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.
Four more militants killed in twin encounters
3 slain in Awantipora gunfight, one in Sopore; brief exchange of fire in Anantnag
Srinagar, May 18: The month of Ramadan is seeing a surge in anti-militancy operations as Saturday also witnessed two more gunfights in south and north Kashmir in which four militants were killed.
The first encounter begun at the wee hours of Saturday at Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama in which three militants were killed. The second gunfight took place in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district which ended in killing of another militant.
Giving details about the first gunfight, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched by police and government forces early Saturday morning at Panzgam.
During the search operation, the hiding militants fired on the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
The slain militants were identified as Showkat Dar, a native of Panzgam, Irfan War of Wadoora Payeen Sopore, and Muzaffar Sheikh of Tahab Pulwama.
All the three slain militants, according to the police records, were affiliated with militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
As per police records, Showkat had a long history of militancy related cases.
“He was involved in planning and executing series of militant attacks in the area. He was part of a group involved in killing of Army soldier Aurangzeb last year in 2018. He was also involved in killing of a policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year,” the spokesperson said.
He added that incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
Meanwhile, Showkat was interred amid pro-freedom slogans and spontaneous shutdown in his native village. Before his burial, thousands of people attended his funeral.
On June 14, 2018, Aurangzeb, a rifleman with 44 Rashtriya Rifles was kidnapped and shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama when he was travelling in a private vehicle, on his way home in Poonch.
Aurangzeb was part of an officer’s team which killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sameer Tiger on May 1, 2018.
In second encounter of the day, one militant was killed in brief exchange of fire at Hathlangoo area of North Kashmir’s Sopore.
A police officer said that acting on a specific human intelligence, a cordon was laid at village Hathlangoo. “As the suspected house was zeroed-in, the hiding militant opened fire resulting in an encounter. In the ensuing gunfight, the militant was killed,” the officer said.
“It was a clean operation and no collateral damage took place in the gunfight,” he said.
Sources said that in the incident, a residential house also got completely damaged.
The officer identified the slain militant as Waseem Ahmad Naik son of Abdul Gani Naik of Udipora Barsoo Awantipora.
According to sources, Waseem was missing since March this year. The family had accordingly filed a missing report in police station concerned.
Meanwhile, authorities suspended internet services in Sopore town as a precautionary measure in wake of this search operation.
Militants escape after brief exchange of fire in Anantnag
Militants on Saturday morning managed to escape after brief exchange of fire in Dehruna village of Anantnag village.
An official confirmed that militants have managed to escape in Dehruna and operation has been called off.
Earlier, a joint team of forces including 19 RR and SOG cordoned off Dehruna area of Anantnag following specific information about the presence of some militants in the area.
As the joint team of forces intensified the searches towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants opened fire, leading to an encounter, he said.
However during initial exchange of fire, militants managed to break the cordon and escaped from the spot, he said, adding that after initial exchange, cordon was extended to nearby villages. However, the operation after finding no militant there was called off.
Meanwhile, soon after news of encounter spread in the area, youth took to streets and started pelting stones on government forces, which was retaliated by smoking tear smoke shells.
Eyewitnesses said that several youth received minor injuries during the clashes.
Six gunfights in first 12 days of Ramadan
Most begun around Sehri time; 11 militants, two soldiers, two civilians killed
ENCOUNTERS IN RAMADAN
May 10: 1 militant killed in Herpora, Shopian
May 12: 2 militants killed in Hend, Shopian
May 16: 5 militants, 2 civilians, soldier killed in Pulwama, Shopian
May 18: 4 militants killed in Awantipora, Sopore
Srinagar, May 18: Government forces have stepped-up operations against militants this Ramadan as Kashmir has witnessed multiple gunfights since the start of the month of fasting.
In the first 12 days of the holy month, as many as 11 militants, two soldiers and two civilians were killed in six encounters, most of which broke out in the pre-dawn hours.
Among the six encounters, five have taken place in south Kashmir.
The first shoot-out in Ramadan took place on May 10 at Ramnagri area of Herpora in Shopian, in which an ISJK militant Ishfaq Sofi was killed. Since then, there has been no letup all the way till Saturday when two gunfights took place in Pulwama and Sopore resulting in killing of four militants.
The second encounter took place on May 12, again in Shopian district.
In it, two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in Hend Sitapora village. The slain were identified as Javeed Ahmad Bhat of Redwani, Kulgam and Adil Bashir Wani of Waripora, DH-Pora, Kulgam.
On May 16, two encounters broke out in south Kashmir between the government forces and militants in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian.
In Pulwama, three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, an army man and a civilian were killed in a pre-dawn encounter near the district township.
The slain militants were identified as Naseer Ahmad Pandith of Karimabad, Pulwama, Umar Ahmad Mir of Barthipora, Shopian and Khalid, JeM commander, a native of Pakistan.
The deceased civilian was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar. His elder brother, Mohammad Younis, a businessman by profession received fire arm injuries in the gun-battle.
One of the soldiers, Sepoy Sandeep Kumar injured in the gunfight succumbed to his injuries at Army’s 92 base hospital.
In Shopian, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, a soldier and a civilian were killed in a brief encounter in the orchards of Handew village.
The encounter broke out after a joint search operation was launched by Army, SOG and CRPF at around 04:30 am, following credible inputs about the presence of militants.
The slain militants were later identified as Yawar Munshi of Thokerpora, Shopian and Shakeel Ahmad Dar of Tikroo, Shopian.
The local resident killed in an encounter was identified as Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat of Handew.
In the gunfight, an Army man, Sepoy Rohit sustained injuries.
In the wee hours of Saturday, another gunfight broke out in Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama.
In an encounter, three militants of Hizbul Mujahideen identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar of Panzgam, Pulwama, Irfan Ahamd of Sopore and Muzaffar Ahmad of Tahab, Pulwama were killed.
On the same day, a militant was killed in a brief shoot out in north Kashmir’s Hatlangoo area in Sopore.
He was identified as Wasim Ahmad Naik of Udipora, Barsoo in Awantipora.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Munir Khan said that precise information was leading to the encounters.
“We have not changed the strategy; we always want zero or minimal damage during the encounters. It is good that if an encounter breaks out in early hours as people as well as police won’t face any difficulties,” he said.
Hindus listed as Muslims in Scholarship scheme : After KM report, GoI asks JK to probe Kulgam scholarship gaffe
Srinagar, May 18: The government of India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs has asked the Jammu and Kashmir’s Social Welfare Department to hold an inquiry into the discrepancies in the list of candidates selected for Minority Scholarship Scheme in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The development comes after The Kashmir Monitor reported on May 15 about the discrepancies in the list of candidates for Kulgam district getting financial aid in Minority Affairs ‘merit cum means’ scholarship for professional and technical courses.
Data compiled by Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has listed over 400 Hindu candidates as Muslim in Kulgam availing benefits under the scheme.
The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has now written to J&K’s Social Welfare Department to initiate a probe for unveiling the facts into the matter.
“So far, it has been found that bank account numbers of 474 candidates who have availed benefit under the scheme are not from Jammu and Kashmir. Everything will be cleared once the probe is completed,” said an official of the Social Welfare Department.
Asked whether any candidates from Kulgam district have availed the benefit under the scheme, the official said, “The mandate of the probe committee is to look into all these aspects including why the names of actual candidates of Kulgam are missing from the list. This committee will also look who is responsible for these discrepancies.”
Director, Social Welfare Department, Kashmir, Rukhsana Gani, confirmed that the Union Minority Affairs has asked them to hold the probe.
“Prime-facie, some wrong has happened at Minority Affairs Department. They have told us to hold the inquiry. We will initiate the probe very soon to unveil the facts (sic),” she said.
The objective of the Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship, as per the Union Ministry, is to provide financial assistance to the poor and meritorious students belonging to minority communities (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain) to enable them to pursue professional and technical courses.
As already reported by this newspaper, data on the National Scholarship Portal lists 474 candidates, majority of them are Hindu names, availing a cumulative Rs 1.5 crore under this scheme for 2019-20 in Kulgam district.