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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Denied permission, YFN blames BJP for failure of Lalchowk flag hoisting

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 15: Youth For the Nation (YFN), a group of activists which had planned a peace march from Srinagar to Jammu on May 16th, has not been permitted by the authorities to hoist the Indian Tricolour at Lalchowk even as it held BJP alone responsible for the failure of its programme.

YFN’s head Nirmandeep Singh told a local news agency on Friday that the authorities had denied permission to hoisting of the Indian national flag at Lalchowk with the argument that it could “hurt sentiments of the Kashmiri people”. Significantly, Singh blamed only the BJP in the ruling coalition for failing its programme, while alleging that a number of the group’s activists had been got arrested and detained in Jammu. Without mentioning name, Singh alleged: “I am surprised that the same leaders who encouraged us for May 16 march, stopped us and got us arrested few days back”.
“BJP forced us to call off our march of flag hoisting. It was the same BJP whose youth leader Anurag Thakur in 2013 started a march from Jammu to hoist the Indian flag in Srinagar. That time BJP was out of power and could not succeed in its march as the then government did not permit it. Now denying permission to the same activity has only exposed the BJP which is the ruling party in J&K today”, Singh said.

Singh claimed that hundreds of activists from Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana, Maharashtra, UP and West Bengal had arrived in Jammu to participate in the flag hoisting and peace march. “We have now suspended our march and our activists have returned to their respective places. Indian patriots are shocked to know that government didn’t allow Indian Tricolour to unfurl at historic Lalchowk”.

Meanwhile, the ruling PDP’s Chief Spokesman Dr Mehboob Beg said that some elements were hell-bent to trigger chaos in already perturbed Kashmir valley with hoisting of the Indian national flag on Saturday. “May 16 is neither Republic Day nor Independence Day. Why then are some elements trying to hoist the Tricolour in Kashmir?” Beg told a news agency.
Beg maintained that such an act could “further destabilize the situation and again put the Valley on the brink of another trouble that too at a time when it is gradually moving towards peace and stability”. 

“I fail to understand why some parties are this much adamant to hoist a flag at Lalchowk on May 16. What do they want to prove through it? We are not against the hoisting of the Tricolour, but why now?” Beg asked, adding that such a move would be “disastrous” and would disrupt law and order.

 “This act must be stopped in the larger interest of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the garb of such an action, there are elements which try to disrupt the situation in the Valley”, Beg asserted.

YFN had announced the programme of the national flag hoisting after some separatist hardliners staged a series of pro-Pakistan demonstrations while shouting pro-Pakistan slogans and waving the Pakistani national flags in Kashmir last month.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mufti’s Govt not to permit Lalchowk Tricolour show

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 14: With most of the separatist groups strongly opposing a Delhi-based outfit’s plan to hoist the Indian Tricolour at the business nerve centre of Lalchowk on May 16, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-BJP government has decided to detain the activists of ‘Youth For Nation’ in Jammu and at Srinagar Airport and not to issue permission for the show.

Highly placed sources in the State government disclosed to State Times that no show of hoisting the Tricolour would be permitted at Lalchowk on May 16th. “Instructions are being flashed to SSPs of Jammu, Kathua and Srinagar to arrest anybody who would try to disrupt peace and create a law and order situation by the proposed flag hoisting on Saturday”, said a senior Police official. Unconfirmed reports said that some of the group activists, who had arrived in Jammu on Thursday, were being detained.

SSP Jammu Uttam Chand, however, insisted that nobody had been detained or arrested. “This is not a fact. We haven’t detained anybody. We only prevented a group of Congress and Youth Congress activists on Wednesday as they were attempting to travel in the opposite direction of that day’s scheduled convoy of traffic on Jammu-Srinagar Highway”, Uttam Chand told State Times.

SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar as well as Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone maintained that “to the best of our knowledge” no individual or group had applied for permission to a show of flag hoisting at Lalchowk. Permission to such a demonstration, political or non-political, is a must as restrictions under section 144 of Cr PC remain in force without break in all districts of Kashmir valley.

BJP’s MLC Surinder Ambardar and incharge for South Kashmir Vir Saraf claimed that the Delhi-based group, which had announced to hoist the Tricolour at Lalchowk, was in no way associated with BJP. Notwithstanding their clarification, an impression is gathering ground in the Valley that the organisers of the show were enjoying support of both BJP as well as RSS.

Several people on Facebook circulated appeals asking “all Kashmiris” to march to Lalchowk on May 16th to foil the attempts of “communal forces” to hoist the Indian national flag. The posters typeset in Urdu were issued by “Sangbaaz Kashmiri” (an anonymous stone pelter).

In a significant development, formidable militant group Hizbul Mujahideen’s “Supreme Commander” and Chairman of Pakistan-based United Jijad Council, Syed Salah-ud-din, issued a strong reaction on Thursday. He alleged that on the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diktat “RSS, Bajrang Dal and other right wing elements have entered the Valley to carry out slaughter of Muslims”.  He called the act of hoisting the Tricolour “in presence of lakhs of forces” as “no bravery but an act of cowardice”. He urged the international community to keep close vigil over the situation in Kashmir as the “communal mindset of right wing parties are hell- bent to create a stir in Kashmir”.

“Mufti government must not support Modi’s nefarious plans as it would prove costlier for it”, Salah-ud-din threatened.

A number of Kashmir’s separatist and guerrilla groups have already opposed the Delhi-based group’s plan.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

NC MLA files privilege motion against CM

Altaf Wani is indignant over being “ignored” by Mufti during his tour of Pahalgam

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 13: Principal opposition party National Conference’s MLA from Pahalgam Altaf Ahmad Wani is incensed over being “ignored” by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed during his visit to the world-famous tourist attraction. On Wednesday, Wani claimed to have filed a privilege motion against Mufti even as the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Mehboob Beg asserted that Chief Minister was “not bound” to include the MLA in his entourage and Speaker as well as Secretary of Assembly maintained that they had not received any such motion.

Wani alleged at a news conference that his replacement by PDP’s defeated candidate Rafi Ahmad Mir during CM’s visit and meetings with the authorities at Pahalgam on Tuesday was a violation of the precedence and the protocol he was entitled to as MLA. He claimed to have immediately filed a privilege motion against CM in terms of Rule 238 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

Speaker Kavinder Gupta as well as Secretary of Legislative Assembly Mohammad Ramzan, however, told State Times that they had not seen any member’s privilege motion till late on Wednesday. “Such a motion is supposed to be delivered by hand to Speaker. He reached late today from Jammu and I am not aware if he has received it”, Ramzan said. “No, I haven’t seen any such motion”, Speaker said on telephone.

PDP’s Chief Spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg asserted that Chief Minister was by no law or practice bound to carry along with him any area’s MLA during an official tour. “Yes, the concerned legislators are entitled to attend and there’s no question of their replacement by any individual or authority if it is a District Development Board meeting. But yesterday Mufti Sahab was on an extensive tour of Anantnag district and he did not call any District Development Board meeting. Had he called one, the NC MLA would have been definitely invited along with all MLAs, MLCs, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members of the district. Therefore, there’s no question of violation of any MLA’s protocol”, Beg told State Times.

Flanked by NC MLA Abdul Majid Larmi, MLCs Ali Mohammad Dar, Qaisar Jamsheed Lone and Showkat Ahmad Ganai, besides the party’s spokesman Junaid Mattu, Wani complained that a Chief Minister, who had lately stressed on maintenance of sanctity of the Assembly and its members, had shown disrespect to an elected peoples’ representative.

Wani said that he had filed the privilege motion with a resolve to safeguard the democratic rights of the people of Pahalgam who had elected him as their representative.

“This was not Mufti Sahab’s personal sight-seeing tour of Pahalgam. This was an official tour where the Chief Minister was accompanied by officers of the District Administration and where a review was conducted of various works in the constituency. How can the Chief Minister or the State Government sideline the constituents of Pahalgam in taking decisions that affect them? I am the duly elected representative of Pahalgam and I will not allow the Government to subvert the verdict of the people in Pahalgam. The ‘Warrant of Precedence Protocol, Privileges and Amenities to the Members of the State Legislature’ has been violated and I have filed a Privilege Motion against the Chief Minister today”, Wani said.  

“Also as per the Development Authority Act, I am a Member of the Pahalgam Development Authority. A meeting was held at the Civil Secretariat to review the Master Plan of Pahalgam under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and Minister incharge Tourism Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. I was neither informed nor invited to attend the meeting. Non-statutory as well as political workers of PDP along with Government officers were present, making this a political meeting in the guise of an official meeting. By doing this I was denied my statutory right to perform the functions of an elected MLA and member of the Pahalgam Development Authority”, he added.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First ‘composite township’ to come up in Kulgam

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, May 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government at the Centre wants the first composite township for rehabilitation of about one thousand Kashmiri Pandit families to come up in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district within current year.

Knowledgeable sources revealed to State Times here on Tuesday that the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has discussed the plan of the displaced Pandits’ return and rehabilitation in detail with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Singh, who has been in touch with some Pandit groups and leaders, has desired Mufti to provide 400 Kanals of land for construction of at least 1,000 flats somewhere in vicinity of Vessue, in Kulgam district, where a cluster of hutments had already been constructed for the Pandits who have been absorbed in government services and posted in Kashmir valley under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special package.

After a series of discussions in New Delhi, Mufti is understood to have received Singh’s call last week as the Home Minister wanted him to hasten the process of land acquisition for the first township in Kulgam district. Necessary instructions for identification of the site and land procurement have been communicated to the district Revenue authorities. A high level team from North Block, which has arrived in the summer capital today, is expected to conduct an inspection of the proposed site for security assessment in company of senior Police and Civil administration officials of the State government.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister is likely to visit Kulgam district alongwith a group of select Ministers, bureaucrats, Heads of Departments and senior Police and security officials. The team would carry out inspection of two proposed sites in Kulgam-Qazigund belt in the foothills of Pir Panjal mountain range. The process of land acquisition could start within a month.

Sources disclosed that Government of India was planning to create at least 10 of such townships for rehabilitation of the Pandits who were interested to return to the Valley but had serious security apprehension in living in their ancestral villages. “All the stakeholders, including the Pandit leaders and intellectuals would be involved with the rehabilitation process as soon as possible. Those keen to live in their own villages would be provided suitable land and an amount of Rs 20 lakh each family in instalments”, said a senior political source. According to him, government would also take on board MLA Devsar Mohammad Amin Bhat, MLA Noorabad and Minister of State Abdul Majid Paddar and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami.

In the wake of strong resistance to the idea of creating “protected and isolated settlements and ghettos” from almost all the Valley’s separatist and mainstream opposition groups, the BJP-PDP coalition is toying with the idea of offering 25% of the flats to the Muslims interested in living in the neighbourhood of Pandits. Because of this, the settlements have been named as “composite townships”.

Sources said that the government would also allot houses on the pattern of the displaced Pandits to members of the Muslim and Sikh communities who had migrated to Jammu, Delhi and other places because of armed insurgency and who were interested in returning to the Valley.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

With militancy picking up in South Kashmir, 2 CRPF men shot dead on Highway

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 11: Close on the heels of the death of three Constables of Jammu and Kashmir Police in a guerrilla attack and 15 civilians sustaining injuries in a grenade attack in Shopian, militants on Monday gunned down two personnel of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in South Kashmir.

Informed sources told State Times that Assistant Sub Inspector Omkar Singh and Constable Tilak Raj of CRPF 90th Battalion were on duty to guard Army and paramilitary convoys on Srinagar-Jammu highway against militant attacks at Halmulla, close to Sangham Bridge, when three to four militants attacked them with two AK-47 rifles from behind. Both the targeted personnel died on the spot. The militants snatched away from them one Insas Rifle and one AK-47 rifle and fled away. However, they dropped the longer gun Insas in a stream which was later recovered by Police.

Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman, Baleeguddin, according to KNS, claimed responsibility of the attack on behalf of his organisation. He claimed that two CRPF men were killed and the militants escaped after snatching away their guns.

Deputy Inspector General of Police in South Kashmir Nitish Kumar, however, told State Times that it appeared to an action by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. He said there was immediately no substantive clue or evidence but Police were investigating all possible theories. “We have observed that LeT has recruited some cadres but they are left with insufficient weapons. So, they have been attacking and killing Police or paramilitary targets mainly to snatch away their rifles. LeT alone has done such attacks on Bijbehara-Pampore patch of the highway in the last two years. So, we suspect LeT”, DIG said.

Residents of Halmulla, Marhama and Panjpora maintained that they had no idea about the group behind today’s broad daylight attack on the CRPF Road Opening Party. However, most of them invariably suspected it to be the handiwork of LeT’s Irshad group, which was known to have carried out such actions on the highway from Nowgam Srinagar to Bijbehara in the last three years.

Highly placed sources in J&K Police revealed to State Times that Hizbul Mujahideen, LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad had reorganised guerrilla groups in South Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts. “As many as 13 youths have joined militant groups in Pulwama district alone in the last four months. In entire South Kashmir, presently 85 militants are active and 65 of them are well identified and listed”, said a senior Police official.

Another officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police said that militancy could increase further in Pulwama-Shopian-Kulgam belt. “
We are under instructions from the new government that nobody should be arrested or detained under PSA. We cannot subject any suspect to custodial interrogation even if we have strong evidences and clues of someone’s involvement with militancy. But still we believe that the funeral processions of the dead militants are the biggest stimulant of the militant cadres’ revival and reorganisation. Youths, particularly the younger ones and unemployed, get excited with Pakistani flags and separatist slogans. Some of them later want to pick up the gun”, said the officer.