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Friday, April 10, 2015

POLITICS ON MIGRANTS: By now, it is crystal clear that none of the political parties including PDP, BJP, NC, Congress, Hurriyat, JKLF, wants the displaced Kashmiri Pandits back home. Within the community too, they have a section of self-defeatists. Each and every ruling and opposition party, including the incumbent rulers PDP and BJP, is simply making rhetorical statements on the KPs being "part and parcel of the Valley's plural and secular culture and society" and "our brothers". It's clear that the politicians, employed either by New Delhi or Islamabad or both, have no intention of getting the migrants back. They all are making politics on the lines given to them by their masters. As far as the common Kashmiri Muslim is concerned, he is genetically secular. Being a journalist on the ground, who has reported, every single incident and political development since 1990, with complete honesty and without any fear or favour, I can say without any fear of contradiction that not a single Hindu place of worship or temple has been damaged or desecrated by a common Kashmiri Muslim. Not a single KP woman has been ever kidnapped or raped by them. I am not the one who will defend the militants who did not spare anybody. It is a fact that they shot dead or hanged to death 222 KPs which was enough to spread a wave of terror and trauma in the community. It is also a fact that two or three urchins from one or two mosques shouted that deplorable slogan "batav rous ta.....". I never heard that until I read it in HT in a story done perhaps by Mr Anil Maheshwari on an unconfirmed "eyewitness account". But I am a living witness to it that the common Kashmiri Muslim was as helpless as the Kashmiri Pandit. Even today, he is being targeted and shot dead at will. The common masses never took out an anti-KP procession or indulged in devastation of the migrant properties. When JKLF militants allegedly raped and killed a Pandit harbourer's sister in Basant Bagh, Gawkadal, in 1991, over 5,000 Kashmiri Muslims took out a protest march. Even anti-Pakistan and anti-terrorist slogans were shouted. In Ichhigam (Budgam), Muslims constructed a temple for some poor resident Pandit families out of the religious funds which they had collected for the construction of a mosque. The story was reported by Muzamil Jaleel in Indian Express. Nobody on TV is highlighting this positive picture. I won't hide the fact that hundreds of the deserted Pandit houses were robbed of everything by local youngsters and their elders did not stop them. I am witness to it that a group of boys set on fire about a dozen deserted KP houses, one after another in Gogjibagh. For god's sake, don't please dub the Kashmiri Muslims as your "enemies" and "communalists". We must sincerely and realistically appreciate the fear which is continuously existing and haunting the migrants, particularly those who don't regularly visit today's Kashmir. They will never stay or sleep for an hour at their ancestral home, dilapidated, intact, reconstructed or sold off. We can't give them any confidence by saying that "3,000" or "10,000" non-migrant Pandits have been living here with "full dignity and sense of security" since 1990. It is only they---not politicians like Omar Abdullah, Mufti Sayeed, Modi, Rajnath or Rahul Gandhi, or even Geelani, Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik or Engineer Rashid---who can decide where to stay on their return to the Valley. Gradually, they can fan out to their villages or other places and settle there without changing any "demography". We have seen that those settled at Sheikhpora, Baramulla, Tulmulla etc stay in ghettos but they are posted in schools and government offices spread over the entire valley. Let the politicians, including the Pandit groups, stop politics on this nightmarish human tragedy. Let the genuine CIVIL SOCIETY, not the one affiliated to stated political positions, take a sincere initiative.

I further want to make it clear here that Muslims as a community have not treated the KPs' deserted properties or places of worship as "maal i ganeemat". I have investigated the land encroachment cases at Khrewa, Rainawari and other places and found that the encroached temple lands have been secretly sold out by a coterie of Hindu custodians to unscrupulous Muslim neighbours. It is a great nexus in which Muslims are not playing the primary role. A Jammu-based religious trust has made billions out of illegal sales and rent deeds with local businessmen. This business has grown so lucrative that Purohits are contesting cases against one another in different courts to retain their position and "customised authority". It is a fact that some trees were felled and some deserted KP houses grabbed by unscrupulous neighbours but the bolder fact is that most of such properties remained intact for two decades. I also found a coterie of people involved in burning down these houses at the instance of displaced owners so as to draw compensation/ insurance money. Distress sale of KP properties continued, even after J&K Govt outrightly banned it during Farooq Abdullah's regime, as a consequence of nexus between the Pandit owners, middlemen and the Muslim buyers. The modus operandi of "SALE BY ATTORNEY" was invented and misused by the owners of these properties with the involvement of officials in offices of Tehsildars, DCs and Divisional Commissioner. No such deed can happen without the satisfaction of Divisional Commissioner. How does it continue till date? What role was played to curb it by Div Comm SL Bhat, Revenue Secretary Vinod Kaul etc? My point is that an entire community, Muslims or Pandits, can not be painted black and demonised on the basis of a perception created more on hearsay and mischief than on facts and reality. Jalal Ud Din Shah sahab is right that there is a strak generation gap and the post-1990 KP generation doesn't have the sensibility of our centuries old value system. But I beg to add that a degree of decay is also evident in the Generation Next on our side which has little idea of the pre-1990 harmonious culture of Kashmir. We can not generalise things and pass sweeping remarks without self-introspection. We must also admit that a lot of mistrust and suspicion was created by the statements of our separatist politicians when they openly laid conditions that "KPs can come back and stay at their homes if they participate in the processions and anti-India and anti-forces demonstrations". I have received and seen such statements several times. However, the other fact is that some right wing outfits, claiming to represent KPs, spread venom against the majority community en bloc with hugely exaggerated data. Hundreds of the houses and temples, which decayed due to snow and rains over the years and collapsed, were shown as the structures "vandalised, demolished and desecrated by Muslims". In Omar Abdullah’s presence, I clarified all these things at a gathering organised by an amalgam of the KP associations in America and Canada, on the sidelines of our conference in Toronto, Canada, in December 2004. Finally, one request to our KP brethren: Please go and see who got the Temple Bill in Assembly blocked with a letter to Sonia Gandhi? All Muslim MLAs and MLCs were keen to pass that Bill. It is a Hindu of Jammu, not any Muslim. When in 1998, I visited Tulmulla I found everybody trembling on hearing the name of local militants Bambaar Khan and Hameed Gada. They had allegedly killed dozens at the drop of a hat. In another village, Wakoora, militants had gunned down a Pandit medical assistant and his wife, who often took their care and provided to them treatment, alongwith 5 Muslims in broad daylight at local Iddgah. In that horrible environment, I saw one local Muslim of Tulmulla going to Khirbhawani temple regularly to drop a bucket of milk in the spring. It was simply inviting the death. He did it till death. Hakeem Rouf, who lives there, can bear me out.
____Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Thursday, April 9, 2015

JKLF calls for shutdown as Yasin Malik threatens fast unto death 

Separatists declare war on BJP’s plan of composite townships for KPs


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


Jammu, April 8: Narendra Modi government’s plan of settling the Kashmiri Pandit migrants in “composite townships”, for which Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Tuesday asked Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to arrange land, has run into rough weather as the Kashmiri separatists have threatened to spoil it with full force.

Minutes after a separatist-turned-mainstream leader and independent MLA Engineer Rashid said in Assembly on Wednesday that the BJP-PDP coalition’s plan of settling the Kashmiri displaced Pandits in composite townships would be fought “tooth and nail”, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik called for shutdown in Kashmir while threatening “fast unto death strike” if the government proceeded with the programme of rehabilitating the migrants in delineated settlements.

The second time MLA Engineer Rashid, who comes from the slain separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone’s Peoples Conference and pursues a pseudo-separatist agenda in Assembly, agitated the matter aggressively. He said: “Settling Kashmiri Pandits in separate townships will not be allowed to happen as it is detrimental to interest of every community living in Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that majority of Kashmiri Pandits is not interested in settling back in Kashmir as they are happy in enjoying perks, packages  and privileges” .

Rashid said that the PDP patron and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was “unfortunately acting as a facilitator in the grand plan of the BJP brigade to communalize and polarize situation in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Rashid refused to accept that the Kashmiri Pandits had suffered enormously in the last 25 years of militancy. “It is the Kashmiri Muslims who have suffered a great deal”, he asserted with a threat. “Right-minded people and sane voices will not allow getting Kashmir converted into jungle of fascism and aboriginality of this land will be protected at all costs”.

In Srinagar, JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik stole the show with a hurriedly called news conference. He dismissed the government’s plan of rehabilitating the displaced Pandits in composite townships as a “sinister conspiracy” by the BJP-RSS fold. He alleged that Mufti had been assigned the task of “creating a wedge between different religious identities” in the State. Malik called a complete shutdown in the Valley on Saturday and threatened to go on fast unto death if the government did not withdraw the plan of settling the Kashmiri migrants in protected enclaves.

"We don't want confrontation but we are not going to tolerate attempts aimed at driving a wedge between different communities of the State either. We will not allow creation of this so-called composite township. It would be a state within the state and is fraught with dangerous consequences”, Malik said. He claimed that over 10,000 Pandits had stayed back in the valley in 1990 and they had never been harmed by their Muslim neighbours.

“They are continuously living with full sense of security and comfort”, said the separatist whose guerrilla group JKLF is alleged to have played key role in attacking the members of the minority community and forcing their mass exodus in 1990. Malik claimed that Valley’s tradition of communal harmony was intact.

"It seems RSS now wants to reverse it by creating a wedge between Kashmir's various communities. It is attempting through the BJP to set the Valley on fire. Yeh log nafrat ki aag lagana chahtay hain," militant-turned-politician Malik alleged.

"Are Mufti Sayeed and his RSS and BJP mentors now planning to dismantle these temples, homes, shops and schools and relocate these people to so-called composite townships?”Malik asked. "They are as good state subjects as you and me. They can come and buy properties and rebuild or renovate their houses here. That alone will strengthen Kashmir's composite culture”.

In a related development, Shabir Shah and some other Hurriyat leaders said that the plan of separate townships for Pandits was “akin to declaring war against the majority community of Kashmir". "We will oppose this dangerous conspiracy tooth and nail”, they asserted and called the rehabilitation plan as “replica of the Zionist ploy which Israel has used against the innocent Palestinians as a weapon of war”. Their statement added: “It is the beginning of one more well calculated dangerous conspiracy against the Muslim identity of Kashmir."



Govt: KPs will be settled only in their native places

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


Jammu, April 8: Grappling with a strongly negative reaction from the Kashmiri separatists, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government denied on Wednesday evening that the displaced population was being rehabilitated in special settlements at particular places in the Valley.

In a press release, the government spokesman discounted what he called “misconstrued, misconceived and mischievous the impression being created by certain quarters regarding establishment of exclusive habitations for Kashmiri Pandits. He said the society and the Government was committed to “facilitate reintegration of migrant Pandits in their homeland with honour and dignity without compartmentalizing them as an isolated community”.

“As has been already made clear by the Chief Minister, the migrant Pandits are most welcome to return and resettle at the places of their choice, and various initiatives have already been taken by the State Government to bring them back with honour and dignity. The Government is keenly awaiting the return of migrants and they will be resettled at their original places of inhabitation with honour and dignity,” the spokesman said and added that the migrants from all the communities who had no land and properties left in Kashmir, could be accommodated in the composite township, if they desired so.


The spokesman said the creation of exclusive enclaves for migrants, as was done at Sheikhpora Budgam, had not worked as most of the Pandits who wanted to return to the Valley preferred to resettle at their ancestral places. “Braving the hazards of turmoil in Kashmir, several Kashmiri Pandit families continue to live harmoniously with their Muslim brethren in various parts of the Valley”, he added.


“The Kashmiri Pandits have every right to return to their ancestral land and get reintegrated in the society to revive the age-old tradition of brotherhood and amity,” he said and added that any facility for the purpose would not be “either religion or community-specific”.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 J&K Police men killed like lame ducks in Shopian

‘Militants are taking advantage of demoralisation in Police, armed forces. There’s apprehension of more such attacks’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


Jammu, April 6: Taking advantage of the new ruling dispensation’s political language in Jammu and Kashmir, which is believed to have caused some degree of demoralisation in Police and security forces, suspected militants on Monday gunned down three unarmed Police personnel in Shopian while simultaneously attacking a Sub Inspector of high operational profile in Pattan and a released militant in Tral areas of Kashmir valley. The fresh spell of violence---first in the valley since Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-BJP government assumed office on March 1st---ran parallel to Chief Minister’s throwing open Asia’s largest tulip garden in Srinagar where he described Kashmir “as peaceful as any other part of the country”.

Months after a series of militant attacks on the day of Pulwama-Shopian belt polling in the Assembly elections, suspected guerrillas spread a wave of terror with three major strikes. Sub Inspector Ghulam Mustafa of Mendhar, who was in the first group of J&K Police that had formed "Task Force", later christened as Special Operations Group (SOG), at the hands of then DGP M.N. Sabherwal in May 1994, was held on gun point from behind in a minibus he boarded at Parimpora, Srinagar, as usual, to reach his office at headquarters of IRP 3rd battalion at Parihaspora, Pattan.

“It appeared that a group of the militants from Sopore had carried out a reconnaissance survey of the routine boarding point of the Police official who has put in 21 years of impressive service in SOG and participated in hundreds of counterinsurgency operations”, said an official. He said that Mustafa was carrying a service pistol with him but was relieved of it on gun point.

Two or three gunmen, according to eyewitnesses, hijacked the Sopore-bound minibus. When it came to a halt due to a traffic jam short of Chhooru bridge, some of the traumatised commuters jumped out of it while screaming. Mustafa too began running away but the gunmen fired on his neck and escaped. He lay in a pool of blood and was rushed to SKIMS where doctors treated him on time. He was later declared out of danger.

In another incident, suspected militants fired a pistol shot on a released militant Rafeeq Ahmad Bhat alias Rafeeq Dada near SBI branch, at Tral. He was rushed to SMHS hospital, Srinagar. He too was treated on time and declared out of danger. Officials, suspecting a local militant of Hizbul Mujahideen responsible for the attack, said that the gunman's intention didn't appear to kill 'Dada'. "He perhaps wanted to only leave him injured", said an official.

3 cops gunned down in Shopian

The day's deadliest attack by suspected militants occurred on a group of three Policemen who were returning from an investigation into a local dispute from Amshipora village, in Shopian. According to the two civilian witnesses accompanying the police party, a group of six heavily armed men in combat dress stopped the policemen and asked them to follow. After walking a short distance, the gunmen emptied a full magazine of AK-47 rifle on the three policemen, killing them on the spot. Police later collected 22 empties with the three bodies from the spot.

The slain personnel were identified as Head Constable Mushtaq Ahmad Wani of Arigam Pulwama, constable Shabir Ahmad of Leh and Constable Nisar Hussain of Achhabal, Sopore.

Officials said that the Union Home Secretary would be visiting J&K later this week to have an on-the-spot assessment of the security scenario.

IGP Kashmir Javaid Mujraba Gillani, alongwith DIG South Kashmir and SPs of Shopian and Kulgam, participated in the wreath-laying ceremony at DPL Shopian. They paid rich tributes to the slain jawans and offered condolences to the bereaved families. Later, DGP K. Rajendra Kumar flew to Srinagar from Jammu. He presided over a meeting which reviewed the security scenario and pledged to fight terrorism with full zeal and zest. DGP said that such dastardly attacks on unarmed Police personnel would not deter Police force from wiping out terrorism and restoring peace to Jammu and Kashmir. He paid tributes to the slain policemen. Arrangements were underway to send Constable Shabir’s body to Leh by the State helicopter.

Reports said that hundreds of people and local police officers attended the two slain constables' funeral rites in Pulwama and Sopore.

Mehbooba condemns attacks; Ministers skip wreath-laying

Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed expressed shock over the three fatal casualties. His daughter and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti strongly condemned the killings and said that such attacks would not yield anything for the assassins. In a statement, former CM and National Conference acting President Omar Abdullah too condemned the terrorist action which left three unarmed policeman dead.

Asked why the militants had abruptly triggered off a wave of terror with today's killings and attacks, senior police officials said that such, and more, terrorist strikes were expected from militants as they had got "emboldened" by the way Police and security forces were being "disowned, discredited, denigrated and demoralised" by the mainstream political leaders of different parties.

"Not a single Minister or senior mainstream leader even attended the wreath-laying of the Police and army soldiers killed in Kathua and Pattan encounters last fortnight", said an officer.

Minister of Information Technology Imran Raza Ansari and IGP Kashmir Javaid Gillani had, however, visited a slain SPO's residence at Cheenabal. None of the five Ministers in Valley that day participated in the wreath-laying ceremonies at Baramulla or headquarters of Army’s 15 Corps in Srinagar.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cabinet may consider MLC nomination list on Monday

·       PDP zeroes in on Sartaj, Shatru, Manhas, Bashir Mir

·       BJP picks up Khajuria, Ajatshatru, Arora, Ambardar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Jammu, April 4: Cabinet on Monday is likely to consider and sanction a list of eight political leaders---four each from PDP and BJP---for submission to Governor who is expected to accord his approval to their nomination as Members of Legislative Council next week.

Knowledgeable sources on Saturday revealed to Early Times that both the coalition partners, PDP and BJP, have finalised their nomination lists which would go to the Cabinet, most likely as a non-agenda item, during a meeting on April 6th. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would preside over the Cabinet meeting.

Cabinet is supposed to consider and sanction the list before its submission to Raj Bhawan for Governor’s approval under Section 50 of J&K Representation of Peoples Act. Following the Governor’s approval, if no question is raised on any nomination, Government is competent to issue an order of appointment.

“If everything runs smoothly, all the eight nominees would be appointed and sworn in as MLCs next week”, said a well-placed political source.

J&K Legislative Council has the strength of 36 members, including Chairman. Of the 36, 22 people are elected by members of J&K Legislative Assembly. Eight more are nominated as Members by Governor on recommendation of the State government. Of them three are supposed to be picked up from the less represented economically weaker sections of the population and five must have contribution to public or social services like medicine, science, technology, media, cooperative service etc.

However, the successive governments have invariably---with few exceptions---picked up the ruling parties’ left-over aspirants, particularly those defeated in the previous Assembly or Lok Sabha elections, for their political rehabilitation. Governor, N.N. Vohra, who accorded approval to the nomination of all the defeated candidates recommended by the previous coalition government, did not raise any objection in 2009.

Remaining six members are elected by rural and urban local bodies, three each from Kashmir and Jammu divisions. Of them, four are elected by Panchayat members---two each from Kashmir and Jammu---and two by municipal corporations, municipal committees and municipal councils (one each from Kashmir and Jammu).

Mufti’s kin may become Chairman LC

Sources said that after facing a great deal of pulls and pressures from different quarters, the PDP high command has finally zeroed in on the two-time MLA from Devsar, Mohammad Sartaj Madni, who also acted as Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly during Omar Abdullah’s government. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s brother-in-law, Madni had lost his third election in 2014 to the Congress candidate and former MLC Mohammad Amin Bhat. Madni is likely to be elected as Chairman of the Upper House as the post of Speaker of Assembly has been conceded by PDP to BJP’s MLA from Gandhi Nagar Kavinder Gupta.

Saifuddin Bhat alias Shatru, a senior political activist who lost the Assembly elections of 2008 and 2014 in Khansahab segment of Budgam to the PDF Chairman Hakeem Mohammad Yasin, Bashir Ahmad Mir of Kangan, who lost the same elections to NC’s Mian Altaf Ahmad, besides writer Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, who has joined PDP after his retirement as Secretary J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, and belongs to Pahari community, are also being recommended by the PDP for nomination as MLCs.

Three of the key contenders---- ex-MLC and ex-MLA Nizamuddin Bhat who lost to the Congress candidate Usman Majeed in Bandipore, bureaucrat-turned-politician Mehboob Iqbal who was defeated by a BJP candidate in Bhaderwah and Dhaman Bhasin---have already been taken off the consideration zone and appointed as PDP’s General Secretaries.

Former Minister Qazi Mohammad Afzal and former MLAs Peerdaza Mansoor Hussain and Rafi Ahmad Mir were other contenders for the nomination. Of them, Hussain is likely to be rehabilitated as an aide to Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, according to informed sources, BJP too has finalised its nomination list. Former MLA and former State President Ashok Khajuria, former MLA and ex-Minister of Farooq Abdullah’s government Ajatshatru Singh, RSS activist Surender Ambardar and Ramesh Arora are understood to have been selected by BJP for nomination.