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PDP ‘garbage free’ now: Mehbooba

Apologises for ‘toffee, milk’ remark; says won’t visit militant families if sentiments are hurt

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 7: Apologising for her ‘toffee-milk’ remark, PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti Monday said that she won’t visit the militant families if their sentiments are hurt, while asking youth to join the party since it is “free of garbage now”.

“I was in anger in 2016 when I told why the children are being pushed to police stations and army camps. It pains me that some people with vested interests are pushing young boys to get killed,” Mehbooba told a gathering on the 3rd death anniversary of her father late Mufti Sayeed at Bijbehara in south Kashmir on Monday.

“I am concerned like a mother about the young people who are getting killed. Was it not my right to make such remarks? I saved south Kashmir youth from the task force and the army. If any one feels bad, I apologise for that,” she said.

 

During the peak of 2016 summer uprising, Mehbooba, while addressing a press conference in Srinagar along with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, justified the killing of youth saying that “had they gone to camps and police station to buy toffees and milk?.”

On the criticism she received for visiting families of militants, Mehbooba said that she did not go to them on her own.“I was invited by the family of the militant whose sister was harassed. I did not visit for electoral gains but a girl was being harassed there and it was question of her honor,” she said.

Mehbooba said she wanted to send across a message that the families of the militants should not be harassed. “If somebody does not want me to visit militant families, then I won’t go, but my doors are open for you. I will continue to work for the welfare of my people.”

She said that she did not allow the forces to harass militant families when she was heading the PDP-BJP government.“I even transferred a senior police officer for harassing a militant family,” she said.

Mehbooba has been criticised for lately visiting militant families .

In a purported audio message gone viral on Sunday, Hizb Commander, Riyaz Naikoo, asked people to “not let Mehbooba Mufti enter houses of martyred militants.”

Mehbooba, during her father’s death anniversary, said that leaders who are now leaving her party were the same who visited Nagpur after the death of Mufti Sayeed and “weakened” her position.

“Jammu and Kashmir youth shall join the PDP in the interest of the Kashmir issue. The PDP is now free of garbage,” she said, referring to the leaders who left the party in the recent past.

The PDP chief said that she was “not ready” to form the government after the death of her father.

“I wanted the BJP to fulfill some promises it had made including return of power projects, and vacating army from places like Tattoo Ground. But some went to Nagpur for government formation and weakened my position. Had I not formed the government, they might have sold the whole state and the people would have blamed me,” she claimed.

Mehbooba added that had she compromised the interests of JK, then the PDP-BJP government might have completed six-years.
“We withdrew 12,000 cases against youth. I did not compromise on Kathua case and dropped two ministers. I knew it too will have Shopian incident fate if it was handed over to the CBI. We pushed for talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat and held ceasefire for a month,” she said.

Mehbooba said her government was “not responsible” for 2016 unrest. “Burhan Wani was killed and militants are even getting killed today. What was my fault,” she said. “In 2010, there was a reason for anger against fake Machil encounter,” she said.

Asking New Delhi to hold talks with Pakistan and Hurriyat, she said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “wasted the huge mandate he had got”.


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Internet blockade fails to curb violence: Stanford study

JK loses $28.4 million due to 3-day internet blackout’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 25: Kashmir has recorded the highest number of the internet shutdown in India, however, such information blockades have proven less effective in controlling violence, says a study by Stanford University.

The study ‘Of Blackouts and Bandhs: The Strategy and Structure of Disconnected Protest in India’ by Jan Rydzak, Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University, shows that nearly half of the internet shutdowns in India last year were witnessed in Kashmir.

As per it, India witnessed 134 network shutdowns in 2018 of which 47 per cent occurred in Kashmir.

 

“In India, the majority of shutdown events occur in the relatively volatile western or northwestern states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and particularly the contested territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Out of 36 states and union territories, these four regions account for more than 75% of all recorded shutdown events in India (2012-17), while Jammu and Kashmir alone comprises about 47%,” the research says.

While the government enforces these internet shutdowns with an aim to restrict agitation and maintain ‘law and order’, the Stanford University research challenges this theory claiming “rumours and disinformation continue to spread with or without access to digital communication networks.”

“If shutdowns truly disrupt the spread of rumors and the coordinated collective action that stems from it, a disproportionate increase in riots, which are more disorderly and more loosely coordinated than peaceful resistance, should follow,” it reads.

“The findings cast considerable doubt on whether shutdowns are a useful device in the quelling of unrest. These (shutdowns) are less reliant on effective communication and coordination,” it adds.

“It is as important to consider whether particular patterns of repression are effective as it is to determine whether they produce uniform patterns of dissent. Considering differences in levels of coordination, I expect that the incidence of riots will increase and that of non-violent demonstrations will decline when a blackout is in place,” it says.

The Stanford working paper said that the effectives of these internet shutdowns to curb unrest was not even known to the Government of India.

“Despite the prolific use of network shutdowns across the country, neither India nor any other national government has conducted publicly acknowledged studies on the effectiveness of shutdowns as a means of suppressing unrest,” it said.

“While shutdowns are occasionally spurred by security concerns during peaceful mass events such as festivals and processions, a large proportion of known cases are implemented with the explicit goal of ensuring or restoring public order. In most instances, this has been tantamount to preventing or quashing protests, riots, or collective violence.”

The Stanford study also explains how colonial era laws have been used by the government’s to justify it blackouts, particularly during discontinuing of 22 social media websites in Jammu and Kashmir during 2017.

“Colonial-era laws such as the Telegraph Act of 1885 have also been used during the disconnection of 22 social media services in Jammu and Kashmir in April 2017. In August 2017, India’s Ministry of Communication announced new regulations governing the suspension of telecommunication services, amending the Telegraph Act (2017),” it said.

“ Empirically, these regulations have done little to dampen shutdown occurrence or usher in more prudence in executing them; 29 incidents were recorded in the final five months of the year and a further 45 in the first four months of 2018,” the study said.

Putting up the impact of internet blackouts on economy, the study claims that a three day without internet services cause a loss of $28.4 million in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The economic loss of approximately $3.04 billion during the total duration of shutdowns in India between 2012 and 2017, which accumulates 16,315 hours (680 days). 2018’s calculation of the costs of shutdowns in India, a three-day blackout equates to a revenue loss of at least $559,000 while the work of civil society organizations suggests that a blackout of the same duration in J&K would cost the state economy $28.4 million.”

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Farooq hints long term NC-Cong tie-up ; Files nomination for Srinagar LS constituency

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Mar 25: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah Monday filed his nomination papers for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

Farooq, who is seeking re-election from the constituency, was accompanied by his son and NC vice-president, Omar Abdullah and other party leaders to the office of returning officer, Srinagar, where he filed his nomination.

Talking to the reporters after filing the papers, he said: “Fascist forces are emerging in the country.  We all are together to fight evil in India.”

 

Asked over the reports about rift between the Congress and National Conference over contesting of seats, he said: “There is no difference. We all are together to fight the fascist forces.”

He, however, refused to comment whether or not 2019 elections will see a ‘Modi wave’ like the one in 2014 when the BJP swept the Lok Sabha polls.

Farooq is the joint candidate of the National Conference and Congress.  The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is going to polls in the second phase of the general election on April 18.

He was declared the winner of the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election in April 2017. He defeated the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan by 10,766 votes.

Earlier, Farooq suffered the first-ever defeat of his career in 2014 when he lost to the then PDP candidate, Tariq Ahmad Karra.

Only a few vehicles of the NC leaders were allowed inside the deputy commissioner’s office complex in Tankipora area.

The police had barricaded the entire area as part of security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident and did not allow any supporters at the venue.

The returning officer had earlier issued guidelines, saying the maximum number of people allowed at the time of filing of nomination by a candidate would be five, including the candidate, whereas the maximum number of vehicles allowed would be three.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is spread over three districts: Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal. It has 12,90,318 voters who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency. The last date for filing nomination papers for the second phase is March 26 and the scrutiny of the papers will be conducted on March 27. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is March 29 and the polling will be held on April 18, from 7 am to 6 pm.

Rasheed files papers for Baramulla seat

Srinagar, Mar 25: Awami Ittihad Party (AIP) supremo Er Rasheed on Monday filed nomination papers from Baramulla constituency which is going to polls in the first phase on April 11.

Speaking to journalists outside the DC office in Baramulla, Rasheed said that National Conference (NC) is “more dangerous” than the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that NC should come clean on its alliance with Congress.

While Farooq Abdullah talks day and night of supporting Congress but NC’s parliamentary candidate Mohammad Akbar Lone calls Congress more evil and harmful than BJP and both Congress and NC need to tell the truth about their agenda of exploitation and vote grabbing politics.”

He also accused Peoples Conference candidate Raja Aijaz Ali of exploiting the sentiments of Pahari community.

“Just being a member of a particular community does not mean that any person has a right to mislead the deprived and oppressed masses of that community,” Rasheed said.

He also lashed out PDP president saying that Mehbooba Mufti can go to any extent to get power and can join hands with any one.

Rasheed asked people to judge his ten-year tenure as MLA before deciding to vote for any particular party and ask their conscience who can represent them better in parliament.

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Stronghold! In 4 decades, NC has lost only twice in Srinagar

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Mar 25: National Conference has lost the central Kashmir Parliamentary seat only twice since 1977 emphasizing the party’s stronghold on the constituency from which Farooq

Abdullah filed his nomination on Monday.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is scheduled to go for polls on April 18 and has 12,90,318 voters, who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency.

 

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is spread over three districts: Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal. It has 12,90,318 voters who will cast their votes at 1,716 polling stations set up in the constituency.

While Farooq, who submitted his nomination papers on Monday, is a joint candidate of the National Conference and Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party has decided to field Aga Syed Mohsin from Srinagar.

The National Conference president was earlier declared the winner of the Srinagar Lok Sabha bye-election in April 2017.

He defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan by 10,766 votes.

Earlier, Farooq suffered the first ever defeat of his career in 2014 when he lost to the then PDP’s leader Tariq Hamid Karra.

The NC faced a defeat in 1996, when the Congress candidate Ghulam Mohammad Mir (Magami) emerged winner from Srinagar parliamentary constituency.

In rest of the elections, the NC candidates emerged winners from Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah represented it in 1977, Farooq Abdullah-1980, Abdul Rashid Kabuli-1984, Mohammad Shafi Bhat 1989 (uncontested), Omar Abdullah-1998, 1999, 2004, and Farooq Abdullah-2009 against PDP candidate Iftikhar Ansari.

National Conference, General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said that people of Kashmir need a ‘louder and credible” voice to represent them in Parliament.

“Dr Sahab (Farooq Abdullah) is the one who can raise the issues of Kashmiris. He is a well experienced politician and Kashmiris have no other choice,” Sagar said.

“Dr Sahab has done a lot for Kashmiris. The National Conference has taken many welfare initiatives in the state, which are non-comparable,” he added.

While the PDP seems sure of its candidate’s ‘win’ despite him being a lesser known face. “You can measure from the works we did during our tenure. Our candidate is a well-respected and honest person. People shall give him a chance and see how he will represent them in the Parliament,” PDP Chief Spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir said.

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