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Fresh snowfall affects road, air connectivity

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Srinagar, Feb 6: Road and air traffic between Kashmir and rest of the country was suspended on Wednesday due to heavy snowfall across the valley, officials said.
Of the 27 flights scheduled to arrive at the Srinagar Airport, 15 have been cancelled so far due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall, an official of the Airport Authority of India said.
He said if there is no improvement in the weather conditions, the possibility of other flights arriving was bleak.
The traffic control department said the arterial Srinagar-Jammu road had to be closed for vehicular traffic following snowfall and rains, which triggered landslides at several places.
“No vehicles are being allowed on the highway due to landslides caused by rain and snowfall,” the official of the traffic department said.
He said a decision on resuming traffic will be taken only after debris of landslides is cleared and the weather improves.
The Traffic Department was set to allow one-way traffic from Srinagar to Jammu on Wednesday, but the decision was reviewed as weather deteriorated all along the- nearly 300 km long road.
“Nightlong rains triggered shooting stones in some portions of the highway in Ramsoo-Ramban sector.
“Right now, the highway is closed for traffic. The decision will be again be reviewed depending upon the weather,” a traffic official said.
“While the plains of the Jammu division will receive rain, higher reaches both in Jammu and valley region will receive moderate to heavy snowfall,” a Met official said.
There have been nightlong rains in the Jammu division while fresh snowfall occurred in the Kashmir mountains, including on the Pir Panjal range, the official added.
Srinagar recorded 1 degree Celsius while Pahalgam and Gulmarg recorded minus 0.6 and minus 4.6 respectively.
In the Ladakh area, Leh recorded minus 4.3, Kargil minus 16 and Drass minus 6.3 degrees Celsius.
Jammu city was at 11.6, Katra 10.8, Batote 1.4, Bannihal 1 and Bhaderwah was at 2 degrees Celsius.
The Met has forecast widespread rain and snow in Jammu and Kashmir during the next 48 hours till Friday.
Over a dozen flights were cancelled till noon due to heavy snowfall and poor visibility at the Srinagar airport, officials said.
“Due to heavy snowing and poor visibility over Srinagar airfield the following flights are cancelled. This update is of flight movements up to 1200hrs,” Srinagar airport authorities said on Twitter while detailing the fifteen flights that were cancelled.

12 injured as boulder hits vehicle on Sg-Jmu highway
Press Trust of India
Banihal, Feb 6: At least 12 passengers, including a woman, were injured after their vehicle was hit by a boulder along the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, which had to be eventually closed for traffic on Wednesday following fresh snowfall and incessant rains, officials said.
The Jammu-bound vehicle was hit by a shooting stone from a hillock overlooking the highway at Moumpassi-Ramsu in Ramban district late Tuesday evening, causing serious injuries to the woman, who is from Bihar, and minor injuries to 11 others, they said.
Most of the injured were discharged after first aid, while the woman who has suffered head injuries, has been referred to the Government Medical College hospital Jammu, they said.
Nine Bihar residents and one each from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were travelling from Srinagar to Jammu in the vehicle driven by a local driver from Anantnag, the officials said.
They said the incident Tuesday evening did not have any impact on the movement of vehicles on the highway and later the authorities decided to continue traffic from Srinagar to Jammu on Wednesday as well.
However, the decision was reviewed Wednesday morning after which no traffic was allowed on the highway following fresh snowfall in the higher reaches and incessant rains in the plains.
The Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir, experienced fresh snowfall leaving the road slippery, while incessant rains triggered landslides and shooting-of-stones at several places including Anokhi fall, battery cheshma and Panthiyal, the officials said.
The inclement weather is hampering the road clearance operation, they said, adding once the weather improves, efforts would be made to restore traffic on the highway as early as possible.
The highway had remained closed for over 15 days since the beginning of the new year owing to intermittent spells of snowfall and rains. On Tuesday, the one-way traffic was allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu after five days.
High altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir experienced fresh spell of snowfall, while the plains were lashed by rains since Tuesday night.
The Met office has already predicted widespread to fairly widespread rain and snow across the state till tomorrow evening.

 
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Faesal to give LS polls a miss

On JKLF ban: Won’t be surprised if mainstream parties are banned too

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Bureaucrat turned politician, Shah Faesal Saturday said that his newly launched party ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM’ won’t contest the upcoming Parliamentary polls.
Addressing a press conference at the Srinagar’s Press Club, Faesal said that his party was at an “advanced stage”.
“We decided not to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. People across the state are joining us. We don’t want to participate hurriedly in polls and instead will strengthen our party for assembly polls,” Faesal said.
Reacting over Government of India’s banning Yasin Malik’s Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Faesal said that he won’t be surprised even if mainstream parties are banned too.
He added that banning of JKLF would “further shrink” democratic space. “I will not be surprised even if mainstream parties are too banned here. There are people who brought these forces here who wanted to change the secular fabric,” he said.
Lawyer Iqbar Tahir and journalist Chasfeeda Shah also joined the party on the occasion.
“Our decision not to contest Lok Sabha polls is a response to those who accused that our party was planted by the Centre for electoral manipulation. We are fighting for a longer run but not for government and power,” he said.
Asked which party JKPM would support in upcoming Lok Sabha polls, he replied, “We will tell you that later. Democracy is important institution and people shall participate in polls. Assembly elections are very critical for our state.”
Faesal last Sunday launched the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement, with a promise to “bridge the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.
Condemning the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, Faesal demanded that those responsible for his “killing” shall be arrested. “Judicial enquiry shall also be conducted to unveil the facts,” he said.
The death of Rizwan Pandit in police custody has spawned huge shock and anger in Kashmir.
Preliminary post-mortem findings have suggested that “profuse bleeding resulting from multiple injuries” could have caused the death that triggered massive protests in Kashmir.
Faesal, who quit the services in January this year to protests against “unabated killings” in Kashmir condemned the killing of 12-year-old boy of Hajin before being held hostage. “Human rights violations have to be stopped,” he said.
He asked the politicians of South Asia to take a cue from New Zealand Prime Minister for safeguarding the rights of minorities in her country. “She has received appreciations from across the world and set up an example,” Faesal said.
New Zealand Prime Minister has expressed solidarity with Muslims after a terror attack in mosque.

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LS Polls: Mehbooba to contest from South, Aga Mohsin Srinagar

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday announced its candidates for some Lok Sabha constituencies while as the party has decided not to field any candidate from two Jammu constituencies to ensure the votes are not divided.
Addressing a press conference, party president Mehbooba Mufti said that she will contest the upcoming parliamentary elections from South Kashmir constituency.
She added that the party has decided to field its leader Aga Mohsin from Srinagar constituency.
Notably, the party has already announced its candidate for the Baramulla constituency, Abdul Qayoom Wani who has also filed nomination papers for the polls.
Mehbooba further informed that party has decided not to announce its candidate for Jammu-Udhampur and Doda-Rajouri constituencies in the interests of people. “We don’t want the votes to get divided that would ensure the win of people other than secular forces,” she said.
She also added that the decision for Ladakh parliamentary seats will be taken soon.
About ban on JKLF, Mehbooba said that Kashmiris are once again being used as ‘scapegoats’ on the pretext of elections. “In democracy, there is battle of ideas and such kind of things should not happen. Every voice should be fought politically rather than suppression and oppression,” she added.
PDP chief further stated that people here are being pushed to the walls and violence that must come to an end at an earliest.

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Warpora encounter: Slain militant duo affiliated with JeM

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Srinagar, Mar 23: Two militants killed in over 30 hour encounter with Government forces at Warpora area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district have been identified as members of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit and one of them has been identified as a local resident.
SSP Sopore Javid Iqbal was quoted saying by news agency GNS that the bodies of both the militants were recovered from the encounter site Saturday afternoon and one of them has been identified as Tahir Ahmad War alias Tahir Molvi of Warpora.
“We called his family and they identified him as their kin,” the SSP said, adding that body has been handed over to the family.
Tahir, he said, was active from June last year. The identity of other militant, believed to be a foreigner, was yet to be established.
Reports reaching here said that the residential house of Mohd Maqbool Najar, where the militants were hiding, was initially razed to rubble. During the course of the gunfight, three more residential houses of Akbar War, Ramzan War and Showkat Ahmad Najar were completely damaged.
Following the gunfight, clashes between youth and forces also reported near the encounter site and main town Sopore.
The encounter broke out at Mir Mohalla area of Warpora Sopore after a joint team of Army’s 22 RR, special operation group of police and CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in the area on Thursday morning.
Station House Officer (SHO) and his two security guards were injured near the encounter site on Friday.
Police has registered a case and initiated investigation in the gunfight.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. Citizens are requested not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials,” a spokesman of police said

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