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New Delhi’s hard Kashmir policy may be changing: Experts

Mudassir Kuloo

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By Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar, May 27: Government of India’s “hard stance” did not yield results in Kashmir, prompting the Narendra Modi-led government to adopt a “soft approach” for restoring peace in the valley, experts believe.

Marking a shift from their tough stance, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Saturday said, “If Hurriyat leadership is ready to come to the table for talks, the government is ready for it.”

 

He also said that New Delhi is ready to hold talks with Pakistan if it comes forward.

This is for the first time when the NDA government made any such remarks, and it has come when New Delhi has enforced a ceasefire in the valley.

On his recent visit to Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stated that the Kashmir problem could not be resolved through “bullets or abuses (gooli ya gaali)”.

Experts see the developments as a shift in the government’s Kashmir policy.

Former Air Vice-Marshal, Kapil Kak said that calling for ceasefire in Ramadan was a major confidence building measure.

“There is some realisation that situation is going out of control and more youth are joining the militancy. Now, the centre has realised that they have to apply some balm on the wounds and shift from its hard approach,” Kak, who is part of a civil society group that has been advocating dialogue, said.

“It has been realised that muscular hard policy is a brainless policy. The ceasefire has brought the violence down. Dialogue is good for India, Pakistan and for Kashmiris.”

Kak hoped that some “positive reactions” come from the resistance leadership to this “defining CBM of government of India”.

Political expert, Professor Rekha Chowdhary said there has been a shift in the government’s policy in the recent past.

“The Prime Minister has said that Kashmiris need hugs. Releasing stone-throwers and then this ceasefire clearly indicate change in the centre’s approach towards Kashmir,” she said.

She said that there had been a “consistent approach” of the centre not to hold talks with the Hurriyat in the past.

“Now there seems a change in that hard stance. It is time for everyone to engage in talks, as a year is still left to the general elections in India.”

Professor Gul Mohammad Wani, also apolitical expert, said there were indications that ceasefire may be stretched beyond Ramadan.

“Some insights coming from New Delhi, Srinagar, and Islamabad suggest that atmosphere may change for the better,” Wani said.

“We also find that Hurriyat is giving certain indications for talks. Even the DGP has said that they were willing to consider Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s suggestions.”

He said that hard approach either leads to war or brings the situation under control.

“However, the government of India’s muscular approach did not work. The violence has, in fact, spread to Jammu, which is not good for the Indian state.”

Pravin Sawhney, Editor of FORCE magazine, however, stated that any change in the policy would become clear when New Delhi talks to Pakistan.

“Home Minister statement that centre was ready for talks with Hurriyat won’t make any difference. The Hurriyat is not ready for talks within the ambit of Indian constitution. The centre has no other option rather than to hold talks with Pakistan,” he said, adding that the ceasefire could be “a small measure”.

“In the last four years, a lot of people lost their lives in both India and Pakistan. New Delhi has to hold talks with Pakistan,” he said.

 


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Over 84% candidates lose security deposit in JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 24: As many as 67 candidates lost their security deposit while NOTA got more votes than 39 contestants in the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
There were 79 candidates in the fray for six Parliamentary constituencies of the state. The highest number of 24 candidates were contesting from Jammu Lok Sabha constituency followed by 18 in Anantnag, 12 each from Srinagar and Udhampur, and four from Ladakh.
Of the total candidates, 67 could not get the minimum required one-sixth (16.67 per cent) of the total polled votes to save their deposit. With the result over 84 percent contestants lost their security deposit of Rs 25,000. Among those who lost security deposit are the three BJP candidates from the valley.
In Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, 186832 votes were polled and minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 31138 votes. However, only two candidates, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, and PDP’s Aga Syed Mohsin secured more than one-sixth of total votes. Peoples Conference candidate Irfan Raza Ansari, who secured third spot, bagged 28773 votes but lost his security deposit.
Eighteen candidates were in the fray for the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency. Nearly 124896 votes were polled in the constituency and the minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 20816 votes. NC’s Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, Congress leader GA Mir and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti secured 32.17, 26.83, and 24.44 percent of votes respectively. Most of the candidates, who lost their security deposit, could not manage even 700 votes.
Nearly 455550 votes were polled in Baramulla constituency. NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone, who emerged winner, bagged 133426 votes. Peoples Conference candidate Raja Aijaz and Independent candidate Engineer Rashid managed to save their security deposit by bagging 103193 and 102168 votes respectively. PDP’s Abdul Qayoom Wani polled 53530 votes while the minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 75925 votes.
From Ladakh, all four candidates managed to save their security deposit.
In Jammu Lok Sabha constituency, 1478795 votes were polled. Among the 24 candidates in fray, only BJP’s Jugal Kishore, and Congress’ Ram Bhalla managed to save security deposit by securing 858066 and 555191 votes respectively.
Of the 1181123 votes polled in Udhampur constituency, BJP candidate Jitendra Singh and Congress leader Vikramaditya bagged 724311 and 367059 votes respectively Rest of the candidates lost their security deposit.
Interestingly among the 67 candidates, who lost their security deposit, 39 managed less votes than none of the above (NOTA).
In Baramulla constituency, 8128 voters pressed the NOTA button. In fact NOTA got more votes than four candidates.
Srinagar constituency registered 1566 NOTA votes, which is higher than that of five candidates.
Nearly 737 voters pressed NOTA button in Anantnag, which is higher than the vote share of nine candidates.
In Udhampur constituency, 7568 voters pressed NOTA button, which is higher than that of seven candidates. Jammu parliamentary seat polled 2618 NOTA votes, which is more than 14 candidates.

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Accused in Central Jail incident identified, chargesheet to be completed soon

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, May 25: The accused in the April 4 incident of clashes inside the Central Jail Srinagar have been identified and booked and the chargesheet against the same will be filed soon, J&K has said.
The matter was discussed during the visit of DGP Police & Prisons J&K Dilbag Singh to the Central Jail on Saturday, who held a detailed security review meeting with the Jail Superintendent, officers, Zonal SP, DySP and concerned CRPF officers.
During the meeting, a police spokesperson said, the DGP impressed upon the officers to ensure that the security of the Central Jail is further augmented in view of the incident of the “rioting and violence” in leading to serious intervention and action against the culprits for causing damage to the jail buildings and other infrastructure.
“Progress on the case FIR No. 19/2019 registered at Police Station Rainawari in this regard was reviewed with the Zonal SP and DySP. It was reported that considerable progress has been made. Most of the accused persons have been identified and booked, shall be charge-sheeted soon,” the spokesperson said.
He added that part of the restoration works of the damaged areas has already been initiated and the remaining shall be taken up soon after the approval and grant of funds from the state authorities.
As reported by The Kashmir Monitor early this month, the authorities had shifted at least 60 inmates – and were planning to move many more – from Srinagar Central Jail to other jails of the state following the incident of clashes and protests within the facility in April.
In the intervening night of April 4 and 5, as many as 400 inmates were engaged in night-long clashes with the jail authorities after the latter tried to move them out of their barracks.
The facility was damaged even as tear-gas shells and pump-action pellet guns were used against the inmates. At least, two of them were grievously injured. The jail is located in a densely populated area of the city.
The administration alleged the inmates “attempted jailbreak” while the inmates said they protested against the alleged desecration of the religious scriptures by the jail staff, a claim that was totally negated by the Jail Superintendent.
A week later, the inmates went on a hunger strike and refused to meet any of the visitors including their kin.
Their demands then included withdrawal of FIR against them in connection with the protests and clashes and transfer of the Jail Superintendent.
A team comprising of the members of High Court Bar Association (HCBA) had also visited the Jail after Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Srinagar, had asked the jail authorities to permit and facilitate the visit.
The team filed their report to CJM on April 13.
The team, as per the HCBA statement, had found that the “inmates felt a conspiracy was being hatched against them and the state had adopted a hostile attitude towards them for their political ideology and thought.”
The Bar members had also found that after the incident, there was a communication breakdown between the inmates and the jail administration.

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Top militant ‘commander’ Zakir Musa killed in Tral

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Srinagar, May 23:  Kashmir Valley’s most wanted militant ‘commander’, Zakir Musa, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH), was killed on Thursday by government forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Informed sources said the forces started a cordon and search operation in Dadsara village of Tral area following information about the presence of two militants there.

“The trapped militants were persuaded to surrender. Instead they hurled grenades and started a gunfight, triggering an encounter,” a source said.

 

One of the dead was identified as Zakir Musa.

As the news about the killing of top militant, widespread protests were being witnessed in different parts of the valley in reaction to the killing.

Zakir Musa, a close associate of Burhan Wani who was killed in 2017, was a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen who succeeded Burhan and later headed the Al Qaeda affiliate. He had taken to militancy in 2013.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, his real name, was an engineering student in Chandigarh who abandoned education and joined militancy.

He was born in Noorpora village of Tral area. His father, Abdul Rashid Bhat, is a senior engineer working for the Jammu and Kashmir government.

After Burhan Wani’s death, Zakir Musa threatened to behead Kashmiri separatist leaders of the Hurriyat Conference for calling Kashmir a political dispute instead of a religious struggle to establish an Islamic state.

Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services across Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure.

Authorities have ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the Kashmir Valley on Friday.

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