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Scholar turned militant, associate killed in Nowgam gunfight






Srinagar, Oct 24: Two Hizb militants were killed in an encounter that raged between forces and militants in Wanbal are of Nowgam in the outskirts of Srinagar, police said.

The slain militants were identified as scholar turned militant Sabzar Sofi and Asif Ahmad Gojri – both residents of Anantnag.

The forces in the outskirts of Srinagar launched a cordon and search operation today morning based on credible input about the presence of the militants, police said, adding that during search operation, militants fired upon the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.


Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Range, Swayam Prakash Pani in this morning had confirmed that two militants were killed in Nowgam gunfight, saying that the encounter site was being cleared. He said there was no collateral damage in the operation.

Police said that the two killed militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad Sofi and Asif Ahmad Shergojiri. Both were affiliated with HM.

Earlier, police had appealed people not to enter the gunfight site as such an area can prove dangerous due to un-cleared, appealing people to cooperate with police till area will be sanitized.

“In reference to Nowgam encounter, citizens are requested not to enter the encounter site as such an area can prove dangerous due to uncleared explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized,” Kashmir one Police tweeted.

Police in a statement issued said Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, son of Bashir Ahmad Sofi of Naina Sangam in district Anantnag had joined militant ranks in year 2016 and was involved in several attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities in district Anantnag.

Police said that incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. “Police has registered a case and investigation has been initiated,” the statement added.

After wrapping up the operation, recovering the dead bodies of the militants and Arms and ammunition, the operational parties took security precautions with regard to sanitization of the area, police said.
Clashes also broke out between youth and forces near the gunfight site in Nowgam here.
Witnesses said that the youth took to streets and threw stones at police and paramilitary trooper deployed around the gunfight site, who in retaliation used tear gas canisters to disperse the agitating youth.

Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of slain militant Dr Sabzar Sofi

The funeral of Sabzar was held just few hundred meters on Srinagar-Jammu highway in which people in large number participated and chanted pro-freedom slogans, reports said, adding that scores of militants also appeared in the funeral prayer of Sabzar and offered him a gun salute at his native Sangam area of Bijbehara in south Kashmir.
Clashes also broke out in Sangam area in this morning after the news about Sabzar’s death spread. Several protesters were injured in the clashes, reports said.
Meanwhile, soon after the gunfight ended, the district administration Srinagar ordered closure of schools and colleges for a day.
As a precautionary measure, the class work at all the schools and colleges in Srinagar has been suspended for a day, officials said.
Besides, in view of the prevailing situation, the class work at Kashmir University also remained suspended on the orders of varsity officials.
The decision has been taken to avoid law and order situation in the varsity, said a spokesman.
Meanwhile, the mobile internet services in Srinagar were suspended on this morning soon after the gunfight broke out between forces and militants in Nowgam area of Srinagar.
The cellular companies suspended the mobile internet services here in view of security reasons.
Earlier on Tuesday, the mobile internet speed was reduced to 2g, which was restored later in the evening.
Thousands of mourners participated in the last rites of scholar turned Hizb militant Dr Sabzar Sofi at his native Naina village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Dr Sabzar Sofi alias Dr Saifullah Khalid along with his associate Asif Ahmed Shergujri were killed in a gun fight with government forces at Wanabal Nowgam area in the outskirts of Srinagar city.
Reports said that thousands of mourners from his village and adjoining areas rushed to Naina to participate in the last rites of slain militant Sabzar Ahmed. Reports added that a group of at least six armed militants appeared at funeral procession who fired dozens of rounds in air to pay tribute to the departed slain militant.
An eyewitness told that the group of militants was led by Hizb top commander Zeenat-ul-Islam. He added that mourners mostly youth amid pro-freedom and pro-Zeenat-ul-Islam slogans encircled the militants. Militants according to eyewitness fire some shots to disperse the crowd. “A couple of people felt unconscious and were shifted to nearby hospital,” he added.
It has become a norm in Kashmir for militants to appear in their colleagues funerals. The militants not only give gun salute but also address mourners.
Eyewitnesses said that the slain militant was laid to rest amid pro-freedom slogans. Reports from Khiram-Sirham-native village of another slain militant Asif Ahmed Shergujri, people in large numbers participated in his funeral procession.

Who was Sabzar?

Srinagar, Oct 24: Sabzar, a highly qualified youth from South Kashmir, who was killed in a gun fight along with his associate Asif Shergujricomes from lesser known village of Naina and was one of the scores of educated youth who have joined militancy post the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
After the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir witnesses unprecedented violent protest. Scores of people suffered eye injuries and over 100 people were killed. In such circumstances, 31-year old Sabzar Ahmad Sofi left his home for Delhi to join classes at Jamia Milia Islamia University where he was pursuing PhD in his “favorite subject” Botany and never returned.
Sabzaar from Naina, Sangam in Anantnag, had completed his MSC from Burkhatulla University in 2013-14 and M.Phil from Jivagee University Gwalior before joining Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi in 2016. Sabzar also qualified NET, JRF and started coaching for IAS. The family bid him goodbye hoping he would fly to New Delhi. For next three months his father could not establish any contact with him owing to communication blockade in the Valley. However in October 2016 the family was shocked to know that Sabzar, instead of flying to Delhi, has joined the militancy.
“We had never expected that he will leave us without any information. We tried to contact him but all in vain,” said his father adding that Sabzar was an upright and honest who would always help the students of the locality and encourage them to pursue higher studies.
Sabzar started his own coaching centre (Acent) in his native place for some time where he imparted education to poor students of the area. He did his MSc in Botany from Barkatullah University Bhopal before completing his M.Phil from Gwalior. Instead of completing PhD he had joined militancy and it was his own decision.
A missing report filed by family still stands registered at Bijbehara Police Station. According to family, it was a police official who visited their house and informed that Sabzar has joined militancy. “We didn’t believe first, but we lost the hope when few days later, a group of army soldiers knocked at our doors and showed us a video in which Sabzar could be seen along with a group of militants brandishing a gun in his hand.”
Sabzar is survived by his parents, two brothers and a sister. His brothers and sister are also well educated.
One of his relatives said that he failed to understand how Sabzar picked up the gun. “He was so shy and innocent who hardly talked to anyone. He never discussed Kashmir situation with anyone. As far as I know him, Sabzar wanted to achieve something in his life. He wanted to do something for his family and society,” the relative said.(CNS)


Lead Stories

Almost two months into the year: No action plan for districts submitted yet

Mudassir Kuloo



Srinagar, May 20: The delay in finalizing the district action plans for the current year may hit the developmental works in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the financial year began on April 1, the district development plans in the state are yet to be finalized for 2019-2020.

Principal Secretary, Finance Department, Arun Kumar Mehta, recently wrote a letter to district development commissioners to furnish the yearly district action plans.


“All district development commissioners shall initiate tendering process immediately after model code of conduct is over and ensure that process is completed before March 31 for commencement of works. The annual maintenance contract should be based on the rate of contract as per laid down rules and regulation,” the order reads.

It says that delay in furnishing of this information will entail “further” delay in the tendering process and have “cascading” effect on the executing of ongoing works.  It will subsequently lead to delay in execution of new works.

An official of the Planning and Development Department said that delay in finalising the district development plans would affect developmental works in Kashmir.

“The district development commissioners should have finalised the district development plans even though they were busy with elections. The Valley would be adversely affected due to delay in finalizing the district development plans as Kashmir has a limited working season,” the official said.

The Kashmir has a limited working season from May to October and the region’s developmental activities are worst affected when there is delay in the approval of annual plan or there is some disturbance in the Valley.

“The non-finalization of the plan would lead to delay in execution of works as funds remain unspent. Once the funds meant for Kashmir get lapsed, they are diverted to Jammu region,” the official added.

During 2018-2019, Rs 4,000 crore had lapsed in the state due to non-utilisation of funds.

District development commissioner formulates the plans with the assistance of district level officers as per guide lines and parameters set by Planning and Development Department.  The district development commissioner has to monitor all the developmental programmes in the district.

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Lead Stories

Decline in number of local youth joining militancy: Army




Jammu, May 20: Top Army commander, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Monday said even though the local militant recruitment has shown a significant decline, “the issue of local boys joining militancy remains a matter of concern.”

“Local recruitment remains a matter of concern for all of us. Last year, we had 217 local youth who had picked up militancy. This year, the number has significantly reduced and as on date there are only 40 youth who have picked up arms,” Lieutenant General Singh said while addressing the media in Udhampur.

Out of 40, six were killed in various encounters in South and North Kashmir while as three had returned. The Army had claimed that its appeal to Kashmiri mothers was proving a success as youth who had picked up arms were returning back to the mainstream.


According to the figures available with the KNO, in 2017, the number of youth who had picked up arms in J&K was around 240 that reduced to 2017 in 2018.  In 2016, the number was around 200, as per the official figures.

The Army commander said that one of the key reasons for locals picking up gun was the “radicalization and exploitation of social media by Pakistani agencies.” The army commander said that Pakistan was feeling “starved” due to a very effective counter infiltration grid of the Indian Army.

It is pertinent to mention that only 40 youth joining militancy this summer so far in Jammu and Kashmir is lowest ever since 2016. However, officials assert that they won’t take a chance and will ensure local militant recruitment remains plugged in remaining months of the year especially the summer months when infiltration is expected to pick up due to melting of snow. According to officials, no foreign militant was killed on the LoC this year so far.

‘VDCs useful, need to energise them’

Press Trust of India

Udhampur, May 20: The Army Monday batted strongly for “energising” village defence committees (VDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir calling them a “useful instrument” for the state.

The VDCs were setup in the mid-1990s with an aim to strengthen the security of those living in remote and mountainous areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramba, Rajouri, Reasi, Kathua and Poonch districts of the region.
A total of 4,125 VDCs exist in the state. “VDCs are most useful instrument available with the state”, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-In-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh told reporters here.

“They (VDCs) are always to be energised and they shall be able to take on responsibility (of securing the villages in remote and hilly areas) tasked to them,” he added. The Army commander said that it must be ensured that the volunteers are provided weapons so that they can “defend their villages and pass information to the security forces regarding movement and presence of militants.”

“All have to play a role to ensure peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Notably, the Army has reached out to VDCs in various districts to strengthen the security apparatus of the population of rural and remote areas in Jammu region.

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Lead Stories

Suffering in silence: Sexual abuse takes heavy toll on children in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat



Srinagar, May 20: Ahmad’s room is a witness to his feats. His glass almirah is decorated with trophies and certificates that he won for his excellent grades and extra circular activities. A brilliant student, he was looking forward to top the upcoming matriculation exams when world suddenly came crashing down. His grades started falling and he turned aggressive by the day. What complicated the problem was his addiction to cannabis and psychotropic drugs.

“He shed a sea of tears while narrating his ordeal. It wasn’t the drug abuse; it was the sexual abuse that had worsened his mental health. His classmate had sexually assaulted him in front of group of boys and mocked him”, said the counselor at a private school in the valley.

Ahmad is not the isolated case. Rizwan (name changed), 16, fainted in class when the teacher was delivering a lecture. His sister and her husband rushed to the school and took him to the physician. The doctor gave some medicines for dehydration and didn’t take it seriously. The problem didn’t end here. The boy refused to eat or drink and locked himself in the room throughout the day.


“He looked like corpse when he was brought here. The reason for his high level of anxiety was the sexual abuse he faced. He was sodomised by his elder brother. We made the brother apologize before him. That has alleviated his pain to some extent,” said the counselor at Department of psychiatry, SMHS.

Mental health counselors’ note that the sexual abuse of young boys and girls mostly go unreported because of the family taboos. “They think it will bring humiliation to the family and the only thing they can do for the victim other than counseling is to make the perpetrator apologize”, said a counselor

Even children are often scared to report the abuse. “Many cases of abuse are not reported.  Most of the time it remains a secret crime, unless the victim is bold enough to tell someone about it. Mostly such crimes remain under wraps. This abuse can take place at home school or in places where child labour is common”, said Ezabir Ali, a noted Social Activist.

Experts dealing with such cases say most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims and they can be relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins; neighbors and even strangers.

“What can be done? We need to encourage children to speak. The communication channel between parents (especially mother) and children should be open so that the child feels confident to shares when something is not going right. We need to make children aware of good touch and bad touch”, said Ali.

Psychiatrists say that childhood sexual abuse is less talked about and least researched in spite of being associated with a broad array of adverse long term consequences for survivors.

“It creates powerlessness, betrayal, stigmatization, and sexualization; each having a profound effect on further development of child. Using Victims of childhood sexual abuse report more symptoms of anxiety and depression”, said Dr Arshad Hussain, a leading psychiatrist who works as associate professor, psychiatry at Government Medical College, Srinagar.

What has complicated the problem is that there is a dearth of counselors in schools who can tackle such issues. “A handful of counselors at some noted private schools and colleges remain confined to being just academic counselors. We have to increase the domain of counselling”, said Dr Saima Farhad, Professor at MSW Department in University of Kashmir.

According to Dr Saima, there are three levels by which we can curb such incidents, “The first step begins from the family. Parents have to make their children understand the difference between good touch and bad touch. The second level begins at the school. We have a lot of Co-ed schools. The teachers have to make the students aware about the difference between a boy and a girl and at the same ensure that no difference is being done based on their gender”, she said

Experts suggest a separate wing in the police department to deal with the sex abuse cases for speedy justice.

“We have dearth of investigating officers in police stations. There is one IO in every police station and he is single-handedly dealing with 10-15 cases. The delay happens because we have to multi-task. There should be a separate wing for law and order, a wing for dealing with cases for CSA and qualitatively segregating the options”, said an investigating officer, who requested anonymity.

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