Free at last

For decades together, the Shia cleric Molvi Abas Hussain Ansari was craving for Azaadi and finally he felt the freedom when his party was suspended from the alliance he once headed. He is unlikely to tell Mirwaiz Umer Farooq to reconsider the decision because he has finally got the option to doing things his way.

A day after he lashed out at his erstwhile leaders for their failure in coming against stone throwing, which he now calls un-Islamic.

Ansari’s Ittehadul Muslimeen, a constituent of Hurriyat, was suspended for going against its decision to boycott the Centre’s interlocutors on Kashmir and meeting them at his residence. “No one came forward when the education and careers of our children were put to risk last year. Hurriyat should have come forward and clarified that it (stone pelting) is un-Islamic and not a right step to take,” he was quoted saying. “We have been pelting stones due to which more than 100 people died. When one pelts stones on security forces, they fire and with the result our people die”.

Ansari’s meeting with the interlocutors was projected as a major breakthrough because nobody met them from the separatist flock ever since they were appointed as interlocutors. So far, they had only managed a written letter from Shabir Shah. Dilip Padgonaker informed that the meeting took place after it was fixed by another intermediary. They had tea at his residence. However, Ansari claimed they came on their own and he did not talk to them. Padgoanker said they have decided to have a second meeting in Delhi.

The meeting, according to chief minister was a sign of “courage”. “I would like that the way Ansari showed courage to hold talks (with Interlocutors), others (separatists) should also come forward and hold talks (for resolution of Kashmir problem),” Omar was quoted saying. “If everybody says that gun is no solution to the problem. Definitely gun is no solution to the Kashmir issue. Then what is? Then talks are (solution to the issue),” Omar said. “If you (separatists) are not ready for talks, then how can we find out solution to the issue.”

Apparently at the fag end of his long unsuccessful political career, Ansari has shown logic and courage. He is a total leader material who only lacks one thing – the constituency.

Back to roots
They were the last to leave their homes after the army launched Operation Parakaram. Now the army is taking some of them back to their homes on the LoC. They were 1400 who migrated to the plains in Poonch from Kirni, Saujian belt of Mandi and this week 108 of them – 72 makes, 36 females from 14 families were escorted back home located barely 500 meters from the LoC.

Since 1997, they were camping in temporary colonies at Kalu and New Colony. Then, they were 83 families and now they are 104. Though they were displaced by the Pakistani shelling, they had to give an undertaking that they will not be involved in any subversive activity if they are rehabilitated, Jammu newspapers reported. The village is located between the LoC and the fence that army has raised.

As the villagers reached their home after absence of 10 years they found their school collapsed and many other houses in shambles. Some of the poles supplying electricity had also fell down. But it is not Kerni alone. More than 20,000 people were displaced because of the situation that prevailed on LoC. Because of Pakistani firing, a number of forward villages falling in Mendhar, Balakote, Sabjian and Poonch belts migrated towards the hinterland leaving behind everything that was immobile. Getting 108 families back to their homes is just the first phase of a long process that army has launched after the situation on LoC improved between rival sides.

While the army has started the process of rehabilitating part of the population that had left their homes on the LoC, there is no hint what it is going to do about tens of thousands of people who crossed over to the other side when the LoC was literally depopulated. Scores of villages in Uri, Keran, Karnah and Poonch are living in refugee camps on the other side. In certain cases, the villages have no civilian population and this has resulted in their deletion during the census of 2001 and 2011.

Dogra certificate
In its latest order, the Ministry of Home Affairs has extended relaxation in recruitment rules of central paramilitary forces to all the permanent residents of the state. Many see this as a rescue attempt being made by the centre for the Omar Abdullah government, which has let the Dogra Certificate issue snowball into a major issue. But the Dogra Certificate remains. The union ministry seems to believe that the issue is to do with recruitment concessions, while the issue is actually about an ethnic divide.

Earlier an ultimatum warning protests had been issued by Syed Ali Geelani, who had said of the certificate that it was illegal and fraught with hidden dangerous designs. He had termed it as, “a lethal conspiracy to destroy the identity of the Muslim remnants in Jammu and divide the state on ethnic lines”. He demanded a complete revocation of the certificate.

In response to this Prof Saif ud Din Soz, Pradesh Congress President asked separatists like Geelani to avoid making an issue of the Dogra certificate issue. He hoped the issue will be tackled by the cabinet so that the separatists do not take an agitation route.The challenge to the certificate is not just political. Mohammad Altaf Bhat, a resident of Chadoora has challenged the issuance of Dogra certificate by the state revenue state department in court. CJM Budgam, admitted the petition on 16th April and has issued notice to government. The next date of hearing has been set as April 30th. The applicant petitioned that the Dogra certificate order was aimed at creating a separate class of people within J&K and could disintegrate and divide the people of the state on ethnic lines.

Though it offers concessions to entire J&K in recruitment of the constabulary for the central paramilitary forces, the orders is confusing. It has reduced the essence of the crisis to the issue of recruitment while in Kashmir it is a case for demography – plain nunmbers and retaining the importance of the state subject certificate. Now when every person across J&K is entitled to concessions, does Omar government still need a Dogra certificate.

The post-selling politics
The BJP has suspended seven MLA’s – Chaman Lal Gupta, Gharu Ram, Durga Dass, Jagdish Sapolia, Bharat Bhushan, Lal Chand, Baldev Raj – who cross voted in the legislative council elections for NC and Congress instead of the BJP candidate. Sources say that BJP is finding it difficult to explain the cross-voting to public, particularly because the MLAs voted for the parties which had opposed its Tiranga Yatra. In the 2009 Rajya Sabha election also two BJP MLAs had cross voted.

All 11 members of BJP had sent their resignations to the BJP high command, but 5 of the 7 accused have communicated to the assembly secretariat that their resignations should be considered withdrawn, and not honoured if presented.
The MLAs were suspended from the party after they met the BJP national president Nitin Ghadkari in Delhi. Party sources said the phone records of these MLAs were also checked which further proved the charges. Sources added that BJP national leadership was utilizing its sources among the Intelligence agencies to find out how much cash had flown to the party’s seven MLAs to make them cross vote for NC and Congress candidates.

The dilemma BJP faces is that it cannot expel the MLAs as they would try to from a separate group in assembly to avoid disqualification. If they are disqualified, the BJP leadership observed that it wouldn’t be easy for the party to win 11 Assembly seats again as happened in 2008 due to Amarnath land agitation. So the suspension.

PDP and NPP have taken the suspension as proof of the cash for vote scam and have asked CM to prove his innocence. “Decision of the BJP high command to suspend its MLAs has established involvement of government in the whole episode and now ball is in the court of the Chief Minister”, the statement said. It added that people involved in purchasing MLAs were also equally responsible for encouraging corruption.

Prof Bhim Singh, chairman national panthers party has declared that he shall move writ petition in the court for disqualification of 7 MLAs of BJP, who he said stand identified by their own leaders. Bhim Singh has also indicated that he is also considering to move a petition against the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Congress MP and J&K PCC chief Prof Saifu-Din Soz , contending both these leaders are the principal offenders in committing the crime of offering cash against vote .

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has said that he along with his Ministerial colleagues would resign if the allegations are proved right.

A Hero Falls
Apart from having started his career in 1990 when the militancy in Kashmir started, the slain American photographer Chris Hondros had another distinction – he actually covered Kashmir. The 41 year old American Pulitzer Prize nominated photojournalist, Chris died on April 20 in Misrata, after suffering grave head injuries in the ongoing war of Libya between Gaddafi’s forces and the ‘rebels’ who want to bring him down. He was working with Getty Images.

Chris was born in New York to immigrant Greek and German parents, both survivors of World War II. He later moved to North Carolina and completed his Master’s degree at Ohia’s School of Visual Communication and started his career of reporting from his birth place. He covered world’s major conflicts including Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leona, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq and Liberia.

His work has been acknowledged and appreciated almost on all international platforms. He was a nominated finalist for Pulitzer Prize in ‘Spot News’ Photography for his work in Liberia, he has won Ropert Capa Gold Medal, won war photography’s highest honour for his work in Iraq, he has been named as ‘Hero of Photography’ by American Photo Magazines. Besides, he has received multiple honours from World Press Photo in Amsterdam, International picture of the Year Competition, the Visa Pour L’Image in France and the John Faber award from Overseas Press Club.

Apart from covering dangerous conflict on ground, Hondros was a frequent lecturer and essayist. He used to contribute in Virginia Quateraly Review, Editor and Publisher, the Digital Journalist and other publications. His work used to appear in Smithsonian magazine, CNN, National Public Radio, The New York Times, and Newsweek.   

After the assassination
As the accused trio – Nisar Ahmad Khan and Abdul Gani Dar alias Abdullah Ghazali and Javed Ahmad Munshi, were remanded to police custody by the court, the sensational assassination of the Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith leader Molvu Showkat Ahmad Shah is almost complete. They have informed the court that they are investigating the case and will file the charge-sheet.

Police did accuse detained separatist Dr Mohammad Qasim Fuktoo for hatching the conspiracy. He has challenged the allegation that eventually led police top brass to raid the central jail’s all the 12 barracks, recovering 15 SIM cards and nine cell phones. Post raid, a DIG rank officer asserted that many calls were actually traced to central jail. Interestingly there are six signal jammers operational in the central jail premises which could hardly prevent the use of cell phone, police says.

Interestingly, however, this had a little impact on the initiative launched by the Jamiat with all the political parties and civil society groups. After police announced the breakthrough, they were on a symbolic protest in Gaw Kadal mosque on one Friday and in Jamia Masjid lawns on the next Friday seeking, as usual, “credible and transparent investigation”. They had already set up a 10-member penal for the purpose of seeking help from Jehad Council for investigating the crime.

Police, it may be recalled here, has revealed that Sopore-based militant commander Abdullah Uni provided arms and ammunition to the two persons who executed the plan. A Jammu newspaper said the police have a list of youth who are being traced and will be arrested. Police believes the persons behind his killings were opposed to his close association with JKLF leader M Yasin Malik and had confronted him in many of the meetings.

I agree to the Terms and Conditions of Kashmir Life


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here