Srinagar, Jan 31: Fresh snowfall across Kashmir on Thursday snapped the region’s aerial connectivity with the rest of the country as it led to cancellation of flights and also disrupted traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway for the second consecutive day.
The snowfall which started on Wednesday continued on Thursday with Srinagar receiving 5.6mm of snowfall 5:30 PM.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg received 6.2 mm of snowfall,Pahalgam received 3.8 mm of snow, Qazigund recorded 18.6 mm snowfall, and Kupwara 6.5 ,
Meanwhile, Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic for second consecutive day on Thursday due to fresh snowfall and landslides, officials said.
Due to fresh snowfall and slippery road conditions in the Banihal-Ramban sector and a fresh landslide in Ramban stretch, the highway has been closed for traffic, they said. This has been done to ensure that no vehicle gets struck on the highway.
“No vehicle has been allowed to move to Kashmir Valley from Jammu from Nagrota traffic check post”, a traffic police officer said.
The men and machines of BRO are working on the highway to clear the highway of the snowfall accumulation and landslides, they said.
Due to the bad weather and poor visibility, the flight operations were cancelled on Srinagar International airport.
“No aircraft has arrived at Srinagar airport since this morning. Nine flights have been cancelled so far. If the weather does not improve, rest of the flights will also be cancelled,” an official of the Airport Authority of India said.
“The flights including Air Asia I5-716, Indigo 6E-2554, 6E 576, 6E 653, Go Air 128/129 SXR-DEL, Vistara UK 611 SXR-IXJ, Spicejet SG 161 SXR-IXJ were cancelled, “Srinagar Airport officials said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar was minus 0.3 degrees Celsius while in Pahalgam and Gulmarg it was minus 2.7 and minus 6, respectively.
Leh in Ladakh region recorded minus 9.1, Kargil minus 18.4 and Drass is minus 14.9 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Jammu was at 10.1, Katra 8.2, Batote and Bannihal 0.3 and Bhaderwah recorded 1.2 degrees Celsius.
The closure of the road has resulted in shortage of essentials like cooking gas and eatables including vegetables and mutton, local residents claimed.
The prices of vegetables and other eatables have risen sharply over the past few days, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Sarai Bala, said.
Officials of the Divisional administration maintain that some trucks, which were stranded along the highway, have been able to reach here over the past two days.”The supplies have reached, we have enough stocks of essentials. There is no need to panic,” a senior official said.
According to MET department officials, ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which ended on Thursday was harshest in more than a decade and the cold wave is expected to continue in Kashmir as the valley has entered the 20-day period Chillai-Khurd (small cold) which will be followed by 10-day long Chillai-Bachha (baby cold).
On the other hand, the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh national highway linking Ladakh region with Kashmir also remained closed due to accumulation of snow, particularly between Sonamarg-Zojila-Meenmarg and Drass. There was also fresh snowfall early this morning at several places on the highway.
However, the snow clearance operation will be started next month only.
Another spell of snowfall from Feb 5: MeT
Srinagar, Jan 31: The snowfall in the Valley continued for the second consecutive day on Thursday while as the local Meteorological department forecasted improvement in weather conditions from Friday afternoon.
The Valley’s higher reaches including famous ski-resort and others including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg as well as the plains received a fresh snowfall since Wednesday, brining the temperaturefurther down in the Valley.
However, the local MeT department has predicted improvement in the weather conditions from Friday afternoon.
Deputy Director, Mukhtar Ahmad said that the weather would improve from Friday afternoon, saying that another Western Disturbance is affecting Valley especially Pir Panchal from February 5, which will continue till February 7.
He informed that they are predicting moderate snowfall across the Valley especially in Pir Panchal areas moderate snowfall from Feb 05-07.
Lethpora attack: UN urges India, Pak to defuse tensions
Geneva, Feb 20: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to exercise “maximum restraint” and offered to mediate in the face of rising tensions following the attack at Lethpora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 49 CRPF troopers.
Guterres, through a spokesman, said that the UN is deeply concerned about the situation while offering to mediate if the two parties request it.
The head of the UN received on Wednesday the Pakistani ambassador, Maleeha Lodhi, whose government has asked the organization to intervene in the current crisis, Efe reported.
For now, Guterres calls on both sides to “exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps” to defuse the tension, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
The historic tensions between the two nuclear nations skyrocketed in recent days after New Delhi accused Islamabad of supporting the militant group that killed 49 CRPF troopers in a suicide bombing with a vehicle loaded with explosives on February 14, the deadliest attack in the region in 30 years.
In addition, nine people, including four army soldiers, a cop, and a civilian were killed in a gunfight again in Pulwama on February 18.
Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), said the UN was also saddened by the further loss of life reported from the gun battles in Pulwama on February 18.
“We hope escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours will not add further to the insecurity in the region” he said.
Colville said the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, is also concerned about reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities living in different parts of India.
“We acknowledge actions taken by the Indian authorities to tackle these incidents and we hope that the Government will continue to take steps to protect people from all forms of harm that may be directed at them on account of their ethnicity or identity,” he stressed.
Following the February 14 attack, India announced that it will take all possible diplomatic measures to isolate Pakistan from the international community.
UN asks additional escorts for military observers:
After one of its vehicles was stopped by a group of protesters in Jammu, the UN has asked the Indian government for additional escorts for its military observers in Kashmir.
“The observer group reported on February 16 that a UN vehicle in the city of Jammu was surrounded by a group of protesters who placed a Pakistan flag in front of the vehicle. The vehicle attempted to bypass the flag but was unable to do so,” Dujarric told the media on Tuesday.
He said the circumstances of the incident was “regrettable and unavoidable” and that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had informed the governments of both countries.
“The Mission also requested India to provide additional escorts and will be conducting an investigation,” he added.
The 44-member UNMOGIP, now led by Uruguayan Major General Jose Eladio Alcain, began operations in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir following up a Security Council resolution the previous year.
India maintains that UNMOGIP has become redundant because under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue with no role for third parties. (With IANS inputs)
Govt downgrades, withdraws ‘security’ of 18 separatists, 155 others
Jammu, Feb. 20: In a major step on Wednesday, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir downgraded and withdrew the security of 18 Hurriyat leaders in the state.
According to the spokesperson of Home Department, it was felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is “wastage of scarce state resources which could be better utilised elsewhere”.
“Among the leaders whose security has been downgraded and withdrawn are SAS Geelani, Aga Syed Mosvi, Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Yaseen Malik, Saleem Geelani, Shahid ul Islam, Zaffar Akbar Bhat, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, Farooq Ahmed Kichloo, Masroor Abbas Ansari, Aga Syed Abul Hussain, Abdul Gani Shah and Mohd Musadiq Bhat,” a government handout said.
This is in addition the 4 persons whose security was withdrawn on Sunday.
In addition, the handout said the security of 155 political persons and activists, who did not require the security provided to them based on their threat assessment and their activities, was also withdrawn. This includes Shah Faesal, who resigned from the IAS and PDP member Waheed Parra.
“Through this, over 1000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work,” the handout said.
Reservation to EWS: Guv welcomes central law’s extension to JK
Jammu, Feb 20: Governor Satya Pal Malik has welcomed the decision of the Union Cabinet regarding giving reservations in admission in educational institutions, for appointments and posts in favour of economically weaker sections of the citizens and giving benefit of promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
“The reservation to the economically weaker sections of the citizens will be in addition to existing reservation and subject to maximum of 10 percent of totals seats/posts,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.
It is pertinent to mention that the Constitution (Seventy Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 provides for giving benefit of promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 provides for giving reservations in admission in educational institutions and for appointments and posts in favour of economically weaker sections of the citizens.
“Both these amendments in the Constitution of India were not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir in the present form. The Union Cabinet’s approval to the extension of these amendments will enable providing of 10 % reservation in admission in educational institutions and for appointments and posts in favour of the economically weaker sections of the citizens,” the spokesperson said.
He added that the move will also give powers to the State for making provisions for reservation in the matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Governor, the spokesperson added, has described these decisions as having far reaching consequences in helping to ameliorate the lot of the weaker sections of society and in ensuring their economic progress and prosperity.
SAC to meet tomorrow
Srinagar, Feb 20: The J&K State Administrative Council (SAC) will meet under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan Jammu on 22 February.
This is likely going to be last SAC meeting before Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for General Elections-2019 comes into force.