Srinagar, Nov 6: Srinagar witnessed the coldest night of the season on Wednesday with the mercury settling below the freezing point for the first time, even as the MeT department forecast a spell of wet weather this weekend.
The minimum temperature in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir settled at a low of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius, an official of the Meteorological Department here said.
He said the night temperature in Srinagar was nearly five degrees below normal for this time of the season.
The minimum temperature at other places across Kashmir Valley as well as Ladakh region also stayed below the freezing point, the official said.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the minimum of minus 6.6 degree Celsius, while Pahalgam health resort, which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, registered a low of minus 5.2 degrees Celsius, he said.
He said Kokernag in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 1.7 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in the nearby Qazigund settled at minus 2.8 degree Celsius.
The official said the mercury in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius.
Leh in Ladakh region of the state recorded a low of minus 8.4 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Kargil registered the minimum of minus 9.0 degrees Celsius.
Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir.
The MeT office has forecast isolated to scattered rainfall or snow, especially in the higher reaches of the state, from November 9.
In UP, Farooq calls for united front against ‘communal forces’
Lucknow, Nov 18: National Conference President Farooq Abdullah on Sunday urged all the secular forces of India to put up a strong and joint front against the ‘communal forces that are hell-bent to tarnish the secular countenance of India’.
Farooq, while addressing various public meets at Lucknow, said that the communal forces are again racking up the poignant and sensitive issues in order to garner support and polarize the electorate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
“The nation has had enough of it, the propensity of the situation demands for a progressive and secular government at the centre that can cherish and advance the secular values of our nation,” he said.
Farooq, who represents the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, said the name changing spree of cities and the fanning up of passions in the run up to elections reflect that the BJP led central government has miserably failed to deliver on developmental front.
“People are well aware of the fact that how they keep throwing catchwords as development. The need of the hour necessitates for a government which can deliver without much fanfare and slogan-mongering. The nation has had enough of it,” he said.
National Conference president impressed on the governments of India and Pakistan to shun enduring hostilities and give peace a chance.
“I am of the firm belief that the constituency of those who seek peace on both sides of the border far exceeds that of those who want war. Hawkish people and outfits ought to be sidelined,” he said.
Farooq said that the increased levels of animosity and tension between India and Pakistan affects the political and economic activities of the people in Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is the common populace which is suffering on either sides of the border and the line of control. Every time it lit up with fire common populace face the brunt of it. Innocents get killed, many resort to migration leaving their homes and fields,” he said.
He impressed upon the GOI to show empathy with the people of Kashmir, especially the youth who stand disenchanted with the present situation.
“GOI should reconcile with the youth of Kashmir in order to increase the constituency of peace in the state. The iron fist strategy will push the already aggrieved and aggravated youth to wall,” he said.
He urged the GOI to come up with people friendly CBMs to offer some respite to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The best confidence building measure would be to implement the autonomy resolution which was passed by the state legislature with 2/3rd majority. The step could go a long way in instilling confidence in the people of state. It will also advance unity and brotherhood in the state,” he said.
Kashmir fatigue’ in world, no resolution expected: Natwar Singh
New Delhi, Nov 18: India-Pakistan relations are “chronically accident-prone”, says former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, who feels that the future lies in the past as the two countries carry too much baggage. He says Pakistan’s one-point programme is Kashmir but there is “Kashmir fatigue” in the world.
Singh, 87, also says that India made a fundamental mistake by going to the United Nations on the Kashmir issue and asserted there is no solution to it “as everything has been tried”.
“The fundamental mistake was to go to the UN on the Kashmir issue. (Prime Minister) Jawaharlal Nehru was pushed into it by (Governor General) Mountbatten. We went to the UN under Chapter 6, which is on disputes. We should have gone under chapter 7 which is on aggression,” Natwar Singh told IANS in an interview.
He said every Indian Prime minister and Foreign Minister thinks he can resolve the Kashmir issue and smoothen Indo-Pak relations.
“The fact is there is no solution for Kashmir, everything has been tried. The other fact is that Indo-Pak relations are chronically accident prone. The future of Indo-Pak relations lies in the past. Both countries carry too much baggage… I don’t see any change in our relationship. It is cheese and chalk… as simple as that. It’s a great pity,” he said.
India had in September this year called off a meeting between the foreign ministers of two countries on the sidelines of UN General Assembly after the killing of forces’ personnel in Jammu and Kashmir by militants.
India and Pakistan have not had a composite or sustained dialogue for the past 10 years to solve outstanding issues, including Kashmir, though there have been some interactions between their leaders.
India had called off the composite dialogue process within days of the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 and has repeatedly said that “terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil remains a hurdle to its resumption.”
In 2015, the two countries agreed to launch a “comprehensive dialogue” but it was junked following the attack on the Pathankot air base.
Natwar Singh said nothing significant should be expected from meetings between leaders of two countries.
“What could they talk? You can’t give an inch, they can’t give an inch. You meet and shake hands but there is nothing substantial. As I said, we have all tried. It is not realistic because if we really became very close friends, there will be question mark on the existence of the country.”
Natwar Singh said Pakistan’s one-point programme is Kashmir, but there is “Kashmir fatigue” in the world.
“You go to any part of Pakistan, this is a subject. You go to Chennai, nobody speaks of Kashmir. Their diplomats are really brilliant but they spend so much of their time on Kashmir. There is Kashmir fatigue in the world. We must accept the fact that it is the Army that calls the shots (in Pakistan).”
Asked about the way forward in India-Pakistan relations, Natwar Singh, whose last diplomatic posting was as India’s envoy to Pakistan and then Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, said that status quo would continue.
“If Indo-Pak relations genuinely improve, became cordial and friendly, then the people of Pakistan will ask why do we need such a large army? The army is not going to give up. And the retired officers have a foundation — Fauji Foundation — in which all have shares, they have land, property, industry and everything.”
He said the Army “was an industry” in Pakistan. “Since the assassination of Liauqat Ali Khan (Pakistan’s first Prime Minister) when there has been a civilian government, it is the army that has called the shots.”
“(Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto tried to challenge (this). He put Zia-ul-Haq (as Army chief) whom he thought was a non-entity. Zia hanged him,” Singh said.
Referring to the present Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, Natwar Singh said that the cricketer-turned-politician is a nice man and is popular.
“But the moment he tries to take an initiative, which is not acceptable to the army, he will be out. We have to accept what is, that’s all.
He said Modi made gestures towards Pakistan, halted there, went to the house of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but the bilateral relations are still accident prone.
“We would like to have good relations with them. We will like to have a stable and strong Pakistan but it is a very unstable country,” he said.
Natwar Singh, who was for long associated with the Congress and later was forced to quit following a UN report, said it was not possible to fundamentally depart from the framework of foreign policy laid by Nehru and the Modi government has not done so.
Recalling his meeting with Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Natwar Singh said he told him that the Prime Minister is ultimately the Foreign Minister.
“I said it is not possible for anybody, any Prime Minister in the future to fundamentally change the framework of foreign policy laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru. If it was possible to change it, it would have been changed. So, I don’t think fundamentally he (Modi) has departed from it.”
Asked if the Modi government was getting too close to the US, Natwar Singh said: “No, he has been quite clever. He has been to Russia, he has been to China.” However, he said the Modi government should have handled its relations better with Nepal.
Natwar’s Singh’s latest book, “Treasured Epistles”, a collection of letters from some noted personalities, including former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was published earlier this year.
Asked how did he rate Indira Gandhi, Natwar Singh said he would put her second behind Nehru, her father.
Natwar Singh was a junior minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government and External Affairs Minister in the first Congress-led UPA government. He resigned in the face of allegations, which he denied, after his name surfaced in the Volcker report that looked into the United Nations oil-for-food programme. (IANS)
Kathua rape-n-murder case: SC dismisses plea alleging witness’ torture
New Delhi, Nov 18: The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea claiming that a key witness in the sensational Kathua gang rape-and-murder case was allegedly tortured in custody by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in connection with a separate rape case.
A bench comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and Deepak Gupta rejected the petition filed by a close relative of Talib Hussain, a key witness in the Kathua case, on the ground that the petitioner failed to appear before it despite the court’s order.
In January, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community was allegedly abducted and gang raped in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.
Petitioner M A Khan had approached the top court alleging that his relative Hussain was tortured in custody by the state police after being arrested in connection with a separate rape case.
Advocate Shoeb Alam, representing the Jammu and Kashmir Police, had last month denied in the top court the allegations levelled in the petition and had said since Hussain has been granted bail, the plea has become infructuous.
On October 22, the court had asked Khan to appear before it on November 13 to respond to the application filed by his advocate seeking his discharge from the case.
“Despite our order dated October 22, the writ petitioner (Khan) has chosen not to appear before this court to respond to the application for discharge filed by Sunil Fernandes, advocate on record for the petitioner.
“In the circumstances, the writ petition is dismissed for non-prosecution,” the bench said in its November 13 order.
In his plea, Khan had alleged that Hussain was kept in illegal detention by police and was subjected to custodial torture.
The apex court had earlier transferred the trial in the Kathua gang rape and murder case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab.
The state police’s crime branch had filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district in the gang rape and murder case.
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