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Valley sees first Sunday of highway closure

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 7: Hundreds of vehicles were Sunday stranded on intersections while people took on-foot journeys to their destinations as government executed the ban order by prohibiting civilian traffic on the over 300- kilometre long highway to facilitate the movement of convoys.
Sunday became the first day in the history of Kashmir when the entire highway was closed for civilians to facilitate forces’ movement.
Earlier this week, the government ordered closure of the highway for civilian traffic every Sunday and Wednesday till May 31 for smooth movement of the convoys.
On Sunday, no movement of civilian vehicles was witnessed on the highway since early morning barring a beeline of armed vehicles that continued almost throughout the major part of the day.
Forces had set up barricades and concertina wires at several intersections along the road blocking any civilian vehicle to use it.
Since Saturday night, forces frisked the vehicles on highway and noted down their numbers.
Throughout the stretch from Baramulla to Udhampur, there was heavy security deployment as government forces guarded the passing convoy and prevented people to use the route for the day.
The otherwise noisy 128-kilometre stretch from Baramulla to Anantnag was deserted and at many places distraught commuters were seen walking on foot to their destinations, who, even after pleading to the forces were not allowed to drive their vehicles.
Among the commuters were many who had to visit hospitals, appear in exams or had to attend a function or participate in a funeral.
Right from Baramulla to Srinagar, scores of the commuters in groups were seen at junctions, who were showing permissions or papers to the deputed forces in order to let their vehicle pass on the highway.
Mohammad Yasin, an elderly person from Pattan, had left home early morning with his daughter for Srinagar to attend an engagement ceremony of his cousin.
“I had to walk almost 20 kilometres from Singpora to Srinagar. We couldn’t find any vehicles nor is there any alternate route other than the highway,” he said.
Similarly Ghulam Mohammad Bhat started off from his home in Srinagar to reach a hospital where his daughter is admitted, but couldn’t find any means of transport to get there.
“I have been walking for the past 15 minutes, but there is no public transport in sight. I have to reach JVC hospital (SKIMS Medical College and Hospital, Bemina), where my daughter is admitted,” Bhat said near Tengpora bridge as he braced himself for another hour of walk.
There were people who had patients in the vehicles and wanted to take them to hospitals or parents accompanying their children on way to tuition ahead of the various competitive exams due next month.
In south Kashmir, particularly Anantnag and Awantipora, the ban was most felt where one would hardly see any civilian vehicle passing on the highway.
Mushtaq Ahmad, a teacher of Islamic studies at Muslim Student Board from Awantipora had to skip his annual test as the entire area leading to Anantnag was sealed by the forces.
“Those who were residing near Anantnag appeared in the test. Even the internet was barred here today,” he said.
A groom from Anantnag district, who got married in Doda district on other side of the Jawahar Tunnel, had to obtain permission from the authorities concerned to take his wedding entourage to the bride’s home.
Danish Ali, a resident of New Qazibagh in Anantnag, got the permission for himself and his 12 companions to travel on the highway on Saturday and Sunday, but only after the entourage was put to proper frisking and security check.
Pained by the scenes, a urologist decided to cycle his way to his hospital instead of travelling in an ambulance, which have been exempted from the ban order.
“I decided to use the cycle so that I can feel the pain of the people, what they are going through because of this order. I am not going to get into arguments with anyone if I am stopped. I will change my way and pedal on,” Dr Umar said.
He said roads were the lifeline of any place and shutting them down meant shutting down the city, state or the country.
A senior police officer told The Kashmir Monitor that the highway was closed till 12 pm as forces vehicles were passing in large numbers.
“There was a threat. Arrangements were made today but the closure didn’t remain for a long time. Authorities are examining various aspects related to it,” he said.
Asked about the punishment on violation of the order, he said Deputy Commissioners have already imposed section 144 at many places.
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Khalid Jehangir said that there are “enough” provisions in the law that could be invoked against the violators.
“It depends on the nature of violation. Section 144 is a prohibitory order but then there are many penal provisions that could be invoked depending on the nature of the offence,” he said.
The ban drew outrage on social media platforms with netizens sharing photos of the highway. Many drew comparison of the ban order with German government’s forbidding Jews from using pathways and streets in Poland from 9pm to 5am in 1939. They juxtaposed the two ban orders and the same went viral on social media platforms.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said that he had deployed 110 officials to facilitate people on the highway.
On violation of the Highway Act, which states that Government of India has to notify in the official gazette for banning public movement on highways, he said, “Regarding the Act I don’t know. But we allowed all the vehicles and people didn’t face any problem.”

OMAR ABDULLAH
“No popular government could have even thought about banning civilian traffic on Kashmir highway as I personally saw students and patients trapped at various places while driving from Srinagar to Uri. The Governor’s administration should withdraw the ban immediately.”

 
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Pak must review death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav: ICJ

Agencies

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The Hague, Jul 17: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday announced its verdict on India’s petition challenging the death sentence given to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”.

The court found by 15 votes to 1 that Pakistan had breached Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna convention on consular relations by not allowing Indian diplomats to visit him in jail.

It said that nothing in Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) precludes its applicability to persons accused of espionage.

 

The provision basically states that when a national of a foreign country is arrested, they must be informed of the right to have their country’s consulate notified and should also have the right to regular consultation with their consulate’s officials during their detention and trial.

Pakistan had argued, unsuccessfully, that Article 36 of the VCCR does not apply to people involved in espionage.

Pakistan has been directed to suspend the execution of the death penalty awarded to Jadhav till it fulfills the new conditions (ensuring consular access and ‘effectively’ reviewing the case).

The ICJ, however, also rejected most of the other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and his return to India. It cited limitations of its jurisdiction in turning down those appeals.

Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India

Reading out the verdict, President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”.

The verdict in the high-profile case comes nearly five months after a 15-member bench of ICJ led by Judge Yusuf had reserved its decision on February 21 after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings of the case took two years and two months to complete.

India moved the ICJ in May 8, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.

TIMELINE

2016

3 Mar: Pakistan claims arresting Jadhav in Balochistan on charges of espionage. India claims he was kidnapped from Iran.

25 Mar: India is formally informed by Pakistan of Jadhav’s arrest. A confessional statement is released by Pakistan in which Jadhav claims to be a serving Indian Navy officer. India responds by moving the first of several requests for custodial access.

6 Sep: Pak files “supplementary” FIR naming 15 individuals as “accomplices and facilitators” of Jadhav, including NSA Ajit Doval, former RAW chief Alok Joshi, his wife Chetankul Jadhav, and mother Avanti Jadhav.

21 Sep: Military court begins hearing Jadhav case.

2017

6 Jan: Pak ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi presents a dossier to the UN chief alleging India’s involvement in cross-border terrorism in Pakistan and Jadhav’s arrest.

23 Jan: Islamabad writes to New Delhi, seeking assistance in investigating the Jadhav case, and saying its request for consular assistance shall be considered “in the light of the Indian side’s response”.

10 Apr: Jadhav is sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan. India deems the death penalty as “pre-meditated murder”.

27 Apr: India writes to Pakistan, asking it for certified copies of the chargesheet, proceedings of the court of enquiry, the summary of evidence in the case, and the judgment itself. No reply is received.

22 Jun: Pakistan states that a military court has rejected Jadhav’s appeal.

8 May: India moves the International Court of Justice, and receives an interim stay on Jadhav’s execution, pending final orders in the case.

26 Oct: Islamabad writes to New Delhi, offering to discuss extraditing him to India should the government accept he is “considered a criminal under the laws of India.”

25 Dec: Jadhav’s mother and wife are allowed to visit him in prison.

2018

Jan 17: Apr 17 and July 17 fixed as deadlines for India’s Reply and Pak’s Rejoinder respectively.

2019

Feb 18-21: India and Pak make two rounds of oral arguments at The Hague.

Jul 4: ICJ announces that the President of the Court, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, will read the Court’s decision on July 17.

How binding are ICJ judgments?

Srinagar, Jul 17: According to ICJ, judgments delivered by the court (or by one of its chambers) in disputes between states are binding upon the parties concerned. Article 94 of the United Nations Charter provides that “each Member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of [the court] in any case to which it is a party”. Judgments are final and without appeal.

If there is a dispute about the meaning or scope of a judgment, the only possibility is for one of the parties to make a request to the court for an interpretation. In the event of the discovery of a fact hitherto unknown to the court which might be a decisive factor, either party may apply for revision of the judgment.

However, there have been instances when the ICJ’s rulings have not been followed. The most famous one was in 1986, when the ICJ ruled in a petition by Nicaragua, which alleged that the US had waged a covert war against it by supporting a rebellion.

The ICJ ordered reparations from the US in favour of Nicaragua. The US, in response, cancelled its declaration of the ICJ’s jurisdiction. It then went to the UN Security Council against the ICJ order and succeeded.

So, whatever the ICJ decides, both governments will have to be prepared for a long haul.

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Hafiz Saeed arrested by Pak’s counter-terrorism dept

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 17: Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was arrested Wednesday by Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in connection with charges related to terror financing, Dawn and Geo news reported.

The arrest, as per the reports, was made when Saeed was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to appear before an anti-terrorism court. The Mumbai 26/11 mastermind has been moved to an undisclosed location, it added.

Quoting CTD spokesperson for Punjab, Dawn reported that Saeed, following his arrest, was sent to prison on judicial remand after the counter-terrorism department presented him before a Gujranwala anti-terrorism court (ATC).

 

The CTD has been directed to complete its investigation and submit a charge sheet to the court in the stipulated time, the report said.

A JuD spokesperson also confirmed the arrest to Reuters.

The arrest comes in the wake of an ATC in Lahore granting Saeed pre-arrest bail. Along with Saeed, three others were also granted the bail in a case pertaining to JuD’s alleged illegal use of land for its seminary, Dawn reported on July 14.

The CTD had registered 23 cases in July against the leadership of JuD, LeT and FIF (Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation) for gaining assets from “terrorism” financing through non-profit organisations. The move was termed by India as “cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan”.

“Pakistan is trying to hoodwink the international community on taking action against terror groups. Let us not get fooled by cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.

Pakistan’s push against Saeed came after Financial Action Task Force (FATF), at a plenary session in USA. FATF chair, the US, had told Pakistan it could face blacklisting at its next session in October if it did not adhere to its commitments to stop access to funds for “terror” groups.

Saeed’s arrest comes just ahead of Prime Minister Khan’s maiden visit to the US on July 21 during which he will hold talks with US President Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly asked Pakistan to abide by its UN Security Council commitments to deny “terrorists” safe haven and block their access to funds.

The Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba which is deemed to be responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated “Global Terrorist”, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

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LeT militant killed in Sopore gunfight

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jun 17: After a brief lull in the encounters in Kashmir, a Lashkar-e-Toiba militant identified as a local, was Wednesday killed in a gunfight at Gund-Brath village of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

Giving details of the encounter, a police official said that Army’s 22 RR, 179 BN CRPF and SOG of J&K police jointly launched a cordon-and-search operation in Gund Brath village of Sopore following specific information about the presence of militants inside a residential house.

During the search operation, the official said, the hiding militant fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter.

 

In the ensuing encounter, one militant was killed and the body was retrieved from the site of encounter.

The slain militant was identified as Adnan Ali Channa son of Ali Muhammad Channa, a resident of Arampora Azad-Gunj, Baramulla.

As per the police records, the slain was affiliated with militant outfit LeT.

Meanwhile, authorities suspended internet services in Sopore and Baramulla as a precautionary measure in wake of this encounter. Later in the day, thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of slain militant at his native village Azadgunj.

The encounter was the first one after the commencement of annual pilgrimage of Amarnath on July 1.

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