News Notes

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IROM SHARMILA SCHOLARSHIP

Iymon_MajidIymon Majeed, 23, a student of political science in Jamia Millia Islamia has been awarded the first ‘Irom Sharmila Scholarship’ for 2013. Presently in his 2nd semester of MA in Political Science Iymon belongs to the Sopore town of Baramulla district in North Kashmir.

Iymon has written on Kashmir conflict for different publications which includes newsmagazine Tehelka and Kashmir Life.

“He was uprooted from his home in Sopore by the army as a child, and has been writing about Kashmiri experiences under AFSPA and militarism.” a press release issue by Prof Nandi Sundar, convener of the Irom Sharmila scholarship said.

The committee had received more than 50 applications of which 40 were found eligible. The others were BA students or students not in Delhi. The jury went through the applications and shortlisted four people for interview.

The award is based on a combination of financial need, suffering under AFSPA and future contribution to the democratic struggle against AFSPA and militarism, in the spirit of Irom Sharmila

The jury consisted of Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Department of Political Science, Delhi University, A. Bimol Akoijam, CSSS, JNU, Delhi, Sameer Yasir, Islamic University of Science and Technology, Kashmir, Kamei Aphun, Department of Sociology, Delhi University and Nandini Sundar, Department of Sociology, Delhi University.

 Pragmatic PSA!

IMG_6911This week controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) was back to limelight. A prominent separatist of Kashmir, besides a boy from Hazratbal were slapped with it. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International asked chief minister Omar Abdullah to put an end to revolving door detentions and lack of transparency about detainees booked under PSA.

On Wednesday, a family from Hazratbal area held demonstrations alleging that their minor son had been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

“My son is innocent. He works as a mechanic at an automobile shop. He left studies at early age to support the family. I fail to understand why he was arrested and slapped with so many charges,” Mehfooza, mother of the detained teenager Asif Majeed Shakhsaz, said.

Police in its records have claimed that Asif is threat to peace and involved in almost all the stone-pelting incidents which have taken place in the jurisdication of Police Station Zakoora.

Pertinently, Minister of State for Home Sajjad Kichloo had on Tuesday said that no person under 18 years of age has been detained under PSA as on 31st March this year on the state.

On Thursday, Police executed two year old PSA pending against National Front (NF) chairman Nayeem Ahmad Khan. He was shifted to Kote-Bhalwal Jail in Jammu. Khan, a general council member of Hurriyat (M), was one of the founders of Islamic Students League (ISL) and now heads the National Front.

Khan was arrested on February 8 from his residence. In the FIR, police has accused Khan and his associate of raising provocative slogans against the sovereignty of India on 16th September 2011 in Gole Market area of Karan Nagar Srinagar.

Meanwhile, global rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) in an open letter to chief minister Omar Abdullah, Chief Executive AI India, G Ananthapadmanabhan, sought an end to lack of transparency concerning the whereabouts and condition of detainees by making the registry of PSA detainees maintained by the J&K Home Ministry publicly accessible.

“PSA and its application continue to facilitate arbitrary detentions and violate international human rights law,” the letter reads.

Jairam’s TABLETS

Jai_Ram_RameshUnder Himayat scheme, Kashmiri youth have been promised by Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh that his ministry would distribute tablets to Kashmiri youngsters who have completed one year of work under the Himayat scheme.

By providing tablets, the government is seeking to reward the youngsters who have remained engaged with the scheme for the past one year and provide an incentive to those who are presently undergoing training. So far a little over 400 beneficiaries have completed a year in service.

The Himayat scheme was initiated by the Centre after the 2010 unrest in the Valley to reach out to the youth. Under the scheme, Kashmiri youngsters are provided with professional training and given jobs in different parts of the country.

Ramesh said that so far over 5,000 youths have been provided jobs within Jammu and Kashmir as well as in other states under the Himayat scheme. “Nearly 15,000 more youths were undergoing training and they would be provided employment in the corporate sector in the year 2013-14,” he promised.

The skill- training has been imparted for sectors like retail and hospitality. Many are also working as BPO employees in cities like Chandigarh and Delhi.

Ramesh added that the government’s aim is to train and provide employment to one lakh youths in the next five years.

During his visit to Jammu, Ramesh announced that the stipend of Rs 1,000 per month for two months being provided to the youth placed in various companies has been enhanced to Rs.2,000 per month for six months. He said the retention rate of youth in the private companies have also shown remarkable increase and at present stands at 76.42 percent.

Rehabilitation ROADBLOCK

It seems hiccups of ‘rehabilitation policy’ are far from over! In a new twist, Uttar Pradesh government has raised objections to deploying J&K police along its border with Nepal, a move recently approved by New Delhi to legalize return of the youth through Indo-Nepal border.

In the wake of the arrest of former militant Liyaqat Shah by Delhi Police last month, the Centre had decided to legalize surrender of the Kashmiri militants via Nepal route. The states which share border with Nepal include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

“The UP government has raised some objections. We are looking how it can be sorted out,” Minister of State for Home, Sajjad Kichloo told media persons outside the Assembly.

Under a new arrangement and to plug loopholes in the Rehabilitation Policy, New Delhi had consented that J&K police would assist Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) along Indo-Nepal border to facilitate return of Kashmiri militants.

Since 2010, at least 241 former militants have returned, some along with their families including wives and children, while 3974 Kashmiri youth are still living in PaK and Pakistan, the government told the Assembly last month.

The policy backed by New Delhi was meant for the youth who had crossed over to PaK in early 90’s and wanted to return and had given up the “idea of picking up the guns due to change of hearts”.

It puts a rider that the youth wishing to return would be permitted to enter only through four entry points – Poonch-Rawalakote, Uri-Muzaffarabad, Wagah (Punjab) and Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

However, the government informed the House last week that all the 241 youth had returned via Nepal, which is an “illegal route”.

Meanwhile, in a major relief to the surrendered militants and their families, the J&K government Wednesday said it was in the process of constituting a 5-member committee to look into the problems faced by former militants who have returned from Pakistan under the government’s ‘rehabilitation policy’ during past three years.

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