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HIGHWAY DIKTAT: Wednesday is here, expect chaos

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Apr 9: Beingthe second day of the recent highway diktat,the day today is likely going to be more chaotic than last Sunday as the highway closure on a working day will further restrict the movement of the valleyites.

The government’s decree forbids civilian traffic every Sunday and Wednesday on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu to Baramulla in north Kashmir to allow the movement of convoys.

Last Sunday was the first day of the ban as the hassled civilians were seen afoot after being ordered to refrain from using the highway, the only connectivity between most of the districts of the valley.

 

The chaos, however, is expected to increase manifold today.

People from all walks of life including students, teachers, government employees and businessmen are livid at the decision terming it as an “oppressive measure” intended to make people’s day-to-day lives miserable.

There are at least two universities, 700 educational institutes and 90 crossing points and several hospitals located along the highway, which will be severely affected as a result of the ban.

While valleyites are ruing about not getting an access to the highway, many of them are wary of the consequences that might take place if the ban is defied.

Syed Riyaz Rufai, Registrar Islamic University of Science & Technology (located close to the highway in Awantipora), said they have asked the district administration for permitting its students to use the highway and the varsity will be open on Wednesday.

 “We have sought permission from the district magistrate and will be provided the same by the evening,” he said adding “we have also passed on the instructions to the bus drivers to pick up students who usually come by themselves and employees on the way.”

District Commissioner, Pulwama Abid Rashid Shah corroborated the registrar saying, “Yes, we are granting permission to the University to remain open on Wednesday. The passes will be provided to 800 vehicles and the list will be forwarded to University administration soon.”

A BBA final year student, however, said he won’t take the “risk” of going to the University.

“I wouldn’t go. Who knows what the soldier on ground may do. They are the magistrates on ground and they don’t heed orders. It would be risky to venture out,” said the student, asking not to be named.

Malik Zahra, who teaches at Media Education Research Centre, University of Kashmir said: “We have to report to University on Wednesday. The administration doesn’t bother about the students and teachers who have to take the highway route in order to reach to the varsity.”

“I am constantly getting calls from students asking how they will come to University on Wednesday in wake of the highway ban. The security people don’t understand the language of passes and ID cards issued by University. This makes me fear for the worst,” she said.

To the north of the valley, the administration has thought best closing the educational institutions.

“Deputy Commissioner Baramulla has issued that all the educational institutions will remain closed tomorrow in Baramulla district,” Principal SSM College Pattan, Nazir Ahmad Shah told The Kashmir Monitor.

Like students, employees too are peeved.

 “The job of a public servant is to work towards the betterment of society and the government instead of supporting us in our endeavours has decided to put us in captivity. They have time and again oppressed us through these arbitrary orders. Through this particular order, they are hell-bent on destroying the valley’s economy,” said Fayaz Ahmad Shabnam, President Employees Joint Action Committee.

He informed that the election training for employees was supposed to be held on Wednesday.

“Now all of sudden, they have changed the schedule. The training was conducted today. This clearly means they will not allow any employee movement on the highway on Wednesday,” he said adding that, “last Sunday, one of our labourers had to take the highway route from Athwajan to HMT. He had to come from Budgam and he was not allowed to cross the highway. He was supposed to reach at 9 in the night and reached around 10:30 pm.”

50 apple laden trucks stopped at Qazigund

Srinagar, Apr 9: The authorities have stopped 50 apple laden trucks at Qazigund leaving the growers at a risk of losses worth crores.

President Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, Mawer Raja Akbar told Kashmir News Service that the trucks left on Sunday, but were stopped due to unknown reasons even on Monday.

“On Tuesday again the trucks were not allowed,” he said.

Akbar said now on Wednesday, the highway will be closed for civilian traffic. “Our trucks are supposed to reach Delhi within 24 hours else the fruit will get spoiled. It has been two days already. And trucks are still halted. We have suffered huge loss. The government is responsible for it,” he said. (KNS)

Govt exempts lawyers from highway banM

Srinagar, Apr 9: After exempting employees, students, tourists and other emergency cases, the government on Tuesday exempted learned advocates of High Court and other courts and all medical emergencies from the restriction order on highway on every Wednesdays and Sundays.

Earlier, the government had issued an order, directing that no civilian traffic would be allowed to ply on the national highway from Baramulla till Udhampur every Sunday and Wednesday till May 31. However, after facing outrage, the government had exempted employees, students, tourists and other emergency cases from the restriction order.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Tuesday ordered that learned advocates or lawyers of High Court and other courts be exempted from the restriction on civilian movement on highway twice a week.

An order reads that the learned advocates/lawyers of high court and other courts shall also be exempted from the restrictions given in the previous order and identity cards of the learned advocates shall be treated as travel passes by the concerned.

It also reads that the magistrates/facilitators/police personnel present at all the critical/crossing points/intersections of NH1A shall ensure that the commuters are allowed to pass the national highway in a hassle free manner.

The order added that all medical emergencies shall be kept beyond the restrictions enumerated and the medical prescriptions shall be treated as travel passes by the implementing agencies.


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Fresh restrictions in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers

Press Trust of India

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Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, officials said.

Normal life continued to remain affected across the valley for the 47th consecutive day with markets closed and public transport off the roads, the officials said.

Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in few areas of the valley to maintain law and order, the officials said.

They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in downtown (interior city) and Anchar area of Soura police station in Srinagar.

The restrictions have also been imposed in Kupwara and Handwara police districts and the main towns of Ganderbal, Anantnag and Bijbehara, the officials added.

Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas in the rest of the valley, they said.

The officials said the curbs were a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of apprehensions that vested interests might exploit the large Friday prayer gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.

Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines – including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta or Dargah Sharief in Hazratbal – in the valley for the past over a month now.

Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley.

Internet services have remained suspended across all platforms, they said. While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir, they added.

The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.

Most of the top-level and second rung mainstream politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continued to be in detention or under house arrest.

While NC president Farooq Abdullah was first placed under house arrest, he was on Tuesday booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

His son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti were detained on the night of August 4 — hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.

Most of the mainstream leaders, including former ministers and legislators, were also either detained or kept under house arrest, the officials said.

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Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award

Agencies

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New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.

“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.

“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.

Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.

A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.

Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.

The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.

An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.

National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.

The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.

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Army nabs Gurdaspur man on charges of spying for Pakistan

Press Trust of India

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Gurdaspur, September 19: A resident of Tibri village here was nabbed by Army officials for allegedly providing photographs of the cantonment area and the under-construction Kartarpur corridor to someone in Pakistan, police said on Thursday.

Vipan Singh was held by Army personnel on Wednesday, said Kulwinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Purana Shalla police station in Gurdaspur.Officers of the military intelligence were still questioning Singh, the police said, adding that he was yet to be handed over to them.

The suspect was allegedly offered Rs 10 lakh for providing sensitive information, though it was yet be verified, the police said.Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being built by India.

 

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib–the final resting place of Guru Nanak in Pakistan’s Kartarpur–with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib

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