News Notes

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Hill POLLS

KARGIL-ELECTION-(3)The Congress alliance is all set to grab the chairmanship of the Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Council (KAHDC). In the recently held elections in Kargil district, Congress-Imam Khumaini Memorial Trust Alliance won 11 council seats out of 30, ruling National Conference- Islamia High School took eight seats, five were won by independent candidates; four are nominated seats by state government and two were already elected uncontested.

Meanwhile both  PDP and BJP had fielded and 12 candidates respectively, but both the parties failed to win even a single seat.

LAHDC is elected for a period of five years. The councilors of it were not of such importance till Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regime which empowered the LAHDC, to the extent the religious people belonging to both the dominating institutions of Islamia High School and Imam Khumaini Memmorial Trust, started jumping in the election process because Omar Abdullah’s regime later increased the monthly salary of a councilor from rupees 5 thousand to Rs. 30 thousand.

Presently,  the four executive councilors of LAHDC receive a monthly handsome salary of Rs 45 thousands and a status of MoS while as the Chief Executive Councilor enjoys the status of a cabinet minister.  He has the powers to spend Rs 7.5 crore without the  state government’s approval.

The politics of Kargil is dominated by Islamia High School and Imam Khumaini Memmorial Trust and these two parties are directly controlled by the NC and Congress.

Having a peep into Kargil politics, one gets a feeling that the opposition plays a very dubious role always once it loses the election. Infact Imam Khumaini Memmorail Trust-Congress never participated in any meetings of the LAHDC throughout its tenure of last five years, when Islamia High School-NC was the leading party.

Beckoning NHRC

A compliant in National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) New Delhi, was filed on Thursday, against the proposed extension of lease to the Tosamaidan pasture after 2014.

The lease of the great pasture is ending early next year and a campaign has already started to pressurize the government to discontinue the lease.

The complaint was registered by a RTI activist Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat From district Budgam. “The complaint in the NHRC, New Delhi is against the death and destruction caused by Artillery Shelling in Tosamaidan pasture. I have appealed the NHRC that the lease should not be extended after 2014 and the people who died due to mortar shelling, bomb blasts etc must be compensated in the same way as Army personnel are compensated. I have also demanded that persons who turned disable must be given government jobs,” Raja said.

Raja has sought protection of basic human right, The Right to Live, for the inhabitants of villages Chell, Brass , Shonglipora , Drang , and other villages  located beneath and around Tosamaidan meadow in  district Budgam.

Army is undertaking Artillery drills in Tosemaidan area from last five decades. State government has leased at least 3000 kanals of forest land to the army.

Senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani has already ‘cautioned’ the authorities not to extend the lease.

Tosamaidan is a vast beautiful pasture located under the foothills of Pir Panjal range in Khag- Khansahib area of Budgam district.

Famous tourist destination of Gulmarg is located nearby this place towards its North-Western side. One can even trek to Poonch via this place. From mid 1960’s this area is being used as a Firing Range by the Indian Army. The firing drills have led to death and destruction in the area.

“I am not exaggerating the things at all, but this is a hard fact which many of our security experts won’t like to hear. The government could have developed Tosamaidan as a tourist hub but this couldn’t be done due to heavy artillery, mortar shelling in the area,” Raja said.

“It is submitted that the aforesaid villages are under continuous threat from the Mortar / Artillery shelling being undertaken by the Army since last many decades Scores of people have been killed due to bursting of unexploded shells. In addition to it more than 20 people have turned permanently disable,” reads the complaint.

Seeking WHEREABOUTS?

APDPRelatives of disappeared persons in Kashmir on Friday held a sit-in to mark International Day of the Disappeared  Persons and urged the government to set up an inquiry commission to look into the complaints of human rights violations.

The sit-in, organised by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) at Srinagar’s Pratap Park was attended by separatist leaders, including JKLF chairman Yasin Malik. Apart from Malik, noted satirist Zareef Ahmad Zareef, commentator Abdul Majid Zargar, Kashmiri rap singer Roshan Ilahi, appeared in the park to show their solidarity with the APDP members. Some lawyers were also present and some students who were busy in making posters and placards for these parents. All the members, guests were wearing black aprons.

“APDP calls upon the state to comply with its obligations under the international human rights laws and also provide adequate compensation to the families of the disappeared persons,” APDP chairperson Parveena Ahangar said.

Many guests who came in the park also signed a signature campaign with one line slogans in support of these parents. One had written ‘It is their right to know about their loved ones’, ‘Trace the disappeared’, ‘Disappearance a crime against humanity and India a big criminal’.

The International Day for Disappeared Persons is observed on August 30 across the globe. The APDP  on 10th of every month observes a sit-in protest at Pratap Park where activists, volunteers, artists, poets, writers and family members of victims along with civil society activists come together to protest against enforced disappearances.

As the case of Kunan-Poshpora incident stands reopened, the organization demands that a fair investigation be conducted into the case, investigation reports should also be made public and the victims should be given justice, reads the statement.

On occasion of the International Day for Disappeared Persons, the APDP demanded that India should implement the recommendations of Universal Periodic Review-2 (UPR2) and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, beside repealing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

“The laws and policies should also be put in place to ensure protection of witnesses and those complaining against arbitrary state action,” says the chairperson of the APDP.

Scathing BLOW

The PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti called one more serious shot at ruling NC when she described it as the real ‘renegade’ party and alleged the party ditched the state at every crucial stage of history.

“It was this party that forced Kashmiri youth to pick up gun in 1987 following the brazen rigging in elections and victimizing the youth who participated in them. It was the Farooq Abdullah government which through the infamous task force coerced the youth who shunned the gun to work for intelligence agencies. Their policies created militancy and counter insurgency, divided the society and they are the real Ikhwan,” she alleged.

Addressing a largely attended convention of women in Sumbal, Sonawari, she claimed failure of the present government has squeezed space of dignity for all sections of society, ‘but the women and youth are a particular victim of its wrong policies and bad governance.’ She claimed the positive initiatives, taken by the previous government, have all been reversed and the atmosphere of hope that was generated in the state has disappeared.

She said while the previous PDP-Congress coalition is remembered for historic steps like disbanding of SOG, revocation of POTA, opening of borders with Pakistan Administered Kashmir and number of economic interventions, ‘the present government has left the people only nursing their wounds and counting dead bodies.’ The PDP president alleged for every year under the Omar Abdullah led government it has a shameful incident attached to it and those incidents have become reference points to his (Omar’s) 5-years of misrule and corruption.

“In 2009 this government made its inauguration with the blood of two innocent women in Shopian, who were later subjected to character assassination and those who fought for justice to them were prosecuted, while the perpetrators were never caught,” she said. “Similarly, 2010 witnessed cold blooded murder of 120 youth and in 2011 the death of Haji Yousuf exposed corruption and crime in the Abdullah family.  2012 marked the devastation of the historical Dastgeer Shaib (RA) shrine and in 2013, the Omar Abdullah government participated in the shameful hanging of Mohammad Afzal Guroo.”

Illegal POWER

The National Hydro Power Project (NHPC) is “illegally and unconstitutionally” generating electricity from the power projects under its execution in Kashmir, an RTI filed by a Kashmiri social activist has revealed.

The applicant, Tufail Khalid had in 2009 filed an RTI seeking information on the following points: (1) Agreement executed by J&K Government with NHPC in respect of various power projects with water capacity in each dam of these projects. (2) How much share the state government is getting from the agreement entered with GoI. (3) How many agreements entered with NHPC have lapsed?

What was shocking to know in the light of information sought, Tufail said was that J&K government has signed MoU on 7 projects—out of the total 14 handed over to NHPC during the regime of then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in 2000— and has not entered into any agreement on the projects executed by NHPC currently in Kashmir.

“There is a lot of difference between a MoU and agreement…..i had sought details of the agreements J&K government entered with GoI…but the information furnished by PDD clearly states that no agreement has been entered into on Uri-1, Salal and Dulhasti etc power projects,” Tufail said.

The noted social activist said that the letter further stated that a photocopy of the MoU of July 2000 signed lies with JKSPDC-detailing about the 7 projects transferred to NHPC.

“The letter clearly stated that no information regarding the agreement entered into Uri-1 (generating (350 MW), Dulhasti and Salal is available with the JKSPDC office,” Tufail revealed.

However, the social activist adds that the hair-raising question the JKSPDC response raises  is barring the MoU entered into seven projects—Kishanganga HEP, Uri II, Bursar, Sewa II, Pakal Dul, Nimoo Bazgo, Chutak—no separate agreements stands entered with NHPC for the other 7 power projects being executed by it.  The JKSPDC response to the RTI, Tufail reveals clearly states that no agreement with NHPC exists on the projects being executed by it in Kashmir.

The young social activist informs that NHPC earns Rs 2300 crores per day from the power projects it executes in Kashmir.

While criticizing Dr. Farooq Abdullah for allowing NHPC to loot the water resources in J&K, Tufail even had a panning for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah

He said that despite being powerful enough to retrieve the power projects at the stroke of their pens, these chief ministers are remaining silent to appease their masters at the Centre.

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