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.
3 militants killed in Budgam encounter
Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.
News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.
During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.
The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.
“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.
The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.
Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)
Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted
Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects
Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.
In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.
However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.
Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.
The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.
The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.
Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.
Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.
“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.
Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.