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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Militants attack ex-Minister’s house in Pulwama; rifle taken away from ex-MLC’s house

Srinagar additional DC’s jaw fractured in stone pelting; SPO among 4 booked under PSA

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Sep 28: Mounting their attacks on mainstream politicians and looting weapons from their security guards in South Kashmir, suspected militants on Wednesday attacked.former Minister and PDP leader Syed Bashir’s residence in Pulwama district hours after a civilian decamped with the AK-47 rifle of a Constable from the house of former MLC and CPI State Secretary Abdul Rehman Tukroo in Shopian district.

Official sources told STATE TIMES that around 8.00 pm, three to four unidentified militants appeared outside the guarded residence of former Minister Syed Bashir at Sheikhhaar, on Pulwama-Rajpora Road. They fired a warning shot to test if the politicians’ guards would retaliate or surrender. The sentries responded with firing. The militants fired back but the guards foiled their attempt to enter the premises with intense firing. It forced the militants to withdraw.

It was not clear whether the assailants intended to cause any harm to the former Minister, who was present inside, or just planned to snatch away service rifles from his sentries and PSOs. Police and security forces later cordoned the area and carried out a search operation. However, they failed to learn anything about the militants’ whereabouts.

Syed Bashir is a senior mainstream politician who contested 1977 Assembly elections on Janata Party ticket from Pulwama and 1996 Assembly election as Janata Dal candidate from the same segment. He lost both. In 2002, he won the Assembly election on PDP’s ticket from Rajpora segment and was inducted as Minister of State for Education by then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Later he also held R&B portfolio as MoS. In 2008, he was again elected on PDP ticket from Rajpora. However, in 2014 he broke away from PDP and contested unsuccessfully as an independent candidate against PDP’s candidate Haseeb Drabu who won and was subsequently inducted as Minister of Finance.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, one Waseem Khandey of Zakhan Kellar, in Shopian district, decamped with an AK-47 rifle of a PSO of CPI State chief and former MLC Abdul Rehman Tukroo from his guarded house at Tukroo on Pulwama-Shopian Road. Khandey, who had free access to Tukroo’s house, happens to be the brother-in-law of his son. Tukroo said that he had been working at his home for some days. Sources said that another PSO had kept his rifle in safe custody.

Officials said that Police and security forces were trying to trace Khandey who could hand over the AK-47 rifle to militants. A late night report, awaiting official confirmation, said that Khandey was traced in the same district and seized alongwith the stolen AK-47 rifle.

In Pulwama district, Police have arrested and booked under Public Safety Act four persons of Kareemabad village, including a Special Police Officer Mohammad Rafi Pandit, on charges of organising separatist demonstrations and stone pelting. Sources said that Police also arrested four boys below the age of 16 years on the same charges in the same village who have been lodged in a juvenile jail.

Militants and their unarmed overground helpers have already looted around 100 weapons from different Police Stations, residences and PSOs of different protected persons in South Kashmir. Most of these people have handed over their weapons to suspected militants and their helpers without any resistance.

It has been observed that Police officers have also provided scores of house guards and PSOs with automatic rifles to a number of timber smugglers masquerading as mainstream politicians for pecuniary interests. One of such persons from whose house suspected militants took away four rifles last month at Begam village in Kulgam has been publicly disowned by both National Conference as well as PDP.

Additional DC attacked

Official sources said that a group of people disrupting traffic with intense stone pelting near Tengpora Batmaloo attacked the Scorpio carrying home a Kashmir Administrative Service officer and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar Nazir Ahmad Baba in the evening on Tuesday. Baba was hit by a stone which fractured his jaw. His vehicle was also damaged in the attack. He was rushed to Bemina and admitted in SKIMS Medical College. 

Sources said his PSOs did not use weapobs as additional DC of Ramban and his PSO have been booked in a criminal matter and arrested when a similar crowd attacked the KAS officer's vehicle near Awantipora in July and two persons got killed in a PSO's firing. Baba lives near Zainakote on Srinagar outskirts.

Divisional Commissioner, Baseer Ahmad Khan, and DC Srinagar, Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, who visited the injured officer at his hospital today, said that Mr Baba was recovering after treatment. They said that his jaw had got fractured. Early in the morning on the same day, a 20-year-old girl, namely Fauzia, died and her 18-year-old sister, Nadia, was critically injured when they were knocked down near Parimpora, on Srinagar outskirts, by a private Scorpio while its driver was subjected to intense stone pelting by miscreants and he was driving back in the reverse gear.

Scores of vehicles were reportedly damaged in similar stone pelting in Srinagar and elsewhere for defying the separatists’ shutdown call on Tuesday and Wednesday. Around 90 people have died in 82 days of unceasing turbulence in Kashmir following Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8. Most of them got killed in firing by Police and security forces. While as four policemen also died in the crowd attacks, five civilians including Fauzia got killed as a consequence of stone pelting.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Two PoK youths claim to be part of Jaish fidayeen group that attacked Brigade hqs in Uri

Army hands over both the detainees to NIA; flown to New Delhi; their revelations shared with Pak envoy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Sep 27: Two youths from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, who were captured by residents of Uri, beaten up severely and handed over to Army on September 21, have revealed during sustained interrogation that they were part of the 6-member fidayeen group of Jaish-e-Mohammad that attacked an infantry brigade headquarters and killed 18 soldiers on September 18. Both of them have been flown to New Delhi on Tuesday after Army handed them over to National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Government of India, in coordination with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, has assigned investigation of the high profile fidayeen attack, in which more than 20 soldiers were injured in addition to 18 fatal casualties, to NIA.

STATE TIMES learned from top level authoritative sources that Yasin Khursheed s/o Mohammad Khursheed r/o Khiliana Kalan and Faisal Hussain Awan s/o Gul Akbar r/o Patha Jehangir, PoK, both around 20-year-old, were flown to New Delhi hours before Ministry of External Affairs shared their disclosures with Pakistan High Commissioner. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned High Commissioner Abdul Basit and provided him “proof of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit’s involvement in the Uri fidayeen attack”.

The disclosures obtained during sustained interrogation of the two youths, who initially admitted to being “guides”, have been recorded and documented before the same were communicated to Pakistan. According to sources, residents of a village, close to LoC, got suspicious about the duo’s movement and captured them for questioning. Both have been severely beaten up by the villagers who finally handed them over to Army. Sources said that both the youths had sustained injuries when they had been beaten up by the villagers.

However, independent sources said that the possibility of their having sustained injuries during Army’s third-degree interrogation could not be ruled out.

Sources said that at around 11.30 pm on Monday, 92 Base Hospital officials at headquarters 15 Corps called a lady doctor from CRPF for medical examination and some treatment of the two youths. During their detailed interaction with the female doctor (a resident of Odisha) at a secret location in the rear of Badami Bagh cantonment, both the detainees revealed that they were part of the six-member fidayeen group of Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad that sneaked into the garrison and carried out the suicide attack.

While as four militants of the group got killed in gunfight with troops, Yasin and Faizal escaped. They are understood to have revealed that the militants sprinkled an inflammable liquid on the barracks before lighting the fire. Surprisingly, the duo disclosed that the group had also carried with them three 8-kg LPG cylinders for the purpose of setting the barracks on fire. They were seized dramatically before they would cross the LoC and return to their villages, both situated close to LoC in PoK.

Yasin and Faizal have identified one of the four militants killed in the Uri fidayeen strike as Hafiz Ahmad of Dharbang, Muzaffarabad, and their handlers as Mohammad Kabir Awan and Basharat.

According to preliminary reports, the duo had been arrested by the Border Security Force and the Army in a joint operation at 'Angoor Post' at Gavalata village in Uri last Saturday when they were trying to infiltrate into India. Now it has become clear that they were captured while returning to PoK after carrying out the attack at the 12th Infantry Brigade headquarters.

The duo initially claimed that they had inadvertently crossed into India but after sustained interrogation they not only informed the security agencies about the two “guides” who had helped militants infiltrate but also helped them in identifying one of the militants involved in the attack, the sources said.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Full Text of Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's Speech at UN General Assembly 71st session on September 26, 2016

Hon'ble President,

 1. On behalf of India and on my own behalf, I congratulate you on your election as President of the 71st United Nations General Assembly. Let me also take this opportunity to thank Secretary General Ban Ki Moon for his services to the United Nations, history's largest peace movement.

 Mr. President,

2. A year has passed since I stood here at this hallowed podium to address the members of the international community. Since then, much has changed in the world around us - some for the better, some for the worse and much which has been cause of great concern. There can be no better platform to ponder our actions and our achievements over the last year.  We must remember that we will be defined not just by our actions, but equally, by our inaction. 

Mr. President,

3. A number of issues have been debated in this august  Assembly - from the necessity of global partnerships in sharing new vaccines and promoting access to affordable drugs to counter anti-microbial resistance, to the need for faster implementation of the Sendai Framework to mitigate the risk of natural disasters.  From the challenge of ensuring well-ordered mobility of productive human resources, to the necessity of adequate consultations with Troop Contributing Countries before framing mandates for UN Peacekeeping Operations. But my time is limited. I would therefore, focus only on some of the most pressing issues facing the international community.

Mr. President,

4. The true challenge of our time is to end the curse of harsh poverty that still lurks in so many corners of our world; to ensure that the fruits of growing prosperity reach those who need it most; to take forward the mission of gender equality and protect women where there is gender regression; and to ensure peace across boundaries, not least because there can be no prosperity without peace.

5. I congratulate you for the priority you have given to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by making them the theme for the 71st UNGA. I am happy that the 17 goals adopted by this Assembly are matched by the development vision of my Government, which is geared towards the achievement of these same objectives. Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Campaign), more than 400,000 toilets have been constructed in schools. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Educate the Girl Child, Save the Girl Child) programme has become a nation-wide mission. The Make in India brand is receiving international acclaim.  Almost 250 million bank accounts have been opened for the poor under the Jan Dhan Yojana, the largest financial inclusion programme the world has ever seen.  Digital India is transforming the country. Under the Skill India initiative, a number of programmes are underway to enable youth to reap the demographic dividend. These initiatives have added a new dimension to India's growth story, making it the fastest growing major economy in the world at a time of slow global growth.

Mr. President,

6. We are all aware that 1/6th of humanity lives in India.  Therefore global success in realizing SDGs depends on the success achieved in India.  We are committed to the wholehearted implementation of the Agenda 2030 as a national effort.

 We have decided to dedicate one day in each session of our Parliament for discussions only on SDGs. This will enable us to constantly monitor their progress and this will give us good results.

7. However, in a globalised world, national effort needs to be supplemented by international cooperation for the successful implementation of Agenda 2030.

Mr. President,

8. Climate change is yet another serious challenge confronting us. There are enough resources on this planet to fulfil everyone's needs, but not enough to fulfil anyone's greed, for greed is limitless. In this context PM Modi has championed a new concept - Climate Justice.If we respect nature, nature will respect and nurture us and future generations. But, if we exploit nature mindlessly, then we must be mindful that nature will unleash its fury upon us. In different parts of the world, we have already seen nature drift towards the unnatural - from torrential rain to excessive heat, from tsunamis to storms and cloudbursts.

9. We must curb reckless consumption, and adopt lifestyles in harmony with nature. Yoga, the storehouse of India's ancient wisdom, epitomises a sustainable lifestyle. Let me record our gratitude for the unprecedented global response to the International Day of Yoga.

10. In the Paris Agreement, the principle of 'Common but Differentiated Responsibilities' and 'Respective Capabilities' has been acknowledged and accepted. This makes clear that while our responsibility is common, obligations are different. Developed nations must discharge their responsibility in the search for the common good, with finance and technology transfer. 

11. India has launched an ambitious domestic effort to transform our energy mix to achieve 40% energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. The massive investments required entail a predictable and stable environment towards which we are working actively. Apart from this, our path-breaking initiative for an International Solar Alliance is intended to make efficient solar technology available for all.

12. I assure this Assembly that India will continue to play a leading role in combating climate change. We have decided to submit our Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who epitomised a lifestyle with the smallest carbon footprint.

Mr. President,

13. Let me now turn to a subject of the most critical importance, one which deeply concerns every member of this Assembly. This month we marked the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city. Tragically, less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city.   We,who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces.  The world has been battling this scourge for long.  However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these malevolent forces are yet to be defeated. 

14. We must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights.  It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations - it is a crime against humanity itself. But it is important to ask - who is behind this and who benefits from it?Terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries? We heard similar questions being asked by Afghanistan from this podium.

Mr. President,

15. History proves that those who seed extremist ideologies, reap a bitter harvest.  The germ of evil has grown into a hydra-headed monster, backed by technological sophistication that threatens the peace and harmony of our world. We will not be able to win against terrorism by making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me. For we do not know who this Frankenstein's monster will devour next.

16. Therefore if we want to defeat terrorism, there is only one way - that we unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response.  We need to forget our prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror. This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. We can do it, we must do it. Otherwise our future generations will forever hold us to account. And if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it.

17. In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations, in which UN declared terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations.

Mr. President,

18. On 21st September, the Prime Minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression.

Mr. President,

19. The Prime Minister of Pakistan also said that India has placed pre-conditions for talks which are not acceptable to him.  What pre-conditions? Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our Government? Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue? Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore? What pre-conditions? We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship!  We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent.  We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well being.  Did all this come with pre-conditions attached? 

20. And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan's complicity in cross-border terror. But when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan remains in denial. It persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets.  My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.

Mr. President,

21. As I said at the very beginning, we will be judged by our action and equally by our inaction. What goals have we achieved and what objectives remain unfulfilled? I would like to highlight two such pending tasks of this Assembly.

22. The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996. In 2016, despite the passage of two decades, we are yet to come to a conclusion.  As a result, we are unable to develop a norm under which terrorists shallbe prosecuted or extradited. Therefore it is my appeal that this General Assembly acts with fresh resolve and urgency to adopt this critical Convention.

23. Just as we need a more contemporary approach to combating terrorism, we also need a less outdated Security Council that continues to reflect the world order of an earlier era.  The vast majority of nations share the belief that the UN should not remain frozen in 1945, just to serve the interests of a few.  Whether it is institutions or issues, we must come to terms with present day realities and the challenges that confront us. An expansion in the Permanent and non-Permanent membership of the Council to reflect contemporary realities is therefore, an urgent necessity.  We must move forward substantively towards text-based negotiations.

Mr. President,

24. If both these long pending issues are addressed during your Presidency, the success of this Session will be ensured.

25. The 21st century has begun in the shadow of turmoil, but we can turn this into a golden age in the history of civilization through united and concerted efforts.  But what happens tomorrow will depend on what we do today.

Thank you.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Govt mulling to terminate services of 180 officials involved in current turmoil

CM’s own district Anantnag, Naeem Akhtar’s Education department identified as ‘havens of stone pelters’; 7 gazetted officers, 5 cops of Budgam Police to face action in first phase

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, September 25: Jammu and Kashmir Police, in coordination with the Central intelligence agencies, have established that the State government employees, including some officials of the union government’s BSNL and Project Beacon, are the key mobilisers and contributors of the unceasing street turbulence triggered by the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter in Kokernag area of South Kashmir on July 8 this year. The violence has claimed 88 lives, and left thousands injured, in the last 80 days.

STATE TIMES learned from highly placed authoritative sources that both, J&K Police as well as the Central agencies through Union Ministry of Home Affairs, have brought it to the notice of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that the government employees were playing a key role in mobilisation of demonstrations and violent attacks on Police and security forces in almost all the 10 districts in Kashmir valley.

Following a chain of communications, Chief Minister has directed Chief Secretary B.R. Sharma and Director General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar to verify alleged involvement of 180 listed officials and initiate necessary action — including detention under Public Safety Act (PSA) and termination of services — against the guilty. According to these sources, administrative secretaries, Heads of Departments and District Officers of different Government departments are currently working on the task given by the Chief Minister.

Sources revealed that Additional DG CID, S.M. Sahai, Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan and IGP Kashmir Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani were also in the loop. They claimed that over 50 of the identified officials have already been placed under suspension, pending enquiry.

Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan, however, claimed that he had “no knowledge of such development”. DGP and Additional DG CID were not reachable for their reaction. Asked if the top trade union leader and EJAC President Abdul Qayoom Wani had been detained for precautionary measures or a serious involvement, Mr Khan said that he had been detained for some days in Baramulla “but released later”.

Mr Khan, on direction from the top, has already issued the “no-work-no-pay” circular to all HoDs, asking them to ensure that monthly salary of any Government employees be not released until his Drawing & Disbursing Officer certifies that the official has been present on duty. This has, to a remarkable extent, improved attendance in Government offices in the current month.

Significantly, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s own residential district of Anantnag, that falls in the ruling PDP’s conventional stronghold of South Kashmir, has emerged on top of all the ten districts in identification of the “havens of miscreants and saboteurs”. Of the 180 identified officials picked up for action, 46 are from Anantnag, 26 from Pulwama, 21 from Kupwara, 20 from Ganderbal and 5 from Srinagar.

7 gazetted officers, 5 cops involved

The list includes seven gazetted officers allegedly involved in “mobilisation, encouragement, indoctrination and other support to miscreants”. Most of them are either residents of Anantnag district or posted in that area. They include as Assistant Registrar of the University of Kashmir, a Block Development Officer posted in Mattan area, a Deputy Chief Education Officer, an Accounts Officers of Finance Department, a Lecturer posted at Government Degree College Larnoo, a Lecturer of the Higher Education Department and an Assistant Engineer of PHE Department.

In the first exercise, five Constables of District Police Budgam and a retired Head Constable in Kupwara district have also been identified as “collaborators, coordinators and mobilisers of anti-national demonstrations and stone pelting”. Action has been initiated against them all, sources said.

Interestingly some officials of Project Beacon, functioning under control of union Ministry of Defence, and some employees of the Government of India-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd have also been found involved in the unrelenting turbulence. Sources said that action against them would be initiated separately.

While Mr Naeem Akhtar’s School Education and Higher Education departments have surfaced on the top, sources said that others identified in the list were the employees of Police, Fisheries, Health, Roads & Buildings, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution, Power Development Department, Agriculture, Finance, Tourism, SICOP, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Development Authority and Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]