After most of the deaths in 2008 and 2010 uprising due to tear gas shelling and rubber bullets hit directly on protesters, the state forces have discovered a new tactics for quelling protesters. Pepper gas is used liberally by police, paramilitary in Kashmir. Excess use of pepper gas in many areas of Srinagar has lead to serious ailments and allegedly two deaths so far. Health experts say it can complicate the problems of asthma patients, and even cause death.

Muhammad Yousuf Sofi, 40, an auto driver from Batamaloo and Abdul Rashid Sheikh, 60, a retired Srinagar Municipal Corporation employee from Aali Kadal, both asthma patients died and their families allege that they died of excessive use of pepper guns in the past several days in their areas. Many others are admitted in some hospitals as well who complained of breathlessness due to pepper gas.

But state police is refuting the claims and informed in their press release that “Abdula Rashid died because of his asthma and was already ill.”

Pepper gun shoots balls containing super irritant Capsaicin II (the burning component in chillies) in the form of concentrated dry powder that bursts upon impact.

Around 150 countries have banned pepper spray under Article I.5 of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The ban came into force after reports of deaths and a potential risk for fatal respiratory individual emerged in the late ‘90s. The pepper gas ban has also been followed in almost all of the European countries where its use has been labelled as “inhumane and dangerous.”

Despite directives from the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) not to use pepper guns, police and paramilitary troopers continue to use them during anti-India protests. Pepper guns were introduced in the Kashmir Valley as a “non-lethal” method for controlling mass protests after the 2010 agitation; more than 120 unarmed civilians were killed by government forces during the agitation.

The so-called non-lethal weapon has become a major health hazard not only for elderly people but also for children as well. Is anyone listing.

Election In Elders’ HOUSE

When nomination papers of lone opponent, Sardar Kalu Khan Hamdard, to three candidates-Devender Rana (National Conference), Rani Blowria (Congress) and Yashpal Sharma (PDP) from three seats of Jammu division were rejected, the trio was elected unopposed. Rana would have second term in upper house, while Blowria and Sharama made it for the first time.

A total of ten candidates are in the fray for election to eight seats of J&K Legislative Council (LC) polls, which fall vacant on March 16, 2013, after the rejection of two nominations out of twelve nominations filed.

In Kashmir, nomination papers of sitting MLC, congress Muhammad Amin Bhat were rejected, when he joined the fray as an independent candidate. His papers were not found in order. Now, five candidates would contest for four seats of Kashmir division including Muzaffar Ahmad Parray (Congress), Abdul Majeed Bhat Larnoo and Showkat Hussain Ganai (both NC), Nayeem Akhter (PDP) and Shiben Krishen Dudha (Independent).

While contest for lone seat reserved for Doda district had become imminent when National Panthers Party (NPP) fielded its candidate Mohammad Iqbal for the seat against Congress candidate Naresh Gupta, the contest for four seats of Kashmir division was enforced by the opposition backed Independent candidate Shiban Krishen Dudha, whose nomination paper was endorsed by 10 MLAs of PDP leading to acceptance of his papers by the Returning Officer.

NPP is in alliance with PDP, the agreement is confined to Jammu and Doda seats. NPP is going to support PDP in Jammu, while PDP had to reciprocate by supporting NPP candidate on Doda seat.

Having affiliation with PDF, Shuban is in fray with the support of PDP, Confusion continued to persist about his presence. He was initially projected as covering candidate of PDP yet later was announced as an independent enjoying the backing of PDP and Panthers which are fighting the election in alliance. It was being projected that Chaman group might also back him though there was no official comment on this account. Officially speaking, the four members of BJP will abstain.

The Three DEATHS

When officials say it was a case of ‘drowning’, witnesses rubbished the claims and accused police and paramilitary forces of ‘pushing’ the two youth in river.

Finally, the tragedy has befallen on the two families, of 24 year old Zameer Ahmad Dar and 24 year old Tariq Ahmad Bhat, who are unable to come to the terms of loss. The families call the official version as a blatant lie.

Tariq, a resident of Batwina left home to visit his in laws at Wangipora in Sumbal on February 10, but just after two hours, his family received his body. Official statement was that a boat which was ferrying people from Batwina to Wangipora, Sumbal over river Jhelum capsized. Six persons sailing in the boat fell in the water. Five persons were rescued; However, Tariq was drowned.

Eye witnesses said that Tariq and Zameer were caught in volatile situation when clashes were going on in Sumbal. They had nowhere to go, got in a boat to reach home. “Paramilitary forces and police chased them and seized the boat. They threw Zameer and Tariq into the river and then pushed them down with gun-butts. Thereafter, Tariq’s body was fished out on the same day while that of Zameer on the next day at the same spot.”

Tariq was not the sand digger as claimed by official version. The tragedy for Tariq’s parents is so deep that they could not see their son for one last time. They had gone to see their younger son in Andaman and Nicobar, who works with the Indian Air Force.

Zameer’s death has shattered his family. “He would work to earn livelihood for the family at this tender age while also undertaking studies. He was our hope. We are shattered,” Zameer’s father, Abdul Rashid Dar, said.

The villagers in Batwina demand an independent probe into the “killing” of Zameer as his family alleged that he was killed due to torture. “He had injuries all over his body. How was that possible due to drowning?” the family asked.

The toll reached three when 15-year-old Ubair Mushtaq of Watergam was killed in CRPF firing on February 10. Two months ago, Ubair survived the road accident and was operated in his neck.

A Fence And A WALL

Fortification on border with Pakistan is getting more widened. In the latest move, the Border Security Force (BSF) will raise 180 kilometer long bundh all along the border from Hiranagar up to Akhnoor in order to further fortify the International Border (IB) with the Pakistan in Jammu sector.

For this fencing exercise, state government has geared up the exercise for acquisition of land required by the border guards.

As per sources, about a year back the Ministry of Home Affairs took a decision to further fortify the International Border with the Pakistan by constructing 180 kilometers long bundh in Jammu sector and accordingly the issue was taken up with the Jammu and Kashmir Government for handing over of land to the BSF.

“The BSF has projected the requirement of 135 feet wide strip all along the International Border from Hiranagar in Kathua district up to Akhnoor in Jammu district”, sources said.

From the revelation made by informed sources, it is understood that after carrying out detailed exercise spread over several months by deputing field functionaries of the Revenue Department, the deputy commissioners of Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts have identified the villages along the International Border where land will have to be handed over to the BSF for the construction of bundh.

After preparation of revenue documents, the divisional administration will work out the compensation required to be paid to the villagers, whose land will be transferred to the border guards for construction of bundh, and accordingly the compensation amount would be conveyed to the concerned authorities of BSF.

“The bundh, which would be constructed within 135 feet area from the fencing on this side, would go a long way in further fortifying the International Border,” sources said.

Besides being of immense importance for the border guards from different aspects, the bundh would also help in preventing the villagers from coming in the line of fire from across the border.


A Turkish firm is shaking hand with Indian firm for starting construction on the much delayed Mubarak Mandi- Bagh-e-Bahu Cable Car Project worth Rs 40 crore from next month.

A Calcutta based firm, Damodar Rope Way Constructions Ltd and a Turkish Firm, STM Pvt Ltd have been allotted the work which will be completed in two years.

According to sources, the restoration work of entire Mubarak Mandi complex will need at least Rs 300 crore and it is not possible for the central or state government to provide such a huge amount at a time.

The civil works including basement and prefabricated structures etc. is going to start from March this year. Several workers including engineers have reached the winter capital here. They had rounds of the sites on both sides of river Tawi including Mubarak Mandi, Peer Kho, Circular Road, Mahamaya Temple and Bagh-e-Bahu recently.

According to sources, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) which has been entrusted with the job of restoration of the Mubarak Mandi heritage complex is under constant pressure to intensify the pace of work to complete the project as early as possible.

Since the J&K cable car project had to acquire nearly 3 hectare of land from Bahu Game Reserves, it took some time for seeking clearance from the National Wild Life Board. Now, the Board has also given clearance and several other obstacles have also been removed. About 15 kanals of private land was also acquired at Shahbad.

The renovation work of Mubarak Mandi heritage complex is going on at snail’s pace and if the progress of the work goes at this pace, it will take over 50 years to restore this heritage complex to its pristine glory.

However, in view of the delicate, artistic workmanship and old architecture, the ASI is not in a position to complete the work as early as possible, sources said, adding even after increasing the manpower the restoration of the Mubarak Mandi complex will not take less than eight to ten years.

Ali Muhammad Lankar — Obituary

Former chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Ali Muhammad Lanker breathed his last on Wednesday at Batra hospital Jammu. He was 85.

Son of Haja Sanaullah Lanker, Ali Muhammad was born and brought up in Srinagar. Throughout his career he served in various departments across the country on high positions.

Besides having served as chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank, he served as chairman Public Service Commission, Finance Secretary and also chairman of Finance Commission. He is remembered for his outstanding contributions in different fields.

An octogenarian Lankar was admitted to hospital few days ago. He was instrumental in formation of the Srinagar Circular Road project. Lankar retired as chairman PSC.

J&K Pradesh Congress Committee, Prof Saifuddin Soz described Lankar as an erudite Scholar in his condolence message. “Lankar knew Kashmir’s history and culture very well. His passing away is a great loss to the people of J&K State,” he said.

He is survived by two daughters, son and a wife. His son Muzaffar Ahmad Lankar is a chief Engineer PHE and one of his daughters Naseema Lankar was former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir.



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