Still suffering from Kashmir hangover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Still suffering from Kashmir hangover’: Goa governor Satya Pal Malik

Malik said that before the Central government decided to revoke Article 370, which conferred a special status on the now former northern state, scores of people would be killed every week due to skirmishes.

INDIA Updated: Nov 28, 2019 23:05 IST

IANS 
IANS 
Panaji
Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik, who till recently was the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday said that he still suffers from a Kashmir hangover.
Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik, who till recently was the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday said that he still suffers from a Kashmir hangover.(HT Photo)

Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik, who till recently was the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday said that he still suffers from a Kashmir hangover.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 50th edition of the International Film Festival of India, Malik, who oversaw a landmark political and constitutional transition in the region during his stint there, said that not a single bullet had been fired in J&K ever since the revocation of Article 370 in August this year.

“I just arrived in Goa three weeks ago. And I have come from Kashmir. So I am still suffering from a Kashmir hangover,” Malik said in his speech during the concluding ceremony of the festival, which was co-organised by the Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting and the Goa government.

Malik said that before the Central government decided to revoke Article 370, which conferred a special status on the now former northern state, scores of people would be killed every week due to skirmishes.

“And now, even after Article 370 was abrogated, the Indian armed forces did not need to fire even a single bullet,” Malik said, adding that often bureaucrats would scare him by saying that at least 1,000 people might be killed in the aftermath of doing away with the special status.

Malik oversaw a controversial period as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, during which the central government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Jammu and Kashmir investor summit will be held soon: L-G Murmu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Jammu and Kashmir investor summit will be held soon: L-G Murmu

The proposed summit was scheduled to be held in October but was postponed after life remained affected following the abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state on August 5.

INDIA Updated: Nov 19, 2019 05:35 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu said on Monday that the investor summit would be held soon for the development of the region and also to create job opportunities for the youth.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu said on Monday that the investor summit would be held soon for the development of the region and also to create job opportunities for the youth.(PTI)

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu said on Monday that the investor summit would be held soon for the development of the region and also to create job opportunities for the youth.

The proposed summit was scheduled to be held in October but was postponed after life remained affected following the abrogation of special status of the erstwhile state on August 5.

“We want investment to come so that people get employment and there is development. We are preparing for the investor summit. In the coming days, we will start the process,” Murmu said while addressing a passing out parade of 1,145 newly recruited personnel of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Police Training School in Manigam.

The L-G also wanted people to cooperate in making the summit a success. “We want people’s cooperation and there will be a bigger role for the police,” he said. Murmu said 30,000-40,000 job opportunities would be created. He said that the administration’s motive was development and peace in the Union Territory. “Our objective is development, job opportunities and a peaceful environment for that people,” he said. The L-G said the focus was also on completing pending projects.

India: Another trucker, his helper shot dead in Kashmir; toll reaches 5

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Another trucker, his helper shot dead in Kashmir; toll reaches 5

It is the latest in a series of attacks targeting the fruit industry, one of the economic mainstays of the Valley, and non-Kashmiris, following the change in the constitutional status of Jammu & Kashmir.

INDIA Updated: Oct 25, 2019 05:44 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A driver covers a supply truck loaded with apples on a highway near Qazigund in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, October 17, 2019. Picture taken October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail
A driver covers a supply truck loaded with apples on a highway near Qazigund in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, October 17, 2019. Picture taken October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail(REUTERS)

Suspected militants on Thursday shot dead a truck driver and his associate in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, taking the death toll of people from outside the state killed by militants to five in two weeks, the police said.

Another driver, who was injured in the incident, was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar. The truck drivers had gone to ferry apples.

“Terrorists killed two civilians in Shopian and left one injured, who has been shifted to hospital,” a police spokesperson said.

It is the latest in a series of attacks targeting the fruit industry, one of the economic mainstays of the Valley, and non-Kashmiris, following the change in the constitutional status of Jammu & Kashmir. The Centre, in August, effectively revoked Article 370 which gave special status to the state, and bifurcated it into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

The police have called these attacks attempts to intimidate the people against resuming normal life in the Valley.

The incident also comes on a day when the Block Development Council polls were held for the first time in the history of the state ahead of its bifurcation on October 31.

Jammu & Kashmir director general of police Dilbagh Singh on Thursday said militants stopped three trucks with registration numbers from Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab, and opened fire at the drivers near Chittargam in Shopian. They also torched two of the trucks, causing partial damage.

Security forces rushed to the spot after the attack to cordon off the area.

One of the truck drivers killed by militants has been identified as Iliyas Khan, a resident of Alwar in Rajasthan, while the identity of his associate is being ascertained. The second driver injured in Thursday’s attack has been identified as Jeevan Singh from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur.

Last week, a fruit trader from Punjab was killed and another was critically injured after militants opened fire at them at Trenz village in Shopian.

The same day, on October 16, a brick kiln worker from Chhattisgarh was gunned down by militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama. Two militants, including a suspected Pakistani national, killed a truck driver from Rajasthan and assaulted an orchard owner in Shopian district on October 14.

Fearing violence, the Jammu & Kashmir administration placed restrictions in the Valley after the August 5-6 move to revoke Article 370. Curbs have since been eased in the Valley since, with the state taking out newspaper advertisements asking people not to be afraid of militant threats and resume their businesses even as heavy deployment of security forces continues.

After the attacks, DGP Singh visited Shopian and chaired a high-level meeting, after which an advisory was issued to non-local drivers “not to lift apples from deep inside villages”.

According to state officials, eight lakh metric tonnes of fruit has been exported from the Valley in the last three months, to various fruit markets of the country.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Oct 25, 2019 01:20 IST

India: 18 terrorists killed, JeM launch pads destroyed in PoK strikes by Indian army

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

18 terrorists killed, JeM launch pads destroyed in PoK strikes by Indian army: Officials

The officials added that all the terror launch pads housing Jaish-e-Mohammed and other jihadists were destroyed in the pin-point artillery firing by the Indian army – retaliatory action to indiscriminate and unprovoked Pakistani firing along the Line of Control.

INDIA Updated: Oct 23, 2019 09:25 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The site of Indian Army’s assault on Pakistani terror camps.
The site of Indian Army’s assault on Pakistani terror camps.(Photo: HT/ Special arrangement)

Officials in Indian security agencies that have assessed the impact of the Indian Army’s artillery assault on terror launch pads in Neelum Valley and three other places in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), said on condition of anonymity that at least 18 terrorists were killed along with 16 Pak Army personnel on October 19 and 20. The army hasn’t confirmed the number of dead. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently authenticate the numbers.

The officials added that all the terror launch pads housing Jaish-e-Mohammed and other jihadists were destroyed in the pin-point artillery firing by the Indian army – retaliatory action to indiscriminate and unprovoked Pakistani firing along the Line of Control.

On Sunday, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh twice about the Indian Army fire assault on PoK launch pads with the latter congratulating the former on the resolute action, the officials said. Asking General Rawat to go public on the artillery firing, Rajnath Singh said that while no terror launch pads should be spared, care should be taken to ensure that the innocent civilian population is not targeted.

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Defence ministry officials said on condition of anonymity that ammunition and ration depots of the Pakistani Army were also destroyed by 155 mm guns using precision long range ammunition. While four launch pads in Neelum Valley were hit, launch pads in Jura, Athamuqam and Kundalshahi were also decimated in the fire onslaught on wee hours of October 20, they added. The Indian response came after the Pakistani Army targeted Indian positions and civil localities in Karnah sector killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian on Saturday night.

Hindustantimes

On Sunday, the army mounted the artillery attack in retaliation to ceasefire violations meant to assist infiltrators, inflicting heavy terrorist casualties.

The counter-offensive measures come weeks after multiple intelligence agencies warned the government that at least 60 terrorists have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir recently and another 500 are waiting to infiltrate, according to the army.

Hindustantimes

Ground intelligence and communication intercepts from PoK suggests that the jihadists and their army handlers were taken by surprise by the pin-point firing and the fact that the Indian Army knew about their locations. “Intelligence about 18 terrorists and 16 army personnel killed have been corroborated on ground with hard intelligence. Many have been injured,” said a senior Indian Army official who asked not to be named.

“ By taking out the launch pads near LoC in PoK, we have sent a message that retaliation will come if any infiltration attempt is made in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a senior official in a security agency.

First Published: Oct 22, 2019 23:43 IST

India: Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over scrapping Article 370 was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery.

INDIA Updated: Oct 14, 2019 07:59 IST

Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley. (ANI Photo)

The Indian Army has deployed more troops along the Line of Control (LoC) over the past two months to deal with an unusual spike in infiltration by Pakistan-backed terrorists looking to stir trouble in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre’s move revoking the special status of the state on August 5, one of the army’s top-most commanders said on Sunday.

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over the government’s move to effectively scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and J&K’s bifurcation into two Union Territories was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery in order to destabilise the border region.

Infiltration attempts, accompanied by ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army, are occurring almost every day since the decisions on J&K were announced on August 5, he said.

“We have brought in additional soldiers from outside Northern Command to strengthen our counter-infiltration posture along the LoC. Troops have also been pulled out of pockets where terror has been dormant and sent to forward locations. No patch of the border is unguarded and we have repelled the majority of infiltration attempts,” General Singh told Hindustan Times.

While the Northern Army commander did not reveal details of the redeployment citing operational reasons, two officers familiar with the development said troop numbers along the LoC were up by a few thousand. General Singh is in Delhi to attend a biannual meeting of the army’s top commanders who will discuss a raft of important issues including the one on Kashmir over the next five days.

The army’s Udhampur-based Northern command is the nerve-centre for counter-insurgency operations in J&K and is also responsible for guarding the LoC.

The number of border violations by Pakistan has risen dramatically this year. According to official data, there have been 2,317 violations as on October 10 this year, compared to 1,629 last year and 860 in 2017. The neighbouring army was initiating ceasefire violations along the LoC to help infiltrators sneak into J&K and carry out terror attacks, Singh said. Such infiltrators have carried out a string of suicide attacks recently including the ones in Uri, Pathankot and Nagrota.

Intelligence reports have warned against the presence of more than 500 terrorists at launch pads and terror camps across the LoC, facing Kupwara, Baramulla, Poonch and Rajouri sectors. In addition, the number of terrorists in Kashmir stands between 250 and 300.

“Even one terror strike backed by Pakistan could ratchet up bilateral tensions. There’s no doubt we are going to act on it. Pakistan is frustrated as it is unable to push infiltrators across the LoC. It is now looking at using border routes in Punjab, Gujarat and Nepal,” said General Singh. He was heading the army’s military operations directorate in 2016 when India launched multiple surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in response to the Uri suicide attack that left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

With post-paid mobile phone services set to be restored across J&K from Monday, General Singh said restrictions imposed after the August 5 announcement were being lifted in a gradual way after a detailed risk assessment.

“The communications blackout was eased when landlines became functional. People can use their cell phones now. Restoration of Internet services will take some time. While control measures can’t be there forever, we have to deny Pakistani elements the chance to whip up tensions in Kashmir,” he said.

He said the security forces could face a fresh set of challenges in the coming weeks due to a series of important events such as the move of the seat of governance from Srinagar to Jammu on October 26 (the J&K government functions six months each from Jammu and Srinagar), Diwali the following day and J&K and Ladakh coming into existence as Union Territories on October 31. J&K’s winter capital Jammu will become functional from November 5.

“The aim of the Pakistani machinery will be to create trouble around this crucial time. We are at our highest alert levels,” he said.

General Singh said Pakistan had fully activated the terror infrastructure on its soil and attempts to push in infiltrators were likely to spill over into the winter months.

Experts said that the security forces were in control of the situation in J&K but they highlighted the threat from Pakistan-sponsored terror.

“It is positive that there has been very little violence in the Valley post August 5. Now that restrictions are being eased, the big challenge for the government will be to win the confidence of the people. This is not going to be an easy task but it is absolutely essential,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd), who oversaw the September 2016 surgical strikes in PoK.

“As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are seeing no change in its behaviour in supporting terrorist activities in J&K. This could have serious implications if there is a major terror strike that India will be forced to respond to,” General Hooda added.

First Published: Oct 14, 2019 01:33 IST

Post paid mobile phone services in Jammu and Kashmir to be restored from Monday

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Post paid mobile phone services in Jammu and Kashmir to be restored from Monday: Government

Post paid mobile phone services in Jammu and Kashmir will be restored from Monday, the government said on Saturday.

INDIA Updated: Oct 12, 2019 15:32 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
In the second week of September, mobile connectivity was restored in Jammu but was subsequently withdrawn because of alleged rumour-mongering.
In the second week of September, mobile connectivity was restored in Jammu but was subsequently withdrawn because of alleged rumour-mongering. (PTI Photo/Representative Image )

All post-paid mobile phone services will be restored in the remaining areas of Jammu and Kashmir from Monday, the government announced on Saturday, more than two months after several clampdowns were enforced as the Center revoked the region’s special status.

Restrictions were placed on the movement of people, phone and internet services suspended and hundreds of state leaders placed under house arrest on August 5 disabled over fears of violence.

The government had revoked Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories- Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

The government had said the abolition of Kashmir’s special status was meant to help to combat terrorism and to boost the region’s economic development

“Having reviewed the situation, a decision has now been taken to restore mobile phone services in the remaining areas of Jammu and Kashmir,” the state’s principal secretary Rohit Kansal said during a press conference.

“All postpaid mobile services, irrespective of the telecom operator, will stand restored and be functional from 12 noon on Monday. This will cover all the 10 districts of Kashmir province,” Kansal said.

The senior bureaucrat also said that telephone landlines have been fully restored and are functioning for more than six weeks.

The step was taken after security agencies conveyed that the restoration of mobile phones in a phased manner will not affect the law-and-order situation.

Mobile connectivity was restored in Jammu in the second week of September but was subsequently withdrawn because of alleged rumor-mongering. Jammu and Kashmir has about 600,000 mobile phones connections.

Kansal had said on September 12 that a considerable number of mobiles were functional in Kupwara and Handwara.

The official said on Saturday that since August 16 there has been a gradual removal of the restrictions and by the first week of September, most of them were removed.

“Barring 8-10 police stations, movement restrictions have been completely removed. Over 99% of the area of Jammu and Kashmir has no restrictions on movement,” he said from a prepared statement.

The communication restrictions and the detention of hundreds of people including politicians came under severe criticism across the country as well as globally.

“With this step, tourists will be able to visit the state without being handicapped by the lack of phone connectivity, students can be in touch with parents while attending schools, businessmen can be in touch with customers, transporters can contact clients, and contractors can be in touch with staff,” Kansal said.

The removal of the restriction on mobile connections by the government comes after the state administration lifted the travel advisory issued asking tourists to leave the Valley due to “terror threat”.

The Center had cancelled the Amarnath Yatra on August 2 and advised pilgrims and tourists to cut short their stay in the Valley “immediately” in view of the “intelligence inputs of terror threats”, days before the revocation of Article 370.

The administration has also decided to hold Block Development Council elections on October 24, the first electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5.

The Congress, however, has decided to boycott these elections citing the continued detention of political leaders.

First Published: Oct 12, 2019 12:15 IST

Imran Khan and Pakistan army chief to rake up Jammu and Kashmir issue in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Imran Khan and Pakistan army chief to rake up Jammu and Kashmir issue in China

In a marked departure from usual protocol, Bajwa joined Khan for a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday evening, and will also accompany Khan when he meets Xi on Wednesday.

INDIA Updated: Oct 09, 2019 08:27 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis and Imtiaz Ahmad
Sutirtho Patranobis and Imtiaz Ahmad

Hindustan Times, Beijing/Islamabad
This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state.
This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state. (HT image)

Days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile visit to India, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Tuesday sought the top Chinese military leadership’s support on the Kashmir issue, saying unresolved tensions could affect regional peace and stability.

The powerful Pakistani army chief arrived in Beijing on Monday, a day ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who will hold meetings with China’s top leadership to discuss regional developments, including peace and security in South Asia following India’s decision to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status on August 5 — an issue Khan and Pakistan have sought to, and, by their own admission, failed to internationalise.

In a marked departure from usual protocol, Bajwa joined Khan for a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday evening, and will also accompany Khan when he meets Xi on Wednesday. This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state.

At meetings with Gen Han Weiguo, commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and Gen Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), Bajwa discussed the regional security environment, including the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, said a statement from the Pakistani military’s media arm.

Bajwa apprised the Chinese military leadership about the “consequences of the ongoing situation” in Kashmir . The statement said the Chinese generals supported “Pakistan’s principled stance on (the) Kashmir issue” and “appreciated (the) sane Pakistani approach”.

“They agreed that continued unresolved Pak-India tension will have serious implications for peace and stability in the region. (Bajwa) apprised them that Pakistan looks forward to peace but that shall not be at the cost of any compromise on principles or honour and dignity of the nation,” the statement said.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency made no mention of Kashmir in its report on the meeting between Bajwa and Xu. China will “strengthen pragmatic cooperation with Pakistan in various fields and deal with risks and challenges together with Pakistan”, Xu was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Khan’s visit comes days ahead of Xi’s arrival in India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mamallapuram during October 11-12. The summit has already been hit by recent irritants in India-China ties, including Beijing’s stance on the Kashmir issue in recent weeks.

The Pakistani premier’s agenda is packed with meetings and a speech at a business forum, and his visit will wrap up with the closing ceremony of an international horticulture exhibition on the outskirts of Beijing. Besides the president and the premier, Khan will also meet Li Zhanshu, chairperson of China’s legislature.

Khan will also discuss the status and expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. He said last week that the removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion was the top priority of his government.

Pakistan also said several agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperation partners. We have a good tradition of close exchanges and communication. We have strategic mutual trust and advancing practical cooperation. Our cooperation in the CPEC is bringing more outcomes to our people,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing on Tuesday.

Khan is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, planning minister Khusro Bakhtiar and Board of Investment chairman Zubair Gilani.

“It is important to note that General Bajwa will be sitting in during Khan’s meetings with Xi and Li. To my understanding, this is not the usual practice. At the domestic level, it shows the military-political government is on the same page. With reference to China, it indicates the security situation (in the region) is a really serious matter,” said Ghulam Ali of the School of Marxism at Sichuan University of Science and Technology.

On Kashmir, Ali said Khan may want to convey a message to India through Xi. “Given the close nature of (the Sino-Pakistan) relationship and trust, there might be a direct message via Xi to Modi that the Indian government’s action (in Kashmir) has affected the region. However, to what degree Xi is ready to play a role, and most importantly, whether India agrees to listen and accept any advice, is an entirely different thing,” he added.

On his first day in China, Khan caused a stir when he told potential investors he wished he could follow the example of Xi and send 500 corrupt individuals in Pakistan to jail.

Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, Khan said the one thing he had learned from China was how its leadership tackled corruption.

First Published: Oct 09, 2019 03:57 IST

India: 5-judge constitution bench to begin hearing Article 370

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

5-judge constitution bench to begin hearing Article 370 pleas today

A special bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it had no time to hear the cases since it was busy with another Constitution bench matter.

INDIA Updated: Oct 01, 2019 06:00 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status .
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status .(PTI)

A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status from Tuesday, will also take up individual petitions on alleged restrictions imposed in the Valley and lack of access to basic facilities.

A special bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it had no time to hear the cases since it was busy with another Constitution bench matter. A CJI-led bench has been hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute suit on a daily basis for more than a month now.

The newly constituted bench is scheduled to start hearing the batch of petitions on J&K from October 1. CJI Gogoi said petitions challenging restrictions on the media would also be taken up by the bench headed by Justice Ramana on Tuesday itself.

The Centre on August 5 moved to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the region into two union territories. A day later, Parliament passed the changes in the form Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

Meanwhile, the CJI on Monday disposed of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko’s habeas corpus petition seeking the release of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah who was on September 16 detained under Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, that enables detention without trial up to two years.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta urged the court to even dispose of CPI (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury’s petition against the alleged detention of his party colleague MY Tarigami.

First Published: Oct 01, 2019 04:04 IST

Locked down in Kashmir: A traveler’s view

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Locked down in Kashmir: A traveler’s view

The Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir. Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

Fatima Jahan is a Bangladeshi living in Bangalore, India. Travel is one of Fatima’s passions, and one of her favorite places to visit is Kashmir, which she describes as “a paradise on earth”—she’s visited the region seven times.

This year, after she had made travel arrangements for Kashmir, the political situation there changed dramatically when, on August 5, the government of India revoked Article 370, the section of the Indian constitution that has provided special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1950. The Indian authorities placed hundreds of political leaders and their aides under house arrest, and suspended access to mobile, landline, and internet networks.

Fatima’s flight was scheduled for the third week of August. By that time, the authorities had begun to ease some the restrictions and slowly lift the curfews, though there were still some controls in place. Fatima decided, nevertheless, to undertake the journey to the region, where staying for a few days before returning to Bangalore. She shared some of her experiences in a series of posts on Facebook that we have excerpted below.

Life is uncertain and moments are frozen when curfew is declared. Dal lake, Srinagar, Kashmir. Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

Here are some selected parts of her first two days of experience.

August 20, 2019: Arrival

সপ্তম বারের মত কাশ্মীরে এসেছি।

… প্লেন থেকে নেমে দেখি বাইরে সব থমথমে। এয়ারপোর্টের কোন দোকান খোলা নেই। আমি কোন অফিসারের দিকে ভয়ে তাকাচ্ছিলাম না। তাকানোর অপরাধে যদি ফেরত পাঠায়, এসেছি বেশ কৌশল করে।

লাগেজ বেল্টে লাগেজ পাওয়ার সাথে সাথে বেরিয়ে পড়লাম। পুরো ফ্লাইটের যাত্রীর মধ্যে আমি একমাত্র ট্যুরিস্ট বা বাইরের লোক।

This is my seventh visit to Kashmir.

. . .  I get off the plane and notice an ominous silence outside. None of the airport stores is open. I do not look the officers in the eye, for fear they might take it as an offence and send me back!

As soon as I retrieve my luggage from the conveyor belt I leave the airport. Turns out that I was the only tourist on the entire flight.

This used to be a busy street with a lot of traffic. Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

August 20, 2019: Kashmir in the time of curfew

শ্রীনগর এয়ারপোর্ট থেকে বের হয়ে প্রিপেইড ট্যাক্সি স্ট্যান্ড থেকে ট্যক্সি নিলাম। বের হয়ে দেখি শহর থমথমে। এখন বাজে সকাল সাড়ে সাতটা, বাইরের তাপমাত্রা ১৩° সেলসিয়াস। পরশু কারফিউ তুলে দেয়া হয়েছে। কোন দোকানপাট খোলা নেই। স্থানীয় মানুষজন দু’ একজন বেরিয়েছে বাজার করার জন্য। কেউ গাড়ি বের করেনি। হেঁটেই চলাফেরা করছেন, ২/১ জন মহিলাকে দেখলাম হেঁটে বাজারে যাচ্ছেন। ট্যাক্সিচালক এজাজ ভাই বললেন আমাকে পৌঁছে দিয়ে তিনি বাড়ি চলে যাবেন। দিন চালানোর জন্য একজন প্যাসেঞ্জারই যথেস্ট এখন।

Exiting Srinagar airport, I take a taxi from the prepaid taxi stand. As we drive slowly into the city I witness the same ominous silence. It is 7:30am and the outside temperature is 13° C. The authorities lifted the curfew day before yesterday, but no shops are open. Some locals have come out to shop. They are walking; few people have come in their cars. There are even two or three women going to the market. The taxi driver, Ejaz Bhai, tells me he will go straight home after dropping me. One passenger is enough for the day in this situation.

এজাজ ভাই বললেন কোন অপরাধে আর্মি ধরে নিয়ে জিজ্ঞাসাবাদ করে সে ভয়ে কেউ ঘরের বাইরে থাকেনা। দোকানপাট বন্ধ তাই খুব হিসেব করে আগের করা বাজার খরচ করতে হচ্ছে, পরে অবস্থা কি হয়, কিভাবে সংসার চলবে কে জানে!

এজাজ ভাই আরো জানালেন এখানকার সব হোটেলে পুলিশ সিল করে দিয়েছে। গেস্ট রেজিস্ট্রার বইয়ে আগস্ট ৫ এ লিখে দেয়া হয়েছে এরপর আর কোন গেস্ট রেজিস্ট্রার হবেনা।

রাস্তা ভরে গেছে আর্মিতে। এত আর্মি আগে একসাথে দেখিনি। প্রতি তিন মিটার দূরত্বে একজন আর্মি পারসন দাঁড়িয়ে আছেন পাহারায়।

আমি যাব হোসেন আঙ্কেলের হাউসবোটে। আমাকে ডাল গেট নং ৭ এ এজাজ ভাই নামিয়ে চলে গেল। শিকারা নিয়ে পৌঁছালাম হাউসবোট, হোসেন আঙ্কেলের হাউসবোট আর বাড়ি।

According to Ejaj Bhai, no one leaves the house unless it is absolutely necessary, fearing the army might arrest them on any pretext. Most shops are still closed, so people are using up their stocks of food. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?!

Ejaz Bhai also told me that police have closed all the hotels here. On the 5th of August, they marked in hotel guest registers that no further guests will be allowed in.

There are a lot of armed security personnel on the roads. Approximately every three meters an army officer is standing guard.

I am going to Hussain Uncle’s houseboat. (I have known him for a few years). Ejaz Bhai drops me at Dal Lake Gate No. 7 and I take a shikara to the houseboat, which is also Hussain Uncle’s home.

Shikara boats seat six. Like Venetian gondolas, they are an iconic feature of Kashmir’s Dal Lake. Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

AFSA ১৯৯০ সাল থেকে চালু আছে। আর্মির হাতে সমস্ত ক্ষমতা অর্পন করা হয়েছে। আর্মি যে কাউকে তুলে নিয়ে যেতে পারে, সিভিলিয়ান বা মিলিট্যান্ট যে কাউকে গুম বা হত্যার জন্য আর্মিকে কোন জবাবদিহি করতে হয়না এই ধারার কারনে ।

…হাজার হাজার মানুষের গনকবর আছে এখানে বারামোল্লা, উডি এসব জায়গায়। যুবকদের তুলে নিয়ে মেরে ফেলা হয়েছে মিলিট্যান্ট সন্দেহে। গ্রামের পর গ্রাম উজাড় করে দেয়া হয়েছে এভাবে।

৫ আগস্ট, ২০১৯ থেকে নাকি অনেক যুবককে গ্রেফতার করা হয়েছে, যার কোন খবর জানা যাচ্ছেনা।

পরশু কারফিউ তুলে নেবার পর এখানকার মানুষ নিজেরাই কারফিউ দিয়েছে, যাকে বলে সিভিল কারফিউ । কেউ দোকান খোলেনি, কেউ কোথাও কাজ করছেনা। ৩৭০ ধারা তুলে নেবার যে সিদ্ধান্ত নেয়া হয়েছে তার বিরোধিতা করে।

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been in effect since 1990. The army has all the power. The law allows the army to pick up anyone, civilian or militant, and they don’t have to be accountable if people turn up dead or disappear.

. . . There are mass graves of thousands in the districts of Uri and Baramulla. It’s alleged that suspected militants were picked up and they ended up in those graves. This is the story in a lot of villages in the Kashmir Valley.

After the 5th of August many youths have reportedly been arrested, and no one knows where they are.

Even though [the government] have lifted the curfew, the people here imposed their own, civil curfew. No one is opening their shops; no one anywhere is working. This is all in protest at the decision taken to revoke Article 370.

Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

PSA ধারা ১৯৭৮ সাল থেকে কার্যকর করা হয়েছে। এর কারনে কোন ধরনের মিটিং, মিছিল নিষিদ্ধ কাশ্মীরে। তবে মিছিল বের হয় এবং ধরপাকড়ও হয়।

এবারের অবস্থা সবচেয়ে খারাপ, টেলিফোন, ইন্টারনেট লাইন বন্ধ। বাইরের জগতের সাথে কোন যোগাযোগ নেই।

এবার কারফিউ এর আগে পুলিশের কাছ থেকে পাওয়ার নিয়ে নেয়া হয়েছে, পুলিশের অস্ত্র জমা নিয়ে রেখে দেয়া হয়েছে। এয়ারপোর্ট থেকে আসার পথে কোন পুলিশ তো দেখলামও না।

The PSA [Public Safety Act] has been in force since 1978. This banned any kind of gathering or procession in Kashmir. However, people do come out for protests, and mass arrests take place.

This time, it’s worse. Telephone, internet lines are down and there is no contact with the outside world.

Before the curfew, the army had seized power from the police and took away their weapons. I did not see any police on my way into the city from the airport.

বেশিরভাগ রাজনৈতিক নেতাদের গ্রেফতার করে দিল্লী, আগ্রার জেলে পাঠানো হয়েছে। শোনা গেছে কাশ্মীর আর জম্মুর সব জেল নাকি ভরে গিয়েছে। অবশ্য তা শোনা কথা।

কারফিউ শিথিল করার পর থেকে কেউ গাড়ি বের করছেননা কারন পেট্রোল পাওয়া যাচ্ছেনা তাই। বাস চলছেনা।

বিকেলে হোসেন আঙ্কেলকে বললাম লেকপাড়ে যাব শহরের পরিস্থিতি দেখতে। আঙ্কেল মানা করলেন। বললেন, ‘কাল যেও। আজ শহর মোটেই ঠান্ডা নয়।’

[The authorities] have arrested many political leaders and sent them to jail in Delhi and Agra. Rumour has it that the jails in Kashmir and Jammu are already full.

Even without the curfew in effect, no one is taking their car out. Because gasoline is not available. The buses are not running either.

In the afternoon, I ask Hussain Uncle to take me to the lakeside to see the situation in the city. He suggests that I go tomorrow instead: “Today there is trouble in the city.”

August 21, 2019: Day two

কাশ্মীরে কারফিউ চলাকালীন সময়ে আমার দ্বিতীয় দিন।

ব্যক্তিগত জীবনে কোন কাজের তাড়া নেই। আর কারফিউ এর কারণে কোথাও যাবারও প্ল্যান নেই। হুসেন আঙ্কেলের দু’টো হাউসবোটের একটিতে নিজেরা থাকেন আর আরেকটি রেখেছেন ট্যুরিস্টদের জন্য। আমি এখন আছি ট্যুরিস্টদের বিশাল হাউসবোটে একা। সব ধরনের ট্যুরিসম বন্ধ এখন কাশ্মীরে। […]

নাস্তা করতে করতে হুসেন আঙ্কেলের ছেলে শেহজাদের সাথে কথা হচ্ছিল। গতকাল নাকি শালিমার গার্ডেনের দিকে মিছিল বের হয়েছিল। পরের খবর কেউ জানেনা। কতজন গ্রেফতার, আহত, নিহতের সংখ্যা জানার উপায় নেই। টেলিফোন, ইন্টারনেট বন্ধ।

My second day in Kashmir.

I, personally, am in no hurry. Because of the situation, I have no plans to go anywhere. Hussain Uncle lives in one of his two houseboats and keeps the other for tourists, so I am now alone on a huge houseboat. All tours are now closed in Kashmir. . .

I talk with his son, Shehzad, during breakfast. Yesterday, a protest rally took place at Shalimar Gardens. Nobody knows what happened after that. There is no way to know how many were arrested, injured, or killed. There is still no telephone, internet.

Birbed-wire in front of government houses and bridges. Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

আগে একবার সরকার অনুমতি দিয়েছিল মিছিল করার ২০০৮ সালে, তখন নাকি সারা শহরের মানুষ পথে নেমে এসেছিল, কন্ট্রোল করা মুশকিল হয়ে গিয়েছিল। তারপর থেকে সরকার আর মিছিলের অনুমতি দেয়না।

কাশ্মীরের সাধারণ মানুষ চায় আজাদী। সেটা রাজা হরি সিং এর আমল থেকেই চাইছিল। এখনকার লিবারাল আর কনসারভেটিভ মানসিকতার ভারতীয় জনগণ কি চায় সে বিতর্কে নাই বা গেলাম। কাশ্মীর তো কাশ্মীরীদের তারা কি চায় সেটাই মূল বিষয়।

Once, in 2008, the government allowed people to protest. People from all over the city came out into the streets of Kashmir, which was very hard to control. The government became smarter, and protests rallies are no longer allowed.

The common people of Kashmir want azadi (freedom). They have wanted it since the reign of King Hari Singh, before India became independent. I am not going to debate what the mass of Indian citizens want. . . . What Kashmiris want should be the main concern, because they are from this place.

Image by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

আজকে নাকি রেশন দিচ্ছে। আঙ্কেলের ছোট ছেলে জুনেয়েদ সদরে গিয়ে খবর এনেছে যে আগামীকাল থেকে রেশন দেয়া শুরু হবে। এখন রেশনে শুধু চাল দেয়। আগে আটা, চিনিও দিত।

আমি খাবারের সময় বাদ দিয়ে বাকি সময় হাউসবোটের বারান্দায় বসে থাকি। লেক থেকে জীবনযাত্রা স্বাভাবিক বলেই মনে হয়। যে যার কাজ করতে নৌকা বেয়ে যাওয়া আসা করছে। কারফিউ এর সময় এখানকার নারীদের করার কিছুই থাকেনা। এবার তো ইন্টারনেটও বন্ধ করে দেয়া হয়েছে। টেলিভিশন দেখা ছাড়া মনোরঞ্জনের কোন মাধ্যম এখন নেই।

They have started to ration food distribution again. Uncle’s youngest son, Junaid, went to the centre of the town and learnt that from tomorrow they will start the distribution of rations. They are providing only rice now. Earlier they used to distribute flour and sugar as well.

I spend the rest of the day sitting on the porch of the houseboat. Life on the Dal lake seems to be normal. People are going to their usual work or other places on small boats. During the curfew, the women here have nothing to do, especially as mobile phone and internet service have also been shut down. Except for TV, there is no option for entertainment.

বিকালে আমি বের হলাম, আঙ্কেল জুনেয়েদকে আমার সাথে পাঠিয়ে দিল। তীরে নেমে হাঁটলাম শহর অবধি। বোলভার্ড রোড মানে ডাল লেক ঘেসা রাস্তাটায় শুধু অল্প কয়েকজন আর্মি দেখলাম। এরপর প্রতি ১০ মিটার পর পর একজন সেনা সদস্য দাঁড়িয়ে আছে। প্রায় সব সরকারী অফিসের সামনে কাঁটাতারের বেড়া দেয়া। আজ দেখি পথে বেশ কিছু গাড়ি, মোটর বাইক চলছে। বোলভার্ড রোডে স্থানীয় মানুষজন এসেছে ঘুরেফিরে বেড়াতে। সাধারণত বিকেলে শ্রীনগর শহর উপচে পড়ে এখানে।

পাবলিক ট্রান্সপোর্ট সব বন্ধ। শুধু জম্মু যাবার জন্য বাস স্ট্যান্ডে কয়েকটা শেয়ার ট্যাক্সি দাঁড়িয়ে রয়েছে। এখন জম্মু বাদে অন্য সব রুটের রাস্তা বন্ধ।

In the afternoon I go out, and Uncle sends his son Junaid with me. From the boat, I step on to land and walk along the lakeside. I see some army men patrolling the Boulevard Road. After that, every 10 meters there is an army officer standing. Barbed-wire fences have been placed in front of almost all public buildings. Today I saw several cars and motorbikes on the street. I saw some local people strolling on Boulevard Road. Usually, many people from Srinagar flock here in the afternoon. . . .

Public transport is still shut down. A few shared taxis are waiting at the bus stand to take people to Jammu. All roads except those towards Jammu are closed.

Shops are closed. Iamge by Fatima Jahan. Used with permission.

রাস্তাঘাটে ছবি তোলা নিষেধ, সেনা সদস্যদের তো একেবারেই না। শুধু অল্প কয়েকজন সাংবাদিক ছবি তোলার অনুমতি পেয়েছেন। আমি একজন ভ্রামণিক। কারফিউ চলাকালীন সময়ে ভ্রমণ করতে এসেছি শুনলে সাথে সাথে পাঠিয়ে দেবে বা উগ্রবাদী সন্দেহে গ্রেফতার করবে। গ্রেফতারের পর সাধারণত সে মানুষের আর কোন খবর পাওয়া যায়না।

অনেকটা সময় বাইরে থেকে ফের নৌকা চেপে হাউসবোটে ফিরলাম। ফেরার পর হউসেন আঙ্কেল জানালেন ডাউনটাউনে নাকি টিয়ারগ্যাস ছেড়েছে। আওয়াজ শোনা গেছে।

মাগরেবের নামাজের পর মসজিদে মসজিদে সমানে দরুদ পড়া শুরু হয়েছে। দোয়া পড়া ছাড়া আর কিছু করারও নেই। ভালো বা মন্দ যে কোন শব্দ মসজিদ থেকে বের হলে মসজিদে উপস্থিত সবাইকে গ্রেফতার করে নিয়ে যায়। আর মসজিদের ভেতর কি হচ্ছে তা জানার জন্যও সেনাবাহিনীর গুপ্তচর আছে।

সব বড় মসজিদ বন্ধ করে দেয়া হয়েছে কারফিউ ঘোষণা দেবার সাথে সাথে।

Photography is prohibited on the street and there is an even stricter ban against photographing army personnel. Only a few journalists have permission to take pictures. I am a visitor and if they find out that I came here despite knowing about the curfew, I suspect they will send me back immediately. They could even book me on suspicion of extremism—and we know that after an arrest, there is usually no further news of the detainee.

After spending a substantial time in the city, I return to the houseboat. Hussain Uncle tells me that there was trouble in downtown. He heard the sound of teargas shells.

After the Maghreb prayers came the loud sound of prayers from the mosque. There is nothing else to do besides pray. On hearing that any words, positive or negative, are uttered in the mosque besides prayers, the army comes to arrest people. Ther are army spies inside the mosque listening to hear what’s going on.

All the big mosques were closed after the announcement of curfew.

Editor’s note: The Indian government continues to maintain that the situation in Kashmir is normal. Restrictions have been re-imposed in parts of Kashmir.

Pak terror groups use Chinese drones to airdrop 80 kg weapons in Punjab for J&K

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pak terror groups use Chinese drones to airdrop 80 kg weapons in Punjab for J&K

The entire consignment, using the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) network, was supported by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and orchestrated through Germany and Lahore; the ultimate aim — to fuel terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.

INDIA Updated: Sep 25, 2019 15:49 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops.
Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops.(File photo)

At least eight drone sorties, carrying a total of 80 kg of weapons (arms and ammunition), were sent across the border into Punjab by Pakistan-based Khalistani terror groups between September 9 and 16, officials in security agencies and the Punjab Police have confirmed on condition of anonymity.

The entire consignment, using the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) network, was supported by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and orchestrated through Germany and Lahore; the ultimate aim — to fuel terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.

The details of these drops have emerged following investigations that led to and following the September 22 weapons seizure at Tarn Taran district; the eight payloads were dropped in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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Police recover a half-burnt drone that was used for smuggling weapons into Punjab from Pakistan.

Police recover a half-burnt drone that was used for smuggling weapons into Punjab from Pakistan. ( Photo: Special arrangement )

Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops, with one 22-year-old Subhdeep held on Tuesday. Investigators said he was from Amritsar district and was radicalised by the prime accused in the case, Mann Singh, and another accused, Akashdeep, in Amritsar jail. The other four people, suspected to belong to a terror module, were arrested from the outskirts of village Chohla Sahib in Tarn Taran on Sunday. They were using a white Maruti Swift with a Punjab registration number.

The investigation involved multiple agencies – the Punjab Police, central security agencies, the Border Security Force, the Indian Air Force – and prima facie found that multiple Chinese commercial drones with 10 kg payloads have been used in the weapons drop operations across the border. The drones, the investigation reveals, may have been launched from locations 2 km inside Pakistan and made to travel the distance of five kilometres at a height of 2,000 feet, and then dropped off the weapons after descending to 1200 ft. The payload was slung from the platform using Chinese mountaineering ropes.

Chinese batteries recovered from  the drone that crashed in Tarn Taran, Punjab.

Chinese batteries recovered from the drone that crashed in Tarn Taran, Punjab. ( Sourced )

With drone activity also being seen in Punjab’s Ferozepur district, the IAF and BSF have been asked by the Punjab police to intercept these unmanned aerial vehicles through low-level radars and destroy them. Officials fear that they could also be used to carry and drop off bombs.

The interrogation of those arrested has revealed that KZF’s Germany-based operative Gurmeet Singh Bagga in coordination with his Pakistan-based chief Ranjeet Singh aka Neeta have made deliveries of at least four weapons, grenades, electronics, and fake currency through drones. The deliveries were made on the intervening nights of September 6/7, 9/10 and the last one on 15/16. The last drone crashed at Rajoke Village, Khalra police station, in Tarn Taran, near a border drain which is 2km from the fencing on the international border with Pakistan. The entire operation came to light after the discovery of the burnt drone, whose eight Chinese batteries were stripped off by the accused on instructions from across the border. “ It has also been revealed that such deliveries took place on four different dates, mostly between 9.30 pm and 10.30 pm with the drone making two sorties within an hour,” said a senior Punjab Police official. As many as five AK-47 rifles, which weigh about four kilograms with magazine, four Chinese pistols , nine HE grenades, Rs 10 lakh fake currency, 1000 rounds of ammunition and two electronic receivers were recovered by the police from the accused.

The main concern of Indian security agencies is the revelation that entire consignment was meant for Islamist groups in Kashmir. “ We are not very clear as to how many other consignment has made their way into Kashmir using similar modus operandi and with the help of Pakistan based Sikh terrorists,” said a senior security official.

First Published: Sep 25, 2019 05:03 IST