good luck for her future endeavors and may the Mountains bless her with abundant summits”, the company said in a post

Rakesh, a trainer from Transcend Adventures told The Kashmir Monitor that Nahida along with a group of five climbers had headed to Mount Everest from southern side.

“She has scaled the Everest on Tuesday. We had two teams one headed from north and another from South. They are yet to reach to the base camp,” he said.

Two selection grade constables Nazir Ahmed and Falial Singh of Jammu and Kashmir Police, who were a part of 11 member climbers’ squad also conquered Everest on Tuesday.

Nahida, who started her expedition in April along with his group had scaled four camps including Base Camp (5363meters), Camp1 (6100 meters) Camp2 (6600 meters) and Camp3 (7300 meters).

Known as passionate mountaineer, she earlier launched crowd funding to achieve her dream but was later sponsored by TCI Max, which financially supported her to join the camp.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary  and J&K State Sports Council also joined in to support her.

Nahida is a trained mountaineer having completed all mountaineering courses. She had completed her Basic Mountaineering Course and Advance Mountaineering Course (ABVIMAS) from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM). She has also done Special Mountaineering Course and Method of Instructions both from NIM.

Hailing from Zewan area in Srinagar, Nahida prior to the expedition has scaled Mount Deo Tibba-Manali with a height of 6001 meters and also Friendship Peak of Himachal Pradesh with a height of 5289 meters. In Kashmir she has scaled Mount Mahadev and Mount Tatakooti.

Meanwhile netizen took to the social media to greet Nahida for conquering the everest.

“O waoo..proud of you Nahida…well done gal… congratulations,” posted Swati Basedia on Facebook.

Mountaineer Danish Mukhtar wrote , “I knew that Alhamdulillah you make me proud…”

Former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah took to his twitter handle to greet Nahida and two J&K Police Everest summiteers.

“It is a proud moment and for our state and its people. I congratulate the trio who successfully scaled the world’s highest peak. Moreover, the team comprised of a girl. I congratulate her and believe that her achievement has the ability to transform a generation, as will do her male counterparts. They truly are an inspiration to others,” he tweeted.

 Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti also tweeted, “Kashmiris too have dreams & aspirations like everyone else. Somewhere between stereotyping & demonising them, human stories are lost. All of twenty three,Nahida Manzoor is the first Kashmiri woman to scale Mt Everest. More power to her & the youth of J&K.”

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Admin wants an elected Govt to take over soon: Guv Malik

Inaugurates phase-II of JCRB flyover, apologizes over highway ban

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Srinagar, May 22: Governor Satya pal Malik on Wednesday said that his administration wants an elected government to take over in Jammu and Kashmir soon.

However, he also apologized to the people for the restrictions imposed on civilian movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway twice a week.

Talking to the reporters after inaugurating the second phase of Jahangir Chowk-Ram Bagh flyover here, Governor said that they (administration) want an elected government to take over the State soon.

 

He was reacting to a query about some officials within his administration were not keen on transfer of power to an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, he said that the call for the elections has to be taken by Election Commission. “We want this (President’s Rule) to end at an earliest and an elected government to take over the State,” he said.

Moreover, Governor refused to talk over the Budgam Chopper incident.

Nonetheless, Governor apologized for the restrictions imposed on civilian movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway, saying that ban was imposed in ‘national interest’.

“I apologise to the people for inconvenience they faced due to restrictions imposed on highway,” Governor said, adding that all the restrictions will be lifted from May 27, 2019.Recently, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said a decision on holding assembly elections in the state was the prerogative of the Election Commission but indicated a decision could be announced after the completion of the Lok Sabha polls.

Jammu and Kashmir was placed under Governor’s Rule on June 19, 2018 after the PDP-BJP coalition government fell as the BJP decided to pull out of the alliance.

The state assembly was kept in suspended animation to allow for the possibility of any new combination of parties to form a government in the state.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti supported by the National Conference and the Congress staked claim for government formation on 21 November, 2018.

Within minutes, People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone, who had just two MLAs, also staked claim for government formation.

The governor decided to dissolve the assembly on the grounds that he wanted to prevent horse-trading.

The state was brought under President’s Rule on December 19, 2018 for a period of six months as elections could not be held within six months of imposition of Governor’s Rule in the state.

The President’s Rule will have to be extended again on June 19, 2019 as assembly elections have not been held so far. The order for extending President’s rule will have to be ratified by Parliament.

Earlier he dedicated the second phase of the Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover today to commuters.

Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Sh. K.K. Sharma, K. Skandan- Advisors to Governor; BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor; Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary Planning, Development and Monitoring; Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir; Junaid Azim Mattu, Mayor Srinagar Municipal Corporation; Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar; Sh. Raghav Langer, CEO ERA; and various senior officers were present on the occasion.

Governor congratulated the executing agencies and observed that this stretch of 1.04 km would provide much awaited relief to commuters from Rambagh to Alochi Bagh and regulate traffic at Rambagh, Solina, Alochi Bagh  and on the Rambagh Bridge.

Pertinent to mention that the third and last phase of the flyover is expected to be completed by June end. Once completed, the 2.4 kilometer flyover with six access ramps at Jehangir Chowk, Gogji Bagh, Alochi Bagh, Rambagh, Natipora and Barzulla, will substantially decongest city traffic and reduce travel time between Jehangir Chowk and Rambagh from about 45 minutes to about 2.5 minutes.

Directs release of last month’s pending wages during Ramadan

Srinagar, May 22: The issue of pending wages of casual/daily rated workers and other categories of employees in certain departments was brought to the notice of the Governor during the meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) held today in Civil Secretariat, Srinagar.  The Governor was informed that these workers have been put to hardship during the holy month of Ramadhan.

The Governor has directed the release of last month’s wages in respect of the casual/daily wagers and salaries of other categories of employees working in different departments who could not receive the same so far. 

The Governor has asked the Advisors to oversee that wages are released to these workers by their departments by 31.05.2019. The Finance Department will issue necessary sanctions, wherever, required.

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