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Saturday, July 31, 2010

3 more civilians die in Valley clashes, over 150 injured
Railway station, Police station, IAF buses set on fire; SP among 150 injured

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 31: State-enforced curfew, separatists-sponsored shutdown, violent clashes between rioters and Police and paramilitary forces marked the last day of this turbulent month as two more civilians died in CRPF firing and one among the youths, who had sustained gunshot wounds in a clash on Friday, succumbed to injuries today. Violent mobs today attacked 10 Police stations, set on fire a number of public properties including a Police Station at Kreeri, a railway station in Sopore and two buses of Indian Air Force in Pampore. With three persons dying and over 150 sustaining injuries in today’s clashes, as many as 23 civilians have lost life in the current spate of turbulence since June 11th.

Informed sources told Early Times that a 22-year-old fruit vendor, namely Javed Ahmed Teli S/o Ghulam Mohammad Teli R/o Bangla Bagh, Baramulla, was among 10 persons who sustained rubber bullet injuries during the fierce clash of an unruly mob with Police and CRPF at Baramulla. He was rushed to Srinagar and later this afternoon he succumbed to injuries at SKIMS Soura. Medical Superintendent of SKIMS, Dr Syed Amin Tabish, said that Teli died of critical gunshot injuries. He said that 25-year-old bakery worker, Nazir Ahmed Mir of Pahliheran Sheri, Baramulla, who had sustained critical injuries during a clash at Pattan yesterday, also breathed his last.

Father of one child, Nazir Ahmed Mir had been working at a bakery at Pattan, on Srinagar-Baramulla highway.

Sources said that a 20-year-old, namely Mudassar Ahmed Lone S/o Ghulam Mohammad Lone R/o Harpora Nayidkhai, got killed when a violent mob attacked headquarters of IRP 14th Bn at Nayidkhai---Legislative Assembly Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone’s residential village in Sumbal Sonawari---and Police opened fire. The unruly mob also attacked a Police post. Those injured in heavy stone pelting, included SP Bandipore, Sheikh Junaid Mehmood, who was hit in his head. Official sources said that nearly 30 persons, including 10 Police and CRPF personnel, sustained injuries in the two-hour-long violent clashes.

With two fatal casualties of the day and an injured dying at SKIMS, as many as 23 civilians have got killed in violent clashes between mobs and Police/CRPF in Kashmir valley since June 11th.

Dr Tabish said that four more of the critically wounded civilians were battling for life at ICCU of SKIMS tonight. They include a male and a woman, namely Haneefa, who has sustained gunshot wounds in her chest and neck during a clash between demonstrators and Police at Kreeri today. One Mohammad Iqbal Khan of Chhanpora, who had sustained critical injuries in the CRPF shootout yesterday, was also battling for life at SKIMS.

None of the Police officials responded to phone calls when repeated attempts were made to get official version of today’s incidents and the death toll. SSP Police Control Room Srinagar, Javed Farooqi, responded but maintained that he had no knowledge of the figures. “I don’t know how many people have died today as I am driving back to my home”, he said. An official release issued from Zonal Police Headquarters said that violent mobs attacked Police and CRPF camps besides public properties at several places including Kreeri, Amargarh, Nayiudkhai, Baramulla, Pantachowk, Pampore, Kakapora, Bijbehara and Sangham. It said that SP Bandipore and three Dy SPs were among a number of Police personnel and civilians who got injured in today’s clashes.

While curfew remained strictly in force in Srinagar and several other townships and the separatists’ call for complete shutdown evoked substantial response in rest of the Valley, violent crowds defied curfew at more than 40 places today. While shouting anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans, crowds trooped into the SOG camp and a Police Station at Kreeri in the morning. Police and CRPF opened fire after more than a dozen of them got injured in the attack. Sources said that the mob set SOG camp as well as a Police Station building besides several barracks of Horticulture Department on fire. At least four civilians, including two women, sustained gunshot wounds. They were rushed to Srinagar and admitted at SKIMS. One of them, namely Haneefa, was described as critical.

Sources said that immediately after the burial of two persons, who had got killed in a clash with CRPF yesterday, an 8,000-strong mob marched to the nearby Railway Station of Amargarh in Sopore outskirts today. The crowds ransacked the railway station and set on fire several buildings, inclduding residential quarters of the railway staff and their vehicles. The mob also torched a fire brigade vehicle and made bonfire of the uniforms of the railway Police.

Later in the day, violent mobs also attacked Police Stations at Potkhah, Chhoora, Baramulla, Pampore, Awantipore,Sangham, Bijbehara (also office of SDPO Bijbehara), all on the highway, besides some Police posts in Pulwama. Some CRPF bunkers were set on fire at Sangham. A violent mob also torched two buses of Indian Air Force near Pampore. However, Police swung into action and got the IAF staff rescued. Another crowd threw a petrol bomb on a Police vehicle at Samora Kakpora, near Pulwama, and it gutted completely.

Sources said that in all nearly 100 civilians and 50 Police and CRPF personnel, including one SP and three Dy SPs, got injured in today’s clashed at over 20 places in the Valley. Barring few incidents, like those of Nayidkhai and Kreeri, almost all the violent incidents took place on the usually safest Baramulla-Srinagar-Jammu highway. Official reports said that the unruly crowds felled trees and blocked the highway near Bijbehara. Almost all roads, including the highway, have been officially declared as “unsafe” for the movement of government vehicles. However, mobs have not so far attacked any of the convoys or patrols of regular Army.

While the authorities tonight announced continuation of curfew in Srinagar and several other towns, spokesman of Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference called for continued shutdown on August 1st, 2nd and 3rd.


Friday, July 30, 2010

3 killed, 2 critical among 300 injured in Valley
Mobs set Police Station, vehicle on fire; clashes at over 50 places

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 30: In fresh spate of mob attacks on Police and violent clashes between demonstrators and armed forces, three more civilians have died and around 300 sustained injuries---two of them critically---as Kashmir valley witnessed yet another separatist-sponsored shutdown and state-enforced curfew today. With the violent mobs torching a Police Station and a Police vehicle in Pattan area of Baramulla district today, authorities have re-imposed curfew in capital city of Srinagar as also some other major towns in apprehension of further escalation in violence and street clashes.

Even as the state Police was in complete disarray and both, headless department of Information as well as the Police headquarters, remained tightlipped, informed sources told Early Times that three civilians got killed and two more, with critical injuries, were battling for life at SKIMS. These sources said that nearly 300 people, including 50-odd Police and CRPF personnel, were estimated to have sustained injuries in today’s clashes between violent crowds and armed forces all over the Valley.

As almost all separatist outfits and politicians have treated Omar Abdullah government’s Court of Inquiry into seventeen civilian deaths with contempt, hardliner Hurriyat (Geelani) had called for a mass march to Srinagar midtown locality of Maisuma today. Detained hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been issuing such calls and shutdown calendars as part of his “Quit Jammu & Kashmir Movement” since last month. With three deaths happening today, as many as 20 civilians, mostly youth, have got killed in Police and CRPF action since June 11th.

With downtown Srinagar reeling under curfew and restrictions on the common civilian movement being in force in uptown and few other major townships, Valley observed umpteenth shutdown today. Most of the educational institutions, government offices, banks and private businesses remained shut and transport was off the road. Reports, awaiting official confirmation, said that scores of civilian and official vehicles were damaged by the groups enforcing shutdown at hundreds of spots on different roads, including Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. Those found in movement in defiance of the call for shutdown, were humiliated and severely thrashed.

Repeated attempts to get an official version of the day’s violent incidents failed as none of the Police or civil officials responded to phone calls. There was no official release from the government either. However, officials in Police and CID, who insisted to remain unidentified in media, told this newspaper that two to three hundred people gathered at Chhanapora and led a march towards Maisuma while shouting anti-India, anti-forces, pro-Azadi and pro-Islam slogans. As soon as CRPF blocked the way, scores of people in the procession resorted to heavy stone pelting. Police and CRPF used firing in air, teargas shells and retaliatory stone pelting to break the crowds.

After a number of demonstrators and paramilitary personnel sustained injuries in the bitter clash, CRPF opened fire. A 22-year-old youth, namely Mohammad Iqbal Khan S/o Abdul Majid Khan R/o Chhanpora sustained critical gunshot injuries. Reports, awaiting official confirmation, said that seven others sustained gunshot wounds of relatively lesser intensity. Medical Superintendent at SKIMS, Dr Syed Amin Tabish, told Early Times that Khan had been hit in his head and other parts of his body. He said that Khan had been put on a ventilator and described his condition as critical. Sources said that, in all, nearly 30 people, including a dozen of Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries in the clash at Chhanapora.

In second violent incident of the day, sources said, hundreds of people gathered at Amargarh, in outskirts of Sopore township, and began marching the local railway station. A fierce clash took place between the demonstrators and CRPF. The CRPF under fierce attack from the mob, opened fire. Over a dozen demonstrators sustained gunshot wounds. Two of them were later declared as dead at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar. They were identified as 17-year-old Shaukat Ahmed Wagay S/o Abdul Hamid Wagay and 50-year-old Mohammad Ahsan Ganai.

In third major incident of the day, a mob of over 500 people raided a Police Post at Potkhah in Sopore-Pattan belt. Even as the Police personnel escaped and did not react, the mob caused severe damage to a parked 407 vehicle of the Police Post. Reports said that some people set it on fire. However, authoritative sources maintained that the vehicle was severely damaged in stone pelting and the crowds withdrew when CRPF reached the spot.

In fourth violent incident of the day, a mob of over one thousand people stormed Police Station Pattan on Srinagar-Baramulla highway. Middle rung Police officers said that the crowds left over a dozen Policemen, including SHO Pattan, wounded. When they were left between opening fire and running for the life, they preferred the latter. Sources said that almost all Policemen posted at the destroyed Police Station were not reachable when senior Police officers made frantic efforts through telephone and wireless to learn about their condition. Residents said that one building gutted completely. Quoting Fire Brigade officials, they said that records and arms and ammunition were also believed to have been destroyed.

With none of the officially reachable for comment, informed sources said that CRPF reached the spot and used heavy baton charge, teargas shelling and firing to disperse the crowds. They said that one 15-year-old boy, Mohammad Rafeeq Bhat S/o Ghulam Mohammad Bhat R/o Palhalan got killed and over a dozen others were injured. Some of the injured were admitted to the local Sub District Hospital but those having sustained critical injuries were rushed to different hospital in Srinagar.

MS at SKIMS, Dr Tabish, said that a 23-year-old, Nazir Ahmed, was battling for life as he had got hit into his head. He said that doctors were providing best possible treatment to Mohammad Iqbal Khan of Chhanpora and Nazir Ahmed of Pattan but there were remote prospects of their survival. He said that in all 10 civilian, who had sustained gunshot and other wounds at Pattan, were admitted at SKIMS. While one of them, namely Nazir Ahmed, was critical, another person with fractures was referred to Bone & Joint Hospital Barzullah. Residents of Pattan alleged that CRPF thrashed whoever came their way and even roughed up patients and attendants at the local hospital.

Official sources said that unidentified persons in two crowds, at Baramulla and Tral, fired pistol shots. According to them, one constable sustained gunshot wounds but Police observed restraint for fear of civilian casualties. Sources said that over two thousand people gathered at Khankah-e-Faiz Panah in Tral and they shouted pro-Azadi, pro-Islam, anti-India and anti-forces slogans. There was later a bitter clash between the crowd and CRPF in which over 30 people, including 18 CRPF personnel, sustained injuries.

In all, anti-India and pro-Azadi demonstrations and clashes between the crowds and Police/CRPF were reported from nearly 50 spots in Baramulla, Sopore, Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag districts in Kashmir valley today. However, the violent separatist groups did not interfere with the movement of regular Army. Army patrols and convoys were seen moving on different routes without any disruption or attack from the mobs.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

PDP imposes curfew on Civil Secretariat
Mehbooba: Curfew Govt has lost moral right to continue in office

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 29: Opposition PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, alongwith 20-odd MLAs and MLCs of her organization, today locked the main entrance of Civil Secretariat. She said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his Ministers and bureaucrats required to be taught what the residents of Srinagar and some other towns had been feeling during weeks of endless curfew. Calling for an end to prohibitory orders, curfew, detention of people under the label of stone pelters, harassment to separatist activists and ‘killing’ of youth by Police and security forces, Mehbooba asserted that NC-led coalition government had lost credibility as well as moral right to continue in office.

Members of PDP’s Legislature Party reached Civil Secretariat entrance individually from 1215 hours to 1245 hours. Led by Mehbooba Mufti, the legislators locked the Secretariat gates and organized a sit-in that ran for nearly three hours. Fifteen out of twenty-one MLAs and two out of three MLCs of the main opposition party, besides its General Secretary and former Minister, Mohammad Dilawar Mir, and District President Srinagar, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, participated in the peaceful demonstration.

Six MLAs, namely Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Mohammad Sartaj Madni, Javed Ahmed Dar, Sardar Rafeeq Hussain Khan and Choudhary Zulfikar besides MLC, Asgar Ali, were not present. PDP sources said that some of them were preoccupied with important personal and party schedules while few others were either outside the Valley or indisposed.

Slogans shouted by the demonstration and the placards carried by the legislators called for an end to “genocide of Kashmiris” and demanded “punishment to the killers”. There was also considerable emphasis on releasing the detainees even as some of the MLAs and MLCs also carried photographs of the seventeen youth killed during clashes between Police/CRPF and the demonstrators from June 11th to July 11th in Srinagar, Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag.

With this kind of a protest demonstration coming for the first time in the last 20 years, there was high drama at the highest seat of power in the capital city. Ministers, bureaucrats and the government employees suspended their work intermittently and watched the PDP dharna from their windows in the Civil Secretariat. Informed sources said that a large number of staff and common visitors, as also some Ministers, failed to enter the premises as they found the gates locked and the PDP legislators staging a demonstration. Nobody was able to come out from the Secretariat premises.

Speaking to the participants, and later to mediapersons, Mehbooba said that bringing home the tribulations of the people of curfew-bound areas to the state government was the key objective of today’s demonstration and sit-in. She said that the PDP wanted to communicate to the “deaf and dumb government” that residents of curfew-bound Srinagar and other towns in the Valley had been tormenting for coming out their homes. She alleged that Police and security forces had not only killed as many as 17 young civilians in just one month but had also unleashed a reign of terror by harassing and detaining innumerable individuals under different allegations.

Mehbooba said that Omar Abdullah’s government had lost everything---control on situation, credibility and moral right to continue in office. She said that hundreds of thousands of the hapless Kashmiris had been forced to confinement for weeks together as the authorities enforced declared and undeclared curfew without any plausible reason and justification. She claimed that as many as 1400 youth had been picked up from different places and detained under Public Safety Act and other laws.

(Government later clarified that around 800 people had been detained temporarily and only 71 of them were currently in jails and Police stations. It also claimed that, in all, 22 persons had been detained under PSA).

Without being critical on endless shutdowns enforced by the separatists with stone pelting on civilian traffic and beating the female commuters with nettle, PDP chief alleged that state government’s curfews had made life miserable for people of the cordoned localities who, according to her, were faced with acute shortage of food and baby milk. She condemned government’s seizure of the trucks carrying relief items from rural areas to the curfew-bound urban areas yesterday and declared that PDP would soon form a committee for the purpose of providing relief to the worst affected population.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

12 of Omar’s SSPs, SPs, Dy SPs fall in the dock
COI in 17 deaths: Eyewash, confusion or concession to separatists?

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, July 28: Omar Abdullah government’s order of inquiry into seventeen deaths in the Valley clashes from June 11th to July 11th is bound to end up as damp squib for more than one reason. It has evoked no positive reaction from the quarters that are sought to be pacified with surrender after surrender and concession after concession from Gupkar Road. On the other hand, it has directly brought a full dozen of SSPs, SPs and Dy SPs into the dock---raising questions over their continuance on key positions. They will be, now on, spending more time in defending themselves before the judicial inquiry than dealing with law and order problems, counter-insurgency operations and supervision of routine criminal investigation.

Even by a common man’s logic, current spell of turbulence---second in the last 18 months of the NC-led coalition government---has been yielding for the Kashmiri separatists. For the first time since the amalgam was floated in 1993, Hurriyat and its breakaway constituents have succeeded to bring the state on kneels. Omar Abdullah’s government has evidently gone into a panic mode. Like an ordinary Kashmiri on the streets, Hurriyat too must have noticed the somersaults coming in abundance from the Civil Secretariat. Next administrative reshuffle comes with reversal of the decisions taken in previous Cabinet meeting.

Nobody understands the logic of posting local SSPs in sensitive Police districts in the Valley. In the latest shake up in J&K Police, Government has appointed Mansoor Ahmed Untoo as SSP of the Valley’s worst turbulent district of Baramulla. He happens to be a resident of the Valley’s top flash point of trouble---Sopore town and has never held a district level position in executive Police. In the same reshuffle, Government has appointed Bashir Ahmed Khan as SSP of the Valley’s third worst affected district---Anantnag. Though putting up at his own house in Srinagar for several years, Khan and his family are residents of the same locality which is ‘famous’ for stone pelters in south Kashmir.

Government has also posted Mohammad Sayeed Panoo as SP of Awantipore. Panoo is a resident of the highway township of Bijbehara, situated in close vicinity of Awantipore.

All these appointments have come at a time when nobody is coming forward to take up the challenging assignment of heading a Police district. Almost all IPS officers too have managed to escape to Vigilance, Traffic, CID and other non-sensitive positions. Of late, Government has been desperately trying to woo same Police officers who had been marginalized and punished with insignificant postings just a year ago. A many of them had been picked up for witch hunting with public allegations of their being “members of PDP”. A number of SSPs and SPs are already in jail like Manohar Singh or suspended like Javed Iqbal Matoo.

In the state Police’s worst era of demoralization, Government has now ordered a court of inquiry into seventeen deaths that occurred during the course of clashes and street demonstrations in the Valley from June 11th to July 11th. “This is an eyewash. Government has no intention of investigating deaths or punishing the killers. Whenever, there is sincerely an action, government does not order inquiries” is invariably the reaction from a common man today. Everybody refers to Ghulam Nabi Azad’s action against former SP of Ganderbal, Hans Raj Parihar and Omar Abdullah’s action in getting BSF Commanding Officer Birdi arrested in Zahid Farooq killing episode and points out that there was action, no commission on inquiry.

Official statistics are appallingly revealing. There have been more than 400 magisterial and judicial inquiries in civilian killings in the last 20 years of turmoil. Not more than a dozen investigation reports have seen the light of the day. Necessary follow up action has been witnessed in just a few matters. Who then is going to believe that Omar Abdullah is sincerely at work. Those who tend not to forget things quickly, even refer to the young Chief Minister’s “conveniently forgotten” election promise of ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.

Government has ordered the Court of Inquiry, to be headed by former J&K High Court judge, Bashiruddin, at a time when district Police chiefs were under express orders of detaining “maximum number of hooligans”. Detention under PSA of the all influential separatist advocate, Mian Qayoom, and Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, first time since 1990, coupled by their lodgment in the “non-VIP” Hira Nagar and Rajuri jails was in itself a tough and terse statement flowing through command and control structure of J&K Police. These orders were significant in the wake of reports that scores of “hooligans” had been lately released over telephonic intervention of NC’s leaders, particularly a Minister and an Advisor to Chief Minister, to the extent that PDP President Mehbooba Mufti had found it easy to publicly allege that “the bad stone pelters are NC’s men”.

Now the grand reversal has perhaps completed the first phase of demoralization in J&K Police. According to Tuesday’s Cabinet orders, Justice Bashiruddin would have as many as 12 SSPs, SPs and Dy SPs of the state government accused before the Court. Seven of the deaths have occurred in Srinagar, four in Sopore and three each in Baramulla and Anantnag.

Those definitely to be questioned by the Court of Inquiry include lately appointed SSP of Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, his predecessor and now SSP of Special Branch Kashmir, Javed Riyaz Bedar, lately attached SSP of Baramulla, Sheikh Mehmood, former SSP of Anantnag and now SSP of Railway (Kashmir) Dr Showkat Ahmed Malik. Those in the dock also include indisputably the best performer in Srinagar, SP City (South) Mohammad Irshad, SP Sopore Altaf Khan and former SP City North, Abdul Rashid Ganai.

In addition to seven district and zonal district Police heads, as many as five Dy SPs will have to prove their innocence before the Court of Inquiry. However, it is not so far clear whether the DIGs of J&K Police would also be under the scanner. Terms of reference are also silent with regard to bringing CRPF under the ambit of the inquiry. “We feel we have no moral right to continue on sensitive positions as long as we are accused before the Court” said one of the SSPs who did not wish to be identified. He said that Government should remove all of the accused Police officers, including himself, from the key postings. “We are all guilty till proved innocent”, he added with a tinge of satire.

“We are no more going to confront a rampaging mob, even if there are orders from Chief Minister”, said another SP whose district has not, so far witnessed any casualty. According to him, nobody would question, in case any action was taken against the guilty in brazen incidents of SOP violation like the killing of three youth in Anantnag in seemingly unwarranted firing. “It’s unfortunate that cow slaughter is talk of the town and nobody speaks of the bull slaughter”, he said (in loose translation of a Kashmiri proverb) while insisting that Police had observed “maximum possible restraint” in most of the mob attacks on them. “We have horrible videos of the Policemen being lynched. But we don’t put them on YouTube and Facebook for the CM’s BlackBerry”.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tarigami proposes all-party MPs panel to talk to Kashmiris
‘Inaction on working groups recommendations has discredited Delhi in Srinagar’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 25: State Secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and third-time MLA from Kulgam, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, has stressed on the need of engaging the young rebels of Kashmir valley in a credible process of dialogue. According to the proposal he claims to have submitted to Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Government of India must constitute a committee of different political parties’ Members of Parliament and authorize it to talk to all shades of opinion including the Kashmiri youngsters involved in demonstrations, stone pelting and clashes with Police and paramilitary forces.

Addressing a news conference here after holding a series of meetings with the Central leadership---including Prime Minister, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram---Tarigami expressed serious concern over the current phase of turmoil in Kashmir. He said that Government of India had demonstrated considerable complacency and ignored the dissent in Valley, particularly so after the Assembly elections of mass participation in 2008. He said it was unfortunate that both, state as well as the central government, had lost the faith and confidence shown by people in the governmental system.

Tarigami said that there was need to urgently engage the “disillusioned and alienated” younger generation of the Kashmiris in a credible talks process . He proposed Government of India to immediately constitute a committee of the MPs from all political parties for this purpose. He asserted that a dialogue process conducted by the Parliamentarians’ panel was expected to achieve results better than a process conducted by government officials or political leaders of a particular party or coalition.

“Be that an NDA government or UPA government, they invariably remain wary of the support from the Opposition and fail to get desired results of a political process. In case there are Parliamentary representatives of all parties in the committee, there will be no apprehension of opposition from any political opinion”, Tarigami contended. He revealed that during his meetings with the Central leaders, he had brought it home to the Centre that any more complacency on the Kashmir conflict could have disastrous consequences. He claimed that both, Dr Singh and Mrs Ganndhi, listened to him with rapt attention and gave him indications of a positive reaction.

Tarigami said that the trust deficit between New Delhi and Srinagar had widened to catastrophic proportions as nobody from the UPA government had taken any bold and substantive initiative to address the aspirations of the Kashmiris, particularly the younger generation. He admitted that the turbulence was not all about employment but pointed out that the unemployment depression was also a major contributory factor to the unrest in Valley. He said that nearly 600,000 unemployed youth had been counted in the state in recent past but the Government had committed to provide jobs to just 100,000 youth in the next five years.

With thousands of graduates and post graduates pouring in from colleges and universities every year, he asserted, the size of unemployed would simply remain intact. “There’s neither a public sector nor a private sector here”, Tarigami said and emphasized that the state government in coordination with the central government must create avenues and opportunities, directly as well as indirectly, to save the educationally and economically backward people in the state from total depression and frustration. He sought to make it repeatedly clear that there were also strong political aspirations, including Azadi, in different sections of the population which needed to be addressed in an all-inclusive dialogue process.

Tarigami held the Centre responsible for perpetuating and widening the trust deficit between New Delhi and Srinagar. He pointed out that NC’s autonomy resolution, passed by J&K Legislature, had been treated with contempt by one government and another government had been sleeping over the recommendations of five Working Groups constituted by no less a person than Prime Minister of India as part of his round-table initiative on Jammu & Kashmir. He said that nobody in the Centre had taken serious his own suggestion of offering safe passage to the Kashmiri youth, who had crossed the LoC but had not practiced violence. He urged the state government to remove the bar of disqualification from the youth who had once acted as militants but had later reformed themselves and had also been released by different courts of law.

CPI(M) leader also demanded amendment to J&K Armed Forces Special Powers Act for the militancy had ebbed to an all-time low. He said that there was a formidable demand to completely withdraw AFSPA but a beginning could well be made with certain amendments in the law. “Kashmir situation has become a huge industry of vested interest”, he said with implicit reference to men in armed forces, political establishment, civil society institutions and non-state actors and separatist politicians making fortunes in the conflict ever since 1990.