Srinagar, Oct 17: Over a dozen scribes were beaten by the government forces, some of them receiving serious injuries, while covering Fateh Kadal encounter that broke out early Wednesday.
In the encounter, two militants, a civilian and a policeman were killed.
Early morning, videographers and reporters working for various national and local media houses reached Fateh Kadal to cover the encounter but were stopped by the Police from doing their professional duties.
“I reached Fateh Kadal at around 7 am along with the two colleagues. We were taking the pictures; suddenly some SOG men arrived and asked us to leave. Before we could have left, they started thrashing us,” said photo journalist, Zia Shakeel.
“There was no provocation from our side. We were doing our professional duties, it was quite unfortunate that Police thrashed us in front of their superiors,” he added.
Video journalist, Arshid Hussain, working with a national news channel said that no firing was going on at the time when the journalists were beaten.
“I was beaten. After taking the video byte of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, central Kashmir V K Birdi, I was just talking to him. In the meantime, an SOG man came and asked me to leave, I told him to wait as I was talking to Birdi. He didn’t listen anything, hit me harshly with a baton and abused me,” he said.
Asking for action against the erring cops, Hussain said that he was doing his professional duties and nothing else.
“It is surprising to see a constable hitting a journo and abusing in front of his superiors. Even officers were seen beating. Many journalists were seen running for safety,” he said.
Denouncing the Police action, a video journalist asked for stern action against the erring cops.
“Under these circumstances, how can we work? The higher ups of Police department should ensure that the scribes do not face any kind of harassment at the hands of government forces,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) strongly condemned the Police action.
KEG said that the police action on the ground suggests that the counter-insurgency establishment wishes to frighten the media and stop this institution from covering anything which the grid dislikes and take over the entire systems and processes.
“We strongly feel that the attack on journalists that too when several senior officers from various security agencies where witnessing the ignominy is aimed to send a strong signal to the media that any reportage contrary to the establishment point of view would be dealt with sternly,” the KEG maintained.
Kashmir Press Club (KPC) also condemned the Police action.
“Many reporters and photojournalists were beaten up while they were delivering their professional duties this morning. One of the injured journalists is also a member of the executive team of KPC,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“It is also being reported that the thrashing took place right in front of senior police officers. The KPC expresses shock over this behaviour by the forces,” the statement read.
Jammu and Kashmir Editors Forum (JKEF) while condemning the forces action urged the government to ensure safety and protection of the media persons working in Kashmir.
“It is the moral and constitutional responsibility of the government to provide conducive atmosphere for the media persons,” said a spokesman in a statement.
Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) while condemning the Police action expressed showed serious dismay over the use of abusive language against the photo journalists by the Police officers.
“Two senior Police officers, Superintendent of Police (SP), north and Superintendent of Police (SP) cargo used abusive language.
Their behaviour was “brazen” and “uncalled for” The authorities should take immediate action against them,” the spokesman said in a statement.
The spokesman said that senior Police officers behaved like “ruffians” and not only came in way of the photojournalists performing their professional obligations but also beat them to pulp and threatened them of dire consequences.
The KPPA spokesman said if immediate action was not taken against the two senior Police officers, the photojournalist community would hit the streets in protest.
Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA) condemned the manhandling of journalists by government forces.
“The journalists are being stopped from performing their professional duties even as there are clear constitutional guidelines which govern the media in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a spokesman in a statement.
“The incident is also unfortunate as it has taken place in front of senior police officials,” the statement read.
Meanwhile Inspector General of Police (IGP), S P Pani tendered unconditional apology.
“Without going into the context of the incident, I unconditionally apologise to all journalist friends. We will develop Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the crisis situation so that such incidents do not come to fore,” the statement quoting IGP as having told the KJA spokesperson over the phone.
Inclement weather forecast: Admin asked to remain alert
Srinagar, Jun 25: The state government has asked the divisional administration of Kashmir to remain on high alert in view of the inclement weather forecast for the next one month.
This follows the meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan to review the preparedness of the administration after receiving July weather forecast report from India Meteorological Department.
As per the minutes of the meeting, Divisional Commissioner was informed that the administration has to be on high alert to meet the challenges arising out of the “adverse weather conditions, in order to prevent recurrence of the situation that was witnessed in September 2014 floods”.
“The chair reiterated that a mock drill/exercise in this regard needs to be done and there should be no let off by any officer in addressing this situation,” reads the minutes of meeting.
During the meeting, the deputy commissioners apprised Khan that basic groundwork like identification of vulnerable areas, identification of rescue centers and preparation of evacuation plan, has been conducted.
Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control told the meeting that the water holding capacity of river Jehlum, as compared to 2014 floods, has been increased and measures are being undertaken to further enhance the retaining capacity of flood spill channel.
“He requested that the Bailey Bridge temporarily constructed at the flood channel near Barzulla Bhagat needs to be removed in order to avoid any untoward incident in case the water level rises,” the minutes reads.
The district development commissioners have been directed to identify the low lying villages/areas, which may get inundated due to floods and caterogise them as per the threat of floods.
“DCs shall also identify rescue centers and buildings where the affected population shall be temporary relocated in the event of floods, and shall prepare evacuation plan for the purpose,” it reads.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, has been directed to liaise with the President JK Shikara Owners Association and direct him to provide Shikaras at a short notice in the eventuality of floods.
Director Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus said it was difficult to predict on what day there would be rainfall. “But there will be rainfall in the month of July,” Lotus said.
Lotus however said people should not worry about any possibility of floods.
Parents should invest on quality education: Mirwaiz
Srinagar, Jun 25: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Tuesday urged the people of Kashmir to invest their resources on imparting quality education to their children so that a better tomorrow is built.
Addressing a function at Four Friends Public School Gili Kadal in Nowshehra here, Mirwaiz termed quality education as “major tool for the development and upliftment of nations.”
“No nation in the world can progress unless it makes imparting quality education to its children as its mission and aim as it is quite evident that western countries have touched new heights in progress and development by putting in its resources into education and research in various fields,” Mirwaiz said while addressing a galaxy of students, teachers, civil society activists and youth present.
Mirwaiz said that Kashmiri children are full of talent and can compete with other students at any level. “The only thing is that their talent needs to be exploited in a better way,” he said.
Mirwaiz stressed while imparting worldly knowledge to the children, moral and ethical values should be inculcated among the students and Islamic teaching should act as guiding principles and there should be no compromise on this front.
“When Kashmir was under the tight grip of illiteracy, darkness, poverty and atrocities on all sides around 120 years ago, the then Mirwaiz Alama Ghulam Rasool Shah laid the foundation of Islamia school and launched a large scale war against poverty and illiteracy in Kashmir and today the whole valley is reaping the benefits of the step taken by late Mirwaiz Shah in the shape of educational institutions that have come up in every area of the region which is a welcome step,” he said.
War against corruption! ACB gets more teeth to take on influential people
Srinagar, Jun 25: The war against corruption has been intensified in Jammu and Kashmir after the Governor-led administration gave more powers to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to take on the corrupt high and mighty.
Last year, Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration amended Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat, 2006 and Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011 and established the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to combat the menace of corruption in the state.
Under the new law, the government has deleted the clause of Anti-Corruption Bureau from the State Vigilance Commission (SVC) Rules, 2019. Under the earlier law it was mandatory for ACB to submit hourly reports to SVC.
“While exercising powers of supervision, the Commission shall not direct the Anti-Corruption Bureau to provide individual details of the cases or investigate or dispose of the case in a particular manner,” the rules say.
Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam has said the establishment of ACB would go a long way in doing away with the shortcomings and multiplicity of roles in the existing anti-corruption mechanism in the state.
“The ACB has been empowered. It is as powerful as CBI. The government has strengthened the ACB so that it acts against the powerful people,” he said.
For the last several months, the ACB has taken on the highly influential people in the state
The ACB sleuths recently raided J&K Bank offices after receiving the complaints of fraudulent appointments. The anti-graft body has also registered a case against the former chairman of the bank.
ACB is also probing into the allegations of large-scale irregularities in matters related to loans, finances and appointments in the bank.
It has also registered cases against deputy mayor Srinagar Municipal Corporation, J&K Bank and government officials for “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama.”
As per the official details accessed by The Kashmir Monitor, the anti-graft body has also registered a case against former commissioner and the senior town planner of Jammu Municipal Corporation for criminal misconduct, abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants while issuing illegal building permission.
The ACB also caught Block Development Officer Sopore red-handed while allegedly accepting bribe. A case has also been registered against Divisional Manager of State Forest Corporation (SFC) Udhampur on corruption charges.
The ACB also registered cases against several bureaucrats for allegedly being involved in corrupt practices.
Director ACB, Anand Jain did not respond to repeated calls.
However, a senior official said the ACB has more powers than any other anti-graft body of the country.
“The government has strengthened it by making necessary amendments in the rules. The recent action against influential people has unnerved tainted bureaucrats and politicians,” the official said.
Want to report corruption: WhatsApp or call this number
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jun 25: The J&K Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Tuesday launched call and WhatsApp helpline number 9419678060 on which the citizens can report demands for bribe and corruption through social messenger and also through call.
“The motive of the ACB behind the announcing a WhatsApp and call helpline is to encourage citizens to report cases of corruption and bribe demands,” a spokesperson of the anti-graft body said.
While launching the helpline number in Srinagar, Anand Jain, Director, ACB said that WhatsApp has become a very popular medium of communication and people are more comfortable using it.
Moreover, he said, WhatsApp will also enable the complainant to post picture and videos of any complaints through electronic medium on real time basis.