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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rifle grenade attack on towers in Sopore

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 29: In their fifth attack in northern Kashmir, suspected guerrillas of ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ outfit on Friday targeted three mobile phone signal towers of the telecommunication companies in Sopore.

Official sources told State Times that suspected militants fired two UBGL grenades towards three towers installed at Ganjoo House, in close vicinity of Hassan Motors, which also houses a company headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles 22nd battalion, at around 9.00 p.m. However, both the rifle grenades failed to hit the target and exploded in the air without causing any damage.

No guerrilla group had immediately claimed responsibility.

Sources said that the daredevil attack came in hours of a high level security meeting on the offensive against the telecommunication companies that was chaired by Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar and attended by senior Police, CRPF and Army officers. The meeting venue was not far away from Ganjoo House which was targeted in the evening.

After a series of threats, that came in the wake of the seizure of a communication device installed by militants atop a tower in Sopore, ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ warned the operators and service retailers to shut their business. On May 23, the first attack, a hand grenade, occurred on the premises of a tower operator at Kralteng, Sopore. On May 25, unidentified gunmen shot dead one Rafeeq Bhat of Handwara who worked at a BSNL franchise at Shah Faisal Market in Sopore. The franchise owner and one of his employees got critically injured.

On May 26, unidentified gunmen shot dead another tower operator, Ghulam Hassan Dar, at his home in Dooru village of Sopore. Sixteen AK-47 rounds were pumped into his body. On May 27, unidentified gunmen fired upon another tower operator, Imtiyaz Ahmad Sofi alias Nadru, at Saad Mohalla of Pattan. With gunshot wounds in his leg, he was admitted to Bone & Joint Hospital of Srinagar.

‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ sets 24-hours deadline to shut cellphone operations in Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 29: After grinding to a halt mobile telephony in Sopore, Baramulla and Pattan townships of northern Kashmir by a chain of attacks that had left two persons dead and three more wounded, ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ outfit has issued a fresh warning and asked the network operators and recharge outlets to close down their operations permanently in entire Kashmir valley within 24 hours.

Hours before Friday’s rifle grenade attack on two mobile phone signal towers which missed the target at Ganjoo House in Sopore [see box], mysterious guerrilla outfit ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ said in unequivocal terms that it wanted total closure of the mobile telephone system in entire Kashmir valley.

“From now on, if telecommunication networks, Lapo recharge and tower land owners don’t stop their work, we will take strict action against them. They have only one day to wind up their work,” warned the group’s field operation spokesman Gazi Abu Sariq in a statement released by a local news agency. He alleged that senior jihadist commanders in Kashmir had been killed or arrested with the help of “telecommunications”.

“After our writing to the telecommunication networks, the results are known to everyone. When Indian government asked them to terminate the SMS services as same benefited the Mujahideen, it took these telecommunication networks less than half-an-hour to terminate the services. Today, when for the sake of Islam we ask these telecommunication networks to suspend their operations, why do they respond with reluctance? Why have they not stopped their services till now? Even at present, from everywhere there are signals of towers and recharge lapo shops are doing their business. Land owners also are not dismantling their towers. Showroom people are also in the showrooms and our eyes are on everyone,” the outfit spokesman said in his statement.

He advised the chiefs of the militant organisations to “concentrate on ground situation because Allah has mentioned that it is His land and here only His law shall prevail.” “Only those who are in the battlefield know what hardships they do face. A Mujahid in the battlefield knows what he has to remain cautious about and, thanks to Almighty, we have better knowledge about Quran and Sunnah”, he added.

In a significant development, the statement asked Kashmir’s Hurriyat leaders to take oath on Quran to get united. “We want to tell you (Hurriyat) leaders that, from now on, do not participate in the funeral procession of any martyr and never do politics by lecturing on these occasions. Stop playing politics over the blood of martyrs. We will not accept it. It will be better for Hurriyat to mind its own business and avoid interference in our matters. If Hurriyat does its duty with honesty, it will be better.

Reports said that most of the network towers and almost all the services recharge outlets have been closed down in Sopore-Baramulla-Pattan zone. Army, Police and other security agencies have approached the recharge vendors and the tower operators to continue their business without fear. However, their persuasion has field to yield any positive result as the terror group has continued attacks concurrent to its threats.

Today’s reports said that threats were communicated by phone to a large number of the people associated with mobile telephony in other North Kashmir towns like Kupwara, Drugmulla and Sogam. After the Friday prayers, a threatening letter to the vendors appeared at a shop in Drugmulla, 5 Km short of Kupwara and close to Army’s Sector Headquarters, asking the retailers to immediately shut their business and dismantle the towers.

“Now everybody has shut the recharge business, though all the towers are still functional in Kupwara district. But if, God forbid, any fatal casualty happens here, people will shut down all the signal towers excluding the ones installed at the residences of retired Police officers and other security zones”, said a resident of Drugmulla.

Formidable guerrilla outfits like Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen have publicly disassociated with the attacks and threats to the mobile phone network and services operators. Senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has unequivocally condemned these attacks as “acts of terrorism” and by insinuation attributed the same to the “counter-terrorists” which the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had suggested to raise last week. Geelani has asked Pakistan-based United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin to hold a detailed investigation into the unknown outfit’s threats and attacks on the mobile operators.


Friday, May 29, 2015

IGP holds Hizbul Mujahideen responsible for Sopore telecom breakdown

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 28: Breaking the State government’s silence over the mobile telephony breakdown in Sopore, Inspector General of Police for Kashmir Zone Syed Javaid Mujataba Gillani claimed on Thursday that none other than a local group of Hizbul Mujahideen militants had spread a wave of terror with four attacks in the last five days. Two persons associated with the mobile phone operations have been killed and three more injured.

“These threats and attacks started after we seized an improvised radio device which Hizbul Mujahideen had planted on a tower. It was a call-repeater used for receiving, relaying and boosting their voice data in Sopore, Baramulla and Pattan. They warned the people operating the towers of different companies and asked the private vendors to stop recharging phone services. First they printed and circulated a poster and later they started the strikes”, IGP Kashmir told State Times.
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and head of the Hizbul Mujahideen and United Jihad Council, Syed Salahuddin, have condemned the armed attacks and disassociated themselves from the offensive. They have attributed it to the Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s “counter-terrorists”. Significantly, however, none of the separatist or militant groups has called for any protest shutdown, buttressing speculations of a militant group’s involvement.

Mr Gillani claimed that the Police had launched a comprehensive investigation and succeeded in identifying all the 6 to 8 militants and their overground workers who had threatened people, circulated posters and attacked the defiant operators. “We have fully worked out the grenade attack on a tower operator’s premises at Kralteng on May 23. We have also seized some posters and tracked almost all the characters associated with the task of threatening the vendors”, IGP said. Over half-a-dozen suspects have been arrested and detained for questioning.
Reports from North Kashmir said that almost all the towers of the private companies, installed on private premises, have been shut down. Services in Baramulla too have been disrupted as some landlords and SIM card retailers have installed notice boards of closure. “Only the main switching centres and networking towers on protected premises are now functional”, said a resident. He claimed that Airtel had fully closed down its business and operations in North Kashmir after the four attacks. None of the officials in Aircel and Airtel responded to phone calls.

IGP said that Police were “continuously in touch with BSNL and all the private telecommunication companies. “We are working on it and trying to restore the telecommunication system in Sopore, Baramulla and Pattan. We have offered the tower operators and vendors Police protection. I am hopeful that the mobile telephony operations will resume in a couple of days”, IGP asserted.
According to Police sources, there are 192 towers of different telecommunication companies in the jurisdiction of the Police district of Sopore. Of these, 28 are in Sopore town. Of the 28, as many as 21 towers have been shut in the town in the wake of the suspected militant threats and attacks on the service providers. Reports said that over 100 towers were now non-functional in Sopore and Baramulla areas. Pre-paid cellphone subscribers have been hit the worst.

Only the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir have condemned the attacks and killing of the two civilians. BJP’s partner in the State government, PDP, besides the principal opposition parties National Conference and Congress have remained tight-lipped.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ killings turn apple-town into a ghost town

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 27:  Indiscriminate firing from AK-47 rifles on five civilians associated with the mobile telephony operations on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday has abruptly turned Sopore---the apple rich township in northern Kashmir that was bustling with business until beginning of this month---into a ghost town. Everything from the Government offices and banks to the street vendors and private businesses, shuts before the sunset even as the threat of an unknown guerrilla group ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ has brought uncertainty to the livelihood of thousands of the Kashmiri youths working for the private telecommunication companies.

Twenty-six-year-old Rafeeq Bhat of Handwara died on the spot in the first shootout at his BSNL franchise office-cum-showroom at Shah Faisal Market. The owner, along with another employee, sustained injuries. On previous Saturday, unidentified ‘militants’ had started the operation of making entire mobile phone services dysfunctional in Sopore with a grenade attack on the premises of a tower operator at Kralteng. It, however, didn’t explode.

In the third attack, 55-year-old Ghulam Hassan Dar was shot dead when gunmen pumped 16 AK-47 bullets into his body at Dooru, on the outskirts of Sopore on Tuesday. Dar had an Airtel tower at his home and a services recharge outlet. According to the residents, six “militants” had appeared at his home last week and asked him to close down his mobile phone operation and business. He defied the diktat.

In the fourth consecutive attack on Wednesday, gunmen fired upon Imtiyaz Ahmad Sofi alias Nadru close to his home at Saad Mohalla of Pattan. Nadru operates three signal towers of Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone at his premises. With gunshots in his thigh, he was evacuated and rushed to Bone and Joint Hospital at Barzulla in Srinagar.

“Every day an attack betrays incompetence and indifference of the State government. It also indicates total helplessness of the ordinary citizens. Everybody feels insecure. Nobody dares to move out after sunset as the fear of the gunmen has gripped Sopore after 5 years. Now, the gunmen are calling the shots and killing their targets at will. Nobody from the government or the ruling coalition has uttered a word of concern or condemnation. Even the separatist leaders are dumbfounded, though Syed Ali Shah Geelani has dismissed these attacks as terrorist actions. Yasin Malik has asked Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-din to hold a probe. None of them has come forward with a word of reassurance to the residents of Sopore. None of them has called for a protest shutdown”, Said one Ghulam Mohammad Lone who has a tower at his home and has closed it down.

Not one of the people one talks to in Sopore is ready to say a word on record. “This is all off the record. Don’t please publish my name”, they plead invariably. “After floods and other natural calamities, this is a serious threat to Kashmir’s economy. It will render thousands of the Kashmiri youths jobless”, said Tanvir Ahmad who works as an engineer with one of the companies. “Our company has already shifted its master control switching facility to Jammu. Now it has got another excuse handy to shift its operations and terminate our jobs”, he added.

It is probably for the first time that the gunmen, widely believed to be the cadres of a formidable militant group but suspected by Geelani and other separatists as the “counter-terror cadres” mentioned by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, are translating their threat into action.

In the posters issued on the banner of ‘Lashkar-e-Islami’, commander Saifullah had, earlier this month, made it very much clear that the people who would show defiance to the diktat would be killed after the deadline of seven days “inside their homes”. He had described “telecommunication” as “one of India’s dirtiest conspiracies done in collaboration with the Western countries to weaken the jihadist movement”. “Because of this telecommunication, many of our able commanders were got arrested or martyred. Our movement and jihadist outfits have suffered great reverses because of it”, Saifullah said in the text.

Threatening death to the defaulters, the poster said that by their defiance the delinquents would “simply invite death”. “If you don’t shut down all these towers, supply and battery systems and recharge facilities, we will kill you after seven days inside your homes”.  After the four attacks, Aircel’s operations in Sopore have stopped completely while as towers are functioning but recharge handling has stopped in Baramulla and Pattan. Residents complained of “weak signals” and total disruption of Internet data services in Baramulla. They said that the operations of other service providers---Airtel, Idea, Vodafone and BSNL---had also suffered badly.

Aircel’s Kashmir Business Manager B.K. Kaul insisted that he had “no knowledge of the total closure of operations in Baramulla and Sopore. “I will check for the latest and get back to you”, Mr Kaul told State Times but he didn’t keep his word.

Notwithstanding the fact that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen have disassociated themselves from the incidents of the last five days, besides the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s outright condemnation, none of the separatist leaders or groups has called for a shutdown. “If they equivocally attribute these actions to Parrikar’s terrorists, what prevents them from issuing a call? Previously, they have put Kashmir on fire with such calls at the drop of a hat”, one Ghulam Hassan of Sopore pointed out. “Only the conduct of our separatist leaders makes it clear that it is all the handiwork of their militants”, he asserted.

Caught in an unenviable situation, Geelani on Wednesday evening reiterated that the offensive against telecom operators in Sopore and Baramulla was “terrorism” aimed at “defaming our movement”. He asserted that there should be an investigation as India, according to him, could exploit these attacks to stigmatize the separatist struggle.

Geelani said that the persons or the agencies involved in these types of incidents are not only the enemies of the humanity but they are also working against the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri nation and this act is purely a terrorist act. “The picture about the killers is unclear yet but the recent statement of the Indian defense minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar that ‘target killings and terrorism is the solution of the militancy in Kashmir’ gives birth to many questions and doubts and in this perspective we can’t rule-out the another angle of these actions that it may be the deliberate attempt to put the terrorist tag on the freedom struggle of Kashmiris”, he said.

Geelani described telecommunication as “a life line in the modern era and the life looks impossible without this system”. “It is no crime to work in this sector and it can’t be the base to kill anybody”. He said that the target killing of the employees and people related to the telecom companies in Sopore is “beyond the intellect and we fail to understand that who people and what objectives are behind these attacks?” He added: “Mujahideen organizations should also investigate these incidents at their own level and find out the real culprits and objectives hidden behind these attacks”.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Militants shut cellphone business with 2 killings in 2 days in Sopore
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 26: A day after striking on a BSNL franchisee and killing one of his employees in broad daylight shootout in Sopore, suspected militants on Tuesday night shot dead a middle-aged civilian who had refused to close down a tower and a recharge outlet at his home in Dooru village. With this offensive, gunmen, widely believed to be the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, have spread a wave of terror and rendered the entire cellphone business dysfunctional in the home constituency of the Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani who had, significantly, condemned Monday’s firing as an “act of terrorism”.

Informed official sources told State Times that two unidentified persons barged into the residence of 55-year-old Ghulam Hassan Dar at Dooru---Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s village in Sopore outskirts---at 9.30 p.m. One of them took out his AK-47 rifle and showered bullets on Dar, killing him on the spot. The assassins walked away without any resistance.

According to these sources, a militant group had directed Dar to close down the operation of an Airtel mobile tower on his premises besides a cellphone recharge outlet last week. However, Dar had ignored the diktat and continued his business. His defiance is believed to have provoked the militants to kill him.

Previously a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen, Dar had set up his small time businesses after his release from jail in 1998. Later, one of his four sons, Tanvir Ahmad Dar, contested Panchayat elections of 2011 and was elected as Sarpanch.

On Monday, suspected militants had attacked BSNL franchise of one Ghulam Mohammad Bhat at Noorbagh, in Sopore township. While as Bhat and one of his employees, Imtiyaz Ahmad Bhat of Achhabal, were critically injured in the firing inside their office on first floor of the building in the busy Shah Faisal Market, another employee---26-year-old Rafeeq Ahmad Bhat of Pohrupeth Handwara---died on the spot. The injured are under treatment at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.

On Saturday, suspected militants had lobbed a hand grenade on the premises of another civilian at Kralteng, in Sopore township. It failed to explode but caused a wave of terror among the people associated with the mobile telephony operations. Last fortnight, suspected militants, had circulated posters in the name of “Lashkar-e-Islami”, believed to be a front name, asking everybody concerned in Sopore area to immediately close down mobile phone tower operations besides the cellphone recharge outlets.

Immediately after the broad daylight attack on Monday, most of the cellphone operations and recharge businesses of BSNL, Airtel, Aircel, Reliance, Vodafone and Idea Cellular came to a grinding halt in Sopore and the district headquarters of Baramulla. It has reportedly affected thousands of the pre-paid cellphone subscribers of different companies. Voice call and Internet services on pre-paid phones have been badly affected.

According to well-informed sources, militants have started the offensive immediately after a sophisticated wireless device, which they had secretly planted on the top of a tower, disappeared in mysterious circumstances. They have threatened the cellphone operators to either return the device or pay them a huge amount of money as “compensation” in case it had been seized by Police or any other government agency.

IGP Kashmir Javaid Mujtaba Gillani told State Times: “We have detected the improvised radio device on one BTS tower and seized it. Our investigation is underway as we have already questioned a number of people”. The IGP said that the device had been planted for relaying, receiving, boosting and transmitting voice calls of the militant network in Sopore-Baramulla-Pattan belt of North Kashmir. He said such equipment, made out of a conventional Kenwood-type radio set with a changed circuit, had been detected and seized in J&K for the first time.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Four soldiers, 2 militants killed in Tangdar, Kulgam encounters

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 25: Even as security forces suffered a major setback, losing three soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in a fierce encounter with the infiltrating militants on the LoC in Tangdar area of Kupwara district on Monday, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s top wanted “District Commander” in South Kashmir, Ayatullah alias Khomeini, got killed in another gunbattle in Kulgam.

Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar told State Times that an Army patrol was ambushed by a group of heavily armed infiltrating militants around Darshak Post, on the LoC, in Tangdar. Troops retaliated effectively and killed at least one militant. “But, unfortunately our men got possibly exposed and three of them died in the ambush”, DGP said. According to the information available with the DGP, one of three soldiers killed in the encounter was a Subedar.

“The operation is continuing as reinforcement has rushed to the spot. We are sure that more than one militant have died, though we have spotted only one body”, DGP said.

Defence spokesperson at headquarters of 15 Corps, Lt Col. N.N. Joshi said that the patrol, led by a JCO, intercepted an infiltrating group of terrorists. “In the heavy exchange of fire that followed, the infiltrating group was beaten back leaving behind one dead terrorist from whom one AK-47, one Pistol and other administrative items were recovered. During the firefight, four jawan sustained injuries of which three succumbed and one is out of danger. As per last reports, the operation is still in progress”.

DGP Rajendra, who visited the site of another encounter and spoke to State Times from Kulgam late on Monday night, said that a couple of militants ambushed a patrol of rashtriya Rifles 1st battalion at Kanjikullah, near Yaripora village of Kulgam, in the afternoon. Troops retaliated and at least one militant got injured. However, in the initial shootout, one soldier got critically injured who later succumbed to injuries at Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.

Residents led the troops to a trail of blood which helped the Army, alongwith Kulgam Police and CRPF 18th battalion, reach the militant hideout in an orchard. The injured militant engaged troops in another gunfight in which he died. He was later identified as Ayatullah Bhat alias Khomeini of Chinnigam Frisal, a top wanted “District Commander” of LeT.

According to Police records, Khomeini, who also operated with code name of Abu Maaz, was wanted in several militancy related crimes since 2010. He had allegedly shot dead Sarpanch Gul Mohammad Dar of Hawora on February 9, 2012, He was also wanted for allegedly killing one Police and two CRPF personnel at Arwani and Awaneera and the assassination of a civilian, Zakir Sayeed Bhat of Sangas Kulgam.

DGP described Khomeini’s death in Monday’s encounter as a major success for security forces and Police and a significant setback for LeT. He said that apart from planning and carrying out several attacks on soft targets, Police and security forces, Khomeini had also recruited a number of the local youths in his organisation. He was a close associate of LeT’s topmost commander in South Kashmir Abu Qasim.

An official spokesman said that unidentified gunmen, suspected to be militants, fired upon the local subsidiary of BSNL, Iqra Telecom in Naupora Sopore, in the forenoon. Three persons at the business establishment sustained injuries. They were identified as Mohammad Rafeeq of Pohru Handwara, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Noorbagh and Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone of Achhabal, Sopore. They were rushed to Srinagar and admitted to SMHS Hospital where Rafeeq succumbed to injuries.

In a significant development, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani condemned the attack on the unarmed civilians. In an unusual condemnation, Geelani without blaming the government agencies alleged that some people were doing acts of terror to defame Islam and Kashmir’s separatist movement.

Mufti Govt ridicules Defence Minister, says creating Ikhwan is abetment to mass murder

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 24: Days after the senior BJP leader and union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's suggestion that the  Narendra Modi government should use terrorists to neutralize the terrorists----evoking a deluge of criticism from almost all the opposition parties, media and civil society groups----PDP's leader and Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar on Sunday ruled out the revival of counterinsurgent group Ikhwanul Muslimoon in Jammu and Kashmir. Akhtar is also the Mufti Sayeed government's designated spokesperson.

“Whosoever is dishing out such absurd views, is grossly ignorant about both----the ground realities in Kashmir and the law,” Mr Akhtar said in a statement without naming Mr Parrikar.

Mr Akhtar said in a landmark judgment on the issue of Salwa Judam---the government-sponsored gunmen used by Chattisgarh government against Maoists---the Supreme Court in April 2008, declared all such activities illegal and unconstitutional. He said the Supreme Court has, in it judgment, made it clear that arms can’t be given to a civilian to kill and “anybody doing so will be an abettor of the offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (murder)".

“So if somebody has made any statement on the issue, he must be completely ignorant about the law,” Mr Akhtar said in probably the PDP's first affront to the coalition partner BJP. He claimed that
PDP had earned its credibility among the masses by rising against and holding back such practices.

“Everybody knows how in 2002, the PDP-led coalition government not only ended the infamous Ikhwan culture in Kashmir but also wound up the dreaded Task Force and the people in every nook and corner of the State at that time acknowledged the substantial relief on the security front,” he said and added that except PDP all other political parties and groups in Kashmir including NC and Congress had ruthlessly used the government-gunmen for political purposes.

“It was NC which for the first time provided political space to Ikhwanis in 1996 by sending them to the legislature and Congress was not far behind in institutionalizing Ikhwan culture by offering some noted Ikhwanis space in the party’s rank and file,” he said and added that not going too far, even a cursory look at the list of candidates of 2014 assembly elections would make it clear which party had most of the Ikhwanis as its frontline cadres.

Significantly, Mr Akhtar spared the BJP and did not mention the names of the one-time Ikhwanis and counter-insurgents who had contested and won, or lost, the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 20 years. Interestingly, at least one of the BJP's MLAs from Kishtwar, having counterinsurgency background, is a Minister in Mufti's government. Even in 2002, Mufti had inducted one of former Ikhwanis, who was then an independent MLA from Bandipore, as a Minister in his PDP-Congress coalition government. Same person, now in Congress, was returned from the same segment in 2014. Even Congress party’s candidates Hilal Shah, who contested against Mufti from Anantnag, was known for his counterinsurgency links.

To begin with, Ikhwan's political arm Awami League had contested Lok Sabha elections of 1996, which were boycotted by National Conference, but lost in all three constituencies in the Valley. Later, it also fielded its candidates in the Assembly elections of 1996. Only one of them---AL's and Ikhwan's founder Kukka Parray---was declared elected, from Sonawari. Subsequently, Parray's ace colleague and Ikhwan's co-founder Javaid Hussain Shah broke away from the Army-sponsored group. On joining NC, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah got him elected as MLC.

Armed forces crushed militancy with the help of Ikhwanis and counter-insurgents of Muslim Mujahideen in 1994-1997 period in large-scale violence and bloodletting. More than 3,000 militants are believed to have been killed with the support of these local counter-insurgents who also kidnapped and killed hundreds of unarmed supporters of the separatist movement, particularly those of Jamaat-e-Islami. These groupes ceased to exist and operate after most of their cadres, including the Ikhwan founders Kukka Parray and Javaid Shah, were eliminated by the militants.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pro-Pakistan show at Mirwaiz Umar’s religious seat in Srinagar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR,  May 22: A strong pro-Pakistan demonstration, followed by clashes between the separatists and the Police, marked Friday afternoon congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid---Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's religious seat in Srinagar.

With Mirwaiz being under "house arrest" at his Nageen residence since Wednesday, Imam of Jamia Masjid led the prayers at the mosque in downtown Srinagar smoothly. On every Friday, Mirwaiz delivers a sermon at the gathering before the prayers conducted by the Imam. He speaks on religious and political issues.

When the prayers concluded and the participants were returning to their homes and working places, a group of the people carrying green Islamic flags began shouting pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans. Soon the Pakistani national flags appeared in the rally with the addition of one flag of the jihadist guerrilla group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.

Three men, one of them bespectacled and wearing white colour Khan dress and waist-coat, raised pro-Pakistan slogans. The gathering responded with enthusiasm. Thereafter, the bespectacled man, whose identity could not be ascertained, made a brief speech. He said that the Kashmiris would en masse favour accession to Pakistan whenever they would get an opportunity of referendum. "We will all go with Pakistan", he said amid high-pitch slogans in favour of Pakistan and "freedom".

Suddenly, a number of the participants began pelting stones towards the thick deployment of Police and CRPF. As the attack intensified and some youths struck batons on the Police vehicles, forces repulsed the offensive with tearsmoke and baton charge.

Possibly for the first time dince the PDP patron took over as Chief Minister on March 1st, Police and CRPF used pepper gas guns to disperse the unruly gathering. They chased away the stone-throwers in lanes and narrow by-lanes in close vicinity of Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area. The clashes continued for half-an-hour.

Waving of Pakistani flags and shouting of pro-Pakistan slogans returned to the strife-torn Kashmir valley after the year 2010, days after the PDP-BJP alliance assumed power. It was first on April 15 that Pakistan supporters waved dozens of Pakistani national flags in front of J&K Police headquarters at Peerbagh and raised pro-Pakistan and pro-jihadist slogans at a reception rally organised for the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. With pressure mounting on BJP from its cadre and media across the country, Mufti was forced to re-arrest Muslim League leader Massarat Alam. Alam, Geelani and others were booked for sedition and unlawful activities.

Later, another strong pro-Pakistan demonstration was witnessed in Tral on occasion of Geelani's visit to the family of a top wanted Hizbul Mujahideen commander whose brother had died at a militant hideout in one of Army’s controversial operations.