Centre’s special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma, who is arriving to Kashmir on Monday (today) says he does not have a magic wand, but wants to be judged by his actions when he starts the process of talks in the Valley tomorrow.
“I do not have a magic wand but my efforts have to be judged with sincerity and not through the prism of the past,” Sharma, 61, said.
The former Intelligence Bureau director added that no one should jump to conclusions before the process of talks with various stakeholders in Kashmir began.
“I would like to be judged by my actions,” he told PTI from Delhi.
Describing his work as a “serious effort”, he added that “one should refrain from fishing in the desert”.
“I am going there tomorrow to be with my people and understand their pain and suffering and find a suitable remedy to their problems,” Sharma said.
Responding to criticisms which have appeared in sections of the media, he said in due course he would also meet intellectuals for their advice in achieving “this difficult national task”.
Sharma, who is originally from Bihar and was a Kerala- cadre IPS officer of the 1979 batch, held the country’s top- most post for a police officer from 2014 to 2016.
He said Kashmir was his “second home” as his professional journey in the premier intelligence unit began here in 1992.
“Nothing has changed since I was there for the first time. Kashmiriyat, which means compassion and brotherhood, has not changed even an iota. Therefore, I am hopeful that I will be at least able to contribute towards a new Kashmir, a peaceful Valley where prosperity will be the order of the day,” he said.
Last month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while announcing that Sharma would be the interlocutor for Kashmir, had referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort this year.
PM Modi had said on August 15, “Na gaali se, na goli se, parivartan hoga gale lagaane se (Only by embracing the people, and not with abuses or bullets, can there be a change in Kashmir).”
Asked about the course of action he would follow, Sharma said, “I do not have a magic wand to change the situation overnight. But having said that, I will like to emphasise during my proposed meetings beginning tomorrow, my every effort will be to work towards ensuring permanent peace in the state.”
The special representative will meet political leaders, traders and other delegations tomorrow, according to a list drawn up by the state government.
However, he made it clear he had his own list of people whom he would meet as well.
To a question about a statement made by the Joint Resistance Front comprising separatist groups including moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat and JKLF that they would not meet him, Sharma said the government’s effort should not be seen through the “prism of the past”.
“It is purely their choice whether they want to be a partner in peace or on the opposite side of the fence where destruction has been topping the agenda. My suggestion to everyone is that they should not see this effort of the government through the prism of the past.” he said.
Efforts had previously been made by successive central governments too, he said.
“I have no idea what happened to them and, therefore, I would not like to comment. I can only talk about this initiative which has been done with a serious thought process and months of hard work by many,” he said.
4 militants killed in Shopian gunfight
Srinagar, Jun 23: Four militants were Sunday killed in a gunfight with security forces at Daramdora village in Panzar area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Providing details of the gunfight, a police spokesman said that on credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and counter-insurgency forces at Panzar area in Shopian.
“During searches, militants fired upon the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter,” said the spokesperson.
“In the ensuing encounter, four militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” he said.
A police official identified the slain militants as Rafi Hassan Mir of Kralchak Shopian, Suhail Ahmad Bhat of Batmuran Shopian, Showkat Ahmad Mir of Rajpora Pulwama and Azad Ahmad Khanday of Bamnoo Pulwama.
He said among the four slain militants, Showkat had a “long history of crime records since 2015”.
He, the spokesperson said, was initially part of militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Showkat, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several crime cases were registered against him including Case FIR No. 113/2016 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on a guard post at Sheikhard, Case FIR No. 02/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to the lobbing of grenade on security forces, Case FIR No. 20/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on civilians Bashir Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad at Qasabyar in which Bashir Dar succumbed and Altaf was seriously injured, Case FIR No. 21/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to civilian atrocities and Case FIR No. 01/2019 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to killing of a policeman Sameer Ahmad,” said the spokesperson.
Showkat Mir, he said, was “instrumental in the recruitment of Azad Ahmad, Rafi Hassan and Suhail Ahmad who had recently joined the militant fold.”
“Pertinently with the efforts of police and security forces, it was a clean operation. No collateral damage happened during the encounter,” he added.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror crime cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral processions of the slain militants at their respective villages.
The curious case of SMC’s ward no. 30
SMC Comm attaches, officer says ‘some confusion’
Srinagar, Jun 23: An acting Srinagar Municipality ward officer with a tainted past, who was recently attached for allowing at least a dozen illegal constructions in his area, is back in his ward because of his connections up in the official hierarchy.
Mehraj-ud-Din Buja, the incharge ward officer of ward 30, was attached after the SMC Commissioner Khurshid Ahmad Sanai visited the former’s area on June 19 and found at least a dozen illegal constructions going on.
A source in SMC said the Commissioner immediately ordered demolishing of the constructions and attached Buja along with the concerned building inspector.
A few days later, Buja, however, managed to get back to the ward even as the corporation’s higher-ups have no explanation of his wrongdoings, the source said.
“On records, he may be a small-rung official but he has connections all the way up. How else can one who was caught ran-handed accepting bribe be able to become a ward officer of the most money generating areas in Srinagar,” the source said.
The ward which Buja is overseeing generates the highest revenue for SMC and includes Raj Bagh, Wazir Bagh, and Jawahar Nagar areas, the residential colonies that have lately been in news for mushroom growth of commercial constructions.
Buja is no ordinary guy outside his office as well. He is the chairman of Adhara Auqaf Gousia, the board that manages the shrine of Dastgeer Sahab here in Srinagar.
Buja, interestingly, has managed to stay in the ward for over a year-and-a-half, during which at least 30 other ward officers were transferred, the source added.
His rendezvous with higher-ups in the corporation, the source said, has made him sideline his tainted past with utmost ease.
In October 2014, when GN Qasba was Commissioner SMC, Buja was caught red-handed by Vigilance Organisaton Kashmir (VOK) accepting a bribe of Rs 65,000 for allotting a shop to one Srinagar resident.
VOK, on receiving a complaint from the shopkeeper Abdul Rehman Reshi, had placed a trap to catch Buja.
He, as per the official documents of the case, had demanded a bribe of Rs 2 lakh from the complainant and was caught by the VOK team receiving the first installment of Rs 65,000 in a restaurant right outside the SMC head-office in Karan Nagar here.
Interestingly, Buja, whose designation then was Junior Building Inspector, was working as a Head Assistant in the Revenue Section of the head office.
Two years later, in 2016, the Housing and Urban Development Department had ordered Buja’s prosecution for “commission of offences punishable under section 5(1) (d) r/w 5 (2) J&K P.C.Act Svt.2006 and Sections 109 & 161 RPC in case FIR No. 39/2014 P/S VOK.”
While the case was on, why and how was Buja promoted from a junior building inspector to an acting ward officer of vital ward 30 remains a question that no one in SMC has an answer for.
Meanwhile, a second source said that for allowing any deviation or illegal construction, the concerned SMC officials have designated rates.
“For a plinth 15,000, for one storey residential construction anything between Rs 30,000 to 50,000 is charged. If it is a commercial construction, the prices go up according to the size of it,” the second source said.
Asked about him getting attached on June 19, Buja told The Kashmir Monitor “that the matter was sorted.”
“There was some confusion regarding the permission which has been cleared now,” he said, adding “I was about to be suspended but God saved me and the (suspension) order was not passed.”
SMC Commissioner, Khurshid Ahmad Sanai, referred this reporter to his private secretary Manzoor Ahmad.
Manzoor confirmed that Buja was attached, however, refused to comment when asked how he had resumed his work as the ward officer.
Asked how a tainted official was given the position, Manzoor said he “will speak with the Commissioner about the matter.”
Three brothers addicted to Heroin narrate how emboldened peddlers have become
Srinagar, Jun 23: In the male ward of drug de-addiction centre at department of psychiatry at SMHS hospital here, the 15 beds have had full occupancy in the last fortnight.
Out of the 15 patients admitted, three are from the Rajouri district.
Belonging to the same family, the three stare out while their terrified kin shuffle from one bed to another attending to their needs.
It’s for the first time that the centre has seen a family with three drug-dependents.
As the official data fails to recognise the severity of the issue, the three males Umar (35), Sahil (20), and Riyaz (30), who are addicted to heroin, confessed that Rajouri is witnessing a sharp uptick in drug-addiction.
What’s more shocking is that the number of drug-peddlers exceeds the number of addicts, who deliver the drugs to the latter’s home.
A recent death in their village due to heroin overdose created panic among the family. Fearing peer criticism and social backlash, they confided in a boy in their neighborhood who recently received treatment from SMHS.
At the hospital, while Umar was being taken to the bathroom by his wife, Riyaz calls out to his mother in a slurred speech. Yasir, who is writhing in body pain, is surrounded by his brother and sister.
Umar, clad in white Khan-dress is a vegetable vendor by profession. His chronic addiction to heroin led him to a financial crunch.
“Every evening, I gathered with my friends at a deserted spot near my home. We got packets of various types of powder, vials of liquid mixtures, some water, and some needles and syringes. We prepared the fix, took a shot and then lied down, letting the drug take effect,” he said.
On the adjacent bed, Sahil, a college dropout, has chiseled features and has grown a stubble. Two years into addiction, he sold his two cars and bikes.
“It cost me around five to six lakh till now. For the last four months, I had switched to heroin for an instant kick. In our village, procuring my daily fix of heroin is as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes,” he said.
Riyaz, while agreeing with him, added, “Those who find it difficult to fund their drug habit become putty in the hands of peddlers and end up moonlighting as their conduits.”
He said: “A small quantity of heroin costs around 1000-2000 rupees. When someone in our circle didn’t have the money, we shelled out 500 rupees each and bought the stuff.”
Riyaz recalls how the sudden death of a 35-year-old Hameed, a shopkeeper he knew, rocked him to the core.
“Hameed shared meals with me on the day he passed away. Heroine took his life. We spent our childhood together,” he said in an incoherent manner.
A counsellor wishing anonymity said: “So entrenched is the drug-supply network that the patients need to be surrounded by a set of family members in the hospital all the time. This is to avoid the trap waiting to snare them once they are out of the protected environment home.”
Seconding him, Dr Yasir Rather, neuro-psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist at the hospital, said: “There is no fear in drug peddlers. Patients report that they can order drugs like heroin on just a phone call and drug peddler will drop it at their home. It appears as if ordering a packet of heroin is easier than ordering pizza.”
“Deaths are happening frequently, due to overdose, we see so many young people nowadays on ventilators of SMHS hospital,” the doctor said.
Asked what needs to be done, he added: “Laws are there but need to be implemented in letter and spirit. Also, the parents as well as school and college administrations need to be vigilant.
“We also need to mobilize Islamic scholars and all religious leaders to talk about it.”
(Note: The names of the patients and the person who died due to drug overdose have been changed to conceal their identity.)
Sri Ram Sena JK president joins NC
Jammu, Jun 24: State president of right-wing group Sri Ram Sena, Rajiv Mahajan, joined the National Conference on Monday and...
Rambagh-Jahangir Chowk flyover to be completed on June 30: DC Srinagar
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary on Monday said that Rambagh-Jahangir Chowk flyover will be completed on June 30: “Rambagh-Jahangir Chowk...
Keep new India with you, give us old India: Azad targets Modi over Jharkhand lynchings
Coming down heavily on the government over recent incidents of lynching and crime in Jharkhand, leader of Opposition in Rajya...
Rs 50 lakh ‘stolen’ from Gulmarg Gondola
Srinagar, Jun 24: Fifty lakh rupees have been stolen from the safe of Gulmarg Gondola yesterday evening. MD Gulmarg Cable...
Security strengthened at Jammu Railway Station ahead of Amarnath Yatra
Jammu: The security in and around the Jammu Railway Station was strengthened ahead of the commencement of annual Amarnath Yatra...
VIDEO| Centre to talk to Hurriyat within ambit of Constitution: BJP
Srinagar:The Central government is ready to talk to separatist Hurriyat leaders, but within the ambit of the Indian Constitution, a...
Cop shoots himself to death in Jammu training unit
Jammu, June 24: A policeman on Monday shot and killed himself with his service rifle inside a training centre in...
Aadhaar,Other Laws (Amendment) Bill introduced in LS
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha on Monday. The...
Relieved that Hurriyat has finally softened their stand: Mehbooba Mufti
Former Chief Minister and President of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said that she is relieved that...
If Pak closed airspace, that’s their problem: Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa
Gwalior : Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday said that Pakistan closing its airspace was a problem for them...
Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd gains for third straight session
Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd is quoting at Rs 43.85, up 5.66% on the day as on 12:54 IST on...
20 years of Kargil war: IAF turns Gwalior Air Base into war theatre, recreates Tiger Hill attack
GWALIOR: Commemorating 20 years of the Kargil War, the Air Force today turned its Gwalior air base into a conflict...
Iran denies being hit by US cyber attack
Tehran, June 24: Iran said Monday that no cyber attack against the Islamic republic has ever succeeded, after American media...
JK Govt bans installing advertisements, signboards on Chinar trees
Srinagar: Government of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a ban on installing advertisements or sign boards on Chinar trees in...
VIDEO: Three injured in Pulwama clashes
Srinagar, June 24: Clashes erupted on Monday between protesters and the security forces in Pulwama district. Police sources said youths...
Amit Shah’s first bill today in Lok Sabha on J&K reservation
New Delhi: A bill proposing to give reservation in educational institutions and government jobs to people living within 10 km...
RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya quits months before term ends
Mumbai, June 24: The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Deputy Governor Viral Acharya has quit six months before the end...