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Saturday, November 6, 2010

2 more civilians killed in Kashmir’s stone pelting

FIR against Army after failed attempt of ‘Chittisinghpura-2’ in Anantnag

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 6: Facing allegations of enacting “Chittisinghpura-2” well on the arrival of the US President Barack Obama in India, Army has yet again landed in the dock for violating Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) in a Sikh population village in Anantnag district, in South Kashmir, over 10 years after the massacre of 35 members of the minority community during then American President Bill Clinton’s visit to this country. Meanwhile, Kashmir valley’s stone pelting has consumed two more civilian lives on umpteenth day of Hurriyat (Geelani)-sponsored ‘civil curfew’ today.

Authoritative sources in South Kashmir told Early Times that five persons of three different families were on way from Zainapora to Shopian in a fresh auto without registration when a number of stone pelters began targeting the vehicle at village Nagbal. Quoting eyewitnesses and residents, officials said that the driver under attack lost the balance and his auto was seen rolling down into a deep gorge. Two commuters, namely Mohammad Ramzan Malik (50) S/o Ghulam Ahmed Malik and Javed Ahmed Bhat (25) S/o Mohammad Ismail Bhat residents of Chitragam Kalan, died and three more sustained injuries.

The injured, who were rushed to a local hospital, were identified as Mohammad Ismail Ganai S/o Ali Mohammad Ganai, Abdur Rasheed Naikoo (residents of Dekipora) and Khalid Amin Bhat S/o Mohammad Amin Bhat R/o Babapora, Shopian. One of them was later referred to a Srinagar hospital for specialized medical treatment.

Claiming to be quoting residents, official sources said that the group of stone pelters vanished within minutes. A large number of the residents gathered and evacuated the dead and the injured while publicly condemning the incident of stone pelting that had led to the tragedy. However, this being the handiwork of the unruly youth identifying themselves with the Valley’s separatist movement, there were no condemnations from the politicians. Even the ruling National Conference’s local leader and MLC, Shoukat Hussain Ganai, who happens to a neighbour of the two civilians killed, chose to remain tightlipped.

“Miscreants were enforcing strike and resorting to stone pelting on civil vehicles in the area. These persons were traveling in a load carrier bearing chassis number-065773. The ill fated vehicle was on way to Shopian when it was heavily pelted upon by miscreants at the said place, and in the  likelihood that  driver losing his control over the steering and the vehicle turned turtle, which  resulted in the on-spot death of  Mohammad Ramzan Malik son of Ghulam Ahmad  and Javaid Ahmad Bhat son of Mohammad Ismail, residents of Chitragam-Kalan, Zainapora and injuries to Ismail son of Ali Mohammad, Abdul Rashid Naikoo, son of Ismail  residents of D.K.Pora Zainapora and  Khalid Amin Bhat son of Mohammad Amin resident of Baba Pora Zainapora Shopian”, an official press release this evening said.

SP Shopian, Shahid Meraj Rather, said that a Police party reached on the spot and evacuated the dead and the injured with the support of local people to a hospital. He said that Police had registered case FIR No: 112 of 2010 dated 6-11-2010 under sections 279 and 304 RPC and the culprits would be got arrested and prosecuted under law. He said that the driver had disappeared in mysterious circumstances, leaving behind his auto, but Police were on the job to get him and take his statement. He said that residents told Police that the driver got nervous after a number of stone pelters chased him with stones and batons in their hands.

With today’s incident in Shopian, number of the civilians killed in stone pelting in the Valley since February 22 this year has reached five. Earlier this year, in similar anarchic incidents, one 11-day-old baby had died at Chakla Baramulla, a resident of Nattipora was killed while going to his office at Batmaloo and a resident of Malroo village, died when he was hit in his Tata Sumo near Boatmen Colony on the National Highway Bypass in Srinagar outskirts.

Over 200 civilians are estimated to have sustained injuries in similar incidents this year alone. This is all in addition to 112 civilians killed in over 1200 injured in different incidents of firing and Police/CRPF action on the demonstrators, including some arsonists.

Kashmir valley today observed a partial shutdown in response to a call of “civil curfew” for three days from Chairman of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Even as shops remained closed and heavy passenger buses were off the road, official as well as civilian traffic remained unaffected in most of the districts, including Srinagar. Medium commercial vehicles also operated on several routes in defiance to the call for shutdown. Almost all government offices and educational institutions remained functional, though emergency medical services and media alone were exempted from the shutdown.

Reports said that there were few incidents of stone pelting at Shopian and Kralpora on Srinagar-Chadoura Road. According to these reports, another civilian family became the target of stone pelters at Kralpora and a 12-year-old girl was critically wounded in her head. She was rushed to a hospital. Police and security forces have completely failed in restoring order on Srinagar-Chadoura Road where the stone pelters, targeting civilians, have been enjoying a field day since June this year.

FIR against Army
Meanwhile, Police in the south Kashmir district of Anantnag today registered a criminal case on the complaint of residents of Hutmurra village against the troops of Rashtriya Rifles 03 Bn. Residents, comprising Sikhs as well Muslims, complained that six to ten soldiers in Army uniform appeared in a civil Tata Sumo at the Sikh population village on Anantnag-Pahalgam Road last evening and began knocking on the doors and calling the male members of the families out. While leveling allegations against Army, they expressed apprehensions that the armed soldiers had ventured into the village with the aim of “enacting Chittisinghpura-like massacre”.

DIG South Kashmir, Shafqat Wattali, told Early Times that according to the residents’ statement, some six to ten troopers in combat uniform had appeared in the village in a privately hired Tata Sumo vehicle. Residents raised hue and cry, manhandled a driver and seized him alongwith his vehicle and later handed him over to SHO Mattan with the accusation that troops had been out on a sinister maouevring. He said that on the basis of their statement, Police Station Mattan today registered case FIR No: 400 of 2010 under sections 427, 410 etc and began the investigation. He confirmed that the residents had captured a local civil driver and seized his vehicle.

DIG said that interrogation of the driver in Police custody would unravel the truth. He said that at this stage authorities could not pre-judge things and added that Police and Civil administration were in touch with Army to learn as to why a security forces unit had violated the SOP by way of not sharing information of their night patrolling in the red alert area with Police. He said that SHO Mattan, Sub Inspector Manzoor Ahmed, would be the Investigating Officer and Additional SP of Anantnag, Meraj-ud-din, would supervise the investigation. He said that Police had assured the Sikh population as well as the resident Muslims that the investigation would be carried out in a transparent manner so as to dispel all doubts.

DIG said that in view of apprehensions of a Chittisinghpura-type incidents around the US President’s visit, Police, CRPF and Army had already created a special security grid in Mattan area as well as other Sikh and Hindu population villages. Round-the-clock joint patrolling was already underway since last week. He, however, admitted that Police and Civil Administration had no knowledge of Army’s movement in Mattan area last evening.

Defence spokesman at headquarters 15 Corps, Lt Col Brar, when asked by Early Times for Army’s version, maintained that Army had neither issued any statement nor would make one with regard to the Hutmurra incident.

Security forces and militants have been trading charges and holding each other responsible for the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpoura, on occasion of then US President Bill Clinton’s visit to New Delhi on March 20, 2000. Hutmurra is situated in close vicinity of Chittisinghpura.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

PDP targeting Sagar to prevent Govt action against shopkeepers

Fresh questions: Who denotified Humhama land? Who issued permission to Srinagar shopping malls?

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 4: Clearly coming to the rescue of over 3,000 shopkeepers and seeking to pre-empt Omar Abdullah government’s action against them in this capital city, principal opposition party, PDP, has decided to aggressively target senior National Conference (NC) leader and Minister for Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar. Senior PDP leaders have publicly begun to raise questions with regard to the construction of the Minister’s “palace” at Srinagar Airport as also his son’s role in issuing permission to widely objected shopping malls in Srinagar when he was Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

When Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, was taking a meeting with senior officials and Heads of Departments (HODs) today to review the progress in eviction of over 3,000 shopkeepers, who have allegedly acquired these high-value business premises in Srinagar through fraudulent means from their bona fide allottees against huge payments of ‘Pagdi’, senior PDP leaders, according to well-placed sources, were planning how to pre-empt the government action. PDP’s support to the ‘unauthorised’ shopkeepers could be remarkably significant in view of the forthcoming civic body elections in the capital city.

Sources revealed that in follow up to the growing liaison between the much threatened traders and the PDP, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s party has assigned the job of botching up the coalition government’s exercise to the former Minister incharge Housing and Urban Development, Mohammad Dilawar Mir. PDP is understood to have armed itself with “substantial evidences of some NC leaders’ maneuvering” and harsh questions are being drafted with regard to the Sagars’ role in raising, permitting and protecting scores of unauthorized structures.

According to these sources, PDP had collected details about a prime land that the senior Sagar managed to denotify for the construction of his palatial house at Humhama, on Srinagar-Airport Road. Budgam revenue authorities had reportedly notified the land, located outside the main entrance of Srinagar Airport, for the purpose of acquiring it for some government constructions. Pleading “security reasons”, government had notified the land and had not, for years, allowed any civil constructions around the high security airport. Sagar’s 4-storeyed palatial house on the same prime land is nearing completion and till date happens to be the only civil structure on the land surreptitiously de-notified by a former Deputy Commissioner of Budgam.

Sources said that PDP had also collected “sensational details” with regard to the former SMC Mayor’s role in influencing the BOCA in the matter of issuing permission to multi-crore business structures allegedly in violation of all rules and norms. These structures are either nearing completion or coming up fast in certain congested areas in Srinagar uptown.

Ignoring all objections from residents and civil society groups, SMC in the last few years has issued permission to construction of major business complexes near the erstwhile Lords Favour Hospital, Amar Singh College and other places, causing huge traffic jams and blocking entry to some private and government educational institutions. None other than a serving government official, presently posted as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in Budgam, is said to be the owner of a Rs 15-Crore shopping mall coming up close to a National Conference leader’s business centre at the corner of Amar Singh College premises in Gogjibagh.

With full knowledge of Minister incharge Health and Director of Health Services Kashmir, the CMO has established a “private office” at the under-construction shopping mall and already completed a portion of the unauthoriserd structure and leased it out to certain parties against huge amounts of “initial premium”.

Ironically, permission to most of these complexes, with no provision of parking, has been issued when SMC had two Mayors from the NC, namely Ghulam Mustafa and Salman Sagar, but the Ministers incharge Housing & Urban Development, namely Qazi Afzal, Dilawar Mir himself and Tariq Hameed Qarra, were from the PDP. It is an open secret in Srinagar that all these permissions were granted clandestinely against huge payments of bribe money in violation of all rules and norms.

Data available with the PDP also mentions a large number of unauthorized structures that were supposed to be demolished during Ghulam Nabi Azad’s tenure as Chief Minister but senior NC leaders, particularly a Mayor, put his foot down to protect the beneficiaries of the near-total breakdown of the government system.

Even last year, when Salman Sagar was functioning as Mayor and his father a Minister in Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet, a high level committee had identified as many as 1500 unauthorised structures for demolition. Not only was the process of demolition blocked by some NC leaders, in league with some officials, but the government’s ill-intentions became evident when convener of the committee, Ishtiyaq Ahmed Ashai, was removed as Additional Commissioner of Kashmir and shifted to the irrelevant posting of Director of Geology & Mining.

The list of 1500 defaulters, who all managed to protect their unauthorized structures after allegedly paying huge amounts of money to certain politicians, is now gathering dust at Mr Ashai’s home.

An official press release today said that a high level meeting, chaired by Samoon, reviewed the progress registered regarding the eviction of illegal occupants of government shops at various places. “It was revealed in the meeting that notices have been issued to illegal occupants by various departments including SMC, Estates, SDA etc” it said and added that 1576 of such shops belonged to SMC, 1576 to R&B, 251 to Estates and the Government-controlled Wakf Board was the owner of over 1,000 of the illegally grabbed shops.

“The Divisional Commissioner directed the concerned departments to enhance the rent of the government shops as per the market value”, the official release said. Informed sources revealed that rent of more than 5,000 Government-owned shops in the capital city was being reviewed first time since these were allotted to now unknown persons decades ago and later sub let to different unauthorized persons against huge payments ranging between Rs 10 Lakh and Rs 90 Lakh each premises. Sources said that the rent was now being enhanced meteorically from Rs 300 a month to Rs 10,000 a month.

Today itself PDP leader, Dilawar Mir, raised questions with regard to the proposed eviction and alleged that “a senior NC Minister from Srinagar” was actually planning to allot these highly profitable shops to the workers of his party. In a statement, Mir expressed his astonishment that unauthorized structures were coming up on large scale in the Green Belt around Nageen and Dal lakes under the nose of NC Ministers inspite of standing ban on such constructions by J&K High Court.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LeT loses its ‘last militant’ in Shopian
7 ultras killed in 4 gunbattles in 3 days

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Nov 2: With the death of two more militants in a gunbattle in Shopian, Police and security forces have killed as many as seven militants in four separate operations in Kashmir valley in the last three days.

Authoritative sources in South Kashmir told Early Times that Shopian Police and troops of Kathhalan camp of Rashtriya Rifles 44 Bn laid to Kral Mohalla, Trenz, in Zainapora-Shopian belt over a specific information last evening. Forces maintained a tight cordon around a cluster of the residential houses where two local militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba had forcibly stayed at the house of Ghulam Mohammad Malik S/o Abdul Gaffar Malik.

It was aound 0230 hours that one militant, armed with a sophisticated AKL-74 rifle, opened indiscriminate fire on the forces outside from a window of Malik’s house and made unsuccessful attempts to escape. However, troops retaliated and engaged both the holed up militants in a fierce gunbattle. Even as two soldiers of RR 44 Bn sustained injuries in the initial round of the firing, both the militants got killed in the gunbattle. They were later identified as Gowhar Ahmed Ganai alias Dujana S/o Ghulam Hussain Ganai R/o Hef Shirmal, Shopian, and Mudassar Ahmed Bhat alias Weqas S/o Ghulam Mohammad Bhat R/o Yamrachh, Kulgam.

Sources said that one AK-74 rifle and one AK-47 rifle were recovered from the site of the gunbattle.

Officials said that after the death of his fellow villager and relative, Mohammad Saleem Ganai alias Faisal, in an encounter with Police and security forces at Kawdrung Kaimoh, in Kulgama area yesterday, Gowhar was the last existing militant in the once turbulent Zainapora belt in Shopian area. They said that Hef Shirmal village had produced the maximum number of militants among all villages in Police district of Shopian in the last 21 years of militancy.

SP Shopian, Shahid Meraj Rather, confirmed that Gowhar was the last listed militant wanted in Zainapora-Shopian belt. He said that after the death of dreaded Lashkar militant, Rehman, sometime back in an encounter with the armed forces, Gowhar was the last militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba in a vast area in South Kashmir. The other day only, Saleem Ganai alias Faisaln and a foreign militant had got killed in a fierce gunbattle with Kulgam Police and Army in Kaimoh area of Kulgam, in South Kashmir.

On Sunday, Police and security forces had killed two militants in an encounter in Zachaldara area of Handwara in North Kashmir, hours after one militant was killed in an encounter in Ahad Sahib Mohalla of Sopore,n in Baramulla district. With today’s gunbattle in Shopian, Police and security forces have killed as many as seven militants in four separate operations in Kashmir valley.

Geelani’s shutdowns begin to fail after 4 months of total freeze

Transporters, traders defy call in several areas; Sunday Market back to business

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Nov 1: Much like these days in 2008, street turbulence of nearly five months appears to be heading for anti-climax as there has been little impact of the separatists’ calls for “total shutdown” and “civil curfew” in Kashmir valley since last week.

For the first time since June 11th, when a chain of unending strikes began with the death of a student allegedly in teargas shelling of Srinagar Police, commercial transporters today defied the Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call for shutdown in certain areas of the strife-torn Valley, including this capital city. Medium and minibus, in addition to three-wheelers, were seen carrying commuters not only in several rural areas but also in Srinagar. Private transport and official vehicles operated without any fear of stone pelters and groups of youth who were seen last evening warning traders and transports against any act of defying the Hurriyat call for “total shutdown”.

Today was the third and the last day of Geelani-sponsored shutdown before a “relaxation” of two days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Almost all government offices and a number of banks, besides all private and government educational institutions functioned normally with thick attendance. None has been exempted by the hardliner Hurriyat from the shutdown that, according to the sponsors, seeks to register the Kashmiris’ protest against the ‘cruelties of the occupational Indian forces’. Over a hundred civilians, mostly youngsters, have died in Police and armed forces action during street demonstrations, stone pelting, arson of public properties and attacks on the authorities in the last five months of turbulence.

Shops and other business centers today were seen open in several areas of the capital city and most of the major townships even as the Hurriyat call had substantial impact in major markets in Srinagar civil lines, parts of Baramulla and Sopore towns. According to observation in parts of the capital city as also reports from rural areas, today’s situation was a contrast to what Valley has witnessed in the months of June, July, August, September and October. On Hurriyat’s call, Valley remained almost completely frozen for the five months with more than 100 days of shutdown, a number of them running parallel to declared and undeclared curfew by the authorities.

On most of the days of Hurriyat-sponsored shutdown, there was nearly zero traffic movement as most of the major surface communication arteries, including Srinagar-Jammu Highway, remained in total control of the pro-Azadi crowds and none of the Ministers or senior officials dared to venture for a travel. Almost all private businesses, including educational institutions, most of the government offices and banks remained closed during the turmoil and very few private vehicles dared to operate in defiance of the Hurriyat call.

Situation, however, began to undergo a visible change with the arrest of the Muslim League Vice Chairman and a hardcore functionary of the Hurriyat (Geelani), Massarat Alam Bhat, in Srinagar outskirts of Telbal on October 18th. Yet another significant stimulant of the change in situation was unmistakably the Police crackdown on separatist activists and stone pelters that remarkably began with the joining of S M Sahai as the Inspector General of Police in Kashmir. Since the first week of September, Police action against the separatists and stone pelters has been contrary to what most of the politicians from Srinagar to New Delhi—including Chief Minister and Prime Minister--- have been saying publicly since July this year.

Significantly, withdrawing of cases against the students and other youngsters, besides releasing of all political detainees had been prominently incorporated in the Government of India’s 8-point charter of advice to the Omar Abdullah government drafted by Cabinet Committee on Security in September. Out of approximately 1600 bunkers of the security forces, government has removed just 16 and released few of the stone pelters, students and political activists in the last two months.

In the middle of last week, posters of an unknown organization in Srinagar markets asked Geelani to explain whether the traders should follow the stone pelters of the separatist leaders. These warned of “an altogether new situation from November 1st” should the hardline separatist fail to make his position clear. Geelani was initially careful in his response but the other day only he dismissed the circulation of the posters as the handiwork of government agencies. He emphasized that the shutdowns were “very much in the interest of the freedom struggle”.

On October 30th, Sunday Market on Residency Road in Srinagar was seen back to business in defiance of the call for “total shutdown” after more than four months. Commuters and motorists today complained of “huge traffic jams” in the capital city. Shuttered shops in Civil Lines and many other markets appeared to be the only reminder of a shutdown. Authorities have withdrawn curfew from the capital city, including the most disturbed downtown, after three months last week. It is still in force at a couple of places like Delina and Palhalan on Srinagar-Baramulla Road.

Meanwhile, Police today swooped on a group of youth at Amar Singh College and arrested three persons with the claim that were “the most wanted stone pelters” indulging in harassment to traders and transporters in order to enforce shutdown. They were identified as Sajjad Mushtaq Bhat of Rajbagh, Aaquib Sameer Ganai of Tulsi Bagh and Aasim Farooq Mir of Ikhrajpora.

In follow up to yesterday’s gunbattle in which one Lashkar-e-Toiba militant was claimed to have died in Sopore, Policen and security forces have killed four more militants---two each in Zachaldara area of Handwara and Kawdrung (Kaimoh) area of Kulgam. Two of the militants killed by Srinagar Police and Army, in a joint operation in Kulgam, were identified as Mohammad Saleem Ganai alias Faisal of Hef Shirmal Shopian and Abu Huzefa alias Hassan Bhai of Pakistan.

Officials said that one more militant, namely Azad Ahmed Bhat S/o Abdul Karim Bhat of Awat Shirmal Shopian was arrested in the encounter in Kulgam. They said that Anantnag Police succeeded in arresting Hizbul Mujahideen top wanted militant and “Divisional Commander”, Abdur Rasheed Sheikh alias Arsalan S/o Abdul Gani Sheikh, resident of Bandhalan Doda. SP Anantnag, Bashir Ahmed Khan, said that Sheikh was involved in a number of civilian killings besides attacks on Police and security forces. He said that Sheikh was arrested alongwith his bodyguard Nisar Ahmed Malik alias Muzamil.

Gunbattle, shutdown mark Chidambaram’s Kashmir visit

DIG drives Home Minister through the stone pelters’ bastion of Baramulla

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Oct 31: With the situation in Kashmir changing for the better, union Home Minister P Chidambaram today not only held review meetings with senior officials but also made his second visit of the turbulent year to the Valley memorable by driving through the stone pelters’ stronghold of Baramulla in a thin cavalcade of three-odd vehicles. Valley observed yet another shutdown to greet Chidambaram even as one militant got killed in a dramatic gunbattle between militants and security forces at Sopore.

Separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call for umpteenth shutdown today coincided with the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s second visit of the turbulent year 2010 to Kashmir valley. On September 20th, Chidambaram had earlier arrived in Srinagar as a member of the all-party delegation of the Members of Parliament to assess the current spell of turbulence during a two-day visit before submitting a report to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Committee on Security.

At the end of his two-day-long visit to Leh and Kargil, Chidambaram flew directly to Baramulla---a major flashpoint of street demonstrations and stone pelting. In a deviation to his scheduled programme of landing at the headquarters of an artillery brigade in Baramulla town, yards away from the venue of his official and public meetings at Dak Bungalow, he landed at a BSF Sector Headquarters at Singhpoura and sent an all empty helicopter to the district headquarters.

Chidambaram’s thin entourage, comprising DG CRPF, an IB official and Director of J&K Police Kuldeep Khoda, called DIG North Kashmir, Munir Khan, to the helipad. Within minutes, Khan was seen driving his bullet-proof Bolero on the otherwise poorly guarded streets and bylanes in Baramulla town with India’s Home Minister to his left on the front seat and the three Police, CRPF and IB officials on the rear. Perhaps first time in the last 20 years of armed strife in the Valley, Home Minister was seen traveling with just one escort Gypsy piloting him in a sensitive town and an Ambassador following from behind.

After making an inspection of the worst battle-grounds of the stone pelters and Police/CRPF at Cement Bridge and SRTC Bridge, Chidambaram took a meeting with the officials of Police, security forces and civil administration at the Dak Bungalow. It lasted for 50 minutes. Senior Congress leader and Minister incharge School Education, Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed, was the only politician who attended the meeting in which Chidambaram being keen to learn about the law and order situation from the field commanders, particularly SPs and their equivalents in CRPF and Army.

Sources present in the meeting revealed to Early Times that the Police officials contested the nationally and perhaps internationally created impression that the radical elements, led by Geelani, had completely dominated the political scenario and normalcy could not be restored until they were taken on the board with regard to any Kashmir initiative. The officials, according to sources, told Chidambaram that Geelani and his Hurriyat (G) had begun to lose their dominance when the Police force received non-lethal riot-control armoury and there was not a single political killing since September 6th. They pointed out that Government of India’s support to Police and security forces’ action against the stone pelters and their ‘instigators and white-collar sponsors’ had restored the silent majority’s faith and confidence to a large extent.

The officials assured Chidambaram that the unending chain of Geelani-sponsored strikes would end soon as, according to them, hundreds of thousands of students and their parents, people associated with business and civil society were now fed up with the shutdowns and, of late, there were visible evidences of their defiance to the Hurriyat calendar. They asserted that the forthcoming Panchayat and civic body elections could prove to a turning point and the sponsors of street demonstrations and stone pelting would soon disappear like they did in October 2008.

After his meeting with the officials, Chidambaram also met a number of delegations from the local business community, Tangmarg Bar Association, National Conference (led by Ghulam Hassan Rahi) as also a Congress delegation led by the resident and Prof Saif-ud-din’s right-hand man, Ghulam Nabi Monga. He also interacted with a delegation from Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee.

Escorted by the three senior officials, as also the addition of IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, and Divisional Commissioner, Asgar Hassan Samoon, Home Minister walked to brigade headquarters and boarded his helicopter to attend a higher level meeting with the government functionaries as also to brief Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, on his three-day visit to Ladakh and Kashmir valley.

Issues regarding law and order situation of the State came up for a detailed discussion in the meeting at Nehru Guest House in Srinagar later. Among others, Chief Secretary, Mr. S.S. Kapur, GOC, 15 Corps, Mr N.C.Marwah, Principal Secretary Planning and Development, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Bharat Bhushan Vyas, Principal Secretary Home, B.R. Sharma, DGP, Kuldip Khuda, Special DGP of CRPF, Divisional Commissioner Asgar Samoon and IG BSF and other Central and state officers  were present in the meeting.

Before flying back to the union Capital, Chidambaram held a detailed meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and discussed with him the factors behind the changing political scenario in Kashmir. Sources said that the two leaders also discussed the maiden visit of New Delhi’s three interlocutors to J&K besides the working of two Tasf Forces constituted by the union Home Ministry for assessing the much complained developmental deficit in Ladakh and Jammu.

Around the timing of Chidambaram’s departure from Srinagar, a dramatic encounter took place between Police and militants at Mohalla Ahad Sahib in the apple town of Sopore. SP Sopore, Altaf Khan, told Early Times that over a specific information Police were in ambush for a four-member group of Lashkar-e-Toiba. He said that the Police party, which was later joined by troops of RR 22 Bn, spotted the militants and challenged them to halt.

“They opened fire which we retaliated with utmost care and restraint in view of the heavy civilian movement. One of the militants got killed in our retaliatory fire but two to three of his associates managed to flee from the spot. We immediately laid a cordon and would be going for house-to-house search in the morning tomorrow”, SP Sopore said. He identified the militant killed in the first shootout as Amaar of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Bashir Arif removed, Rukhsana takes over as Director RKS

Heads roll as Radio Kashmir’s in-house battle refused to die down for 6 months

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, Oct 29: Director of Commercial Broadcasting Service (CBS) Srinagar, Bashir Arif, who was holding additional charge of Director Radio Kashmir Srinagar (RKS) after the retirement of Rafeeq Raaz since May 7th this year, was removed and shifted to All India Radio headquarters in New Delhi today. Senior Assistant Station Director and noted Urdu poet, Rukhsana Jabeen, relieved Arif and took over the charge of Director of CBS and RKS under the orders issued from Directorate General of AIR this evening.

Order No: 04/58/84-SI (A) PT/681 dated 29-10-2010, issued by Deputy Director of Administration at Directorate General of AIR this evening mentioned that Arif had been transferred and directed to report to the headquarters in New Delhi with immediate effect. According to the order, Programme Executive at RKS, Shamshad Kralwari, has been transferred from RKS to Radio Kashmir Poonch. Transmission Executive Talha Rehmani Jehangir has been shifted from Srinagar to Radio Kashmir Kargil. All the three officials have been directed to get relieved and join their new places of posting immediately.

Consequent upon the orders, ASD at RKS, Rukhsana Jabeen, took over as incharge Director of CBS and RKS late this evening. Informed sources said that Ms Jabeen was telephonically directed to reach her office and relieve Arif and other two officials immediately. In the wake of her father’s death earlier this week, she was busy with condolence meetings at her home. “I have relieved Mr Arif and taken over the charge of the Director of CBS and Radio Kashmir Srinagar till further orders under instructions from AIR headquarters this evening”, Jabeen said.

Informed sources in the official electronic media revealed to Early Times that the AIR headquarters issued orders of today’s reshuffle when it failed to end six-month-long in-house battle at RKS. Skirmishes between loyalists and antagonists of the incumbent Director had triggered off when Arif removed a group of the programmers from the production of once Radio Kashmir’s most popular current affairs programme ‘Sheherbeen”. According to these sources, Arif had justified the changes with the argument that some members of the staff associated with “Sheherbeen” had been “blackmailing government officials”, “extorting from them favours” and also promoting the agenda of a particular political party.

Arif had publicly taken exception to his subordinate employees’ “second employment” with a private television channel and reportedly complained to Directorate General of All India Radio, Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation as well as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that some rebellious officials of his staff were not only instigating indiscipline but also promoting hardline separatists’ agenda on local private television channels. He had reportedly complained to his headquarters that at least one particular member of his staff had frequently visited Pakistan on a “fake passport” without the knowledge and permission of his employer.

On the other hand, officials attempting to retain control of the daily evening programme “Sheherbeen” had put up demonstrations and staged dharnas with the allegation that the incumbent Director was “neck-deep in corruption” and “promoting indiscipline and groupism among his subordinate staff”. They had also charged Bashir Arif with issuing orders in a “totalitarian and authoritarian manner” only to suppress their voice and demanded an inquiry into his conduct. They had objected to Arif’s act of installing CCTV cameras in the corridors of the station.

It was in the wake up of a sustained agitation from this group of the staff, headed by Producer Abdal Mehjoor, Kralwari and Talha Jehangir, that a team of AIR officials came down to Srinagar and held an investigation into the allegations and counter-allegations of the warring factions.

Sources said that it was finally on the recommendations of a high level committee, that failed in resolving the crisis through all other means, that AIR this evening decided to remove heads of both factions from Srinagar and hand over charge of both the stations to Ms Jabeen “till further orders”.