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Lok Sabha Elections: Promises for power continue

Will abolish PSA, withdraw cases against stone pelters: Omar

Nisar Dharma

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Anantnag, Apr 13: As parliamentary elections are underway, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah Saturday repeated his rhetoric of abolishing Public Safety Act (PSA) if his party comes to power.

The former chief minister, during a rally in Khanabal, Anantnag, said the party will withdraw all the cases against the stone pelters and will also abolish Public Safety Act (PSA) if it is voted to power.

“We have already made it clear during campaigning in north Kashmir that if voted to power, NC will abolish PSA and will withdraw the cases against the stone pelters,” he said.

 

Interestingly, the party has made similar promises in the past as well but once attaining power, it, like its rival PDP, has put the issue on the back burner. Instead, the draconian law that PSA is has been used with more impunity than ever in the recent years. 

In north Kashmir alone, official data reveals that as many as 779 persons have been slapped with PSA from 2009 to 2017.

Omar and president of his rival party PDP, Mehbooba Mufti, both served as J&K’s Chief Ministers during these years.

The law was introduced during the Sheikh Abdullah government in the 1970s, initially to discourage timber smuggling. However, it has often been used by the successive state governments against their own people, drawing severe criticism from human rights groups at home and abroad.

At present, according to January 2019 figures, there are as many as 230 people who have been booked under the Public Safety Act in 2018 alone.

Recently, after Government of India banned the socio-religious group, Jamaat-e-Islami (J&K), the authorities detained hundreds of its members and slapped PSA against many of them.

Barring the promises talk in the rally, Omar also seemed confident of his party’s victory in the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, which went to polls last Thursday.

Talking to reporters, Omar said “it has won the Baramulla seat with a good majority” adding the party is confident that it will emerge victorious on all the three Lok Sabha seats in Kashmir.

“We have started campaigning for South Kashmir seat and we hope the boycott effect will be less as it would certainly help the other candidates to emerge victorious,” Omar said.

As has become a routine, Omar also took on PDP for its eternal gaffe of allying with BJP.

“We had warned late Mufti Sayeed and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti not to forge an alliance with them (BJP) but later our apprehensions came true.

“The BJP’s anti-Muslim policies are known to all. That’s why we had appealed the PDP to not give space to BJP in Jammu and Kashmir,” the former J&K chief minister said.

Stating that BJP was continuously attacking the Articles 370 and 35A, Omar claimed that whenever National Conference was out of power, “such forces took advantage of the situation following which Jammu and Kashmir bore the brunt.”

“We want assembly elections to be held soon after the culmination of parliamentary polls so that people get a chance to elect their representatives. If voted to power, NC will fight against all the issues including the highway ban and attack on special status,” Omar said.


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Jaish almost wiped out, no one willing to head it: Army

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Army on Wednesday claimed the government forces have “severely targeted” the militants for the last few months and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant outfit was “almost wiped out with no one willing to take over it”.

Addressing a press conference here, GOC 15 Corps, KJS Dhillon, who was accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh, IGP Kashmir SP Pani, and IG CRPF Zulfikar Hassan, said that 69 militants have been killed and 12 of them arrested so far this year.

“Post Pulwama incident, 41 militants have been killed and out of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, 13 of them were Pakistanis while 13 were A+ category,” Dhillon said.

 

The GOC 15 Corps claimed that they have targeted JeM leadership.

“The situation now is so that no one is coming forward to take over the leadership of JeM in the valley,” he said.

“Even after Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress JeM. The operations against the militants will continue with full vigour and we will not let militancy rise up,” he said, while appealing the local militants to surrender.

“Recruitment of local militants has gone down. In addition, those who surrender, we will take care of their security,” he said.

Dhillon also advised civilians not to rush to the encounter sites.

Asked about the bi-weekly restrictions on civilian traffic on the Highway, he replied, “This is just a temporary measure. There are now relaxations on the civilian traffic.”

On the occasion, the DGP said 272 militants were killed in the state during 2018 and a “large number was apprehended.”

He too claimed that the local recruitment in militant outfits had declined.

“2018 was generally a successful year. There has been less ‘law and order’ problem. We brought many youth (who had joined militancy) back to their homes,” the DGP claimed.

“Elections have been conducted peacefully in the state because of a well-planned security grid. Voter turnover at 13 percent in Anantnag district is not less. People voted despite threats, no one can be forced to vote,” he said.

Asked there were reports that 11 youth had gone missing in south Kashmir during the last one month, the IGP Kashmir said, “Few had gone missing but returned. They had gone missing for other reasons, not to join militancy.”

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Held Pak militant paraded before media

‘Chota Dujana was active in Srinagar for over a year’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday presented a Pakistani militant Mohammad Waqar, alias Chota Dujana before the media, who, they claimed, was arrested from Pattan area in Baramulla on Monday.

During a press conference here, the militant was briefly allowed to respond to media.

“My name is Mohammad Waqar, resident of Miana Mohalla Punjab in Pakistan. I underwent a four-month militant training there,” he said.

 

 “I was told that Kashmiris are harassed, women are assaulted and Muslims are not allowed to offer prayers in Masjids. But I did not find any such thing here,” he replied when asked why had he picked up arms.

The militant was soon moved away.

SSP Baramulla, Abdul Wahid, said Waqar was affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba and had arrived in Kashmir in July 2017.

“He was operating in Srinagar for over a year now,” the officer said.

He added that the militant was travelling in a vehicle along with a Kashmiri when they were intercepted by the police near Mirgund, Pattan.

“They were chased and arrested near Chainabal Pattan,” he said.

The SSP said that as per their preliminary investigations, the militant was given shelter in old city as well as uptown areas of Srinagar.

“His plan was to resurrect militancy in Baramulla,” Wahid said.

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Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24

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New Delhi, Apr 24: A Delhi court Wednesday sent the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with the alleged funding case, to judicial custody till May 24.

The Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.

The family of Yasin Malik, said on Saturday, that the JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.

 

Earlier this month, Malik was brought to Delhi from Jammu and was later arrested by NIA in connection with an alleged case related to the funding of militant and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. He was produced in a special court which remanded him in NIA’s custody till April 22.

Malik was shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail after NIA secured his production remand.  The JKLF chief was taken into preventive custody in February by the J&K police and lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.

Malik organisation JKLF was banned last month by the Centre.

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