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HIGHWAY BAN: Convoys ply on Monday too, commuters livid

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Apr 8: Notwithstanding the order reserving Sundays and Wednesdays for them, the government forces on Monday continued to move in convoys on the Highway here as civilian traffic was halted at multiple places making commuters questioning the two-days-a-week diktat.

The state government had announced that the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur through Srinagar, Qazigund, Jawahar-Tunnel, Banihal and Ramban will be put out of bounds for civilian traffic on Sundays and Wednesdays till May 31 from 4 am to 5 pm.

No civilian traffic would be allowed during the movement of the paramilitary forces, a government circular issued had said. The order was executed for the first time on Sunday when the highway was barred for civilian traffic.

 

However, on Monday, people were annoyed after being stopped at various places to allow the convoy movement on the highway.

Mukhtyar Ahmad Khan, a commuter, told The Kashmir Monitor that he was travelling from Jammu to Srinagar with his wife when the vehicle he was in was stopped at several places on the highway on Monday to allow army convoys.

“We were not allowed to travel from Banihal Srinagar highway, the civilian traffic was diverted there from Kukarnag which caused lot of inconvenience to us,” Khan said, adding that they reached Srinagar by three hours delay.

Younis Ahmad, who lives by the highway in Awantipora, said that as compared to Sunday, a huge number of convoys was seen plying on national highway on Monday although they have been ordered to travel on Sundays and Wednesdays only.

“Civilians were stopped at various places until paramilitary vehicles passed,” Younis said.

Local cab drivers too were allegedly thrashed by the army.

Irshad Ahmad, a cab driver from Pulwama said that while travelling from the district to Srinagar he was thrashed by the army men as he drove along the highway.

“I was stopped by the army vehicles and some army men came out of their vehicle and started beating me. What kind of democracy is this?” Irshad questioned, adding that if they have been given two days, why they are patrolling on other days as well?

Former chief minister, Omar Abdullah also tweeted: “If it is safe for SF convoys to move on Monday WITHOUT closing the highway to civilian traffic why it is not safe on Wednesdays & Sundays? Nothing proves the mindlessness of the order more than army movement on “unsafe” days. This road is part of the highway by the way.”

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Baseer Khan refused to comment.

“I don’t know anything regarding the issue,” he said.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Khalid Jahangir said, “I am not aware about the movement of security vehicles on Monday as no one informed me about it. I just came to know from you and will look into the matter.”


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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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