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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Kashmir woman Murcyleen Peerzada quits IRF

In 2012 she assisted direction of 'Ek Tha Tiger'; In 2013, she joined Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz 
JAMMU, Jan 22: Murcyleen Peerzada, 24, a Mumbai-based Kashmiri woman, who hogged headlines last year for her dramatic flight from the glamorous Bollywood to Zakir Naik's religion preaching organisation, on Friday announced to have quit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).

“My association with Dr Zakir Naik's IRF has come to end today and from now I have no longer any association with the ladies wing of IRF. The decision of quitting my association with the organization is a personal one,” Peerzada said in an email to Srinagar-based news gathering agency Kashmir News Service.

“When I came to studying Islam, I didn't know anyone from the field of Dawah, and I was eager to learn it. For this I have joined one of the only Islamic organizations that I knew existed for women that time which was run by Mrs. Zakir Naik", Peerzada said while asserting that her path and that of the IRF did not match anymore.

“That was then and this is now, I part ways with IRF & can't accommodate it anymore. I'm grateful for most of the beneficial knowledge they gave me. However, our paths don't match anymore. I love positivity & creativity. I agree that the parting could be silent, however, since "YRF (Yash Raj Films) to IRF" was a page from my life that was appreciated, I thought it's best to put this development out there. I don't know where Allah will take me next but it's going to be some place amazing and positive I'm sure", she added.

“I will be not leaving Dawah work, just leaving an organization. Dawah work should be positive and peaceful, I strongly believe that. I am attracted to positivity & really want to do more fun & lighter things. I have a long way to go,” she is reported to have said.

Efforts to reach Peerzada and her Mumbai-based businessmen father Feroze Peerzada on telephone did not succeed.

Hailing from a village on the outskirts of the famous apple town of Sopore in northern Kashmir, the Peerzada family enjoyed proximity to the Bollywood bigwig Yash Chopra---a frequent Kashmir visitor who died days after shooting his last film in the Valley, in 2012. Chopra’s YRF had shot some of Bollywood's top box office hits on the picturesque Valley locales. 

Then 21, Peerzada made her debut as assistant director of the YRF magnum opus 'Ek Tha Tiger', directed by Kabir Khan and produced by Chopra’s son Aditya Chopra and Sohail Sen.
This Indian action spy film had Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in stellar roles, besides Roshan Seth, Ranvir Shorey and Girish Karnad who played the RAW chief.

In 2013, she was signed up for YRF’s Shuddh Desi Romance as a costume assistant director. But since the director Maneesh Sharma liked to take up newcomers for his movies, he asked her to do a screen test. “When I faced the camera, I suddenly felt exposed, emotionally and physically, even though I was wearing a salwar kameez. I felt vulnerable and uncomfortable. I just got up, and said, ‘I don’t want to do this", she told The Indian Express in an interview in August 2014. 

Peerzada revealed that Yash Chopra’s death, coupled with Maneesh Sharma’s screen test, transformed her persona. Recluse at her home, she stumbled upon the transcript of one of Zakir Naik's speeches. It changed her life completely. She abandoned her Westernised, flamboyant lifestyle. From a “crazy shopaholic” who would lap up the “most expensive dresses and jeans”, she wore an all-black burqa. 
bought a lot of burqas; earlier, I’d shop for Western clothes.”

While pursuing a Masters in Islamic Studies with an online university in Qatar, she picked up a thick collection of Hijabs in Dubai and joined Dr Naik's wife Farha as a female Islamic preacher and activist. In the next few months, she began organising female gatherings in Srinagar and preached Naik's puritanical ideology of Islam that runs contrary to the Sufi tradition popular in Kashmir since 14th century A.D.

In 2014, Peerzada organised an Ijtima in Srinagar, close to the venue of a musical concert. Next day she posted on Instagram: "Yesterday there was a musical concert in Kashmir15 minutes away from our conference which was attended by Bollywood actors Sohail Khan and Suniel Shetty. For Kashmir, that’s something rare. We were asked to move our conference so that we may be able to pull a crowd. But look at Allah’s greatness, we gathered a crowd of 4,000 people and the concert a crowd of 200.” 

Nouman Ali Khan and Yasmin Mogahed became her role models.

Her tweets are usually re-tweets of Islamic scholars, and most are spiritual, asking people to turn to Allah to solve problems in their lives. “I don’t believe in teaching extremism. I have a very liberal approach towards religion. Angry speeches are not going to eventually appeal to the young, only love and wisdom can. Islam is a religion in controversy, and it needs youngsters like us to reach out to young Muslims in a humourous, light manner. American preacher Nouman Ali Khan cracks jokes in between his talks. That’s how it should be,” she said in an interview. She had a huge following on Instagram.

“They (the media) reduce women to objects that satisfy men and cause only a negative impact in people’s life including social networking sites. All the girls should learn to value themselves and their bodies. Cover up for the sake of Allah! Your body and also your character… My friends aren’t the girls who display themselves to the world, my friends are the girls who say they believe in Allah and prove it everyday. They’re the kinds that will Insha Allah reunite with me in jannah. Their goal isn’t ‘boys, parties and fashion’. Their goal is jannah", she once posted.

Peerzada now suggests her "positivity and creativity" is in conflict with Dr Naik's teachings but in her cautiously drafted email she steers clear of being critical to the cleric whose radical preaching provides an inspiration to a huge chunk of the Muslim population in India including Jammu and Kashmir.


[ Published in today's STATE TIMES ] 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Youth killed in forces' firing on mob after 2 militants' died in Pulwama encounter

Police Rakhshak torched, 17 cops injured in clashes; Geelani calls for shutdown

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz 
JAMMU, Jan 20: Current year's first civilian casualty in the Police and security forces' firing in Kashmir occurred in Naina Batpora village of Pulwama district in South Kashmir on Wednesday as the residents engaged the armed forces in violent clashes after a gunbattle in which two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen are believed dead.

Defence sources claimed that two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in the joint operation by Pulwama Police, Rashtriya Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force at Naina Batpora where a cordon-and-search operation had been launched on a specific information about the presence of two to three militants on Tuesday evening. Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, maintained that only one militant's body was recovered from the site of the encounter.

Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Saleem Hashmi confirmed in a statement emailed to Srinagar-based mediapersons that two of his organisation's cadres had got killed in the encounter. He identified them as Shakir Ahmad Bhat alias Abdul Aziz of Banduna and Lateef Ahmad alias Haroon of Begpora.

DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar told STATE TIMES that Police and security forces had an 18-hour-long gunfight with the holed up militants. When the firing subsided and a portion of the identified house was brought down with IEDs, Police and troops started a search operation and recovered a militant's body alongwith an AK-47 rifle. Police got him identified as Shariq Ahmad Bhat of Brah Banduna, Pulwama.

"As soon as we started a search for the militants killed and their arms and ammunition, hundreds of residents gathered and attacked the Police and security gorces from all directions. Consequently we couldn't complete the search operation. We have taken the Hizbul Mujahideen statement seriously and we will be sifting through the debris in a couple of days. As of now, we can confirm only one militant's death but we can not rule out death of two militants", DIG said.

According to the DIG, a thick mob of the residents not only torched a Rakhshak vehicle of Police Station Kakpora but also caused injuries and fractures to 17 Police and paramilitary personnel. Those injured in the ding-dong clashes include two Deputy SPs----Nazir Ahmad Ganai of IRP 18th battalion and Iftikhar Choudhary of DAR Pulwama. He said that three civilians sustained firearm injuries in the clashes. Later one of the injured breathed his last at a hospital in Awantipora. He was identified as Pervez Ahmad Guroo of Naina Batpora.

Guroo, reports said, was a 23-year-old labourer who earned his livelihood out of sand extraction in river Jhelum. Residents maintained that Guroo was not part of the demonstration and he was shot dead by Police without a specific provocation. On the other hand, senior officials including DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar and SSP Pulwama Tejinder Singh, alleged that Police and security forces opened fire in self defence after a mob attacked and left injured over a dozen Police and paramilitary personnel including two officers. They claimed that there was no armed retaliation till the mob set a Rakhshak on fire and intensified its offensive.

Police Station Pulwama registered two FIRs---one on the encounter and another on the clashes, attacks, firing and the death of a youth.

With the death of the two militants in the encounter and a youth's killing in the firing by Police and security forces, Pulwama-Bijbehara-Awanipora belt of South Kashmir turned tense. Authorities did not confirm but sources revealed that curfew-like restrictions would be enforced in Naina Batpora area on the next three days. Train services in the Valley were closed down for Thursday late on Wednesday night.

Chairman of the radical faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani condemned Guroo's death in the Police fiing and called for shutdown in South Kashmir on Thursday. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2 Hizb militants trapped in Pulwama encounter

Police deserter Shakoor's associat Gazi surrenders

AhmedAli Fayyaz 

JAMMU, Jan 19: Two of Hizbul Mujahideen’s local militants are believed to be trapped after Police and security forces swooped down on Nayina Batpora village in Pulwama-Bijbehara belt of South Kashmir on Tuesday evening.

Residents said that Police and Army launched a crackdown in the evening when the people were busy with the prayers at the village mosque. They said that after being holed up for about two hours, all the civilians were rescued. They said that gunshots were heard intermittently till around midnight.

Official sources told STATE TIMES that SOG Pulwama alongwith troops from RR 55 Bn and CRPF swooped down on a militant hideout after receiving reliable information about the presence of the top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. However, by the time troops reached there, Burhan seemed to have left the village. Still two of his close associates got holed up. One of them, according to the officials busy with the operation, is Lateef of Dogripora.

DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar said that Police and forces managed to rescue all the family members of the civilian whose house was occupied by the two armed militants. He said that Police also succeeded in rescuing all the 40 civilians who had got trapped in the mosque. "On two occasions, militants opened fire which delayed our rescue operation for some time. However, by 11.30 pm we rescued all of them. Nobody is injured", DIG told STATE TIMES.

DIG said that there was little chance of the holed up militants' escape. He said that initially some residents tried to disrupt the operation with slogans and stones but they withdrew when Police used mild baton charge. SSP Pulwama Tejinder Singh and senior officers of Army’s Victor Force were supervising the operation at midnight.

Meanwhile STATE TIMES learned from highly placed official sources that one Gazi of Kundalan Shopian surrendered with one AK 47 rifle before SSP Shopian late in the evening on Tuesday. PSO of Dy SP Operations Bijbehara Irshad Ahmad Bhat, Constable Shakoor of Kundalan, had escaped with four AK 47 rifles three days back and given the guns to three residents of his village including Gazi.

Gazi revealed to Police that Shakoor and he approached both LET and Hizbul Mujahideen but neither of them trusted them. Finally he decided to surrender. He has given some leads about Shakoor's whereabouts to Police who have launched manhunt in search of the deserter. Dy SP Irshad Bhat had been attacked by militants at Bijbehara and left criticality injured on December 24. He is now recovering.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

PDP kept 18 MLAs, 4 MLCs out from crucial meeting on alliance with BJP

'Only Cabinet Ministers, family members, advisors, select MLCs and select office-bearers were invited'

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Jan 18: Voices of dissent rallying around the ebullient Member of Parliament and senior PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra are emerging as a potential threat to PDP's renewal of alliance with BJP as 22 legislators ---18 MLAs and 4 MLCs----had not been invited to Sunday's crucial meeting that set the tone for formation of the new government with BJP.

With his phone continuously switched off, Karra remained inaccessible after the conclusion of the PDP meeting at the Muftis' Fairview residence. However, a local news agency quoted him as saying that his silence in the meeting was not essentially his endorsement of the proposed government formation with BJP. He is reported to have said that he would soon have a one-on-one meeting with the party President Mehbooba Mufti and register his opposition to the suggestion of continuing the coalition with BJP.

Significantly, on January 12th Karra had categorically rejected the idea of PDP-BJP government while urging Mehbooba, in a statement through KNS, to terminate her party's alliance with BJP and approach Congress for forging a "secular government". 

Karra had said: "PDP has lost its support by tying up with a communal party. I have been saying from the last nine months that RSS-BJP is not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Because it has a history that since 1952, RSS and BJP have a hidden agenda in Kashmir. What RSS could not achieve in the last six decades, they have achieved that in the last six months. And not only has it damaged Kashmir, but also Peoples Democratic Party in Kashmir.”

Previously too, Karra, alongwith Muzaffar Hussain Baig, had boycotted PDP-BJP Coordination Committee meeting on August 19, PDP's meeting ahead of Prime Minister’s November 7th rally presided over by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on October 21 and finally PDP's marathon performance review meeting chaired by Mufti at Banquet Hall in Srinagar on December 19th.

Insiders said that Karra remained tightlipped all through the five-hour-long meeting in which none other than Ms Mufti herself set the tone in favour of forming the government with BJP even as some of the participants expressed disappointment over the fact that BJP had not fulfilled "even a single" of the promises and commitments held out to PDP in the common minimum programme called the 'Agenda of Alliance'. However, all 10 of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Cabinet Ministers----9 MLAs and one MLC--- besides Ms Mufti’s relatives and her father's and her own advisors emphasised that taking a different course would tantamount to proving the party patriarch as wrong.

Four of the party’s legislators, who spoke to STATE TIMES on condition of anonymity, said invariably that around two dozen MLAs and MLCs were "terribly upset" over not being invited to the meeting. "Out of 27 MLAs only 9 (all of them Sayeed's Cabinet Ministers) were invited. Out of 9 MLCs, only five were hand-picked for the meeting", said a legislator and senior PDP leader. "We were more surprised to see that Mufti Sahab’s aides, advisors and relatives, some of them not even basic members of the party, had been invited to the meeting", he added and asked how even the salaried people like Peer Mohammad Hussain (head of Wakf board) and Nayeema Mehjoor (Chairman State Women’s Commission) attended the crucial meeting. "They are neither legislators, nor ex-Ministers, nor even members of PAC or any other party panel. How can they decide about the party’s coalition with any other party? How can the very senior leaders and sitting legislators be left out of this crucial deliberation?", asked he.

When it was pointed out to the sulking PDP legislators that it was a "Core Group Meeting" which was not supposed to be attended by all the leadrs and legislators, one of them asserted: "There's no Core Group (Political Affairs Committee) or Executive Committee after dissolution of all the bodies last year. Only the President, some General Secretaries, District Presidents, District Coordinators and Zonal Presidens have been elected/appointed. President is yet to constitute Political Affairs Committee, Executive Council and General Council. Even if we assume the previous PAC as existing, how many of these invitees and participants were members of that panel which happens to be the highest decision making body?"

Another legislator pointed out that the sitting MLAs and MLCs had been dropped by a number of former ministers and defeated MLAs invited. "If Peer Hussain, Gaffar Sofi and Qazi Afzal attended as former ministers/ defeated candidates, why not former Forest Minister Mohiuddin Sofi?", he asked.

PDP's chief spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg refused to accept that the invitees had been selected on pick-and-choose basis. "Nobody was handpicked. I myself checked with President. She made it clear to me that it is just an extended meeting of the Core Group (PAC). Nobody was invited as a legislator. Only the Cabinet Ministers, senior office bearers like the four General Secretaries and Coordinators and members of Core Group were invited. Besides, there were a few special invitees like me", Dr Beg asserted. He claimed that the former Core Group (PAC) was still in life.

Dr Beg said that the party leadership would hold separate meeting "in due course of time" and all of them would be taken on board before the government formation. 

Among the 9 MLCs, only Nayeem Akhtar (ex-Minister), Asgar Ali, Yashpal Sharma, Vikramadatiya Singh and Anayat Ali attended the meeting. Saifuddin Bhat, Khursheed Alam, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas and Firdaus Tak were not invited.



1. Mohammad Ashraf Mir MLA Sonwar/ Ex-MoS
2. Abdul Majid Paddar MLA Noorabad/ Ex-MoS
3. Asiea Naqash MLA Hazratbal /Ex-MoS
4. Abid Hussain Ansari MLA Zadibal
5. Javed Hassan Baig MLA Baramulla 
6. Yawar Ahmad Mir MLA Rafiabad 
7. Mohd Abbas Wani MLA Gulmarg 
8. Raja Manzoor Ahmad MLA Karnah
9. Nazir Ahmad MLA Batmaloo 
10. Mushtaq Ahmad Shah MLA Tral 
11. Zahoor Ahmad Mir MLA Pampore
12. Mohd Khalil Bandh MLA Pulwama 
13. Aijaz Ahmad Mir MLA Wachi
14. Mohd Yousuf Bhat MLA Shopian
15. Abdul Rahim Rather MLA Kokernag 
16. Syed Farooq Andrabi MLA Dooru
17. Shah Mohd Tantray MLA Poonch
18. Qamar Hussain Ch. MLA Rajouri
19. Saifuddin Bhat MLC
20. Zaffar Iqbal Manhas MLC
21. Khursheed Alam MLC
22. Firdaus Ahmad Tak MLC


Monday, January 18, 2016

Mehbooba calls PDP's first meeting on options of Government formation 

Ex-Ministers, top office-bearers, Baig, Karra to attend meeting

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 16: Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti has called her organisation's first meeting over the options of the government formation at her Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar on Sunday.

Ten days after the party patriarch and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death, PDP high command would seek the former Ministers' views, as also the wisdom of two of its Lok Sabha members, namely Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra, over the question of forming the new government with late Mufti's coalition partner BJP.

PDP sources told STATE TIMES that only the party’s members in Mufti’s Council of Ministers (Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State), Lok Sabha members Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra besides the senior office-bearers, including General Secretaries, would participate in the meeting that is scheduled to begin at 2.00 pm at Fairview. Mehbooba would preside over the meeting. No invitation is understood to have gone to other MLAs and MLCs of the PDP. However, PDP President's Political Advisor Peerzada Mansoor Hussain, is expected to be present.

Some of the party leaders are expecting Mr Baig to initiate the discussion with crticism of the BJP's treatment to the PDP and its commitments encapsulated in the common minimum programme known as "Agenda of Alliance". However, according to them, Mr Baig could flag PDP's limited options and constraints and thus set a tone in favour of continuance of the coalition with BJP. He is likely to stress on seeking certain political concessions and assurances from BJP, both at the State and the Central level, besides a larger interaction with the party cadres before initiating the process of the government formation.

As of now, only one senior PDP leader, Mr Karra, has categorically called for cessation of the alliance with BJP, contending in a lengthy statement that the partnership of power with RSS-dominated BJP had caused irreparable damage to the interests of the State as well as PDP. It remains to be seen how Mr Karra would behave in the party's maiden deliberation over the question of continuance, or otherwise, of the alliance with BJP.

Even as a large section of the political observers believes that Sunday's meeting would take the final call whether PDP should continue its alliance with BJP or not, well-placed PDP insiders insisted that Ms Mufti could go for a series of interaction with the party cadres, both in Kashmir and Jammu, before taking the ultimate decision. According to them, there was "very little possibility" of the government formation in the next two weeks.


Army not in picture as Cupid springs in Peerbagh murder probe

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, January 15: Investigators have not found Army's involvement in kidnapping and subsequent killing of a 20-year-old engineering student whose mysterious murder triggered off violent protests in Peerbagh neighbourhood, in front of the Jammu and Kashmir Police Headquarters on the airport road here, on Thursday.

Well placed official sources revealed to STATE TIMES that the investigators have achieved breakthrough in the killing of Owais Bashir Malik within 24 hours of the recovery of his body. Even as some of the residents on Thursday alleged that Owais had been purportedly picked up by a unit of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry headquartered at Rangreth, sources insisted that no involvement whatsoever of JAKLI or any other armed forces surfaced during the course of investigation.

Sources said that in all seven persons were rounded up by Police out of whom five including a girl student have been formally detained and interrogated. As the story revolves around a love affair and rivalry between the two youths, it was discovered that a student from Bandipora area managed to kidnap Owais with the help of three of his friends who severely tortured him to death before strangulation. The assassins also slit the throat of the student.

The body was thrown at a deserted place close to the railway track in Humhama. It was spotted in the morning on December 14th, leading to violent protest demonstrations on the airport road. The road remained blocked and 70 passengers missed their flights on Srinagar airport.

In addition to the registration of a murder case by Budgam Police Station, Government has ordered a magisterial inquiry to look into the cause of the death of the young engineering student.

SSP Budgam Fayaz Ahmad Lone refused to take questions as he claimed that the investigation was "still underway" and that it could "hamper the investigation". He, however, confirmed that five of the accused have been arrested and subjected to sustained questioning. He confirmed that the allegations of kidnapping and killing against armed forces were "not substantiated" during the investigation which, according to him, was "running on a different track". "We are sure to fully solve this mystery in the next couple of days", SSP Budgam said.


Naeem Akhtar throws PDP's first hardball with Mehbooba's OK

'Retrun power projects to J&K, hold talks with separatists'

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 14: Eight days after the party patron and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death, Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday threw its first hardball on the coalition ally BJP as the Muftis' confidante and former high profile Education Minister Naeem Akhtar asserted that PDP would examine its profit and loss statement of the last 10 months before forging a fresh ruling alliance with BJP.

In Srinagar, Akhtar called select TV channels to his residence and stated that PDP would review its coalition with BJP after examining its achievements and deficit of the 10-month-long rule before forming a new government with BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. In an unmistakably sulking tone, Akhtar mentioned the coalition's commitments logged in the "Agenda of Alliance" and complained that most of the promises made to his party had remained unfulfilled.

Akhtar particularly made a mention of the BJP's commitment of handing over the NHPC power projects to the State government, announcement of Smart Cities, vacating of the lands occupied by the Central armed forces besides "addressing the internal dimension of the Kashmir problem"----euphemism for holding a dialogue with the Valley’s separatist leadership.

Source well-connected with PDP insisted that Akhtar’s assertions, which constitute a significant policy statement, came only with the PDP President's approval. Party’s designated spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg is understood to have been barred from issuing statements and reactions to the media after his claiming that PDP-BJP coalition would be in place with Mehbooba as Chief Minister "within 48 hours" after the mourning would be over. Till late on Thursday night, nobody in PDP disowned or amended Akhtar’s statement.

Significantly, Akhtar described "Agenda of Alliance" as a "sacred document" for his party but asked where was this and where was that. During his visit to Srinagar, days before Mufti's death, union Power Minister Piyush Goyal had categorically told mediapersons that the Centre would not hand over any of its power projects to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. Akhtar said that with regard to vacating the lands occupied by the Central armed forces, just a "positive beginning" had been made with the Army’s announcement that it would vacate Srinagar’s encampment of Tatoo Ground where Mufti announced to lay a public park.

Understandably, the most ticklish issue for the BJP would be PDP's insistence on initiating a dialogue with the Kashmiri separatists more so in an ambience of hostility arising out of the Pathankot between New Delhi and Pakistan.

Tightlipped and still in the mourning of her father, Mehbooba Mufti has not held any political discussion or meeting with her party colleagues or BJP and has not issued any political statement since the day her father became ill during a tour of Srinagar city on December 22. He breathed his last at AIIMS in New Delhi on January 7th.