Lashkar And VISA

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The chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani was questioned by the Delhi Police last week in connection with recommending a Pakistan visa to a Kashmiri youth, whom police allege of planning to bomb crowded markets in Delhi.

Geelani was summoned to Lodhi Colony police station where he was questioned in the presence of his two lawyers and an aide. He was questioned by the deputy commissioner of police, special cell, whether and why he had recommended Pakistan visa for Ahtesham Malik, whom police says is a militant.

Police had registered an FIR 08/2012 against Geelani under Sections 18/19 and 20/22 of the Indian Penal Code and following this, summon under number 10166 CR-EC was handed over to Geelani by the Delhi Police personnel.

On February 29, the Delhi Police had claimed to have foiled a major attack by Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives after arresting two youth from Tughlaqabad Extension in South Delhi. Police said Ahtesham Malik, 24, and Shafaqat Ali, 23, both residents of Sopore town, were assembling improvised explosive devices (IED) to target crowded places in Delhi.

Police claim that during the interrogation of the prime accused Ahtesham Farooq Malik has reportedly told his interrogators that the two other accused, Tawseef Ahmad Peer and Shafqat Ali Tuggu, are his cousins and he had initiated them in militant activities.

Ahtesham had finished his schooling from Hazaribagh, and then enrolled for a course as lab technician in a private educational institution. He had been living with his mother in Hazaribagh.

Ahtesham’s father is employed with the J&K government’s Handloom Development Corporation, Farooq Malik belongs to Badambagh, Sopore. It is his wife Farhat who belongs to Pirtar village in Jharkhand’s Giridih, and Ahtesham was born in this district on April 13, 1987.

In 2007, Farooq purchased a plot of land at Maulana Azad colony in Hazaribagh district, near Pirtar, built a house and named it “Kashmir House”. He continued to live and work in Sopore.

Investigations revealed that Ahtesham was arrested after he surrendered before the Jammu and Kashmir Police in 2007. He remained behind bars for 20 days, after which his father — who is a textile engineer — got him enrolled in a laboratory technician course in Hazaribagh.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, S.M. Sahai said that the three’s arrest was the result of coordinated pooling of intelligence by police of Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Delhi.

He said Malik had been on the radar of the state Police for quite sometime.”It is a small module and it is only a very few number of the local youths who are being lured by the LeT now,” he said.

The case of the home ministry as well as the Delhi Police is that Ahtesham and another suspect Shafaqat were arrested from Tughlaqabad in outer Delhi. Their third “co-conspirator” Tauseef Ahmad Pir was picked up from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand after intelligence agencies worked backwards on an intercept by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

Boniyar killing FOLLOW UP

On March 5, 2012, a Baramulla court granted bail to four out of the five Central Industrial Security Forces [CISF] personnel allegedly involved in the killing of a 12th standard student Altaf Ahmad Sood who was allegedly part of a protest against frustrating power cuts in his village [Boniyar] in Uri on January 1, 2012.

According to charge-sheet presented by the police on March 3, 2012 only one of the personnel has been charged under section 304 RPC, while the remaining four have been charged under section 308 RPC.

However, the court has granted bail to four accused CISF personnel on condition that they will not leave the jurisdiction of the court without prior permission of the court and also have to furnish bail bonds amounting to Rs 20,000 each. The court also directed the accused to remain present on the dates of the hearing in the case.    

Interestingly, at the time of incident the CISF men were arrested under section 302 RPC [murder], but the police charge-sheet says that Altaf was killed due to accidental fire and not murdered as referred earlier.

However the fifth accused Sub-Inspector Krishan Thapa was not granted bail as he has been charged under section 304 RPC [culpable homicide but not amounting to murder]by the police.

Hours after the incident Home Commissioner BR Sharma addressed a press conference in Jammu where he confirmed that all the accused CISF personnel involved in the killing of Altaf do not fall under the purview of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act [AFSPA] and will not get immunity under the said act. Sharma told reporters that an FIR [number 1 of 2012]has been lodged under section 302 RPC at Boniyar police station.

After the incident chief minister Omar Abdullah, who specially flew in from Jammu to meet Altaf’s family had told reporters, “The way Altaf was killed is really sad. This is not less than a murder. The circumstances of his death are tragic, shocking and inexcusable.”

Battle over SRINAGAR

They all had a dream about Srinagar, now they accuse each other of not carrying it out. This time it was war within. After witnessing pitched battles on ground, Srinagar rocked the Lower House of the State Legislature in a fight between arch rivals – National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, with both the parties trying to project themselves as sympathizers of Srinagar district. After heated arguments and clashes, all the PDP MLAs including former deputy chief minister, Muzaffar Hussain Baig staged a walkout after accusing the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs and MLA from Khanyar, Ali Muhammad Sagar of misleading the House.

The PDP accused NC of sabotaging Mufti’s dream projects in Srinagar. “Notwithstanding the long reply given by the government, the fact is that the major initiatives, which were taken during the tenure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for the development of Srinagar have not been carried forward by the present regime”, said PDP MLA, Abdul Rehman Veeri.

Veeri recounted what Mufti did for Srinagar and how NC sabotaged it. Mufti Sayeed-led government got funds sanctioned for flyovers, beautification of Jhelum river, development of Iddgah and sewerage and drainage projects for Greater Srinagar but National Conference, which is claiming to be the lone sympathizer of Srinagar, has not made any further progress on these major initiatives despite availability of funds,” said  Veeri

This infuriated the National Conference MLAs. Having all the eight assembly seats in its kitty, Sagar pointing towards PDP leaders said, “your deputy chief minister, Muzaffar Hussain Baig had claimed to have brought ` 1200 crore for the development of Srinagar, where is that money,” adding “in your tenure the Dal lake was in pitiable condition and only we started its proper conservation”.

“Don’t do politics by making false statements. During your regime only 25 feet flyover was constructed in Srinagar”, Sagar further said.

Sagar accused PDP of doing same which PDP was accusing them. “Whatever projects started during the tenure of Dr Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar were stopped by the PDP soon after formation of Mufti Sayeed-led government”, adding “it is only during the last three years that we got several projects started and prepared Detailed Project Reports for the flyovers”.

With a backlash, the comments infuriated the PDP MLAs, who started protesting against the National Conference.

The verbal spat lasted for around 15 minutes, but the woeful tale of people living in Srinagar is unending. The place has assumed centre stage and inhabitants lost relevance. Whether it is separatists or mainstream politics, Srinagar is the hub of their activities, but people living there continue to suffer both ways!

A Christian Debate
Close on the heels of the arrest and expulsion of Reverend CM Khanna, a Church of North India pastor by an Islamic court last month, an official from the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) said the arrest and expulsion of a pastor for alleged proselytizing has “tarnished the image of Christians in Kashmir.”

Samuel Jaykumar, who recently visited Kashmir, said Kashmiris appreciate the work of Christians, “but now they have some reservations that the community is using devious means to convert people,” said Jaykumar, the executive secretary of the council’s commission on policy, governance and public witness. Arrested on November 19 after a video surfaced allegedly showing him converting a group of Muslim youth, Khanna was charged with disturbing peace and hurting religious sentiments of people. Five Christian missionaries were ordered to leave the Valley by a “Shariah court” after finding them guilty of religious conversions. Jyakumar said the video has made Muslims in Kashmir suspicious of Christians.

Although people in India have the right to practice the religion of their choice, Jaykumar said, the NCCI does not approve conversion through inducement and other methods that contradict Christian values. The NCCI spokesperson also called on the state government to stop right-wing Muslim groups to take law in their hands. “This will make the situation worse for communal harmony in the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who recently met a delegation of the National Council of Churches here, assured safety to the Christian community in Kashmir, saying they must live without any fear. “I assure my Christian brothers that they can and must live without any fear and perform their religious duties here,” he said. We condemn the people who try to bribe others for conversion, Malik added, but “we also remember and acknowledge the efforts of our Christian community in the fields of education and health sector.”

SAC & The COURT

Relief for coalition government. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court temporarily stopped the State Accountability Commission (SAC) from examining as to how the state Chief Minister’s political advisor and heads of some boards in the state were given ministerial status.

Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir stayed the anti-graft body’s February 17 notice to the chief minister. The notice was served seeking explanation as to why it had conferred ministerial status on the political advisor and chiefs of various boards of the state.

The intervention of SAC was countered by four politicians who were among the beneficiaries. Mushtaq Bukhari, Shamima Firdous, Bashir Ahmad Naaz and Kuldip Raj, had moved the High Court seeking orders to quash the ongoing proceedings before the SAC.

The petitioners, who head various boards and commissions and enjoy Minister of State status, pleaded that the State Accountability Commission Act does not provide any powers to the Commission to take suo moto cognizance of any matter.

While admitting the petitions, Justice Mir issued notices to the state government and the SAC with the direction to file their responses within four weeks.

The Commission had observed that conferring ministerial status was seen as undue favour to the politicians at the cost of the public exchequer. What commission observes, people getting affected will fight it tooth and nail. Can SAC get it done, or influence will render it toothless?

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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