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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Policeman, civilian gunned down in Kulgam, 2 more injured

Around 100 protesters, cops injured as crowds mount attacks on Police and CRPF on 35th day of shutdown, curfew all over Kashmir valley
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 12: While as the violent crowds on Friday---35th day of continued shutdown, curfew and clashes in Kashmir valley after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8---left scores of Police and paramilitary personnel injured in more than a hundred clashes, unidentified militants gunned down a selection-grade constable of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and a civilian and left two more civilians injured in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.

Informed sources told STATE TIMES that two unidentified militants on a motorcycle appeared at Chansar, in Chawalgam area of Kulgam district, late on Friday night and opened fire from an AK-47 rifle on selection-grade constable Manzoor Ahmad Parray who was at a shop close to his residence. Parray and a civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, died on the spot and two more civilians, namely Hamid and Bilal, sustained injuries. Rushed to hospital, Parray and Dar were declared as ‘brought dead’.

Superintendent of Police Kulgam, Mohammad Irshad, confirmed the death of Parray and Dar. He said that Parray was posted in District Police Anantnag. He had reached his home on leave a few hours before the shootout. Both the suspected militants drove away without any resistance from the people.

The gunmen, widely believed to be militants, struck on Parray within a week of the threat delivered by two overground workers of a militant organisation at a public meeting at Ghat Khudwani. According to the reports available with Police, two persons of Kelam village, namely Khursheed and Javed, had asked the gathering to attack and kill any Police officials whether on duty or in civvies at home. No militant outfit claimed responsibility till late on Friday night.

Meanwhile, unruly crowds engaged Police and CRPF in violent clashes at scores of places all over Kashmir valley even as dozens of the protest demonstrations passed off peacefully.

Officials maintained that the reports were still pouring in and the statistics were being tabulated. They, however, asserted that around 150 demonstrations and clashes took place in all 10 districts of Kashmir valley on 35th day of continued shutdown and curfew after Burhan Wani’s death on July 8. According to officials, 48 injured civilians reported at different hospitals while as the number of the injured Police and CRPF personnel was believed to be 50 to 70. None of the injured was reported as critical.

All shops and business establishments, almost all Government and private offices, educational institutes, banks and other businesses remained closed while as transport was completely off the road. Senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had called for total shutdown and asked the Kashmiris to hold ‘peaceful demonstrations’ at all mosques after performing Friday congregational prayers in the afternoon.

Authorities enforced curfew in Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Tral, Ganderbal, Bandipore, Sopore, Pattan, Baramulla, Handwara and Kupwara while as restrictions remained in force in other major townships and district headquarters.

In Central Kashmir, the most violent clash took place at Arhama in Ganderbal district where around 20 civilians and equal number of Police and CRPF personnel were injured. At Eidgah Qadeem Baramulla, around 1500 residents put up a demonstration while waving ISIS black flags. A Pakistani flag was seen fluttering on a mobile tower in the same area. Demonstrations were also reported from Sopore and Rafiabad areas.

In Srinagar, clashes took place between the unruly crowds and Police and CRPF in downtown as well as several places in uptown. Reports said that the demonstrators clashed with Police bitterly in Soura, Rainawari and some other places. A fierce clash continued for about five hours between the demonstrators and the Police and CRPF at Mirgund Crossing, close to DC’s and SP’s office in Budgam. Over a dozen Police and CRPF personnel were reportedly injured. In retaliation to stone pelting, Police and CRPF fired over a hundred teargas canisters but they did not use AK-47 rifles or the pump action guns, known as the pellet guns.

Budgam emerged as the most disturbed district as a number of clashes took place at Mirgund Crossing, Sebdan Crossing, Budgam to Mirgund and Tekipora, the least affected areas of militancy and the mass agitations of 2008 and 2010. Reports said that a crowd of over 3,000 people drawn from nearly 20 villages gathered at Mirgund and clashed with Police and CRPF while pelting stones and shouting pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans for more than four hours.

In South and Central Kashmir, demonstrations and clashes also took place at Tral, Bijbehara, Srigufwara, Pirbagh, Hyderpora, Humhama, Ompora, Budgam, Nasrullahpora, Beerwa, Aru, Aripanthan, Khag and Adina. Internet and Mobile phone services remained suspended even as BSNL’s landline, broadband and post-paid mobile services operated.

Fifty-five persons, including two Policemen, have got killed and over six thousand wounded in the clashes between the violent crowds and Police/ security forces since Burhan’s death on July 8.

Police version

More than three dozen incidents of stone pelting were reported from different districts of the Valley including Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian, Baramulla, Sopore, Kupwara and Bandipora. Curfew was imposed in Srinagar and in the towns of Ganderbal, Budgam, Anantnag, Shopian, Baramulla and Sopore, a Police spokesman said.

“After Friday prayers miscreants assembled at various places and tried to disrupt the vehicular movement. At most of the places the miscreants started pelting stones on moving vehicles, police and security force deployments. The deployments exercised utmost restraint despite severe provocations at a number of places. Many police/security force men have been reported injured during these clashes”.

“At Arhama Ganderbal miscreants assembled on road and pelted stones on security forces. While tackling the situation six persons were injured. At Drooru Tangmarg about 300-400 miscreants assembled on road and pelted stones on police and security forces. Two persons were injured, one of whom was shifted to Srinagar. At Uttrsoo Anantnag,  miscreants pelted stones on police and security forces. While dispersing the mob, four persons suffered minor injuries who were discharged after first aid from the hospital”.

[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Separatists planning to unfurl Pak flags at over 200 places in Valley on Aug 14

Galvanised iron pipes installed as flag posts at several junctions; boat rally carried out in Anantnag

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Aug 11: For the first time in the last 26 years of the separatist movement, preparations are underway throughout Kashmir valley to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14 with hoisting of that country’s national flag in all the major towns and district headquarters.

The 34-day-long turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, has reduced movement of Police and security forces to only the capital city and district headquarters besides some well-fortified towns. Consequently, the demonstrators have occupied all the roads including the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway, shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and waving the Pakistani flags.

At several places such rallies are confronted by Police and security forces wherever they fear arson and attempts by unruly crowds to burn down the public properties or Police installations. However, the authorities have not disturbed current series of mass marches in South Kashmir even as a big clash took place in Damhal Hanjipora area of Kulgam district last week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, authorities allowed such rallies at Gulzarpora and Dadsar in Pulwama district.

Reports from Anantnag on Wednesday said that hundreds of people carried out a boat rally on the river Jhelum from Urnhall to Pazalpora, close to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown of Bijbehara. While waving Pakistani national flags and shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans, participants dispersed peacefully as Police and security forces did not confront the rally.

According to reports available with the Government, separatists have planned to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day in a big way on August 14 while as they have, as usual, called upon the Kashmiris to observe the Indian Independence Day as ‘Black Day’ [Yaum-e-Siah] on August 15. Officials said they had received reports that Pakistani flags could be unfurled by the separatists, including armed militants, at over 200 places in the Valley.

Informed sources told STATE TIMES that in the last three days, separatists installed GI pipes, tucked in cement concrete, as flag posts at different junctions with the plan of hoisting the Pakistani national flag in a ceremonial way. Local students and residents are being mobilised to participate in such ceremonies without fear of a crackdown as Police and security forces have been restricted to the venues of the August 15th Independence Day ceremonial parades. According to these reports, separatist leaders and militant commanders at several places could address public gatherings and pay tributes to slain militants and over 50 civilians killed in the last 5 weeks of the turmoil. Pakistani anthem could be played on the public address system.

Currently such songs are being played on loudspeakers of the community mosques on the call of separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik after the evening prayers in certain areas every day.

Even as Government officials have been directed by Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan to attend the Indian I-Day ceremonies without default on August 15, sources said that no school children or cultural groups had been arranged for the ceremonies till late on Thursday. Authorities have arranged helicopters for ferrying Ministers for hoisting of the Tricolour at district headquarters and some major towns in the Valley on Monday.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is scheduled to take salute and unfurl the Tricolour at Bakhshi Stadium. Separatist and militant groups have asked the people to stay away from all Indian I-Day functions on August 15. They have asked the parents not to send children to participate in any ceremonial parade or cultural programme.

[Published in STATE TIMES on 12-08-2016]

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Security forces suspend all CI ops in Kashmir for fear of mob attacks

On 5 occasions since Burhan Wani’s death on July 8, armed militants passed by bunkers in the Valley plains

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Aug 9: Unprecedented turbulence springing out of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death, in an encounter in Kokernag area of Anantnag district on July 8, has upset the counterinsurgency grid to the extent that the security forces have for the first time in the last 26 years suspended all operations in Kashmir valley plains. Even as Army has intercepted the infiltrating militants and neutralised some of them in Nowgam and Machhil sectors on the LoC, while suffering some collateral damage, not a single raid or counterinsurgency operation has been conducted in the plains in the last one month.

Official sources not authorised to speak on record to media revealed to STATE TIMES that the flow of information to security forces and Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police has continued notwithstanding open threats to Police, counterinsurgents and mainstream political activists. However, all the field units have been directed to only maintain vigil over the activities and movement of the militants and avoid conducting any raid or counterinsurgency operation in the populated areas “during the period of turbulence”.

“No reason has been specified, though it is clear enough that the operations have been suspended for fear of mob attacks and civilian casualties”, said a senior official. He pointed out that on over a dozen occasions in 2015-16, people of neighbouring villages had gathered around the site of Army and SOG operations and disrupted or attempted to disrupt them, particularly in South Kashmir. He said that on one occasion, people of Padgampora and neighbouring villages in Pulwama district helped a group of six heavily armed militants to escape from a cordoned area. Besides, Army suffered damages, including death of two Captains, when it was forced to end the operation "quickly" following reports that thousands of people in Pampore villages were planning to storm the EDI complex on February 22 this year.

Even when 8 CRPF soldiers were killed in a fidayeen strike in Pampore on June 25 and forces did not cause any harm to the civilians around, hundreds of residents gathered and celebrated the bloodbath with hooting and slogans. Police and security forces' vehicle were torched on several occasions in the current year.

On certain occasions, sources said, militants hiding in a civilian demonstration opened fire on Police or security forces who observed restraint, fearing civilian casualties. Even in North Kashmir, one of such militants opened fire on SOG Sopore at Batpora, days before Eid-ul-Fitr. However, nobody was injured. “Even today (Aug 9) we spotted three armed militants in a protest demonstration at Lalpora in Lolab area of Kupwara district. We did not strike on them as there was every apprehension of civilian casualties”, said an officer of security forces.

Forces and Police have received reports that earlier this week, at least three armed militants appeared in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown of Bijbehara and they handed severe physical torture to some residents who had allegedly attended the RSS-BJP get-together on the Kashmir turmoil at Patnitop. The ‘suspects’ were punished publicly at a community park.

Previously, a group of militans, including LeT chief Abu Dujana, attended Burhan Wani’s remembrance ceremonies at Kareemabad, Arwani, Kaimoh and other villages in South Kashmir. Gun salutes were given to slain militants at Tral, Bijbehara and Mattan. Army and Police, according to sources, had full knowledge about the militants’ presence at their hideouts but no operations were carried out to arrest or eliminate the militants.

“Our senior officers have repeatedly flagged this issue to Chief Minister in a series of meetings and requested the State Government to create Police barriers between the population and the security forces in an operation. However, in absence of revision to Standard Operating Procedures, we have been completely handicapped and unable to conduct the operations as per our planning”, said an officer. He insisted that it was primarily the job of the State Police to ensure that the civilian population did not reach close to the forces or the site of an operation.

Frequency of the encounters on LoC indicates alertness of the security forces but it also serves evidence to high levels of infiltration. Officials revealed that in recent times most of the hideouts had been established in the localities and districts believed to be completely free of militancy. They pointed out that Wani and two of his associates had been traced to a militant-free area in Kokernag and killed there in an operation of surgical precision. “LeT supremo Hafiz Sayeed has publicly bragged that the Ameer of his organisation had led Wani’s massive funeral procession in Tral”, he added.

“Militants can currently stay and sleep at their hideouts without any fear as they know that even if someone passed information to the security forces about their presence, there would be no raid or operation”, said another official. He said that a formidable guerrilla group’s printed posters, asking people to enforce social boycott to all pro-India political activists and warning the youths against joining a Police recruitment drive, had surfaced in several areas of Anantnag district on Monday.

According to the reports available with security forces, Police officials have been directed in the posters to resign and stay away from the counterinsurgent activities of their organisation. Besides, all the Deputy Commissioners have been “directed” by three separatist leaders to avoid putting any pressure on the government employees for their punctuality or regular attendance in offices.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Jethmalani offers Sharif a discussion on Musharraf’s Kashmir proposal

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, August 6: Veteran Indian jurist and former union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani has offered Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a discussion on former President Pervez Musharraf’s Kashmir proposals that failed to reach a logical conclusion during Prime Ministership of BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Apparently provoked by Mr Sharif’s recent outbursts, including his country’s unrealized dream of annexation of Jammu and Kashmir and his extolling Hizbul Mujahideen’s slain combatant Burhan Wani as “an influential Kashmiri leader whose sacrifice has given a new life to the freedom movement”, 93-year-old political maverick Jethmalani has claimed in an open letter to Sharif that Musharraf had sent his 4-point Kashmir resolution proposal to him through a friend and the owner of a Pakistani brewery after it was 'rejected' by then head of the NDA Government Mr Vajpayee.

Outspoken and often politically incorrect, India's top ranking lawyer Jethmalani developed differences with BJP in 2003 following which he contested Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully against his own Prime Minister Vajpayee in Lukhnow. He had previously contested and won elections on BJP’s ticket for 6th and 7th Lok Sabha from Mumbai. Once Chairman of Bar Council of India, Jethmalani was elected as President of Supreme Court Bar Association in 2010. In the same year, he joined BJP back and was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. However, in May 2013, BJP expelled him for six years for an “anti-party statement” following which he filed a defamation suit against the party.

Jethmalani served as the Union Home Minister for 17 days in May-June 1996. Later he was inducted by Vajpayee as India's Urban Development Minister in March 1998. Again he served in Vajpaee's Cabinet as Union Minister of Law and Justice from July 1999 to July 2000.
It is not clear whether his letter is his personal initiative in the backdrop of the month-long turbulence that has left 55 people dead and thousands injured in Kashmir after militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8 or he has any brief from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP-led NDA government.

Significantly, Jethmalani was head of Vajpayee’s ‘Kashmir Committee’ that initiated an informal dialogue process with the Kashmiri separatist leaders in the year 2002. Eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan, academic Madhu Kishwar and journalist-turned-BJP spokesman M.J. Akbar were other members of the committee. With some new members, including Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, who is now PDP's youth wing chief, Jethmalani's Kashmir Committee surfaced after years of hibernation in 2010 but separatists like JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik refused to meet it, alleging that in 2002 it had been used by the Centre to split the united Hurriyat Conference. Jethmalani supported Afzal Guru and defended alleged Hawala handler Ghulam Mohammad Bhat but his committee did not cut much of ice while promoting Musharraf's 4-point Kashmir formula which was strongly rejected by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani despite his positive wavelength with Jethmalani and another BJP leader Shatrugan Sinha. 

In the open letter to Sharif, which Jethmalani has among others mailed to this correspondent, the veteran legal and constitutional expert has claimed that India in the Congress rule had conceded obligations to Pakistan through Tashkent Treaty and Shimla Agreement. He has claimed that a country, that had lost half of its area and population due to her Kashmir obsession, would never be able to separate Jammu and Kashmir from India and engineer its annexation particularly when, according to him, it was on the side of ISIS and international terrorism.


Dear Prime Minister,

I don’t claim that you regard me as a friend but I claim that I am the friend of Pakistan including you. I have been born and brought up in Pakistan until I was compelled to become a refugee in India not because of any Muslims of Sindh but angry Muslims who reached Sindh from Outside India looking mainly for Hindu properties.
Sindh has been the land of Sufis and we had developed such a wonderful synthesis of Islam and Hinduism there. When I was young I used to get my new clothes on Eid day and Muslims children brought them on Deepawali.

From 1941 to 1948, I practiced law in Karachi in a firm called Brohi and Co. in which my only other partner was the Allah Bukhsh Brohi, a man whom I loved and whose memory I respect. People of Pakistan know him very well so do some people in India because he was the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Delhi for a couple of years. We were both products of the Bombay University and both of us had Masters Degree from that University. His degree was in Philosophy as Buddha and Kant as his special philosophers. I had constitution and International Law for my Masters degree in Law. Today I am running my 93rd year but throughout my long life which might come to an end any day I have not given up my love for Pakistan and affection for its people. Though a Hindu I believe that the Prophet of Islam was one of the greatest and unmatched in some ways. Pardon me for reminding you of the essence of his greatness. He is the one who told his followers that when you walk in search of Knowledge you walk in Path of God; the ink of a scholar is holier than the blood of a martyr. When Muslims followed this teaching they became the masters of the civilized world. In the 13th century, it is the misfortune of the Muslims that you produced a Khalifa who told you to burn all books except the holy Quran. Since then following this suicidal teaching you became the slaves of those whom you had educated to become civilized. I regret that tragedy persists and treat this as my dying declaration.

Let me first cure you of your long suicidal path in the matter of acquiring political control of Jammu and Kashmir. While most Indian leaders including a small fraction of Muslim leaders were busy fighting for India’s independence majority of Muslims represented by the Muslim League was not interested in Indian independence but in the creation of Islamic State of Pakistan. India paid the heavy price and of course you got a truncated Pakistan but you rejoiced that you had at least got a new Islamic State. It is strange but significant that while the majority of Indian intellectuals talked of sovereignty reverting to the people of India the Muslim League insisted that sovereignty must descend to the rulers of Indian States. You thought that Kashmir will be no problem for Pakistan. You can capture it by force anytime. Your sights were trained at time on Hyderabad, a Hindu majority state but ruled by the Muslim Nizam and his ruthless army of Razakars . Your conquest of Hyderabad was frustrated by the timely action of Sardar Patel and in Kashmir whit its Hindu ruler you relied upon your army disguised as tribal raiders marching in with forcible occupation in view. They had almost succeeded in reaching the gates of Srinagar but fortunately they wasted sometime with raping some Christian Nuns on the way that gave time to the Maharaja to sign the instrument of accession with India. The Indian army got there in time drove back the raiders until you sued for peace and foolish Nehru with the kind Hindu in him was content to with half of Kashmir leaving the other half in the control of criminal gangsters. That was their status in law. You might respect them as patriots.

This was the not the end of the problem. In the 1960’s you planned a war of aggression. Fortunately the brave Indian army frustrated this act of naked aggression on the part of Pakistan. You were lucky that India was ruled at that time by Lal Bahadur Shastri whom I regard as the best Prime Minister India has ever had.  You should be grateful to his memory for he gave you a magnificent gift the Tashkent Declaration. It had two Clauses which produced a perennial peace and a liberal settlement from a victorious enemy to a defeated one. These Clauses were

1. Neither Party shall disturb the present status quo by force or war; and
2. Neither Party shall carry on any propaganda for changing it.

It is a matter of shame that you have forgotten this magnificent compromise and the Indian generosity which left half of Jammu and Kashmir under your control despite your act of criminal aggression. I hope you realize that your claim to what India call Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is based on the generosity of the Tashkent Declaration .Unfortunately gratitude does not seem to be an ingredient in the character of Pakistan leaders.
After this Pakistan lost Bangladesh, a Muslim majority state which came to you at the time of partition of India in 1940’s.  If you could not retain a Muslim majority province and you have permanently reconciled to that loss with what justification can you lay any claim to the half of Jammu and Kashmir which India retains as a result of a valid instrument of accession by Maharaja of Kashmir. 

I hope you recall that the Bangladesh disaster left 93000 Pakistani soldiers in Indian custody. Your Prime Minister Bhutto in words with their own significance was licking the feet of Indira Gandhi. He saved that army by signing the Simla Agreement of perpetual peace.

I suggest if Pakistan is a self respecting country you should develop utmost love and affection for the generosity of Indians. Instead of that you have let loose a reign of terror in Jammu and Kashmir and the satanic organization ISIS is threatening the security of the whole world. Ask yourself Mr. Prime Minister are you not on the side of ISIS in this unholy war against the rest of the world.

You are endangering the existence of Islam on this planet. Of course there is going to be widespread destruction of millions on this planet and humanity might have to surrender the planet to the cockroaches. But you are not going to succeed in capturing Jammu and Kashmir. You should be ashamed that you are turning young boys from the age of 10-13 as terrorists and girls of a slightly longer age 15 years maximum. These youngsters don’t understand that you are using them to win some sympathy from the world but the world knows that it is the cowardice of the older people who want to sacrifice these innocent youngsters in your unholy war which is now being waged against Jammu and Kashmir and against the whole civilized world.

Lastly, Mr. Prime Minister when Musharaff ruled Pakistan he came with proposals for settlement. I regret that the then government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee rejected the proposals. After his return to Pakistan, Musharaff sent his proposals to me through his friend, the famous owners of a brewery in Pakistan. You know the name. I am suffering from a slight loss of memory. I will speak to you further about these proposals if you are in a mood to hear a little more.

Do I ask Mr. Prime Minister that you will consider this as an appeal from a genuine friend of Pakistan and admirer of the Prophet of Islam.

You don’t mind this letter being published.

       Yours Affectionately

      Ram Jethmalani

[Published in today's STATE TIMES]