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Need to regain lost trust in Kashmir: Governor

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Srinagar, Jan 02: Batting for regaining the lost trust and negating the misgivings in certain sections in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor N.N. Vohra on Tuesday said the State government sees 2018 as a year of opportunities and a period for fully exploiting all possible openings and opportunities.

He also called for tough and targeted actions by the security forces to ensure that the arc of violence does not spread from the fringes to the mainstream, to disrupt the lives in the valley yet again.

“We shall need to regain the lost trust and negate the misgivings in certain sections of our society [in Kashmir],” he said in his address to the joint session of the legislature in Jammu on Tuesday.

 

The Budget Session began on a stormy note as the Opposition staged a walkout during Vohra’s address to protest alleging failure of the PDP-BJP government on all fronts particularly security.

“The subsequent appointment by the Union government of a special representative to hold talks with the people belonging to all shades of opinion is recognition of the concern for widening the constituency of peace, to include even those who may have contrary ideological convictions,” Vohra said.

The Governor hoped that 2018 will prove to be a year of opportunities on several fronts.

“Government firmly believes that the elected and the electorate have equal stakes in the peace process and, together, they will have to rise against those who choose violence to disrupt the established order,” he said.

The governor further said “such challenges will be met through dialogue, which is the best means of resolving all disagreements.”

He said the government appeals to all those who had earlier refused to be part of the peace process to come forward and accept the special representative for Kashmir’s offer for engaging in dialogue.

 Vohra batted strongly for tough and targeted action by security forces to check violence.

“Government remains committed to taking all possible steps for building on the peace dividend and also remains equally determined to ensure that the arc of violence does not spread from the fringes to the mainstream, to yet again disrupt our lives. This will require tough and targeted actions by our security forces,” he said.

“For the past several months our security forces have been successfully carrying out targeted counter terrorist operations. While they shall engage in such operations whenever it is necessary to do so, it is hoped that these shall involve the least possible collateral damage to the lives and properties of innocent persons,” he said.

He also hailed the role of the brave hearts of Army, Central Armed Police Forces and the J&K Police who have been operating in the most difficult circumstances and laying down their lives in the fight against terror and violence.

He said that while the valour and sacrifices made by our police personnel cannot ever be viewed in monetary terms, the government has, to express it unbounded gratitude, taken several measures for further enhancing the welfare of our policemen and their families.

“Side by side, recognising the serious visual disabilities suffered by youth who received pellet injuries, government has decided to rehabilitate them and mitigate their sufferings to the maximum possible extent,” he added.

The Governor said that the government is aware of the growing aspirations of our students, some of whom have secured outstanding achievements in academics, sports and many other fields.

“As regards our youth who have been influenced and misled into deviating from the path, the government remains committed to weaning them away from the purveyors of violence,” he said.

Vohra said the real battle is “not on the streets but to combat and counter the deviation of the younger generation from the inherited values of our society.”

Asserting that the Government remains committed to take all possible steps for building on the peace dividend, he said it also remains equally determined to ensure that the arc of violence does not spread from the fringes to the mainstream, to yet again disrupt the people’s lives.

 “As regards our youth who have been influenced and misled into deviating from the path, the Government remains committed to weaning them away from the purveyors of violence. Thus the real battle is not on the streets but to combat and counter the deviation of the younger generation from the inherited values of the society. Government is committed to patiently listening to the youth and to do everything to bring them back to the fold,” he opined.

Describing as sad the enduring images of the happenings in 2016 related to stone pelting mobs on the streets and pictures of those who had received pellet injuries, he expressed satisfaction that the children have since gone back to where they belong, to schools and colleges, and are now doing their best to do well in their studies and in other activities.

The Governor said the government is well aware of the growing aspirations of the students, some of whom have secured outstanding achievements in academics, sports and many other fields.

The Governor said that recognizing its responsibility to rehabilitate the trauma-affected children, the Government has decided to promote their all-round development and, as a part of this effort, the Juvenile Homes in Harwan and R S Pura are being upgraded to provide rehabilitative facilities for the affected children. He further informed that the Government has also established 22 Juvenile Police Units across all districts of the State and proposes to establish 8 Juvenile Justice Boards and 8 Observation Homes in eight districts, during the current fiscal. The facilities at the existing Orphanages are also being upgraded.

Recalling that for the past several months the forces have been successfully carrying out targeted anti-militancy operations, the Governor hoped that these shall involve the least possible collateral damage to the lives and properties of innocent persons.

The Governor said that the Government is also committed to look after the Kashmiri Pandits who chose to stay back when their brethren left the Valley during the period of peak militancy. Recognizing the sacrifices made by the Kashmir based Pandits, Government has authorized their special recruitment under the Prime Minister’s Package, at par with their migrant brethren.

He said the tourism is the mainstay of the state’s economy. Around 1.2 million tourists, including over 26,000 foreigners, visited the State during 2017, despite unrest in the Valley and less than fair reporting by certain sections of the media. Further, more than 8 million pilgrims paid obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine while about 2.60 lakh yatris visited Shri Amarnathji Shrine last year.

The Governor said that the Government will take all required steps to ensure that tourists from far and wide find their way back to the State. Towards this end, all infrastructural bottlenecks will be removed and the State’s strengths in this sector will be positively leveraged to not only build the required capacities but to also address the perception issues.


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3 militants killed in Shopian encounter

Slain includes IPS officer’s brother; civilians, forces personnel among injured

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Three militants, including the brother of an IPS officer, were killed and an army soldier wounded in a gunfight in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.

Reports said that the gunfight broke out Tuesday morning after a joint party of the army and the state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Shirmal village following inputs about the presence of militants.

They said the militants opened fire on the forces after the latter fired several shots towards their hideout located in an orchard in the village.

 

There was a momentary lull before the firefight resumed, leading to the killing of three militants, news agency Global News Service reported.

One army soldier has also sustained injuries during the course of the gunfight, it reported while quoting unnamed sources.

Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said the slain militants included Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district.

Shamsul Haq was pursuing Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) at government college Zakura when he joined militancy. His elder brother Inamul Haq is 2012 IPS batch officer who is posted in North East.

The identity of the two other militants was being ascertained, police said.

Reports, however, identified the two other slain as Amir Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Late Abdul Aziz Bhat of Chadipora, Shopian and Shuaib Ahmad Shah (19) son of Ghulam Rasool Shah of Zahapora, Shopian.

The slain, as per reports, were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit and were involved in a number of attacks in the southern district.
After conducting all necessary formalities, the bodies of the trio were later in the evening handed over to their families for last rites, reports said.

They added that at least seven persons were injured in clashes near the site of the encounter at Heff Shirmal as government forces resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing.

Later in the day, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and other forces in Shirmal area of

Zainapora in Shopian area after credible inputs about the presence of militants.“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” the spokesperson said.

He added that it was a difficult operation due to the terrain and there were clashes in the area which was handled by the government forces.

“Only five cases of injuries were reported and three of them were discharged after preliminary medical attention. Separately six security forces personnel injured during the clashes have been discharged after medical attention,” the spokesperson said.

Police, he said, has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.

 

Shamsul met ‘sad end’ despite his IPS brother’s efforts: Ex-DGP

Srinagar, Jan 22: Former Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid on Tuesday said that Hizb militant Shamsul Haq met a “sad end” despite efforts by his IPS officer brother to bring him back.
Taking to Twitter soon after the news of his killing in Shopian gunfight started doing the rounds, Vaid, who was the director general of police in J&K when Haq turned to militancy, said: “I remember the efforts that were made by his (Haq’s) brother /other family members and J&K Police to bring him back to mainstream but he met a sad end today.”
Haq, brother of IPS officer Inam ul Haq, was killed along with his two associates in a gunfight in Shirmal village of Shopian.

Militants killed in Budgam affiliated with Al Badr: Police

Srinagar, Jan 22: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said the three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday were affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that the slain militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad son of Ali Mohammad Mir resident of Lassipora Pulwama, Syed Rabani son of Mohammad Hussain resident of Nazneenpora Shopian and Towseef Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Aziz resident of Nowpora Payeen Pulwama.
The slain militants, he said, were affiliated with proscribed outfit Al-Badar and were wanted by the law.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.
Bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities, he added.
The three militants were killed after a daylong gunfight in Hapatnar forests on Tuesday.

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4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.

The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.

Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.

 

Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.

Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.

“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.

Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.

The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.

Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.

“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said

The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.

Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.

“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.

Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.

In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’

“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.

“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.

“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.

He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.

“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.

KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.

“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.

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Srinagar youth hit with stone ‘hurled by CRPF’

Admitted to SKIMS with fractured skull; CRPF spokesman claims ‘youth fell down’

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Srinagar, Jan 22: A youth from Habba Kadal locality of Srinagar was hospitalised in a serious condition after a stone allegedly hurled by CRPF trooper hit his head on Tuesday afternoon.

Family sources said the boy identified as Mohammad Younis had left home to buy some vegetable, however, a CRPF trooper hurled a stone from the bunker located near Habba Kadal, resulting in serious head injuries to the boy.

Soon after the incident, the injured was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS, Soura.

 

Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan, as per a local news agency KNO, said that “parietal bone of the youth had fracture and the bone fragment has sneaked into the skull, leading to contusions.”

He also said that CT scan of the patient will be repeated to ascertain the damage. He, however, maintained that they are monitoring his condition as of now.

Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman, Sanjay Sharma, as per news agency KNO, said a group of five to six youth started pelting stones at the bunker and while chasing them away, a youth “slipped and fell down”.

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