News Notes

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Gun STRIKES!

nn-hilal-molviThe violent scene of 1990’s seems to be back in valley. In yet another incident of militant strike a top Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, Hilal Molvi, from Palhalan area of North Kashmir was gunned down in an encounter with police in Srinagar’s old city.

On Thursday morning, police laid a cordon around Narparistan in Fatehkadal area of the city on a tip off about the presence of a LeT commander in the area.

Police said, as the cops were zeroing in on the target house, the militant fired on them. Three policemen, including an officer, sustained injuries in the operation.

The slain militant had taken refuge in the city as security agencies had stepped up vigil on militants in the district over the past two months.

In another incident on Friday four army personnel were killed and a suspected militant gunned down in a gun-battle in South Kashmir. As per reports, the suspected militant has been identified as Saifullah, a B.Tech passout.

The encounter took place at Buchu, Tral in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district when the army and the police had cordoned off a village during a combing operation to hunt down the militants who were hiding there.

However, the militants somehow dodged the cordon and attacked the security personnel. “Acting on a tip off, the army’s 3 RR personnel were busy cordoning Harde Buchoo village in Tral Tehsil when they came under attack from militants. The attack killed four jawans on the spot,” Ankur Vashist, Lt. Col, said.

Meanwhile, five suspected militants have been arrested with heavy arms and ammunition in connection with a botched plot to kill security personnel near Thathri Police Station in Doda district.

Police have also seized one AK-56 rifle, 3 Magazines of AK-56, 143 rounds of AK-56 rifle, one Chinese Pistol, Magazine of Chinese Pistol, five rounds of Chinese Pistol, two Chinese Grenades and two Walkie Talkie wireless sets from them.

Police alleged that they had planned to attack the security personnel by hurling grenade on Thathri Police Station on the intervening night of April 27 and 28, but the grenade fell just short of the police station averting casualties.

Corporate LEAGUE!

corporate-leagueIn order to boost the gentleman’s game in the state, different business houses of Jammu and Kashmir took an initiative to start the Jammu and Kashmir corporate premier league under the corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Farooq Amin, the managing director of the Kanwal group of the companies and CEO of the tournament said that the corporates have spared Rs 50 lakh for the grand tournament and this would be the annual event. “The aim of the tournament is to improve the standard of the game and restore its glory in state,” Amin said in a press conference in Srinagar.

Amin informed that the tournament will be totally non-political and will be played on the IPL pattern. “The consultation of all the experts have been taken into consideration by the organizing secretary of the tournament, Abdul Qayoom Bagow,” he said.

Waseem Tramboo, director TCI Max, said that as a CSR, the corporates are launching a website for the said tournament.

Corporates informed that they have approached the Jammu and Kashmir cricket Association (JKCA) and will shortlist the players who represented the state in the Ranji Trophy, U25 and U19 tournaments held by the BCCI. “The said players will be provided with all the facilities which include clothing, transportation, food and other cricketing gears. This will be the first time in the state when players who participate in the said tournament will be paid the match money,” Tramboo said.

The tournament will commence on June 10, next month and the venue for the tournament will be district Islamabad and Srinagar. Total 10 teams of the corporates will be playing the tournament, which include: Kanwal group, TCI MAX, Ahad group, Kehwa services, SAIFCO group, Cemtac group, Tramboo foods, Heritage group, Tramboo hospitality and Samula Infra.

Couples of more corporates are expected to join the league.

Via TUNNEL

nn-banhal-tunnelKashmir valley is all set to be connected to the rest of India through the 11-km long Pirpanchal railway tunnel which connects Cheral village in Banihal in Jammu division with Qazigund in Kashmir.

The tunnel is part of the 345-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail project of the northern railways, which is scheduled for completion by 2018.

Last December, the trail run of the tunnel, which runs 0.4 km beneath the Jawahar Tunnel, was conducted smoothly and the train covered the 11-km distance from southern side of the mountain in Banihal to north in Qazigund in 6.6 minutes.

Built at the cost of Rs 1,300 crores, it would reduce distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 17-km.

“The project is unique in India as the New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) was used first time in mass capacity,” HCC official was quoted saying.

Its construction, which was scheduled for completion by 2009, was awarded to the HCC by IRCON in 2006 but the completion period overran by three years.

Aligned straight from north to south, the tunnel is believed to be 100 per cent water-proof and is equipped with fire fighting system. It has a three meter wide concrete road running aside the track throughout its length for maintenance and emergency purpose.

At least 60 percent of the manpower required in the project (both skilled and unskilled) were state subjects, the HCC official said.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is scheduled to commission the tunnel on June 25. Opening of this tunnel, longest in India and third longest in Asia after Taihang Tunnel (28 km) and Wushaoling Tunnel (21 km) in China, would ease transportation problem to Kashmir especially during winter when snowy weather forces closure of Jammu-Srinagar Highway, sometimes for weeks together.

“We have already handed over the rail line to the authorities and it will be commissioned next month,” said Sharanappa Yalal, Project Manager of the Pir Panchal Tunnel, executed by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) Ltd.

Moderate DILEMMAS!

Ali-Mohammad-SagarIt was ruling National Conference’s senior leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar who wore Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s shoes for a day and observed the “martyrdom anniversary” of Umar’s slain father, Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq. On May 21 this week, police kept Mirwaiz Umar under house arrest, while NC leader observed the event at his official residence.

The unprecedented move by Sagar was instantly understood as an attempt by his party to gain vote-bank in old city. “We are not doing any politics over it,” Sagar was quoted saying his workers.

Moderates, especially those close to Mirwaiz were surprised. They were unlike to react to the development formally. “See, in which situation, we are,” Mirwaiz’s close aide and moderate Hurriyat’s media adviser Shahid-ul-Islam said. “They used force to keep us away and took over on something that is so intimately ours. See, they do not even permit us to mourn.”

The development came within days after the NC suggested that an Omar-Umar accord – on the pattern of their fathers’ Molvi Farooq and Dr Farooq Abdullah alliance called ‘double Farooq accord’ of 1987 – will benefit the city. The two Farooqs had allied with Congress in the 1987 assembly elections in which three of cleric’s nominees became state lawmakers. This suggestion put forth by chief minister’s uncle Dr Mustafa Kamal was already rejected by Mirwaiz.

With assembly elections a year away, moderates have found their voice. Bilal Ghani Lone, an important face in the Mirwaiz-led separatist camp, has questioned the wisdom of asking people to boycott polls.

“The elections are more than a year away but our leaders have started asking people to stay away from polls,” Lone told a gathering of Peoples Conference (PC). “Before making such announcements, we need to ask who is benefiting from such calls. Are we strengthening PDP or NC,” he asked.

Since 1996, separatists have asked people to boycott polls. In that year, security forces ensured people came out and voted. Hurriyat skipped sponsoring a boycott in 2002 elections but that led to a vertical split in the grand alliance now identified as ‘hawks’ and ‘moderates’ led by Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, respectively.

Tihar ORDEALS!

It took judiciary seven long years to acquit Mushtaq Ahmad Kaloo of Sopore, accused of conspiring to bomb New Delhi Railway Station in 2006. Delhi high court acquitted him of all charges a week ago.

A division bench of Delhi high court while reversing the trial court verdict stated that prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused and lapses in the probe give the benefit of doubt to the accused. “The police could only show that they picked up the two men based on a tip-off and the statement of the police officer leading the raiding party was not even recorded,” the division bench noted.

Kaloo, a businessman from Sopore town, along with Muhammad Iqbal Jan were arrested in November 2006 by Delhi Police’s special cell and branded as militants aiming to bomb New Delhi railway station.

“We were picked up by Delhi police for reasons we don’t know,” he told local media.

After spending 7 years of prime of his youth in Tihar jail, Kaloo says he lost everything from business to health. “My family suffered a lot both monetarily and physically. It is Delhi police which is responsible for my family’s pain and anguish,” said Mushtaq.

On the fateful day, Mushtaq said they were arrested at a time when they were about to check out from a Delhi hotel and were kept in an illegal imprisonment for about 10 days before declaring them as militants.

“In the case of Liyaqat Ali, fingers were raised from different quarters. Even the state government termed the detention of Liyaqat Ali as wrong resulting in his early release. However, what about people like me who are declared innocent after spending 7 years in jail,” asks Mushtaq.

While recalling his detention in Tihar Jail, Mushtaq said that Kashmiri youth languishing in Tihar jail have become role model for all the detainees there. “Even jail authorities have a great regard for innocent Kashmiri youths who are arrested and branded as militants,” he said.

“Every Kashmiri detainee is being respected by jail authorities in Tihar jail as they are the most disciplined and obedient lot in Tihar jail,” claims Mushtaq.

Towards E-GOVERNANCE

cm-inaugurating-post-officeTech savvy chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday said Jammu and Kashmir has to travel many miles to catch up the race with other states in the field of Information Technology and Electronics.

“Though with the restoration of peace we have come a long way, we have to go a long way to make the state a hub of IT and Electronics,” Omar said inaugurating the two-day ‘Knowledge Exchange Conference Srinagar’ on e-governance theme.

Reiterating his government’s firm resolve to take the state to new heights, Omar said during the last four years many new initiatives have been introduced to make e-governance rule the roost and upgrade service delivery making it prompt, transparent and hassle-free by introducing IT measures.

“In the given situation we are in the state presenting mosaic of geographical diversities, climatic vagaries, remoteness of areas, difficult terrains and poor accessibility, the use of IT to reach out people for attending their welfare and development requirements is the need of the hour,” he said.

Recognizing the requirement, he said, measures have been initiated to march ahead on road to e-governance. He referred to the measures of e-tendering, e-procurement and launch of web portals in various public service departments for public benefit. The Chief Minister added that services and solutions from various departments are being put on-line for general public facility.

Omar said he has asked the Information Technology Department to move ahead in digitalising land records and making revenue papers available to the people electronically. “I have also asked them to introduce IT initiatives in other departments including education and health, making communication technology focal point in the development process,” he said, adding CISCO can be roped in to prepare pilot projects in this regard.

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