Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hardliner Geelani gets protocol at Airport VIP Lounge

Dir Airport, SP Airport, SSP Budgam pass the back to one another

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 28: Days after Chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was accorded VIP treatment on his departure to New Delhi by anti-jacking wing of Jammu & Kashmir Police, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani was also accommodated in the VIP Lounge of Srinagar Airport by the state Police today. Even as a number of separatist leaders, including former militants, have been enjoying hospitality and protocol of Cabinet Ministers and High Court judges at Srinagar Airport, it is first time that VIP Lounge at the country’s most sensitive airport has been unofficially made open for Mirwaiz and Geelani.

Eyewitnesses told Early Times that Chairman of the radical faction of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, arrived at the Departure of Srinagar Airport alongwith two of his associates at around 12.10 pm today. All the three were straightaway escorted to the VIP Lounge by staff of the anti-hijacking wing of J&K Police and treated to the hospitality and protocol of Cabinet Ministers and High Court judges. After enjoying the official protocol for about 40 minutes, Geelani boarded Delhi-bound flight IA 826 of the Indian Airlines.

On Friday last, Chairman of the Hurriyat’s so-called moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was accorded similar VIP treatment when he was on way to London via New Delhi. According to official sources, staff of a security related agency had complained to their headquarters in New Delhi last week that J&K Police, CRPF and Airport Authority of India personnel had been making “serious compromises” with regard to the airport security by lodging “anti-India politicians and former terrorists” at the VIP Lounge of Srinagar Airport though none of them was by law and restrictions entitled to such treatment.

Director Airport, Captain Raj K Malik, maintained that he was not aware of any security or protocol breach. “Only high protocol dignitaries like Central and State Ministers and judges of Supreme Court of India and State High Courts are entitled to sit in the VIP Lounges of airports. Men from Airport Authority are posted there but they do not normally recognize the passengers. When men from J&K Police escort any passenger into the VIP Lounge, our staff have no reasons to suspect and interfere. J&K Police is responsible if passengers, not entitled to enter, have been accommodated in the VIP Lounge. We will definitely look into it tomorrow and check as to who has committed the lapse”, Malik said.

SSP Budgam, Uttam Chand, asserted that District Police was responsible only for maintaining order upto first entrance of the airport on Srinagar-Humhama-Airport Road. He maintained that men of Police Division Humhama were also available when called to take cognizance of any criminal matter happening inside or outside the airport premises. He clarified that responsibility of servicing the VIPs at Departure and Arrival lounges lay exclusively with anti-hijacking wing of the state Police headed by SP Airport.

However, sources insisted that SSP Budgam, Uttam Chand, SHO Budgam, Inspector Rafeeq, and incharge of Police Division Humhama, Sub Inspector Imtiyaz, were themselves present at the terminal building, though they did not visit the Airport Lounge. “They seemed to be taking care of the BJP leaders sent back today”, a source said.

SP Anti-hijacking at Srinagar Airport, Abdul Rasheed, told Early Times that it was “all actually the responsibility of the Airport Authority of India staff. He said that they alone knew, with the help of an official document, as to who was entitled to sit in a VIP Lounge and who was not. “There is always an AAI man at the gate there. What’s his duty? We only escort and accommodate only the Cabinet Ministers. If any of the separatist leaders is taking extra advantage of his Police security guards, we are not to blame”, SP Airport said. When it was pointed out to him that Mr Geelani was not even a protected person like Mirwaiz and many other separatist leaders, he insisted it was all responsibility of the AAI staff.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jhansi kii raani’ arrested while sending JKLF flags in air at Maisuma                     

Before his arrest, Yasin Malik had put two persons from UP on the Azadi task

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 26: With all eyes on Kashmiri Muslim supporters of Yasin Malik to fail their attempts of hoisting anti-national flags at Lal Chowk, Police today discovered that JKLF’s balloons were sent in air nowhere but Malik’s residential locality of Maisuma. Two persons were found doing the Azadi job with an inflating machine. Both of them, immediately arrested by Police, are members of the majority community from Jhansi city of Uttar Pradesh. Malik, alongwith 16 separatist activists, was himself arrested by Police parallel to a crackdown on BJP activists as 25 of them were picked up from different locations. On occasion of the Republic Day, BJP and JKLF had announced plans to install conflicting flags on the Clock Tower at Lal Chowk.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that Police swooped on a residential house in Maisuma minutes after JKLF balloons were spotted flying in air. Thirty-year-old Prakash and 20-year-old Koli, both residents of Jhansi, were caught red-handed while inflating and sending the balloons in air with the help of a pumping machine. Their balloons and machine were seized and both the youngsters were detained at a local Police Station.

SSP Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, confirmed the arrest of the most unexpected duo from Jhansi. He said Prakash as well as the young woman, Koli, disclosed during questioning that they had been making and selling the balloons in Batmaloo area. They revealed that they had been specially engaged by JKLF activists for the job of sending balloons in air on January 26th from a house in Maisuma. Bukhari said that Police were likely to file an FIR against the duo after assessing all related circumstances within next 24 hours.

Earlier today, amid total shutdown in Kashmir valley and undeclared curfew in Srinagar, Police arrested Malik alongwith 16 of his separatist associates as they emerged from Maisuma and began proceeding towards nearby Lal Chowk while shouting pro-Azadi slogans. Many of them carried JKLF flags in hand. Those arrested included representatives from different constituents of Mirwaiz Umar-led Hurriyat Conference, like Bilal Gani Lone of Peoples Conference and Shahidul Islam of Awami Action Committee.

Once dreaded militants of Hizbullah and JKLF, Yasin Malik, Shahidul Islam, Mohammad Iqbal Gandroo, Showkat Bakhshi and Javed Ahmed Zargar did not offer any resistance to Police. That Police were in agreement with them in holding “a restricted show” was evident from the fact that all of them had gathered at Malik’s office and marched through the fully cleared lane before being picked up gently and packed into vehicles. They were later lodged at Police Stations of Kothibagh, Rajbagh and Kralkhud.

Malik, Lone and their key associates were detained at Kothibagh where over a dozen of BJP activists had already been lodged. Informed sources said that full hospitality and protocol was provided to the detainees who were free to interact with anybody on mobile phones. Police arranged lunch and dinner for them all. Sources said that one unidentified BJP activist was arrested and his flag was seized immediately after he came out of a Delhi-Srinagar Kingfisher plane at Srinagar Airport. He was whisked away to the Police Gazetted Officers Mess at Police Division Humhama where three of the party’s MLAs from Jammu were already detained.

As already reported in today’s newspapers, BJP’s MLAs Prof Garu Ram, Jugal Kishore and Sham Choudhary, alongwith a party activist from Udhampur, Pawan Gupta, had been detained on their arrival at Srinagar Airport yesterday. Authoritative sources today said that as many as 25 BJP activists, having reached here from different Indian states, were taken into custody by Police from different places in the capital city. Six of them were staying at Hotel Broadway, two at Hotel Pamposh and few others in residential houses of party workers in Habbakadal area. Sources said that most of them informed Police and mediapersons on phone about their whereabouts.

Officials said that all the BJP and JKLF detainees would be released in the forenoon on Thursday. Authorities were yet to decide whether they would be allowed to proceed with their plans of holding separate press conferences.

Even as all the scheduled flights operated at Srinagar Airport today and Police maintained surveillance on every incoming and outgoing passenger, Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for traffic. Officials admitted that the unprecedented decision had been taken and enforced only to prevent BJP activists from arriving in the Valley. However, around a thousand trucks were allowed to reach from Srinagar and Anantnag to Qazigund.

The establishment succeeding in holding a trouble-free state ceremony on the R-Day at Bakhshi Stadium in Srinagar and all other district headquarters. While as Minister of Finance Abdul Rahim Rather was the chief guest at the main ceremonial parade in Srinagar, nine other Ministers took the salute and hoisted the Tricolour at similar ceremonies at other district headquarters. There were no reports of any untoward incident as Police and security forces enforced restrictions on ordinary civilian movement and the separatist groups had, as usual, called for total shutdown. Consequently, transport was fully off the road, people remained confined to their homes and none of the shops or any other business establishments were open in the Valley.

Separatist hardliners Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Shabir Shah were not allowed to move out of their residences while as other separatist leaders did not make any attempt to come out and disturb peace.

In Srinagar, Lal Chowk area was found completely out of bounds for everybody. None of the unauthorized officials was allowed to pass through Civil Lines as Police had put barbed wire barriers on all incoming and outgoing roads. For the first time since 1947, not a single journalist was allowed to pass through Lal Chowk. Most of the mediapersons had already shifted from their offices and residences in Press Enclave to other locations in the city due to undeclared curfew in town.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NC, BJP gainers in the Lal Chowk stand-off

Omar has no worries after gaining AICC support to hard stance

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 25: Mainstream opposition party, BJP, as well as the separatist opposition outfit, JKLF, were gunning for Omar Abdullah and his National Conference-led coalition in Jammu & Kashmir until September 2010. Call it irony or DNA characteristics of the J&K politics, both are now helping once beleaguered Chief Minister to reclaim the ground he lost in the death of 112 civilian protesters in his principal constituency of Kashmir last year.

Perhaps nothing better could have brought Omar Abdullah back to the glamour in Valley. Notwithstanding the impression in a section of the population that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regional party had been ‘created by the BJP’ in 1999 to checkmate NC’s advances over autonomy, PDP has left no stone unturned to paint Farooq Abdullah in the saffron colour. Even earlier this week, PDP attempted to float that the Republic Day flag hoisting stand-off was nothing but a “fixed match” between NC and BJP. And that was not for nothing.

The rhetoric of abusing New Delhi---and anything “Indian”, including the Reserve Bank of India---has been recognized by political establishment at the Centre as an essential qualification for every Kashmiri leader since day one of accession. Die-hard Indians like Mufti took decades to realize that confrontation with Delhi was the bliss, if contained within limits.

However, luck did not favour Mufti in 2008. In August, he got entangled in the cobweb when ‘Ragda’ transcended from “National” and “Bharat” to revered deities of the religion of bureaucrats and politicians in Delhi. Rest of the damage came from the most unexpected Ajmal Qasab whose strike in Mumbai in the thick of Assembly elections in J&K made Mufti and his clan untouchable for Congress. Patrons like Pranab Mukherjee and Makhan Lal Fotedar gave in, rather desperately. NC, obviously, was the beneficiary.

An equally die-hard Indian Farooq Abdullah’s greenhorn son gained over Mufti’s experience. He drew lines to remember that limits would not have to be crossed. Omar intelligently positioned himself somewhere between the jingoist Farooq and the pseudo-separatist Mufti. He asserted as an Indian Chief Minister to retain his acceptability in the country without mugging his father’s refrain of ‘atoot ang’ and applying vermilion to his forehead at temples and Gurudwaras. He exhibited the temerity of calling Kashmir “a political dispute” well at the face of Prime Minister in Qazigund, put himself and his government on the controversial page of Hurriyat and Bar Association in the Shopian tragedy in 2009 and allowed his Cabinet colleague Ali Mohammad Sagar to spit on the CRPF in 2010 but did not make himself politically untouchable in Delhi. That paid him dividends in 2009 as well as in 2010.

With his disadvantage of limited control over bureaucracy in the state and an extremely poor delivery system, Omar landed in an unenviable situation when he fell to receiving end of all anger in Valley and, at the same time, people in Delhi began taunting him with “governance deficit”. A timely overhaul in administration in August helped him retrieve his credibility to a large extent, though effective action against corrupt Ministers and officers has not been possible till date.

PDP’s assertion over the “fixed match” apart, there is no disputing the fact that a tug-of-war with the Sangh Parivar---that too over the invasion of hoisting the “Indian flag” at Lal Chowk---was bound to turn a goldmine for any political outfit in the Valley. It could have, for sure, ended up into a dangerous gambling in absence of support from 10-Janpath. Jammu-based Congress leaders by now would have been publicly rebuking their coalition partner to neutralize the BJP. And, back home, the competition of gaining the centrestage would have been between the PDP and the Hurriyat (including JKLF). Support from Delhi has given Omar a magic handle to flatten all----from separatist opposition to the mainstream opposition, BJP excluded.

Cracking the whip on BJP has every promise of an “advantage BJP” and “disadvantage Congress” situation in Jammu. As Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have both offered to put their state unit on the altar, Omar has nothing to worry about. Corresponding gains in the Valley are obvious: None of his ‘3-Idiot’ images are now on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There are no blood-soaked lips of the “ Year 2010’s Bacha Khour” on any wall.

Even the bitter e-jihadis have begun to appreciate his tough stand on the flag hoisting at Lal Chowk. “It’s after 60 years that someone in Kashmir has shown the courage of deporting Jan Sanghis”, posted one of them, with his reference to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s detention by Sheikh Abdullah. This is exactly threatening all, from PDP to Hurriyat, to oblivion. But don’t forget, nothing has been permanent in Kashmir. With just one mishandling or oddity of fate, Omar could be the Mulla Omar any day in rest of his tenure.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Question to BJP: Who provided Z-plus plus to leaders of Azadi ?

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jan 25: Even as Jammu & Kashmir’s most protected separatist leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is now far away in London to participate in a conference, his Police and CRPF-protected colleagues, including Bilal Gani Lone and Aga Syed Hassan, have gone into hiding two days ahead of Republic Day ceremonies. Like now underground JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, they are believed to be planning hoisting of the flag of Kashmir’s separation from India at Lalchowk on Wednesday.

And the big question now: Who in India made the separatists as heroes and provided them bullet-proof cars and vests, Police and CRPF escorts, Personal Security Officers (PSOs), static house guards, assured seats in front rows of airplanes and VIP treatment at VIP lounges of Srinagar Airport? NC? No. PDP ? No. Congress ? No. Hold your breath. None other than BJP-led NDA government of Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani.

Contrary to the strong ideological clash between Kashmir’s separatist leaders and the Sangh Parivar, there has been an equally strong chemistry between the two. Highly placed official sources, who have remained associated with Security Wing of J&K Police, revealed to Early Times that maximum possible security cover and recognition was provided to the Valley’s separatist leaders during Vajpayee’s regime in 1999-2004. According to these sources, then union Home Minister, Advani, had once called his junior colleague and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, to his office at North Block and warned him against detaining a senior separatist leader’s son who was returning from his royal wedding in Pakistan with valuable consignments after staying abroad for years.

Then Minister of State for Commerce in Vajpayee’s government, Omar had reportedly directed a Central revenue agency to arrest the separatist leader’s son at Wagah and release him only after paying back 20 Kg of gold he, according to Ministry files, had defaulted from a government Corporation. “Arresting this moderate separatist’s son would mean strengthening the hardliners” was Advani’s argument. Sources insisted that with Advani’s and a senior intelligence official’s blessings, maximum possible security, status and recognition was provided to the “moderate separatists” during this period. They said that in the first six years of insurgency, cleric-politician, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and some other clergymen-politicians were the only separatists enjoying Police protection in the Valley.

On one point of time, PSOs and house guards were also provided to hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani but he abandoned it in just a couple of years. A huge sandbag bunker was also installed outside Shabir Shah’s house at Rawalpora but he too got it removed in the next three years. JKLF Chairman, Yasin Malik, is one-odd prominent separatist who apparently never demanded or accepted security cover from the government.

According to these sources, over 200 Police and CRPF personnel, who are all on oath to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India, are currently deployed on the “duty” of guarding the politicians disputing and abusing the sovereignty and integrity of this country. Even as ordinary constables or head constables are posted as PSOs with Cabinet Ministers and most of the mainstream politicians, Sub Inspectors and Assistant Sub Inspectors are functioning as heads of the security cover provided to the separatist leaders. An officer of the rank of Deputy SP is heading the Police protection unit attached to the Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Officials estimated that more than Rs two Crores of the taxpayers’ money was being annually spent on the hospitality and protocol of anti-India and pro-Azadi leaders under the label of “security”.

Sources said that most of these separatist leaders were placed in the highest security categories of ‘Z’ and ‘Z-Plus’ under instructions of senior functionaries of the NDA government, particularly L K Advani, then Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and intelligence chief A S Dullat. Remarkable upgradation was witnessed during last two years of NDA government and four years of UPA government that ran parallel to PDP-Congress coalition government in J&K in 2002-08 period. As against Cabinet Ministers, who have two to four PSOs, four to six PSOs have been attached to each of the Hurriyat leaders. Respective District SSPs have additionally provided them armed guards, drivers and SPOs from Executive Police.

Sources said that during Mufti-led regime, a number of separatist leaders were upgraded to ‘Z’ and ‘Z-Plus’ category. Quite a number of them are now enjoying the privilege of bullet-proof vests, bullet-proof cars, escort Gypsies, door metal detectors, CCTVs, sentry boxes and other logistics to carry on their anti-India activities in Kashmir. Almost all of these separatist leaders have easy access to high security zones and curfew-bound areas with the advantage of their gun-totting, uniformed PSOs and escort personnel. At certain points, Policemen on duty on roads offer them salutes like Ministers and other VVIPs.