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Indian media trying to politicise Kartarpur: Imran Khan

Agencies

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Islamabad, Dec 6: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the federal cabinet on Thursday, termed it unfortunate that Indian media has given Pakistan’s positive gesture of opening the Kartarpur border a “political colour”.

“Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur [border opening] a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage […] This is not true. We did it because it is part of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” Khan said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” he added.

 

“The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort [to open the Kartarpur border]. It is to them what Madinah is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” he added.

He hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On November 28, Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

He, however, regretted that the initiative was negatively presented in India, but hoped that India will “positively respond to this goodwill gesture”.

Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year the highest in history. (Agencies)

 

‘Kashmir issue won’t be put on back burner’

Press Trust of India

Islamabad, Dec 6: Pakistan said Thursday that the “core issue” of Kashmir with India will not be put on the back burner after Islamabad opened the Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that the corridor would be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.

On November 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Faisal said that the Kashmir issue will not be put on the back burner due to the Kartarpur border opening.

“With regards to Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced,” he said.

“The decision of opening of the Kartarpur corridor was made in good faith and to facilitate the Sikh community to visit their one of the holiest places,” he said, adding it will not impact the Kashmir issue.

On November 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India.

She said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.

Faisal said the Kashmir issue would be resolved according to UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

He said that the bilateral dialogue can move forward only if India was ready for it.

“We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India’s reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan’s proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalisation of relations between the two countries,” Faisal said.

He said that Prime Minister Khan in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined a comprehensive way forward for resolving all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen, people-to-people contacts, trade and religious tourism.

“Regrettably, India agreed to our proposal one day, only to renege on their commitment the next day,” he said.

Faisal said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Pakistan that the map shown by China Global Television Network portrays Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and was therefore shown in white, while the maps of Pakistan and India were in brown.

“This map is in accordance with the approved maps used by the Chinese government and the United Nations. They further said that their position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed,” the FO spokesperson said.

On the issue of US President Donald Trump’s letter to Prime Minister Khan seeking assistance on the Afghan issue, he said that it vindicates Pakistan’s considered position that it can only be solved through negotiations.

“Pakistan has always advocated political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan,” he said, asserting Pakistan’ commitment to play a facilitative role in bringing peace in the neighbouring country.

He also termed the letter as a good omen for melting the ice in relations with the US that could lead to the beginning of meaningful interactions.


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Army major among 4 soldiers, 3 Jaish militants, cop, civilian killed in Pulwama

DIG South Kashmir, Army’s Brigadier and Lt Col among 9 Injured

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Srinagar, Feb 18: Three militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad including outfit’s operational commander, five government forces personnel (four of them from Army including a Major), and a civilian were killed in a day-long gunfight at Pingleena area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Monday.

Five top officers including DIG south Kashmir, Amit Kumar and Army Brigadier Harbeer Singh were among nine government forces personnel injured in the gunfight that raged from dawn to dusk.

A police officer said that the gunfight broke out on Monday morning after a joint team of Army’s 55 RR, police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) and

 

CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation following a “credible inputs” about the presence of two to three militants in the area.

In the initial stage of the gunfight, two militants and four soldiers including an Army Major were killed besides a civilian, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat (46) while three soldiers were injured, he said.

The slain soldiers were identified as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Havildar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar.

There was a lull and the joint team of government forces moved to retrieve bodies of two militants, visible from a distance, he said.

However, he added, the militants rose from the rubble of a house razed during the gunfight and opened fire, leading to injuries to a lieutenant colonel and two more soldiers, who were evacuated to the army hospital where three army personnel, injured in the initial phase of the firefight, were shifted.

Later, DIG south Kashmir Amit Kumar and Army Brigadier along with three other soldiers, among them a Captain and Major, besides a police head constable Abdul Rashid were injured in the subsequent gunfight before the lone militant was neutralized, the officer said.

He said that a head constable succumbed to injuries at the army hospital. The identity and the group affiliation of the slain militants was being ascertained, the officer said.

However, sources identified two of them as Kamran, the operational commander of JeM besides, another foreign militant by the name of Fahad, and one local militant Hilal Ahmad Naikoo son of Ghulam Mohammad Naik of Pinglena Pulwama. Hilal’s body has been handed over to family, sources added.

Regarding DIG Amit Kumar, the police officer said that he suffered an injury in the leg. The Brigadier, he said, has suffered an injury in the ankle and both of them are stable.

Massive clashes were held near the gunfight site and several of the protestors were injured in government forces action even as the internet remained suspended.

Two houses belonging to Mohammad Abdullah Hajam and Abdul Gani Hajam were completely damaged along with as many cowsheds. A cow was also killed while one more was injured.

Meanwhile, Army paid tribute to four of its soldiers and in a ceremony at BB Cantt, Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, Chinar Corps Commander and all ranks, paid tributes to them. Representatives from other security agencies also joined the ceremony.

Late Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal (33) had joined Army in 2011 and hailed from Village Dangwal in Dehradun, Uttrakhand, a defence ministry spokesman said. “He is survived by his wife.”

Late Havildar Sheo Ram (36) had joined Army in 2000 and hailed from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan and is survived by his wife and a son, the spokesman said.

Late Sepoy Hari Singh (26), a resident of Haryana had joined Army in 2011 and is survived by his wife and a son.

Late Sepoy Ajay Kumar hailed from Village Bastikri in Meerut, UP. The soldier was 27 years of age and had joined Army in 2012, the spokesman said, adding, Kumar is survived by his wife and a son. (With inputs from GNS)

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Attacks on Kashmiris: Curfew relaxed for few hours in Jammu

Heading home, over 300 Kashmiri students reach Mohali; employees, students protest in Srinagar

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Feb 18: Reports of harassment against Kashmiri students and businessmen in various states of India came to fore on Monday as well even as curfew continued in parts of Jammu for the fourth consecutive day.

The reactions are fallout of the killing of 49 CRPF personnel in a suicide bombing on highway near Lethpora on Thursday last week.

In winter capital, curfew continued for the fourth consecutive day on Monday although authorities relaxed it from 2 pm to 5 pm in areas falling under

 

Police Stations of Gandhi Nagar (except Police Post Nehru Park and Digiana), Channi Himmat, Sainik Colony, Trikuta Nagar and Satwari (except Police Posts of Belicharana and Gadighat).

Mobile internet services also remained suspended in Jammu.

The curfew was imposed after mobs torched dozens of vehicles and damaged several others carrying Kashmir based registration numbers.

Meanwhile, two more Kashmiri students have been arrested in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district for their alleged “anti-national” activities.

Pirzada Tawish Fayaz and Aakib Rasool of Jammu and Kashmir were arrested Sunday night for their alleged involvement in “anti-national” activities,

Himachal Pradesh Police spokesperson and Superintendent of Police (law and order) Khushhal Sharma said.

They were studying at the Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Nauni of Solan district, popularly known as the Nauni University.

Sharma said that they were arrested on the basis of a complaint from one Neeraj Bhardwaj of Ber village in Solan.

In his complaint, Bhardwaj alleged that Fayaz had posted anti-national comments on his Facebook page, the SP said.

A few comments had also been attached with the complaint, the police official said.

The complainant further alleged that both Fayaz and Rasool were involved in anti-national activities and were supporting Pakistan in India’s fight against militancy, the SP added.

Bhardwaj said he had come to know about the duo’s “anti-national” activities through his friend Vipul Sharma who is also a student of the Nauni university.

Subsequently, they were arrested and a First Information Report (FIR) under Indian Penal Code sections 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) was registered against them at Sadar police station in Solan, he said.

The matter is under investigation, the SP said.

More than 300 Kashmiri students on their way to Kashmir had reached Mohali from Uttarakhand and Haryana on Monday, a student body arranging

their stay in the Punjab town said on Monday.
Over the past two days, nearly 280 students have arrived from Dehradun and up to 30 from Haryana’s Ambala district, said Jammu and Kashmir

Students Organisation president Khwaja Itrat.

He said nearly 150 of the total students have moved towards Jammu, from where they will head to their homes in the Kashmir Valley.

“The students told us they wanted to make a halt in Mohali as it was a safer place. We helped them arrange a temporary stay here,” Itrat said.

“Authorities here are cooperating and helping us out. It is a crucial time for many students with final examinations approaching and loss of studies at this time will impact their grades. But the students want the issue to settle down and then they will decide to return,” he said.

In Dehradun, two colleges said they will not give new admissions to Kashmiri students from the next session.

The fear and open threats also prompted several Kashmiri students to temporarily leave the city, The Indian Express reported.

The report said in an “undertaking” to the students’ union of the Dehradun-based DAV PG College, Dr Aslam Siddiqui, principal of Baba Farid

Institute of Technology (BFIT), wrote: “Students’ Union president, we assure you that if any Kashmiri student is found engaged in any anti-national activity, then the student will be expelled from the institute.”

Earlier, the student union along with members of the ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal, had led the protests outside colleges on Friday.
“No new Kashmiri student will be admitted in the upcoming session),” the letter further said.

In Punjab, two Kashmiri students have been suspended for allegedly posting objectionable posts on social media.

Two Kashmiris working in Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon in NCR Delhi) were asked to vacate their rented apartments by their landlord.
“Yesterday, our landlord said we will not be allowed to stay because of the community we belong to,” he said wishing anonymity.

He said, “The landlord warned us he won’t be held responsible if anything happens so we should vacate the flat at the earliest,” adding the landlords in the vicinity had a meeting on Sunday with Sarpanchs of different areas.

In a similar incident, a Kashmiri business man residing in the Madgaon locality of Goa was also asked to leave his lodgings.

“I’ve been working here from the last eight years and never faced a situation like this. This is not to deny that violence against Kashmiris has assumed alarming proportions across the country,” he said wishing not be named.

“The state government should make concrete efforts to ensure the safety of Kashmiris. Political parties should ask their cadres to propagate communal harmony,” he said.

In another shocking incident, a Kashmiri cardiologist was threatened and told to leave the city to ensure the safety of his family. The middle-aged doctor from Srinagar has been residing in Kolkata since 2007.

“I have made this my home and I want to live here,” Dar was quoted by a National daily.

On Saturday morning, a group of men encircled him at his doorstep and told him they would “destroy” his family if he did not leave for Kashmir in 24 hours. The men, unarmed and in their 20s, abused him and Kashmiris, for the Pulwama attack. A similar incident took place on Friday evening.

“They repeatedly said that they would harm my family and wife,” Dar said.

In touch with colleges to ensure safety of Kashmiri students: Govt

Jammu, Feb 18: The J&K Government Monday said that its Liaison Officers in various states are in constant touch with local administrations and college authorities to ensure that the students from J&K are not put to any inconvenience.
“The state administration is advising all the students and their parents, not to pay heed to any rumors, try to stay put at their respective places and contact the LOs or local police administration for any help. The mobile numbers of LOs have already been distributed amongst the students,” a state Government spokesman said.
He said in the aftermath of Lethpora incident, there have been certain reports of harassment of students from J&K studying outside the state.
The spokesman said that the J&K Government has already appointed Liaison Officers at 6 regions the country including Delhi NCR- Meerut, Jaipur – Bhopal, Chandigarh, Aligarh, Bengaluru, Pune in order to coordinate with the students of J&K studying in and around these regions.
The students in these regions have been advised to get in touch with these LOs in case they face any problem. These LOs are supposed to coordinate with respective college authorities and local administration in case there is any issue to be resolved.
Since these LOs have already been in place for last 3 months, so all of them have already circulated their respective contact numbers to the students and colleges of these regions and some of them have already met many of the college authorities also for building better coordination.
There have been media reports of alleged mischievous WhatsApp chats by some of the miscreants, reports of candle marches and other marches in these regions by the local people, alleged rumors of some of landlords asking their respective tenant students to vacate the houses, resulting in a sense of insecurity and fear in the students.
Responding to this, the LOs of respective regions have been taking necessary steps in the last two days to help the students. Similarly, controlrooms/helplines have also been established in the office of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. The LOs immediately got in touch with the students, the college authorities and the local administration so as to ensure safety and security of the students.
Some of the incidents handled by LOs include, one at Maharaishi Narkendeshwar Mullana University, Ambala, where 104 students who were staying in PG locations have been accommodated in 3 hostels of University and these hostels are well guarded by the police as confirmed by local SHO.
This region is being coordinated by LO Chandigarh. Another incident handled by LO – Chandigarh has been of Ganpati Institute – Bilaspur. There the Director of the Institute has been spoken to and he has assured full safety and police protection for hostels there.
Further there have been lot of calls from Dehradun students, for whom the coordination is being done by LO-Delhi NCR. There have been numerous calls from students of different colleges including Baba Farid Institute of Tech, Alpine Institute, Dolphin Institute, SBS Medical College and so on so forth. Regarding Baba Farid Institute, the LO has been assured by the College Administration and SHO – PS Premnagar, that no untoward incident has happened so far and the situation is normal. The college authorities have assured that in case, the outside students are facing any problem they can be accommodated temporarily in their respective hostels.
Some of the students from Dehradun have reached Delhi yesterday evening and they have been accommodated in J&K House Chanakyapuri.
Further around 100 students from Sailakui (Dehradun) have gathered in Rampur. A visit by SHO and CO has been arranged at the place and further both of them assured their safety and security at that place.
Further LO- Jaipur has confirmed that the situation in Pacific University Udaipur is calm and safe. The students have been advised not venture out of the campus. The Police Commissioner and SP has visited the campus.
The State Administration assures people of J&K that, due cognizance is being taken for each and every call from the students and their parents and local administration is being apprised of the developing situation. The local administration and college authorities of all the locations have given full assurance of complete support, help and safety of the students.

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Move employees in Jammu boycott duties

Employees, students hold protests in Kashmir

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Feb 18: Kashmir employees in Jammu Monday boycotted their duties to press the Governor led administration over their demands.

The employees boycotted their duties from Monday and said they will continue to boycott their duties until and unless their demands are not met.

The Darbar Move Employees Federation (DMEF) has been demanding safety of their families.

 

DMEF president, Owais Wani said the government sent vehicles for the employees Monday to ferry the employees to Civil Secretariat and other government offices but they refused to join their duties today.“The employees demand complete security to their families and want their families be sent back to Kashmir safely,” Wani said.

Scores of government employees protested at Press Enclave here on Monday against the attacks on Kashmiri students, businessmen and employees in the winter capital and other states.

The protest was held under the banner of Employees Joint Consultative Committee (EJCC).

Chanting slogans, the protesters asked the government to ensure the safety of Jammu Muslims, Kashmiris and Durbar move employees.

President, EJCC Aijaz Khan said that the traders, students’, employees and others are facing lot of problems in Jammu.
“Muslim population of Jammu and Kashmiris are being harassed and attacked. The government should bring the situation to normal at an earliest,” he said.

He said that government should provide compensation to those, whose property has been damaged.
“Home Minister and Governor should make efforts for bringing the situation to normal. The safety of Kashmiris should be ensured,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir All Departments Clerical Staff Association (JKADCSA) also held the protest at the same venue.

Raising slogans, the protesters demanded full proof security to the secretariat employees.“Some miscreants have created criminal environment in Jammu. Darbar move employees are feeling insecure. Stones were pelted on their quarters. Their safety should be ensured,”said president, Mohammad Sultan Mir.

Protest was also reported from north Kashmir’s Sopore area.

The students of Sher-e- Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), Wadoora, Baramulla held a protest in their campus.
While condemning the attacks on Kashmiris in Jammu and rest of India, they demanded immediate release of the student, arrested by the Haryana Police.

“Kashmiris are not safe outside, this is not for the first time that our sisters and brothers are being targeted,” said a student.

Meanwhile, scores of students studying in various private education institutes held protest at Parraypora.

The students expressed serious resentment over the increasing attacks on Kashmiris.

“The sedition cases lodged against Kashmiri students should be withdrawn. The security of Kashmiri students studying in different institutions of the country should be ensured at an earliest,” said a student.

 

Amnesty urges GoI, JK to ensure safety of Kashmiris

Srinagar, Feb 18: The global rights watchdog Amnesty International India on Monday urged the Centre and the state governments across India to ensure that ordinary Kashmiris aren’t attacked or harassed in the aftermath of Pulwama attack.
In a statement, Amnesty said Central and state government authorities in India must ensure that ordinary Kashmiri women and men do not face targeted attacks, harassment and arbitrary arrests following the killing CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir by a suicide car bomber.
Quoting media reports the watchdog said Kashmiri university students and traders in northern states, primarily Uttarakhand, Haryana and Bihar, have been beaten, threatened, and intimidated by some Hindu nationalist groups.
“Many students are reported to have fled their universities in fear. Two colleges in Dehradun and one in Moradabad have stated that they will not admit new Kashmiri students,” the statement said.
“We are at a dangerous moment, and authorities must do everything they can to uphold the rule of law,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty India.
“Ordinary Kashmiris across India who are only seeking to improve their lives should not be singled out for violence simply because of where they come from.”
“The mobs who use patriotism as an excuse to hound Kashmiris out of their homes, hostels and shops are corroding the basic values of the constitution of India. Authorities must investigate all allegations of threats and violence, and bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
“The Home Ministry has taken the right step by asking state governments to ensure the safety and security of all Kashmiris. Authorities must make sure that this situation does not deteriorate further,” he added.

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