Srinagar, Apr 18: The students for the third consecutive day on Wednesday continued to protest against the rape and murder of a minor Kathua girl in January this year in Rassana area of Hiranagar district of Jammu region.
The student protests turned violent in many areas of Anantnag, Tral, Baramulla and Srinagar.
The day began with protests in KP road area of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The students during the protest chanted slogans in favour of the minor victim and demanded stern action against the culprits.
Witnesses said that the students also pelted stones on forces during the protest, resulting in clashes between them and government forces.
They said that at least 15 students mostly girls sustained injuries during the clashes in Anantnag who were shifted to District Hospital Anantnag for treatment.
The clashes later spread to nearby areas Lal chowk and Janglat mandi during which forces used tear smoke shells to disperse them.
The clashes also led to the closure of shops and other business establishments in the town.
Medical Superintendent of DH Anantnag, Dr Majid Mirab, as per news agency Kashmir News Service, said the hospital received 15 injured people.
“All the injured were treated in the hospital while one among them was shifted to Srinagar’s Bone and Joint hospital for specialized treatment,” he added.
Reports said that the clashes between students and forces also took place in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district during which students of Government Degree College pelted stones on forces who is retaliation used tear gas canisters to disperse them.
Scores of people also sustained injuries during the incident, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, two police officers sustained injured during the clashes that reported between students of Islamic University of Sciences and Technology (IUST) Awantipora and forces on Wednesday.
The students of IUST held a protest to exhibit solidarity with Kathua minor girl.
Reports said that police swung into action after the students of the varsity staged protests on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Awantipora, triggering clashes.
Officials said that the forces used tear gas canisters to disperse the students who were pelting stones on forces.
They said that two officials including SDPO and SHO Awantipora got injured who were rushed to a hospital for treatment.
Following the clashes, IUST management suspended the class work.
In north Kashmir’s Bandipora area, clashes erupted between students of Boys Degree College Baramulla and forces after they staged protests against the rape-and-murder of Kathua girl.
Reports quoting eye witnesses said that police lobbed scores of tear gas shells to disperse the protesting students, triggering clashes.
They said that the students were holding a protest inside the college premises when tear gas was fired. The students raised slogans during the protest.
In Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, the students of Degree College Ganderbal boycotted their classes and staged protest against the Kathua rape-and-murder.
The students assembled in the premises of the college and held protests, demanding apital punishment to the culprits.
Amid anti-culprits sloganeering, the students came out of the college premises and held sit-in on Ganderbal-Shalbigh road.
In Srinagar, the law students assembled at Srinagar’s Pratap Park to protest in solidarity with the Kathua girl.
The law students including boys and girls chanted slogans in favour of justice for Kathua victim.
The students while holding placards reading slogans in favour of the victim and against the culprits, demanded stern action against the culprits.
The students said that the culprits should be hanged till death.
Besides students, the lawyers and civil society members also held a protest in favour of the victim girl at Srinagar’s Pratap Park.
The lawyers also held a signature campaign in favour of the minor girl in which lawyers as well the civil society members participated.
Meanwhile, police spokesman in a statement issued to KNS said that two policemen and two protesters were injured after peaceful protest demonstration turned violent in Anantnag in South Kashmir.
“A peaceful protest was taken out at Anantnag which was allowed by police and district administration. Subsequently some miscreants indulged in stone pelting and turned violent and tried to enforce forceful shutdown in Anantnag town. In the said incident 2 police personnel and 2 miscreants received injuries when they were hit by stones. All of them are stated to be stable,” police spokesman said.
The statement further said that in another incident at Pulwama, while municipal committee Pulwama was busy in anti–encroachment drive, the demolition drive was pelted upon to disrupt the process. Police party reached the spot and subsequently dispersed the miscreants. No injuries were reported in this incident.
“In Awantipora miscreants tried to block main road but due to timely intervention of local police, the situation was handled and no street vandalism could take place”, the statement reads. “The situation has been brought under control in all these locations,” spokesman added.
The campaign for justice for the eight-year-old victim of Kathua rape and murder case is gaining momentum across Kashmir with students and people holding protest marches across the length and breadth of the valley.
A group of lawyers, civil society members and people from other walks of life also held a protest rally at Pratap Park here, demanding death penalty for the persons involved in the rape and murder of the minor girl in January this year.
They also demanded setting up of a fast-track court for speedy delivery of justice in the case.
A massive rally was taken out by students in Uri town — near the Line of Control — in Baramulla district in support of the victim, reports reaching here said.
Many passenger vehicles, including autorickshaws, have put up placards in front of the windscreens, demanding justice for the victim girl.
A large number of private cars and motorcycles also have posters, making the same demand. Business establishments have also put up similar placards on their premises.
In the virtual world, an online petition to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was started last month to demand justice for the victim.
“Big thank you to all! We are over 1.6 million. This is our silver lining. There are more people who are willing to side with justice than with hate. We, women from J&K, had started a petition to @MehboobaMufti over one month ago seeking Justice for the vicitm of Kathua case,” JNU scholar Shehla Rashid said in a post on social networking site.
“It has gone on to become the biggest ever Indian petition on change.org, with over 15 lakh signatures!!” she added.
The demand for justice can be seen on thousands of Facebook pages, in Whatsapp messages and statuses and in tweets as well.
‘Bigger force’ wants to deactivate CJI’s office’: SC
Gogoi accused of sexual harassment; refutes allegations
New Delhi, Apr 20: Describing the allegations of sexual harassment against him as “unbelievable”, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi convened an extraordinary hearing at the Supreme Court on Saturday and said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop too low even to deny these allegations.
In the hurriedly called hearing after the allegations cropped up, the apex court left it to the “wisdom of media” to show restraint and act responsibly so that independence of judiciary is not affected.
The apex court, which held the hearing for around 30 minutes, said independence of judiciary was under “very serious threat” and “unscrupulous allegations” of sexual harassment had been levelled against the Chief Justice of India as some “bigger force” wanted to “deactivate” the office of the CJI.
The “unusual and extraordinary” hearing on a Saturday was held after stories were published on some news portals on the allegations made by an ex-employee of the apex court against the CJI.
The court, which said the judiciary “cannot be made a scapegoat”, said the media should not publish the woman’s complaint without verifying its truth.
The CJI said this issue had cropped up when a bench headed by him is scheduled to hear “many, many sensitive cases” next week and this was also the month of the general election in the country.
Besides the CJI, the bench also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, hinted towards a “bigger force” behind the controversy which had the potential to shake the faith of public in the judicial system.
Though the CJI was heading the bench, he left it to Justice Mishra to take a call on passing a judicial order.
Dictating the order, Justice Mishra said, “Having considered the matter, we refrain from passing any judicial order at this moment, leaving it to the wisdom of the media to show restraint, act responsibly as is expected from them and accordingly decide what should or should not be published, as wild and scandalous allegations undermine and irreparably damage reputation and negate independence of judiciary.”
“We would, therefore, at this juncture leave it to the media to take off such material which is undesirable,” the order said.
The CJI said “unbelievable” allegations had been levelled against him and “I do not think I should stoop too low even to deny these allegations. But that comes after 20 years of selfless service as a judge”.
“Nobody can catch me on money. People have to find something and they have found this,” the CJI said, while making it clear that he had a bank balance of Rs 6.8 lakh apart from around Rs 40 lakh in provident fund after being in service for around two decades.
“There has to be a bigger, bigger force behind this. There are two offices–one of the Prime Minister and one of the CJI. They (people behind this controversy) want to deactivate the office of the CJI,” Justice Gogoi said, adding, “This is the reward a CJI gets after 20 years of service.”
Anguished over the allegations, the CJI warned that “the judiciary of this country is under very serious threat. We will not allow this to happen”.
“I will sit in this chair and discharge my judicial functions without any fear. I will decide the cases in the seven months (of his remaining tenure as the CJI). I will do that,” he said.
Justice Gogoi, who assumed the office of the CJI on October 3, 2018, will retire on November 17.
Before being elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012, Justice Gogoi was the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court from February 12, 2011.
Prior to his appointment as a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001, he practised mainly in that high court. As a judge, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 9, 2010.
A three-judge special bench headed by Justice Gogoi was constituted after a sworn affidavit by the woman, copies of which were sent to the residences of 22 apex court judges, became public on Saturday.
The apex court registry in a notice earlier in the day said a three-bench headed by the CJI was being set up to deal with a “matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary”.
The former employee has described two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, days after he was appointed the CJI, and her subsequent persecution.
According to reports, the woman alleged that she was removed from service after she rebuffed his advances. She claimed that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables, were suspended for a 2012 criminal case that had been mutually resolved.
She was later made to prostrate before Justice Gogoi’s wife and rub her nose at her feet in the CJI’s residence, she alleged, adding that her disabled brother-in-law was removed from service at the Supreme Court.
The woman also alleged that she was detained at a police station along with her husband and other relatives and they were subjected to physical and verbal abuse in a case of cheating against her.
Confirming that a letter by the woman has been received by several sitting judges, Supreme Court Secretary General Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar said all the allegations made by the woman concerned were mala fide and had no basis. “No doubt, it is a mala fide allegation,” he said.
‘Healing touch’ only for Kashmiris: Modi
New Delhi, Apr 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has criticised those who have been advocating a “soft touch” towards separatists in Jammu and Kashmir.
Responding to question from news channel Times Now on Rahul Gandhi’s vow to dilute the provisions of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) to “reduce the alienation” of the people in J&K, the Prime Minister said that militants and separatists can only be dealt with a “hitting touch”. The ‘healing touch’, the PM said should be reserved for the civilians of the state.
“We follow the principles of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji. Humanity, Democracy and Kashmiriyat – we are treading this path. We and the country are ready for extra healing touch for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh but there can only be hitting touch for militants,” the PM said.
Declaring that “we will have to make a clear demarcation that healing touch is for the citizens and hitting touch for the militants,” Modi said “They believe in the exact opposite of this. They want a healing touch for separatists and militants and a hitting touch for Central government. This is wrong”.
Saying that “this extra healing touch is for the policemen who are dying in Kashmir, the army jawans who come home for weddings in their families and being killed – they need a healing touch, the Prime Minister said “there are children who are making the country proud in sports competitions, they need a healing touch. They need an extra healing touch. I am willing to walk that mile to provide them with that but there will be no healing touch to separatists and militants. I will not let them be given that treatment and will only give them hitting touch”.
Modi also said Pulwama attack would not have happened if a strong reply was given after the attack in Mumbai in November 2008.
He also noted that the aerial strike on a training camp in Balakot was “successful” with Pakistan not allowing the media to visit the site for over 40 days.
Modi told Times Now in an interview that “no patriotic Indian could afford to sit back after the February 14, Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed”.
“If we remain silent at a time like this, then the perpetrators will get into the habit of thinking that the government is not strong and they can get away. If action had been taken after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Pulwama would not have happened,” he said.
Modi said no major terror incident has happened in the US after the 9/11 attack as their government showed strength.
“Whenever such incidents happened in the past in India, even when the Pandits were driven out of the Kashmir Valley, if strong steps had been taken at that time then we would not have faced 40 years of militancy and lost thousands of soldiers. But at that time politics got in the way, vote banks got in the way,” Modi said.
Asked about people who link Balakot strikes with elections, Modi said “it is a reflection of their thinking”.
“They have never thought there is something called national policy which is much bigger than politics. This is beyond their understanding. I find it very painful to even descend into this kind of argument,” he said.
He said the “sacrifice of 40 personnel meant a new warning bell of danger.”
“This had to be answered. I had decided after the Uri attack that now the time had come to carry out action where the militants get shelter and weapons and where they get their training. That is why on the very first day (after Pulwama attack) I gave a free hand to the Army,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the Balakot strikes were carried out very carefully and it was a “successful operation”.
Answering a query on ‘strategic restraint’, Modi said it means hiding shortcomings and the world respects the powerful.
Asked about suspicions about success of air strikes, Modi said it was Pakistan which announced that aerial strikes had taken place.
“If nothing had happened, why would they announce? Secondly, after the Uri surgical strike, Pakistan showed the media that nothing had happened within 24 hours, because in a radius of 250 km, any corner can be shown. It was easy. Why did Pakistan not let media visit the Balakot airstrike site for 43 days? Even today, ordinary citizens are not permitted to go there. Why is that?”
He said statements from Pakistan say they want to have talks but referred to its contradictory claims after the air strikes. “Why should we trust Pakistan?” he asked.
Highway restrictions off between Srinagar-Baramulla
Srinagar, Apr 20: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday partially relaxed the two-day-a-week restrictions on the movement of civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which was put in place to facilitate movement of security forces’ convoys.
Earlier this month, the government had imposed the restrictions on the national highway (NH-44) connecting Jammu to Srinagar, days after the Pulwama attack in which over 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
The restriction barred civilian traffic from plying on the road on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Now, there would be no restrictions from Srinagar to Baramulla on Wednesdays, an official spokesperson said Saturday.
However, the restrictions would continue between Srinagar and Udhampur, in the Jammu region, on NH-44 as earlier, he said.
“These would be reviewed periodically and relaxation would be made as the need for restriction reduces,” he said.
A complete review of restrictions on the highway, the spokesperson added, would be done after the last phase of elections on May 06, to examine the need for continuing with them.