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Kashmir shuts to mourn killing of Manan; Friday prayers barred at Jamia; cops among scores injured in clashes

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Srinagar, Oct 12: At least 25 people including three police officers were injured in protests on Friday even as a complete shutdown was observed across the Valley against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Manan Bashir Wani and his associate in an encounter with government forces in north Kashmir’s Kupwara on Thursday.
Reports said that amidst a complete shutdown in response to the call given by the joint Hurriyat leadership, scores of people protested across the Valley against the killing of Manan and his associate, Ashiq Hussain Zargar, both residents of Kupwara.
At least six people suffered injuries in pellet firing by government forces at Tikipora, the native village of Manan.
Among the injured Shakir Ahmad Bhat (18), Babar Ahmad Bhat (23) son of Mohammad Sultan Bhat of Takipora, Mohammad Shafi son Wali Mohd Lone and Shafat Ahmad Naikoo son of Ghulam Mohdin, both residents of Diver Lolab, were shifted to Sub District Hospital from where they were referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment. Another injured, Tariq Lohar of Kakerpati, was admitted in the SDH.
The locals also alleged that CRPF troopers allegedly misbehaved with Manan’s aunt Razeena Begum.
In the clashes that continued till late Friday evening, Additional SP Kupwara, Shafqat Hussain, ITBP trooper Mohammad Maqbool and Head Constable Ghulam Mohammad of SOG camp were injured in clashes at Takipora.
In Lalpora Lolab, at least four people suffered minor injuries in government forces action against angry youth who attacked a police station with stones. The CRPF and police fired warning shots after they failed to disperse stone-pelting protesters with batons and tear smoke shells.
SHO Lalpora Abdur Rashid, Head Constable Ghulam Mohammad were also injured in the clashes that continued till late evening.
During the clashes, forces fired a teargas that fell inside the house of Haji Ghulam Mohammad Bhat due to which it reportedly caught fire. Immediately fire tenders rushed to the spot and doused off the flames. The fire caused partial damage to household goods.
The residents of Batpora, Lalpora, Sheikhpora, Teli Mohalla and other villages accused CRPF troopers of ransacking their properties. They alleged that the troopers also beat up several people without any reason.
In Sogam, two youth were injured during clashes between government forces and the protesters. The youth identified as Akhtar Ahmad Lone and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat were removed to the nearby hospital for treatment.
Police have filed two separate FIRs 79/2018 under section 147, 148, 149 and 80/2018 under section 147, 148,149 at Sogam police station in connection with violent protests against Manan’s killing on Thursday. One FIR pertains to the injury caused to Chowki Officer Kuligam in stone pelting clashes, sources said.
The frontier district of Kupwara wore a deserted look in wake of the shutdown. All educational institutions in the district remained closed amid fears of protests.
Reports of clashes were also received from several parts of south Kashmir, where a complete shutdown was observed on JRL call.
In Redwani Bala in Kulgam, protesters fought pitched battles with government forces after offering congregational Friday prayers. The government forces used numerous tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters, witnesses said.
In Srinagar, a complete shutdown was observed with shops, financial establishments, petrol pumps and banks remaining closed while skeletal traffic plied on the roads, reports said.
The authorities barred people from offering Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area in Old City, Srinagar where restrictions were imposed along with areas in its vicinity falling within the jurisdictions of five police stations.
After Friday prayers, members of Joint Hurriyat leadership held a protest at Maisuma against the killing of the two Hizb militants. However, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
In Soura, youth staged a protest and clashed with the government forces. During the ding-dong battles, at least two people were injured.
Reports of clashes were also received from Natipora, Chanpora, Mochowa and Kralpora areas of city and outskirts. The government forces used tear smoke shells and pellets to break up the pro-freedom demonstrations, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, reports of the shutdown have also been received from Banihal town, and Gundadalkoot, Charil, Tethar and Nowgam markets located on Jammu-Srinagar highway. (With inputs from GNS)


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

Mudassir Kuloo

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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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Decline in number of local youth joining militancy: Army

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

Hirra Azmat

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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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