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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fiancee’s murder by fiancé sends shockwaves in Shopian

10,000 people run amok; killer’s house torched, orchards destroyed

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 29: Murder of a 21-year-old woman by her fiancé, nine days before their scheduled wedding, has sent shockwaves across south Kashmir as thousands of outraged residents converged on a village in Shopian and destroyed the alleged killer’s houses and orchards.

Informed sources in south Kashmir told Early Times that dead body of a 21-year-old woman, namely Tawheeda D/o Mohammad Shafi Dar R/o Ahend, Shopian, was spotted and recovered from the ferociously flowing Veshav Nallah at Rishi Nagri, over 3 Km downstream of the famous waterfall of Aharbal, last evening. Tawheeda, who was engaged to her neighbour and old classmate, namely Eetimad Hussain Dar S/o Mohammad Yousuf Dar, was missing from her home since August 17th. Their wedding stood scheduled on August 26th.

On August 18th, Police had filed a missing report on the statement of Tawheeda’s family members which was finally converted into FIR No: 275 of 2012. On the family’s complaint, Police took into custody Tawheeda’s fiancé, Eetimad Hussain Dar, alongwith his father. During sustained questioning, the would-be bridegroom made a chilling revelation that he had taken his fiancée ostensibly on a picnic to Aharbal on August 17th and killed her by pushing her into the ferocious Veshav Nallah near Aharbal bridge when she was standing on a rock, about 600 metres upsteam of the waterfall.

Eetimad disclosed during interrogation that he was not interested in tying the nuptial knot to Tawheeda though they had remained engaged and in a relationship for the last three years. He revealed that in June 2011, he had developed an affair with another girl, namely Raafi of Kamad, Dyalgam (Anantnag) and secretly executed his engagement with her.

As the date of marriage between Tawheeda and Eetimad drew closer, he planned to eliminate her around the festival of Eid on a picnic at Aharbal.

Sources said that Eetimad owned and operated a Tata-407 pick-up and his family had a flourishing fruit business and apple orchards at three villages. He had returned after killing Tawheeda and stayed at his home without disclosing his criminal act to anybody. As he was arrested and spilled the beans during sustained interrogation, he led Police to the spot where some local men from Gujjar community confirmed that Eetimad had brought Tawheeda on a motorcycle and both had enjoyed for a couple of hours near a spot in the jungle, close to Aharbal bridge.

Police launched a search for the dead body and it could not be spotted or recovered for 11 days. Finally, some residents spotted Tawheeda’s blood splattered body close to the river bank near Rishi Nagri and they informed Police. Police rushed to the spot and took the body into custody. It had begun decomposing.

As the body was being carried for post mortem and other medico-legal formalities from Rishi Nagri, Aharbal, to Shopian, thousands of residents from dozens of villages gathered and rushed to Shopian. Eyewitnesses said that over 200 trucks, buses, Tata Sumo vehicles and tractor trolleys carried the outraged residents to Shopian. On a couple of occasions, the crowds threw stones and clashed with Police.

Police sources said that they managed to conduct the post mortem and other medico-legal formalities against heavy odds and late last night the body was carried to Ahend, near Rawalpora and Kachhdora villages, in Zainapora area and handed over to the bereaved family. Emotional scenes marked Tawheeda’s arrival as she returned dead just a week before the scheduled date of her wedding.

Sources said that while Police were grappling with the crowds and managing post mortem at the district headquarters, over 10,000 residents of Ahend, Rawalpora, Kachhdara, Chowdhrigund and other adjoining villages gathered at Ahend. The furious mobs set on fire alleged killer Eetimad Dar’s residential house and its adjoining structures. Thereafter, they trooped to three or four of his orchards and felled about a hundred apple-laden trees. As the father and his son were in Police custody, others of the family had already deserted their village and taken shelter at a relative’s house at Hanjipora.

SP Shopian, Mumtaz Ahmad, admitted that Police could not protect the alleged killer’s house and orchards as it encountered a huge law and order problem at the district headquarters. Still, 30 armed personnel, headed by an Inspector, were deployed for the safety of Eetimad Dar’s family members and relatives at Hanjipora. “Eetimad is in Police custody as Tawheed’s killer. His father has been placed in protective custody”, SP Shopian said.

In the forenoon today, Tawheeda’s funeral took place at Ahend. A middle ranking Police officer said that about 20,000 people participated in the funeral and Namaaz-e-Janazah. They demanded exemplary punishment to the alleged killer.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Minister, DGP not allowed in to attend Army function

Chib, Prasad, Sahai miss lunch with CM as JAKLI gate shut on them at old airport in Srinagar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 28: Minister of Medical Education, R S Chib, and Director General of Police, Ashok Prasad, returned to Srinagar ‘in protest’ after they were humiliated publicly and the gates were shut on them at the main entrance of JAKLI headquarters of Army at Rangreth, near the old Srinagar Airport today. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had been invited as the chief guest, was allowed in and he attended the function, knowing nothing about the treatment meted out to his Cabinet colleague, DGP and other officials of the state government.

Highly placed authoritative sources disclosed to Early times that DGP Ashok Prasad would be communicating his ‘official protest’ to General Officer Commanding 15 Corps over the “shabby treatment” meted out to him, other senior officers of J&K Police and a Cabinet Minister ( R S Chib) by army staff at the main entrance of Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) at Rangreth, near old airport of Srinagar. Messers Chib, Prasad and IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, were prevented from entering the military formation where they were going to attend lunch at conclusion of a JAKLI ceremonial function, known as Reunion Day, held after every four years.

Official sources, corroborated by eyewitnesses, said that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had been invited as chief guest and happens to be an honorary member of the JAKLI mess, reached on time at around 1300 hours. He was, as usual, escorted by an SSG cavalcade and drove straight to the venue without any hindrance.

Minutes after the CM’s arrival, senior Congress leader and Minister of Medical Education, Youth Services and Sports, R S Chib, reached the main entrance. He was escorted by his PSOs, radio operator and two Police escort vehicles. Mr Chib, DGP Prasad, IGP Sahai, and several other state government dignitaries had also been invited for the lunch. However, the JAKLI security staff shut the gate at once and told the Minister and his security staff curtly that they could not be allowed in as they had reached “late”. Even as the Minister’s staff argued that the VIP had been invited only for the lunch and he was not supposed to attend the Reunion Day function in the forenoon, JAKLI guards did not relent.

Thereupon, SHO of Police Division Humhama, Sub Inspector Ghulam Jeelani, Naib Tehsildar who was posted as executive magistrate, and Dy SP Traffic (Rural), Gh Hyder, reached the spot. Their requests and arguments too fell on the deaf ears of the JAKLI guards. SHO was seen pulling the barriers physically but the JAKLI staff resisted his move firmly and made it clear that they would not permit anybody in. Interestingly, some civilian contractors walked in smoothly.

On this occasion, DGP, Mr Ashok Prasad, and IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, too arrived in their cavalcades and their security staff learned that no more guests were being allowed in. They watched the scene for a while. Suddenly, DGP signaled his pilots to turn back and the entire VVIP cavalcade drove back towards Srinagar.

DIG Central Kashmir, Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba, and SSP Budgam, Uttam Chand, had already entered the premises and were both waiting for DGP after receiving Chief Minister. As they came to know that neither Mr Chib nor the DGP had been allowed in, they too left the spot hurriedly and began chasing the VVIP cavalcade, without taking the lunch.

Mr Chib did not respond to repeatedly made calls from this newspaper when attempts were made to know his reaction. DGP’s personal staff advised to “wait for some time” with the assurance that they would call back as soon as their boss would be free. However, three repeated attempts failed to evoke a response. However, senior officials, privy to what they described as “unfortunate incident”, confirmed all details of the treatment meted out to the Minister and senior officers of J&K Police.

Both, SHO as well as Dy SP of traffic on duty, confirmed that the two VVIP cavalcades returned towards Srinagar after their entry was blocked at the JAKLI entrance. “We did our best to do our duty and resolve the crisis but the JAKLI guys did not relent for over 5 minutes”, said maintained.

While as Defence PRO, Lt Col J S Brar, said that he was outside the state on leave, his junior and officiating PRO, Mr Naresh, claimed that no such incident had occurred at the event. “Aisa kuch nahi hai”, he asserted.

However, highly placed sources at Civil Secretariat told Early Times that DGP had taken “serious note” of the treatment meted out to senior Police officers besides a Cabinet Minister who had himself served in Indian Air Force before joining politics in 1983. Sources said that DGP would communicate his ‘note of protest’ to the Corps Headquarters and seek necessary corrective measures to sustain harmony between Police and security forces.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Father killed by Army, daughter by family

Budgam ‘honour killing’: Murder knows no bounds in dehumanized Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 27: In 1992, Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant Ashraf Khan lay in ambush, waiting for a military convoy to return from Beerwah to the Sector Headquarters at Budgam. Holding a vantage position behind a Chinar at the village graveyard at Nasrallapora, alongwith a couple of his associates, Khan lobbed a hand grenade straight into his target vehicle. It exploded, killing and wounding unknown number of soldiers. Later, word spread that the fatal casualties included a Guruji, who had been engaged for a session of worship.

Khan made good his escape (and was next year caught and killed during a cordon-and-search operation). Furious over the saint’s death, soldiers disembarked and stormed the village, killing as many as eleven persons---including women---all innocent civilians. They included middle-aged Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar of Pusroo, Sholipora, who earned his day’s wages by sawing smuggled timber at nearby residential premises.

Dar’s fifth and the last child, Zubaida, was born a year before her father died in the carnage at Nasrallapora. Twenty years later, on Friday, August 24th, 2012, a youthful Zubaida was done to death, perhaps more mercilessly, by none other than her elder brother, Mushtaq Dar, and two elder sisters, namely Misra and Nasreen, both married. She was beaten up for hours and finally strangled to death with the scarf she wore to hide her head and hair. Nobody responded to her screaming.

A local shepherd and Bihari labours working at a brick kiln are said to be the eyewitnesses of Zubaida’s gruesome murder. If her siblings, who have made the confession to Police, are to be believed, it is the first “honour killing” in Budgam district. On a tip off, men from Police Station Budgam rushed to Sarathpora village where some local residents guided them to the dead body of Zubaida, in an orchard. Body was taken into custody for medico-legal formalities and later buried at Pusroo amid a community protest. Residents today carried a rally to the district headquarters, yelling against Zubaida’s killers and demanding severe punishment to them all.

On Friday night, Police Station Budgam registered case FIR No: 248 under section 302 RPC as the marks of physical torture and strangulation were tell-tale on Zubaida’s body. A team of doctors at District Hospital Budgam carried out post mortem and observed prima facie that cause of death was strangulation. Sources said that a detailed autopsy report would be available in the next couple of weeks.

“During investigations Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, the brother of the deceased was brought for questing to ascertain/unearth the facts who disclosed that he and his two other sisters namely Nasreen and Misra were not satisfied with the behaviour /character of their sister (deceased )so were facing a lot of humiliation in the society by her deeds. He and his above mentioned sisters hatched a conspiracy to eliminate her to save their honor in the society. The above name duo sisters took Zubida (deceased) to the out fields of Sarthpora village and strangulated her with her scarf she was wearing”, says a press release from Police.

It adds:“All the three accused have been arrested and the investigation of the case is still going on and some more confessions are expected from them besides the arrest of other suspects is also expected. Police is also probing on the other aspects which include grabbing of ex gratia money belonging to the deceased which she had got from government in SRO case lying in the bank account of the deceased”.

“We have solved this murder case and found that Zubaida has been killed by her two sisters and her brother (Mushtaq Dar) is also involved in the conspiracy. We have arrested three of the accused and investigation is still underway with regard to other questions and details”, SHO Budgam, Inspector Rafeeq Shah, told Early Times over telephone. He said that the accused confessed to the murder and according to their statements, still being cross checked, it was an “honour killing” as the family members were not purportedly happy with Zubaida’s behaviour and character.

Residents of several villages, nevertheless, insist that the actual reason behind Zubaida’s death was an amount of Rs 5 to 6 Lakh that was lying in her bank account. Her sisters and brothers wanted to share the money between themselves. However, Zubaida resisted, arguing that the amount had been deposited in her account and belonged to her only. While as the eldest, Mushtaq Dar, was appointed as a Class 4th employee (and works at DC’s office in Budgam), an amount of Rs 1.00 lakh had been released in favour of the victim family on account of ex gratia relief under SRO-43, years after the family head died in Army’s indiscriminate firing. It is said to have multiplied to Rs 5 or 6 lakhs over the last many years.

Zubaida’s second elder brother, Javed Ahmad Dar, has been recruited in J&K Armed Police in 2007 and he is currently posted in IRP 4th Bn, camping at Chhani Himmat in Jammu. Misra is married in Batpora and Nasreen in Warpora, Beerwah.

On the fateful day, Zubaida was seeking help of her brother-in-law at Batpora, a village on Budgam-Beerwah Road. But, soon her sister, Misra, called another sister, Nasreen, from Warpora. Some reports indicate that their brother, Mushtaq, too joined Zubaida’s torturing. She was forcibly dragged towards her residential village and all were reportedly spotted by a local shepherd and some Bihari labours working at a brick kiln, at 2.30 p.m.

Later, Zubaida was mercilessly strangled to death by her siblings. Police says her head scarf, that seems to have been used in the killing, has also been recovered and seized. Some of the residents insist that at least two of the cousins of the cruel siblings were also present.

“Whether it was really an honour killing or simply a murder for money, will become clear in a couple of days”, said an official associated with the investigation. He said that at least three to four others were suspects and they would be all arrested and interrogated to unravel the truth.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

CAG pulls up R&B engineers for bad performance, Govt adorns them with medals

Hundreds of works executed without NITs, AAs; Liabilities worth Rs 110 Crores created; Poor performance on Mughal Road, Narbal-Tangmarg Road; NABARD-funded roads incomplete

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 25: State government’s awards and accolades seem to be continuously jinxed since 2009. Doordarshan’s Deputy Director General, Rafeeq Masoodi, has been placed under suspension by CEO of Prasar Bharti Jawahar Sircar for “poor performance and indulgence in corruption” a year after he was decorated by Governor, N N Vohra, and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, with the prestigious ‘State Award’ for his “impressive performance”. Messers Vohra and Omar, in fact, only executed what had been scripted previously in the DD official’s honour by then Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Yes, they conveniently shut their eyes to explicit media reports about the awardee’s omissions and commissions in DD and J&K Cultural Academy for years.

This season last year, Omar Abdullah government showered bountiful praise on then retiring Chief Engineer of R&B, Nazir Ahmad Ladakhi, while granting him a prestigious post-retirement rehabilitation. Ignoring reports that works worth hundreds of Crores of Rupees had been executed during his tenure as SE and CE in R&B Department, State Government appointed Mr Nazir as a Commissioner in J&K State Information Commission.

On Independence Day last fortnight, Government honoured incumbent Chief Engineer of R&B Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, with the more prestigious Chief Minister’s Gold Medal for Honesty/ Integrity & Meritorious Public Service. The list of five top awardees included very honest and gutsy officials like Commissioner-Secretary of Rural Development Department, Farooq Ahmad Pir, who is still famous for kicking out Dr Farooq Abdullah from an officials’ meeting at DC Office Baramulla in 1994 when the NC President had been driven to the meeting by late Rajesh Pilot. Mr Pir was then just a district level officer. Alongwith four others [Umang Narula, Farooq Pir, VC LAWDA Irfan Yasin and Ms Resham Kashyap] CE R&B Kashmir, Mr Lone on the I-Day function became recipient of cash reward of Rs one lakh, Chief Minister’s Gold Medal and a Citation.

Now the anti-climax: CAG Annual Report for 2010-11, that covers the period from 2006 to 2011, snubs R&B’s engineers and bureaucrats for bad performance and a host of other irregularities. Both the decorated engineers have held senior positions of SE and CE during the period in question. Poor IAS officer, K B Agarwal, remains one-odd incumbent who was removed by the government as Commissioner-Secretary R&B---Chief Minister is himself holding portfolio of R&B since August 2010---reportedly for negative reasons.

Amid reports that the Government of India has barred state government from giving approval to the projects pertaining to roads and building infrastructure in J&K, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come up with some startling revelations--- indicting the State government for flouting norms in the R&B sector, causing loss of hundreds of crores to state exchequer besides having failed to implement and execute scores of key developmental projects.

It has also blamed MLAs and Ministers for pressurizing various executing agencies and their heads for diverting funds in order to please “blue eyed contractors” for their own promotion in different constituencies.

CAG report mentions that in violation of all norms and procedures, a whopping liability of Rs 110.82 Cr was raised by executing 1,328 unapproved works mostly for the sweet will and pleasure of Ministers and legislators. The report reveals that 1,301 works have been executed without obtaining any administrative approval which was mandatory for undertaking such works. While asserting that the department had failed to transform developmental schemes into public benefit, CAG report says that unproductive expenditure worth Rs 128.28 Cr has been made till March 2011.

CAG has pulled up the state government for not attaining the targeted physical achievements in respect of roads under the Prime Minster’s Reconstruction Programme (PMRP). It has expressed dissatisfaction over the progress on the ambitious Mughal Road and Narbal-Tangmarg road projects. Although the cost of both the projects has been revised and raised by hundreds of crores over the actual approved cost, yet the projects were still awaiting completion, says the CAG report.

“The targeted date for completion of Mughal Road has been extended upto March 2013 with a revised cost of Rs 255 Cr. Similarly Narbal-Tangmarg Road (NTR) estimated to cost Rs 38 Cr [revised: Rs 116 Cr], although nearing completion, has witnessed a cost overrun of Rs 78 Cr as of March 2011”, reads the CAG report.

The report has also highlighted the ‘inability’ of the government in achieving the targets under NABARD.

“Against 1,196 schemes sanctioned under NABARD (RIDF IV to RIDF XIII) to be completed by 2010-11, only 725 (61 percent) schemes have been completed and the balance of 471 schemes have not been completed due to non-release of matching share by the state government”, it claims.

The report says that works worth Rs 113.57 Cr were executed without inviting tenders, thus defeating the purpose of transparency and tendering in execution.