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LS, Assembly elections: ‘Mehbooba’s south Kashmir visits part of poll campaign, gaining lost ground’

Other parties to begin rallying next week; PM to visit Jammu on Jan 15

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 4: With parliamentary and assembly elections round the corner, the political parties in J&K are set to initiate the election campaigning from the next week.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, however, it seems, has already begun campaigning for her party by visiting the families of some militants in south Kashmir in an attempt to gain the lost political ground.

Last Sunday, Mehbooba visited Pulwama’s Patipora village, where a militant’s family was allegedly tortured by government forces.

 

Unlike her days in power, Mehbooba highlighted the harassment the family had gone through on her official Twitter handle.

She even urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to “initiate action and prevent such incidents in future”.

“Won’t allow bloodshed in Kashmir or turning southern Kashmir into a battleground,” she said.

On Thursday, Mehbooba again visited a slain militant’s family in Shopian, whose other son is in detention.

“I am hopeful that police does not want to harass anyone but it seems from somewhere it is being directed,” she said after visiting the family in Safanagri area of the district.

“In my tenure I had directed forces not to harass brothers or sisters of militants. I hope that governor gives such directions to forces too,” she said.

Interestingly, Mehbooba’s political career begun by visiting families of the militants and victims, making south Kashmir PDP’s stronghold – allowing it to win and ally with BJP in 2014, only to break-off but not before a summer of uprising unsettled the entire Kashmir.

PDP chief spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, refused to confirm whether or not Mehbooba’s visits were a part of the election campaign.

He, however, said the party would officially start the campaigning from January 7.

“We will observe the death anniversary of Mufti Mohammad Saeed on January 7, after which the election campaigning will start. We have recently discussed how to go about it,” Mir said.

He said that campaigning would also depend on the security scenario in the region.

Sources told The Kashmir Monitor that the top PDP leadership, in a key meeting headed by Abdul Rehman Veeri last week, have decided that the ongoing human rights’ situation in south Kashmir will be the basis of the party’s campaign program for the upcoming polls.

As of other political parties, they too have framed their strategies and are set to begin the election campaigning from the next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Jammu on January 15, where he is scheduled to address a gathering.

“We have already started election campaigning in Jammu. From the next week, the election campaigning will be at a larger scale,” a BJP leader said.

“In Kashmir, our leaders will mostly restrict to door-to-door campaigning especially in south Kashmir,” he added.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar said his party has begun the political activities for the polls.

“We are waiting for the Election Commission of India to confirm whether or not both the polls will be held together,” he said.

Senior Congress leader G N Monga said that they will start election campaigning from Jammu after January 15.

“We have already begun the political activities,” Monga said.

The Election Commission of India is likely to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which may be conducted in April.

The district election officers have submitted a proposal of appointment of returning and assistant returning officers to the poll body for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

A police official said that political parties have been advised to hold the rallies at the designated places only.

“The political rallies will be allowed at secured places. We have to make adequate security arrangement before any election rally is held,” the official said.

The state assembly was dissolved by Governor Satya Pal Malik on November 21 citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies” and the “fragile security scenario in the state”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term. Malik dissolved the assembly shortly after People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and the Congress.

 

‘Operation all out’ architect using militant families to get votes: Omar

Srinagar, Jan 3: National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the PDP president saying she was trying to “rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation”.
“The architect of ‘Operation All-out’ & the overseer of the operations that killed hundreds of militants since 2015 is now going from one militant home to the next trying to rehabilitate a badly damaged reputation,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?” the former CM added.
BJP, the former ally of PDP, was quick to dismiss Mehbooba’s visits as a “political gimmick” and sought to remind her of the remarks she made as chief minister during a press conference at the peak of 2016 agitation following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and his two associates.
“It was Mehbooba who earlier made a statement like were they (youth who were killed in 2016 agitation) out to buy toffee or milk. Her visits now to the families of slain militants is a political gimmick,” BJP leader Ashok Koul said.
Several social media users have also dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief’s outreach campaign as political opportunism with an eye on coming elections.
A Facebook user posted the video clips of Mehbooba’s press conference in 2016 as well as the latest comments on harassment of militant families with the title “a very good example of a chameleon”.


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Hajin gunfight ends, 12-year old killed by militants:Police

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Two militants, one of them a top commander of Lashker-e-Taiba, and a 12 minor boy were killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Hajin area of Bandipora district on Friday.
Reports said a joint team of Army’s 13RR, CRPF and SOG launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) at Mir Mohalla of Hajin on Thursday afternoon.
It soon turned into a gunfight which ended Friday morning with the death of two militants.
A 12-year-old boy, Atif Mir, who, the government forces claimed, was made “hostage” by the militants was also killed during the encounter.
Addressing a joint press conference called by army, police, and CRPF, SSP Bandipora, Rahul Malik said they had inputs about presence of militants in the Hajin area for some time and launched several cordon and search operations.
He said this was the third CASO in which a “chance encounter” ensued. He claimed the police rescued the six civilians in the first two hours of gunfight.
“After that we came to know that two more civilians were trapped inside who were taken hostage by the two militants. Among the measures we took was to make announcements through megaphones, we also used local Auqaf committees, and family for releasing of hostages,” the SSP said.
The SSP said that police also involved a team specialized in room to room intervention.
“By the time they reached the third floor, fire came out. We also tried to send the mother, who went inside to make appeals but again militants opened fire at them. In this situation, we were able to rescue one hostage: the old uncle of the trapped boy,” Rahul said.
The SSP claimed they also called the Magistrate at the spot who appealed that the boy should be released.
There are also few videos apparently recorded by government forces in which old parents of the minor are seen pleading before the trapped militants, asking them to release their son.
“Unfortunately, those efforts didn’t materialize. When the firing from the other end intensified, we also retaliated. In this process, two militants with pseudonyms, Ali and Hubaib got killed. In this process, we received information from the rescued civilian. He told us that the minor boy was being held hostage by Ali. The militant didn’t allow the boy to go out, and killed him before our team stormed the building,” he claimed.
Reports said the house belonging to one Abdul Hamid Mir was razed to rubble during the gunfight and all the three bodied were completely charred. Police and army also recovered two Ak-47 rifles.
The government forces, the SSP said, tried to adopt various methods to rescue the boy. The SSP claimed that one of the militants Ali wanted to marry a girl from the family whose members were held hostage.
“The family members of the girl had sent her to some other place. Ali demanded that girl should be brought back and then only he would allow the hostages to go out. This is what had been transpiring in their house. By the time we received the input, the cordon and encounter had already started,” he said.
The police said both the slain were foreign militants and affiliated with LeT.
“Ali has been involved in many civilian killings. He had a trademark of keeping a long knife which we have also recovered. Besides, foreign militants don’t operate from one area. They keep on moving from one district to another. For the last five to six months, their presence has increased in this area. They keep on changing their name, identity and area of operation,” he said.
He claimed that Ali had been operating for the last two years. “We can’t say how many foreign militants are active presently but whosoever is there we are behind them,” he added.
SOPORE RESIDENT AMONG TWO MILITANTS SLAIN IN BARAMULLA: Thousands of people on Friday attended the funeral prayers of Aamir Rasool Kaboo who was among two militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in Kalantra Kandi Kreeri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla Thursday night.
Witnesses said that thousands of people assembled at Aamir’s home at Arampora Friday morning to take part in his last rites. Amir’s body was handed over to the family shortly before midnight.
The mourners raised pro-freedom slogans as they marched with his body to the martyrs’ graveyard where he was laid to rest.
Amir and his associate, believed to be a non-local, were killed in a gunfight with the forces in Kalantra on Thursday. Three soldiers, including an officer, were wounded in the firefight.
A complete shutdown was also observed across the Sopore town and its adjacent areas.

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Two JeM militants killed in Shopian gunfight it

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Two Jaish militants, including a former SPO who had joined the outfit in 2018, were killed in an encounter in Ratnipora area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district on Friday.
Reports said that a joint team of army’s 34 RR, SOG and CRPF laid a cordon and search operation in Ratnipora village late last night.
Quoting a police officer, news agency GNS said that the CASO was launched following inputs about the presence of some militants.
“The joint team in the meantime fired some warning shots towards the suspected spot which was responded by militants and it was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight”.
“During the course of gunfight, two militants have been killed and their bodies along with two weapons were recovered from the site late this afternoon,” the officer said, adding that both the slain militants were affiliated with JeM outfit.
SSP Shopian Sandeep Choudhary identified the slain militants as Showkat Ahmad of Heramain and Yasir Ahmad Shah of Aarhama.
The SSP added that Showkat was an SPO-turned-militant and had joined the militant outfit last year.
Meanwhile, massive protest erupted near encounter site and its adjoining villages including Gadapora as protesters tried to march closer to the gunfight spot. The forces used pellets and tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting youth. The stone pelting clashes amid a shutdown was also received from neighbouring Pulwama district
At least fifteen youth were injured in the clashes near encounter site. Among the fifteen injured, ten of them were taken to district hospital Shopian for treatment. A policeman namely Tariq Ahmad also sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a stone during clashes in adjoining Ratnipora village of the district, the official sources said.
A doctor who operated upon them said that five youth suffered pellet injuries in their eyes while one of them had been shot in the neck.
“All the ten injured were later referred to different hospitals in Srinagar for advanced treatment,” he said.
Meanwhile, in wake of the gunfight, the internet services were suspended in Shopian for precautionary measures. (With inputs from GNS)

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Centre bans JKLF under ‘anti-terror’ law

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Mar 22: The Yasin Malik-led Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was banned by the Centre under ‘anti-terror’ law on Friday, officials said.
The outfit has been banned for alleged promotion of secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, they said.
They said the organisation has been banned under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Its chief Yasin Malik is under arrest and at present lodged in Jammu’s Kot Balwal jail.
This is the second organisation in Jammu and Kashmir which has been banned this month. Earlier, the Centre had banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir.
Reacting to banning of JKLF, PDP president and former J&K CM, Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving J&K issue a long time ago. He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by then PM Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organisation achieve? Detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open air prison.”
National Conference Vice President and another former CM of the state, Omar Abdullah, too expressed his thoughts over the decision.
“For 4 1/2 years (four and a half years) Yasin Malik isn’t a threat, Jamaat Islami isn’t a threat, Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate u-turn is executed,” he wrote on Twitter.

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