Total Pageviews

Saturday, June 12, 2010

‘Deliberate murder’ surfaces as Police handiwork
Teenager’s dead body buried amid violent clashes, anti-India demonstrations

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 12: Death of an 18-year-old student in mysterious circumstances, which had been described by Police as “deliberate murder” in an official press release last night, has turned out to be the handiwork of none other than Jammu & Kashmir Police. Even as an inquiry, to be conducted by DIG Srinagar, has been ordered into the circumstances that led to the student’s killing and a team of doctors is ascertaining the cause of death, Government has learned through credible inputs that Tufail Ahmed Matoo S/o Mohammad Ashraf Matoo R/o Sayeeda Kadal, Srinagar, has died when he was hit in his head by a tearsmoke shell in an incident of stone pelting by a group of youngsters at Gani Memorial Sports Stadium in downtown Srinagar last evening. Matoo’s dead body was buried today amid violent clashes and anti-India demonstrations in half of the capital city.

Highly placed official sources today revealed to Early Times that with the help of “credible inputs”, Government had now learned that the class 12th student, Tufail Ahmed Matoo, had got fatally hit into his head by a tearsmoke shell, fired by Police during an incident of stone pelting by a group of youngsters, at Gani Stadium in Rajouri Kadal area last evening. They said that the officials responsible for “overreaction” were being identified and action would be initiated against them on the basis of a departmental inquiry and the post mortem report, both expected on Monday next.

According to these sources, a team of the doctors of Srinagar police Hospital had collected the material from the dead body and the post mortem was being conducted under the supervision of a forensic expert from Government Medical College, srinagar.

IGP Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed, said that a departmental inquiry would be conducted by DIG Srinagar, Deepak Kumar, into the circumstances that led to Matoo’s killing and the cause of death would be ascertained by a team of doctors who had collected necessary material and were currently busy with the autopst procedure. He said that action under law would be initiated against the Police officials if they were found guilty of violating Standard Operational Procedure or any form of overreaction to the violent demonstration by a group of civilians.

With Police itself emerging as the actor of the ‘deliberate murder’, Matoo’s dead body was handed over by officials today to his relatives and family members. Sensing trouble, authorities had already enforced undeclared curfew in the hypersensitive areas falling under the jurisdiction of five Police stations of Rainawari, Nowhatta, Khanyar, MR Gunj and Safakadal. Officials refused to call it curfew and insisted that these were precautionary measures adopted to pre-empt turbulence.

Businesses and government offices remained shut in half of the capital city though there was little impact of the spontaneous bandh in uptown localities. Attendance was, however, thin at the government offices and banks that functioned normally in Civil Lines and other uptown localities.

Immediately after the dead body was delivered at Sayeeda Kadal, Rainawari, hundreds of people gathered in the locality and began shouting pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans. This triggered off a streak of clashes and demonstrations in dozens of localities from Rainawari to Bemina through Nallah Maar Road. Angry demonstrators resorted to heavy stone pelting on Police and CRPF at several places and even demolished three of the paramilitary bunkers. Police used tearsmoke, firing in air and baton charge to disperse the crowds. Traffic on the national High Way remained intermittently disrupted as the violent mobs pelted stones on all kinds of vehicles at Tengpora, Bemina and SKIMS Medical College.

Matoo’s dead body was carried in a procession to Eidgah, through Nowhatta and Nallah Maar Road amid intermitten clashes between the demonstrators and Police. Namaz-e-Janazah, followed by burial, tool place at Mazaar-e-Shuhada on the spacious Eidgah Grounds where a number of separatist leaders, including Chairman of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Chairman of JKLF Mohammad Yasin Malik, were also present. Inspite of an anarchical situation, some of the separatist leaders addressed the gathering of 5,000 to 10,000 people. Senior police officials put the number of participants at 4,000.

Independent reports said that nearly 60 people, including 20 J&K Police personnel, 15 CRPF personnel, 7 mediapersons and 18 common civilians and demonstrators, sustained injuries in today’s violent clashes between Police and demonstrators at about 20 places in Srinagar. IGP Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed, however insisted that 16 Police personnel and 6 civilians had got injured. He said that the worst clash occurred at Dana Mazar where an unruly crowd attacked a Police constable, Noor Mohammad Bangroo, and left him critically injured. He said that a civilian too sustained critical injuries in the same clash as the people alleged that a CRPF personnel hit him mercilessly with his gun. He said that Constable Mushtaq Ahmed, who had sustained grievous injuries in a similar attack by a mob here last evening, was battling for life at SKIMS, Soura.

After keeping him under “house arrest’ at his Hyderpora residence, Police have detained hardline separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, at Humhama.

Meanwhile, Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chairperson, Asiya Andrabi, has called for “social boycott” to all J&K Police personnel with the allegation that they had taken over the role of killing innocent Kashmiri civilians for the appeasement and pleasure of the Indian state. In a statement issued here this evening, Mrs Andrabi has asked the Kashmiris to sever their contact with each and every Policeman and also ban their entry into mosques all over the Valley.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Machhil One happened on Aug 22, 2009
Two middle-aged civilians found killed in fake encounter by Pathania’s troops

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 10: Sifting the debris of dubious operations by Army in Kupwara district, Jammu & Kashmir Police have discovered that Commanding Officer Col D K Pathania’s troops had killed two middle-aged civilians in a fake encounter at Sonapindi in Machhil sector and labeled them both as ‘infiltrating militants’ on August 22, 2009, when the state Legislative Assembly was in session and the opposition PDP had raised a storm over human rights abuse by security forces in Jammu & Kashmir. Much like the lately exposed fake encounter of April 29, 2010, in which three civilians of Rafiabad area were killed, troops of 4-Rajput had got the slain civilians buried at a community graveyard at Kalaroos.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that on the orders of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a number of government agencies, including Jammu & Kashmir Police, had begun a thorough investigation into more than a dozen “operations” in which Army had claimed to have killed three dozen militants in July and August 2009 and April and May 2010. Minute details of these dubious operations are now under scanner. While photographs of the slain “militants” are being examined and witnesses interrogated, exhumation of dead bodies and DNA matching with family members of all the civilians missing in north Kashmir since March 2009 are likely to take place in a couple of weeks.

According to these sources, all the civilians and counter-insurgents, besides a number of local Territorial Army recruits, working as informants and helpers of Police and security forces, are likely to be questioned with regard to their role in such dubious operations. “Army top brass is now convinced that a couple of erring units and officials should not be allowed to make all counter-insurgency operations of security forces dubious in Kashmir”, said a senior official source.

With the advantage of confidential inputs from varied quarters, government agencies have discovered that much like the fake encounter of April 29/30, 2010, in which three young civilians of Rafiabad area have been found killed, troops of 4-Rajput had committed the cold blooded murder of two middle-aged civilians and dubbed them both as ‘infiltrating militants killed in an encounter at Ring Bala, in Sonapindi area of Machhil’ on August 22, 2009. This fake encounter has been found to have occurred at a time when the opposition PDP had raised a storm over abuse of human rights by security forces to press its demand of demilitarization.

Even as both the partly grey-bearded civilians killed in the fake encounter are believed to be Gujjars, in their mid-40s, investigation is underway to find the details of all civilians who had disappeared in mysterious circumstances in north Kashmir in the months of July and August 2009.

In his letter No: 1027/AAR/G dated 23-08-2009, Naib Subedar Ajay Singh of 4-Rajput Regiment has reported to Police Post Kalaroos that his battalion had carried out an operation on the inputs received from 160 Bn TA at GR 148764 on August 22, 2009, and killed two “terrorists” in an encounter. He claimed that two AK-47 rifles, one pistol, one revolver, one UBGL, one radio set and Pakistani currency worth Rs 520 was recovered from the site of “encounter”.

On the Daily Diary report No: 12 dated 23-08-2009, registered by Police Post Kalaroos, Police Station Kupwara registered FIR. Investigation was assigned to ASI Ghulam Mohi-ud-din. While Police completed certain basic formalities, including a spot examination and clicking the photographs, both the unidentified dead bodies were handed over to Ghulam Ahmed Bhat S/o Abdul Gani Bhat, Vice President of Auqaf Committee at Kalaroos. Like in many operations, Army refused to hand over the arms and ammunition, claimed to have been recovered from the slain “militants”, to Police.

According to these sources, Police closed the investigation like many of such incidents, as the dead bodies were declared by the Army as those of “infiltrating militants” and there was immediately nothing to suggest contrary to the Army claim.

In seven operations, troops had claimed to have killed as many as 26 militants in July and August, 2009, in Kupwara district. Even as some of these operations, particularly the one in which one JCO and two more soldiers had died, are believed to be genuine, Police and its sister organizations are said to be in possession of “concrete evidence” to establish that a number of persons killed in these “encounters” were “innocent civilians”. Most of the victims are believed to be those who worked with Army or Police or both.

Most of these operations in July and August 2009 had occurred in Sonapindi Galli, Keran, Karnah, Meelyal Forest, Bangus Forest and Rashanpora forest area.

Sources said that while removing Commanding Officer, D K Pathania, and Maj Upender from their battalion, that has lately moved out and settled in Meerut, Army has directed both the officers to be available in Kashmir for the two inquiries being conducted by a Brigadier and Police separately. Sources confirmed the Early Times disclosure that the 4-Rajput officers had carried out the dubious operation of April 29, 2010, only to claim source money of Rs 6.00 Lakh on account of killing three “militants”. The reward money has been found to have been shared between Pathania, Upender and three of their Kashmiri helpers, including a soldier of Territorial Army.


Monday, June 7, 2010

PM restricts dialogue offer to ‘anti-violence people’
Delhi to deal with Pakistani Gilani, not Kashmiri Geelani

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 7: In a potential disappointment to the Valley’s separatist leadership, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today extended a fresh offer of dialogue to “all those who are against violence and terrorism” in Jammu & Kashmir and made it unambiguously clear that Government of India would deal on Kashmir and other issues with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani. He asserted that 26/11 terror strikes on Mumbai had a negative bearing on the entire gamut of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad but expressed optimism that there would be substantial improvement in the wake of fresh reassuring commitments from Pakistan.

Contrary to wide speculations of inviting the separatist leadership to a formal process of dialogue, Prime Minister said that New Delhi was ready to talk to all sections of the population in Jammu & Kashmir but only those “who are against violence and terrorism” would be involved. He was addressing the 5th annual convocation of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, (SKUAST) after reaching here on a two-day visit this afternoon. His second visit to Kashmir valley, since he became head of the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre for his second term in May 2009, was as usual marred by near-total shutdown sponsored by the hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s faction of the Hurriyat Conference.

Dr Singh said that the terror strikes of November 26, 2008, in Mumbai had a negative impact on the composite dialogue process between New Delhi and Islamabad. “However, in a recent meeting we had in Thimpu, Prime Minister Gilani Sahab made an assurance that Pakistan would not let anybody use its soil for terrorist activities against India. Both of us agreed that a meaningful dialogue process would run only when there was no hostile activity from across the border. We agreed that there was a substantial trust deficit (due to the anti-India terror activities from across) and the same would have to be reduced with concrete initiatives”, Dr Singh said.

While making it yet again clear that terrorism and talks would not run together, Dr Singh said that he was expecting his Pakistani counterpart to regard his commitment of ending anti-India subversive activities in Pakistan. He said that a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan was in the best interests of South Asia and India would play its role to see peace and prosperity in the neighbouring country. “Our interests are interdependent and we shall have to help each other and maintain best of the relations”, he said.

Prime Minister Singh said that on occasion of flagging off Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service in Srinagar in April 2005, he had said that India would leave no stone unturned to open and boost cross-LoC travel and trade. He said that much had been done in that direction during his leadership in the last five years but more needed to be done. He said that after operating cross-LoC trade and travel on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes, it was now time to introduce similar arrangement on Kargil-Skardu Road.

“Unfortunately some forces do not want to see this process of empowering the people of Jammu and Kashmir and they are bent upon disrupting it from across the LoC. They spread terror and disrupt everything, forcing our security forces to launch counter-insurgency operations. On certain occasions, innocent people become the victims of such operations. But, we always take necessary action against those found guilty of disregarding human rights. I am personally aware of the complaints of human rights abuse (by armed forces). We have issued strict instructions to our armed forces to ensure full regard to human rights of the innocent people. I assure that all flaws will be removed”, Prime Minister asserted.

Dr Singh said that over three years ago he had started off a fresh initiative to resolve the crises related to Jammu & Kashmir and had held three round table conferences with representatives of different political hues and civil society. He said there was need to involve more and more of such groups in the process so as to address the political aspirations of the youth who had, in large numbers, later participated in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in 2008 and 2009. He said that the process would be extended to the people who were against violence and terrorism.

Addressing the Valley’s younger generation, Prime Minister said that Dr Shah Faisal, who had a meeting with him last fortnight, had made the people of Jammu & Kashmir proud by security the highest position of merit in last year’s Indian Administrative Service examination in the country. He said that he would like more and more of the state’s youth to participate and get honours in such competitive examinations every year. He said that Dr Shah Faisal, whose father had been martyred during armed insurgency in Kashmir, had become a role model for the youth in Jammu & Kashmir who, he said, had a “very bright future ahead”.

Even as Prime Minister did not announce any political or economic package, usually expected in the state during such visits, he said that the Centre would create extensive job opportunities for the graduates and post graduates of SKUAST. He said that he was aware of the fact that even after attaining such valued academic qualifications, Agriculture, Horticulture and other graduates in the state were in despair for lack of job opportunities.

In a significant achievement for SKUAST (K), Prime Minister announced a special financial assistance of Rs 100 Crore for further development of the university. He also announced a national mission for farming, harvesting and marketing of saffron for which the highway township of Pampore is famous all over the world.

Governor, N N Vohra, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, union Minister of Health, Ghulam Nabi Azad, union Minister of New & Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, entire SKUAST (K) faculty, a number of Ministers and legislators, besides degree and medal recipients of the university were present on the occasion. Prime Minister and Governor presented gold medals to distinction holders of the university who included a B V Sc student having been appointed for IAS last month.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kashmiri American doctor triggers ‘smoking gun’ on Omar Govt

Charges of corruption leveled on Minister; Nasir refutes, threatens legal action

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 6: World famous angioplasty wizard, Dr Fayaz Shawl, today announced abandonment of his plans to set up a heart center in Kashmir while leveling charges of ‘corruption’ against a state Minister and claiming that Omar Abdullah-led coalition government had denied him permission to raising of a hospital that, according to him, would have made the Valley a major attraction of medical tourism. Minister of State for Housing & Urban Development, Nasir Aslam Wani, has refuted the allegation and asked Dr Shawl to either tender an apology publicly or be prepared to face a libel suit.

Two hours before returning back to the United States of America alongwith his family, Dr Fayaz Shawl announced the dramatic decision of abandonment of plans to set up a modern hospital here at a hurriedly organized news conference. Omar Abdullah’s government, he said, had denied him permission to lay the hospital by way of ‘creating unnecessary hurdles’ . He said that he had been forced to take the extreme decision during his two-hour-long meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at his Gupkar Road residence last evening.

“I told Mr Omar that he had a cancer growing on his government and advised him to cure it before it was too long”, Dr Shawl said while leveling serious allegations of ‘corruption’ on the National Conference leader and Minister of State for Housing & Urban Development, Nasir Aslam Wani. He held Wani responsible for “sabotaging and derailing” his Rs 100 Crore hospital project with “unwarranted hurdles” and suggested that Omar Abdullah’s junior Ministerial colleague was “in league with some influential people” who, according to him, were bent upon failing his plan. He said that these people had been permitted to raise houses and structures around the same site which the Minister had been describing to him as “restricted under master plan”.

“If it’s a restricted site, why doesn’t Mr Nasir Wani explain how Principal Government Medical College Srinagar and an Advocate General had been permitted to build their houses?”, Dr Shawl asked. He claimed that his site, far away from Dal Lake, was situated outside the green belt and the construction of a hospital was by no means a violation of master plan. He said that the land of nearly 40 Kanals, purchased by him for the site of his dream project in the picturesque Zabarvan foothills in his home town three years ago, was neither a forest land nor a wildlife site that could have justified the Minister’s objections.

While releasing his e-mail correspondence with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and MoS Housing & Urban Development, Nasir Aslam Wani, Dr Shawl claimed that Mr Wani had invited him to Kashmir and asked him to hold the “ground breaking ceremony” on June 5th. However, the Minister changed his mind within a few days and began telling him that there were a many hurdles in clearing the hospital project by his Government. He asserted that he never asked for any favour or funding from the state or the central governments and wanted nothing but permission to land use change as the site was a deserted agriculture farm. He claimed to be in possession of a “smoking gun” that, according to him, could shake the state government.

Settled in USA, Dr Shawl has been heading two major hospitals in Maryland and Washington DC and has to his credit the unbeaten distinction of having performed over 20,000 high risk angioplasty procedures in USA and other countries. World’s top political dignitaries, besides a large number of Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers, are among the patients he has treated. Before resigning as a medical officer posted at Shahdara Sharief and his departure to Europe and USA in 1971, Dr Shawl was born and brought up in Srinagar.

In his prompt reaction, MoS Housing & Urban Development, Nasir Aslam Wani, challenged Dr Shawl to expose his “smoking gun”, tender an unconditional apology or be prepared for a legal action.

“I understand that during the course of a Press Conference here today, Dr. Fayaz Shawl has leveled some serious allegations against my person. The allegations are false, concocted, malicious, baseless and bereft of facts. I challenge Dr. Shawl to expose the smoking gun that he has referred to and substantiate his allegations in this regard”, Wani, according to an official press release said. He added:“ I want to set the record straight. One, the land being referred to by Dr. Shawl is a restricted area under the Master Plan. Second, the State Government has not received any formal proposal from Dr. Shawl. However in the absence of a formal proposal, the Chief Minister offered Dr. Shawl three options:-
a) to take over Kashmir Nursing Home, Gupkar Road.
b) to exchange his land for Custodian land by paying the differential cost where he could built his Medical Centre and 30 - Room Luxury Hotel as mentioned by him.
c) to submit a formal DPR (Detailed Project Report) alongwith an undertaking to treat poor patients who could otherwise not afford treatment after which the State Cabinet would consider amending the Master Plan”.

“Unfortunately, Dr. Shawl rejected all the three offers of the Chief Minister leaving the state government with no choice”, Wani said and indicated to initiate legal action against Dr Shawl. “If Dr. Shawl does not withdraw his allegations and does not tender an unconditional apology, I have instructed my lawyers to file a defamation suit against him”.

Tata cries over Taj in Mumbai, supplies SIM cards to LeT in Kashmir

In violation of national security guidelines, Telcos provide services to militants

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 4: Even after suffering huge loss in the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, which caused massive damage to Hotel Taj, India’s top business group, Tata, has been found involved in providing SIM cards of mobile phones to top commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba in Kashmir. A number of Tata Indicom SIM cards are among scores seized by Jammu & Kashmir Police. SIM cards seized by Police have been issued in brazen violation of national security guidelines besides fresh guidelines issued to the service providers by the union Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Telecommunication (DOT) of the union Ministry of Telecommunication.

Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that even after receiving fresh guidelines for strict adherence with regards to identification of the subscribers in the wake of imposition---and later revocation---of ban on the wireless services in Jammu & Kashmir, at least five private service providers have issued “hundreds of SIM cards” to the cadres, commanders and overground activists of militant outfits in Kashmir valley. Those involved in brazen violation of guidelines and the criminal activity, that could lead to cancellation of licenses by Government of India, include Tata Indicom---a subsidiary of Tata group, otherwise famous for its meticulously drafted code of ethics.

According to case FIR NO: 13/2010 under section 13 of Unlawful Activities Act, 120-B RPC and 212 RPC, dated 6-4-2010, registered with Police Station Sogam in Kupwara district, Police have arrested three “OGWs”, namely Owes Ahmed Wani alias Rangrez S/o Ghulam Mohammad Wani R/o Litter Shister Pulwama, presently living at Chatpora Pulwama, Owais Ahmed Bhat S/o Bashir Ahmed Bhat R/o Court Road, Pulwama and Munir Ahmed Magray S/o Ghulam Mohammad Magray R/o Drusoo, Pulwama, in Sogam area of Lolab valley, and seized from them a consignment of 18 SIM cards. All of the seized SIM cards have been found to have been issued fraudulently and 16 of them even activated.

Tata Indicom’s CDMA (prepaid) under series: A0000011628BB3(800B IF25) has been activated on mobile phone number 9205106400. Mobile phone numbers of the SIM cards issued under series: A000001162505A(80587110 and A00000116241BF(80587110) are being searched by Police. Other private service providers, who have issued SIM cards to Pakistani militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba, in Kashmir valley in the last two months include Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular.

Sources said that more than 500 of such SIM cards are believed to have been issued fraudulently by the officials holding senior and junior positions in the private telecommunication companies in Kashmir valley after the Government of India withdrew ban on operation of prepaid voice and non-voice services in J&K on January 21, 2010. Under a serious threat perception to the national security, Government of India had imposed blanket ban on the operation of all pre-paid wireless services in J&K on November 1, 2009. It was later revoked under tremendous public pressure as 38 Lakh subscribers were affected for the fault of service providers themselves. However, MHA and DOT of the union Ministry of Telecommunication had issued fresh guidelines, seeking strict adherence from the licensees so as to prevent misuse of the services by anti-national and subversive elements.

Reached over telephone for his comments, SP Kupwara, Mohammad Yusuf Mir, confirmed that the consignment of 18 SIM cards was being supplied to dreaded Pakistani commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba, including the top wanted Abdullah Yoni, who carries a reward of Rs 20 Lakh on her head for his involvement in a large number of killings, blasts and other terrorist acts. Yoni is said to be hiding and operating from Lolab area of Kupwara. SP Kupwara said that the SIM cards were being forwarded to Yoni through his trusted Pakistani lieutenant, Furqan. He said that all three of the “LeT OGWs” of Pulwama were intercepted and arrested on a specific information and entire consignment of 18 SIM cards was seized. According to him, investigation was underway but the detainees had been released on bail by a judicial magistrate in Kupwara.

SP Kupwara said that according to the Police sources, whose information led to the seizure in Sogam, supplying SIM cards to militants, mostly Pakistani commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba, was a “well organized and well-knit network, involving even senior functionaries of Tata Indicom and other private companies operating in Kashmir circle”. He said that officials of these companies had been conveniently ignoring communications from Police, asking them to provide forms in original and other particulars of the allottee subscribers. “We have been asking them to provide us the hard copies as mandatory for them under law but they have been telling us that the records had been sent by e-mail. Even the e-mail carries very scant details”, he said and asserted that even the senior officials of the cellphone companies, found involved in the high category criminal activity, could be arrested and subjected to prosecution in near future.

According to SP Kupwara, Owais Ahmed Wani of Pulwama, revealed during sustained interrogation that another consignment of 30 SIM cards had been provided to the LeT militants through him.

Heads of Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) of Tata Indicom and Idea Cellular as well as their J&K COOs, who are now directly under scanner, did not respond to phone calls.

Solar missiles aimed at Sector Hqs seized in Kupwara
Militants acquire capability to shoot down flying helicopters in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 2: In a remarkable achievement, Police today claimed to have seized two solar missiles which had been planted by militants and aimed at Army’s Sector-8 headquarters and Rashtriya Rifles 41 Bn headquarters in Kupwara district. According to officials, militants have for the first time acquired the capability of shooting down helicopters in Kashmir valley.

Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Mohammad Yusuf Mir, told Early Times that Police conducted a raid on the basis of a specific information at Gujjarpatti in Shumriyal forest cover in Lolab valley of Kupwara district and seized two solar battery operated missiles that had been planted by militants on fallen Deodar trees. While one of the missiles was found aimed at Army’s Sector-8 headquarters, another had been set in the direction of headquarters of RR 41 Bn, both situated at Khumriyal. He said that according to the tip off, both these missiles had been acquired and planted by well-trained militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba with the obvious intention of causing damage to the key military installations in the border district of Kupwara.

“Due to our good luck, both the missiles were detected before these would ignite with solar batteries and cause any damage. Militants seem to have successfully planted the missiles but the nature was on our side as neither of the two went off due to cloudy weather and rains in the area”, SP Kupwara said. He said that Police and security forces had launched a search to find whether any more of such missiles were there in the militants’ arsenal.

SP Kupwara claimed that such type of firearms had been seized for the first time in 21 years of armed insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir and these had the potential of even shooting down flying helicopters if aimed with precision. He said that the missiles, each 4-ft long and weighing 4 to 5 Kg, were high caliber firearms and as easy to carry as an AK-47 rifle. He said that these missiles could be fired on target from a distance of 3 to 4 Kms. However, no such missile had been ever fired successfully or unsuccessfully in the state, particularly in Kashmir valley since the outbreak of armed insurgency in 1989.

Mehbooba faces hostile crowds in Rafiabad
Javed Dar distributes relief cheques among bereaved families

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 30: While MLA Rafiabad and Minister of State for R&B, Javed Ahmed Dar, today distributed cheques of relief from the state government among the families of the three youth killed by Army in a fake encounter, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti, was forced to return to Srinagar by hostile crowds when she was on a visit in Nadihal village today.

Officials, not inclined to be identified, said that the PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, and former Minister, Mohammad Dilawar Mir, were confronted by a hostile crowd and subjected to hooting amid pro-Azadi and pro-Geelani slogans when they were visiting the bereaved families at Nadihal. They said that the PDP cavalcade was forced to return to Srinagar when a number of youth resorted to stone pelting, causing damage to at least three vehicles.

DIG North Kashmir, Abdul Qayoom Manhas, and SP Sopore, Altaf Khan, did not respond to phone calls when efforts were repeatedly made to get a formal official version of the incident.

Reached over telephone for her comments, Ms Mufti told Early Times that “some people planted by the government and MLA Rafiabad” tried to create a scene when she had visited two families and was footing the distance to the third family. According to her, a group of people began shouting pro-Azadi and anti-Army slogans on sighting her going to the third family. “My colleague Dilawar Mir Sahab advised me to cut it short and return as he apprehended some trouble. He said that we had successfully called on the two families and there was no point in attracting trouble by insisting to visit the third family. Thereupon, we boarded our vehicles and returned”, Mehbooba said.

PDP chief asserted that none of the vehicles in her cavalcade was attacked or hit in the stone pelting. “It’s well possible when you jump into the fire some angry or planted people can throw the stones. It happens with us and all other political parties at several places. But, today there was no such attack. None of our vehicles was damaged. Nobody was injured. It’s possible that well after our returning from Nadihal, there was a clash between the group of demonstrators and Police”, she added. She asserted that entire government machinery was busy in circulating through e-mails and SMS an event that had never happened.

However, some mediapersons present in Nadihal village insisted that a hostile crowd forced Ms Mufti and Dilawar Mir to retreat with anti-PDP slogans followed by heavy stone pelting when she was going to address a gathering at the bus stand. They said that the demonstrators shouted pro-Azadi, pro-Geelani and anti-Army slogans.

Some of the residents also confirmed the ‘mild attack’ on the PDP cavalcade and explained that the two families Ms Mufti visited were followers of PDP leader and former Minister Dilawar Mir while as the third one was supporter of the NC MLA and MoS R&B Javed Dar.

Earlier in the morning, National Conference’s Rafiabad MLA and MoS of R&B and Health, Javed Mir Dar, called on the bereaved families. He was accompanied by DC Baramulla, Bashir Ahmed Bhat, SSP Baramulla, Shakil Beg, and other district officials.

Expressing his sympathies with bereaved families the Minister assured them that the persons involved in the heinous crime of killing three innocent civilians in a fake encounter under the label of militants would be booked under law and punished. Besides, the Government would provide every possible support to the bereaved families.