News Notes

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‘Seditious’ Flag

Pakistan-Flag-WallpaperSince armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir there have been many instances when Pakistani flags were unfurled in city. Not only males but females too were waving green flags in city’s main centre Lal Chowk. But nobody knows what went wrong now that people are getting booked for such act!

First it was Masarat Alam who was booked for waving green flag when senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani returned home after spending at least three months in India’s capital. And then another flag was unfurled in Old City’s Jamia Masjid on last Friday and since then state police is using all their sources to track those boy who did the “crime”.

As per police sources, “Around 200 stone pelters are on the radar.”

Union home minister Rajnath Singh who visited Jammu this week has described the raising of pro-Pakistan slogans in Kashmir as “un-islamic”, saying “it goes against the tenets of Islam… to praise another country while living in one country”. “Islam and even Hinduism do not accept this,” he said for the Kashmiri youth who raise pro-Pak slogans and wave Pakistani flags.

Meanwhile MLA Langate Er Rashid, who is often dubbed as a ‘pro freedom’ mainstream politician directly hit at the Singh by saying, “Who is Rajnath Singh to Issue Fatawas.”

While reacting to Home Minister’s revelations he said Singh may not be able to speak out the truth for obvious reasons, but none other than him knows the history better and there is no dispute about J&K not being disputed.

He was adamant to add, “Rather than crying over the hoisting of Pakistani flags in Kashmir, Singh and all those who matter should introspect that why GOI has not been able to defeat the love and sympathy for Pakistan in Kashmir.”

“It is not Geelani or Masarat Alam but the common Kashmiris who raise Pakistani flags and they don’t seek permission to do so from Geelani or someone else. It clearly indicates that despite its entire military and political efforts GOI has not been able to change the mindset of Kashmiris,” he said.

 Costly Towers!

mobile-towersOne mobile service tower means at least a job, uninterrupted 24×7 power supply, generator and unlimited diesel supply. But in North Kashmir’s Sopore and Pattan areas, having these towers in your courtyard could be costly, especially after killing of two civilians associated with mobile companies in Sopore and an attack on a cell tower landlord in Pattan.

Locals in these areas have requested the concerned mobile tower owner to stop their services after some posters were made public by a ‘militant’ group ‘Laskar-e-Islam’ about the consequences of being associated with cellular companies.

Many people have already shut their shops dealing with the e-recharging and almost all of them have removed their sign boards.

As per state police the trouble started when a high tech communication device installed by ‘militants’ to avoid their detection by state agencies on the top of a mobile tower went missing. Soon after the device went missing, a group of militants raided the three cellular outlets on May 1 this month accusing employees of stealing the device. The militants according to police threatened the employees of dire consequences and soon after the raid, mysterious posters in the town appeared directing telecom operators to wind up their business. The posters that carried the name of unknown militant group ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ hold telecom companies responsible for the killing and arrest of militant commanders in the town and threatened them of dire consequences in case they did not close their business with in a week’s time.

After the attack both mainstream as well as separatists came out with their statements condemning the act. Syed Salahudin, head Hizbul Mujhadeen while refuting the claims that militants are involved with cellular controversy termed the attack as ‘handiwork of agencies’.

In a statement to a local news gathering agency, United Jihad Council spokesperson Syed Sadaqat Hussain quoting UJC Chief said that Syed Sallahudin said that ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’ militant organization has no existence and this fictitious name is being used to defame freedom struggle and Mujhadeen.

While the blame game is on between mainstream and separatist leader, locals are suffering as their mobiles have stopped functioning, either because of no balance or of no service.

As per reports there are 37 mobile towers that fall in the jurisdiction of Police Station Sopore. Besides these 37 towers there are many more which are not functional. Aircel has maximum of 12 towers followed by Airtel (11), Relaince (5), Vodafone (4), Tata Indicom and Idea 2 each and Government owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has one tower that is located in Model Town-B, Sopore.

While analyzing the statements of both sides, it seems both groups are investigating the matter. Only time will decide who will be held responsible and who will come out ‘clean’.

Still Clueless!

Every year International week of the disappeared is being observed in the last week of May. Here in this part of world, more than 8000 people have been subject to enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989, besides that there are 7000 plus unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir, claims a civil society group.

Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) led by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) says Indian state has remained in denial of the ongoing international movement against enforced disappearances.

“This week provides an opportunity to remember the disappeared, and acknowledge the struggle of their families,” said Tahira Begum, APDP spokesperson. “It is also an occasion to recommit to the fundamental right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances, the right to know the truth and the right to justice and reparation. It is an occasion to continue to demand that governments sign, ratify and implement the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.”

“The Convention presently has 94 signatories and 46 State parties and it came into force on 23 December 2010. The number of fully documented cases today in Jammu and Kashmir stands at 1519. Govt of Jammu and Kashmir is also culpable for both aiding the State in the crimes and in the ongoing cover-up,” says Tahira adding, “Despite a consistent campaign in Jammu and Kashmir against enforced disappearances for 26 years, no action whatsoever has been taken.”

The connected issue of unmarked and mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir, which was recognized by the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC] in 2011 [2156 graves in three districts of North Kashmir], and the European Parliament in its resolution in July 2008, has not been addressed by the government. The SHRC has been made defunct and ongoing complaints by APDP of 3844 unmarked and mass graves in Poonch and Rajouri districts, and 507 cases of enforced disappearances from Baramulla and Bandipora, and 132 cases of enforced disappearance from Banihal, remain pending.

As APDP and families of disappeared began to approach the SHRC, the government chose to make it defunct, claims the victim families. “Despite APDP providing evidence of the involvement of police personnel such as present ADGP SM Sahai, ex-DGP Kuldeep Khoda, and army personnel such as Brigadier VK Sharma of the Dogra Regiment, and CO RK Singh of the 9 Para commandoes, in crimes of enforced disappearances the government has not ensured an alternative independent investigative mechanism and has instead chosen to subject them to the same criminal police system which has ensured impunity.”

With regard to unmarked graves, in September 2011 the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that families would need to indicate in which graveyard their relatives may be buried, and following this the government would do the needful. On August 13, 2012, the government of Jammu and Kashmir refused to accept the recommendations of the SHRC, including on DNA tests.

On March 26, 2015, APDP has submitted its demands on the issue of enforced disappearances to the present Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. But the families claim so far there is no response from the government which is adding to the plight of these families. Nobody knows for how long they have to wait for their dear ones or if their wait, will come to an end ever.

Playing Beautifully!

Fountain-maintained-by-Hotel-Grand-MumtazSrinagar, the business hub of Kashmir should have been most beautiful part of the state considering its tourist value. It is the main city and capital of attractive tourist destination Jammu and Kashmir. But once tourists enter city, who are directly flown through the airport, their smiles change into frowns seeing the condition of roads.

Considering the importance of city, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) recently changed the walls of flyover into murals to attract a tourist’s eye towards the old Kashmiri traditions. But once one reaches near Radio Kashmir office, everybody get astonished to see the name of a hospitality group, Hotel Grand Mumtaz, on a fountain, maintained by it.

The history of municipal administration in the Kashmir dates back to the second half of the 19th century. In 1886, Dogra rulers established a department to look after the civic affairs of the Srinagar City. But after so many decades of its history, it can be said it was not able to maintain a fountain and its maintenance was handed over to a private group.

If sources are to be believed, “SMC has deliberately leased this prime spot to this hotelier so that he can put his advertisements on the fountain. Placing a signboard at such a location otherwise would have cost the hotelier dearly. It is a win-win situation for Mushtaq Chaya, chairman of the Hotel Grand Mumtaz group.”

He adds, “He must be having friends at the highest level in the corporation.”

Pertinently this private group, Mushtaq Group is the same whose name flourished in the list of hotels, who have occupied land in the tourist destination Pahalgam, illegally. In last one decade, sensing opportunity in huge tourist rush, land mafia has vandalized Pahalgam’s scenic spot by constructing huge concrete hotels in eco-sensitive areas.

Despite a ban on the construction in tourist destinations, new concrete hotels have come up from time to time.