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Would ensure free, speedy trial in Kathua case: SC

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New Delhi, Apr 26: The Supreme Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition regarding the Kathua rape and murder case, said that the Court’s primary concern was to ensure a fair and speedy trial.
The Court heard the suo-moto writ petition filed against the members of Kathua and Jammu High Court Bar Associations regarding obstruction of filing of chargesheet in the matter.
The counsel for the bar associations submitted that the inquiry report submitted by the Bar Council of India (BCI) found that the protests demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the case were “justified”. The counsel also claimed that the media had misreported the entire episode.
However, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra reminded everyone that the main issue was justice to the victim. He said: “Let the main issue not be missed. We’re concerned about fair trial for both the parties. Let’s not digress. It is through the Bar that a fair trial can be achieved. Let’s stick to the victim’s case.”
CJI Misra further noted that the real concern of the Court is to see that a fair trial is carried out. He stressed that it should be fair to both the accused as well as to the family members of the victim.
Speaking on the plea to transfer the case out of Jammu & Kashmir so as to ensure a fair trial, CJI Misra said that the Supreme Court will hear the same on Friday.
On the transfer of the case, the court said the convenience of the complainant cannot be the sole consideration for transferring a criminal case out of the state.
“Courts have to consider the convenience of the accused, prosecution witness and larger interest of the society. That the trial in the charge sheet has commenced at Kathua and there is no apprehension on behalf of the complainant for any threat or coercion of prosecution witnesses,” it said.
Appearing for the father of the eight-year-old girl who was gangraped and murdered in Kathua in January, Advocate Indira Jaising had last week said the trial in the case should be transferred to Chandigarh as “the atmosphere” in Kathua “is highly polarised” and hence “a fair trial will not be possible” there. There was “direct attack on the counsel of the father”, Jaising said, and added that the petition had suggested Chandigarh only due to its proximity.
Chief Justice further noted: “Apart from fairness, the concept of speedy trial also gets attracted. Both the sides should be given necessary legal assistance. The primary concern of this case is fair trial, legal assistance and if necessary, transfer of case (out of Jammu and Kashmir).”
He assured Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, who is appearing for the victim, that if slightest possibility of lack of fair trial is found, the Court will transfer the case.
The case regarding demand for fair and speedy trial will come up before the Supreme Court on Friday, whereas the matter looking into the conduct of Jammu and Kathua lawyers is listed to be heard in July.
Meanwhile, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court began hearing a petition filed seeking transfer of the investigation to the CBI yesterday. Justice AlokAradhe issued notice in the petition, and held,
“The question of interim relief as well as question of maintainability of the writ petition shall be examined on the next date of hearing. It is made clear that the trial court shall be free to proceed ahead with the trial of the case.”
The Court agreed to hear the petition of the two prime accused in Kathua gang rape and murder case, who are opposing the plea of the victim’s father seeking transfer of trial outside Jammu, preferably to Chandigarh.
On the issue of alleged obstruction by lawyers in the case, the bench said, “If the lawyers are at fault, they will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Sanji Ram and Vishal Jangotra, who were chargesheeted by the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police in the case, have sought transfer of the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) besides seeking to be impleaded as parties in the petition filed by the father of the victim.
The duo had moved the top court on Wednesday, saying they had been falsely implicated. “It is humbly stated that the applicants are necessary and proper parties as their rights and interest are bound to be affected by the outcome of the writ petition,” they said in their plea. The accused added that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees fair investigation as well as trial to the accused.
“Therefore, the investigation must be fair, transparent and judicious as it is the minimum requirement of rule of law. The investigating agency cannot be permitted to conduct an investigation in a tainted and biased manner,” the plea said.


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Lethpora bombing fallout: Kashmiris in Jammu, elsewhere face rage

Ensure Kashmiris are safe: Centre to states

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Feb 16: Tensions continued to simmer in J&K after violence against Kashmiris was reported in Jammu and other states across India on Saturday as well.

The incidents are fallout of the Thursday’s bombing on the highway in Pulwama in which 49 CRPF troopers were killed after a local Jaish fidayeen rammed an explosive filled vehicle into the forces’ convoy.

Like Friday, Saturday too saw mobs attacking a number of quarters belonging to Kashmiris, especially ones at Janipur area, amid an officially declared curfew in the state’s winter capital.

 

A number of people called from Janipur and said they were attacked by the frenzied mobs despite the presence of police.

The mobs entered inside the premises and attacked quarters of Kashmiris while police, according to the callers, remained a mute spectator.

On Friday, there was widespread violence in which mobs torched 30 vehicles and damaged over 50 of them during a strike called by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Bar Association against Thursday’s attack.

Not just in Jammu, Kashmiris, including students and businessmen, in others states were at the receiving end of right-wing violence.

Some of the Valleyites putting up in Bihar, Dehradun and Punjab were targeted by unruly mobs, who asked them to vacate their rented premises and leave the state.

Students being the soft target were beaten ruthlessly by the angered crowd in Dehradun. The 12 Kashmiri boys are students of Dev Bhoomi, BFIT, and Alpine college of Dehradun.

Others putting up in rented accommodations and hostels in Dehradun and Haryana were forced to vacate their lodgings by the landlords. The anger was predictably visible on social media with students receiving abusive texts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.“I was asked by landlord to vacate within 24 hours,” said Umar, who studies in a college in Dehradun.

“I can’t think of travelling by air since the fares are too high. To make the matters worse, the highway is closed and Jammu is under siege. In such a scenario, going by road is not an option,” he lamented.

Asked why he was asked to vacate, Umar said: “The goons threatened to vandalise the property of my landlord if I didn’t leave the building.”

Another student hailing from Kupwara who too studies in Dehradun, said, “Our hopes of studying here for quality education are dashed. We are vulnerable and have nowhere to go. The politicians will never give a thought about our well-being. Their concern is to gain votes.”

A student studying in Jammu wishing not to be named said, “I received threatening texts on FB and Twitter. The sender asked me that revenge will be taken, using many cuss words.”

Many videos surfaced on social media showing the escalating mob violence. In one of videos, the Kashmiri shopkeepers in Bihar are threatened by mob to close their shops in 24 hours and leave the state.

Jammu has remained on the edge since Friday as bricks were hurled towards the residential quarters of Durbar Move employees. A similar pattern was witnessed on Saturday in sensitive areas like Janipora and Rehari, Subhashnagar.
Secretariat Employees Union President Ghulam Rasool Mir condemned the attacks and urged the administration to ensure the safety of the people from Kashmir.

“The feeling of defenselessness in the face of mob violence cannot be described. Despite the assurances that the security cover will be provided, we know from bitter experience that the cops won’t act when mobs run amok,” he said.
Kashmiris out of the valley, meanwhile, continued to share on social media the dangers they faced.

Akash Hassan, a valley-based journalist posted on Facebook: “I am in Jammu from last two days and without a reliable internet connection. The situation is terrible here. Can someone help me get out from Raghunath Bazar to Chenni area? I am confined to my hotel room. There is strict curfew.

I don’t know how long hoteliers will allow Kashmiris to stay in their hotels. They are also running short of supplies.”
Azmat Arif, a resident of Awantipora had this to post: “I have my brother at Dehradun. He is studying there. They are 8 students, no one is giving them any shelter … if anyone can get some help from anywhere …that will be much appreciated… I have tried to contact police.. and they are not taking my calls…. they are hiding right now….please someone help (sic).”

The messages are being circulated on social media platforms asking Kashmiris living outside to exercise caution.

Fellow Kashmiris are being asked to avoid discussion on Kashmir, stay in groups and avoid going to markets alone.

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday said they have spoken to their counterparts in Dehradun following reports of harassment of Kashmiri students there. Besides, they have issued helpline numbers to ensure the safety of Kashmiris’ outside the state.

Ensure Kashmiris are safe: Centre to states
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, Feb 16: The Centre Saturday asked all states to ensure safety and security of the students and people from Jammu and Kashmir living in their areas in the wake of threats to them in some parts of the country, officials said.
The advisory came hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured an all-party meeting of doing the needful for the protection of the Kashmiri students and people who were allegedly threatened after the attack in Pulwama in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
A Home Ministry official said there have been some reports of students and other residents of Jammu and Kashmir experiencing threats and intimidation. “Therefore, the Home Ministry today issued an advisory to all states/UTs to take necessary measures to ensure their safety and security,” the official said.
Some Kashmiri youths studying in the Uttarakhand capital, Dehradun, have alleged that they were harassed and have been asked by their landlords to vacate accommodations fearing attacks on their properties in the aftermath of the attack.

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Governor reviews situation, appeals for peace

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Jammu, Feb 16: Governor Satya Pal Malik convened a high level meeting at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday and reviewed the present law and order situation in the State in the aftermath of a major militant attack on a CRPF convoy and killings 49 troopers at Lethpora on Thursday.

The Governor directed the Police to take strict action without mercy against those indulging in any type of violence, arson or rumour mongering irrespective of political and religious affiliation.

The Governor reviewed the situation of students from Jammu and Kashmir State in various Universities and Colleges across the country.

 

He was informed that the Liaison Officers appointed at all major locations were working effectively and coordinating with University Authorities and local Police ensuring the safety of our students. Some minor developments happened in Baba Fareed Institute of Technology, Dehradun, Maharishi Markand University, Ambala and Chitkara University, Batti (HP).

In all three places, Liaison Officers worked with the Deans/ Vice Chancellors to ensure safety of J&K students. The Governor directed that the LOs should continue to be in close touch with J&K Students and ensure their safety.

The Governor was informed that the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu held the Peace Committee meeting in Jammu on Friday.

In the meeting, all Parties universally condemned the unfortunate incidents in Jammu city and agreed to restrain their supporters from indulging in any unlawful behaviour.

The Governor directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to hold another Peace Committee Meeting today and appeal to all parties to maintain peace and harmony.

The Governor asked all Political parties and senior Political leaders to appeal to people to maintain peace and harmony. He requested them not to pay heed to rumours or misleading information that is being circulated.

He appealed to the Political parties that in case any untoward incident comes to their knowledge, they should report it immediately to the Police or to anyone in the Government who will respond immediately rather than escalating the situation by calling for counter strikes in other parts of the State.

The Governor stated that the situation in Jammu has been restored back to almost normal and it should be our collective endeavour to maintain this.

The Governor appealed to the people to maintain peace and communal harmony so that the forces trying to disrupt the peaceful environs for their petty interests are defeated. He said that the people of the State have always believed in mutual brotherhood and co-existence throughout the ages.

The meeting was attended by Advisors, Vijay Kumar, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, K K Sharma and K Skandan besides B V R Subramanyam, Chief Secretary, Dilbagh Singh, Director General of Police, Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor, and Shaleen Kabra Principal Secretary, Home.
Jitendra meets Governor: Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, called on Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan here on Saturday.

Governor and Dr. Singh discussed various important issues including prevailing law and order situation in Jammu. They hoped that the situation will normalize soon as the people of Jammu region are known for upholding the values of communal harmony and mutual brotherhood.

Dr Jitendra apprised the Governor that he met various sections of the society in Jammu including college students and appealed to them to maintain peace and harmony in the region.

Div Com establishes helpline

Srinagar, Feb 16: The office of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Saturday issued an official communiqué informing that a helpline has been established in the office in view of the concerns ventilated by certain quarters, especially those students residing and studying outside the state and to overcome the same.
According to the communiqué, the helpline numbers are Additional Commissioner, Kashmir 9906578433, 0194-2478663, Assistant Commissioner (Central) 9419484646, 0194-2473135/2483718, Principal Pvt. Secretary to Divisional Commissioner 9419094535, 0194-2455357/2452643.
The helpline has also been established in respective district headquarters of Kashmir Division.

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Traders calls for valley-wide bandh today

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Feb 16: While threatening to boycott trade with Jammu, trade bodies in Kashmir on Saturday called for a shutdown on Sunday against the incidents of miscreants attacking Kashmiris in the winter capital.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association (KTMF) held a joint protest at Press Enclave.

Addressing media persons, president, KCC&I Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad urged the government to bring the situation to normal.“The atrocities on innocent people in Jammu should stop. We should not be forced to boycott trade with Jammu,” he said.

 

The trade bodies also observed a shutdown after 3 pm in city centre Lal Chowk and adjoining areas to protests attacks on Kashmiris in Jammu and outside the state.

Pertinently, curfew continued to remain in place in Jammu where dozens of vehicles belonging to Kashmiris were torch by a mob since Friday in reaction to the bombing attack on Thursday which killed 49 CRPF troopers on the highway near Lethpora.

“We would not tolerate the ill treatment meted to our elders, students and others. Kashmiris have always strengthened the pillars of communal harmony,” said president KTMF, Mohammad Sadiq Baqal.

J&K High Court Bar Association Srinagar too held a protest march at Saddar Court here, condemning the attacks on Kashmiris.

The Bar Association appealed to the International Community including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Asia Watch, other human rights organizations of the world and members of Indian Civil Society to come to the rescue of the people of Kashmir.

They appealed them to save Kashmiris from the brutalities being inflicted on them by the “ruthless communal and fanatic forces of Jammu and other places of India.”

In order to show solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren, the Bar Association also decided to support the Kashmir Bandh call issued by Kashmir Traders Federation for 17 February.

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