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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Police or security forces have 'looted' 14 LCDs, computers, mattresses, blankets from EDI guesthouse

Officials draft FIR, claim that none else was present around the unharmed guesthouse during 56-hour-long gunfight at nearby hostel block

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 14: Police or security forces have allegedly “looted” costly articles from the guesthouse of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) that remained unharmed during 56-hour-long gunfight at the seven-storey hostel block on the premises near Pampore on October 10 and 11.

EDI officials have made an inventory of the articles missing from the three-storey guesthouse and they are filing a report with Police Station Pampore on Saturday. Informed sources revealed to STATE TIMES that the inventory makes mention of 14 LCDs, one or two computers and a number of mattresses and blankets that, according to them, have been “stolen and looted” either by the Police or by security forces after the gunfight ended with the death of two holed up militants on Tuesday.

According to these sources, incharge of the guesthouse, namely Mohammad Maqbool, had kept all the rooms of the building unlocked before he and two other employees moved out when it became clear that the militants had occupied the seven-storey hostel block, around 40 yards away on a lower level. The militants had opened fire when fire brigade personnel began dousing the flames on the 7th floor of the hostel block.

The hostel block, which had 60 rooms, each with an attached bathroom, was extensively damaged in the gunfight. Officials say over 200 rockets, several IEDs, mortar fire and 2000 litre of petrol was used to bring down the building but it did not collapse. Finally the militants were killed in a face-to-face encounter inside the concrete building.

On February 20-22 this year, EDI's main administrative block had been extensively damaged in a similar fidayeen attack when three militants, two CRPF men, one gardener of EDI and three Special Force personnel, including two young captains, had got killed in the three-day-long operation.

Thereafter, the makeshift offices had been operating from the lofty seven-storey hostel block with an attic on its top. Now, EDI has shifted its administrative offices to the guesthouse — the last building which is intact on the premises.

Special Operations Group (SOG) of District Police Awantipore, a company of CRPF 110 battalion besides different units of Army’s Special Forces carried out the operation for two days. Significantly, the guesthouse did not suffer any damage during the encounter.

Ground floor of the guesthouse has a dining hall, kitchen, stores and other facilities of the housekeeping. Its first floor has 8 fully furnished rooms and the second floor has 5 special guest suites. According to the sources, the LCD TVs with all set top boxes have been removed and taken away from all the 13 rooms besides one in the dining hall. One or two computer systems have also been stolen. It has been observed that even the Dunlop mattresses and blankets have also been taken away from several rooms.

There was no possibility of any civilian’s breaking into the guesthouse as the Police and security forces remained camped on the premises in thick numbers for about four days. Therefore, the EDI officials’ first suspects are none other than the Police and security forces who were present there without break.

While as the Defence spokesman was not reachable, CRPF spokesman Rajesh Yadav said that he would check with the concerned battalion that falls under jurisdiction of another sector and get back with the facts. Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar, and IGP Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, told STATE TIMES that they would seek details from the concerned Police station and share the same with this newspaper. This did not become possible until filing of this story around midnight and will be carried in a follow up.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dismissal of Govt. employees, transfer of DCs, HoDs, SSPs, posting of IGPs likely in today’s Cabinet meeting

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 13: State Home Department, in coordination with CID, is understood to have made dossiers against more than 150 Government employees, including seven gazetted officers, for termination of service and booking them all under Public Safety Act (PSA) for their alleged involvement in the 97-day-long street turbulence. Even as Chief Minister and some of her party’s Ministers are said to be averse to a very stringent action, Cabinet is likely to consider disciplinary action against them in Friday’s meeting at Civil Secretariat.

As exclusively reported earlier by STATE TIMES, around 180 Government employees, who include some officials of Government of India and J&K Police, have been found actively involved in mobilising protests, demonstrations, arson and clashes with Police and security forces. Some of these suspects have been already either shifted from their places of posting or detained under PSA.

Well-placed sources said that the Cabinet meeting, to be presided over by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, is likely to order reshuffle of a number of Deputy Commissioners, Heads of Departments and District SPs. DCs of Srinagar (Dr Farooq Ahmad lone) Budgam (Mir Altaf Ahmad) and Kupwara (Kumar Rajiv Ranjan), besides Director of School Education Kashmir (Dr Shah Faesal) are said to be among the officers to be shifted to new places of posting.

Cabinet may also clear Central deputation of SP Kathua Neva Jain and SP Traffic Rural Kashmir Abdul Jabbar.

Two IPS officers of 1997 batch, namely Surender Gupta (DIG Udhampur), Johny William (DIG RP Range) and one IPS officer of 1998 batch, namely Syed Ahfadul Mujtaba (Director SSG), who have been already cleared by the DPC and Cabinet for elevation to the post of IGP with effect from April 1, 2016, are likely to get new places of posting.

While as one officer of 1997 batch, namely Alok Kumar (DIG Armed Jammu) has not been cleared for promotion on account of an FIR in Bihar, another IPS officer of 1997 batch, namely Viplav Kumar Choudhary (DIG Traffic Jammu and incharge IG Traffic J&K) has recently proceeded on 11 months study leave abroad. Remaining two IPS officers of 1997 batch, namely Garib Dass and Vijay Kumar, are currently on Central deputation.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Lucknow Modi threatens ‘harbourers and helpers’, in J&K his Govt. accords them VVIP status

Mismatch between BJP’s theories and practicals in Jammu and Kashmir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 12: In his first public speech after the September 29 surgical strikes across LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Dusshera celebration in Aishbagh of Lucknow on Tuesday that his BJP Government would strike at the roots of terrorism. Plush with the euphoria the strategic operation has generated ahead of the Assembly elections in U.P, Modi didn’t stop there. “Those harbouring and helping terrorists will not be pardoned either”, Modi grumbled to cheers and slogans from his animated audience.

Among all the mainstream opposition parties who is ‘harbouring and helping’ terrorists with specific context to Jammu and Kashmir? There’s no denying the fact that at the national political domain, a number of the politicians in Congress party, CPI, CPI(M) and JDU etcetera have been remarkably soft to different hues of insurgencies from Naxalites to the Kashmiri militants. Apart from a host of other factors, this "accommodation to dissent" has prompted many of the mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, with glaring exception of BJP, to take a line close to that of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. While as the "last nationalist" Farooq Abdullah has been quietened, some of the state’s political parties, Peoples Democratic Party in particular, have for years competed with Hurriyat on secessionism. For over a decade, not only these mainstream politicians but also their separatist competitors have been recognised by Delhi as "our own people".

In ambience of the enthusiasm generated by the surgical strikes, Prime Minister Modi views a Hurriyat leader as "helper and promoter of terrorism". When the same separatist's father and a more prominent separatist leader was gunned down in 2002, Prime Minister Vajpayee (who was in Srinagar) didn't visit his residence but he was the first to extend his condolences and hailed the slain politician as a great leader. Time has changed but not as much as Modi is telling his voters in U.P.

It is unambiguously clear that Modi or his NDA cannot take action against any pro-separatist, pro-militant mainstream political party given the fact that most prominent of them all, namely PDP, is BJP’s coalition partner and holding the hot seat in Jammu and Kashmir. It was mainly to protect the prospects of BJP’s government formation with PDP that Modi and his BJP were compelled to make sacrifices and compromise the party’s stated position vis-à-vis separatism. Having the state flag on their vehicles and offices was the constitutional compulsion of the BJP Ministers but they remained mute to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordering release of nearly 200 stone-pelters on the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s demand on July 4, 2016.

Modi’s government at the Centre is also known to have prevented Delhi Police from getting after some 20 Kashmiri students who, during an investigation, had been found to have raised anti-India, pro-Azadi, pro-Geelani and pro-Burhan slogans at JNU in February 2016. The BJP leaders feared that the Kashmiri students’ and non-students’ arrest could the make the ground harder for Ms Mufti in forging an alliance with their party. The centre put a tab on Delhi Police.

Massarat Aalam’s release and his holding an exuberant pro-Pakistan show for Geelani’s reception in April 2015 was also one of the umpteen comprises of BJP, though the Centre eventually forced then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to re-arrest the icon of the 2010 turbulence and put him in jail for infinity. In recent times, many of PDP’s own leaders, including MLA of Tral and one MP, have publicly glorified militants and stone-pelters and called J&K a “disputed territory”. Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid has outsmarted all of his competitors in demonising and discrediting India and called for ‘Plebiscite’ under the UN resolutions.

Now that it is clear that many of the mainstream politicians in J&K are holding New Delhi’s “license” to keep the separatists and militants in good humour and to continue the peoples’ emotional exploitation for making themselves secure and winning vote in the elections, would Modi touch any of the separatists proudly owning, representing, harbouring and helping the militants and espousing Pakistan’s Kashmir cause without an iota of hesitation since 1990?

Not a single person in the Valley seems to believe that the firebrand Indian Prime Minister would lay his hands on any of the separatist "VVIPs". They invariably dismiss Modi’s Lucknow warning as rhetorical and hollow. “When, of late, media raised questions over India’s policy of according VVIP status to the separatists and purportedly spending hundreds of crores of Rupees on their luxuries and security, Modi and his BJP chose to remain mute spectators. They neither uttered a word in reaction nor asked any of the protected separatists to tone down their virulent anti-India and pro-Pakistan speeches and statements”, observes a political analyst, wishing anonymity.

In the last 97 days of the street turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter, a couple of the protected and privileged separatists have held a low-key profile but many of them have left no stone unturned to enforce complete the shutdown, to completely paralyse the government and to build up an unprecedented Pakistan euphoria. Within 24 hours of Modi’s Lucknow speech, the separatists on Wednesday issued a fresh calendar, asking the people to continue shutdown and hold demonstrations everywhere on streets. They have not granted any daytime relaxation in the shutdown. 90 civilian protesters have already died and thousands have been left injured. Going by their speeches and statements, all the protected separatists are in tandem with Pakistan in raising the Kashmir issue at UN General Assembly and other international stages.

The protected separatists have particularly played a key role in shutting down educational institutions, banks and government offices. On their persuasion, shutdown vigilantes have roughed up and left injured hundreds of people defying the call and over a thousand of the vehicles have been damaged. At least five persons have died due to stone pelting and hundreds of public properties, including the residential houses of a number of pro-India political activists, have been destroyed in fire. It began with burning of the entrepreneur Khurram Shafi Mir’s high-density apple orchard. A situation of anarchy has ceased to relent for over three months. Kashmir's trade and tourist season has been flattened, horticulture is passing through months of uncertainty and Kashmir's economy is said to have already suffered loss worth Rs 10,000 crore.

While the Pakistan Independence Day was, for the first time in 70 years, observed at more than 100 places with tremendous enthusiasm, Pakistani anthem and student parades on August 14, the separatist leaders have ensured waving of the Pakistani national flags at all the innumerable demonstrations from one end of Kashmir to another in the last three months.

The maximum brunt of current turbulence has been faced by J&K Police that has been completely demoralised, defunct and incapacitated to move beyond its camps and riot spots. Over a hundred of their rifles have been either looted by militants or destroyed in fire by their supporters. This is inspite of the fact that nearly 150 Police personnel have been deployed for security of the separatist leaders, their families, relatives and properties. Some of them have been provided same bullet-proof cars and escort vehicles that only the Cabinet Ministers and other VIPs in that category are entitled to.

Interestingly, most of the separatists have been provided VIP status and Police protection by Atal Behari Vajpayee’s NDA-I government. Until 1996, only one of them had been provided with these privileges. In 1996, Prime Minister H.D. Devegowda’s government provided VIP status and security to three prominent separatist leaders. One of them, namely SAS Geelani, later returned it to the Government.

In Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA Government, VIP status and Police protection of the separatist leaders was remarkably upgraded. Those who got VIP status and security in Dr Singh’s government include former militants who were top commanders in their organisations. One of them was also allotted a Government house. They all, in a competition, have subscribed to current Pakistan euphoria in the Valley.

Almost all of these protected separatists enjoy free access to Srinagar airport and are respectfully treated in VIP lounge. Even their relatives in different government services have been granted special promotions and prize postings. Their residences and offices look like the official bungalows of Ministers and DGPs. Most of the Kashmiris view it as India's recognition to the State's "disputed status" and legitimacy of a political cause. "Which other country on earth takes so much care of the sworn enemy agents? This is all under international pressure", insists a fellow journalist.

If Modi translates his threat into action and touches the separatist politicians, who, by his belief, are “harbourers and helpers of terrorism”, it will be the beginning of a new political era in J&K. As of now nobody here believes Modi or anyone else in his regime has a will or spine to affect such radical changes in the Indian policy framework, particularly so as long as BJP is in coalition with PDP and the latter is indebted to a section of the “harbourers and helpers of terrorism” for winning some seats and getting power.  That explains why the Valley’s protected and privileged separatists are unfazed over Modi’s rhetoric and electoral jingoism.


 [Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Significant militant movement noticed in Chadoura, Ganderbal, Bandipore

Standoff continues at EDI hostel block even as some officials believe one militant is dead

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 11: Police and security forces have apprehensions of a larger fidayeen strike, most likely in or around the turbulent summer capital, as they have received ‘credible reports’ of significant militant movement in Chhanpora-Chadoura belt in southern Srinagar, Ganderbal and Bandipore areas of Kashmir valley in the last few days.

Highly placed authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that a group of five Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militants, which has been in movement in Chhanpora and Kralpora areas, in close vicinity of the Indian Air Force (IAF) base, for the last one week, was planning a major strike on a military target. Police and security forces have been put on alert even as no specific target has been identified.

According to these sources, security forces have also learned about the presence and movement of a group of eight militants, including 3 Pakistani cadres of LeT, in Onagam area of Bandipore district. Forces have been informed that the militants have descended on the village twice this week to secure food and thereafter returned to the dense forest cover.

According to yet another ‘credible report’ available with Police and security forces, a group of four militants, led by a foreigner in combat gear, has been spotted in movement in Batwena, Waskora and Khanpora villages of Ganderbal district.

“We have been usually receiving such reports but there’s a perceptible change and intentions of the freshly pushed in militants to carry out high profile, newsmaking strikes are clear. We are taking all necessary precautions to fail their plans”, said a senior official. According to him, over 100 highly indoctrinated militants of LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen outfits were believed to have infiltrated into the Valley in the last over three months of the street turbulence. Army has foiled more than 20 infiltration attempts and killed around 30 militants on the LoC during the same period.

However, no major cordon-and-search operation has been conducted in the valley hinterland after the July 8 encounter in Bamdora Kokernag, Anantnag, in which three militants, including Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani, had been killed. Police and security forces have been forced to completely freeze their movement beyond their camps and riot spots as the authorities have apprehensions that the people of the area under an operation could gather en mass and create disruption to help the militants escape. Fatalities in such confrontations are a stark possibility.

In absence of the patrolling and operational movement of Police and security forces, most of the rural areas in all the ten districts have assumed trappings of a ‘liberated territory’ and the unruly groups enforcing shutdown have been enjoying a field day.

Over a thousand vehicles are estimated to have been damaged and scores more torched on roads by the shutdown vigilantes in the last three months. Besides, over 500 people are estimated to have been injured in incidents of stone pelting for violating the separatists’ call for continued shutdown since July 8. In the same period around 90 persons have died in Police and security forces’ firing and thousands have been injured in firing, mostly out of the pump action guns.

EDI standoff continues

Meanwhile, the 42-hour-long standoff at EDI Hostel Complex near Pampore showed no signs of an earlier resolution as Army, CRPF and Police maintained a tight cordon on the second consecutive day on Tuesday. Sources said that Army fired dozens of PAVA shells onto all the eight floors of the concrete building to smoke out two or three militants. However, there was no response from inside till 6.00 pm when the holed up militants fired some gunshots after a pause of 35 hours.

Attempts were being made to trace the militants with the help of thermal imagers which could be fitted to unmanned aerial vehicles like on February 21 and 22 when six drones had been damaged in the three-day fidayeen action at EDI’s administrative block. Two CRPF men, one EDI employee, three militants and four Army personnel, including two young captains, had got killed in that operation.

Some officials tonight claimed that at least one militant died in the Army and Police firing but it could not be confirmed in absence of evidence. Troops of 9 Special Force and SOG Awantipore are holding the operation at EDI.

12 injured in Shopian blast

Meanwhile, four CRPF men and 8 civilians, including three women, sustained splinter injuries when suspected militants tossed a hand grenade on CRPF at Bona Bazar in Shopian town in the forenoon on Tuesday. Reports said that none of them was critical as all were treated at a local hospital.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In second fidayeen strike at EDI, 3 militants occupy hostel block

Red alert in Srinagar as officials treat Pampore encounter ‘diversionary tactics’, fear a bigger strike in summer capital; boat seized; intermittent firing going on; 2 personnel injured

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 10: In the current year’s second fidayeen attack on the magnificent EDI (Entrepreneurship Development Institute) complex, near Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, three unidentified militants have occupied the eight-storey hostel complex and engaged Police and security forces in a gunfight in close vicinity of Army’s 15 Corps headquarters on Monday.

Officials associated with the operation revealed to STATE TIMES that at least three heavily armed militants, who are believed to have reached EDI premises after crossing river Jhelum from Rakh Shalina side by boat, occupied 7th storey of the Rs 16 crore hostel building around 7.00 a.m. Three junior employees of the adjoining guesthouse, who put up at the hostel building for the night, had walked to the front side, facing the highway, and were closeted with the security when they spotted flames leaping on the top floor.

The employees and the security at the main entrance of the complex called Director EDI Dr Mohammad Ismail Parray by telephone. He immediately rang up SHO Pampore and the fire services. Within minutes, fire tenders arrived in to douse the flames. However, as soon as the fire tenders began taking positions on the premises, the militants opened fire from the seventh floor. Even as nobody was injured, the fire officials withdrew.

Sources said that Army, CRPF, SOG unit of Awantipore District Police, besides a law and order component of Srinagar District Police, rushed to Sempora and laid a tight siege to the whole area. Later, Army seized a boat that is believed to have been used by the militants to cross the river.

Sources said that flames appeared two or three times for the day but each time subsided. Late in the night, the building again caught fire. In exchange of gunfire earlier, one soldier of Army and a constable of SOG Awantipore sustained injuries. Both were evacuated and admitted to Army’s 92 Base Hospital where doctors said that they were stable.

“We have been asked to ensure that there’s minimum possible collateral damage. We are holding the cordon though there was no firing from inside for several hours”, said an official. He said that Army used rocket-launchers and LMGs but failed to find exact location of the holed up militants in the tall building that has 60 rooms and seven concrete masonry floors and an attic.

Sources said that with non-availability of thermal imagers, troops could not find exact location of the holed up militants. They said that a helicopter would carry some thermal cameras from Northern Command headquarters of Udhampur later on Monday night. “This is going to be a tough operation as we are under instruction not to take any casualties and the fully concrete building has 60 rooms and several halls and bathrooms on its seven floors”, said an official.

Officials said that Monday’s fidayeen strike on EDI complex could be a tactics to divert attention of the security forces from the main city where the militants were planning to carry out a major suicide action. That could be possibly on a military or Police installation or a place like Srinagar airport. “Srinagar is on high alert and all incoming and outgoing vehicles are being checked”, said an official.

Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar, told STATE TIMES that two to three militants were believed to have reached the EDI after crossing river Jhelum by a boat. He said that Police and security forces had launched an operation and the militants would be sorted out. DGP, besides GoC Victor Force, IGP Kashmir and IGP CRPF Operations supervised the operation for the whole day.

DGP said that Army and Police would try to smoke out the militants with PAVA shells and other tear smoke canisters and try to eliminate them without risking collateral damage. Because of that, the operation could take a longer time.

Director EDI Dr Mohammad Ismail Parray said that entire records, whatever could be saved from the main administrative block in February this year, had been shifted to the hostel block. In a major fidayeen strike, EDI’s administrative block had suffered extensive damage from February 20 to February 22 this year when two CRPF men, one civilian, three militants and four soldiers, including two young Captains of Special Forces, had died in the encounter and a number of Police, CRPF and Army personnel had sustained injuries.

Dr Parray said that the EDI administrative offices were also operating from the hostel block after the February attack. He said that after the February attack he had written to SP Awantipore to augment security at the complex. “I think they had posted 10 to 15 policemen for security but I don’t have full idea of their strength and working”, Dr Parray said. He said that he had been hugely disturbed by the second fidayeen attack as the EDI now had no place to run its offices and accommodate its trainees.

On Twitter, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah posted that the militants were not interests in welfare and capacity building of the Kashmiri youths: “All the EDI ever did was train young Kashmiri boys & girls to stand on their own feet & not seek government jobs. Militants don't like that! No wonder for the 2nd time this year they have attacked the institute. They want young Kashmiris to be subservient & bitter not self-reliant”.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Curfew imposed in Srinagar as 12-year-old succumbs to pellet injuries

Militants loot two more SLRs from minority guard in Pulwama; around 200 vehicles damaged, 20 injured in over 70 clashes in Valley

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Oct 8: With the authorities failing to restore semblance of normalcy in the turbulent Kashmir valley on 92nd day of continued shutdown on Saturday, a 12-year-old boy has fallen to pump action guns of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) even as the separatist demonstrators clashed with Police at more than 70 places.

Official sources told STATE TIMES that the 12-year-old student, Junaid Ahmad Akhoon of Saidpora Eidgah, succumbed to injuries in the wee hours on Saturday at SKIMS, Soura. As already reported, he had sustained critical injuries when Police and CRPF opened pellet fire on stone pelters in Eidgah area of downtown Srinagar on Friday evening. He had been hit in his head and chest.

Family members and neighbours of the young student alleged that Police and CRPF fired from pump action guns straight on Junaid though he was not part of the group clashing with the forces. “It’s yet another cold blooded murder. We fail to understand what kind of a force is this. They often spare 20 to 30 year old stone pelters but kill 8-year-olds and 12-year-old”, said a member of the Akhoon family on condition of anonymity. According to him, proof of the cold blooded murder was that even the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s party PDP had demanded time-bound probe in this killing.

Almost all the Kashmir-based mainstream and separatist political parties condemned the young boy’s killing in the Police and CRPF firing and demanded a time-bound and transparent investigation.

Early in the morning when the body was being carried to the ‘Martyrs Graveyard’ of Eidgah for funeral rites, Police and CRPF fired tear smoke canisters and forced the procession to disperse. Later, the body was laid to rest in the family’s ancestral graveyard at Saidpora amid pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans, predominantly shouted by women mourners. With this, death toll in the 92-day-long turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wanii’s death in an encounter on July 8, has crossed 90. Thousands of demonstrators and Police and CRPF personnel have suffered fractures and sustained injuries.

Sources said that as many as 70 incidents of stone pelting and clashes with Police and CRPF were reported from different areas. Curfew was imposed in jurisdiction of seven Police stations in downtown Srinagar. An official spokesman said that only a few incidents of stone pelting were reported till late on Saturday. However, officials revealed to this newspaper that not less than 70 clashes had been reported. At least 20 persons were reportedly injured in such clashes. Officials said that 61 persons were arrested today on charges of their involvement in stone pelting and mobilisation of arson and attacks on Police and paramilitary forces.

Sources said that over 200 civilian vehicles were damaged in intense stone pelting by unruly crowds for defying the separatists’ shutdown call as Police chose to remain a mute spectator. Most of the vehicles were damaged at Soura, Ompora and Sheikhpora in Budgam, Batmaloo Tengpora, Firdausabad, Shalteng, Lawaypora, Pandraithan, Zewan Balhama, Lalchowk and Khannabal Anantnag.

Weapons looted again in Pulwama

Sources said that at around 8.30 p.m, two to three militants appeared at the minority guard at Tumlahaal in Pulwama district and they snatched away two SLRs from two of the five Police personnel present on duty. Officials said that one head constable and four constables of District Police Pulwama were supposed to be present on duty with two SLRs. Both the rifles were snatched away from the constables on duty without resistance. The militants withdrew and went back to their hideouts conveniently.

Sources said that the militants chose not to harm any members of the two Pandit families at Tumlahaal. Only last evening, in a similar attempt suspected militants had failed to loot weapons from minority guards in Kulgam district when they put up armed resistance. One constable got killed and another injured in the clash. One protected Pandit was also hit in his thigh. Over 100 Police weapons have been looted by militants in South Kashmir in the last three months.