Srinagar, Nov 10: In the wake of the unexpected, intense snowfall in Kashmir division last week, Governor, Satya Pal Malik has issued categorical directions to the administration to extend all possible help to the people. Based on the Governor’s directions and periodic reviews, immediate action was taken on many fronts to provide relief to the people.
The early snowfall of November 3/4 severely disrupted essential services and supplies in Kashmir division including power, water, and road connectivity, besides causing extensive damage/losses to the agriculture/horticulture crops and farm infrastructure across many districts in the Valley. The snowfall occurred at a time when the offices had closed in the summer capital on 26th/27th October, 2018 and were in transition for resuming work in the winter capital on 5th November, 2018.
Governor immediately responded to the crisis and on his instructions, the Advisors and Chief Secretary immediately took stock of the situation and directed the Divisional and District Administrations to work 24×7 to restore the power, water supply & open major and interior roads for smooth flow of traffic.
Governor’s administration was monitoring the situation closely and in greater synergy to ensure that basic services like road connectivity, water supply and power were restored within 72 hours of the snowfall.
Since power supply is crucial to provision of other services, Commissioner/Secretary, PDD was specially rushed to Srinagar to supervise and monitor the power supply restoration efforts personally. While power supply in most parts of Srinagar City and major towns was restored within a day, due to strenuous efforts of the Power Development Department, ably supported by the Divisional and District administrations, 95% power supply was restored within 72 hrs of snowfall notwithstanding the fact that four transmission towers had suffered extensive damage and in fact collapsed. Governor monitored the restoration of various services and supplies personally and obtained regular feedback from the Advisors and the Chief Secretary.
Upon learning that agriculture/horticulture crops in particular apple orchards have suffered extensive damage/losses due to the snowfall, Governor issued immediate instructions to the Administration for maximum possible assistance to the affected farmers. Divisional Commissioner’s, Kashmir and Jammu were asked to have a preliminary survey conducted on immediate basis to assess the extent of damage/loss to the agriculture/horticulture crops/ produce.
Given the extent of damage to the agriculture and horticulture crops and other infrastructure due to snowfall, the Governor’s Administration has declared the snowfall as a State Specific Special Natural Calamity for the purpose of providing additional interim relief/assistance to the affected farmers from SDRF. The relief amount has been enhanced to Rs 36,000/Ha for damage to perennial crops like apple. Earlier, the relief amount given to the farmers was just Rs 6800/Ha as per norms, which is now five times higher at Rs 36,000/Ha.
It is noteworthy to mention that within just 10 days of the snowfall, the process of providing relief to the affected farmers has begun which itself speaks of the speed and the promptness with which the Governor’s Administration is working. As an interim relief measure, each affected District has been provided Rs 10 Crore for the purpose from SDRF. This amount is in addition to the Rs 4 crore already available with each Deputy Commissioner for relief purposes.
Correspondingly, Government of India has been requested to depute a special team to the State for assessing the damage to the Agriculture/Horticulture crops so that the losses beyond the permissible norms under SDRF can be compensated.
For further strengthening the administrative response to future snowfall & inclement weather, Governor’s Administration has approved allocation of Rs 28 Crore for procurement of various machines by the PW(R&B) department. These include (i) Rs 16.50 Crore for procurement of three sophisticated Snow Cutter Machines (ii) Rs 6 Crore for procurement of 15 Snow Plough Machines for snowfall prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, Doda/Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban/Banihal and Leh and Kargil and (iii) Rs 5.50 Crore for procurement of 22 Bulldozers.
The Governor, while complimenting the officers for their efforts in restoring essential services promptly even while offices were shifting to Jammu as part of the Durbar Move, has urged the entire administrative machinery to work with renewed enthusiasm, vigor and redouble their efforts in alleviating sufferings of the people, if any, in particular during the winter months.
As a responsive and accountable administration, it would be the firm resolve of the Governor’s Administration to deal with winter vagaries like snowfall and inclement weather conditions in future in the most effective and appropriate manner to ensure that there is least inconvenience to the general public as far as possible.
Although the Durbar is presently in Jammu, senior Government functionaries including the Advisors, the Chief Secretary and the Administrative Secretaries would be regularly visiting Kashmir to take stock of the situation and attend to the public issues.
The Governor unequivocally assures the people that their welfare will remain in full focus throughout the winter months and will continue to receive the same attention as before.
3 militants killed in Shopian encounter
Slain includes IPS officer’s brother; civilians, forces personnel among injured
Srinagar, Jan 22: Three militants, including the brother of an IPS officer, were killed and an army soldier wounded in a gunfight in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.
Reports said that the gunfight broke out Tuesday morning after a joint party of the army and the state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Shirmal village following inputs about the presence of militants.
They said the militants opened fire on the forces after the latter fired several shots towards their hideout located in an orchard in the village.
There was a momentary lull before the firefight resumed, leading to the killing of three militants, news agency Global News Service reported.
One army soldier has also sustained injuries during the course of the gunfight, it reported while quoting unnamed sources.
Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said the slain militants included Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district.
Shamsul Haq was pursuing Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) at government college Zakura when he joined militancy. His elder brother Inamul Haq is 2012 IPS batch officer who is posted in North East.
The identity of the two other militants was being ascertained, police said.
Reports, however, identified the two other slain as Amir Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Late Abdul Aziz Bhat of Chadipora, Shopian and Shuaib Ahmad Shah (19) son of Ghulam Rasool Shah of Zahapora, Shopian.
The slain, as per reports, were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit and were involved in a number of attacks in the southern district.
After conducting all necessary formalities, the bodies of the trio were later in the evening handed over to their families for last rites, reports said.
They added that at least seven persons were injured in clashes near the site of the encounter at Heff Shirmal as government forces resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing.
Later in the day, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and other forces in Shirmal area of
Zainapora in Shopian area after credible inputs about the presence of militants.“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” the spokesperson said.
He added that it was a difficult operation due to the terrain and there were clashes in the area which was handled by the government forces.
“Only five cases of injuries were reported and three of them were discharged after preliminary medical attention. Separately six security forces personnel injured during the clashes have been discharged after medical attention,” the spokesperson said.
Police, he said, has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
Shamsul met ‘sad end’ despite his IPS brother’s efforts: Ex-DGP
Srinagar, Jan 22: Former Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid on Tuesday said that Hizb militant Shamsul Haq met a “sad end” despite efforts by his IPS officer brother to bring him back.
Taking to Twitter soon after the news of his killing in Shopian gunfight started doing the rounds, Vaid, who was the director general of police in J&K when Haq turned to militancy, said: “I remember the efforts that were made by his (Haq’s) brother /other family members and J&K Police to bring him back to mainstream but he met a sad end today.”
Haq, brother of IPS officer Inam ul Haq, was killed along with his two associates in a gunfight in Shirmal village of Shopian.
Militants killed in Budgam affiliated with Al Badr: Police
Srinagar, Jan 22: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said the three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday were affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that the slain militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad son of Ali Mohammad Mir resident of Lassipora Pulwama, Syed Rabani son of Mohammad Hussain resident of Nazneenpora Shopian and Towseef Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Aziz resident of Nowpora Payeen Pulwama.
The slain militants, he said, were affiliated with proscribed outfit Al-Badar and were wanted by the law.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.
Bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities, he added.
The three militants were killed after a daylong gunfight in Hapatnar forests on Tuesday.
4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident
Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.
The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.
Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.
Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.
Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.
“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.
Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.
The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.
Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.
“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said
The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.
Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.
“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.
Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.
In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’
“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.
“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.
“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.
He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.
“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.
KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.
“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.
Srinagar youth hit with stone ‘hurled by CRPF’
Admitted to SKIMS with fractured skull; CRPF spokesman claims ‘youth fell down’
Srinagar, Jan 22: A youth from Habba Kadal locality of Srinagar was hospitalised in a serious condition after a stone allegedly hurled by CRPF trooper hit his head on Tuesday afternoon.
Family sources said the boy identified as Mohammad Younis had left home to buy some vegetable, however, a CRPF trooper hurled a stone from the bunker located near Habba Kadal, resulting in serious head injuries to the boy.
Soon after the incident, the injured was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS, Soura.
Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan, as per a local news agency KNO, said that “parietal bone of the youth had fracture and the bone fragment has sneaked into the skull, leading to contusions.”
He also said that CT scan of the patient will be repeated to ascertain the damage. He, however, maintained that they are monitoring his condition as of now.
Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman, Sanjay Sharma, as per news agency KNO, said a group of five to six youth started pelting stones at the bunker and while chasing them away, a youth “slipped and fell down”.