RESTRICTIONS on Muharram

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The authorities imposed undeclared curfew in Srinagar in view of the Muharram processions and anti Israel protests. Anti Israel protest call after Friday prayers was given by Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.

Amidst strict restrictions dozens of people managed to gather around Batamaloo area and tried to take out the traditional Muharrum procession towards Imambara, Dalgate. Police swung into action and chased them away arresting many among them.

Leading priest of Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen, Molvi Abbas Ansari and Nissar Hussain Rather, head of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e Sharyat were also arrested.

Meanwhile, a youth set himself on fire to protest a ban on Muharram processions along the traditional routes through the civil lines area of Srinagar. Police said the man was part of a group of Shia mourners at Batamaloo area who tried to break through police restrictions to march towards Imambara, Dalgate.

One policeman was injured when some “miscreants” pelted stones on police deployments near Fire Services crossing in Batamaloo.

During the first Muslim month of Muharram, shia muslims across the world mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) grandson, Imam Hussein in the Iraqi city of Karbala in the year 680. But in Kashmir, Muharram processions have been banned since insurgency broke out in 1989.

However, restrictions were put under the jurisdiction of four police stations since morning to maintain the law and order. The civil lines as well as the whole old city areas were under complete siege. But the police spokesperson told Kashmir Life that restrictions were put on upper areas of Srinagar only and said there were no restrictions in the downtown area of Srinagar.

The authorities had also placed, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other Hurriyat leaders including, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan under house arrest to prevent them from addressing public meetings while as restrictions on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani are continuing. At some places of Srinagar, some cases of stone pelting were reported after Friday prayers and one, stone pelter was arrested in Old Barzulla area. However, a police statement claimed that the situation remained by and large peaceful barring sporadic incidents of stone pelting at Saraf Kadal, Batamaloo in District Srinagar and on Cement Bridge, Baramulla.

The statement said that Police exercised maximum restraint and dispersed the stone pelters. About the restrictions in Srinagar the police statement said that as a precautionary measure, heavy deployments of police were made at few places of the city.

Nawa-e-Subah creates history

After many years the historic Nawa-e-Subha complex in Srinagar again became the headlines of the newspapers. The main centre, headquarter of ruling National Conference (NC), is the main centre where most of the important decisions were taken by the eminent leader of NC. But this time it created history, as so far members of other political parties were not allowed to centre the NC headquarter but on Wednesday, a group of leaders from the state Congress, a party once despised by NC and its cadres in Kashmir were heartily hosted.

Nawa-e-Subah

The NC-Congress joint show at Nawa-e-Subah complex was organized to mobilize support for the coalition candidates for upcoming Legislative Council (LC) polls. Leaders of the both parties jointly addressed around 50 Sarpanchs and Panchs to ensure victory of their candidates.

The Congress leaders, who were present at Nawa-e-Subah include, State Congress candidate for MLC seat from Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Monga, senior vice president, Muhammad Muzaffar Parray, MLC Bashir Ahmed Magary and senior vice president Abdul Majeed Paddar.

Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar, who was also present there, said it was a fact that Congress leaders for the first time shared platform with NC leaders at Nawa-e-Subah. “You can call it the outcome of Rahul-Omar bonhomie,” he said.

SC orders concrete road for Amarnath yatris

In a significant order, the Supreme Court asked the state government to pave the passage from Panchtarni to Amarnath holy cave with pre fabricated cement tiles and it is also directed to provide side support in the form of railings or parapets. The decision was taken by a bench comprising of Justice B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar in view to ensure the safety of lakhs of pilgrims who visit the holy cave each year.

“You have to put something so that people do not slip. Pre-fabricated cement tiles must be placed all through the passage from Panchtarni to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji,” the bench said. ““We know that the metal roads can’t be constructed on the track from Panchtarni to holy cave shrine due to environmental reasons. That is why we are asking for construction of pre-fabricated cement tiles along with railings and parapet’’.

It is said that the apex court has rejected the state government’s suggestion of path widening instead of using cement tiles along the passage that leads to the Amarnath cave.

The issue was taken up by the Supreme Court after the media reports of pilgrims’ deaths started coming out. This year about 93 out of 6, 21, 145 pilgrims died allegedly due to lack of proper facilities and medical care for them. It makes about 0.00014% of the total number who visited the holy cave.

Earlier, the apex court had appointed a high level committee to look into the issue of growing number of deaths of Amnarnath pilgrims. The committee comprised secretaries of various departments including those from the ministry of environment and forest, the home affairs, the health and child welfare, besides the state’s chief secretary.

The court had asked the committee to visit the shrine and give the report to the Governor who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), responsible for holding the Amarnath pilgrimage.

The Supreme Court has listed the case for final judgment on December and till then directed the SASB and the State Government to complete the home work.

The State Government and SASB submitted that the State High Powered Committee (SHPC) recommendations would be admitted in tandem with each other.

Earlier, the State Government had accepted all the recommendations of the SHPC, which had been constituted by the Supreme Court to address the woes of the Amarnath pilgrims and recommend measures for better management of the Yatra. The Government had also assured compliance of all the recommendations made by the Committee.

Responding to the woes of pilgrims, the Court had earlier stated that the matter pertaining to the pilgrimage need to be viewed in two different perspectives – long term perspective and short-terms perspective.

Hurriyat (M) house not in order

Keeping the tradition alive of using public platform to communicate even within the forum, Hurriyat (M) executive Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat, ruled out any compromise over the two tire system in the party and termed Shabir Ahamd Shah’s objections unjustified and unreasonable.

Bhat said, two-tier system in Hurriyat has been established under its constitution and no change is possible. However, he quickly added that if the majority agrees to alter the structure, a change becomes inevitable. “There is no room for dictation or dictatorship in the Hurriyat (M),” he added.

In response to a question regarding Shah being dropped from the delegation which met Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir in Delhi, Bhat said, “Movlana Mohammad Abdullah Tari had participated in the Hurriyat executive meeting on behalf of Shah and he was directed to inform Shah about the decision taken.”

Recently Shah demanded cancellation of Hurriyat (M) proposed visit to Pakistan in view of upcoming election there. Bhat said there is no connection between the two. “Whether electoral activities or elections are being held in Jammu and Kashmir, in India or in Pakistan, it will never affect the struggle for Kashmir resolution.”

Bhat termed Chairman Hurriyat (G) Syed Ali Geelani’s recent remark terming United Nations a defunct organization, as ‘better late than never’ statement.

“What expectation can be attached with an institution which we think has become defunct. Kashmiri leadership must speak in one voice for the resolution of Kashmir issue,” said Bhat.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar organized on Imam Hussain (RA) at his residence in Hyderpora, Geelani ruled out any merger of two Hurriyat factions in near future. “You have to see why we parted ways.”

Without naming Hurriyat (M) Geelani said, “The present position of that faction is known to everyone. That house is not in order. Everyone is aware of what is happening there.”

Making his faction stand clear, Geelani said the Hurriyat led by him has a clear three-point agenda — “Islam as a complete way of life, freedom from India and unity, not on the basis of socialism, democracy or some other thing but on principles.”

On Amarnath issue, Geelani said that there is no need of a board to conduct smooth run of annual pilgrimage. “The yatra has been going on for past 150 years. It was being managed by the local Kashmiri Pandits (KPs ) but suddenly a board came into existence. We want the dissolution of the SASB,” he said.

The octogenarian Geelani also accused the NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah of selling 896 kanals of land at Bijbehara (in south Kashmir) to Army. “We have come to know that the land has not been leased but sold out to Army by Sheikh in 1980,” he alleged.

Kasab HANGED

Ajmal Kasab, lone surviving convict of Mumbai attack, was hanged to death on the Wednesday morning in Yerawada Jail in Pune. The execution was done secretly, only President, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, home minister Suhil Kumar Shinde, RAW and IB chiefs were aware of the Kasab’s execution. Defence lawyers of Kasab, Amin Farhana Shah, Amin Solkar and Abbas Kazmi who appeared in the sessions and Bombay High Court have expressed their surprise at his “sudden” hanging and raised questions over the execution being shrouded in secrecy.

Kasab’s, a Pakistani national, mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on November 5, 2012.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh said the Pakistan government and Kasab’s family were informed about the execution through faxes and couriers. Couriers receipts sent to the family of Kasab were given to the Maharashtra government but nobody confirmed whether the courier has really reached his family.

The outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba, to which Kasab belonged, declared him a martyr. “His execution will be avenged. Lashkar militants will intensify their activities in India”, a spokesman of the outfit told a local news agency.

About the body of Kasab, home minister has said, “so far no one has claimed the body of Kasab and if Pakistan claims it, India would give it to the neighboring country”. The Home Minister said there should not be any problem if Kasab is buried in India. But as per the reports, Ehsanullah Ehsan, the Taliban spokesperson has said, “if Kasab’s remains are not returned to his family or us then we will capture Indians and will not return their bodies. And Taliban will try to strike Indian targets anywhere.”

However, BJP, Congress, RSS and many political parties are relieved after the execution of Kasab and now are stressing for the execution of Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack accused. Back in valley, all of the vocal separatist leaders maintained their silence over the execution except for MLA Langate, Engineer Abdul Rashid. But all of them are more bothered for Afzal Guru. They fear Guru’s execution would set Kashmir on fire and are much concerned over issuing the statements condemning Israeli attacks.

The Union minister and former CM of J&K, Farooq Abdullah has said justice has been done while as his son, current CM, Omar Abdullah praised New Delhi and Maharashtra government for successfully keeping the Ajmal Kasab’s hanging under wraps.

Pertinently, 166 persons were killed when gunmen attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Kasab was the only lone survivor among the attackers.

In a related development Mukherjee has reportedly sent back 14 mercy petition including that of Afzal Guru to the Home Ministry. And now the process of hanging Guru has been set rolling with the hanging of Ajmal Kasab. The sending of the mercy petition by the President is a usual practice and once they are resend the President in most likelihood rejects his petition thus clearing the way for his hanging.

Both, Delhi Government and the Home Ministry had recommended that Guru’s mercy petition, filed by his wife, be rejected by the President. Apart from the seven, petitions sent to home ministry earlier, five other mercy petitions of different convicts are being processed by the Home Ministry.

Reports suggest the hanging may take place at the end of the next year and close of Parliamentary elections as Shinde had reportedly told his Cabinet colleagues that Guru should also be hanged soon to take on Kashmiri terrorists, who are already on the receiving end.

But senior Abdullah has shown his concern and had earlier said that Guru’s hanging will set the Kashmir on fire.

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