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Mehbooba predicts BJP will neither win nor scrap Art 370

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Srinagar, Apr 27: Peoples Democratic Party president and once an ally of the saffron party, Mehbooba Mufti Saturday predicted that BJP was not going to be reelected in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls and as such cannot scrap Article 370 in Kashmir.
“BJP’s performance in the phases held until now has been pathetic. Gathbandan’s doing very well. Therefore neither will BJP be reelected nor will they scrap Article 370. Khwaab dekhtay raho! (keep on dreaming),” she tweeted.
Mehbooba was reacting to an interview PM Narendra Modi gave to India Today on Friday in which he said that Articles 370 and 35-A had “caused huge loss” to the valley.
Modi also censured Mehbooba Mufti saying those who say Kashmir will secede from India if Article 370 is removed “don’t deserve Indian Citizenship”.
“Kashmir has been a part of India since ages. Those who use such language, have no right to be Indian citizens. They have no right to contest elections,” he said in the interview.
Mehbooba, during a rally in Kulgam on Saturday, also said that “India should leave Kashmir if its Prime Minister feels that Kashmir is a loss for them.”
“If (PM) Modi thinks that Kashmir is in loss because of Article 370 then why they don’t leave Kashmir,” replied Mehbooba when asked by the reporters to respond to the Prime Minister’s remark on Article 370.
She also talked tough about PDP’s former ally, Congress and the National Conference.
“When Azad Sahab became chief minister of the state he sold Kashmiri land to the Shrine Board. Did he not think of Article 370 at that time?” Mehbooba questioned.
The PDP president also came down heavily on NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
“Sheikh Sahab accepted the chief minister’s seat after signing the infamous accord 1975 with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. Did National Conference not think of the special status of the state,” she questioned.
She said that for two years she was fighting with the Modi-led government when the state was ruled by PDP-BJP coalition.
“I had made it clear to (PM) Modi that if they tinker with the special status of the state then PDP will leave the government,” the former chief minister said.
On Friday, the prime minister had said that if BJP will be voted back to power then they will end the special status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The BJP’s election manifesto has mentioned that the party will abrogate Article 370 and Article 35-A of the Indian constitution.


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Zakir Musa’s killing: Clampdown in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, May 24: Authorities imposed restrictions on movement and communication in the valley soon after Kashmir’s most wanted militant ‘commander’ Zakir Musa was trapped in a gunfight that began Thursday afternoon and ended with his killing Friday morning.
Zakir, an engineering student in Chandigarh, joined militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen in January 2013. He was a close associate of militant ‘commander’ Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016.
The news of him being trapped and killed Thursday triggered nocturnal protests in parts of Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian and Baramulla. The same spilled over to other districts of the valley on Friday.
Authorities had already announced closure of all educational institutions across Kashmir. Mobile internet service was snapped in the valley and the speed of fixed landline broadband connections was choked down.
While restrictions were put in place in many areas of the Valley, the rest observed a spontaneous shutdown on their own. Banihal town on the highway between Jammu and Srinagar too observed a shutdown against the militant’s killing.
Authorities also disallowed Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar for the second time in the holy month of Ramadan.
Chairman Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is also the chief cleric of the historic Mosque, condemned the barring of mandatory Friday prayers at the Mosque.
“Condemn that for the second time in Ramadan jumma prayers disallowed at Jama Masjid. Extremely sad that each day Kashmir loses its promising young in one way or other to the lingering conflict. Urge all stakeholders to come together to put an end to this daily killing and violence and bring peace to this beleaguered land by resolving the Kashmir issue,” Mirwaiz tweeted.
Heavy deployments of paramilitary troopers was made in Srinagar, south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts along with most townships of north Kashmir.
Zakir was killed in an encounter which broke after a joint team of the army and the SOG launched a cordon-and-search operation in Dadsara village on Thursday.
Incidents of clashes and protests were reported from several areas of Srinagar including Bemina, Natipora, Mehjoor Nagar, Abi Guzar, Padshahi Bagh, Nowgam, and Batamaloo. Similar reports came from Kupwara’s Trehgam, Sopore town, Budgam and several parts of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam districts.
In Rahmoo, Rajpora, Kakapora, Malangpora villages of Pulwama district, “pro-freedom” Taranas were played from mosque loudspeakers.
An eyewitness in Chersoo, a village in Awantipora, said youth and government forces engaged in pitched battles as the latter fired pellets, PAVA and tear gas shells to disperse the stone-pelting youth.
“The government forces finally entered the village and damaged several cars and motorcycles on the roads and even tumbled a few of them in the nearby stream,” the witness said.
Protests also erupted in Okay, Yaripora and Shouch areas of Kulgam district, Trenz and Imam Shab areas of Shopian district.
Protests were also reported from Soaf-Shali area of Kokernag, Khanabal and Seer Hamdan.
The students of Kashmir University too assembled outside the Jamia Masjid in the campus after congregational prayers and offered funeral payers in absentia for the slain militant.

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Zakir buried, thousands attend funeral prayers

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, May 24: Top militant ‘commander’ Zakir Rashid Bhat, aka Zakir Musa, was Friday laid to rest after multiple rounds of funeral prayers attended by thousands of people at the slain’s ancestral village, Noorpora in Pulwama district.
One of the most wanted militant ‘commanders’, Zakir, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, was killed in a gunfight that began Thursday afternoon and ended Friday morning at village Dadsara in Tral.
The operation was jointly carried out by Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, along with Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF.
Zakir, as per sources, was initially trapped in a house in Dadsara but managed to move out during the night. He was eventually shot dead at a nearby orchard early Friday morning.
Eyewitnesses told The Kashmir Monitor that despite the curbs and heavy deployment of government forces, people from far and wide managed to reach Noorpora in Pulwama to attend the funeral prayers of the slain ‘commander’.
Younis, 28, a resident of Noorpora, said that apart from Pulwama, people from nearby districts of Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and even Srinagar and Budgam poured in thousands to participate in the last rites.
He said that an estimated 15,000 people attended the funeral prayers which were repeated at least four times.
The gathering, Younis said, would have been even larger had it not been raining.
“Rains played a major role in curbing the public outrage as people who were coming for participating in the prayers left right after unlike in 2016 when they stayed back,” he said.
Earlier, on Thursday, army along with paramilitary forces and police had started a cordon and search operation following information about the presence of militants in Dadsara.
An official said that Zakir was asked to surrender but “instead he hurled grenades and started firing, which was retaliated, triggering off an encounter.”
More government forces, the official added, were rushed to the area to prevent him from escaping under the cover of darkness.
The house in which Zakir was trapped was razed to rubble but he had managed to escape even as an AK-47 rifle and a rocket was recovered. He then was trapped in a nearby orchard and was killed after a brief gunfight on Friday morning, the official added.
Zakir, an engineering dropout form a Chandigarh college, joined Hizbul Mujahideen in January 2013. He was a close associate of militant ‘commander’ Burhan Wani, whose killing in 2016, led to a 4-month-long mass unrest in the valley.
Fearing a repeat of the 2016 ripple effect, the authorities imposed curfew and restrictions in several sensitive parts in Pulwama, Awantipora, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Budgam districts.
Internet was also snapped and all educational institutions including universities, schools and colleges across Kashmir were directed to remain closed to prevent student protests.
A police spokesperson said there were several cases registered against Zakir, who, he said, “was involved in planning and executing a series of attacks in the area.”
“He was involved in cases pertaining to the grenade attack on CISF at Noorpora Check, abduction and killing of a civilian Firdous Ahmad Hurrah of Dusoo Pulwama, inciting youth for militant activities, killing of a civilian lady Hameed Bano of Noorpora, snatching of weapons from security forces, arson act on Government Higher Secondary School Dadsara, bank dacoity at J&K Bank Noorpora, and raising of funds for militancy activities,” the spokesman said.
Zakir, he said, was declared as a pro-claimed offender by NIA special court Mohali Punjab on 2nd May 2019.
The case pertained to his alleged involvement in serial blasts at Jalandhar Punjab on September 14 last year, for which the FIR was registered at Police Station Maqsudan Jalandhar.

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2013 to 2019: Hizb to AGH-Major blow to militancy

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, May 24: The killing of Zakir Rashid Bhat aka Zakir Musa, one the last active militant ‘commanders’ in Kashmir is a major blow to militancy in the valley, police officials said on Friday.
Zakir was killed in an encounter in Dadsara Tral between Thursday and Friday night. The operation was jointly carried out by Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, along with Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF.
“He was one the last standing militant leaders and his killing is a big success for us. We have now almost wiped off the entire militant leadership,” a top police officer told The Kashmir Monitor.
ADGP Law and Order, Munir Ahmad Khan told The Kashmir Monitor that Zakir’s killing was going to strongly impact militancy in Kashmir.
“He was the head of AGH and eliminating him is a big achievement for us. He was a very old militant and naturally, his killing is going to impact the militancy in Kashmir because the old ones inspire the new ones,” he said.
The ADGP said the killing of militant leaders impacts militancy as there hardly remains anyone to lure youth to militancy.
Army too was quick to react to Zakir’s killing.
“Assuredly moving towards Terrorism Free Kashmir. Terrorist Leadership targeted successfully in Tral. College dropout ZakirBhat Musa leader of AGH neutralised. Defied Hizb continuously. Commendable & laudable efforts by @adgpi @northerncomd_ia @kashmirpolice @crpf_srinagar,” the Srinagar based Chinar Corps, also known as 15 Corps, tweeted Friday morning.
After his killing, the Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a statement saying that the Zakir “was carrying rocket launcher, grenades, huge ammunition and warlike stores beside an AK 47”.
Musa, who left Hizb chief and founded Ansar-ul-Gazwat-ul Hind (AGH), a Kashmir-based militant outfit inspired by Al-Qaeda, was an A++ category militant.
Born in an affluent family of Noorpora village in volatile Tral region, Zakir succeeded Burhan Wani as the divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir soon after the latter was killed in an encounter in July 2016.
After quitting engineering studies at a Chandigarh college in 2013, Zakir, then in his mid-20s, joined Hizb’s core group of militants based in Tral.
He grew very close to Burhan and hit headlines first time in 2015 after his picture along with another militant Lateef Tiger went viral on social media. The picture, in which Zakir and Lateef were in casuals, was clicked somewhere in Srinagar, sending the security establishment into the tizzy that time.
Days after Burhan’s killing, Musa issued a maiden video statement, calling on people to continue the agitation and described Kashmir’s movement as the “movement for Islam”. In several other videos, he was seen giving arms training to the new recruits inside a residential house at an undisclosed location.
However, Zakir shot to prominence in May 2017 after he termed the Kashmir movement “as a struggle for the establishment of Islam and not for nationalism or secularism”. He threatened to behead Hurriyat leaders and hang their heads in Lal Chowk “if they came out in his way of establishing Shariah”.
The threat did not go well with Hizbul Mujahideen leadership based in Pakistan who termed his remarks as his personal views. Musa was quick to hit back and announced his exit from the Hizb.
Days later, he formed his own outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, which is believed to be linked to Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, and reiterated his pan-Islamist stand. Zakir entered into a bitter war of words with the militant leadership based in Pakistan over his Islamist stand.
Around a dozen members of Hizb and LeT defected to Musa’s group and announced their support to his cause. Notable among them was Abu Dujana, the successor of top Lashkar commander Abu Qasim, who was killed in 2015 and Abu Hamas, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. Both the commanders were residents of Pakistan and their support to Musa gave his outfit a big boost.
The first major blow to AGH came in August 2017 when Abu Dujana and his aide Arif Lelhari died in a gunfight at Hakripora in Kakapora area of Pulwama district. A few weeks later, four of his aides were killed in a brief encounter in Tral.
Till this date, more than a dozen members of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind have been killed including its deputy chief Rehan Khan. Before the formation of the group, four aides of Zakir were killed in an encounter in Kakapora.
After quitting Hizb, Zakir remained elusive but his group released many of his audio messages wherein he targeted both India and Pakistan.
While Zakir was severely criticized by the UJC and Joint Hurriyat Leadership, he became highly popular among youths in Kashmir with his slogans being raised even in the protests on civic issues.
He featured in top 12 “most wanted” militant list of the army and managed to dodge forces on several occasions in the last six years.

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