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Saturday, August 6, 2016

3 civilians killed, 300 injured in fresh Kashmir clashes; toll reaches 55

Pro-Azadi, pro-Pakistan demonstrations in entire Valley on 28th day of continued shutdown; forces foil separatists’ march to Hazratbal; militants join rallies in Anantnag, Sopore

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 5: Three more civilian protesters were killed and around 300 injured on Friday in fresh violence across Kashmir valley on 28th day of continued shutdown, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.

Authorities foiled the separatists-sponsored march to Hazratbal with strict enforcement of curfew in the summer capital and some major district headquarters. Senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had in a joint statement asked the people to gather at Hazratbal for Friday congregational prayers and paying tributes to over 50 civilian protesters who have got killed in clashes with Police and security forces after Burhan Wani’s death.

With Malik being already in jail, Police took into preventive custody Geelani and Mirwaiz and held them for the day at Police Stations of Humhama and Nageen respectively. All other prominent separatist leaders remained either in detention or house arrest. While as peaceful protest processions were carried out at several places, many of the demonstrations turned violent as Police and security forces blocked their passage and the protesters engaged them in ding dong battles in all the ten districts in Kashmir.

Official sources told STATE TIMES that three protesters got killed in the clashes, raising the death toll of post-Burhan turbulence to 55, including two Police officials. They said that 20-year-old Danish Rasool Mir s/o Ghulam Rasool Mir of Wagora Kreeri got killed on the bypass at Batpora, in Sopore town, when CRPF used pump action guns to prevent a mob of around 100 people from torching a vehicle. The CRPF vehicle had developed a snag. Sources said that the youthful Danish Mir was severely hit in his throat. He later succumbed to injuries.

Mohammad Maqbool Wagay s/o Mohammad Sultan Wagay of Lolipora was hit during a violent clash at Nagam, Chadoura, when CRPF opened fire. He too succumbed to injuries before reaching hospital. Residents claimed that a CRPF party passed through Nagam and opened fire straight on Maqbool and another youth when a demonstration was going on at Chadoura, 3 Kms short of Nagam. They said that CRPF personnel allegedly barged into the hospital, roughed up attendants and visitors and ransacked several houses on the road.

Officials, however, maintained that a CRPF party opened fire when it was subjected to intense stone pelting by unruly youths shortly after a major demonstration at Chadoura.

Around 20-year-old Sameer Ahmad Wani of Mulnaro Khansahab got killed when CRPF opened fire on a violent demonstration at Khansahab in Budgam district. Another crowd attacked a camp of CRPF 117 Bn at Hardupunzu Arizal in the same upper Budgam belt. CRPF retaliated with tearsmoke and pump action guns. Some of the protesters were reportedly injured.

Over 250 protest demonstrations took place in Kashmir valley on Friday after the congregational prayers at different mosques. Prayers could not be conducted at Hazratbal, Jamia Masjid and many other mosques due to strict enforcement of curfew and prohibitory orders. Officials said that around 250 persons sustained injuries in these clashes. Of them, 120 were treated at SKIMS, 79 at SMHS and 40 at SKIMS Medical College Bemina. Around 50 of the injured were reportedly treated at District Hospitals.

Reports said that protest processions came out at different places, mainly in Budgam, Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantnag, Baramulla and Kupwara districts. At several places, all-women peaceful demonstrations were held across the Valley. In the backdrop of Pakistani militant songs and slogans at different mosques, clashes took place between the protesters and security forces at many places after the evening prayers. Dukhtaraan-e-Millat organisation organised all-female processions at several places in Srinagar and other districts.

Informed sources said that three armed militants joined a procession at Janglat Mandi in Anantnag town. However, it turned back and dispersed peacefully. Sources said that 5 armed militants joined a protest demonstration at Panzinara in Sopore.

All shops and business establishments including educational institutions, banks and other private offices remained shut on 28th consecutive day even as many Government offices operated with thin attendance. Due to blockades created by unruly groups on all roads, Government employees have failed to reach their offices to discharge their duties.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Friday, August 5, 2016

CRPF CO’s escort under scanner for ATM guard’s murder

Police call for CCTV footage from SBI ATM, CRPF camps in Karan Nagar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 4: Close-circuit TV footage of an ATM of State Bank of India (SBI) and some CRPF bunkers outside the entrance of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar is likely to lead the investigators to breakthrough in the mysterious cold blooded murder of a youth, Riyaz Ahmad Shah, even as the escort personnel of a Commanding Officer (CO) are now under scanner.

Twenty-five-year-old Riyaz Ahmad Shah had been found dead close to GMC entrance by the driver of a load-carrier late on Tuesday night. X-Ray and preliminary post mortem report have established firing from a pump action gun as the cause of death as a massive field of No:9 pellets fired from a 12 bore gun is believed to have perforated Shah’s vital organs including his kidneys. Such kind of ‘non-lethal’ arms and ammunition, which can be fatal if fired from a short distance, are only in possession of Police and paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources associated with the investigation revealed to STATE TIMES that Commanding Officer of CRPF 118 Bn Mr Premjeet had earlier on Tuesday travelled from his battalion headquarters of Gund in Kangan area to Srinagar in connection with some official engagements. At the end of the day, he called on the C.O. of CRPF 23 Bn, Mr R.M. Sampar, and stayed for some hours of the night at his residence in Karan Nagar. Both the officers are reportedly friends and residents of Manipur.

Meanwhile, Premjeet’s escort personnel went out to the SBI ATM most likely to withdraw cash. During the same period, around 10.00 p.m, Shah is believed to have been fired upon with a pump action gun in point blank range. Motive of the murder and identity of the killers are not still clear. No clash or disturbance was in Karan Nagar area when Shah fell to the pellets.

CRPF has checked arms and ammunition of all the men and sentries posted at a number of pillboxes around GMC. They have claimed that no ammunition was missing. Arms and ammunition of the escort personnel of Mr Premjeet are likely to be checked on Friday.

IG CRPF Srinagar, Atul Kirwal, and SSP Srinagar Amit Kumar today visited the spot and checked the CCTV footage. SSP Srinagar confirmed that Police have formally requisitioned CCTV footage from SBI’s ATM besides the camps and bunkers of CRPF 23 Bn located around the spot. “We checked some footage but its speed was extremely slow and nothing was clear as yet. We are sure to solve this murder case with our investigation”, SSP Amit Kumar said.

SSP said that Police had registered a murder case against ‘security forces’ but nobody had been named as suspect in the FIR as the identity of any accused was not yet clear. “We will add names as soon as someone surfaces as a suspect”, SSP said.

Both the CRPF COs are likely to be questioned by the investigators in a couple of days as the Government is said to be under tremendous pressure to solve this murder case and initiate action against the accused as it has potential of intensifying turbulence in the summer capital.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anti-India, pro-Pakistan rallies growing thicker in Valley

Over 150 injured in fresh clashes on 26th day of shutdown; forces torch 15 bikes in Kulgam clash; crowds set ablaze trawler, Alto on highway

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 3: With the separatists-sponsored shutdown continuing without break in entire Kashmir valley, coupled with curfew in several areas, on 26th day of turbulence, triggered by militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, over 150 protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel sustained injuries in dozens of clashes across Kashmir valley on Wednesday.

Buoyed by massive rallies---around 50,000-strong at Kareemabad Pulwama and 30,000-strong in Kaimoh Kulgam---where armed militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Hizbul Mujahideen addressed or participated in the congregations, separatists are understood to have chalked out a programme of organising similar shows in entire Kashmir valley. Abundance of Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistan slogans are the key features of such rallies.

Informed sources told STATE TIMES that armed militants on Wednesday appeared at the ‘martyrs graveyards’ at Bijbehara and Mattan and they paid gun salutes to their slain colleagues in presence of scores of residents. With the Police, security forces and civil administration remarkably losing control, militant leaders have begun addressing public rallies in South Kashmir. Reports said that a militant commander Altaf Dar, who had addressed a rally in Kaimoh area on Tuesday, appeared at another rally at Arwani on Wednesday.

LeT chief Abu Dojana, the Pakistani militant who was in the forefront of Burhan Wani's funeral procession in Tral on July 9, appeared at a 50,000-strong rally at Kareemabad (Pulwama) earlier this week but he did not address the gathering.

Sources said that today's largest rally, in which 15,000 to 18,000 people participated, was organised in Kulgam district as the separatist leaders had called for a march to Damhal Hanjipora where two civilians had died in Army’s firing on July 9. People had also set ablaze Police Station besides the court and a judge's residential quarter. Sources said that Police and security forces blocked the advancement of the rally at Adijan Bridge with intense teargas shelling and firing in the air. Around a hundred protesters and Police and paramilitary personnel sustained injuries, mostly in stone pelting and stampede.

Officials maintained that 40 protesters and equal number of Police and paramilitary personnel were injured in the clashes. Sources from the spot said that Police and security forces arrested several youths, seized their cars and motorcycles. As many as 15 two-wheelers were set on fire and destroyed. Officials maintained that only three motorcycles had been torched by “unidentified persons”.

Earlier in the day, crowds enforcing shutdown on the highway had torched a trawler at Lethapora where PSO of Additional DC of Ramban had opened fire last evening. Civilian Farooq Ahmad Kuchhai (32), who had died on the spot, was laid to rest amid pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans today.

DIG South Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan maintained that only one civilian had got killed in the shootout while as another was injured. However, officials at SKIMS told STATE TIMES that the second civilian, Suhail Ahmad Wani, was “almost dead”. “We have been asked not to remove him off the ventilator. As soon as we will do it, he will be declared as dead”, said a doctor. He said there was no chance of his recovery.

Sources said that around 50 protesters and Police and security forces personnel sustained injuries in other clashes across the Valley on Wednesday. Some of the demonstrations passed off peacefully. Candlelight marches were organised at Delina in Baramulla besides Hawal, Nowhatta and several other places in the capital city. In Chhattabal and on the highway bypass, protesters clashed with Police and forces. They were seen checking identity cards and thrashing Police personnel wherever found travelling.

Around 13,000-strong rallies were organised at Arwani in Kulgam district and Quil in Pulwama district. Reports said that 6,000 people participated in a rally at Vessu in Kulgam district and over 5,000 at Lahribal in Pahalgam. Officials said that total number of the participants in the rally in Pahalgam was 300. They said that an intense clash took place between the protesters and Police at Lahribal where 8 Policemen, including SHO Tariq Khan, were injured. Equal numbers of the protesters were also reportedly injured. Police officials said that four miscreants were arrested.

Protest demonstrations of lesser participation were also reported from Beerwah in Budgam district, Tangmarg, Sopore and Warpora in Baramulla district and some places in Bandipora and Kupwara districts.

Here in the capital city, heads of the two factions of Hurriyat Conference---Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq---held sit-in demonstrations outside their residences respectively in Hyderpora and Nageen.

Police version

A Police spokesman said that only 15 incidents of stone pelting were reported across the valley.  “These incidents were reported from Srinagar, Kulgam, Sopore, Shopian, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Budgam and Awantipora. During these law and order situations 12 persons, --40 police and security force personnel were injured. As a precautionary measure Curfew/restrictions were put in place in some police stations of Srinagar, Anantnag town, Bongam in Shopian, Khanpora in Baramulla, Awantipora and Pampora towns”, he said.

“In its continuous drive against the hooligans and miscreants 349 accused persons have been arrested in the valley. Besides, 122 have been detained under prohibitory provisions of law”, the Police spokesman said.

[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]
ATM guard found killed in cold blood

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 3: A private security guard posted at ATM of Jammu and Kashmir Bank at Kanikadal (Habbakadal) in the summer capital has been found killed in clod blood, allegedly by CRPF, late on Tuesday night.
Official sources said that blood-splattered body of 25-year-old Riyaz Ahmad Shah of Chhattabal was spotted by a three-wheeler driver near Syed Mansoor Sahab Bridge outside Government Medical College Srinagar last midnight. It was carried to nearby SMHS Hospital where doctors opined that Shah could have died of internal injuries caused by insertion of an iron rod from his back.

However, subsequently with the help of X-Ray and post mortem it became clear that there were hundreds of pellets in Shah’s organs. Finally the medical opinion was that pellets have been pumped into Shah’s body from a shot gun put on his body. Since there were a number of CRPF bunkers on either side of the road, it was believed that Shah has been killed in cold blood by some CRPF personnel.

Shah’s family members said that he had been killed when he was as usual returning to home from his ATM on a scooty. They and their neighbours held strong protests at Police Control Room and in Chhattabal area while alleging that the young man had been murdered by CRPF. Police sources said that FIR was registered initially against anonymous assassins but later against the CRPF Company posted around GMC.


[Published in today's STATE TIMES]


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2 killed, one critical as ADC’s PSO opens fire on crowd near Pampore

Protesters torched Bolero of ADC Ramban on highway at Lethapora near Pampore; Yatra convoy stopped; Minister's house attacked with petrol bombs

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 2: Two civilians reportedly got killed and another was critically injured when a crowd attacked Additional Deputy Commissioner of Ramban and torched his vehicle at Lethapora, near Pampore, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway after his Personal Security Officer (PSO) opened fire on the protesters late on Tuesday night.

Authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that a crowd of protesters pelted stones on the official Bolero of ADC Ramban Babu Ram near Lethapora, close to the saffron township of Pampore, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway when it was on way to Ramban from Srinagar at 9.15 pm. The crowd forced the driver to stop and caused extensive damage to the vehicle even as Mr Babu Ram, his driver and two PSOs jumped out.

As the protesters sighted the PSOs, they attacked them and set the vehicle on fire. During the scuffle, one of the PSOs opened fire from his AK-47 rifle that hit at least three persons. Sources said that 32-year-old Farooq Ahmad Kuchhai later succumbed to injuries near SKIMS in Srinagar while as Suhail Ahmad Wani died somewhere near Kakapora when he was being rushed to hospital. With the two fresh fatal casualties, death toll has reached 52 in the 25-day-long turbulence triggered by militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.

Residents, however, insisted that the crowd torched the vehicle only after the officer's PSO opened fire, killing two protesters. They said that the vehicle on way from Srinagar to Jammu was stopped by the people like many other vehicles to check as to who were travelling in it.
DIG South Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and SP Awantipora Sridhar Patil could not be reached by telephone. Mobile phones of DC Pulwama Muneer-ul-Islam were switched off.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan maintained that one civilian had got killed and another injured. He said he was assessing the situation as a large number of the people had gathered on the spot late in the night. According to reports available with him, ADC was on way from Srinagar to Jammu when his vehicle was intercepted by the crowd.

Babu Ram, who had taken shelter at nearby company headquarters of CRPF 130 Bn on premises of the godowns of Food Corporation of India, told STATE TIMES on telephone that he was in shock and unable to narrate what happened with him and his PSOs and driver. He, however, said that an unruly mob attacked his vehicle near Lethapora.

“We were all manhandled. I was severely beaten up. People set the vehicle on fire and attempted to snatch the rifle of my PSO. Someone fired on him or a bullet hit him from the gun which was being snatched away. They failed to take the gun but took away a magazine. Thereafter, we ran away and took shelter in the CRRP camp”, Babu Ram said.

Civilian sources around the spot said that thousands of people from about a dozen neighbouring villages gathered on the highway and they were making repeated attempts to storm the camp. CRPF used tearsmoke and fired in the air to scare away the crowd. Clashes and slogans were going on when reports last came in at around midnight. Officials were apprehensive of more casualties in case the crowd stormed the camp. They said that as per SOP, CRPF could open fire to protect the camp, its personnel and armoury.

Meanwhile, sources said that the convoy of Amarnath pilgrims, that was scheduled to leave Baltal for Jammu late tonight, was stopped under orders of SSP Yatra. Unconfirmed reports said that the convoy of pilgrims that had earlier in the evening departed for Baltal from Jammu, would also be stopped around Patni Top in view of escalation of fresh trouble at Lethapora, Awantipore.

Two fresh fatalities in the Valley’s most volatile area occurred after days of lesser intensity turbulence on 25th day of continued shutdown, curfew and clashes. Most of the 50-odd persons, including two Police personnel, had got killed in the first 10 days of violence, beginning on July 9. The last fatal casualties had occurred on July 18 when three civilians, including two women, got killed in Army’s firing on protesters at Churhat in Kulgam district followed by death of a civilian protester who was hit by a teargas shell at Chursu, Awantipore, on July 22. Some of the injured succumbed later but no fresh fatal casualty had occurred in the in the last 11 days.

Shutdown on 25th day

While as the separatist-sponsored shutdown continued without break on 25th consecutive day, curfew remained in force in parts of downtown Srinagar, Anantnag, Kokernag and Kulgam towns. Officials said that restrictions under section 144 CrPC were imposed in several areas. As per the separatist leaders’ programme, shops opened in uptown Srinagar and some other areas at 6.00 pm. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have asked the Kashmiris to enjoy relaxation in shutdown daily from 6.00 pm to 8.00 am.

Reports said that almost all shops, private offices and business establishments including banks and educational institutions were closed though Government offices operated with skeletal attendance of staff.

"Curfew is in place only in six police station areas of Srinagar city -- Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, Batamaloo and Maharajgunj," an official spokesman said.

The separatist camp has extended the shutdown call in Kashmir till August 5, calling for a march to Hazratbal.

Reports said that nine protesters sustained injuries in a clash at Imamsahab in Shopian area while as low intensity clashes took place at over 20 places in different districts. People took out protest rallies at several places in Kulgam, Bijbehara and Anantnag areas.

Militant addresses rally

At Ghat Khudwani, reports said, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant Lateef Dar addressed a rally of over 3,000 people. He said that people would be within their right not to follow the separatist movement but they should not get the militants killed or arrested by Police and security forces.

Minister’s house attacked

Late on Monday night, official sources said, unidentified persons hurled two petrol bombs on the private residential house of senior PDP leader and Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar. One of the bombs went off and caused minor damage though nobody was harmed as nobody was present in the targeted house.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Monday, August 1, 2016

Separatists, LeT perturbed over Kashmir turmoil turning anarchical

‘Scooty girls’ threatened of death; posters name prominent citizens as ‘traitors’; extortion of drivers, illegal constructions, timber smuggling reported from several localities

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Jul 31: For the first time in the 23-day-long turbulence, senior separatist leaders and the formidable militant organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyiba have got perturbed over the ‘vested interests’ taking advantage of the near-total breakdown of administrative machinery and creating an atmosphere of anarchy in Kashmir Valley that has roiled under continued curfew and shutdown after militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8.

One of the posters, purportedly issued by a group of the stone pelting protesters, has warned the Kashmiri girls of death if they would be seen driving their ‘Scooties’ (two-wheelers) on the streets. “We request all girls, please do not use Scooty. If we see any girl who rides Scooty, we will burn the Scooty as well as the girl,” reads the poster that was found pasted in some areas of the summer capital.

The group has also warned shopkeepers, vendors and banks against opening their establishments “till the end of this fight”. The group warned “for the last time” that they should “shut down or face consequences”. It also sought “cooperation” from all private transporters and asked mosque management committees to raise slogans and play anthems after every prayer.

In the last few days, reports have poured in of illegal constructions being in progress at Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and the greenbelt managed by LAWWDA in periphery of Dal Lake. According to reports, building material was being ferried to these tourist destination by scores of tippers during night as no Police and paramilitary barriers remain in place after midnight.

Quite a number of the people have complained that they were stopped by unruly groups of young boys, beaten up and abused for driving vehicles in violation of the shutdown. Many of such people have complained that money was extorted from them in the name of “help to the victims”. Around 50 people have died and more than 6,000 sustained injuries in the intermittent clashes post Burhan Wani’s death.

Perturbed over such reports, spokespersons of Hurriyat (G), Hurriyat (M) and JKLF have in a joint statement asked the people to be vigilant during the current turmoil “as agencies working to subvert and malign the agitation are quiet active”.  It added: “In certain areas posters have come up in which imams, some religious organisations and some prominent citizens of that area are being targeted and threatened. People have been asked to be cautious of such ploys and not let them succeed in dividing people along sectarian lines”.

Expressing concern, the spokespersons also said that they are receiving reports of some miscreants extorting money from public and private drivers on the roads and threatening them of harm if they do not oblige. They said that those harassed should report to the people of that locality. No money should be given to them even if they say it is being collected for the affected people, all donations for such purposes are to be collected by mohalla Masjid committes/baitul maals.

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba while praising the doctors for treating the injured in the hospitals has warned the “miscreants” for troubling doctors when they move towards their duties. “We warn those miscreants who are harassing doctors. At this time, doctors are the only hope of mourning people in the Kashmir valley,” LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi said while quoting the chief commander Mehmood Shah.

 LeT chief appealed the people to follow the hartal programmes that are issued by the joint resistance leadership. “Those people who try to defy hartals are asked to mend their ways as such person, by following India dictates, are betraying with the blood of martyrs,” he said. The LeT chief said his organisation respects aspirations and steadfastness of the Kashmiri people. “We appeal to the people to consider only those statements which are issued through credible news agencies and newspapers.”

 He said that “miscreants and Indian intelligence agencies are trying to defame the Kashmir struggle by issuing their fake statements on our name to divide the people”. “In past few days, fake posters have been published in our name. We dissociate from such posters. And people should follow hartals called by the leadership”, read the LeT statement issued on Saturday.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]