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Plight of Kashmiri inmates: Joint Hurriyat questions GoI

‘Shun democracy or respect human rights’

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, July 24: Joint Hurriyat Leadership, in a seminar here on Tuesday, highlighted the plight of the Kashmiri prisoners lodged in several jails in and outside the state.

Titled ‘prisoners of conscience’, the seminar noted the completion of one year of incarceration of several Hurriyat leaders, who were held by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in July last year last year and eventually shifted to Tihar jail in Delhi.

Those arrested included Shabir Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saif-u-ullah, Meraj-u-Din Kalwal, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Zahoor Ahmad Watali, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Aslam Wani and Shahid Yousuf.

 

Of Joint Hurriyat’s leadership trio, Yasin Malik presided over the seminar while as Syed Ali shah Geelani, who continues to remain under house arrest, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was placed under house arrest Tuesday morning, addressed the gathering over the phone.

The seminar was attended by various political leaders, social activists, human rights dignitaries’, leaders of trade bodies, members of civil society, intellectuals, educationists, Lawyers, kith and kin of Kashmiri prisoners languishing in various jails.

“You cannot eat the cake and have it too, shun your claim of being champion of democracy or respect democratic dissent and human rights. India is violating the Geneva Convention on prisoners by terrorizing Kashmiri inmates,” said various speakers who addressed the reverential seminar at Srinagar’s Abi Guzar area.

In his telephonic address, Geelani said that there was no question of forgetting the “great sacrifices offered by Kashmiri youth, who are languishing in various jails including in Tihar”.

“Our daughters like Asiya Andrabi and her two aides too are lodged in worst ever prison. We salute our prisoners,” he said.

He urged people for poll boycott. “People should stay away from Panchayat, parliamentary or other polls,” he urged.

Speaking over the phone, Mirwaiz said that unity was the “sole solution to all problems”.

“Kashmiris have been facing AFSPA, PSA, and detentions since 1990, which are being used with an ultimate aim to force us into submission.  We are not scared of detentions,” Mirwaiz said.

In his address, Malik said that prisoners are “our assets and we will consult the leadership so that a day is fixed every month to commemorate their detention and resilience”.

The seminar was held to highlight the worst and inhuman conditions faced by “pro-resistance” Kashmiri inmates at various Indian jails like Tihar jail, Mandawali Jail Delhi and jails of Jammu Kashmir including Udhampor jail, Khutua Jail, Hiranagar jail, Amphala jail Jammu, Srinagar central jail, Mattan Jail, Baramullah Jail, Kupwara jail, KotBlawal jail and other incarceration centers

Various speakers said that India being a signatory to the Geneva Convention on prisoners should abide by the international law.

“But contrary to this, India is employing every evil means to inflict more and more harm to these inmates,” quoting speakers, a spokesman of the Joint Hurriyat later said in a statement.

Speakers said that Kashmiri prisoners were the “prisoners of conscience”, and they deserve the sympathy and ownership of the international community.

“India on one hand claims to be the biggest democracy of the world but on the other hand is caging down political activists for holding a political belief,” the statement quoting speakers said.

“This is not a democratic approach… India should either shun its claim of being biggest democracy or stop choking space on political activities’, refrain from caging down political dissent, respect democratic norms and allow political resistance of the people of Jammu Kashmir,” the speakers, as per the statement, said.

“While highlighting the miseries faced by Kashmiri prisoners, speakers said that slapping repeated PSA’s employing police tactics to prolong incarceration of prisoners, using agencies like NIA, ED etc to imprison Kashmiri prisoners in Indian jails, shifting lifers and other detainees from Kashmiri jails to jails in Jammu, denying proper medical facilities’ to inmates , torturing, beating, putting into solitary confinements, keeping inmates naked inside prison cells, humiliating and torturing their kith and kin who come to see them at jails and other incarceration centers and other oppressive measures like these have become a new normal in Jammu Kashmir,” the Joint Hurriyat said.


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LS Polls 2019:Exit polls predict comfortable win for Modi-led NDA

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New Delhi, May 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance government is likely to return to power after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed.

NDTV’s poll of polls said the NDA would get 302 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 127 seats and other parties (Others) 114 seats.

The Republic TV exit poll gave the NDA 305 seats, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 124 and others 120. Times Now exit poll gave the BJP alliance 306 seats, the UPA 132 seats and Others 104.

 

News Nation gave the NDA between 282 to 290 seats, the UPA between 118 and 126 seats and Others 130 to 138 seats. Sudarshan News gave the NDA 313 seats, UPA 121 seats and Others 109+.

Analysts see the election as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch in trying to win votes by projecting a tough stance against Pakistan, especially after a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir.

He has also spoken about a Rs 75,000-crore income support scheme for farmers, toilets built as part of the national cleanliness campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, rural electrification scheme Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and cooking gas scheme for the poor Ujjwala Yojana.

The Congress and other Opposition parties are challenging the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over unemployment and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has also accused Modi of corruption in the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France.

Voter turnout in the first six rounds was approximately 66 per cent, according to the Election Commission, compared with 66.40 per cent in the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Voting has largely been peaceful but for sporadic violence in West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to wrest seats from Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee’s All India Trinamool Congress.

In a drastic and unprecedented action, the Election Commission curtailed campaigning by a day in West Bengal on Thursday, after days of clashes in the final stretch of the election.

Pre-election poll surveys by the media indicate that no party is likely to win anything close to a majority in the 543-seat Parliament. The BJP, which won a majority of 282 seats in 2014, may need some regional parties as allies to stay in power.

The BJP will need to do well in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the most in a state. The party had won 71 of them in 2014, but this time it has been challenged by a coalition between the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal.

The voting on Sunday covers 59 seats in eight states and Union Territories. It also includes Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, where he had won in 2014.

Votes cast in the seven phases of elections will be counted on May 23.

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New dispensation in Delhi has to address Kashmir issue: Mirwaiz

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Srinagar, May 19: Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday said that Hurriyat leadership was ready to support talks between India and Pakistan provided India accepted Kashmir as a dispute.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Hurriyat Conference here, he said, “We are not against either the people of India or development. If India and Pakistan initiate a dialogue, we are ready to support it, but India must first accept the basic reality that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute”.

He said the Hurriyat Conference was against India’s policies which were presently being implemented in Kashmir.

 

“It is unfortunate that New Delhi has choked all means of peaceful protest in the Valley. Even pro-freedom leaders are not allowed to meet the people. How can ideas come up if all spaces are choked,” he asked.

Mirwaiz further said that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had realised that the only possible solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found through a dialogue process.

He also demanded that the Indian government should withdraw the bans imposed on different organisations in Kashmir.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the present prevailing situation in Kashmir as sensitive and painful stating that there is no letup in the policies of repression and intimidations as killings, harassment and CASOs continue unabated even in this holy month of Ramadhan.

He said there were apprehensions whether the authorities would allow the seminar as last year, the then government had barred it and caged entire Hurriyat leadership. Mirwaiz said that the repressive measures are being taken to suppress the genuine voices of people of Kashmir.

Mirwaiz said that he was feeling the pain whenever any youth is martyred in government forces action or in encounters stating that that it was beyond doubt that the gun-wielding local boys were the products of the ongoing oppression and they are getting consumed in the ongoing unresolved conflict. He said emotions and repressions is driving the educated youth of Kashmir towards armed means of resistance as every scope for raising voices peacefully stand chocked.

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Touted as game-changer, ambitious e-governance SWAN project yet to take off even after 13 years

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 19: Thirteen years on, the ambitious State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project is yet to see the light of the day in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 2005 Government of India project was aimed to synchronize all official departments of a given state through a dedicated internet connection in a closed used group. Thirteen years after the approval, the project is yet to be completed.

The government has now appointed a four member committee to conduct a thorough probe into the irregularities and lack of progress in implementation of SWAN project. Headed by Principal Secretary Transport Department, the four member committee includes Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Department, and Secretary Higher Education. The fact finding panel have been asked to submit the report by June 6.  

 

Project Manager, Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency, Irfan Ahmad and Public Information Officer, Imran-ul-Sofi pleaded ignorance about the status of the project. Instead of divulging details, both officers asked to contact Financial Commissioner, Information Technology, Suresh Kumar.

Kumar however could not be contacted for the comments. Additional Secretary Information Technology Vaibhav Kohli passed the buck to project managers. “You ask project managers about the same,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA) functions under the Information Technology. As per the details available on its website, the SWAN project is a major core infrastructure project under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP).

The project, if implemented, was expected to provide connectivity to the two state headquarters (SHQ), 20 District Headquarters (DHQ), and 152 block headquarters (BHQ) with a minimum internet speed of 2 megabytes per second.

Further, the network would have connected all state and designated government offices located within a 15 kms radius of the SHQ, all state and other designated offices located within 10 kms of each DHQ), and all state and other designated offices located within five kms of each BHQ.

In 2009, the then government had prepared a Draft Proposal Report (DPR) for Rs 106.57 crores for implementing SWAN in the state and forwarded the same to Ministry of Information Technology Government of India.  The tenders were floated four different times until March 2014 but all of them were cancelled since bids received for creating SWAN were apparently high.

SWAN would have substantially reduced the overall time taken in completing administrative tasks by providing converged communications services (voice, data and video) accessible to all government departments. “It would have reduced unnecessary movement of vehicles, employees and documents”, said an official.

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