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In Pulwama,forces fired indiscriminately: Eyewitnesses

‘Every second step I took landed on blood’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 15: On Saturday morning, hundreds of people from Kharpora Sirnoo area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district started rushing to the encounter site soon after the news of three local militants getting killed in an encounter spread in the area.

They, however, hardly had a clue that things were about to get much worse.

Government forces, as per eyewitnesses, fired indiscriminately at protesting civilians leaving many in pools of blood.

 

Chaos and death prevailed as those shot at were shifted to the local district hospital. Six of them were pronounced dead already with the seventh civilian succumbing later at Srinagar’s SMHS.

The forces according to eye-witnesses resort to firing to stop people coming near to the encounter site in which scores received firearm injuries.

The locals said that forces resorted to “indiscriminate firing and used excessive force”.

“There were no warning shots. The forces fired indiscriminately at the protestors,” a relative of injured Jehangir Ahmad told The Kashmir Monitor outside the emergency ward at SMHS hospital here.

Jehangir, 20, was one among the scores of civilians who got injured during the clashes near the encounter site.

“Most of the injured have above waist fire-arm injuries,” Jehangir’s relative said.

Shabir Ahmad, who was shot with pellets in his eyes, said hundreds of people rushed towards the encounter site on Saturday morning.

“Two civilians were shot dead during the encounter while five were killed after that. The forces directly targeted the civilians. I saw two civilians being shot dead during the encounter,” he said.

“We were clicking videos of encounters when forces showered bullets and pellets at us,” he added.

A relative of Gulzar Ahmad, who received a bullet in his shoulder, said Gulzarwas shaping the grass in his garden.

“After the encounter, the forces fired indiscriminately. A bullet hit his (Gulzar’s) shoulder. He was rushed to Pulwama hospital from where he was shifted to SMHS,” the relative said.

He added: “In a radius of about 200 metres every second step I took landed on the blood of some civilian shot at during the indiscriminate firing.”

With tears in his eyes, he added: “My beloved friend breathed his last in my arms while I was taking him towards the district hospital.”

Inspector General of Police Kashmir, S P Pani said they would look into the matter whether or not the Standard Operating Procedure was followed by the government forces to disperse the protestors.

The SOP is provided by Bureau of Police Research and Development and lays down 20 instructions to be followed by government forces regarding several levels of use of force for dispersing crowds.

A police spokesman, while calling the killings unfortunate, claimed that the “crowd came dangerously close” to the site of the gunfight that left three militants and a civilian dead in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

“While the operation was going on, a crowd who came dangerously close from different parts to the encounter site got injured,” he added.

He said the injured were evacuated to hospital where “unfortunately seven persons succumbed to their injuries.”

Others who were admitted in the hospital are stated to be stable, he said.

“The loss of civilians is deeply grieved. Police once again appeals the citizens to remain away from encounter site as it is a prohibited zone which involves significant danger to life because of nature of the encounter,” said the spokesman.


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Big fish in anti-corruption net soon: Guv Malik

‘Wish I’d power to confiscate properties of corrupt’

Firdous Hassan

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Governor inaugurating Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival on Sunday

Srinagar, Jul 21: Reiterating his tough stance against corruption in the state, Governor Satya Pal Malik Sunday said that in the next few months, he was expecting to corner and catch at least “two big fish” who had engaged in high-profile corruption during their time in power.  

“These big families have built their bungalows in Dubai, Delhi and London. Retired forest officers have their houses in posh locality of Vasant Kunj in New Delhi. Soon, you will see that at least two big fish (high profile corrupt people) will be caught in the coming two months. They have looted the wealth of Kashmir for decades,” Malik said.

The Governor was addressing people during the inauguration ceremony of Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival 2019 at Khree Sultan Choo Sports Stadium in Kargil on Sunday.

 

If he had the power, the Governor said, he wished to confiscate the property of such corrupt people who had built several properties at the cost of Kashmiri people.

“I wish I had the power to confiscate their (corrupt people) properties by taking them to the court. Corruption is turning out to be the biggest problem in Jammu and Kashmir. These people build properties while we see common people living in poverty in Ladakh and even in Srinagar’s downtown,” Malik said.

He said that corruption was taking the shape of a ‘dreadful disease’ in the state, which required to be “uprooted”.

Malik said that there should be a constant public pressure on corruption and corrupt people.

Inaugurates Kargil Ladakh tourism festival

Governor Satya Pal Malik inaugurated Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival-2019 at Khree Sultan Cho Sports Stadium Kargil here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor observed that the twin districts of Kargil and Leh of Ladakh Division have huge tourism potential and emphasized on organizing more events like the Tourism Festival to promote the diverse tourism opportunities available in the region.

Governor said that the expansion work of Kargil Airport for which Rs 200 crores have already been sanctioned will be taken up soon.

This will not only provide round the year connectivity but also give a new dimension to the tourism sector in the region, he added.

Governor said that the State Administration is committed for the holistic development of Ladakh division and concrete measures are underway to pursue this goal. Government is taking strict measures to bring transparency in the system and removing various bottlenecks in the path of progress and development, he added.

Governor, on the occasion, announced the establishment of two degree colleges for Kargil district including a Women’s Degree College. He said that a 2500 MW solar power project will be starting soon to augment power sector in Kargil.

Governor also inspected and appreciated the various stalls of local handicrafts, handloom, agricultural and horticulture products, ethnic food and ancient artifacts which had been put up by various Government departments and social groups.

 Feroz Ahmad Khan, Chairman and Chief Executive Councillor LAHDC, Kargil expressed his gratitude to the Governor on behalf of the people of Kargil district for having fulfilled the long pending demands of the people by granting divisional status to Ladakh, creation of 495 posts for Ladakh Division and allotment of equal number of directorates to both districts, sanctioning of Rs 200 crores for expansion of Kargil Airport and Rs 280 crores for completion of languishing projects.

The CEC also projected several demands and sought the intervention of the Governor for their early redressal including establishment of women’s police station and IRP Battalion in the district, early start of work on Zojila Tunnel and release of the pending dues of casual labourers.

Various multicultural music and dance performances were presented by the artists of the Purgi, Balti and Shina Dardi ethnic tribes and a polo exhibition match was also organized to mark the occasion.

 Baseer ul Haq Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Kargil gave the vote of thanks and expressed his gratitude to Governor for gracing the occasion with his presence.

Haji Anayat Ali, Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council,  Feroz Ahmad Khan, Chairman and Chief Executive Councillor LAHDC, Kargil,  Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Member Parliament,  Er Phunsog Tashi,  Syed Mujtaba,  Syed Abbass Razvi,  Muhammad Ali Chandan- Executive Councillors, Maj. Gen Sanjeev Dogra,  GOC 8 Mountain Division,  Prasanna Ramaswamy G, Additional Secretary, Tourism ,  Baseer ul Haq Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner and CEO, LAHDC, Kargil, Dr Vinod Kumar, Superintendent of Police Kargil,  Nissar Ahmed Wani, Director Tourism Kashmir, Councillors of LAHDC Kargil were present among other dignitaries on the occasion.

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Guv to militants: Why target innocent, why not corrupt?

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jul 21: Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik Sunday said that the militants, if they have to, should kill the corrupt people who have looted Kashmir instead of the innocent.

Inaugurating the Kargil Ladakh tourism festival 2019 at Khree Sultan Choo stadium in Kargil, he said: “Why are you (militants) killing innocents including SPOs and PSOs. What will you gain by this?

“If you have to kill, why don’t you kill the corrupt who have looted the country and Kashmir for so long.”

 

Malik said that the militants do not have the power to erode the authority of the Indian government. “Yours is a futile struggle. You are losing your lives for nothing. Guns haven’t fetched you anything, particularly in India where government doesn’t bow before guns. You should know that there was one terrorist organisation LTTE but they all got killed. One doesn’t fight with governments in this manner,” Malik said.

He said that “only 250 militants were left in the valley now.”

“100 are from Pakistan and the rest are locals who are inexperienced with no weapon,” he said.

“The local militants are being killed within two hours of operation in the state. Foreigners take two days to die,” he said.

Launching an attack on politicians of Kashmir, Governor said they have always had two different stands, one in Delhi and another in Kashmir.

“Yeh dilli main hote hain to humko darate hain aur fir yahan bachun ko bhadkate hain (when in New Delhi they threaten us and later mislead and instigate the boys here). We told them to speak only one language. I am assuring you that these politicians won’t give you autonomy,” he said.

Malik said “the religious leader were equally misleading youth of Kashmir.

“Maulvis were promising them (militants) heaven after death. I cannot question your religious belief. But, I can give you two heavens instead of the one promised to you by your ”maulvis”. I can give you Kashmir, which is a heaven on earth, and if you live like good human beings, you will get another heaven after your death.”

He expressed satisfaction over the change in the ground situation in Kashmir, saying that the people are now talking of peace.

“It is for the first time in 30 years that there was no strike on the visit of the country’s Home Minister to Kashmir,” Malik said referring to the recent visit of Amit Shah to the Valley.

He also spoke of the administration’s attempts to bring back the Kashmiri Pandits saying that the effort has been welcomed by Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

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Imran Khan in US, to meet Trump today

Press Trust of India

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Washington, Jul 21: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here Saturday afternoon on a three-day official trip to the US.

Khan, 66, is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, July 22 during which the American leadership will press him to take “decisive and irreversible” actions against “terrorist” and militant groups operating from Pakistan and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.

The cricketer-turned-politician arrived here abroad a commercial Qatar Airways flight and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.

 

He was welcomed at the airport by his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A large number of Pakistani Americans also welcomed him.

Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official working trip in October 2015. During his stay in Washington DC, Khan, in addition to his meeting with Trump, is also scheduled to meet IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank President David Malpass.

He is scheduled to address a gathering of thousands of Pakistani Americans at capitol One Arena in downtown Washington DC on Sunday, July 21, and speak at the US Institute of Peace think-tank on July 23.

The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will call on him on Tuesday. Trump, in addition to a one-on-meeting in the Oval Office will host the visiting delegation over a working lunch at the White House on Monday.

He is also scheduled to meet lawmakers at the US Capitol Hill. Before becoming the prime minister, Khan used to visit the US regularly and has a sizeable support base among the Pakistani diaspora.

This is after several decades that a visiting Pakistani leader has been welcomed by members of the Pakistani diaspora in such a large number.

Meanwhile, hours before his arrival Pakistan hired the services of lobbying firm Holland & Knight.

The memorandum of understanding on this was signed between former Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds and Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Majeed Khan.

Reynolds will lead a team comprising other former members of Congress, former senior Administration officials, Capitol Hill veterans and other professional experts to lobby in the US on behalf of the Government of Pakistan.

The Embassy had no lobbyist during the past six years. Khan’s visit to the US is also marked by protests by several ethnic and religious minorities of Pakistan, including Baloch, Sindhis and Mohajirs.

The Baloch groups Saturday started a mobile billboard campaign in America’s national capital urging President Donald Trump to help end “enforced disappearances in Pakistan.

A bipartisan group of 10 influential American lawmakers Saturday asked US President Donald Trump to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the Sindh province in his meeting with the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister.

Protests have been planned in front of the White House and Capitol Hill Arena by these groups over the next few days.

Saved his country money: Omar backs Khan

Srinagar, Jul 21: As Twitterati took a dig at Imran Khan, who was reportedly not received by any official upon his arrival in the United States, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Sunday threw his weight behind the Prime Minister, saying he saved Pakistan’s money.

Quoting a tweet by Pakistan-based journalist Fawad Rehman, who posted the video of Khan’s arrival, Abdullah said that the reported absence of a state protocol to Khan “reflects badly” on the Donald Trump administration.

“He saved his country money it didn’t need to spend AND didn’t wear his ego on his sleeve like most “leaders” do. Remind me again why that’s a bad thing. This reflects badly on the American establishment rather than on @ImranKhanPTI IMO,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister tweeted.

Khan is currently on a three-day visit to the US. The cricketer-turned-politician, who took a commercial flight instead of a private jet to cut down on expenses, was instead received by his Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and others at the Dulles International Airport.

A video shared by PTI showed Khan deboarding the commercial flight and later being received by Qureshi and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Asad M Khan. He also took the people mover for leaving the airport.

As Khan did not receive his due welcome, netizens used this opportunity to have a good laugh. “Pakistan didn’t do very well in the World Cup, but this seems a harsh punishment,” a Twitterer said.

In a bid to cut costs with a struggling economy back home, Khan had earlier expressed his wish to stay at the ambassador’s residence during his visit to the US capital.

Pakistani daily, The Dawn, had reported the news while adding that the US Secret Service, which is responsible for the security of all visiting dignitaries, is not “very receptive” towards the idea as it could pose security risks and cause inconvenience to the people. Local authorities, who are responsible for the smooth flow of Washington DC traffic during a foreign dignitary’s visit, have not expressed their keenness either.

Khan is expected to discuss Afghanistan and peace in the South Asian region during his upcoming meeting with Trump on July 22.

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