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Kathua Rape, Murder: Kashmiris put up united face for punishment to culprits

Monitor News Bureau

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SRINAGAR: Showing a united face, people from all religions, Hurriyat, traders, and civil society groups, in Kashmir on Thursday protested against rape and murder of an 8-year-old Kathua girl.
Joint Hurriyat, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik, had called for the protest against the rape and murder of the nomad Muslim girl in Kathua district of Jammu region.
Geelani and Mirwaiz were kept under house arrest.
However, a protest rally, led by Malik, tried to march towards Lal Chowk from Abi Guzar.
In the rally, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, traders, civil society groups participated, and demanded strict punishment to the culprits.
As soon as the protesters started marching towards Lal Chowk, police detained Malik along with several others.
Prior to that, Geelani, in his telephonic address to the media, condemned the “barbaric act”.
“Islam teaches us to protect the dignity of women. There are some people who feel pleased in raping and murdering women,” he said.
Geelani, Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), said, “Indian, being a powerful nation, is suppressing the weak voices.”
“Men in uniform raped and killed Asifa. Had the police and civil administration in Jammu shown some seriousness, this incident could have been avoided. Culprits were investigating the case,” the octogenarian said.
He said it was “shameful” for BJP leaders to participate in a rally in Jammu and supporting the rapist.
“It is a big blot on humanity. It is also shameful that civil administration and police allowed the rally in favour of the rapist and killers.”
Geelani said he was “pained” at the rape and murder of the girl.
“It is a slur for those praising India as a great democracy. They are shielding criminals and it is very disgusting, deplorable and horrific that the rally was held in Kathua led by a BJP leader in support of the special police officers arrested for rape and murder of the girl,” he said.
He said Gujjars were being harassed in Jammu.
“Their properties are being looted and their chastity being continuously tarnished,” he said.
He appealed the people from all sections of society and particularly non-Muslim community and human rightist groups in Jammu to come in support of victim’s family so that “perpetrators are punished for their heinous crime”.
On January 17, the body of the girl was found in the forests near Rasana, Hiranagar. She had been missing for a week.
The police claim she had been abducted and raped.
According to some reports, she had been drugged so that she could not cry for help.
So far, three persons including two policemen have been arrested. On February 14, the Hindu Ekta Manch led by the BJP leader held a protest march in favour of the accused persons in the rape and murder case.
In his address, Mirwaiz said that BJP was “shielding” the culprits involved in the heinous crime. “BJP leaders held the rally in support of the culprits and are harassing Gujjars. Gujjars are also being boycotted,” Mirwaiz claimed.
He blamed the PDP-BJP government in the state for “strengthening” the communal forces.
“Since the PDP-BJP government has come to the power in JK, Gujjars and common Muslims are being harassed in the state,” he said.
He said that some people were giving this incident a “communal” colour.
“Instead seeking punishment, some people are supporting the perpetrators,” Mirwaiz, who is heading the Hurriyat Conference (M), said.
He warned the government to be ready for consequences if there is delay in punishing the culprits.
Malik, the JKLF Chairman, said that it had never happened when the rally was held in favour of the rapist.
“The fascist government in New Delhi is harassing Muslim in the name of love jihad, and beef,” he said.
Apparently referring to Mehbooba Mufti, Malik said that the party, which claimed before elections would “protect the martyrs”, has maintained the silence.
“Now a rally is being allowed by her government and supporting the rapist and killers,” he said.
“India is getting exposed. It is also an insult to their religion to support the rapist,” he said.
Kashmiri Pandit leader and academician, Professor Vaishnavi, while seeking punishment to culprits, said that “JK was political disturbed not the mentally disturbed”.
“Everyone should listen to their conscience and seek harsh punishment to the culprits. Either government has no will to punish culprits or is morally weak,” he said.
Christian father Veenu appealed the government to give harsh punishment to the culprits. “We condemn this incident and everyone should seek strict punishment,” he said.
Davendar Singh from Sikh community, traders, civil society leaders, and people from other walks of life also participated in the rally.
Meanwhile, a civil society group also held a protest at Srinagar’s Pratap Park against the incident.
Professor Hameeda Nayeem claimed that Muslims were being “harassed” in Jammu.
“The culprits should be given strict punishment instead shielding them,” she said.
A civil society member, Shakeel Qalandar, said that they stand with the family of the girl.
“We stand with Gujjars. We want justice should be given to the family like in the Nirbhaya or in Zainab case,” Qalandar said.
Several other protests were also held in Kashmir, seeking punishment to the culprits for raping and murdering the girl.


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CJI’s office comes under RTI, rules SC

Agencies

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New Delhi, Nov 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the office of the Chief Justice of India was a public authority and fell within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict and dismissed three appeals filed by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court.

Cautioning that RTI could be used as a tool of surveillance, the top court in its judgment, held that judicial independence had to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.

 

The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said only the names of judges recommended by the Collegium for appointment could be disclosed, not the reasons.

While the CJI and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna penned one judgment, Justices Ramana and Chandrachud wrote separate verdicts.

It said that the Right to Privacy was an important aspect and it had to be balanced with transparency while deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice. Justice Chandrachud said the judiciary could not function in total insulation as judges enjoy constitutional posts and discharge public duty.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna said independence of the judiciary and transparency went hand in hand.

Justice Ramana, who concurred with Justice Khanna, said there should be a balancing formula for Right to Privacy and right to transparency and independence of judiciary should be protected from breach.

The High Court on January 10, 2010 had held that the CJI office came within the ambit of the RTI law, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him.

The 88-page judgment was seen as a personal setback to the then CJI, K G Balakrishnan, who had been opposed to disclosure of information relating to judges under the RTI Act.

The high court verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah (since retired) and Justices Vikramjit Sen and S Muralidhar. The bench had dismissed a plea of the Supreme Court that contended bringing the CJI’s office within the RTI Act would ‘hamper’ judicial independence.

Justice Sen has retired from the apex court, while Justice Murlidhar is a sitting judge of the High Court.

The move to bring the office of the CJI under the transparency law was initiated by RTI activist S C Agrawal. His lawyer Prashant Bhushan had submitted in the top court that though the apex court should not have been judging its own cause, it was hearing the appeals due to the “doctrine of necessity”.

The lawyer had described the reluctance of the judiciary in parting information under the Right To Information Act as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘disturbing’, asking: “Do judges inhabit a different universe?”

He had submitted the apex court had always stood for transparency in functioning of other organs of State, but it developed cold feet when its own issues required attention. Referring to the RTI provisions, Bhushan had said they also deal with exemptions and information that cannot be given to applicants, but the public interest should always ‘outweigh’ personal interests if the person concerned is holding or about to hold a public office. Dealing with ‘judicial independence’, he said the National Judicial Accountability Commission Act was struck down for protecting the judiciary against interference from the executive, but this did not mean that judiciary is free from ‘public scrutiny’.

Transparency activists on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the apex court had reiterated the established position in law in the matter.

“I welcome the decision of the constitution bench to reiterate the established position in law that the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,” said Venkatesh Nayak, head of access to information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO.

About the Supreme Court’s remark that RTI could not be used as a tool of surveillance, Nayak termed it as an “extremely unfortunate” observation. “Surveillance has unfortunately been equated with transparency that is required under a law duly passed by Parliament,” he told PTI.

Nayak said surveillance was what the government often does under executive instructions and that was not the purpose of the RTI Act. “People whose cases relating to their life, liberty, property and rights, are decided by the high courts and the Supreme Court. People have the right to know not only the criteria but all material that formed the basis of making the decision regarding appointments of judges in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act,” he said.

Nayak said where exemptions were available under the RTI Act, they would be legitimately invoked by public authorities and all other information should be in the public domain. He said the appointment of judges, who were public functionary, was a public act.

“People have the right to know everything that is done in a public way by a government, in a democratic country, which must be accountable and responsible,” Nayak said. Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also hailed the top court’s decision. “I had expected the same decision to come as logically there was nothing else. It is unfortunate that this has taken 10 years. The CIC has upheld this. The Delhi HC had also upheld this. Now, the SC has upheld this. All public servants that are paid by the government are a public service, no matter what the position is. You need to be accountable for your work. I congratulate the Chief Justice and the court for having given such a decision,” he said.

RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal lauded the top court’s verdict. “I welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict. It is a victory of the RTI Act,” he said.

Another activist Ajay Dubey said the apex court’s decision was ‘historic’. “It is a historic decision and I welcome it. All decisions made by a public authority must be in public domain and under the RTI Act,” he said.

Dubey, however, expressed shock over the top court’s remark that the RTI Act cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.

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Shopkeeper shot dead in Tral

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Nov 13: Unidentified gunmen shot dead a shopkeeper at Tral in South Kashmir’s Puwlama district on Wednesday, police said.

The slain was in his shop near Old Bus Stand, Tral, 36 kms from here, when pistol borne masked men shot at him from point-blank range at around 3 p.m.

Zarger was immediately shifted to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.

 

A police official while confirming the killing said the slain hailed from Tral town.

Reports said the killing created panic in the town.

In recent weeks, militants have started targeting civilians and hurling grenades at crowded places to impose shutdown in the Valley.

Last Monday one civilian died while over 40 were injured when militants threw a grenade in a crowded market near city center Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

Prior to that, non-local laborers, truck drivers and fruit traders were targeted by the militants in south Kashmir.

On August 30, unidentified gunmen shot dead a 65-year-old shopkeeper at Parimpora area of Srinagar.  On September 30, unidentified gunmen shot at apple grower at Sopore leaving the grower and four others including a four-year-old girl injured.

The Valley witnessed spontaneous shutdown after the Center abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories on August 5.

However, in recent weeks the impact of the shutdown is waning as more and more people are resuming their normal activities across Kashmir.

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Yet another accident: Four killed, 5 injured in Kishtwar mishap

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Nov 13: Four people were killed and five others injured when a vehicle skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge in Kishtwar district on Wednesday, officials said.

The vehicle, carrying pilgrims from Palmar to the Sarthal temple, fell into the gorge after the driver lost control over it, they said.

Police and locals rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to a district hospital in Kishtwar, where doctors declared four of them brought dead, the officials said.

 

Three critically injured people were shifted to the Government Medical College here through a chopper for specialised treatment.

District administration, Kishtwar, provided immediate relief of Rs 10,000 each to the family members of the deceased and 5,000 each to the injured.

This is the second such incident in 24 hours as 16 people, including five women and three children, were killed on Tuesday when a passenger vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Doda district.

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