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Post Snowfall: Parts of Kashmir still wait for basic govt support

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 8: Five days after Kashmir received widespread snowfall, the people in parts of the valley say the administration is yet to restore basic amenities.
Kashmir was hit by snowfall on Saturday and Sunday, resulting in power breakdown.
Around 20 to 30 percent of the standing apple crop in orchards across the valley got damaged in the November snowfall happening after nine years.
However, many areas of Kashmir are still craving for basic facilities.
In south Kashmir’s Kokernag, the government has failed to restore the electricity.
“The electricity is yet to be restored in many parts of Kokernag. These areas have been reeling under darkness for the last six days,” Abdul Jabbar, a local said.
The MLA Kokenag, Abdul Rahim Rather, has expressed his concern over the delay caused in the restoration of electricity in his constituency.
He termed the assurances given by the government regarding the early restoration of electricity as “hollow and baseless”.
“People of my constituency have been suffering terribly due to the absence of electricity since the start of the recent bad weather and snowfall,” Rather said.
He further stressed upon the Governor administration to clear snow from Gowran to Madwa-Wadwan.
Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Kokernag, said the students preparing for different exams were not able to study in absence of the electricity. “We have been without electricity for the last many days. Many roads have not been cleared of the snow,” Shabir said.
Mohammad Usman, a resident of Langate, said they received electricity only for a few hours.
“The education of our children is suffering badly. We have to sit under candle light during evening hours,” he said.
State Congress chief G A Mir has urged upon the Governor administration to restore Lissar Power Grid Station due to snowfall. “It has left Kokernag, Veerinag and other adjoining areas without electricity,” Mir said.
Expressing serious concern over the problems confronting people in Veerinag, Kokernag and surrounding areas, Mir blamed that divisional administration for failing to make Lissar Grid Stations functional, saying that “few inches of snow have exposed the preparedness of the Govt”.
He urged upon the divisional administration to gear up, making Power Development Department accountable.
National Conference said that the assessment to ascertain the losses to farmers has not been commenced.
South Zone President Dr. Bahsir Ahmad Veeri said that the affected farmers have suffered immense losses due to the vagaries of weather.
“The marginalized farmers are at receiving end of all this. Most of the farmers had pinned their hopes on the annual produce to pay for their loans and other debts but the fury of nature left them wailing,” he said.
He said that electricity hasn’t been restored in many hamlets of the south Kashmir.
“The day-to-day working of the secondary and tertiary health care systems has been affected toting up the miseries of common people.”
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan said he would look into these issues.
“People shall also approach the concerned authorities related to grievances and addressing of any problems,” Khan added.

‘Farmers call for an immediate assessment of losses’

Srinagar, Nov 8: Expressing concern over the losses caused to horticulture by snowfall across Kashmir Valley, a group of farmers from Pulwama district Thursday demanded immediate compensation to the affected orchardists.
“Thousands of fruit and other trees are reported to have suffered massive damages due to latest snowfall, witnessed throughout Kashmir valley. There should be immediate assessment of losses suffered by the farmers on account of this snowfall,” they demanded.
The farmers said that that thousands of apple trees have either been broken or uprooted due to snow. “The government must depute an expert team to assess the losses especially in South Kashmir which has been the worst hit,” they said and demanded early relief to the affected orchardists and farmers.
They said the farmers have since long been demanding for implementation of crop insurance scheme in Kashmir Valley to benefit the farmers’ community in the event of such natural calamities. “When you have crop insurance for Jammu why can’t it be implemented in Kashmir Valley,” they questioned.


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Two Al-Badr militants killed in Shopian gunfight

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Srinagar, Nov 18: Two Al Badr militants were killed in a gunfight with the government forces in a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday morning, police said.
“Based on a credible input about the presence of militants, a cordon and search operation was launched by the state police and forces at the strike of dawn today in Rebban area of Zainapora,” said a police spokesman.
As the search operation was going on, the search party was fired upon by the hiding militants, he said.
“The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” said the spokesman, adding that “incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.”
He appealed to the people not to go to the encounter site as “it can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials.”
Local sources said that the Internet service was suspended in the area during the night. However, the service was restored Sunday morning.
They identified the slain militants as Yawar Wani of Batnoor Pulwama and Nawaz Ahmad of Rebban Shopian — both affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
Later, multiple rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain militants in their respective native places.
Reports said that thousands of people from various areas of the south Kashmir attended the funeral prayers of two militants.
Reports said that thousand people poured onto streets as the bodies of the duo were lifted, the scenes were poignant amid the chanting of pro-freedom slogans, hailing the “martyrs.”
An eyewitness said that scores of men and women wept bitterly as the bodies were being carried towards its final resting place.
A complete shutdown is being observed in Shopian and its adjoining district Pulwama to mourn the killings.
Reports said that all the shops and other business establishments in both the districts are closed and public traffic is off the roads.

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CRPF man killed in Pulwama attack

Global News Service

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Srinagar, Nov 18: A paramilitary trooper was killed after militants attacked CRPF camp near Railway station Kakpora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Sunday evening.
Reports said that the militants fired on CRPF camp resulting in injuries to one personal. The injured identified as Head constable Chandrika Prasad
of 183 of D coy was rushed to nearby hospital where he succumbed.
A senior Police officer said the militants fired upon CRPF at Railway station Kakpora, which had arrived yesterday there for election duty.
He also confirmed the death of the trooper.
Meanwhile whole area has been cordoned off to nab the attackers.

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3 dead, 15 injured in grenade attack at Amritsar

Agencies

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Chandigarh, Nov 18: Three people were killed while at least 15 others injured in an explosion at Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar’s Rajasansi village in Punjab on Sunday morning.
Nirankari Bhawan is a prayer hall of a religious sect.
“3 dead and 10 injured in the blast at Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar’s Rajasansi village,” IG (Border) Surinder Pal Singh Parmar said.
“Out of 250 people who were present in the religious congregation, 3 dead and 15 to 20 injured. As per initial reports, 2 people had come over here who knocked a grenade here,” IG Parmar added.
According to eyewitnesses, two to three bike-borne men carried out the grenade attack who later fled. They were masked.
Following the blast, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh called for an emergency meeting.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned the incident and said he has asked the state home secretary and senior police officials, including the director general of police, to visit the spot for investigations.
“My heart goes out to victims of the Amritsar bomb blast and their families,” Singh said.
“My government will give Rs 5 lakh to kin of each of the dead and free treatment to the injured. Have asked district administration to extend all help.”
Singh did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of Khalistani or Kashmiri militant groups behind the grenade attack.
In a statement issued hours after the incident, the CM, who held a review meeting, said police teams were rushed to raid suspected hideouts of the assailants and multiple teams have begun investigating the various angles to crack the case.
Amarinder said while the state had been hit by a series of cases of targeted attacks since 2015-16, this was the first attempt, in a long time, to disrupt peace through indiscriminate killings.
He added that such incidents only strengthened the belief that Pakistan was continuing with its “nefarious activities to disturb the law and order in the state”.
The CM also said that the preliminary probe had so far revealed that two men, one of them with a flowing beard and both with covered faces, had allegedly forced their way into the hall by brandishing a pistol.
The duo detained the sewadar, lobbed the grenade into the prayer room and fled on a motorcycle.
A crater, which is three inches in diameter, was formed due to the impact of the explosion and is currently being examined by the forensic team. The safety valve of the grenade was also found and is being examined.
Earlier, soon after the blast, Amarinder had ordered the Home Secretary, DG Police, DG Law and Order and DG Intelligence to immediately rush to village Adliwal to supervise the probe.
State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar offered his condolences to the families of those killed. He called the attack “an attempt to disturb peace in Punjab”. “I believe all the security agencies should stay alert and coordinate with each other to maintain peace,” Jakhar added.
Punjab has been on alert following an input that a group of six to seven militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammad are in the state. Zakir Moosa, the commander of a militant group affiliated with the al-Qaeda, is also reportedly hiding in the state.
Last week, four people hijacked a car at gunpoint near Madhopur in Pathankot district. Police in Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Batala were put on high alert following the incident.

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