Encounters are returning back in Kashmir with a brisk pace. This week, it was the 19-hour gunbattle between militants and security forces in Pulwama district of south Kashmir that ended with the killing of two militants.
Divisional commander of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit Altaf Baba alias “Gazi Baba” was killed in the encounter on Wednesday, while his associate Mohammad Abbass Nengroo was shot dead on Thursday.
The gunbattle broke out on Wednesday afternoon in Rajpora area of the district, 45km from here, when a foot patrol of 44 Rashtriya Rifles came under firing from the militants.
A police spokesman said the self-styled divisional commander of JeM was killed in the gunbattle on Wednesday. His body was retrieved from the encounter site early morning and handed over to his family.
Nengroo, who was hiding in the area, opened fire on the security search party at around 4am after a night-long lull, triggering a fresh gunbattle which led to his killing, the spokesman said.
He said security forces had maintained a tight cordon around the militants throughout the night to prevent them from escaping.
Meanwhile, five policemen were injured when their vehicle turned turtle while dealing with protests by residents of Pulwama town, reports said.
They said a group of people, protesting the killing of the militants, pelted stones at the police party due to which the driver of the vehicle lost control.
In another incidence this week, an Indian policeman and five others were injured in a grenade attack Tuesday by suspected militants on army vehicles in Islamabad district, 50 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar.
The attack comes,after last month government forces claimed they had killed a top Lashkar-e-Taiba operative in an early morning gun-battle in the congested downtown area of Srinagar.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah again beat Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) drums this week on ‘Central arena’ at New Delhi. His ‘outbursts’ at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security this week was a classic example of politicking on ‘draconian law’.
Omar while taking the Union Home Ministry to task for creating ambiguity over his demand to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) said that the ministry was putting his credibility at risk.
Abdullah, whose party is a member of the UPA government at the Centre and in J&K, took serious offence to a home ministry’s written reply in the RajyaSabha on March 6 this year in which the ministry said it had not received any formal request from any state requesting the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“I do not understand what is a formal request. I have raised this issue at previous CMs conferences here in Delhi…the minutes must have been recorded. I have also raised this issue with both the former and the incumbent home ministers. Do I need to write a demi-official letter for revocation of AFSPA and only then the Centre will consider it as a formal request? This is affecting my credibility in the state,” Abdullah is believed to have said at the closed-door conference.
Abdullah also was miffed over the interlocutors’ report on J&K gathering dust at the home ministry for nearly 18 months and said such endeavours in the future will not inspire any confidence.
“I want to know what has happened with the report of the J&K Group of Interlocutors who toured the state for almost a year and submitted a report to the Home Ministry in 2011,” Abdullah reportedly said at the CMs conference.
But political observers opine Omar’s approach on the question of AFSPA is more rhetorical than real. “For him it is a matter of political expediency and not that of faith in citizens’ human and democratic rights,” they asserted.
Kashmir’s civil service aspirants have found one more patron this week. JKPCC chief, Prof Saif-ud- Din Soz submitted a proposal to prime minister DrManmohan Singh urging him to grant special five year exception in cadre allocation policy for favour of youth of J&K qualifying civil services examinations.
“I have taken the issue with the central government and the Congress president so that youth from the state are encouraged to take up civil services which would further the interests of national integration. It is also important as Kashmiri youth have a lot of emotional attachment with their home land,” Prof Soz said.
Prof Soz said apart from writing to the prime minister he has met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Shinde and Salman Khurshid who assured him to their support in this regard.
“During my meeting with UPA chairperson, I informed her that more and more youth are getting attracted to a path of peace and prosperity that needs to be maintained and promoted,” Prof Soz said.
Soz informed Sonia that from 1990 to 2009, Kashmir produced only 2 IAS and 2 IPS officers, the record number of 13 candidates, three of them women made it to the UPSC civil services 2012, with eight successful candidates from Kashmir valley alone.
“I told Madam Gandhi that I have made it clear to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that out of the authorized cadre strength of 133 for IAS only, 5 Kashmiris made it as direct recruits from 1960 to 2009,” he said.
“I brought it to the notice of Madam Gandhi that current cadre allocation policy of IAS, IPS & IFS ignores requirement to the J&K state and adequate number of insider vacancies are not being referred to DoPT.”
The Pradesh Congress chief asserted that the proposed exceptional treatment in cadre allocation Policy for J&K for a period of five years can reform the present imbalance in the system of administration.
“Madam Gandhi assured me of her support to the proposal with the Prime Minister,” Soz said.
Even if the state government has started bravery award in her name but after a gap of seven years the rape and murder case of TabinaGani, a class 7 student is still waiting to get Justice.
Recently the Chandigarh based Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) has confirmed the involvement of all the four accused, already in the custody, in the TabindaGani case.
DNA expert of FSL Chandigarh, Dr Sanjeeve has revealed in the sessions court at Kupwara that the blood samples collected from the clothes of the deceased during the post-mortem match the DNA of all the four accused against whom the trial is on.
Following the public outcry the police filed the case under FIR No. 152/20-07-2007 against Azhar Mir alias Billason of Gul Mir, Sadiq Mir alias Saedachoor- both from Langate and two non locals- Suresh Mochi resident of Rajasthan and Jahangir Bihariresident of west Bengal under sections 363/369/302/376-B. All the accused have been booked in connection with rape and murder of TabindaGani at Batpora in Langate, Handwara in July 2007.
In this particular case there were 84 witnesses and all of them recorded their statements but still the court of law has not been able to deliver the justice.
Pertinently the case going on in the sessions Court Kupwara has fixed June 12 as the next date for hearing. Earlier the Principal District and Sessions Judge Kupwara Muhammad Ibrahim had summoned the witnesses, Director FSL Kashmir HC Baghat and senior scientific officer Shabir Ahmad, to appear before the court on 5th of June to record their statements but they did not. Meanwhile the police is claiming that the accused have confessed their crime and prosecution’s case was very strong.
One more written document on Kashmir was unveiled this week. The book is a ‘public version of Kashmir history’ in the form of ‘Flashback’, which was dedicated to the “youth and martyrs of 2010 agitation” by its author.
Written by senior journalist and human rights activist Zahir-ud-Din, the ‘Flashback’ is a lucid narration of important events in the history of Kashmir since 1846.
A “chronicle of short essays”, as described in the foreword by prominent New Delhi-based human rights activist GautamNavlakha, the book presents a perspective on the Silk Factory agitation, Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s visits to Kashmir, trial and treatment given to Abdul Qadeer (hero of the 1931 uprising), the hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guru, and on many infamous massacres, killings, political upheavals or controversies that comprise the turbulent history of Kashmir.
“It is meant to give youth and students a feel of their history,” Zahir said on the occasion of its release in Srinagar’s Nigeen Club. “It is to generate a debate on history among the youth and inspire them to become responsible towards their role in the movement. The 300-page book has accounts of eyewitnesses, political activists, personal diaries and unpublished biographies.”
As per the wish of author, the book was released by a group of young volunteers of J&K Coalition of Civil Society who later presented their reviews, prepared beforehand, of it.
“The book is a new addition to the brief though growing list of books on Kashmir history written by Kashmiris themselves,” said prominent political commentator Dr Sheikh ShowkatHussain.
“Thirty-six books were written on Kashmir in the past two decades. But 31 of them were from non-Kashmiri authors, four from Kashmiri Pandits and only one was from a Kashmiri Muslim,” Dr Showkat said. “But the situation is changing now. This (‘Flashback’) is the fourth book on Kashmir by a Kashmiri Muslim in past three months.”
The Empire of J&K Bank
Once again the J&K Bank successfully managed to grab the first seat in priority sector credit disbursed by all the commercial banks in the state during the financial year 2012-13. Banks operating in J&K have extended credit aggregating Rs 4,918.14 core to 3,79,676 beneficiaries against annual target of Rs 6,094.50 Crore to 3,54,302 beneficiaries under Priority Sector registering achievement of 81%.
J&K Bank alone has disbursed Rs 3,225.67 Crore against annual target of Rs 3,123.22 Crore achieving 103% of its target under ACP, which accounts for 66% of the total priority sector credit disbursed by all banks in the State during the year. On the 89th meeting of J&K State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) this information was shared by Mushtaq Ahmad, Chairman & CEO, J&K Bank (Convener J&K SLBC). The minister for finance state, Abdul Rahim Rather who was present in the meeting appreciated the performance of J&K Bank.
Meanwhile the banks have been asked to strive harder to achieve the target of CD Ratio of 40% of which was set by the Governor RBI for the last year. Presently 786 villages have been covered under the first phase of the Financial Inclusion Plan or ‘Swabhiman Campaign’ out of a target of covering 795 unbanked villages, and the coverage of 5582 identified unbanked villages with population of below 2000 under the second phase of the Financial Inclusion Plan will be accelerated; as only 1302 such villages have been reportedly covered up to April 30, 2013 indicating a progress of less than 25%.
For the easy accessibility to the people related to agriculture the credit facilities extended against Kissan Credit Cards and Artisan Credit Cards have now been fully exempt to the extent of Rs 1, 50, 000 as against the previous exemption limit of Rs 50, 000 which will help all the commercial banks in popularizing agricultural credit amongst the farmers, artisans which otherwise showed a sign of decrease during the last financial year.
Meanwhile the minister for finance has said the area where banks are lagging much behind the 100% coverage target is issuance of Kissan Credit Cards, and the commercial banks need to redouble their efforts in order to achieve 100% coverage as early as possible and latest before the commencement of the next Rabi operations.
The CD Ratio has increased from 34.36% as on March 31, 2012 to 36.51% as on March 31, 2013 indicating an increase of 2.15%, there’s huge scope available to banks to increase it to comfortable level. So special emphasis is needed from the side of banks to improve CD ratio, was observed by Rather.
However, given the target of 40% for the State to be achieved by March 2014, as stipulated by the Governor, Reserve Bank of India, a credit disbursement target of Rs.16,322.69Crore has been stipulated under Annual Credit Plan for CFY for the State (envisaging an increase of over 81% over the ACP for PFY).