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

India: Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

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

 

Jaish facility in Balakot bombed by IAF jets in February is fully functional again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

INDIA Updated: Sep 22, 2019 10:28 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019.
Picture of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility destroyed by Indian Ar Force strikes in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. (Photo: ANI)

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

First Published: Sep 22, 2019 04:45 I ST

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)

 

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

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“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.
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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

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

 

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2019 09:52 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times,
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019.
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

Pakistan has submitted to the UNHRC a “joint statement” on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir which it said was supported by some 60 countries that it didn’t publicly identify, triggering questions about the backing for the move.

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

A member of the Pakistani delegation at the UNHRC in Geneva said a list of these countries would be handed over to the Indian delegation but people familiar with developments said this hadn’t happened.

The people cited above said the statement reportedly had the backing of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Pakistan’s all-weather ally China.

However, diplomats from several OIC member states, such as Indonesia, distanced themselves from the move during their interactions with their Indian counterparts, the people said.

“The fact that the list hasn’t been made public means there is something amiss. Pakistan could have sounded out the countries privately but these countries haven’t publicly spoken on the issue,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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India delivered a stinging riposte to Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
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The Indian side is keeping a close eye on Pakistan’s efforts to present a resolution or push for an “urgent debate” on Kashmir at the UNHRC but the prevalent view in New Delhi is that Islamabad won’t be able to muster the numbers to take either of them forward, the people said.

“A simple majority of UNHRC members present and voting is required for a resolution or an urgent debate. Abstentions will reduce it further,” said a person who didn’t want to be named.

The UNHRC has 47 members from across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and Indian diplomats have mounted an extensive outreach programme in New Delhi and key capital to shore up support for the country’s position on the Kashmir issue.

The people said out of the UNHRC’s members, only China and Pakistan had mentioned the Kashmir issue in their national statements while others made no reference to it at all, reflecting greater understanding for India’s position.

Pakistan’s joint statement referred to the “worsening” rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated several of the demands raised by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his speech at the UNHRC on Tuesday.

It said the world community should seek the protection of fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people, immediate ending of the communications shutdown and release of detained people, immediate halt to use of force, access for human rights groups and international media and setting up of a UN commission of inquiry to probe alleged rights violations.

It also sought the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions”.

There was no response to the joint statement from Indian officials. However, the Indian delegation at the UNHRC said on Tuesday that Pakistan is using the Kashmir issue to support jehad and cross-border terrorism. It also said the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganisation of the state were “entirely internal to India”.

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First Published: Sep 12, 2019 00:00 IST

India: Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

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

 

Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

According to an intelligence input, Pakistan has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks.There are also reports of a Pakistan plan to carry out a “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days.

INDIA Updated: Sep 09, 2019 09:43 IST

Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar(AFP file photo)

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the government about the deployment of additional Pakistani troopers along the border near Rajasthan and said Islamabad has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks, according to two officials aware of the developments. HT has also accessed an input issued in this regard.

According to the input, Pakistan is planning “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days in response to the government’s move to revoke Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir some autonomy and prevented non-residents from buying property and getting government jobs in the state. The input warned that Pakistan has started deploying additional troops near the Rajasthan border as part of the plan.

The input has been conveyed to the respective Border Security Force and army field formations in Jammu and Rajasthan sectors “to avoid any surprises” from the Pakistani army and the troops have been asked to remain alert, the officials cited above said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday threatened “fullest possible response” to India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan added the global community would be responsible for any “catastrophic” aftermath as he continued his rhetoric amid rising tensions with New Delhi since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

The comments by Khan, who last week said there was a risk of India-Pakistan war, came on a day Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said they were prepared to “go till any extent”. Bajwa added they were ready to “give sacrifices for our Kashmiri brothers, fulfil our duty till the last bullet, last soldiers and last breath”.

Amid rising tensions between the two countries, the IB input said Pakistan has “secretly” released Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar to plan terrorist operations while other terror organisations were also working openly. There were uncorroborated reports after the February 14 car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that Pakistani agencies had taken Azhar into protective custody.

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Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, revealed that intelligence alerts suggest that Jaish-e-Mohammad is providing training to its ‘underwater wing’.
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JeM took responsibility for the attack in which 40 paramilitary troopers were killed and prompted India to carry airstrikes on the group’s camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.

One of the officials cited above said Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had no inkling that the Indian government would revoke Article 370 on August 5. “It is being considered the ISI’s biggest intelligence failure in history and now they are under pressure to act,’’ the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official added while the Pakistani army will try to play mischief, militants like Azhar have been unleashed to carry out terror attacks in India. “Pakistan may try to use the current situation and the Indian government’s focus in Jammu and Kashmir to target somewhere else.”

Azhar, who is wanted in India for several attacks, including the 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, was among four people declared as individual terrorists on August 4 under a new anti-terror law passed in August.

In an interaction with journalists on Saturday, national security adviser Ajit Doval said Pakistan is trying to create trouble and some 230 terrorists have been spotted across the border.

There have been sporadic skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border since August 5. Army chief General Bipin Rawat told HT last week that Pakistan has reopened terror training camps and attempted to push infiltrators. He said that the Indian Army is ready for any eventuality.

Internal security expert Ajay Sahni said Pakistan sees the abrogation of Article 370 as a provocation and has to be seen doing something about it, saying: “Also, Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from the international community over terrorism, failing the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] yardsticks, the economic situation, and others, which are limiting its capacity to respond. It is difficult to predict how Pakistan will respond.” Sahni, however, cautioned against taking all the IB inputs at face value.

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 05:27 IST