Srinagar, Apr 14: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also holds the Home portfolio, on Saturday, terminated the services of four policemen accused in the rape and murder of a minor in Kathua district.
The Chief Minister also wrote to the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, seeking a fast track court to conclude within 90 days the trial in the case that has caused a nation-wide outrage, official sources said here.
Informed sources said the state government terminated the services of a sub-inspector, a head constable and two Special Police Officers (SPOs) accused in the crime.
The development comes a day after the resignation of two Bharatiya Janata Party ministers in the coalition government – Chaudhry Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga – who had attended rallies in support of the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
Mehbooba Mufti is in Srinagar to meet party legislators and senior ministers to discuss the future course of action on the case.
The minor girl from the Bakerwal community was kidnapped on January 10; taken to a temple in Rasana village in Kathua district.
Her attackers, which included temple official and policemen, drugged and gang raped her over days before finally killing her and dumping her body in a forest nearby, seven days later.
The girl was attacked to scare away the nomadic Muslim community out of the village.
Meanwhile Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also lauded the people of Jammu for dismissing communal forces and their unwavering support for justice to an eight-year-old girl who was raped and killed in Kathua.
“I commend the manner in which the people of Jammu dismissed communal forces and were unwavering in their support for a little girl. It has strengthened my belief that Jammu serves as a model of inclusiveness and together the people of J-K inspire secular unity and righteousness,” Mufti said in a tweet.
In an earlier tweet, the chief minister expressed satisfaction over the Supreme Court taking cognisance of an alleged attempt by lawyers in Kathua to obstruct the Crime Branch in filing their charge-sheet in the case.
“Heartening to see the Supreme Court take cognisance of the attempted obstruction of justice by some lawyers in the brutal Kathua rape and murder case reminding us once again of the greatness of this nation,” she said.
“While it may seem to get bogged down by different discourses at times, it’s DNA of love and compassion always remains the same,” she added.
Two BJP ministers, Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash, who had attended a rally in support of the accused persons in Kathua, yesterday submitted their resignations to party’s state president Sat Sharma.
While a meeting of the BJP legislature party is scheduled to be held in Jammu today to chart the future course of action on the issue, legislators of coalition partner PDP are also meeting here to “take stock of the situation”.
The rape and killing of the girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, has become a national issue.
The gory details of the heinous crime surfaced following filing of charges.
The girl had disappeared from a spot near her house close to Rasana village on January 10.
A week later, her body was found in the same area.
A special investigation team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.