A Delhi court on Monday granted relief from arrest to Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement leader Shehla Rashid, who has been booked for sedition for tweeting that the armed forces allegedly tortured civilians and ransacked houses in the Valley after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.
In his order, additional sessions judge Pawan Kumar Jain at Patiala House court granted interim protection from arrest to Rashid. He wrote: “I am of the view that the matter requires investigation in detail” and posted it next for November 5. Till then, he ordered that the “accused shall not be arrested”, news agency report said.
However, he directed that she would “join the investigation” as and when called by the investigation officer.
Earlier, Rashid’s counsel, senior advocate Satish Tamta, urged the court for interim protection on the ground that she had shared some information on her Twitter (account) on August 17 this year pertaining to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
He submitted before the court that “on the basis of her comments, one advocate made a complaint to the Special Cell (of Delhi Police) and on the basis of said complaint, police has registered an FIR”. The counsel also stated the sections under which the case has been registered.
Thereafter the additional public prosecutor submitted that till date, the police has not even issued any notice to the accused. Tamta, thereafter, stated that Rashid was ready to join the investigation and cooperate with the police.
ASJ Jain also recorded that the prosecutor had stated that the police has thus far not received any complaint from the Indian Army. After he said that the police would need at least six weeks to investigate the complaint, the judge posted the matter to November 5.
This case has once again highlighted how the serious provision of sedition is used arbitrarily to silence complaints and voices of dissent.
In this case, while Rashid has been accused of making false accusations against the army, the fact of the matter, as submitted by a counsel before the court, is that the army has not made a complaint till date.
It may be noted that Rashid had described the charge levelled against her as “frivolous, politically motivated and a pathetic attempt to silence” her. Apart from sedition, she was also charged with spreading “fake news” with the intention to “malign the image of the Indian Army”.
The case was filed in connection with a series of tweets made by her on August 17. In these, Rashid had alleged that the armed forces entered houses in Kashmir at night and “ransacked” them. She had also alleged that four men were called to an Army camp in Shopian and “interrogated (tortured)”.
Following her tweets, a Supreme Court lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, filed a complaint with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik accusing the former JNU student leader of making “absolutely false and concocted” allegations.
The complaint was forwarded to Special Cell and Rashid was booked, apart from other sections, for under section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code as well.
Rail service resumes
Srinagar, Nov 12: Rail services in Kashmir resumed on Tuesday – over three months after being suspended due to security reasons in view of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, officials said.
Few mini-buses also plied on the Batwara-Batamaloo route through the city centre, while inter-district cabs and auto-rickshaws plied in the city and elsewhere in the valley.
Private transport was plying unhindered.
A railway official told PTI that a train chugged between Baramulla and Srinagar this morning.
He said the train made only two trips on the Baramulla-Srinagar stretch as authorities have directed Railways to ply trains between 10 am and 3 pm only due to security reasons.
The Railways conducted the trial run of the service on the stretch on Monday for the first time in over three months since the unannounced shutdown in the valley.
The official said the Srinagar-Banihal stretch of the railway line would resume in a few days after checking track safety and conducting trial runs.
The train service in the valley was suspended due to security reasons on the morning of 5 August – hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union territories.
The Centre’s decision led to an unannounced shutdown in the valley – which completed 100 days on Tuesday — even as authorities imposed severe restrictions which were later gradually eased out.
Markets have been following a new pattern of functioning, opening early morning till around the noon and then downing their shutters to join the protest against abrogation of the special status of the state, officials said.
They said miscreants are using fear mongering to put down any resistance to unannounced shutdown by threatening shopkeepers and businessmen.
The officials said two grenade attacks in the city’s busy Goni Khan market and Kaka Sarai areas were an indication that there were concerted efforts to keep the shutdown going.
Pre-paid mobile phones and all internet services continued to remain suspended since 5 August.
Most of the top level and second rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
The government has detained former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah under the controversial Public Safety Act.
Militant killed in Ganderbal gunfight
Srinagar, Nov 12: A militant was killed and an Army soldier injured in an encounter between militants and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Tuesday, police said.
Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Kulan area of the central Kashmir district in the morning following inputs about the presence of militants.
During the search, the hiding militants fired upon the security forces, who retaliated, according to an officer.
A militant was killed during the gunfight. An army soldier was also injured and rushed to a medical facility for treatment, the officer said.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is yet to be ascertained. The operation is on and further details are awaited, the officer added.
The incident comes after the encounter where two militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Bandipora district of north Kashmir on Monday morning, police said.
While one militant was killed on Sunday during a gunfight between security forces in Lawdara village, about 55 km from Srinagar, another was killed on Monday, police further said. The security forces started a search operation on getting information about the presence of some militants in the area which led to the encounter between the security forces and the militants.
The streak of encounters continues as the state of Kashmir remains under an unprecedented lockdown after the abrogation of article 370.
Unscheduled power cuts affect research in KU
Srinagar, Nov 05: Unscheduled power cuts have severely hit the research work in the University of Kashmir.
“I am doing research on plant ecology and most of my work depends on high definition equipments which work on electricity. I collected plant samples twice from Gulmarg and kept it in freezer for further examination. For four days there was no electricity and with the result my samples became unusable,” said a research scholar.
Another research scholar in Kashmir University said due to frequent power cuts their research work is getting affected. “My equipment developed errors due to power cuts. With the result, it started displaying false readings”, he said.
An official in the Kashmir University said over Rs 25 crore have been sanctioned for 50 different projects in the department of biotechnology, clinical bio-chemistry, botany, zoology, nanotechnology, pharmacy, environmental science, physics, electronics and chemistry.
“The high definition equipment, which works in -80, -20, -120 temperature, are imported from abroad. Regular power cuts are affecting these equipments,” the official said.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Chief Engineer PDD, Qazi Hashmat said Kashmir University being a premier institute should install a backup power system to meet exigencies.
“PDD has proposed to provide dedicated power supply from 33 KV line. Once the university credits the amount, we will start work on installation of the line,” Qazi said.
Spokesperson of Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said the issue has not been brought into hid notice. “I will check with the department heads and resolve it as soon as possible,” he said.
Sources said Kashmir University had signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the PDD to provide 24*7 power supply. Sources said two kanals of land was also earmarked for establishing receiving station for uninterrupted power supply. Sources said Kashmir University is paying Rs 4.2 lakh as monthly electricity tariff to the PDD.