Civil Liberties, according to JKCSS

J&K Coalition of Civil Societies suggested 233 people were killed in 2011 including 56 civilians, 100 militants, 71 security men and six unidentified and counter insurgents. Of the slain civilians, 11 were students and seven were minors and six were women. It said two people, Susheel Raina of Aishmuqam and Nisar Ahmad Banday of Chechal, Banihal disappeared this year.

The NGO says seven people were killed in fake encounters and in custody. These included Ashok Kumar of Surankote, Nazim Rashid of Sopore and Haji Yousuf of NC. The government announced eight different probes on various human rights abuses, but no results have been made public so far. In 2011, eight civilian political workers – four from NC, two from Congress and one each from PDP and Jamiat Ahle-Hadith were killed.  It said 15 armed forces personnel committed suicides in J&K as nine others were killed in fratricidal incidents within the garrisons. There were eight who lost their lives in explosions caused due to unexploded shells scattered at encounter sites.

Situation, according To POLICE

State Police Chief Kuldeep Khuda suggested a 47 percent fall in incidents of violence from 368 to 190. Jammu had 37 militancy related incidents and Kashmir 152. In 2010, 112 civilians and one policeman were killed and many injured. 2011 however, saw no civilian or security personnel deaths, though 13 people and 45 security men were injured.

Khuda attributed it to use of non-lethal weapons. Against 217 militants in 2010, only 99 militants were killed in 2011. Police statistics suggest 13 districts have reported militancy incidents in single digits. Budgam witnessed only three militancy incidents, four in Kulgam, five in Islamabad, eight each in Shopian, Ganderbal and Bandipora—a total of 36 incidents were reported in six districts of Kashmir. Khuda said there was a drop in grenade attacks, explosions, rocket attacks and firing incidents.

Malik, for FAI

Off all the quiescent separatist leaders in valley, Yasin Malik, today would top the list of high-strung politicians. Malik makes sure to mark his unexpected footprints at every trouble spot. He is seen at every place that becomes important to the situation. He was only separatist leader who visited Boniyar.  Malik is equidistant from the rival factions of Hurriyat and has carved a niche for his politics. He is the only activist who openly came in support of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, the Kashmiri American lobbyist found guilty of receiving money illegally from Pakistan.

He organized a seminar titled “Diplomatic Front of Kashmir Struggle and Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai” saying US will lose its “constituency” in Kashmir and create “anti-America sentiment” in the valley if it punishes Fai. Malik has rarely been hosted by Fai, as compared to hoards from Kashmir who even deleted him from their FB accounts once he was arrested.

“I am not pointing fingers at the US judicial system. There may be certain things which violated US law that is why Dr Fai was arrested,” Malik told the seminar. “But having said so I want to clear it to both India and the US that Fai is a peacemaker who wants a political and peaceful resolution of Kashmir. Both these countries should acknowledge this role.” Malik said he had suggested the name of Dr Fai to the Prime Minster of India for mediation with militants and the PM sent a cabinet minster to see him in US.

Justice, according to COURTS

Emphasis on Lok Adalats notwithstanding, 277914 cases are still pending in various courts including the High Court in J&K.  In the two wings of the HC, 81027 cases are pending – 39087 main cases and 41940 miscellaneous. The HC has only seven judges against 14 positions including that of the Chief Justice.

The situation is grim in districts courts and below. By the end of June 2011, there were 196887 cases pending in these courts – 72121 civil and 124766 criminal cases.

In District Courts, a total of 42033 cases were pending including 22217 civil and 19816 criminal cases. A total of 65985 cases including 23280 civil and 42705 criminal were pending in the Sub-Judge Courts. With the Munsiff courts, 88869 cases including 26624 civil and 62245 criminal cases were pending. There is a shortage of judges in the subordinate judiciary as well. Against the sanctioned strength of 68 district judges inclusive of two ex-cadre posts only 60 are in place.

Celebrations, Well DESERVED

When hundreds of fireworks illuminated Kashmir’s snow clad slopes on New Year’s Eve, it was a celebration well deserved. It was an impressive tourist year. Officials said nearly two million visitors came to Kashmir including more than 600 thousand pilgrims. If over a crore of pilgrims to Vaishno Devi are added, then more than 12 million tourists came to J&K in 2011.

Though there hasn’t been much snowfall as yet, Gulmarg is packed. Several tourists last month were those who wanted to welcome 2012 in Gulmarg. This was perhaps the first major New Year bash that the state tourism ministry had arranged by hiring “experts” from Bangalore.
Better tourist flow has helped everyone, including JKTDC. It booked Rs 3.50 crores profit and for the first time gave its employees 25 percent DA. Its MD said they earned Rs 32 crores which breaks their last record of Rs 19 crores. The corporation has reconstructed Lala Rukh hotel and plans are to have hotels at Sonamarg and Yousmarg.

The central government also invested more, including the recent sanctioning of three infrastructure projects worth Rs 17 crores for Leh. Of the Rs 3.39 crores that were released, the government has created some infrastructure at Pangong, Tsomoriri and Tsokar lakes. Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said more funds are underway.

If trends are an indication, 2012 could be a better year. But the sector continues to be fragile as it is linked to the unpredictability of the situation in Kashmir.

The Report CARD

Omar Abdullah is in the fourth year of governing J&K. He celebrated his half time and visited governor and congress president Sonia Gandhi with his report card of his performance in three years.

“My efforts for making J&K a model state in the country would continue in the next three years with more zest and commitment,” Omar told at an event organized in the lawns of the civil secretariat to celebrate the ‘half time.’ “We saw the best days and the worst ones, but the support of people remained with us throughout”, Omar said. He used Charles Dickens famous sentence “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” to describe his ‘interesting times’ of tumultuous three years.

Omar highlighted the enactment of Public Service Guarantee Act (PSGA) bringing six public service providers under it as his significant achievement. Apart from holding successful Panchayat elections, introduction of e-tendering and third party monitoring of developmental works, Omar said reconstitution of State Accountability Commission, strengthening RTI and stepping towards the State Vigilance Commission were other major achievements of his government. The report card says the Omar government drafted policies for litigations, power, forests, pensions, recruitments besides legislating landmark laws including energy conservation, water resources and offering lifelong pension to the victims of electric shock and approving special court for trial and disposal of cases investigated by CBI in J&K.

Omar thanked people and the central leadership including the PM, Congress president, home minister and finance minister for their support. Their help enabled J&K “to register substantial achievements in all sectors of development” and strengthened “ties between coalition partners.” In the last three years, J&K received a plan of about Rs 18000 crores, Rs 3600 crore under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan, besides Rs 600 crore under central sponsored schemes.
For the next three years peace, unemployment and electricity will continue to be his thrust areas besides the “war against corruption.”

Now Into PUBLISHING

Militancy is down and encounters, all of a sudden, are rare. So what is the army doing? Apparently they are guarding the assets that over 20 years of their active duty in J&K created – the most important being AFSPA, and they are now doing a bit of academics and publishing.

Last year, a number of books authored by soldiers were published. The latest is a coffee table book – ‘Iconic Shrines of Kashmir’. Newspapers quoted the defense spokesman, saying the Chinar Corps publication showcases some of the leading shrines of the Valley which exist even in inaccessible places. “Various faiths have flourished in the Valley over different periods of history, thus giving rise to the unique secular culture of tolerance and acceptance personified by Sufi belief and culture,” the spokesman said. Prior to the book on shrines, many other well printed army publications adorn bookshelves of the mighty and influential in Kashmir. There are five books to the army’s credit in 2011.

‘Birds of Baramulla’ is a handbook with rare images of 45 bird species, especially those seen along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector. It is the outcome of a joint exercise by a Captain, Lt Col and a Colonel. Officers who have been in active counter insurgency operations from the Awantipora based Victor Force have penned ‘Ehsaas’ – “a journey to enlightenment.” The book showcases personal experiences of Kashmiri students who visited different parts of the country as part of the Army’s operation Sadbhavana.

The Kilo Force, another counter insurgency division based in Shariefabad , has written a book on Kashmir handicrafts. Conceived by Brig S Kemparaj, Commander 81 Brigade, and Manju Thogde, wife of Kilo Force GOC Major General Ravi Thogde, the book focuses on handicrafts and textiles, details the manufacturing process of a shawl, profiles artisan and the crafts. Another book on ‘Jawan aur Awam, Aman hai Muqam’ theme was authored by Major Gurdeep Singh, GoC Victor Force. It explores the complex relationship between the Army and the residents of valley.


Strayed Into Juvenile HOME

An eleven year old boy, Nazir Ahmed Yada from Kolkata is living in Kashmir’s lone juvenile home without committing any crime.  He had come to Kashmir with other two men to earn his livelihood, but they deserted him in Rainawari after three months. He didn’t know anyone so he took refuge in a mosque. The masjid committee kept him with them and with an NGO’s help, Nazir landed in the juvenile home at Harwan. It has been a week since he has been there. After initial reluctance, police said, the boy shared his father’s phone number, and his family has been contacted.

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