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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

MHA weighing option of providing arms to Panchs in J&K

‘Govt made us a media showcase, provoked militant attacks on us’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar, Nov 5: Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today ruled out providing security to 33,000 Panchs and Sarpanchs, Government of India is currently weighing the option of providing firearms to members of the Panchayati Raj Institutions in certain “hyper sensitive” districts in Kashmir valley besides some border areas in Jammu division.

Authoritative sources revealed to Early Times that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Government of India had taken “extremely seriously” United Jihad Council (UJC) supremo and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s recent threat that Panchs and Sarpanchs would continue to become target of militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. With the discussion being underway between the State and the Central governments, a host of options was being considered to pre-empt and counter the threat. Notwithstanding the security being a state subject, this burning issue, according to sources, had “wider range and ramifications” and could not be settled in absence of coordination between Srinagar and New Delhi.

Sources said it was for the first time since the Panchayat elections were held in J&K in April 2011 that the government was seriously considering the option of providing firearms to the vulnerable Panchayat members in certain “hyper sensitive areas”. While the option of providing weapons was under consideration for over two hundred Panchs and Sarpanchs in Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla and Kupwara districts, North Block was reportedly toying with the idea of turning some Panchayats in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu division in some sort of Village Defence Committees (VDCs).

Sources said that Government of Jammu and Kashmir had not shown reasonable receptivity to the option of providing arms and ammunition to Panchs and Sarpanchs and turning the Panchayats into ‘VDCs’, but, at the same time, it had not submitted any other practicable solution that could make the much threatened Panchayat members feel secure.

Significantly, army has made it unambiguously clear that providing security to Panchayat functionaries was essentially the responsibility of the state government and Police. It could, at best, be asked to provide general area security by increasing patrolling in certain areas of its operation.

Sources said that the demand of providing arms and ammunition had come from the terrorized Panchs and Sarpanchs as a section of them was continuously stressing on the authorities from Srinagar to New Delhi to either provide them PSOs and house-guards or the firearms alongwith an amount of Rs 5000 each as ‘honorarium’.

According to these sources, authorities had learned from some credible intelligence inputs that terrorizing Panchs and Sarpanchs was high on the agenda of UJC constituents after the former Indian Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna’s speech in a recent UN session. Militants have taken umbrage over the statements of the Indian leaders---particularly UPA chief Sonia Gandhi, S M Krishna and Dr Farooq Abdullah---wherein they have sought to play up the high- turnout Panchayat elections in J&K as a “referendum again Pakistan and terrorism”.

According to authoritative sources, it was on the written complaint of a number of Panchs and Sarpanchs in Kupwara district that an editor of a local media group was arrested last week on the charge of publishing “fake resignations” of Panchs and Sarpanchs only to create a wave of fear among the Panchayat members in Valley. The applicants are said to have claimed that they had neither submitted their resignations nor approached any of the local newspapers for such kind of paid advertisements. Sources said that the matter was under investigation as the detained editor had counter-claimed that the Panchs and Sarpanchs had requested his media group to publish their resignations.

With the concern among the government functionaries growing with regard to safety and security of Panchayat members, a representative organisation of Panchs and Sarpanchs today reiterated demand of making them secure.  The All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) threatened to stage a protest dharna outside the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi if the state government did not take up measures to ensure the security of Panchs and Sarpanchs.

“The state government is non-serious towards security and empowerment of Panchayat members. We implore Chief Minister and Home Minister of India to provide security to those Panchs and Sarpanchs who are facing security threat”, said Imtiyaz Afzal Beigh, Provincial President AJKPC during a press conference at Hotel Lala Rukh here. He sought to make it clear that the organisation was seeking protection only to those who felt threatened and not to all the 33,000 Panchs and Sarpanchs the authorities were referring to.

Reacting to UJC chief Syed Salahuddin’s diktat seeking resignation of all Panchs and Sarpanchs, he said: “We are not anybody’s agents and don’t belong to any political party. They should ask the political leaders like MLAs and MLCs to resign first”. He asserted that UJC would gain nothing by killing 33000 ordinary representatives of the people of J&K.

The AJKPC Provincial President said that the organisation had already furnished a list of the Panchs and Parpanchs who were facing security threat to the state Director General of Police

Lambasting the state government for failing to respond to the deadline of 24 hours set by the organizations for providing security to them, spokesperson of the AJKPC, Gh Hassan Punzoo, said several Panchayat members had resigned as a fallout of the government callousness. “When Panchs and Sarpanchs are resigning, we don’t understand what the government is waiting for”, he asked.

Reiterating the demands for empowerment of Panchayat members by implementing provisions of the 73rd amendment, he urged the Government to fix wages to Panchs and Sarpanches. Mr Punzoo demanded security to the apex body members of the AJKPC on first priority. He accused the government of making the Panchayat members vulnerable by turning them into a media showcase and thus provoking militant attacks on them. According to him, political rivalry too could have been a factor in some of the attacks on Panchs and Sarpanchs.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Bar leaders, JAH denounce HC judgment on Talaaq

Speakers at JAH seminar want enforcement of Shariat laws through society

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar, Nov 4: A day-long conference, organized by Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH), to deliberate upon a Jammu & Kashmir High Court judgment on a husband’s competence to pronounce Talaaq, today concluded with the resolution that non-religious judiciary should not adjudicate on religious matters of the Muslims.

After discussing the judgment, delivered by Mr Justice Hasnain Masoodi last week in a divorcee Bilquees Naseem’s writ petition against her husband, a congregations of Valley’s clerics and jurists maintained that the courts of non-religious set up had no authority to issue verdict on the “purely religious matters like Talaaq’. It, however, decided to constitute a panel of experts to thoroughly study the judgment in the light of Quran and Hadith before being categorically judgmental over the burning issue.

Sources said that the seminar titled “Is intervention tolerable against the teachings of Qur’an and Ahadees?” was attended by a number of clergymen, legal experts, jurists and academicians. Prominent religious and political leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani were absent but one of the former’s representatives participated in the conclave.

In his keynote address, former High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom suggested establishment of a joint board for taking such decisions and to observe them. He said that local committees should be established to enforce religious decisions through social influence. Quite a number of other participants agreed with Mr Qayoom’s suggestion.

The conference decided to establish a team comprising Ullemas, Muftis, judges, and law experts to examine the recent judgment about divorce in the light of Qur’an and Ahadees and to report accordingly.

HCBA President Advocate Zaffar Qureshi said that he couldn’t have made his opinion on the judgment. He described it as “contrary to the teachings of Qur’an”. He said that the Supreme Court had never given its verdict on such crucial religious matters but the state High Court had “unfortunately” ventured into a domain not within its jurisdiction and competence. Reports said that the participants resolved to put up sustained efforts to get this practice stopped.

JAH political head, Ghulam Qadir Lone, said that Muslims needed to be united on the ground and Ullema’s should teach the people about the teachings of Islam. He said that this is time to act in practice and to establish the joint board is indeed a good step.

JAH Secretary General, Abdur Rehman Bhat, said that all decisions involving personal life of Muslims should be based on the Islam. “Court has no authority to decide these cases contrary to the provisions of Qur’an and Ahadees”, said Bhat. “If it happens, consequences are bound to appear”, Bhat added.


Geelani, Mirwaiz not to attend JAH seminar on Talaaq judgment

Hurriyat head appeals scholars, clerics to study court verdict

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Srinagar, Nov 3: Even as top functionaries of the Islamic Shariat Court were reportedly undecided, neither of two heads of the separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference---Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq---would be participating in Jamiat-e-Ahl-e-Hadith (JAH) sponsored conference on the J&K High Court’s recent judgment on Talaaq (divorce) here on Sunday.

According to informed sources, JAH has invited over a hundred clergymen, separatist politicians, academicians and intellectuals in day-long deliberations on the Jammu & Kashmir High Court judge Mr Justice Hasnain Masoodi’s recent judgment on Talaaq. The conference would begin at JAH’s headquarters at Barbarshah tomorrow at 11.00 a.m. Sources said that representatives of all schools of thought in the religion of Islam have been invited by e-mail, telephone and written letters.

It was not immediately clear as to how many of the invitees would make it to the conference but JAH functionaries were expecting a “fairly large gathering”. As regards the participation of Sadar Mufti, who has been heading a traditional Shariat Court for decades, sources said that Mufti Azam Mohammad Bashiruddin was undecided. However, the participation of his representative, most likely his successor son, was not completely ruled out by this evening.

Sources said that the capital city’s most important cleric-politician and Chairman of Hurriyat’s moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, too would not attend the conference. However, he is understood to have asked his Secretary (Religious Affairs), Mohammad Sayeed-ur-Rehman Shams, to represent his political out, Awami Action Committee, and the religious organisation, Anjuman-e-Nusratul Islam. Mirwaiz Umar’s aide, Shahidul Islam, confirmed to Early Times that Mr Shams would be participating in the JAH conference on behalf of the organisation.

Sources said that Chairman of Hurriyat’s hardline faction, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who happens to be an eminent Islamic scholar, would not participate in the JAH conference. “We have not considered about participation in this conference till tonight”, Geelani’s aide Ayaz Akbar said.
Earlier today, Mr Akbar said in a statement that Geelani had urged Muslim scholars and clerics to thoroughly study the recent court verdict with regard to pronouncement of Talaaq.

Geelani, according to the statement, observed that the courts under the influence of non-religious administration and influence, were in no way acceptable to Ummah. “These verdicts are no more authentic as long as they serve a non-Islamic set up as there is every apprehension that these judgments could develop misunderstanding and misconceptions vis-à-vis the Shariat laws”, said the statement

“We find that in Islamic Sharia law of inheritance and divorce has been explained with clear detail but it needs a great vision and particular knowledge and competence with power of judgment to reach an acceptable conclusion”, he said quoting Geelani. According to Geelani, a person with ordinary and little knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and Sunnah could forward and submit his personal opinion but it was very difficult to reach a decision by such individuals.

“Mr Geelani said that in absence of Islamic administration it is very complicated process to understand it in full, until and unless there is an established government administering the law pertaining to day to day needs of a man, and the whole life as per code of conduct provided by Islam. Mr Geelani reproducing his view point said that even an Islamic scholar cannot justify with ease, his verdicts in absence of Islamic Sharia and Islamic administrative set up. He urged Islamic scholars to come forward with their views so that doubts and misgivings produced are rectified without any damage, or giving rise to more suspicion”, Mr Akbar said in the statement.

As already reported, in a 23-page judgment delivered last week, Mr Justice Hasnain Masoodi had decreed that both partners of marital union had equal rights in Islam and the husband’s competence of pronouncing divorce was not arbitrary, unqualified or absolute. The judgment has been delivered in a case in which the wife had initially come up with an application in the trial court seeking maintenance. However, the husband had resisted the application on the grounds that he had divorced her and was not under any obligation to pay maintenance allowance.