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Pulwama killings: Kashmir, Chenab valley shut in mourning

Mubashir Bukhari

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Srinagar, Dec 16: Kashmir and parts of Chenab valley observed a complete shutdown on Sunday as a mark of mourning and protest against the killing of seven civilians and three militants in an encounter in Pulwama district the previous day.

Authorities imposed strict restrictions in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and parts of Srinagar in view of the shutdown called by Joint Hurriyat leadership against the killings.

The leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik called for a three-day shutdown and a protest march to the Badamibagh Army Cantonment in Srinagar on Monday.

 

Seven civilians were killed and several people injured in firing by government forces during clashes that followed a gunfight with militants in Sirnoo village of Pulwama.

Three militants and a soldier were also killed during the gunfight.

On Sunday, restrictions were imposed under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Pulwama district and six police station areas of Srinagar – Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, M R Gunj and Maisuma.

An official said restrictions were imposed as a “precautionary measure to maintain law and order and avoid any untoward incident”.

However, groups of youth hit streets at Gangiwara Anantnag and its adjoining areas, Noorbagh, Ganderpora Eidgah, Bonapora Batmaloo, Tangpora Byepass and Muran Chowk, Pulwama and other places and staged pro-freedom demonstrations, witnesses said.

The protesters pelted stones on government forces who responded by lobbing tear smoke shells to disperse them.

However, no one was reported seriously hurt in the pitched battles that continued for several hours, they said.

Reports from south Kashmir said that paramilitary CRPF men and police were deployed in strength in the four districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag to prevent people from holding protests.

The slain militant commander Zahoor Ahmad Thoker was interred in a local graveyard after multiple funerals at Sirnoo village on Sunday.

Reports attributing local residents said that four rounds of funeral prayers were held for Thoker on Sunday.

On Saturday around 10 turns of funeral prayers were held for him, they said.

Zahoor had fled along with his service rifle from the Army in 2017 to join militant ranks.

He was posted with 173 Territorial Army in Baramulla.

The other two other militants—killed in gunfight—and seven slain civilians—killed in forces action during clashes near gunfight site at Sirnoo – were laid to rest on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was also observed in Chenab Valley’s Banihal, Khari, Bhadarwah, Doda, Thathri, Gandoh and Kishtwar areas.

The shutdown call was given by the Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhadarwah, Seerat Committee Doda and Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar to lodge protest against Saturday’s civilian killings in Pulwama.

President, Anjuman Islamia (AIB) Bhadarwah, Pervaiz Ahmed Sheikh said: “We have given a call for peaceful bandh to lodge our protest against innocent civilian killings in Kashmir but for how long we will keep our emotions, especially those of youth in control, as the government instead of initiating talks is on a killing spree”.

Sheikh termed the killings as “most heinous and worst atrocity” against the people of Kashmir.

Train services in Kashmir remained suspended for the second successive day on Sunday for “security reasons”.

Shops, fuel stations and other businesses were shut. Mobile internet services were suspended in several parts of the Valley and security personnel deployed.

Former MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid was detained during a protest march that he held in Srinagar with supporters of his Awami Ittehad Party.

They were marching from his official residence to the local office of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, a police official said. Rashid said protestors were chanting slogans against security forces and seeking the “implementation of UN resolutions to end bloodshed”.

“It is obvious that New Delhi has no resolution to Kashmir dispute except pellets, bullets, massacres, draconian laws and state terrorism,” he said.

“Governor Satya Pal Malik, the state DGP [director general of police] and the Army chief must own the moral responsibility of the killings rather making fake enquiries and condemnations.”


Mubashir joined The Kashmir Monitor as a reporter/ sub-editor in Jan 2013. Since then, he has been consistently covering beats including conflict, politics, education, and health. He is also handling online section of the paper besides working as Video Producer.

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Guv reaches out to Hurriyat:’ I’m no alien, contact me directly in case of injustice’

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Jan 15: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday reached out to the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir urging them to apprise him directly of the cases of “atrocity and injustice” to common people that they may come across.

Malik made the offer with an appeal that the Hurriyat Conference leaders should not treat him as “an alien”.

“I have a message for Hurriyat that they should not consider me as an alien,” Governor Malik told news agency PTI in an interview.

 

“As far as Hurriyat is concerned, I have respect for them, even though their ideology is different from mine. They have a different ideology and I have a different one,” the governor added.

Promising to treat Hurriyat leaders’ complaints with due urgency, the governor said, “If they (Hurriyat) feel there is any atrocity (by troops or police), they can contact me on phone or send a person to me.”

“I will treat them (and their complaints) the way I am treating the rest of the people,” said the governor, maintaining that he has opened up the Raj Bhawan for all.

In his first-ever statement aimed at building bridges between Hurriyat leaders and the Raj Bhawan, Malik also expressed hope that “at some level, there will be talks too” with them at some time.

Explaining that he has always been hearing out the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said, “I take all calls including those from common people of the state. My mobiles and WhatsApp have never been silent. All those complaints which come to me on WhatsApp, I have tried to address them.”

The governor even attended a few calls from general public during the interview itself.

Malik said he even often sends officials from Raj Bhawan to collect the complaints of aggrieved individuals, even if they may not be so pressing or urgent.

Malik emphasised that in his dealings, his opinion is based not merely on official briefings but on narratives of the common people as well.

“I have met all political leaders and keep meeting them regularly,” he said, adding he has also met several delegations of common people and youth groups, “opening himself to them and hearing them out”.

“There is a need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so that they understand that the Centre is not against them,” he added.

Malik said during his short tenure in the office, he has received and resolved thousands of complaints and grievances and has given directions to his advisors to address them as soon as possible.

The grievance cell of Jammu and Kashmir administration has resolved over 40,000 of the complaints registered so far by it.

Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule in the state on June 20, the grievance cell has received 41,716 complaints, of which 40,457 have been dealt with, officials said.

These complaints have been forwarded to the quarters concerned for timely resolution, they said, adding that 877 complaints were “under process”.

The three advisors to the governor have been regularly meeting and hearing the grievances both in Srinagar and Jammu, they said.

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GoI should talk to militants too: Mehbooba

‘People don’t hate PDP; they’re just upset with it’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Terming local militants as “sons of soil”, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Government of India (GoI) should initiate dialogue with the militant leadership in Kashmir to end the “gun culture”.

“Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture,” she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.

“I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well,” she said.

 

Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence.

“Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets.

“If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then,” she said.

The PDP leader said that people of Kashmir “are upset with us but don’t hate us” for the party’s decision to align with BJP.

“We aligned with BJP to resolve the issue of Kashmir, our party is created for resolution of Kashmir issue, not to come to power,” she said.

“We are sure sooner people will understand why we joined hands with BJP and leave their grudge aside,” Mehbooba added.

On those who left the party, Mehbooba said that they were always against her and that they were the ones to woo BJP in 2016 after her father’s death.

“Those who left the party went to BJP and asked them to form a government because they had a lust for power. If I had not aligned with BJP, God knows what these leaders would have compromised to come into power,” the former BJP ally said.

On her statement on civilian killings that was criticised, she reiterated that she was “just being a mother”.

On rehabilitation of militant families, Mehbooba said that she has always been visiting those who have been affected in the conflict.

“I have been visiting affected families since the incident of Machil encounter,” Mehbooba stated.

On Farooq Abdullah’s statement on operation all out, she said that during National conference rule the former chief minister said that fake encounters were on rise.

“Thank God! there was no fake encounter during our rule,” she said.

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In Kulgam, Omar trains guns at Guv, Mehbooba

‘Kuka Parrey would have been CM had my father not fought ‘96 polls; Guv should leave politics to us; As CM, Mehbooba could have done much more for militants’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice-president National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that Governor Satya Pal Malik’s job was not to interfere in state politics but to make the situation favourable for the elections so that people are able to take part in electoral process again.

“Governor (SP Malik) Sahab’s job is not to interfere in the politics here. Politics is our job. The sole responsibility of the Governor and his administration is to make the situation favourable to conduct elections so that people will once again take part in the election process,” Omar said during a rally in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

Criticising the governor for his remark that there is no ‘Operation All-out’ in Kashmir, Omar said people are now confused as “on one hand we listen to (words like) operation all-out from the army and on another, we hear from the Governor that there was no such operation.”

 

“We will never support such operation where the people will suffer the most. The crackdowns, killings or excesses, whatever you will name them, even then we won’t support such operations,” Omar said.

He said that it needed to be understood what was forcing youth to take to militancy.

“We would like to understand these things and would try to address them accordingly,” Omar added.

Later while taking to reporters, the NC vice-president said had his party and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah not contested 1996 election in the state then the notorious militant-turned renegade Kuka Parray would have been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Nobody can deny this or even I can’t prove it, this is my belief that if Farooq Sahab and NC would not have contested 1996 elections then Kuka Parray would have been J&K CM. Whether or not anybody accepts this, it is up to them,” Omar said.

On PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said as J&K Chief Minister she could have done more for such families, but at that time she completely forgot them.

“She could have done well for these families when she was heading a government. She had good relations with Prime Minister. She was calling Defence Minister on phone and was also heading a powerful Unified Command,” he said.

“But at that time she never bothered to visit them,” he said adding: “Now, when she has nothing with her, and her party is in shambles, she is visiting these families,” Omar said.

On former IAS officer Shah Faesal, the NC vice-president said that it is for him to decide where he wants to go now after quitting his job.

“It’s his choice now where to go. If he wants to join NC then definitely we will discuss it. As Shah Faesal has quit his service for the people of Kashmir, it is he who has to decide how to work for the people,” he said.

He hoped that south Kashmir would give his party another chance in the next assembly elections.

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