Srinagar, July 29: A 26-year-old MBA student from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, who had gone missing a week before, announced his joining of militant ranks on social media on Saturday.
The youth, identified as Ishfaq Ahmad Wani, son of Mohammad Yousuf Wani of Koil village in Pulwama, has joined militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba under the soubriquet of Abu Turab.
He was an MBA student and had come home during the holiday. However, he had gone missing from last one week, reports said.
His picture brandishing an assault rifle has gone viral on social media.
Ishfaq went missing on July 22. The family on the very next day filed a missing report with the concerned police station.
However, his family has made appeals to him asking him to return home.
Local youths joining militant groups in the Kashmir this year stood at 110 till July 15, with the worst militancy-hit district of Shopian in south Kashmir accounting for the maximum of 28 recruits, officials said.
The number of locals recruited was 126 last year and officials said they expected the figure to be higher this year.
Reports of missing people have come down after Governor’s rule was imposed in the state last month, they said, but added that some youths continue to join militant ranks.
Security agency officials said highly volatile south Kashmir, comprising Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam districts, besides Awantipora, remained a region accounting for a higher number of youths joining militant groups including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
From these five areas, 91 youths joined various militant groups operating in the Valley, they said.
The disappearance and subsequent joining of militant ranks by Ganderbal youth Rouf, who was in his fourth semester of a diploma course at a government polytechnic institute, was confirmed after his picture was seen on social media in military fatigues, the officials said.
If this trend continues, 2018 may end up as the year with highest number of youths joining various militant groups, according to the officials.
In 2017, a total of 126 youths had picked up the gun. It was the highest number since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state Assembly and Parliament.
There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the Valley since 2014 as compared to the period from 2010 to 2013 when the figures stood at 54, 23, 21 and 6 respectively.
In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 while in 2016, the figure was 88, the data showed.
This year, youths who joined militancy included Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, 26, an MBA degree holder from Kashmir University, and son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, who took over as chairman of the Tehrek-e-Hurriyat from Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The list also included 26-year-old Ph.D. scholar Mannan Bashir Wani, hailing from Kupwara, the officials said. Wani was studying in Aligarh Muslim University.
They said infiltration was on the rise and some of the militants had managed to sneak into the Valley from across the border in Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu region as well as through the LoC in Kashmir. (With inputs from PTI)
Kashmir resolution on cards: Rajnath
‘Agar baat cheet se nahi, to hamey maloom hai kaisey’
Jammu, Jul 20: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday said that the resolution of Kashmir issue is on the cards and “no power on earth can stop it”.
Singh, who visited Kargil War Memorial in Drass sector on Saturday, also inaugurated two bridges in Kathua and Basantar.
“Kashmir samasya ka hal jaldi hi honey wala hai” (resolution of Kashmir issue will take place soon), he said before inaugurating a 1,000 meters long bridge over river Ujh in border Kathua district.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 50 crore, it is the longest ever bridge constructed by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) so far.
Referring to his numerous appeals as Home Minister for talks to all those raking up Kashmir issue, Singh recalled that how Hurriyat leaders did not open their doors for visiting members of the all-party delegation once led by him to the Valley.
“People who are running a movement in Kashmir, if they want a solution through it, I appeal to them to at least sit and talk once, to understand what is the issue, what are the problems, so they could be solved together,” news agency ANI quoted Rajnath saying.
“Resolution of Kashmir issue is bound to take place and no power on earth can stop it,” he said.
“Agar baat cheet se nahi, to kaisey, humey maloom hai” (If not through talks then how, we know it), he added.
“Iska samadhaan ho kar rahey ga. Main jo bolta hoon, souch samaj kar bolta hoon. Aisey hi nahi bolta hoon” (Its resolution is bound to take place. Whatever I say, I say with full responsibility), he said.
Earlier in the day, Singh visited the Kargil War Memorial in Drass and paid tributes to the Indian soldiers killed during the Kargil war.
Inaugurates Ujh Bridge
Ushering in a new revolution in the connectivity of roads and bridges in border areas, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh Saturday inaugurated the 1000 mtr long Ujh Bridge in Pandori village of Kathua district and dedicated it to the Nation.
The event was attended by Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, Chief of Army Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, Director General Border Roads, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, GOC Gurj Division, Maj Gen Y P Khanduri, IGP Jammu zone, Manish Sinha, DC Kathua, Dr. Rghav Langer, SSP Kathua, Sridhar Patil, Former legislators of Kathua and Hiranagar besides many other Army and Civil administration dignitaries.
Terming construction of Ujh bridge a great achievement by BRO, Defence Minister said that the roads and bridges are the lifeline of any nation and play a vital role in the socio economic development of far flung regions and population.
Rajnath Singh praised BRO personnel for working in the most hostile and the difficult areas, away from their families and rendering commendable services through construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in border areas fulfilling the strategic need of Indian Defence Forces.
Reiterating the Central Government
s commitment to the development of connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir area, he said that our Prime Minister is regularly monitoring the progress of these projects and funds are being ensured accordingly.
1000 mtr long Ujh bridge is the longest bridge constructed by BRO and also has the distinction of using technology of pre-cast segmental bridge with 60 mtrs span. It has been constructed at a cost of approx Rs 50 Crore and completed within schedule time. The bridge is located on Parole-Korepunnu-Rajpura road over Ujh river and will provide alternate connectivity along the NH, Defence Minister informed.
Union MoS, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this bridge will provide alternate connectivity during cross border firing and will make life easier for the villagers in the rainy season. He congratulated to all who were present that their long-pending demand now stands realized.
He further said that apart from this bridge, Community and Individual bunkers in border areas, Seema Bhavan, enhancement in SPOs wages, strengthening VDCs and increasing livestock insurance during border skirmishes were few other initiatives which were undertaken during Rajnath Singhs previous tenure as Home Minister to facilitate border dwellers.
Lt Gen. Harpal Singh underlined the contribution of BRO to the nation in far flung areas of the country under extremely difficult and harsh conditions. Admiring the contribution of Project Sampark and congratulating all the employees associated with this project, he offered his sincere thanks to the Defence Minister, MoS PMO, Chief of Army Staff and other dignitaries and locals for their support for completion of this project.
Revival of Ancharsar, Khoshalsar, Gilsar: Centre hasn’t received proposal, LAWDA claims sending 3 yrs ago
Srinagar, Jul 20: Seemingly rebutting the state government, Centre has clarified that they have not received any proposal from the state authorities for the revival of three dying lakes in Srinagar.
In a written reply to a starred question of National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah, the central government told Lok Sabha that they have not received any proposal for revival of three Srinagar lakes — Ancharsar, Khoshalsar and Gilsar — from the state government.
“No proposal for the revival of these three lakes has since been received from the Jammu and Kashmir government,” reads the reply.
Vice-chairman, Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), Sajad Hussain however told The Kashmir Monitor that they have “sent proposal three years back” and he “does not have any information about the new ones.”
Centre, however noted, that as informed by the LAWDA, three important lakes in Srinagar including Ancharsar, Khoshalsar and Gilsar are facing severe threats of pollution from untreated sewage.
Ministry of Environmental Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is currently implementing the centrally sponsored scheme, ‘National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystem (NPCA)’ for conservation and management of identified wetlands in the country on a cost-sharing basis between the Central Government and the respective State Governments.
“The central assistance is based on the proposals received from the state governments in conformity with the guidelines and budget availability”, reads the reply.
“The scheme covers various activities including interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater, shoreline protection, Lakefront development, in-situ cleaning i.e de-silting and de-weeding storm water management, bioremediation, catchment, area treatment, lake beautification, survey and demarcation, bio fencing, fisheries development, weed control, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation and community participation”.
Gilsar Lake is an inter-connected water body of Srinagar. Waters from Dal and Nigeen flows into Gilsar via Nallah Amir Khan and drain into Anchar Lake.
“In absence of any regulation and conservation measures, Gilsar and two other lakes are facing an imminent threat of extinction,” an official of LAWDA said.
He noted that the enormous growth of obnoxious weeds and vegetation has been hampering the smooth flow of water into the lake. “Most of the city waste encompasses plastic and sewage which ends up in the Khushalsar and other water bodies,” he said.
Saudi Arabia starts e-visa for Umrah
Srinagar, Jul 20: Great news in the offing for Indians intending to do Umrah. Now, they can easily apply and get an e-visa to perform the pilgrimage without having to go through the hassle of visiting the embassy.
The Saudi government has made the process of getting an Umrah visa fairly easy ensuring that Indian Muslims no longer require visiting the embassy offices in New Delhi or Mumbai.
The aspirants can simply fill up the form on the embassy website personally or through a travel agent and get their e-visa.
The efforts are a part of Vision 2030 which aims to ease the process of performing Hajj and Umrah along with providing the best facilities for pilgrims.
Very soon Hajj and Umrah visa will also allow pilgrims to travel to other parts of the Kingdom.
With Saudi Ambassador in India, Dr Saud Mohammed Al Sati at the forefront of these developments, they will definitely cut the paper-work and considerably reduce the inconvenience that pilgrims may otherwise have been facing so far.
With Vision 2030 serving as a blueprint, the Kingdom is working on the strategic objective of welcoming 30 million pilgrims each year to perform Hajj and Umrah.
The third phase of expansion of the Grand Mosque, launched by King Salman, is making good progress. Expansion of the building itself covers 1.47 million square meters, including 78 new gates. The various new infrastructure and transportation projects are shaping up beautifully.
In this new era of development, the Kingdom sees India as an important partner.
“In our common pursuit for development and stability, Saudi Arabia sees India as an important partner. Our ties trace their roots to the third millennium BC. Trade, science, arts, literature, languages — the exchanges between our civilisations have indeed been profound. India holds a special place for us,” Dr Sati said earlier this year.
The Kingdom is well aware of how important India and Indians are for it considering that nearly 3 million Indians form the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia.
India has also seen its Haj quota of 1,36,020 increase consecutively during the last two years to a record 1,75,025.