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Remembering Sopore massacre 25 years later

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Sopore, Jan 05: It was the wintry morning of January 6, 1993; most of the townspeople were asleep. Border Security Forces (BSF) of 94 battalions were already out from their barracks wearing long shoes, thumping their feet on few streets and market covered with few inches of snow and patrolling the markets and streets of the town.
It was supposed to be a normal day until gunshots created panic in the main chowk of the Sopore town, a group of JKLF militants has opened fire on a BSF patrolling party killing one BSF personnel. The militant outfit also decamped with his service rifle. This enraged the BSF party and in the mayhem of “rage and revenge”, they killed 57 innocent civilians and set ablaze properties worth crores.
Even after all these years, nobody knows for sure what triggered them that cold January morning. Hapless people, trapped in flames, had only two choices to make and both, it turned out, cost them dearly. Stepping out of their shops meant getting bumped off on the spot. Those who hid in their shops were roasted alive. Many people who were killed on January 6, 1993, were buried without their families being able to see them one last time.
A bus from Sopore to Bandipora, half-full with passengers, on its way to Bandipora, got caught up in the unfortunate tragic episode in the bloody history of Sopore. The driver was allegedly dragged down by BSF forces of 94 battalions and was pumped with bullets, killing him on spot and most of the passengers on the bus. Soon charcoal grey powder was thrown into the bus and in few minutes the bus was in flames.
Entire families were wiped out on that January morning 25 years back; some even mourned the living that day. A Shalla family in Naharpora Sopore lost its six members of his immediate family, among those dead members were three brothers identified as Bashir Ahmad Shalla, Sajad Ahmad Shalla and Muhammad Ashraf Shalla.
An eyewitness told this reporter that he saw men in uniform firing indiscriminately on the people and throwing gunpowder on the shops including the famous cinema “Samad Talkies”, Islamia College Sopore (Women’s) and also burnt shopkeepers alive inside in their shops.
It has been said that more than 350 shops, few houses, Samad talkies and Islamia College including the hundred thousand books were burnt to ashes by these bloodthirsty men in uniform.
Even after twenty-five years of Sopore massacre, it has been remembered by many in Sopore town as the tragic event of yesterday and has left the blot on the history of the Sopore which will never be rubbed even after centuries.


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Kashmir

RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit: SIC

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, March 20: The State Information Commission (SIC) on Wednesday agreed that there were loopholes in public information deliverance system.

The Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 came into force on 20 March 2009, repealing and replacing the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2004 is not been implemented and followed by the authority in a professional manner.

On eve of 10th anniversary of RTI Act Jammu and Kashmir, Commissioner, SIC, Mohammad Ashraf Mir discussed various “deficiencies, weaknesses” that are responsible for the modest implementation of Act.

 

Mir said that RTI act is not been taken strictly by the authorities. “We know that the Act is not implemented the way it was designed to be implemented,” he accepted.

Mir said that they know that the government and its instrumentalities love to take credit of RTI Act but are reluctant to submit to its laws.

Moreover, the department is not professionally trained to deal with the dissemination of information.
“The public information officers (PIOs) in government departments are still not well versed with the work, resulting to denial of information to applicants,” said Mir.

He added that this powerful tool of right to get information is sometimes being misused in the hands of citizens also. “The information sought under the act is not be used in the manner it ought to be used.”

Mir said that there is a lack of awareness among the citizens who ought to use the RTI to get the required information, adding that the NOG’s and the social activists who are veterans of the RTI should educate the people on the procedure to file the RTI and be more specific.

Besides all these deficiencies, the record keeping in the entire government departments is in shambles. Mir said that the poor digitization of records in all the government departments act as the wall stone for disseminating the information.

Chairman Jammu and Kashmir RTI movement, Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool showed some light on the struggle to pass the Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr. Rasool said, “The founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act is Late Balraj Puri and Advocate Irfan Hafiz lone.”

He said that J&K RTI was earlier passed in 2004 but it was very week and lacked various laws and regulations. “We formed J&K RTI movement which established the Act in 2009.”
The event was held at Kashmir University by J&K RTI Movement in collaboration with Center of Central Asian Studies.

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JK Assembly polls: EC observer team yet to submit its report to CEC: CEO

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar on Wednesday said that the three member team of election observers appointed for Jammu and Kashmir is yet to submit its report to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and any decision on the conduct of assembly elections in the state will be taken after ECI’s consultation with the Union Home Ministry on additional security deployments for assembly polls in the state.
CEO Shailendra Kumar said, “The three member team of election observers which recently visited Jammu and Kashmir to reassess the situation for conduct of assembly elections in the state has not submitted its report to
Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora yet but will be submitted to the election commission of India very soon. A decision on holding assembly elections will be taken by election commission of India only after consultations with the union home ministry on the timing of assembly elections in the state.”
On March 14, three member team of observers appointed by the Election Commission of India arrived Srinagar to meet the political parties and “assess the feasibility” for holding the assembly elections in J&K.
Upon their arrival, the team drove to the Lalit hotel located on the upscale Gupkar Road where they will hold one-on-one meetings with the regional parties for discussing the timing and phasing of the state assembly polls.
The ECI had appointed former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the feasibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to their mandate, the observers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders, and discuss modalities for holding the assembly elections.
The ECI’s decision to not hold the assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked a massive uproar with the regional political parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party accusing the Centre of “eroding the democratic set-up” in the state.
However, sources in the government said it is “impossible” to hold the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections given the deteriorating security situation in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing.
“For holding Lok Sabha polls for Baramulla constituency alone, we need 400 companies of central paramilitary forces. If assembly polls are held simultaneously, it will require massive deployment. We can’t compromise on security,” a top government officer said.

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ERA initiates blacklisting of defaulting contractors

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Srinagar, Mar 20: J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA) has initiated the process of blacklisting/debarment of contractors who had violated various contract conditions in 12 contract packages under ADB Loan I and Loan II.
As per an official communiqué issued here, CEO ERA, Dr. Raghav Langer said that the FIDIC contract agreement conditions clearly defines every term and condition for execution of contracts and the procedure for blacklisting and debarment of defaulting contractors.
He further added that ERA has accordingly initiated the process of blacklisting and debarment of contractors, under J&K Registration of Contractor Act 1956 in case there were inordinate delays thereby depriving public of intended benefits and causing huge loss to state exchequer, structural faults, corrupt and fraudulent practices, misrepresentation, indulging in false claims under arbitration, nonperformance, abandoning of works etc.
The CEO reiterated the need for professional management of contracts and said that erring contractors of J&K ERA under previously executed Road Projects, Flyovers Project, Sewerage and Water Supply Schemes, Dewatering and Drainage Schemes in Jammu & Kashmir regions have been issued notices which shall be confirmed by adopting the due process.
The removal of name from Register under Act No. 6 of 1956 sub-clause 5 shall there by prevent them from participating in any future contracts in the State of J&K.

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