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Hajis’ homecoming: Emotional kin welcome pilgrims after weeks of zero communication

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar: Emotional scenes are witnessed these days at the Srinagar International Airport where Hajis arrive to see and speak to their families for the first time since the authorities imposed a communication blockade in the region on August 5.

Last Monday, the family members of Abdul Majid were waiting for him. As soon as he came out of the Airport, he hugged his family members with moist eyes.

Majid, who performed Hajj, had not spoken to his family for two weeks due to communication blockade imposed in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 earlier this month.

 

“I feel happy to see my family. We have made a lot of prayers and everything will be fine soon Insha Allah. We prayed for the peace and prosperity of Kashmir,” he said, as he boarded the vehicle awaiting him.

Majid was one among the 304 Hajj pilgrims who arrived in the first batch in two flights here on Monday after performing the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

“How did you celebrate Eid here amid restrictions,” another Haji, who broke into tears, asked one of his relatives, who replied: “I can’t explain to you. Most people have been confined inside four walls for days.”

An elderly Haji from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district too said he could not speak to his family for two weeks.

“All Kashmiri Hajis were worried about their family members due to restrictions on communication. We did not know what had happened to our families. I can’t explain how happy I am after seeing my family,” he said.

Bashir Ahmad, a relative of one of Hajis said they had reached the Airport 7:30 on Monday morning. “We had to wait more than two hours to meet the arriving Hajis. There was no clarity on their arrival due to restrictions on communication,” he said. “We are happy after seeing our loved ones. We were eagerly waiting for them,” he said.

Even family members of several Hajis, who are still in Saudi Arabia, meet other arriving Hajis to inquire about their well-being.

“I have come here to know from Hajis about my uncle as we have no communication with him for the last 14 days. I wanted to know about him from another relative who returned from Hajj today,” said Farooq Bhat, a resident of Bemina.

On Monday, the pilgrims were received at the Airport by Advisor to Governor Farooq Ahmad Khan, who was accompanied by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan, Inspector General of Police Kashmir SP Pani, and Deputy Commissioner Budgam Tariq Ganie.

Meanwhile, the government in a statement said that Hajis expressed their satisfaction over the elaborate arrangements that they were put in place by the government to ensure that they would perform their religious duties without facing any hurdles.


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RTIs can be filed locally in J&K, Ladakh even after October 31: Jitendra Singh

Press Trust of India

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Union minister Jitendra Singh on Monday rejected rumours that people in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will have to travel to Delhi to file RTIs once the two union territories come into existence on October 31 and said they can still be filed locally.

Singh, who is also the minister of state incharge of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) — which is the nodal department for Central Information Commission (CIC) dealing with the Right to Information (RTI) appeals — met Central Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava.

Following a detailed discussion on the issue with Bhargava, Singh said that “certain vested elements which are uncomfortable with the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, continue to instigate different kinds of misgivings in the society, in a vain bid to disrupt the courageous initiative by the Modi government”.

The minister said that RTIs can be filed locally in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh even after the new arrangement comes into existence after the October 31. He denounced the rumours that because Jammu and Kashmir will become a Union territory, the applicant will have to travel to Delhi to file an RTI.

Singh claimed that during the last five years, “the procedures to file an RTI appeal have been immensely simplified and definite timelines have been laid down”. This will apply equally to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh after they become Union territories, he said.

Divulging details, Singh said that the first RTI application is made to the Public Information Officer (PIO) locally and in matters involving “life and liberty”, the time limit for the PIO to provide the information is 48 hours. “For the PIO to reply to the application, a timeline of 30 days has been laid down from the date of receipt of the application. “For applicant to make first appeal after the receipt of PIO’s reply, the first appellate authority in the form of the designated officer will also be available locally, whether it is the State or Union territory,” he said.

Only in case of second appeal, Singh said the application has to be submitted to the Information Commission and even if the Information Commissioner is not available locally, in case of Union territory, the second appeal can be sent to the CIC online within 90 days from the receipt of the first appeal orders or from the date the orders were to be received. “To make the procedure simpler, we made use of modern technology and in a major breakthrough, during the Modi government, provided the facility of making second appeal before the CIC through portal/WhatsApp, which, in other words, means that an RTI applicant does not have to wait for office hours and can file his appeal even from his mobile phone anytime, at his convenience,” the minister said.

After the reorganisation or Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Singh said that the citizens’ participation will increase manifold and various provisions in public administration will become far more citizen-centric with the extension of uniformed central laws, as applicable in the rest of the country.

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After Pulwama, JeM’s target was Delhi-NCR: NIA

Agencies

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New Delhi, Sep 16: Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning to carry out ”fidayeen” attacks at several places in India, including Delhi and NCR, similar to the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead, the National Investigation Agency”s chargesheet said on Monday.

In its chargesheet filed before a special court here, the NIA named four JeM militants who were involved in the Pulwama attack .

Those named in the chargesheet include Sajjad Ahmad Khan, 27, Tanveer Ahmed Ganie, 29, Bilal Ahmad Mir, 23, and Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, 25, all residents of Pulwama.

According to the agency, it filed a case in the matter on March 15 based on certain information regarding criminal conspiracy being hatched by senior JeM commanders to carry out attacks in different parts of India including Delhi-NCR.

“Investigation has established that the accused persons are members of JeM and they were planning to carry out attacks and also propagating the activities of the outfit.”

The agency said slain JeM militant Mudassir Ahmad Khan was the mastermind behind this conspiracy and was one of the main conspirators in the Pulwama attack which occurred on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway after a militant rammed his improvised explosive-device laden vehicle into a bus carrying CRPF personnel.

As Mudassir was killed in a shootout with security forces at Pinglish village in Jammu and Kashmir”s Tral town on the intervening night of March 9-10, charges against him have abated, the NIA said.

“Sajjad and Muzaffar were directly in touch with Mudassir. However, Tanveer and Bilal were in contact with Mudassir through Sajjad. Tanveer and Bilal wanted to carry out fidayeen attacks similar to Pulwama attack.”

NIA said that Tanveer and Bilal, who were elder brothers of Sajjad, were also active JeM militants and they were killed in two different shootouts with security forces.

Muzaffar, the agency said, was directed to conduct reconnaissance in Delhi-NCR area after he joined JeM.

“During investigation two detonators were seized at the instance of Muzaffar. Further investigation against other accused continues under section 173(8) of CrPC.” (IANS)

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Will meet Modi, Imran soon, says Trump; assures of reduced tension over Kashmir

Agencies

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Washington: US President Donald Trump on Monday said he will be meeting the prime ministers of India and Pakistan soon, even as he maintained that tension between the two Asian countries had reduced.

While Trump will address Indian-Americans, along with PM Modi, at the “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston on September 22, the American president did not say when or where will he be meeting PM Khan.

“I’ll see Prime Minister Modi and I will — we’ll — be meeting with (prime ministers of) India and Pakistan,” Trump told reporters in response to a question at the White House on Monday.

According to Trump’s schedule, he could meet the Pakistani Prime Minister on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session in New York later this month.

After addressing a record crowd of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans at the “Howdy Modi!” event , Trump will travel to Ohio and then is expected to fly to New York to attend the Annual General Assembly Sessions of the United Nations.

Without mentioning Kashmir, Trump said a “lot of progress has been made in reducing tension” between India and Pakistan.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

The “Howdy, Modi!” event would the first time that an American president addresses thousands of Indian-Americans at one place in the US.

It comes ahead of the 2020 presidential elections in the US in which the influential Indian-American community members are expected to play a greater role. President Trump, a Republican, has already announced his candidature.

India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla has called Trump’s participation in the “Howdy, Modi!” event “historic” and “unprecedented”.

“It is reflective of the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that has developed between India and the US,” Shringla told PTI.

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