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Indian Army Chief bats for unconditional talks with Taliban

‘Kashmir youth radicalised with misinformation’

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New Delhi, Jan 9: Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday endorsed the option of dialogue with the Taliban provided there are no preconditions and the talks are aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Rawat’s remarks came against the backdrop of efforts by Pakistan, the US, Russia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

However, the Taliban have refused to engage with the government in Kabul and India has kept a close watch on these developments because of Pakistan’s influence on the militants.

 

Speaking during a session on countering “terrorism” at the Raisina Dialogue, Rawat said youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir had been “radicalised through misinformation” but the Islamic State was unable to gain a foothold among India’s Muslims because of family values and the work done by security agencies.

“When you talk to the terrorists or any organisation of that kind, you have to talk without preconditions…because when you start attaching preconditions, then it kind of gives a sense of a notion of victory, that one or the other side is talking from a position of strength or victory,” he said in response to a question on talks with the Taliban.

“There should be talks with the Taliban so long as they do not come out with any preconditions and so long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bringing about stability in that country. It is in our interest, it is in the region’s interest and in Pakistan’s interest. We all want stability.”

Rawat expressed misgivings about Pakistan’s role, saying it had “always treated Afghanistan as its backyard”.

He added, “So they would always want a situation in Afghanistan which is more favourable to them. So even if it implies speaking to the devil, I think they will do it.”

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani envoy to the US and a vocal critic of the Pakistan Army, who was part of the same session, said the Taliban have the psychological upper hand because the US had never focused on a key problem – the “safe havens” for the militants in another country.

The Taliban understand that the Americans are anxious to leave and this made them feel stronger and show disrespect to the Afghan government.

He questioned whether the Taliban would change their ideology if the US were to withdraw and said: “A settlement that makes the Taliban feel they have won will embolden those who sponsor militancy.”

Rawat said radicalisation had taken a different form in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, where youngsters “under the sway of misinformation, disinformation and a lot of falsehoods on religion” have taken to militancy.

“So long as there are nations which are going to continue to sponsor militancy as a state policy, this phenomenon will continue,” he added.

“The Islamic State had not been able to find its feet in the manner it has found in some other countries in spite of our nation being populated with a large number of Muslims”, Rawat said. This was because “we have rich family values and the good work done by security agencies in tracking militant activities.”


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Lethpora bombing accused among 2 militants, soldier killed

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Srinagar, Jun 18: An Army soldier and two militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit including one accused of providing the car used in February 14 Lethpora suicide attack were Tuesday killed in an encounter in Bijbehera area of Anantnag district.

A police spokesperson said that on a credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and security forces at Marhama, Bijbehara.

He said as the operation was going on, the hiding militants fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter, he said.

 

In the exchange of fire with the militants, one Army soldier Rifleman Anil Jaswal, sustained gunshot injuries. He was evacuated to the hospital where he succumbed, said the spokesperson.“In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The killed militants have been identified as Sajad Ahmad Bhat and Tawseef Ahmad Bhat both residents of Marhama, Bijbehara,” the spokesperson said.

DGP, Dilbag Singh said: “Sajad was involved in turning his car into an IED in February 14 blast.

As per the spokesperson, both the killed militants were affiliated with militant outfit JeM and “were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of crimes including attacks on security establishments…”

According to the police records, Sajad was wanted in Lethpora blast in which over 40 CRPF personnel were killed earlier this year.
“As per the material evidence collected during the course of investigation, it was learnt that Maruti Eco vehicle used for carrying out the blast in Lethpora was owned by Sajad Bhat of Marhama. As the news of Sajad’s involvement spread, he escaped and joined JeM,” said the spokesperson.

“A picture of Sajad carrying AK-47 rifle was also circulated on social media announcing his joining the outfit. Pertinently, Tawseef played a key role in recruiting of Sajad to the militant ranks,” he added.

“Both of them were part of groups involved in planning and executing series of attacks in the area. Several crime cases were registered against them. Some of the crime cases registered against Sajad include case FIR No 16/2018 and case FIR No 28/2019 pertaining to Lethpora attack. Cases registered against Tawseef include case FIR No 95/2018,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, after conducting all legal formalities, police handed over the militants’ bodies to their respective families for last rites.
Reports and eyewitnesses said that thousands of people attended their funeral at Marhama.
Tuesday’s was the second gunfight in the district in as many days.

On Monday, a militant and an Army man were killed in a gunfight at Bidoora Achabal.

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Pulwama IED blast:Two Army personnel succumb

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Srinagar, Jun 18: Two Army personnel, who were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast at Arihal village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Monday, succumbed to their injuries on Tuesday.
Srinagar-based defence spokesman said that two army men “with severe contusions/concussions were brought to Army’s 92 base hospital in Srinagar for treatment.”
“The duo succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment in 92 Base Hospital,” the spokesman said.
On Monday, at least a dozen soldiers suffered injuries when an IED which was fitted in a car hit the Hardened ALS vehicle of Army patrolling the area.
Two civilians also sustained injuries in the explosion.

Student’s body found near Achabal encounter site
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jun 18: Day after the Monday encounter, body of a civilian was found near the encounter site at Bidoora, Aknigam area of Achabal in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Local residents said that body of Nasir Ahmad Mir (23) son of Fayaz Ahmad Mir of Check Achabal was found by people adjacent to the encounter site at Bidoora Tuesday morning.
Police reached the spot and took the body for post-mortem and other legal formalities.
Nasir, according to locals, was 1st year student at Degree College Anantnag.
On Monday, a militant and an Army man were killed in a gunfight at Bidoora.
Meanwhile, as soon as the news about Nasir’s death spread in the area, shops and other business establishments closed down while transport was off the roads.

 
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2 dead, at least 6 injured as boat capsizes in Lidder; probe ordered; aggrieved Guv announces ex-gratia

Rafting c’ship in Rouf’s name ends in another tragedy

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Jun 18: A rafting championship Tuesday turned tragic in Pahalgam when two people died in an incident of boat capsize.

The championship was organized in honour of Rouf Ahmad Dar, the tourist guide who lost his life while saving five tourists in Lidder stream earlier this month.

The deceased include an employee of the tourism department and a participant who died after their boat capsized in the gushing waters.

 

Reports said that the boat carrying the employee namely Rinku Raja and the female participant namely Sanjna from Jammu along with at least five others, capsized in fast-flowing river.

The incident happened at 4.10 pm after the conclusion of the Rouf Memorial State Rafting Championship event. The 3-day event began on Monday, in which 12 teams from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh participated.

Soon after the incident, a joint team of SDRF, police and local volunteers managed to rescue all of them. They were shifted to the nearby hospital where doctors declared Rinku and Sanjna as brought dead.

Reports quoted BMO Sallar, Dr Shakeel Ahmad saying that both the persons were brought dead while “six others” were injured.

“While five have been admitted one seriously injured person was referred to Srinagar hospital for specialized treatment,” the report said.

Commissioner Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Samphel said that boat capsized in Lidder and injured were shifted to hospital.

On May 31, last month, Rouf Dar saved five tourists, two of them foreigners, after their boat capsized in fast flowing river Lidder near Mawoora area of Pahalgam.

Unfortunately, Dar lost his life in an act of bravery which is being hailed by people and the administration.

Tourism Department Kashmir announced an inquiry into the accident.

The department has expressed deep regrets over the incident and expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.

Meanwhile, Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed profound grief over the loss of precious lives in the incident.

Governor has prayed for peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief. He has wished speedy recovery to the injured.

He announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those dead and has directed the authorities to ensure best possible medical treatment of the injured.

Expressing concern over accidents occurring during the adventure sport of Rafting in river Lidder, Governor has issued directions that strict safety measures should be taken before indulging in this sport and emphasised the need for allowing only trained manpower in managing all the activities related to it.

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