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MUHARRAM: Srinagar barred, processions foiled

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Srinagar, Sep 19:Amid curbs and traffic chaos, police on Wednesday foiled Muharram processions by detaining scores of mourners.

The main Muharram procession was scheduled to be taken out from Karan Nagar to Dalgate, however, authorities had erected barricades and deployed contingents of police and troopers to foil the procession.

Reports said that police used mild force to disperse the mourners who appeared near Shaheed Ganj, Karan Nagar, Chotta Bazar, Habakadal, Abi Guzar and Dalgate.

 

The restrictions had been placed mostly in some areas of Shaheed Gunj, Karan Nagar, Maisuma, Kothibagh, Sherghari, Kralkhud, Batamaloo and Ram Munishi Bagh police stations.

After the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, authorities have not allowed the processions since 1990.

Heavy deployments of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in full riot gear had been deployed in the parts of Kashmir capital Srinagar.

Pedestrian and vehicular movement had also been suspended.

However, official sources said that this was a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.

Restrictions were imposed in major parts of the civil lines areas as well. These included Residency Road, Maisuma, Abi Guzar, Lal Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, Jehangir Chowk and Batamaloo.

Despite restrictions, scores of people tried to take out the processions at Shaheed Gunj, Batamaloo and Karan Nagar areas of Srinagar city. However, their attempt was foiled by police.

Scores of mourners who tried to defy restrictions were detained by police. They were lodged in different police stations of the city.

A group of youth from Shaheed Gunj locality defied the restrictions and tried to take out a procession towards Dalgate. When the youth reached near Jehangir Chowk, they were stopped and send back.

A similar Muharram procession was taken out from the nearby Karan Nagar area that was also foiled by police. Police also foiled procession at Batamaloo. Police arrested several mourners and lodged them in police station Batamaloo.

Normal life in different parts of Srinagar city was affected due to processions and the restrictions. Police used force and fired scores of tear-smoke shells to disperse the mourners in Dalgate and on MA Road. They also thrashed a photo journalist Shah Jehangir when he was performing his professional duties.

The 8th Muharram procession would traditionally start from Guru Bazar and Shaheedgunj areas of the Srinagar’s downtown and pass through Maulana Azad Road and Residency Road to end at Dalgate. However, since 1990, authorities have disallowed Muharram processions in uptown areas while smaller congregations in localities of downtown Srinagar and in the outskirts are allowed.

Anjuman Shari Shai organized multiple Muharam processions across Kashmir Valley. Thousands of mourners participated in Zuljina procession that was carried out from Madeen Sahab Zadibal area of Srinagar city.

Besides, Zuljina processions were taken out at Abadpora, Awadawra, Bogha Chhal, Astan Sharif Wuyen Chadoora, Palar Budgam, Malik Gund Chatargam, Astanpora Sikandarpora, Gulshan Bagh Batakadal, Khomeni Chowk, Awdeena, Zalpora, Gund Nawgam, Sonaburn, Inderkoot, Gawmadao, Kehnpeth, Chhalipora and other areas.

Anjuman Shari Shian President and senior separatist leader Aga Syed Hasan while condemning the use of force on mourners said that authorities welcome Yatris during Yatra but thrash mourners for organizing peaceful religious processions.

“It is direct intervention into the religious affairs that is highly condemnable. The curbs on these processions are uncalled for and need to be lifted without any delay.” he said and added that a conspiracy is being hatched to create a wedge between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Kashmir.

A huge procession was taken out in Kargil district of Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.


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3 militants killed in Budgam encounter

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Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.

News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.

As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.

 

During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.

The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.

“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.

The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.

Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)

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Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted

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Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).

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Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.

In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).

Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.

 

However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.

Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.

The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.

The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.

Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.

Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.

“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.

Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.

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