Jammu, Jan 8: National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Tuesday expressed concern over growing inclination among Jammu and Kashmir youth towards militancy, saying shrinking of space has pushed them to the wall.
“Compared to just a dozen or more youth drawn towards militancy in a span of years during my tenure as Chief Minister, far more than this number are taking to arms on monthly basis”, Omar Abdullah said while addressing a day-long convention of Youth National Conference, Jammu Region at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here.
Omar described increase in militant related violence as alarming and disturbing, saying “terrorism” is raising head in the hitherto militancy free areas.“In my tenure, Chenab Valley had been declared as militancy free zone but now the acts of terror are reported from there”, he said and refereed to the killing of a BJP leader in Kishtwar along with his brother, terror attacks in Sunjwan and as latest as recently grenade throwing in busy B. C Road in Jammu.
He said militant activities have unfortunately become routine in the Valley and due to lack of vision it is spreading its tentacles in other parts as well.
The former Chief Minister blamed the BJP and PDP for shrinking the space for youth by throttling avenues of jobs for them, resulting in alienation.
He particularly referred to most provocative and proactive anti-youth mindset of the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and questioned her moral grandstanding in seeking support of youngsters by expressing so-called remorse over mayhem unleashed by her government against them to placate the BJP.
“Mufti must not mistake public memory too short, as not to remember her 2016 doctrine that the guns in the hands of the security forces were not just for showcasing but using”, he said and referred to killing and maiming of teenagers.
Omar Abdullah sought an end to youth alienation by engaging them in positive pursuits and reiterated the commitment of National Conference to work for carving out vistas of opportunities for them. He lauded the spirit of public service among youth participating in the convention and described them as hope of the extended NC family.
“We owe our youth a peaceful, progressive and inclusive Jammu and Kashmir for bequeathing to the posterity”, Omar Abdullah said, adding the NC cadre will have to work overtime to retrieve the state of yesteryears when people used to live in harmony.
He said he was aware of youth problems and resolute to solving these once National Conference is provided an opportunity to serve the state.
He lamented that initiatives like Himayat, Udaan and SKEPWY initiated between 2009 and 2014 were either abandoned or pushed to back-burner by the PDP-BJP government, depriving youth of the job openings.
He said whatever little jobs were provided in their misrule of three and half years, have gone to their kin, relatives or favourites but not to the genuine, deserving and poor educated unemployed.
‘10% quota Bill a political gimmick’
Jammu, Jan 8: former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s quota announcement as “political gimmick’’, saying that it would have done it much earlier if it really wanted to.
Addressing party’s one-day youth convention at Sher-i-Kashmir Bhawan here, Omar said that politics is a strange thing. Politicians are experts in exploiting people and they think that the people are fools as they do not have mind, he said, adding that he felt this yesterday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden announcement about 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections of the society.
“Had he waited for four and a half years if he really wanted to give it?’’ Omar asked, adding that one does not wait for something which he wants to do from one’s heart. They suddenly realised about 10 per cent reservation after having lost elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana, he added.
The NC leader said, adding that the Centre feels that the Bill will not sail through one or the other place. If it gets stuck up in Parliament, they will say that they intended to give it, but parliament did not agree to it. “If the court struck it down, they will blame the judiciary,” he pointed out, adding that they do not intend to give reservation in the true sense.
5 dead, as many missing as avalanche hits Khardung La pass
Srinagar, Jan 18: Five persons were killed and five others missing after their truck came under an avalanche in the Khardung La area of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.
The avalanche hit the truck carrying 10 persons at the Khardung La pass in the Ladakh region at 7 am, an official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said.
The BRO pressed into service its men and machinery to rescue the passengers of the truck, who were believed to be trapped under the debris, he added.
The police, Army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel had also reached the spot, the BRO official said.
“So far, the bodies of five persons have been recovered from the avalanche site, while a search is on for the other missing persons,” he added.
A bulldozer driver posted at the Khardung La Pass said two tippers and a Scorpio vehicle carrying about 12 persons left towards K-top area early morning to load snow to Leh.
“One tipper was already loaded with snow. However, the mishap occurred when they were loading another vehicle. Suddenly, an avalanche hit them and 10 people in a tipper were buried under the snow,” he said.
A senior police official said, “At least 10-12 people were trapped under the snow and a body of a local resident from Leh has been recovered from the area. Fresh snowfall took place in the area on Thursday and they had gone to collect snow in a vehicle.”
Rescue teams of police, Border Roads Organisation and Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Force reached the spot.
A high alert for avalanche was sounded on Thursday by the administration following adverse weather advisory by the Met department.
Guv expresses grief, announces Rs 5 lakh compensation
Jammu, Jan 18: Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over loss of precious lives due to snow avalanche at Khardung La in Leh district, Friday morning.
In his message, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said, the Governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief.
Governor has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of the kin of those killed in the avalanche.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah too expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the avalanche.
The party spokesman in a statement said that the duo has urged the administration to expedite the rescue operation and ensure all support to the families of the deceased.
Both Farooq and Omar urged the governor administration to gear up its men and machinery to meet any eventuality in wake of heavy snowfall as predicted by the local MeT officials.
Impressing upon the administration to ensure that people don’t have to suffer due to the vagaries of weather, the duo urged the administration to ensure all arterial and other routes are kept open to avoid any suffering to people.
Kashmir braces for heavy snow spell from today
Srinagar, Jan 18: As the meteorological department has predicted another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Kashmir region from Saturday onwards, people in Kashmir are readying themselves by keeping ample stock of food and ensuring proper heating arrangements are put in place.
With the western disturbances likely to affect the region, the officials have also warned of disruption of road, rail and air traffic from Saturday afternoon.
“The western disturbances are most likely to affect the state and its adjoining areas from January 19 to 25, with the main activity between January 20 and 23 and gradual decrease thereafter,” Sonam Lotus, director Meteorological department said.
He said moderate to heavy snowfall and rain was expected at widespread places of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.
“Some places may receive very heavy rain and snow during this period,” he said, adding that light snowfall would begin at a few places in Kashmir on Saturday morning and increase in intensity and distribution thereafter.
On Friday, Kargil recorded the night’s lowest temperature at minus 19.2 degrees Celsius while neighbouring Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 15.6, Met office said.
Drass town was the coldest in the Jammu and Kashmir at minus 27.1.
Srinagar, the summer capital of the state recorded a low of minus 0.7 while the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.
Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 10.0 degrees Celsius while night temperature in Pahalgam – the famous health resort settled at a low of minus 10.3 degrees.
Kokernag town recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius while Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius last night.
Jammu city recorded 5.3 degrees Celsius, Katra 6.3, Batote 2.5, Bannihal 0.7 and Bhaderwah minus 0.8 degree Celsius.
Twin grenade attacks in city-centre, Shopian
Srinagar, Jan 18: Less than 24 hours after the Rajbagh grenade attack, militants on Friday carried out two more grenade attacks on government forces in Kashmir, including one in the city-centre Lal Chowk here.
Militants lobbed a grenade at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk in the afternoon, a police official said.
The grenade exploded on the roadside, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the attack.
A private car parked on the roadside was partly damaged due to the explosion, the official said.
Window panes of a few shops on either side of the road were also damaged because of the blast.
This was the second such attack on government forces in Srinagar within 24 hours.
Earlier on Thursday, militants had hurled a grenade on police personnel at Zero Bridge here, resulting in injuries to three policemen.
In another incident on Friday, militants lobbed a grenade at a police camp in Gagran village of Shopian district of south Kashmir. However there was no report of loss of life or damage to property.
A police spokesperson came out with the following statement later in the day: Police had to attend two “terror” crime spots today following the reports of grenade attack by militants at Srinagar and Shopian. Officers from the local police units immediately reached to both the crime spot this (Friday) afternoon to initiate the investigation in the matter.
“While attending the crime spot, officers did not receive any report pertaining to the loss of life or property. Police has registered cases for both the incidents. Officers from the local police units are at work to establish the full circumstances which led to these incidents. If you have any information that can assist police in its investigation, you may kindly contact Police,” the spokesperson said.
The three attacks come days ahead of the Republic day and is likely to push government forces for taking even more stringent ‘security’ arrangements, especially in and around the city.
Later in the day, militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility of the grenade attacks in Srinagar and Shopian.
A spokesperson of JeM Mohammad Hassan in a statement to news agency GNS claimed that three forces personnel were injured in the attack at City Centre Lal Chowk.
He also claimed that several forces personnel were critically injured in the attack at Gagran in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The Kashmir Monitor also received a phone call from one Hamza Rashid, who said he was the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front, and claimed the responsibility of the Lal Chowk grenade attack.