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Kathua case: Police to produce witnesses including SSP today






Pathankot, Jun 10: The Jammu and Kashmir Police will produce witnesses including Senior Superintendent of Police (crime branch) Ramesh Jalla in the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl at Kathua in January this year before the district and sessions judge here on Monday, officials said.

The court, which is hearing the case on directions of the Supreme Court, had issued summons to some of the prosecution witnesses who failed to appear on Friday as it was served late.

Jalla, who headed the investigation, along with three other witnesses will be appearing before the court on Monday after the district and sessions judge had expressed his displeasure over absence of witnesses on Friday and had issued directions to him for his personal appearance on Monday.


The parents of the victim, who belongs to nomadic minority community which shift their base during the summer months to higher reaches of the Valley, were likely to be produced before the court on Tuesday as locating them and serving them summons took some time, the officials said.

The court had on Thursday framed charges of rape and murder against seven of the eight accused, paving way for beginning of trial against them.

The accused against whom charges were framed were Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias Deepu and Surinder Verma, Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, head constable Tilak Raj, and sub-inspector Arvind Datta, officials had said.

Sanji Ram is considered to be the main accused who is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with other accused for kidnapping the girl as a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the crime branch charge sheet has alleged.

The fate of the eighth accused, who claims to be a juvenile and is a nephew of Sanji Ram, was yet to be decided after the crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police contested his claim that he was a minor.

The district and sessions court has framed charges under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang rape), special public prosecutor had J K Chopra said earlier.

The court had also framed charges for destruction of evidence and under section 328 (causing hurt by poisoning with an intent to hurt) of the RPC. The two policemen — Tilak Raj and Arvind Datta — were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC, Chopra had said.

The crime branch had filed a charge sheet on April 9 in Kathua in the case of kidnap, rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl from January 10 this year. She was killed on January 14 and her body was recovered on January 17 triggering a massive political unrest in the state.

According to the charge sheet, the victim was held in captivity at a small village temple in Kathua district where she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before she was bludgeoned to death.

The eight-year-old had gone missing on January 10 while grazing horses in the forest. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl on the pretext of helping her find her horses.

According to the charge sheet, the accused gave the girl sedatives to make her unconscious while holding her in captivity at the ‘Devisthan’, a local village temple.

The juvenile, a school dropout, turned out to be the main player in the abduction and murder, raping the child repeatedly along with Vishal and Deepak Khajuria.

On January 23, about a week after the body was discovered, the government handed over the case to the crime branch, which formed a Special Investigation Team.

“… in the course of investigation, it transpired that somewhere in the first week of January, accused Sanji Ram decided to put a plan to dislodge the Bakherwal community from the area which had been brewing in his mind for quite some time, into operation and in pursuance to that he made accused Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer, and his nephew (juvenile) as part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually,” the charge sheet said.

Sanji Ram surrendered on March 20 after his son was arrested from Uttar Pradesh a day earlier.

The trial in the case began on May 31 with the seven accused being produced before the district and sessions judge after the Supreme Court transferred the case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab for a fair trial following a plea by the victim’s family.

While transferring the case from Kathua to Pathankot, about 30 km away, the apex court directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.


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Four more militants killed in twin encounters

3 slain in Awantipora gunfight, one in Sopore; brief exchange of fire in Anantnag

Nisar Dharma



Srinagar, May 18: The month of Ramadan is seeing a surge in anti-militancy operations as Saturday also witnessed two more gunfights in south and north Kashmir in which four militants were killed.
The first encounter begun at the wee hours of Saturday at Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama in which three militants were killed. The second gunfight took place in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district which ended in killing of another militant.
Giving details about the first gunfight, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched by police and government forces early Saturday morning at Panzgam.
During the search operation, the hiding militants fired on the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
The slain militants were identified as Showkat Dar, a native of Panzgam, Irfan War of Wadoora Payeen Sopore, and Muzaffar Sheikh of Tahab Pulwama.
All the three slain militants, according to the police records, were affiliated with militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
As per police records, Showkat had a long history of militancy related cases.
“He was involved in planning and executing series of militant attacks in the area. He was part of a group involved in killing of Army soldier Aurangzeb last year in 2018. He was also involved in killing of a policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year,” the spokesperson said.
He added that incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
Meanwhile, Showkat was interred amid pro-freedom slogans and spontaneous shutdown in his native village. Before his burial, thousands of people attended his funeral.
On June 14, 2018, Aurangzeb, a rifleman with 44 Rashtriya Rifles was kidnapped and shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama when he was travelling in a private vehicle, on his way home in Poonch.
Aurangzeb was part of an officer’s team which killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sameer Tiger on May 1, 2018.
Sopore encounter
In second encounter of the day, one militant was killed in brief exchange of fire at Hathlangoo area of North Kashmir’s Sopore.
A police officer said that acting on a specific human intelligence, a cordon was laid at village Hathlangoo. “As the suspected house was zeroed-in, the hiding militant opened fire resulting in an encounter. In the ensuing gunfight, the militant was killed,” the officer said.
“It was a clean operation and no collateral damage took place in the gunfight,” he said.
Sources said that in the incident, a residential house also got completely damaged.
The officer identified the slain militant as Waseem Ahmad Naik son of Abdul Gani Naik of Udipora Barsoo Awantipora.
According to sources, Waseem was missing since March this year. The family had accordingly filed a missing report in police station concerned.
Meanwhile, authorities suspended internet services in Sopore town as a precautionary measure in wake of this search operation.
Militants escape after brief exchange of fire in Anantnag
Militants on Saturday morning managed to escape after brief exchange of fire in Dehruna village of Anantnag village.
An official confirmed that militants have managed to escape in Dehruna and operation has been called off.
Earlier, a joint team of forces including 19 RR and SOG cordoned off Dehruna area of Anantnag following specific information about the presence of some militants in the area.
As the joint team of forces intensified the searches towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants opened fire, leading to an encounter, he said.
However during initial exchange of fire, militants managed to break the cordon and escaped from the spot, he said, adding that after initial exchange, cordon was extended to nearby villages. However, the operation after finding no militant there was called off.
Meanwhile, soon after news of encounter spread in the area, youth took to streets and started pelting stones on government forces, which was retaliated by smoking tear smoke shells.
Eyewitnesses said that several youth received minor injuries during the clashes.

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Six gunfights in first 12 days of Ramadan

Most begun around Sehri time; 11 militants, two soldiers, two civilians killed

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani



May 10: 1 militant killed in Herpora, Shopian
May 12: 2 militants killed in Hend, Shopian
May 16: 5 militants, 2 civilians, soldier killed in Pulwama, Shopian
May 18: 4 militants killed in Awantipora, Sopore

Srinagar, May 18: Government forces have stepped-up operations against militants this Ramadan as Kashmir has witnessed multiple gunfights since the start of the month of fasting.
In the first 12 days of the holy month, as many as 11 militants, two soldiers and two civilians were killed in six encounters, most of which broke out in the pre-dawn hours.
Among the six encounters, five have taken place in south Kashmir.
The first shoot-out in Ramadan took place on May 10 at Ramnagri area of Herpora in Shopian, in which an ISJK militant Ishfaq Sofi was killed. Since then, there has been no letup all the way till Saturday when two gunfights took place in Pulwama and Sopore resulting in killing of four militants.
The second encounter took place on May 12, again in Shopian district.
In it, two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in Hend Sitapora village. The slain were identified as Javeed Ahmad Bhat of Redwani, Kulgam and Adil Bashir Wani of Waripora, DH-Pora, Kulgam.
On May 16, two encounters broke out in south Kashmir between the government forces and militants in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian.
In Pulwama, three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, an army man and a civilian were killed in a pre-dawn encounter near the district township.
The slain militants were identified as Naseer Ahmad Pandith of Karimabad, Pulwama, Umar Ahmad Mir of Barthipora, Shopian and Khalid, JeM commander, a native of Pakistan.
The deceased civilian was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar. His elder brother, Mohammad Younis, a businessman by profession received fire arm injuries in the gun-battle.
One of the soldiers, Sepoy Sandeep Kumar injured in the gunfight succumbed to his injuries at Army’s 92 base hospital.
In Shopian, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, a soldier and a civilian were killed in a brief encounter in the orchards of Handew village.
The encounter broke out after a joint search operation was launched by Army, SOG and CRPF at around 04:30 am, following credible inputs about the presence of militants.
The slain militants were later identified as Yawar Munshi of Thokerpora, Shopian and Shakeel Ahmad Dar of Tikroo, Shopian.
The local resident killed in an encounter was identified as Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat of Handew.
In the gunfight, an Army man, Sepoy Rohit sustained injuries.
In the wee hours of Saturday, another gunfight broke out in Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama.
In an encounter, three militants of Hizbul Mujahideen identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar of Panzgam, Pulwama, Irfan Ahamd of Sopore and Muzaffar Ahmad of Tahab, Pulwama were killed.
On the same day, a militant was killed in a brief shoot out in north Kashmir’s Hatlangoo area in Sopore.
He was identified as Wasim Ahmad Naik of Udipora, Barsoo in Awantipora.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Munir Khan said that precise information was leading to the encounters.
“We have not changed the strategy; we always want zero or minimal damage during the encounters. It is good that if an encounter breaks out in early hours as people as well as police won’t face any difficulties,” he said.

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Hindus listed as Muslims in Scholarship scheme : After KM report, GoI asks JK to probe Kulgam scholarship gaffe

Mudassir Kuloo



Srinagar, May 18: The government of India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs has asked the Jammu and Kashmir’s Social Welfare Department to hold an inquiry into the discrepancies in the list of candidates selected for Minority Scholarship Scheme in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The development comes after The Kashmir Monitor reported on May 15 about the discrepancies in the list of candidates for Kulgam district getting financial aid in Minority Affairs ‘merit cum means’ scholarship for professional and technical courses.
Data compiled by Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has listed over 400 Hindu candidates as Muslim in Kulgam availing benefits under the scheme.
The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has now written to J&K’s Social Welfare Department to initiate a probe for unveiling the facts into the matter.
“So far, it has been found that bank account numbers of 474 candidates who have availed benefit under the scheme are not from Jammu and Kashmir. Everything will be cleared once the probe is completed,” said an official of the Social Welfare Department.
Asked whether any candidates from Kulgam district have availed the benefit under the scheme, the official said, “The mandate of the probe committee is to look into all these aspects including why the names of actual candidates of Kulgam are missing from the list. This committee will also look who is responsible for these discrepancies.”
Director, Social Welfare Department, Kashmir, Rukhsana Gani, confirmed that the Union Minority Affairs has asked them to hold the probe.
“Prime-facie, some wrong has happened at Minority Affairs Department. They have told us to hold the inquiry. We will initiate the probe very soon to unveil the facts (sic),” she said.
The objective of the Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship, as per the Union Ministry, is to provide financial assistance to the poor and meritorious students belonging to minority communities (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain) to enable them to pursue professional and technical courses.
As already reported by this newspaper, data on the National Scholarship Portal lists 474 candidates, majority of them are Hindu names, availing a cumulative Rs 1.5 crore under this scheme for 2019-20 in Kulgam district.

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