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Good governance, transparency key in Kashmir, says CRPF DG

‘Over 360 killed in two years’

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Sep 9: CRPF Director General (DG) Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar on Sunday said good governance and transparency is key in Kashmir to gain confidence of the public and youth.
“Good governance, transparency in official dealings and an all-round exercise is on to gain confidence of the public and the youth in Jammu and Kashmir and the valley, “he said.
He said back-to-back operations by security forces in the Kashmir valley has reduced the “shelf life” of militants and over 360 were killed in less than two years.
In an interview, he said as figures show an increase in the number of local youths joining militant groups in the valley, security forces are reaching out to young men through all possible ways to stop them from taking up arms.
Bhatnagar said keeping in mind the security challenges, the CRPF has “increased the protection level” of its troops operating in Jammu and Kashmir by inducting full-body protectors, bullet proof vehicles and special armoured ‘interception vehicles’ to enable personnel to operate in life-threatening situations.
“The militants in Jammu and Kashmir… Some of them are from outside and there are also the misguided youth (locals) who join militant groups. It is quite a mix. The numbers go up and down but if you were to look at the length, the time for which terrorists survive in J-K, then the signal is very clear that it (militant recruitment) is having no impact. “The shelf life of militants, the time frame to survive, is very short. So, even if the numbers (of joining militant ranks) may be large, they may be more, but the consequence is limited,” he said when asked if recruitment of local Kashmiri youths by terror groups is rising and a cause of concern.
The chief of the country’s largest paramilitary force said the youth was being drawn into it (militant ranks) as “there was a little bit of glamourisation”, but they have to understand that it will not get them any result.
“It is only a matter of time. We have made a lot of efforts (to wean them away) and have also asked them to surrender, and a lot of them have come back. They have to understand that taking up the gun serves no purpose,” he said. The CRPF chief, on youths taking up arms, also said, “Obviously this is something that we have to prevent and take appropriate steps so that the youth does not take to militancy and those who have done so, come back.”
“The official numbers show an increase in recruitment. However, with the increase in the number of neutralisations the overall picture is better,” he said.
Bhatnagar acknowledged that the forces were taking it as a challenge to ensure that a lot of effort is taken to see that recruitment of youths for terror acts goes down.
The chief of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which has over 60 battalions deployed in the Kashmir valley (over 60,000 personnel), said his force, the state police and the Army are operating in “very good synergy”.
The forces now have an edge or to say the upper hand in the militancy scenario in the valley, Bhatnagar said.
“We have worked as one unit. That has given us a lot of success. This year 142 militants have been neutralised. If you look at last year’s figures, it was more than 220 militants who were killed. There is excellent coordination between security forces and they have the upper hand.
“Their (militants) notable commanders have been neutralised. Fidayeen attacks on camps have been effectively rebuffed. We have denied them any success in terms of camp attacks also,” the DG said.
He said the law and order situation in the valley is not like any other theatre in the country as there is a “guerrilla hit-and-run like tactic” used here. “We are, hence, working very closely with the Jammu and Kashmir Police,” Bhatnagar said.
“Our drills, our equipment as well as our schemes are working well and we are able to counter efforts to disrupt the operations through stone pelting. “It is in only on very rare occasions that the stone pelters have managed to disrupt the operations that is too when it has been sudden exchange and the preparation has not been there. That has been the only time that the militants have managed to get away,” the DG said.
He also spoke about better equipping his personnel to combat the security challenge in the state, specifically in the valley.
“We have gone in for better protection, full body protectors for our people, use of less lethal weaponry so that there is less collateral damage and the number of casualties and serious injuries on our side and the public is less.The collateral damage has been fairly minimised,” the DG underlined.
When asked about the use of much-debated pellet guns and the damage rendered by them on locals, Bhatnagar said while these ammunition are not being discarded, its use is part of a well laid out standard operating procedure.
“The sequence in which we use force is well laid out. We fire and disperse them (protestors) by using tear smoke and other allied irritant kind of non-lethal gases…
“So our first effort is to disperse them by making a proper bandobast. Also, we have a large number of plastic bullets that are used,” he said.
Pellet guns, the CRPF chief said, is used where we find that it is required to disperse the mob.
“We are taking precautions by using deflectors (on pellet guns) so that injuries are on lower part of the body. There is a graded use of force. Even when crowd tries to come very close, our boys have shown restraint. We have done our best to meet the objectives for which we have been deployed in J-K,” he said. The pure intent is always to have less and less collateral damage, he said.


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5 dead, as many missing as avalanche hits Khardung La pass

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Five persons were killed and five others missing after their truck came under an avalanche in the Khardung La area of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.

The avalanche hit the truck carrying 10 persons at the Khardung La pass in the Ladakh region at 7 am, an official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said.

The BRO pressed into service its men and machinery to rescue the passengers of the truck, who were believed to be trapped under the debris, he added.

 

The police, Army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel had also reached the spot, the BRO official said.

“So far, the bodies of five persons have been recovered from the avalanche site, while a search is on for the other missing persons,” he added.

A bulldozer driver posted at the Khardung La Pass said two tippers and a Scorpio vehicle carrying about 12 persons left towards K-top area early morning to load snow to Leh.

“One tipper was already loaded with snow. However, the mishap occurred when they were loading another vehicle. Suddenly, an avalanche hit them and 10 people in a tipper were buried under the snow,” he said.

A senior police official said, “At least 10-12 people were trapped under the snow and a body of a local resident from Leh has been recovered from the area. Fresh snowfall took place in the area on Thursday and they had gone to collect snow in a vehicle.”

Rescue teams of police, Border Roads Organisation and Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Force reached the spot.

A high alert for avalanche was sounded on Thursday by the administration following adverse weather advisory by the Met department.

 

Guv expresses grief, announces Rs 5 lakh compensation

Jammu, Jan 18: Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over loss of precious lives due to snow avalanche at Khardung La in Leh district, Friday morning.

In his message, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said, the Governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief.

Governor has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of the kin of those killed in the avalanche.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah too expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the avalanche.

The party spokesman in a statement said that the duo has urged the administration to expedite the rescue operation and ensure all support to the families of the deceased.

Both Farooq and Omar urged the governor administration to gear up its men and machinery to meet any eventuality in wake of heavy snowfall as predicted by the local MeT officials.

Impressing upon the administration to ensure that people don’t have to suffer due to the vagaries of weather, the duo urged the administration to ensure all arterial and other routes are kept open to avoid any suffering to people.

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Kashmir braces for heavy snow spell from today

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Srinagar, Jan 18: As the meteorological department has predicted another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Kashmir region from Saturday onwards, people in Kashmir are readying themselves by keeping ample stock of food and ensuring proper heating arrangements are put in place.

With the western disturbances likely to affect the region, the officials have also warned of disruption of road, rail and air traffic from Saturday afternoon.

“The western disturbances are most likely to affect the state and its adjoining areas from January 19 to 25, with the main activity between January 20 and 23 and gradual decrease thereafter,” Sonam Lotus, director Meteorological department said.

 

He said moderate to heavy snowfall and rain was expected at widespread places of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.

“Some places may receive very heavy rain and snow during this period,” he said, adding that light snowfall would begin at a few places in Kashmir on Saturday morning and increase in intensity and distribution thereafter.

On Friday, Kargil recorded the night’s lowest temperature at minus 19.2 degrees Celsius while neighbouring Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 15.6, Met office said.

Drass town was the coldest in the Jammu and Kashmir at minus 27.1.

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state recorded a low of minus 0.7 while the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 10.0 degrees Celsius while night temperature in Pahalgam – the famous health resort settled at a low of minus 10.3 degrees.

Kokernag town recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius while Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius last night.

Jammu city recorded 5.3  degrees Celsius, Katra 6.3, Batote 2.5, Bannihal 0.7 and Bhaderwah minus 0.8 degree Celsius.

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Twin grenade attacks in city-centre, Shopian

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Less than 24 hours after the Rajbagh grenade attack, militants on Friday carried out two more grenade attacks on government forces in Kashmir, including one in the city-centre Lal Chowk here.

Militants lobbed a grenade at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk in the afternoon, a police official said.

The grenade exploded on the roadside, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the attack.

 

A private car parked on the roadside was partly damaged due to the explosion, the official said.

Window panes of a few shops on either side of the road were also damaged because of the blast.

This was the second such attack on government forces in Srinagar within 24 hours.

Earlier on Thursday, militants had hurled a grenade on police personnel at Zero Bridge here, resulting in injuries to three policemen.

In another incident on Friday, militants lobbed a grenade at a police camp in Gagran village of Shopian district of south Kashmir. However there was no report of loss of life or damage to property.

A police spokesperson came out with the following statement later in the day: Police had to attend two “terror” crime spots today following the reports of grenade attack by militants at Srinagar and Shopian. Officers from the local police units immediately reached to both the crime spot this (Friday) afternoon to initiate the investigation in the matter.

“While attending the crime spot, officers did not receive any report pertaining to the loss of life or property. Police has registered cases for both the incidents. Officers from the local police units are at work to establish the full circumstances which led to these incidents. If you have any information that can assist police in its investigation, you may kindly contact Police,” the spokesperson said.

The three attacks come days ahead of the Republic day and is likely to push government forces for taking even more stringent ‘security’ arrangements, especially in and around the city.

Later in the day, militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility of the grenade attacks in Srinagar and Shopian.

A spokesperson of JeM Mohammad Hassan in a statement to news agency GNS claimed that three forces personnel were injured in the attack at City Centre Lal Chowk.

He also claimed that several forces personnel were critically injured in the attack at Gagran in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

The Kashmir Monitor also received a phone call from one Hamza Rashid, who said he was the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front, and claimed the responsibility of the Lal Chowk grenade attack.

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