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Kathua rape, murder case: SC raps up Jammu lawyers’ for obstruction of justice

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New Delhi, Apr 13: Taking strong note of some lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case, the Supreme Court Friday initiated a case on its own record saying such impediment “affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice”.
The top court said that it is a settled law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is his duty to appear in support of his client.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was also critical of the Jammu High Court Bar Association, which had passed a resolution not to attend the courts saying “it is the duty of the bar association as a collective body and they cannot obstruct the process of law”.
“If a lawyer who is engaged, is obstructed from appearing in the court or if his client is deprived of being represented in the court when he is entitled to do so in a lawful manner, that affects the dispensation of justice and would amount to obstruction of access to justice and interference with the administration of justice,” the bench said in its order.
The top court took initiated the case suo motu after some lawyers brought to its notice that the members of the Kathua District Court Bar Association at Jammu & Kashmir, are obstructing the lawyer who is appearing on behalf of the family of the victim in the court.
Advocates P V Dinesh, Shobha and Gopal Shankarnaraynan informed the court that a lawyer appearing for the victim’s family was being threatened and the obstruction has support of high court bar association.
The top court said, “It is settled in law that a lawyer who appears for a victim or accused cannot be prevented by any bar association or group of lawyers, for it is the duty of a lawyer to appear in support of his client, once he accepts the brief.”
The bench issued notice to the Bar Council of India, the state Bar Council, High Court Bar Association at Jammu and Kathua District Bar Association and sought their replies by April 19.
“We hope and trust that when we are issuing notice, the members of the bar associations shall conduct themselves and would not obstruct the smooth functioning of the justice delivery system which includes the presence of the persons aggrieved or accused in court or for that matter the presence of investigating agency and the witnesses,” the bench said.
Standing counsel for Jammu and Kashmir Shoeb Alam, who was called to the CJI court, informed that the police had yesterday filed the charge sheet before the magistrate at his home.
He strongly opposed the plea of lawyers that the case be handed over to the CBI for further investigation and said that thorough probe was being carried out by the state crime branch.
Alam said that it is already a settled law that investigation cannot be transferred to the CBI after the charge sheet has been filed in the court.
“Police team was heckled by the lawyers and prevented from submitting the charge sheet before the chief judicial magistrate court in Kathua,” Alam said.
He said that subsequently the police had to produce the eight accused in the case and submit the charge sheet at the residence of the magistrate.
Alam informed the court that police have also registered a FIR against some lawyers for attempting to prevent police from filing charge sheet in Kathua rape case.
Earlier in the day, the top court had asked lawyer P V Dinesh to bring materials on record to take judicial note of a strike call given by Kathua and Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in relation to the gangrape and killing of the eight-year-old girl in Jammu region.
Dinesh referred to the “unfortunate” decisions of the local bar that had allegedly come in support of the people who had gangraped and killed the minor in Kathua.
“Something must come on record. We have nothing on record,” the bench had said in the morning, when the matter was first mentioned.
The minor girl had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua, on January 10.
Her body was found in the same area a week later.
The Crime Branch of police which probed the case filed a main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.
Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal incident. The bar associations have been opposing the action against the accused, alleging that the minority Dogras were being targeted.
Lawyers took to the streets shouting slogans and trying to block the road outside the court where the charge sheets have been filed.


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CROSS LOC TRADE SUSPENSION: Traders in panic as losses likely to run in crores

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 19: The Government of India’s decision to suspend cross LoC trade indefinitely in Jammu and Kashmir has panicked at least 597 traders, whose goods worth crores of rupees are currently in transit on the route.
Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) Thursday ordered immediate suspension of LoC trade via two routes- Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir, citing its “misuse” by Pakistan.
The action claimed the “misuse” involved “illegal inflows of weapons, narcotics, and currency”.
The suspension has left traders furious and worried, who say there should have been prior information from the government to avoid losses of the traders.
Abdul Ahad Mangral, a resident of Uri, who is associated with the cross LoC trade since 2008, was all set to receive goods that he ordered for the month of Ramadan.
Since Thursday evening he is restless, as his goods worth Rs 4 crore won’t be traded now after the MHA diktat.
“I will be bankrupt. I have stocks of zeera, chilli seeds, bananas, pomegranate, which had to be bartered against almond, pistachio, oranges and mangoes. I don’t know what to do with these stocks since government has closed the route indefinitely,” he said.
Mangral said the decision by the central government was “political in nature rather than a security threat”.
“There should have been some intimation from the government as our losses will run in thousands of crores. Apart from 229 traders, there are around 1000 truckers and 200 labourers from different parts of Kashmir, who too will lose their livelihood,” he said.
Another trader, Tariq Khan from Uri, said they had already suggested the government to establish an advanced mechanism at the trade facilitation centers to check the claimed illegal flow of drugs.
“We had suggested the availability of such facilities through memorandums back in 2010 and 2016. The LoC trade is continuing for the last 10 years, which means it has become a source of livelihood for many families,” he said.
Khan suggested the government to allow the trade till the bartering is equalized by traders from both the sides.
“We will cooperate with the government. But at least let us recover our investment,” he said.
Krishan Singh, a trader from Poonch said many of his colleagues have borrowed heavy loans from banks to invest in their businesses.
“We hope government resumes cross LoC trade as soon as possible. The ban will push many families to starvation and they owe huge amounts to banks,” he said.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) called the suspension a “regressive” measure adding they will take up the matter with the government.
“We have suggested full body scanners years ago. It is certainly going to impact the economy of the state and we shall take up the matter with the government,” said KCCI senior vice-president, Nasir Hamid Khan.
The Cross-LoC trade was started in 2008 as a major confidence-building measure between the two countries as two Trade Facilitation Centres located at Uri’s Salamabad in Baramulla district, and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch were started.
The trade took place four days a week. It was based on barter system and on zero duty basis.
Twenty-one items were currently bartered from both the sides.
While India traded-out carpets, embroidered items, furniture, handicrafts, saffron, dry fruits, Kashmiri spices, rajmah, honey, medicinal plants, fresh fruits and vegetables, Pakistan in return traded-out rice, prayer mats and tasbeeh (rosaries), precious stones, Peshawari leather sandals, maize and maize products, imli, moongi, black mushroom, and dry fruits.
The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in the valley and Poonch-Rawalkote in Jammu has over 600 traders registered, who are plying their wares between J&K and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

‘Ban will be reconsidered after stricter measures are put in place’
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Apr 19: A day after cross LOC trade was suspended, reports quoting MHA sources Friday said “infiltration of third party goods, channeling funds for militancy, clandestine trade of drugs, supply of Arms to support militants in the valley and pumping fake currency notes were the main reasons for suspending the trade.”
The LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a confidence building measure for the population living in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir and living across LoC.
“However, third parties manipulated the trade and misused it for trading goods being produced from outside the State of Jammu and Kashmir. For example the almonds produced in California finding their way through LoC trade involving a large transport network spread in many countries,” reports quoting MHA sources said.
They added that NIA has “decoded the modus operandi of dubious hawala transactions for terror financing.”
“The inimical elements on Pakistan side identify a suitable Pakistani trader firm and hand over the money that is to be transferred to the anti-national elements and militant organizations on the Indian side. Pakistani trader under-invoices the product like California almonds to the extent of money received by him. On receipt of the consignment, trader on the Indian side sells California almonds at the prevailing market price and makes extra and undue profit to the extent of under invoicing. Extra money so generated is handed over by the trader to antinational elements and militant organizations in the valley to fuel anti-India operations,” the sources added.
They said that a significant number of trading concerns engaging in cross LoC trade are “being operated by persons closely associated with banned militant organizations, especially Hizbul Mujahideen.”
“Some Indian nationals who have crossed over to Pakistan and joined militant organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. As a result, many trading firms under the control of militant organizations are doing LoC trade with Indian traders firms who are operated their own relatives in the Indian side,” they said.
“Cross LoC trade is also being used as a regular channel of funneling of drugs such as cocaine, brown sugar and heroin into the valley adversely impacting the youth thereby converting many of them into addicts of such life threatening drugs. In a recent example, 66.5 Kg of heroine was seized from a valley-based consignee and the drugs came through the LoC trade,” the sources added.
They said that the trade is being “exploited for periodically smuggling arms and ammunition into the valley”.
“Numerous seizures have been made of pistols, grenades, spares and ammunition. Recently a large cache that was concealed in a consignment of bananas was seized from a cross LoC driver from Kulgam in the valley,” they said.
“In different consignments passing through LoC trade, Rs 57 Lakhs, Rs 20 Lakhs, Rs 15 Lakhs and Rs 7.5 Lakhs of fake currency notes have also been seized and over a dozen of people have been arrested. In the light of such large-scale misuse and loopholes being exploited for illegal and anti-national activities, Government of India has been compelled to suspend the LoC trade,” they added.
The Government, the sources said, will revisit the issue of resuming the LoC trade after stricter measures and systems are put in place to address these issues.
“New measures are expected to restore benefit of LoC trade to local population only, rather than allowing militant organizations and unscrupulous traders based far away from these trading points to syphon off the benefits and fuel instability in the valley,” the sources said.

 
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Will support all initiatives aimed to address K-issue: Mirwaiz

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Srinagar, Apr 19: Hurriyat (M)) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Friday said that people staying away from the electoral process was a peacefully conveyed clear message to Government of India that Kashmiris want a serious political initiative towards the resolution of lingering Kashmir issue and that the people and the leadership will support all initiatives that are aimed at addressing it.
Addressing the congregational Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz, in a statement, said that he has time and again reiterated that the Kashmir issue “deserves serious political handling but all the successive regimes that ruled India and Pakistan so far have failed to resolve it.”
He, the statement added, said that the people of Kashmir are facing tremendous hardships for the past 70 years in general and 30 years in particular, hoping that some serious efforts would be made to resolve the issues so that peace prevails in the region.
“It’s not that people of Kashmir don’t believe in democratic practices that electoral processes entail or don’t believe in its empowerment but people want to understand to what end do they participate? Has it in any way changed anything on ground for them? Has it helped in ending the uncertainty in our lives? Has our true situation ever been conveyed to people in India or any effort made in that direction?” he said.
Expressing concern over the suspension of cross LoC trade by MHA, Mirwaiz said it was “extremely unfortunate that instead of enhancing people to people contact as families of both sides of LoC stand divided and improving trade and other ties, even whatever little had been achieved since Vajpayee time is being blocked and stopped.”
“Such measures for short term gains come at a huge price that people of the subcontinent pay for long term peace and progress,” he said.
Mirwaiz also announced that on the eve of Shab-e-Baraat(night of reverence), Isha prayers will be offered at the grand masjid at 9:30 pm on Saturday and soon after the prayers he will address the gathering and shed light on the importance of the night and also lead touba-e-istigfaar prayers.

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Modi wants to demolish whatever Vajpayee achieved: Mehbooba

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 19: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Friday warned that closure of routes across the Line of Control with Pakistan administered Kashmir will have dire consequences, claiming that whatever Atal Bihari Vajpayee achieved in Kashmir, PM Narendra Modi wants to “demolish it”.
Reacting to suspension of cross-LoC trade by Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, Mehbooba said that New Delhi had adopted a “muscular policy” for polarization in India.
“Atal Bihari Vajpayee extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan. He believed that Kashmir issue can be resolved in the ambit of humanity. He took an initiative for opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. But it seems that we go backwards due to policies of Narendra Modi government.”
“Whatever Vajpayee had done, Modi wants to demolish that. All the steps taken by Vajpayee Ji, whether it is cross LoC trade, cross LoC bus service, opening of other major routes and the related CBMs, it seems the NDA government is hell-bent to demolish all those CBMs,” she said.
Mehbooba said when she was the chief minister of J&K, the Centre tried to suspend the cross LoC trade.
“But I resisted,” she said.
“If they want to choke routes and space to people of J&K then there will have serious consequences. Jammu and Kashmir problem will be solved if all routes are opened. We want all old routes including Kargil-Skardu, Sialkot-Muzaffarbad, which connect us with South and Central Asia before 1947, to be restored,” she demanded.
The government of India on Thursday suspended trade on two routes from Salamabad in Baramulla district and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch with Pakistan administered Kashmir.
“The action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the cross Line of Control trade routes are being misused by Pakistan based elements for funneling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc,” the Home Ministry said in a statement.
The cross trade was meant to enable exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. It attracted zero duty and is based on the barter system.
Mehbooba said that J&K was a very complicated issue.
“We saw what happened in Pulwama. We have to find a solution to Kashmir problem. BJP has involved J&K in elections across the country. They want to show people they have adopted tough and muscular policy on Kashmir and this all being done for polarization,” she said.
She also slammed the Sadhvi Pragya Thakur for her remarks against Hemant Karkare.
“These are the worst days for the country that you have fielded a candidate despite her remarks against a martyr. What you want to communicate that whatever lady says is the stand of the BJP,” she added.
“Mumbai terror squad chief Hemant Karkare died after I cursed him,” Sadhvi had earlier said.

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