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SC quashes NGT order on ‘silence zone’ at Amarnath shrine

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New Delhi, Apr 16: The Supreme Court on Monday set aside an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that declared a “silence zone” in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the “Shivalinga” at the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta stayed the December 13 order of the NGT while hearing a plea filed by the Amarnath Shrine Board against the order on the ground that a decision in a case could not be based on grounds outside the pleading of the parties.

The Amarnath cave shrine is considered one of the most holy by Hindus. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year barring a short period of time in summer when it is opened for pilgrims.

 

Appearing for the Amarnath Shrine Board, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the NGT had taken up the Amarnath issue on its own while dealing with a plea relating to stopping the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu.

The bench asked petitioner and environment activist Gauri Mulekhi to file a proper petition on the issue relating to the Amarnath shrine.

During the hearing, Rohatgi told the bench that the NGT had barred chiming of bells, offering of “prasad”, chanting of mantras or saying “Jai Bholenath” in the areas surrounding the famed cave shrine to preserve its eco sensitivity.

Hearing this, the bench quipped: “What does it (NGT) want to say?”

Rohatgi added: “How can they ask that you can’t take ‘prasad’ with you? People have religious sentiments.”

On the NGT’s order of banning carrying of “prasad”, the bench suggested that Amarnath Shrine Board could provide the “prasad”.

On December 13, the green penal had declared the cave shrine a “silence zone” and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point to help prevent avalanches and maintain its pristine nature.

A day later, following protests by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which termed its order as a “Tughlaki fatwa”, the NGT clarified that it had not declared a “silence zone” at the Amarnath cave shrine but due silence had to be maintained only in front of the “Shivalinga”.

The apex court stayed another order of the NGT where it had imposed a cost of Rs 50 lakh on the Jammu and Kashmir government for not finalising a rehabilitation plan for horses and mules which have been barred from plying from Katra to the Vaishno Devi temple.

The tribunal had earlier said that a new path should be created to the shrine exclusively for pedestrians and battery-operated cars and directed that no horses or mules would be allowed on the new route to the shrine.

The apex court was on Monday informed that the scheme for rehabilitation had been finalised and would be placed before the state cabinet for its approval.


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ASI among three cops injured in Rajbagh grenade blast

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police and two traffic cop were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh area of Srinagar city in Central Kashmir on Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that suspected militants lobbed a grenade on police party near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh.
In the blast, three policemen including an ASI of police and two traffic policemen sustained splinter injuries and were evacuated to SMHS hospital for treatment.
The injured has been identified as Iqbal Singh (ASI of JKAP 14 Bn) and traffic policemen Haris Manzoor (SPO) and Sanullah (Head Constable).
While ASI Iqbal has sustained splinter injuries to both of his legs, Haris suffered an injury to the back side of his neck and Sanullah suffered injuries in his right leg.
SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray confirmed the attack and subsequent injuries to the ASI and two traffic cops.
Soon after the attack, the government forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the attackers.
Security forces have launched a massive search operation in Rajbagh and adjoining areas near Zero Bridge after three police personnel including assistant sub-inspector were injured in a grenade attack by the terrorists on Thursday.
Homes and hotels in the area were searched frisking was also carried out. It was the first major terrorist attack in the Srinagar city this year. The injured cops are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibly of the grenade attack on the forces’ party at Raj Bagh area of Srinagar.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement claimed that two forces personnel were killed and 6 critically injured in the attack.
An ASI of police and two traffic cops were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge, Raj Bagh in Thursday afternoon.

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2018 has been remarkable year for forces: Army commander

Global News Service

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Srinagar, Jan 17: A top army commander on Thursday described 2018 as “remarkable year” for government forces, saying that more than 250 militants were killed, 54 others were arrested and four others surrendered in Kashmir Valley.
“The year 2018 has been a remarkable year for armed forces on the security front. As per the record of last ten years, army along with other forces have neutralized many militants. Many militants have surrendered under pressure and many others were arrested alive,” said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC-in-C Northern Command told reporters after inaugurating Kalai Bridge constructed by Border Roads Organization.
“More than 250 militants were killed, 54 others arrested and four others have surrendered,” he said, adding, “This speaks about the strength of our security establishment,” the officer said.
He said that the army was giving “befitting reply” to Pakistan army along the Line of Control whenever there were instances of any ceasefire violation or snipping.
“As per wireless and other intercepts, Pakistan army and militants suffered a huge loss in our retaliatory action.”
The Kalai Bridge spans over Suran River and connects Kalai area to Chandak area in Poonch district. During the inaugural function, the Army Commander addressed the gathering of Army, GREF and local residents and said that the Kalai bridge is an important milestone towards enhancing the road communication in the area.
“The bridge is an important strategic asset as it enhances the movement of military equipment and troops in a faster time frame,” he said. The Indian Army and BRO have been working towards infrastructure development in the remote and far-flung areas and improving the road connectivity, he said.
“The bridge will reduce traffic congestion in the city and ease out inconvenience caused to the people specially those moving towards Budha Amarnath Shrine in Mandi as it reduces the travelling time considerably.”
The Army Commander appreciated the contribution of the District Administration for their support and cooperation during the construction of the bridge.

 

Beg to differ: Omar Abdullah

 

Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday lashed out at the Northern Command Chief Lt General Ranbir Singh, on his “great year for security forces” remark.
Taking to Twitter, Abdullah wrote, the compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration.
“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Abdullah wrote.
Abdullah was reacting to a statement by Gen Singh on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Kalai bridge in Poonch district. Gen Singh said 2018 had been a great year for the security forces as they had managed to kill 250 terrorists.

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Heartening to meet Kashmiri students in Bangladesh: Shahid Afridi

Agencies

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Star Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi on Thursday met Kashmiri students in Bangladesh and interacted with them.

Afridi said that it was heartening to see Kashmiri students in Bangladesh who are studying medicine.“Heartening meeting with some Kashmiri students who are in Bangladesh on scholarship, studying Medicine. Keep up the hard work and making your people proud!,” he tweeted.

Afridi in the past has been in controversies over Kashmiri over his support to the Kashmir cause. He has been vocal about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future.

 
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