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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Turbulence toll reaches 50; Curfew relaxed

Geelani rejects PC’s dialogue offer; fresh shutdown calendar issued

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 7: Number of the youngsters killed in current spell of turbulence in Kashmir valley since June 11th reached 50 today when a critically injured youth of Sopore area died at a hospital. Even as curfew was relaxed and shops opened after eight days in parts of the capital city and other districts, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has not only rejected Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s offer of dialogue but also issued a fresh shutdown calendar for the Kashmiris.

Informed sources told Early Times that 22-year-old Rameez Ahmed Rishi S/o Ghulam Nabi Rishi R/o Mundji, Sopore, succumbed to injuries at SKIMS, Soura, in the wee hours today. He had got critically injured during the clash of a crowd of protestors at Warpora, on Sopore-Bandipore Road yesterday. With this, total number of the youth, who have died in clashes with Police and CRPF in Kashmir valley since June 11th, has reached 50. As many as 30 demonstrators have died in the last eight days.

After continuous freeze of eight days, authorities today relaxed curfew in the uptown localities falling under the jurisdiction of 10 Police stations. Since no untoward incident took place in the stipulated duration, relaxation of curfew was extended till further orders. However, the congested downtown localities continued to reel under curfew on the 9th consecutive day. An official spokesman said that curfew was fully lifted in Budgam, Ganderbal and Handwara districts.

Reports said that insignificant clashes and demonstrations took place at some places. However, nobody was reported injured or killed.

During the period of curfew relaxation, shops opened in two-third of Srinagar and some other districts and private transport also operated. However, commercial traffic was still awaiting further announcement from the Hurriyat (G) that has been sponsoring current phase of the turbulent demonstrations, named as “Quit Jammu & Kashmir”.

Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, issued a fresh shutdown calendar, first time after he was arrested several years ago. With Sunday, as usual, being declared as a day of relaxation, Geelani said that there would be total shutdown in the Valley on Aug 9th and 10th. He called for a mass march to Pampore on Aug 11th and said that people could enjoy relaxation in shutdown from 1200 hours to late night prayers on the first day of the holy month of Ramazan on Aug 12th. He asked people to assemble for demonstrations at all Tehsil headquarters on Aug 13th and called for celebration of “Yaum-e-Pakistan” on Aug 14th.

As expected, Geelani asked the Kashmiris to observe total civil curfew and ‘black day’ on occasion of the Indian Independence Day on Aug 15th.

Addressing a news conference at his residence, Geelani categorically rejected Home Minister P Chidambaram’s offer of dialogue to him, by name, and other separatist leaders as made in Parliament on Friday. According to him, there were contradictions in Chidambaram’s speech as he spoke of India’s broken and unkept promises to the Kashmiris, stressed on winning their hearts and minds but did not focus on the core issue of the peoples’ right of self-determination under the UN resolutions. He said that Chidambaram’s concern was restricted to amendment in AFSPA and the law and order problem in the Valley.

Geelani resolved to carry on the struggle of total demilitarization. He said that the Kashmiris had for the first time united under one banner from Uri to Pir Panjal mountains and the Hurriyat would be even tougher in its stand.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Geelani’s aide released, Asiya’s hubby likely to follow
After 30 deaths in 7 days, a day of no casualty in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 6: Even as demonstrations and clashes of groups continued with Police and CRPF on the eight consecutive day of curfew in Kashmir valley today, it was a zero-casualty day after 30 deaths in the last seven days. One person sustained gunshot wound in a clash in Sopore area. Authorities have, meanwhile, released separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s confidante, Ayaz Akbar, while simultaneously clearing decks for the release of hardliner Dukhataraan-e-Millat Chairperson Asiya Andrabi’s husband.

Putting the arrest of separatist leaders on freeze, Omar Abdullah’s government today released Hurriyat (G) spokesperson, Ayaz Akbar, from one-and-a-half month long detention under Public Safety Act. Geelani’s confidante, Akbar had been arrested at his Srinagar residence on June 22nd last and lodged in a jail at Kathua. Official sources said that Chief Minister had promised then detainee Syed Ali Shah Geelani through his emissary Devender Singh Rana that some of the separatists detained under PSA would be released in case the octogenarian leader pursued his political activity peacefully.

It was not, however, clear whether the authorities had abandoned search for prominent separatist leaders, notably Massarat Alam and Asiya Andrabi, who have been organizing violent protest demonstrations and clashes with Police and CRPF all over the valley from their secret whereabouts since June. Geelani had initially demanded release of all the political detainees when Omar Abdullah’s government had offered to release the Hurriyat (G) supremo last month.

Sources said that on instructions from Chief Minister’s office, authorities have also begun clearing decks for the release of former Jamiatul Mujahideen supremo, Ashiq Hussain Faktoo alias Dr Qasim, who has been serving life term in jail after a District and Sessions Court held him guilty in the murder of human rights activist H N Wanchoo and Supreme Court of India upheld the conviction. He has been shifted to a Police camp at Humhama and is likely to be released any time. During his imprisonment, Faktoo has also completed a doctorate.

After months of detention and house arrest, Geelani today performed his Friday afternoon prayers at a mosque close to his house in Hyderpora. He addressed the gathering and later led a peaceful demonstration. However, almost all the so-called moderate separatist leaders remained continuously under house arrest.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding a number of demonstrations and clashes of groups with Police and CRPF at several places in violation of curfew, it was first day of zero-casualty after 30 deaths occurred in the last 7 days in Valley. Curfew has been in place in entire Valley since three persons died in clashes with Police on July 30th. As many as twenty-seven civilian demonstrators got killed in different incidents of firing across Valley on the following six days.

Today’s reports said that most of the people remained indoors because of strict enforcement of curfew, incessant rains and also media attention suddenly diverting towards the massive devastation after cloudburst in Leh. Still, anti-India and pro-Azadi demonstrations were reported from over 20 places.

Reports said that one Rameez Ahmed Rishi S/o Ghulam Nabi Rishi R/o Mundji, Sopore, sustained gunshot wounds after Police and CRPF opened fire at Warpora on Sopore-Bandipore Road. Official sources said that CRPF opened fire after a violent crowd attacks its camp and a Police post. Unconfirmed reports said that two more demonstrators got injured.

In Budgam, a 1,000-strong procession of demonstrators clashed with CRPF. Paramilitaries opened fire and dispersed the crowds. Unconfirmed reports said that at least six of the demonstrators got injured in exchange of stone pelting. Reports from Budgam added that miscreants set on fire Panchayat Ghar at Kanipora. Another report from Baramulla said that miscreants torched the building of Government Middle School Kalantra, Kreeri. With this as many as 35 public and private properties have been destroyed in fire in the last seven days of turbulence in Valley.

Lately inducted Rapid Action Force today staged a flag march on some streets in the curfew-bound Srinagar.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Civilian killed, several injured in Pulwama firing
In curfew-bound Valley, two more die in clashes with Police, CRPF

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 5: With one person succumbing to injuries at a hospital and another getting killed in Police firing on a separatist congregation in Pulwama, death toll of the civilians killed in different incidents of firing in Kashmir valley since June 11th has reached close to 50. For the first time in the last two months, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited a hospital to meet the injured and inquire about their condition even as entire Valley reeled under curfew on umpteenth day of turbulence.

Informed sources told Early Times that a crowd of hundreds of residents of Pulwama and adjoining villages was proceeding to participate in the 4th day ceremony of a youth, killed in Police firing earlier this week, when a fierce clash took place between the demonstrators and Police at the district headquarters. Facing heavy offensive from the crowds, Police and CRPF opened fire after trying to break the gathering with teargas. Sources said a 28-year-old Tata Sumo driver, Shabir Ahmed Malik S/o Abdul Aziz Malik R/o Lonepora, Pulwama, got killed and over a dozen others sustained injuries.

While local new agency, KNS, reported that it was a 20,000-strong procession, which put a “silent non-violent demonstration”, an official spokesman said that 1500 people participated in the rally. He said in a statement: “In Pulwama a mob of more than 1500 people tried to break curfew near Degree College Pulwama. The police tried to persuade them not to break the curfew restrictions. However, the mob did not heed and indulged in heavy stone pelting. The police and security forces used lathicharge and tear smoke to disperse the mob but they continued heavy stone pelting on police and CRPF. A number of police and CRPF men got injured forcing to use fire. One person namely Shabir Ahmad Malik son of Abdul Aziz Malik resident of Lone Pora, Pulwama was injured and was taken to SMHS hospital Srinagar were doctors declared him brought dead”.

Independent reports, however, said that around seven persons sustained gunshot injuries in the daytime shootout. They were rushed to different hospitals in Pulwama and Srinagar.

Sources said that during last night, one Ghulam Nabi Badyari S/o Mohammad Shaban Badyari R/o Habbakadal, succumbed to injuries at SMHS Hospital. He had sustained critical injuries when CRPF, guarding a temple at Ganpathyar, Habbakadal, opened fire on an unruly mob last evening. He was rushed to SMHS Hospital where he succumbed to injuries.

With two more additions, death toll of the civilians killed in different incidents of violence and clashes with Police and CRPF since June 11th, has reached 49.

Even after 49 deaths in less than two months of demonstrations, five persons with critical injuries were still battling for life at ICU of SKIMS. Doctors described them all as critical. They were identified as Fida Nabi (17) of HMT Zainakote, Mohammad Akbar Wani (28) of Baramulla, Mehran Khan (18) of Chandanwari Uri, Ghulam Mohammad (20) of Ganderbal (who has been severely hit by a stone in his head0 and Muneera Dhobi (20) of Pulwama.

Sources said that residents clashed with Police and CRPF at Kralkhud, Habbadal, when dead body pf Ghulam Nabi Nadyari was being carried for funeral to Dalgate. It was later buried at a graveyard in Dalgate area amid tight curfew restrictions.

Sources said that people violated curfew and clashed with Police and CRPF at several places in Sopore, Baramulla, Srinagar, Pulwama and Kulgam districts. However, the size of delinquent crowds was not very thick. Sources said that around 50 people were believed to have sustained injuries in today’s clashes. Curfew remained strictly in force all over the Valley, though hundreds of people gathered at several places to either put up peaceful demonstrations or clash with Police and security forces.

Meanwhile, for the first time since the turbulence began on June 11th, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today called on several patients—and their attendants---under treatment as SKIMS. He extended his condolences and sympathies to the affected families and asked Director SKIMS, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar, to provide best possible treatment to the patients who have got injuries in different clashes with Police and CRPF in the last two months.

Sources said that when on his return, Chief Minister was interacting with a group of women, some people gathered on the lawns and they shouted pro-Azadi slogans. They reportedly heckled and booed the Chief Minister. Chief Minister withdrew peacefully from the spot.

Mob attacks feared on houses of Police officials, NC leaders
Violent separatist crowds torch 33 public, private properties in 6 days

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 5: Mainstream politicians, who failed to reach out to their electors and the common people in Kashmir valley in the last over one year, are now apprehensive of a macabre reversal. Recent attacks on public properties and houses of some political activists, notably Minister of Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir, have sent shivers down the spine of senior government functionaries as they fear violent mobs could reach out to soft targets---pro-India politicians, counterinsurgents, Police officials---with stones, brickbats and matchsticks.

Firearms are the only weapons available with Personal Security Officers (PSOs) and static Police and CRPF guards as well as escort personnel of the protected politicians, Police officials and counterinsurgents. “They are left with just two options: open fire on the attacking crowds or let them burn the targeted houses”, said a senior Police official. He elaborated that entire security circle of over 1000 potential targets was essentially a counterinsurgency grid, aimed at fighting armed militants, and not a law-and-order bandobust. There are no teargas guns and non-lethal riot control devices with these PSOs, escort personnel and house-guards.

Level of fear among the protected and non-protected politicians, besides hundreds of high profile counterinsurgents and thousands of Police personnel living sparsely all over the Valley, is now incredibly high. Threats from separatist leaders like Asiya Andrabi are now being translated into action as scores of the Police personnel have been subjected to attacks. In few cases, they have been left stripped. Under this fear, more than 60 percent of the police officials, particularly the Constabulary, are believed to have made fake photo-identity cards of NGOs and pharmaceutical companies as the youth among crowds have been checking identities of pedestrians and motorists to strike on the Police personnel.

Credible reports suggest that much like in days of peak insurgency, most of the National Conference (NC) leaders and activists have stopped not only movement but also sleeping at their residential houses in downtown as well as a number of rural areas. Same level of fear is spreading fast among the Police personnel and former counterinsurgents who had been living in their localities without anxiety since 1996.

Even during Amarnath land allotment stir, which created a mass uprising in 2008, not one of the NC leaders and activists had announced resignation from the formidable mainstream political party in the Valley. On one occasion, separatist crowds had subjected an NC rally to severe attack at Mazaar-e-Shuhada, Naqashband Sahib, but it was forcefully repulsed. The crowds had later that day attacked the house of NC’s female Councilor and even manhandled her but she refused to resign. In 1990, almost all NC leaders and activists living in Kashmir valley, had announced their resignations through paid advertisements in local newspapers under tremendous fear of the militants. Still, hundreds of them were eliminated.

Official statistics speak volumes of how unruly mobs have been proactive in attacking Police and CRPF in the last two months. According to these figures, as many as 872 incidents of stone pelting took place in June and July in which 1456 Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries. “If we open fire like in Pampore, arsonists get killed. If we withdraw like in Khrew, mobs torch our camps, uniforms and even arms and ammunition”, said a medium rung Police official. He said that Government’s recent Court of Inquiry into 17 deaths had further demoralized Police and CRPF as nearly 20 SSPs, SPs, ASPs and Dy SPs, were now supposed to prove themselves innocent before two retired judges of J&K High Court.

Situation has taken the worst turn of the last 15 years as the unruly mobs have lately gone on burning spree. Properties worth Rs 10 Crore were destroyed in fire in Anantnag on June 29th. In another incident, mobs set on fire residential house of two Policemen after an incident of firing in Kulgam two days ago. Here in Srinagar, angry crowds had torched a government vehicle at Rambagh on July 6th.

Last six days of mob violence have witnessed devastation of a large number of public and private properties as 33 incidents of arson have been officially reported from July 30th to August 4th. As many as 9 Police stations, Police posts and SOG camps, 8 government vehicles and a bogey of train, one railway station, houses of two political activists and 13 government offices, in public and private properties, have perished in this spate of arson. Authorities and the crowds have been accusing each other of initiating the offensive, invariably claiming that they had only “retaliated”.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1 killed, 2 injured in evening clashes

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar, Aug 4: At the end of a day of uneasy calm in Valley, violent demonstrators humbled hardliner separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani by attacking two CRPF posts in the capital city in Bemina and Habbakadal areas late this evening.

Informed sources said that late tonight, violent mobs from different directions converged at Nunrishi Colony in Bemina outskirts of this capital city and launched a fierce attack on a CRPF post. After CRPF failed to disperse the crowds with teargas, it opened fire. Two persons sustained injuries and one of them later died at hospital.

Officials confirmed the shootout and said that one among the mob, namely Mohammad Yaqoob Bhat, got killed. He is the 47th civilian to have died in clashes with Police and CRPF in Kashmir since June 11th.
Sources said that another civilian was hit in his leg in the shootout at Nundrishi Colony. He was rushed to hospital for treatment.

Sources said that another civilian was critically hit in his abdomen when another violent mob attacked CRPF guarding a temple at Ganpathyaar in Habbakadal locality of Srinagar interior. Sources said that CRPF opened fire and repulsed the attack. Situation was reportedly tense in several localities in Srinagar as anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans were going on loudly on public address system of local mosques.

No shootout after ‘shoot-at-sight’ orders in Kashmir
Geelani reaches back to his home, calls for ‘only peaceful’ demonstrations

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 4: Media hype to “shoot-at-sight” orders today led to a situation in which Police and paramilitary forces had no occasion to open gunfire as the angry Kashmiris remained confined to their homes and did not clash with the authorities anywhere in the Valley. It was, thus, after several days of turbulence that not a single shot was fired and nobody was killed or injured. However, yet another civilian, who had sustained critical injuries in a shootout at Chhanpora last week, breathed his last at a hospital. Meanwhile, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani asked the Kashmir to stop all violent means of “resistance” after he reached back to home from weeks of confinement at a special jail.

In the wake of media hype to “shoot-at-sight orders”, that had in fact never been issued as Srinagar District Magistrate Mehraj Ahmed Kakru clarified later today, entire Kashmir valley remained confined to homes right from the morning. For several hours of the day, there was no violation of the curfew, now strictly in force all over the Valley.

Later in the day, some people gathered in Qamarwari outskirts of this capital city and they set on a condemned vehicle of Police. Reports from South Kashmir said that a mob torched a vehicle of IRP 9th Bn in Pampore and hundreds of people gathered at Shirmal in Shopian district and they torched two huts of Forest Protection Force. Some public properties were also reported torched in Baramulla and Kupwara.

An official spokesman claimed that there was no incident of violence or clash anywhere in the Valley today other than torching of a Police vehicle at Pampore and two FPF huts at Shirmal. He said: “In Shopian, an unruly mob attacked the Forest Protection Force complex comprising of about ten buildings and tried to set on fire the complex and the vehicles parked in the compound. Police party immediately reached the spot was able to save eight buildings and three vehicles. However, miscreants set ablaze two buildings and one Gypsy which gutted completely”.

Reports, not confirmed by officials, said that Police and CRPF opened fire after a mob clashed with them at Dandarkhah in Batmaloo area. Another group of people shouted anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans after learning about the death of an injured youth of the locality at a hospital. Reports said that a minor clash took place with Police. Later a thick rally formed the funeral procession in violation of curfew and staged anti-India demonstration.

Officials said that “some minor clashes” took place in Valley between thin groups of youngsters and Police which dispersed when the authorities resorted to minor baton charge. They insisted that not a single bullet was fired anywhere in the Valley today as the people did neither violate curfew not indulged in violent clashes with Police and armed forces.

Reports from Pampore said that more than five thousand people assembled at Khrew to mourn the death of three civilians who had died in Police firing besides six others who got killed in an IED after torching local camp of SOG on Sunday last. They passed through several villages in a fleet of vehicles while shouting pro-Azadi, pro-Islam and anti-India slogans. Police and CRPF withdrew to clear way for the procession.

Official spokesman said that one Mohammad Iqbal Khan S/o Abdul Majeed Khan, who had sustained critical injuries in an incident of firing at Chhanpora on July 30th, today died at SKIMS, Soura. With this, as many as 46 civilians, mostly youth, have died in different incidents of clashes with Police and CRPF in Kashmir valley since June 11th. At least four more critically wounded civilians are still under treatment at SKIMS and two more hospitals in Srinagar.

Curfew was strictly enforced today amid reports that several companies of RAF were also arriving in to assist J&K Police and CRPF in controlling the riotous mobs. Army took control of entire national highway from Banihal to Uri late last night and the convoys, as well as Amarnath Yatra, passed peacefully.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the hardline faction of separatist Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today reached back to his Hyderpora residence after few weeks of confinement at a Forest Department hut at Cheshma Shahi. Geelani had been shifted to SKIMS, like on all of his previous detentions, after he complained of pain last week. Later Police withdrew the contingent holding him in custody at the hospital and told him that he was free to go home. The 85-year-old separatist leader, however, refused to leave and demanded release of all others who had been detained in the last several months. Government did not concede his demand.

Geelani was dropped today at his Hyderpora house. Immediately after reaching there, he called a press conference mainly to ask the angry Kashmiri youth not to resort of violent means of “resistance” like stone pelting and arson of public properties. He said that such incidents were highly detrimental to the interests of the separatist movement in Kashmir.

Geelani revealed that Chief Minister’s Political Advisor, Devender Singh Rana, had met him at the Cheshma Shahi jail hut and conveyed to him on behalf of Omar Abdullah that government would permit his political activity in case there was no violence in it and the same remained peaceful. According to Geelani, he told Rana that Chief Minister was a puppet in the hands of New Delhi and his assurance had neither credibility nor consequence. He told him that all---NC, PDP, Congress---were in the field “only to promote New Delhi’s agenda in J&K”.

Geelani revealed that a delegation of three people, comprising Prof Amitabh Matoo, Admiral K K Nayyar and Ms Radha Kumar, had also met him on the same day on July 22 at Cheshma Shahi and asked him to participate in a dialogue with Government of India. He said that he told the delegation that India had been simply trumpeting the refrain of dialogue ‘only to mislead the world” on Kashmir. He asserted that New Delhi had never shown any sincerity or seriousness in holding talks with the separatist leadership in Kashmir.

He ruled out joining any political process, until his basic demands of “revocation of AFSPA”, “total demilitarization from J&K” and release of “all political detainees” were conceded.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Army taking over highway, RAF towns as 4 more killed in firing
After burning Police Stations, mobs torch houses of JKP cops

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 3: In a significant measure of fire fighting, government is deploying Army to control the entire highway from Banihal to Uri and Rapid Action Force to assist Police and CRPF in Srinagar and other major towns even as four more civilians today got killed in different incidents of curfew violation and resultant firing and another persons, earlier injured in a blast at Khrew on Sunday last, has breathed his last at a hospital today.

Nobody in Police and civil administration has been responding to phone calls from journalists since Sunday last but official sources, having access to information, told Early Times that four more people, attacking Police, CRPF and public properties, got killed today and over a hundred others injured in different incidents of violence across Valley. One Riyaz Ahmed Bhat S/o Ghulam Nabi Bhat, who was among 30 people who had sustained injuries in an IED balst at Khrew on Sunday last, today died at SMHS Hospital. With this, as many as 45 civilians, mostly youngsters, have died in clashes with Police and CRPF in Kashmir Valley since June 11th.

Sources said that Meraj-ud-din Lone S/o Mohammad Maqbool Lone died on spot and Mohammad Yousuf Mir sustained injuries when a thick mob clashed with Police and CRPF at Barthana in Srinagar outskirts. Police and CRPF opened fire after the mob refused to break in half-an-hour of teargas shelling and persisted with its assault in violation of curfew.

One Suhai Ahmed Dar of Zainakote died when Police and CRPF opened fire on another unruly mob near Shalteng in Srinagar outskirts. Sources said that the mob left over a dozen Police and CRPF men injured and damaged two of their vehicles.

A class 9th student, namely Anees Khursheed Ganai S/o Khursheed Ahmed Ganai got killed in Police and CRPF firing on a procession of demonstrators at Narawara in downtown Srinagar. Authorities gave way to the procession of mourners for the 15-year-old’s funeral prayers at Jamia Masjid, followed by his burial at Iddgah. Hundreds of people, braving curfew and shouting pro-Azadi, pro-Islam and anti-India slogans, participated in the funeral rites.

Sources said that one Jehangir Ahmed Bhat S/o Mohammad Yousuf Bhat R/o Punjgam Yaripora died when Police and CRPF opened fire on yet another violent mob at Yaripora in Kulgam district. Over a dozen civilians, Police and CRPF personnel sustained injuries in the intermittent clashes. Sources said that minutes after the shootout, another angry crowd torched the residential house of one Shabir Ahmed Itoo and his brother. While one of them is reportedly a constable, another is working as SPO with Kulgam Police. Official sources said that torching of the residential house of the Police officials was being viewed with concern in the state police force that is now expecting mob attacks on the houses of the officials in insecure hamlets and villages.

Violent mobs, defying curfew and shouting pro-Azadi, pro-Islam and anti-India slogans also attacked Police and CRPF deployments and public properties at Bomai in Sopore and other places. Sources said that the crowds attacked and torched the Police posts at Soibug and Frisal. Reports said that a crowds also attempted to set on fire residential house of Minister of Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir in Tangmarg but his house-guards fired and repulsed the arsonists. Deserted houses of two displaced Pandits and a Naib Tehsildar’s office were destroyed in another blaze at Bumai in Sopore---residential village of socialite Sunanda Pushkar. Two Police posts were reportedly destroyed in fire at Singhpura Pattan and an office of Irrigation Department at Khwaja Bagh, Baramulla.

On the second consecutive day today, mobs attempted to set on fire Railway Station and staff quarters at Ompora-Rishipora in Budgam. However, Police and CRPF failed the attempts with intense firing. Anticipating trouble after fierce mob attacks on Monday, authorities had already in the morning today removed the families of the railway staff and arranged their transportation for Jammu. Official sources said that families of all railway employees have been shifted to Jammu and their residential cities outside in the wake of continuous mob attacks on Railway Stations at several places in the last one week.

At Barthana, mobs set on fire a motorcycle outside J&K Bank building. Residents said that the two-wheeler perished completely and the bank building also suffered some damage in the blaze. Reports said that the angry crowds torched CRPF bunkers at several places. At Wahibugh, Pulwama, a mob dismantled a displaced Pandit’s house, forcing the Police guards to vanish.

Meanwhile, highly placed official sources told early Times that a Unified Headquarters meeting took place on the second consecutive day late this evening here which was presided over by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Senior Army, CRPF, BSF and J&K Police officials participated in the meeting. According to a decision taken in the meeting, Army was being deployed on entire national highway from Banihal to Uri, to regain control over the communication lifeline as also to relieve at least 15 companies of CRPF for deployment in other sensitive areas. Sources said that Army was likely to take full control of the highway that has remained in the control of unruly mobs, cutting supply lines of the security forces since last week.

Supplies and Amarnath pilgrims have been flowing on the highway only from 2300 hours to 0400 hours since last week.

Sources said that on the requisition of the state government, after consultations with the union government, at least seven companies of Rapid Action Force are expected to reach here anytime on Wednesday. These troops, who are actually specially trained components of CRPF in blue uniform, would assist J&K Police in the hypersensitive areas.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

6 arsonists die in IED blast, 3 in firing

Several Police Stations, Govt buildings, vehicles torched; SP, CO among over 150 injured; NC-Cong coalition takes Valley back to 1990

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 1: With the law and order machinery now crippling almost completely and the state Police facing worst ever demoralization, riotous demonstrations today spread to the North Kashmir area of Pampore where at least three civilians died in Police and CRPF firing and six arsonists died in an IED blast after torching a Police Station and SOG camp at Khrew. Violent mobs torched a large number of public properties including two Police Stations, several Police and government vehicles besides office and residence of Tehsildar of Pampore during fierce clashes with Police and armed forces. More than 150 persons, including an SP and a Commanding Officer of CRPF, are estimated to have sustained injuries in today’s incidents of violence.

Sources believed to be well informed told early Times that a violent mob this evening set on fire Police Station and a camp of Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police at Khrew. Under orders of “maximum possible restraint” from Chief Minister and the state government, Police personnel offered medium level resistance but finally deserted their camps to safety. The mobs torched and destroyed the camps completely. While hundreds of them were late this evening watching the inferno triumphantly, an extremely powerful IED blast occurred in the burning structures. Preliminary reports said that six civilians were torn into shreds and 40 more sustained injuries of varying intensity.

With nobody in the state government being in a position to collect and share precise details with media, sources said that all four arsonists died on the spot and two more later at hospital. All hospitals from Pampore to Srinagar were getting packed to capacity with the patients having sustained injuries in the blast at Khrew and earlier in the day in over 50 incidents of firing and stone pelting all over the Valley.

Sources said that earlier today, hundreds of people gathered on different roads in violation of curfew and other restrictions in Pampore area of Pulwama district. They created barriers at different spots on the national highway from Pantachowk to Awantipore and blocked the road completely for traffic. Authorities consequently forced the Amarnath pilgrims to stop between Banihal and Qazigund and also at Pahalgam and Sonarmarg.

Within minutes, the stand-off led to violent clashes between the demonstrators and Police and CRPF. The saffron township of Pampore on the highway, that had witnessed an attack on Police Station and torching of two Indian Air Force buses by the violent crowds yesterday, became the hot flashpoint of today’s violence. With different sources quoting different versions of who initiated the bloodbath, fierce clashes took place between the mobs and Police and CRPF. Similar situation occurred in gthe industrial area of Khrew township in the same belt.

In all, three young civilians got killed in the Police and CRPF firing after teargas shelling failed and the mobs resorted to mass attacks on government structures. Those killed in three different incidents of shootout were identified as Nayeem Ahmed Shah S/o Bashir Ahmed Shah R/o Pampore, who actually hailed from Galwanpora Hyderpora, Rayees Ahmed Shah S/o Abdul Rasheed Shah R/o Khrew and 17-year-old Afroza, also a resident of Khrew. Reports awaiting official conformation described Afroza as the sister of Rayees. These reports also said that Nayeem’s mother later today died of cardiac arrest as she was excessively shocked over the tragedy.

As already reported hereinabove, four more civilians this evening died in a powerful IED blast at the devastated SOG camp in Khrew. With today’s fatal casualties, as many as 32 civilians have died in clashes with Police and CRPF in Kashmir valley since June 11th plus related incidents like the one at Khrew this evening.

Identification of the four persons killed in the IED blast in Khrew, number of the injured admitted at different hospitals and condition of the injured under treatment could not be ascertained as people at SKIMS attacked the Police and CID officials who were recording the official information this evening. Thereafter, Police officials ran for life.

Indisputably the day’s worst flashpoint, Pampore township wore the looks of a war ravaged locality as the violent mobs torched several government officials, including those of Police and Tehsildar, office and residence of Tehsildar, Court of Munsiff, where arms and ammunition was reportedly snatched away from Police guards. In the same area, mobs attacked the Police Station at pampore, torched the Police Station and SOG camp at Khrew besides different sub divisional offices of R&B, Irrigation and PDD.

Police and Police camps were also targeted at Bijbehara, Sopore and Chrar-e-Shareef. For the first time today, violent pro-Azadi demonstrations engulfed usually the calm and quiet Chrar-e-Shareef and the border township of Uri. Reports said that hundreds of people staged a demonstration in Uri with the allegation that troops had killed somebody in custodial torture and buried the dead body while hiding it from the residents. These reports said that a Police official’s Maruti car and a motorcycle were torched at Chrar-e-Shareef.

Sources said that thousands of people violated curfew and came out on streets in Srinagar as well as more than a dozen townships tonight. They shouted anti-India, pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans. At several places, demonstrators also carried Pakistani flags and shouted on security forces to vacate Kashmir. Like in 1990, people played Pakistani war songs and slogans on the public address system of community mosques, asking the youth to get up against “occupational India” with the “final assault”.

Officials sources said that exact number of the injured was not available but over 100 civilians and 50 Police and CRPF officials were believed to have sustained injuries in today’s clashes in Valley. The injured included an SP, a Commanding officer of CRPF and at least six Dy SPs, Inspectors and Sub Inspectors of J&K Police.

Late night reports, awaiting official confirmation that violent mobs clashed with Police and CRPF and made attempts to burn at least six more Police stations and camps in different districts. Highly placed sources indicated to Early Times that Army could be deployed any time in the next 48 hours as not only the political leadership but also J&K Police and CRPF had failed to contain violence.

Meanwhile, an official press release this evening added: “Irate mobs blocked National Highway at a number of places by erecting barricades from Pantha Chowk to Pampore. Huge mobs blocked the Highway at Galander, Kadlabal, Barsoo, Frastabal and Pampore. The unruly mobs set the office cum residence of Tehsildar on fire besides torching a Police vehicle and damaging a number of them.

Miscreants snatched weapons from the local Court Guard. They alsoresorted to heavy pelting on Police Station and the deployments. Evensome unidentified militant fired upon the security force from amongstthem”.

The police and the security forces used lathi charge and tear smokeshells to stop these mobs, however, the mobs did not relent forcingthe use of fire by the Security forces.Two persons namely Nayeem Ahmad Shah S/o Bashir Ahmad R/o Pampore and Rayees Ahmed Shah s/o Abdul Rashid r/o Khunmoh died. Eight civilians and 45 police and CRPF personnel were injured in the violent incidents in Pulwama and Awantipora which included one SSP, one CO of CRPF, one SP, two DySPs, one SI, one SHO, 15 CRPF jawans and 22 police personnel. Most of them were injured at Pampore”.