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Friday, July 16, 2010

‘Quit J&K’ intensifies as Hurriyat extends shutdown to Jul 25

Amid curfew in downtown Srinagar, rallies taken out from mosques in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 16: With a relaxation on Saturday and next Sunday, hardliner Hurriyat (Geelani) has issued a fresh calendar of demonstrations as part of its “Quit Jammu & Kashmir Movement” and extended current series of shutdown in Kashmir valley to July 25th. On Friday following Meraj-un-Nabi, nearly 8,000 Muslims today participated in the afternoon prayers at Hazratbal but curfew remained strictly in force in over half of the capital city and anti-India rallies came out from hundreds of mosques in the Valley.

Radical faction of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, headed by the detained octogenarian Syed Ali Shah Geelani, issued a fresh calendar of demonstrations and strikes today. Reeling under continued shutdowns and curfew restrictions for over 15 days now, Valley has been on the edge with Geelani’s “Quit Jammu & Kashmir Movement”. Initially built on some civilian deaths in clashes with Police and CRPF, Geelani’s campaign has the declared objective of forcing “India” to leave the state. Geelani has coined an altogether fresh slogan of “GO INDIA GO BACK” which has fast become popular among separatists, particularly in Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stronghold in downtown Srinagar. Mirwaiz has been heading so-called moderate faction of the Hurriyat.

In apprehension of trouble on occasion of Friday following Meraj-un-Nabi festival, authorities today’s enforced curfew strictly in downtown areas falling under seven Police Stations. As Geelani’s conglomerate, supported by a many other separatist groups, had called for a mass march to the neighbourhood of three youngsters killed in Police action earlier this week, Batmaloo remained under curfew for the whole day. Without formal declaration, authorities also enforced restrictions in Sopore, Handwara, Baramulla and Anantnag townships.

Reports said that some 8,000 devotees participated in the Friday afternoon congregational prayers at Hazratbal shrine today. Under tight security arrangements, at least one of Omar Abdullah’s ministerial colleagues, namely Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, also attended the prayers. Traffic was not allowed on any incoming or outgoing route other than Northern Foreshore Road, passing through banks of Dal Lake.

Reports said that immediately after the Friday prayers at local mosques, anti-India and pro-Azadi demonstrations surfaced on streets at more than 50 places in Srinagar and other major towns in the Valley. Though the size of these rallies was thin, participants shouted “Go India Go Back” slogans. Reports of clashes between the demonstrators and Police poured in from about 15 places. Official sources said that SHO Ganderbal and two of the demonstrators sustained injuries in a major clash at Saloora, in Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Assembly constituency.

With the state government losing grip on the fast deteriorating situation, hundreds of demonstrators today converged well in front of J&K Police Headquarters on Srinagar Airport Road and engaged Police in ding dong clashes for about one hour. It was for the first time that mobs shouted pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans literally at the office of Director General of Police, sending signals to the sections of population still away from such demonstrations. As already reported, separatist crowds have also begun to check photo identity cards in search of Police personnel, obviously in an attempt to demoralize Police force. Reports of the Policemen being subjected to harassment, humiliation and manhandling are also pouring in from several areas.

Geelani’s shutdown calendar, issued today by his organization and also by Dukhtaraan-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi, asked the Kashmiris to enjoy a relaxation in bandh tomorrow till 1300 hours. It said that traffic would operate, schools and government offices would open and function normally and business establishments would also remain open. It called for total shutdown on July 18, 19 and 20 and asked the people to arrange sit-in demonstrations on the neighbourhood streets on July 21 and 22. On Friday, July 24th, residents of Srinagar have been asked to assemble for a major anti-India and pro-Azadi show at Khankah-e-Moula shrine in the city interior of Fatehkadal.

Authorities are expected to enforce curfew and other restrictions on all the three days in apprehension of escalation in demonstrations and clashes. The calendar has called for another total bandh on July 24th.

Announcing full day relaxation, Geelani’s calendar has asked the Kashmiris to do their shopping on Sunday July 25th--- albeit without mentioning where their money would come from without working for about a full month.

‘Quit J&K’ assumes form of 2008-type agitation

Youths fan out on motorbikes, enforce shutdown, check I-cards, organize protests

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 15: Running into its second month now, current spell of turbulence in Kashmir valley today assumed trappings of 2008-type mass agitation as hundreds of youngsters on motorcycles fanned out in different directions and enforced Hurriyat-sponsored shutdown while checking photo identity cards, deflating tyres of the vehicles in movement, confining motorists for hours and organizing anti-India and pro-Azadi demonstrations at several places. With the tension intensifying on the eve of Hurriyat’s call of march to Batmaloo, Government has formed a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) in a desperate attempt to prevent the situation from further deterioration.

After days of lukewarm response to the separatists’ protest calendar and “Quit Jammu & Kashmir Movement”, initially floated by the detained hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Kashmir valley today witnessed total shutdown. Even as Police are estimated to have arrested around 300 youth under allegation of stone pelting and harassing common people in the last one week of turbulence, bureaucrats and politicians have secured release of over a hundred of such detainees. Unfazed by action from Police, pro-Azadi crowds brought the Valley to standstill.

“We have now stopped arresting and detaining the people involved in fomenting trouble. As soon we detain a stone pelter on the basis of recorded video evidence, we begin receiving orders of his release from Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and senior bureaucrats”, said a Senior Superintendent of Police. According to him, almost all of such calls were coming from leaders of the ruling National Conference (NC), particularly an Advisor to Chief Minister as also officials working in Chief Minister’s Secretariat. Three of the SSPs, however, maintained that they had no adverse intervention from the proper channel of command and control.

SSP Srinagar has already got 90 motorcycles seized from different places in the capital city. Over a hundred youth have been arrested and detained at different Police stations. Besides, a mechanism has been put in place to collect concrete evidence of the detainees’ involvement in stone pelting and attacks on Police, CRPF, vehicles and public properties. As many as 25 fresh video cameras have been procured and distributed among all SHOs in the capital city who have been getting all attacks, incidents of stone pelting and demonstrations recorded through specially trained staff. SSP Srinagar has also frozen powers of releasing the detainees from all SHOs as some of the officials were found excessively vulnerable to interference from politicians and a few of them had been committing extortion in the process of detaining and releasing the youth under different charges.

With the politicians and bureaucrats exerting tremendous pressure on Police and asking them “not to create any more scene”, young followers of the separatist leaders today enjoyed a field day in the capital city as well as in countryside. Even as thousands of people responded voluntarily to the separatists’ call and they organized sit-in demonstrations on the streets in their respective residential localities, hundreds of youth fanned out on motorcycles in different directions today and enforced total shutdown. For the first time in the current spell of turbulence, they operated in Civil Lines, normally calm uptown neighbourhoods and even the tourism-dominated Dalgate-Harwan Road in high security zone. Consequently, all shops and other business establishments remained closed and attendance was extremely thin in government offices.

Reports said that the youth locked all petrol pumps, occupied junctions, checked identity cards in search of Policemen and government officials, deflated tyres of the vehicles in movement, confined motorists for hours and humiliated many of them publicly for defying the call of shutdown. Law and order machinery appeared to have no control on the situation. Reports said that even students, patients and medical staff were not allowed to make any movement. “What security forces did to enforce curfew for three days, separatist forces are doing today to enforce shutdown”, observed a motorist Muneer Hussain who was detained at a spot for over an hour.

In a statement, issued though internet, Dukhtaraan-e-Millat Chairperson, Asiya Andrabi asked J&K Police to part with the “occupational Indian forces”, perform atonement (Tauba) and “join our Jammu Kashmir Chhordou movement”. She warned them that they would have to quit the state alongwith Indian armed forces if they continued to work against the “popular mass movement”. She asked the Kashmiris to act on Hurriyat G’s call of Batmaloo Chalo on Friday and stage demonstrations at their respective Tehsil and district headquarters. She emphasized that all participants must be shrouded in white. Separatists have decided to organize a massive condolence meeting to pay homage to four residents of Srinagar who died in Police action on Sunday and Monday last.

Nevertheless, thousands of people in downtown Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag and several other places observed shutdown voluntarily. As desired by Mr Geelani and his lieutenants, participants squatted on mats and carpets on the streets in their neighbourhoods. They carried placards demanding “Azadi”. “Azadi ka matlab kya, la illaha illalla”, was boldly written on most of their placards. They also shouted anti-India, anti-forces, anti-Government, pro-Azadi and pro-Islam slogans. Most of them stressed that it was not a human rights complaint to the authorities but the “popular demand of freedom”. They call it “Quit Jammu & Kashmir Movement”.

Omar Abdullah government is increasingly losing control on the fast deteriorating situation. Informed sources revealed to Early Times that NC President and Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, had a two-hour-long meeting here with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah the other day. Sources said that even after a coalition meeting, followed by all-party meeting, NC would be discussing current political turmoil in detail in a significant Working Committee Meeting here on July 22nd and 23rd. Change of President and General Secretary is said to be a key subject of discussion.

Meanwhile, Government has formulated a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) today to deal with the current turbulence and its impact on the services and systems.

Official sources said that later this evening, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took stock of the prevailing situation in the Valley at a high-level meeting of Ministers at his Gupkar Road residence.

Chief Minister appealed the people to extend their full cooperation to the Government in restoring complete normalcy in the Valley as the common man including traders, transporters, hoteliers, shikarawalas, patients, students etc were suffering badly due to constant strike calls by various organizations.

Later, the Minister for Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar and Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, said that the Government would ensure all possible measures for ensuring hassle-free movement of people on the auspicious occasion of Friday following Meraj-ul-Alam tomorrow.

The Ministers said that in extreme situations, the Government was constrained to impose restrictions to protect the life and property. They said that the elements found involved in creating disturbances and vitiating the atmosphere would be appropriately dealt with under law---an indication of curfew and restrictions in Srinagar tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Delhi strengthened militants to eliminate NC: Dr Kamaal

‘British Saamraaj went back but Brahman Saamraaj took over in India in 1947’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 13: Senior leader of the ruling National Conference (NC) and scion of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s dynasty, Dr Mustafa Kamaal, today described India and Pakistan as equal enemies of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Leveling an extremely serious allegation on the Centre, Dr Kamaal complained that successive governments in New Delhi had chronically perceived NC as a threat to nationalism and, therefore, strengthened militants and Kashmiri separatists only to uproot this party of sub-national aspiration. He suggested that Punjabi Muslims and Hindu Dogras have been taking revenge of Sheikh Abdullah’s struggle from the Kashmiris through Islamabad and New Delhi respectively since 1947 as the charismatic NC founder had permanently shut the shop of their 100-year-long monopoly and empowered the Kashmiris.

In Take One Television’s current affairs programme “Face to Face with Ahmed Ali Fayyaz”, Dr Mustafa Kamaal tonight held both, New Delhi and Pakistan equally responsible for decades of political uncertainty and turmoil in Jammu & Kashmir. He said that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had ended 100-year-long monopoly of the Punjabi Muslims and the minority community (Dogras of Jammu) in 1947. “But one side went to Pakistan and another sided with Delhi and both began taking revenge of Sheikh Sahab’s struggle from the Kashmiris. Both have consensus on one thing: Let the Kashmiris not die of hunger but let them never have peace”, Dr Kamaal claimed. “British Saamraaj went back but things were taken over by Brahman Saamraaj in 1947 in the name of democracy”, he added.

“National Conference categorically rejected Jinah’s 2-nation theory and did never believe in Azadi or accession to Pakistan. Ironically, hands of all of NC’s enemies joined from New Delhi to Srinagar and they left no stone unturned in eliminating this party which believed in accession to India. With Delhi’s blessings, they were all, from Mirwaiz Farooq to Abdul Gani Lone, on one platform in 1977. All of them again joined hands in 1990 and began uprooting the NC. Militancy was created and the gun introduced only to liquidate the NC. Twenty thousand of the NC workers were killed in 20 years but the NC is as strong as it was in 1947”, Dr Kamaal asserted.

While India allowed militancy to gain ground, Pakistan, according to the NC leader, was no less cruel as it got a large number of NC’s leaders and activists, including three Ministers and many legislators, eliminated by militants.

Dr Kamaal alleged that Government of India patronized, protected, glamorized and funded the Valley’s militants and separatist leaders, accorded to them warm receptions and also organized their foreign tours with state facilitation under a sinister plan. According to him, New Delhi’s game-plan in this entire process was to uproot Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s political party which, he claimed, had struggled for dignity of the Kashmiris. He said that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his PDP were introduced in 1999 under the same sinister plan. “New Delhi assigned them the job of projecting Sheikh Abdullah and his party as the root cause of all evil in Jammu & Kashmir”, he said.

Dr Kamaal said that Sheikh Abdullah’s party, currently headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah, had survived the worst of the times and always staged a comeback. He said that NC had no hesitation in saying that it was “dead against terror and violence” and asserted that without yielding to the separatist and pseudo-separatist mayhem, NC would yet again come out of current agitational anarchy. “We are neither going to quit nor comprise. Over 20,000 of our leaders and activists have been killed in last 20 years. We have lived here and we will continue to live and lead the people here”, Dr Kamaal asserted.

According to him, it was only in the interest of peace that NC’s cadres had avoided visiting Mazaar-e-Shuhada (martyrs’ graveyard) at Naqashbad Sahab in large numbers to pay tributes to the martyrs of 1931 today. He said that NC’s political rivals, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had created “a parallel martyrs’ graveyard” at Iddgah but that would never divide sanctity of the “real martyrs graveyard” at Naqashband Sahab. While as 23 Kashmiris gunned down by Dogra soldiers outside Srinagar Central Jail on July 13, 1931, stand buried at Naqashbad Sahab, hundreds of separatist militants and non-combatant Kashmiris, killed or perceived to have been killed by security forces and Police since January 1990, have their tombs at the new Mazaar-e-Shuhada at Iddgah in Srinagar outskirts.

Asked why NC-led coalition government did not allow Mirwaiz Umar’s and Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s followers to assemble at Naqashband Sahab for paying floral tributes to the 23 martyrs, Dr Kamaal said that their programme was clearly to create mayhem with stone pelting and slogans. “Government’s first and the foremost priority was to secure the life of innocent people”, he said. He revealed that in a high level meeting the other day, NC had taken strong exception to New Delhi’s “unwarranted interference” in the state’s matters and resolved to see that there was no further political statement from the Army chief or things like announcement of the curfew imposition by the union Home Secretary.

Dr Kamaal is currently NC’s MLA from Hazratbal segment in the capital city. He has earlier served two terms as a Minister in Dr Farooq Abdullah’s Cabinet---first from 1987 to 1990 and later from 1996 to 2002. He happens to be the former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s younger brother and an uncle to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.


Monday, July 12, 2010

All-party meet decides on inquiry into 15 civilian deaths, BJP dissents

Delegation to urge PM to restore internal and external dialogue

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 12: Top leaders of different mainstream political parties, excluding Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP and Prof Bhim Singh’s Panthers Party, today decided that an-party delegation would soon call on the Prime Minister and urge him to restore peace process with Pakistan and also engage the Valley’s separatist leadership in a fresh initiative of dialogue for resolution of the Kashmir crisis. Notwithstanding a note of dissent by BJP, participants at the meeting urged the state government to order a ‘credible inquiry’ into all 15 civilian deaths that have occurred in current spell of turmoil in Kashmir in the last one month.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah presided over the four-and-a-half-hour long all-party meeting at SKICC. While smaller outfits like Awami National Conference (ANC) had not been invited, leading Opposition party in the Valley, PDP, and Jammu-based National Panthers Party, stayed away from the meeting for different reasons.

After the meeting observed silence for two minutes over the death of 15 youth, killed in different incidents of violence since June 11th last, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah gave a detailed account of the incidents and circumstances leading to clashes between demonstrators and Police and CRPF. Sources present at the closed-door meeting revealed to Early Times that Chief Minister admitted certain administrative drawbacks and loopholes but, like yesterday, he insisted that most of the incidents of stone pelting and clashes had occurred in the segments that had poorly responded to the Assembly elections of 2008. He pointed out that there was little turbulence in the segments of high voter turnout. He implicitly conveyed that mainstream politics had not failed completely but the separatists were out on a fresh mobilization.

Chief Minister sought support from all political parties---mainstream as well as separatist---above the level of party politics and political ideology and asserted that his government would leave no stone unturned in reaching out to the perennially alienated sections of the population as well as those growing despondent with the establishment. He expressed hope that initiation of a fresh ‘transparent and visible’ peace process between New Delhi and Islamabad besides an internal dialogue with the separatist leadership would go a long way in restoration of peace and seeking resolution of the Kashmir crisis.

In his address, Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee President, Prof Saifuddin Soz, stressed on a major employment drive and asserted that unemployment, coupled by a level of political disappointment, was a major reason of current unrest in the Valley. While assuring the state government full support from the Centre, Prof Soz asked Chief Minister to immediately raise 15 more battalions of Jammu & Kashmir Police.

While independent MLA from Langet, Engineer Sheikh Abdiul Rasheed, stressed on holding a dialogue with the United Jihad Council, he asserted that engaging Islamabad’s “dailywagers” (Hurriyat and other separatist outfits) would be an exercise in futility. He specifically said that Hurriyat and other separatist groups were not essentially representative of the alienated youth and they all, according to him, owed existence to the militants. Rasheed asserted that the Indian Army chief’’s “political statements” besides Union Home Secretary’s “unwarranted interference” into the state matters, like announcement of imposing and relaxing curfew in Srinagar, had not only worsened the situation but also made a mockery of the state’s special constitutional status.

BJP leaders, Ashok Khajuria and Shamsher Singh Manhas, clashed with Er Rasheed over the suggestion of engaging Pakistan-based militant alliances. They also took strong exception to senior National Conference leader and Minister of Law Ali Mohammad’s public condemnation of CRPF and insisted that such statements from mainstream politicians, particularly those of the ruling party, had terribly demoralized the security forces in Kashmir.

After four-hour-long discussion over the current strife in Valley, participants passed six resolutions. According to these resolutions, a joint delegation of all mainstream political parties would soon call on Prime Minister and urge him to restore peace process between New Delhi and Islamabad. It would also urge the Prime Minister to hold a fresh process of dialogue with the Valley’s separatist leadership.

An official press release said that the following resolutions were unanimously passed notwithstanding BJP’s dissent to holding of an inquiry into the civilian deaths reported in the last one month:-

1. The meeting expressed deep anguish at the unfortunate loss of lives during the recent disturbances and appealed to the State Government to consider adequate relief in favour of the families of the deceased.

2.The meeting further expressed its dismay over the economic losses suffered by the people during the disturbances, particularly by the small traders, vendors, daily wagers and other weaker sections of the society.

3.Keeping in view the suffering of the people, huge economic losses and the adverse impact on the education of the children, the All Parties Meeting made a fervent appeal to the people of the State, irrespective of their political affiliations, to come forward and help in the restoration of peace and normalcy.

4. The All Parties meeting urged the State Government to have an enquiry conducted to ascertain the circumstances leading to the death of the civilians.

5.The meeting also decided that an all party delegation shall call on the Prime Minister and invite his attention to various problems faced by the State.

6. The meeting also urged the Government of India to strengthen the on-going peace process through the internal and external dialogue.

The Parties which were represented in the meeting include National Conference (NC), Indian National Congress (INC), Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India(Marxist) (CPI-M), Bhaujan Samaj Party (BSP), Nationalist Congress Party(NCP), Samajwadi Party(SP), Peoples Democratic Front(PDF), Democratic Party Nationalist(DPN) besides MLA, Langate, Er. Abdul Rashid, MLA, Kathua, Mr. Charanjeet Singh and MLA, Leh, Mr. Tsetan Namgyal. Chief Secretary, SS Kapur, Financial Commissioner Home besides Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Khursheed Ahmed Ganai, were also present in the meeting.

The National Conference, President, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, President, Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC), Prof. Saif-u-Din Soz, Minister for Finance, Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister for Education, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Minister for Rural Development, Mr. Ali Mohammad Sagar, Minister for PHE, Mr. Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmed, Minister for Social Welfare, Ms. Sakina Itoo, Minister of State for Haj and Auquaf, Mr. Aijaz Ahmad Khan, State Secretary CPI (M), Mr. M. Y. Tarigami, DPN President, Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir, PDF President, Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen BJP President, Mr. Shamsher Singh Manhas and CPI State Secretary, Mr. Abdul Rehman Tukroo and State President Nationalist Congress Party, Th. Randhir Singh participated in the meeting.

Coalition legislators support Omar, praise his performance

Soz says Centre, Congress are with CM; Farooq wants loyal officials on key positions

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 11: In the middle of current political turmoil and uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir, legislators of the coalition constituents today extended unconditional support to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and asserted in unison that he was politically correct in all of his initiatives to deal with disturbance in parts of Kashmir valley. While the state Congress chief, Saifuddin Soz, asserted that the Centre as well as his party were on the back of Chief Minister, National Conference (NC) President, Dr Farooq Abdullah, set aside all speculation of his replacing Omar Abdullah as the head of the coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir. Dr Abdullah, however, stressed on need to appoint ‘loyal’ officials on key positions in the state government.

Legislators of the ruling coalition constituents today held a three-hour-long meeting to discuss the current political turmoil ahead of the state-sponsored all-party meeting. NC President and Union Minister of New & Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and President of J&K State Pradesh Congress Committee and head of the coalition coordination committee, Prof Saifuddin Soz, were both present at the meeting. Almost all 80-odd Ministers, MLAs and MLCs of NC, Congress, besides Democratic Party (Nationalist) President and Minister of Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir, participated in the meeting at Banquet Hall on Maulana Azad Road.

Minister of Forest, Mian Altaf Ahmed, and Minister of Animal Husbandry, Aga Syed Ruhullah, were not present. Sources said that both the NC Ministers were currently out of the state. Even as most of the Ministers, MLAs and MLCs were already in town, state helicopters were pressed into service to get Minister of CAPD, Qamar Ali Akhoon, from Kargil, Minister of Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir, from Tangmarg and NC’s MLA, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, from Handwara. Still, some of the associate members of the ruling coalition, namely Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami of CPI (M), Hakeem Mohammad Yasin of PDP besides independent MLA from Langet, Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid, were conspicuously absent.

Initiating the proceedings, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah gave a run-down of the sequence of incidents in Srinagar and some other parts of the valley and asserted that his government had taken all necessary measures to restore peace and infuse a sense of confidence among the angry youth. He said that Police and security forces observed maximum possible restraint but, unfortunately, still 15 people, mostly youth, got killed in these incidents. He said that his government was adopting all necessary initiatives including legal and disciplinary action against Police and paramilitary personnel involved in excessive use of force. He referred to the death of three youth in Anantnag last week and said that action was underway under the erring personnel. He said that he and his colleagues would leave no stone unturned in reaching out to the common people, particularly those angry with the government, and restore their confidence.

Nevertheless, according to sources present at the meeting, Omar pointed out that most of the incidents of stone pelting and demonstrations had surfaced in the areas which had a sizeable presence of separatist activists and sympathizers. He pointed out with specific reference to different segments that there was still complete peace and tranquility in the areas which had enthusiastically participated with huge turnout in the last Assembly elections.

In his key address, Dr Abdullah set aside all speculations and made it clear that there was no possibility of his replacing Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister in J&K. He said that the Government under Omar would last its term of six years. Dr Abdullah referred to his 1996-2002 regime and said that his party had successfully come out of worse situations. He asserted that working with confidence and correct measures, NC-led coalition government would soon restore peace and usher in a new era of development. He, however, cautioned his colleagues against ignoring loyal workers and asked Chief Minister to take everybody in the party and the coalition on board with regard to decision making.

Significantly, Dr Abdullah stressed on the need of appointing “officials loyal to the coalition, the state and its people” on key positions in the administration.

JKPCC President, Prof Soz, asserted that the Centre as well as Congress party were behind Chief Minister Omar Abdullah like a rock. Claiming to be speaking on behalf of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and AICC President and UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Soz said that Chief Minister would continue to get whatever support he required from New Delhi. Most of the speakers described Omar as a well performing Chief Minister and asserted that he was politically correct in all of his initiatives including calling in Army for assistance of Police and civil administration.

Ajay Sadhotra, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan, Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy, Mir Saifullah of NC besides Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Abdul Majeed Wani and Veqar Rasool of Congress followed Omar, Farooq and Soz in addressing the meeting.

An officiakl spokesman later said that the meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, expressed deep sorrow over the unfortunate happenings in the recent past in the state and expressed sincere anguish and grief over the loss of life and property in these incidents. Sources said that the participants reviewed current political and security scenario threadbare and finally passed various resolutions aimed at bringing peace and order back to the disturbed areas.

A resolution passed in the meeting expressing sympathies with the bereaved families in the recent incidents said: “We are deeply pained at the unfortunate happenings in the recent past in the State and sincerely express our anguish and grief over the loss of life and property in these incidents – our whole hearted sympathies are with the bereaved families. The government has decided to provide all possible help and relief to such aggrieved families”.

The meeting appreciated the steps taken by the Government for restoring peace in the state. A resolution passed in this regard states: “We appreciate the steps taken by the Government, in its sincere desire of restoring peace in the State with the firm conviction of holding / protecting the rights of the people and causing minimum inevitable inconvenience to the public at large”.

The meeting in another resolution appealed to the people to extend fullest cooperation for restoration of peace and normalcy irrespective of their political affiliations. It said: “We make a fervent and sincere appeal to all right thinking people irrespective of their political affiliations and ideologies to come forward at this crucial juncture and extend their active and positive support, and full cooperation in restoring peace and tranquility in the State for the larger good and in the best interests of the masses which is a sine-qua-non to the resolution of the issues and problems confronting them. It is our firm belief that such a support and cooperation shall go a long way in protecting the life and property of the people at large and restoring peace in the State”.

It was also resolved that the “Government will put in place an appropriate mechanism to address the grievances and problems of the people in a more vibrant systematic, regular and time bound manner which will be viewed and reviewed from time to time by the Government”.

In another resolution passed at the end, participants unanimously expressed full faith and confidence in the leadership of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.