News Notes

Keran CONFRONTATION

 Keran-Sector-Gun-FightingThe gunfight between the Indian forces and militants which started ten days ago in the Keran sector of the Kupwara district of Kashmir is still going on.

Eleven days later it is yet to be ascertained whether they are Pakistani military or the militants.

As per reports, Pakistani ‘intruders’ have occupied three Indian Observation Posts near Line of Control (LoC) in Keran Sector but the Indian Army refutes the claims. The two observation posts out of three which are allegedly occupied by militants, as Khokri and Kullar posts.

Many ‘self styled’ experts believe the situation is more or less like Kargil but the Army chief General Bikram Singh has said situation is not anywhere close to Kargil and claimed that his Army is dominating from all sides.

On Friday, Army chief said that the operation is in its last leg and his forces have been battling around 30 to 40 militants who infiltrated the region 11 days ago.

Meanwhile a Pakistani army spokesman while speaking to PTI in Islamabad, denied its involvement as “baseless and a blatant lie.”

The first encounter took place on September 24 in which five Indian soldiers were wounded. The sources have told that the intruders are standing on their ground and are firing along a front of 4 to 5 kms.

As per reports on September 24-25 night, the Indian Army detected the movement of militants drawn from different organisations. Subsequent reports showed that the group had taken shelter in the abandoned village. In a bid to avoid casualties in the hostile terrain, the army planned the operation with extra care.

Given the mountainous terrain, helicopters were used to induct troops in support of the 3/3 Gorkha Rifles unit in the sector. However, the issue got complicated when the army claimed that it has killed 15 infiltrators but there were no recoveries in terms of bodies or weapons.

On Thursday, over 300 PARA shooters were rushed to the Keran sector in order to combat militants. Additional reinforcement of about 300 to 400 personnel of 9 -Para and 4-Para troopers were called from Bandipora, Lolab and Handwara areas.

The militants are reported to be ‘well trained’ as they were using Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor the situation.  Army had earlier claimed to have killed at least 12 -15 unidentified militants in a 10-day long fierce gun-battle. The bodies of these killed militants have been reportedly taken back by intruders from Pakistani side.

Faceoff STARTS

smc-seals-down-buildingSrinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) made news after it swung into action, while complying with the High Court directions, and sealed 19 out of 45 identified ‘illegal’ structures in violation of the Srinagar Master Plan.

Violators allege that it’s the same SMC who has given them permission for raising these structures in the first place after getting their cut.

Even the division bench has observed and said the “SMC officials are hand in glove with the violators and no enhancement of sealing time-frame can be allowed.”

The most manifested violations have come up on Panthachowk-Parimpora stretch of the Highway where many car dealerships are operating in violation of the Master Plan, most of which belong to the Influential people, many of them politicians.

As the special teams appeared on the spot in Karan Nagar Thursday some protesters accused the authorities of having spared “the real big sharks.”

Many alleged that in 2010, SMC and SDA officials took huge kickbacks saying that the Master Plan violations would be regularized. They demanded the matter should be probed at highest levels and all the black-sheep be taken to task.

On September 30, a division bench of J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey asked SMC to seal as many as 45 illegal structures within the City in Jawar Nagar and Karan Nagar areas.

The Court had directed the Corporation to swing into action and take appropriate steps for sealing buildings belonging to any violator as per the show-cause notices and the demolition orders passed (by the Corporation) on March 16, 2009 or thereafter.

Pertinently, an official panel on Master Plan violations constituted by the state government in 2010 has identified around 2500 illegal structures in and around the Srinagar city falling in SMC and SDA local areas. Among them, around 1100 not only violate the Master Plan norms but are a major hindrance in the smooth flow of traffic on some key roads.

Last week, the State Pollution Control Board also sealed some 15 hotels in Gulmarg violating water and air pollution prevention norms. This was also done under court directions.

Influential Probes

Once again the chief minister of JK, Omar Abdullah ordered a judicial inquiry to probe the Shopian killings at the time when his police gave clean chit to three slain youth who were killed on September 7.

Omar even accepted the mishandlings have happened in Shopian.  He said that the statements issued on the Shopian killings on every passing day only helped in mishandling the matter.

Government later announced the appointment of retired high court judge, retired Justice M L Koul, to head the judicial commission to probe the recent civilian killings in Shopian.

Meanwhile Hurriyat Conference led by octogenarian Syed Ali Geelani dismissed the judicial probe ordered by Omar Abdullah as a mere “joke” and said such probes never reach any conclusion. And the chairman of another fraction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the probe as a mere eye wash.

Five persons were killed in CRPF firing in Shopian on September 7 and 11 in two different incidents near the Gagran camp. The locals are protesting for the removal of the camp from the area while as the state has already approved for the shift of the camp, which is so far on papers only.

Standoff SPIN-OFF

Attributing “Indo-China face off” as a reason for the abrupt decline in tourist influx in Ladakh region, Government Friday said that only 1.20 lakh tourists visited Ladakh up to August end as against 1.25 lakh in 2012.

In a written reply to a question by MLA Nobra valley, T Namgyal, in Legislative Assembly that the tourist flow has considerably declined in Leh District, the government said certain apprehensions about the prevailing atmosphere in the peak season may also have attributed to the decline.

“1.58 lakh tourists both foreign and domestic have visited Leh District during 2013 till the end of September,” Minister In-charge Tourism department informed the house in a written statement.

The statement also reads that the sudden spurt in airfare and curtailment in daily flights may also be the reason as to why the Ladakh witnessed lesser tourist influx this year.

“Up to August end 1.20 lakh tourists visited Ladakh in 2013 as against 1.25 lakh for the same period during 2012,” reads the statement.

Regarding the total number of tourists registered in last three years in the state, the statement read” in Kashmir total of 33.62 lakh tourist visited Kashmir valley form 2010 to 2012 with 7.36 lakh in 2010, 13.14 in 2011 and 13.12 lakh in 2012.”

In Ladakh only 4.35 lakh tourists visited the region with 0.77 in 2010, 1.79 in 2011 and 1.79 lakh in 2012.

According to the figures 310.73 lakh pilgrims have visited the Hindu shrines including Mata Vaishno Devi temple and Amarnath cave form 2010 to 2012.

In 2010, 87.49 lakh yatris visited Mata Vaishno Devi temple followed by 101.16 lakh in 2011 and 104.95 lakh in 2012, while 4.58 lakh pilgrims visited Amarnath cave in 2010 followed by 6.34 lakh in 2011 and 6.21 lakh in 2012.

Saga SOPORI

The family of Hurriyat Conference (G) member and close confidante of its Chairman, Ghulam Mohammad Khan Sopori held a protest demonstration in Lal Chowk Friday morning. They were protesting against the continuous closure of their house by government authorities.

Pertinently, in 2011 state government sealed the house of Khan Sopori alleging that he has built his house from Hawala money, which the family out rightly rejects. Since then, the family has been living with their relatives.

The family members holding placards shouted slogans demanding that their house be let open immediately. “Our house should be given back to us immediately as we are still living divided between our relatives,” Sajad, son of Khan Sopori told reporters here.

The family, including children alleged that the government closure of their house was “the policy of Israel which India is implementing in Kashmir.” They were holding placards reading “Stop Israeli Tactics” and “Why are Champions of Democracy Silent?”

The protesting family members also said they have filed an appeal with High Court but neither government nor police is filing any response to it. “Why is government not filing any response to our appeal,” Sajad asked, adding, “Because they know that our father is innocent and the charges are baseless.”

Khan Sopori is considered a staunch supporter of ‘Kashmir’s freedom from Indian Occupation.’ The family believes that forcible sealing of their house is only to break that ‘resolve’.

While holding sit-in, the family members of Khan Sopori decried the silence of ‘champions of democracy and human right groups’.

“We ask the human rights defenders and supporters of democracy why they are observing a criminal silence on this case,” Sajad said. He claimed that not a single person from civil society or human rights groups turned up to see their condition. “No one came to see us in the last one and a half year of our nomadic life.”

Answering a question, a family member of Khan Sopori said that Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Geelani of which Khan Sopori is a member only issued press statements with regard to their demand and nothing else.

Probing MESS

Omar-Abdullah-in-AssemblyWithout  naming any  NGO like ‘Peace Foundation’, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah  Friday told Legislative Council that Crime Branch has been asked to look into the complaints against the NGOs reportedly fiddling in the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (SSS) for the meritorious students of the State.

He said that the reports of cheating by some NGOs has besmeared the reputation of the scheme and marred the future of various students admitted by these NGOs in some educational institutions without having any authority or any role in this regard.

The Chief Minister was intervening during the reply of questions by Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, Ravinder Kumar Sharma and supplementary of other Members during the Question Hour in the Upper House.

“There is even no role of the State Government in the monitoring or placing of students in educational institutions outside the State. The scheme is completely run by the Union Government. However, the State Government cannot absolve itself of its responsibility towards the people as such the matter of reported cheating by some NGOs has been vehemently taken up with the Central Government.

 “I have written to Prime Minister in this regard urging upon him to grant one time exception to the students who have sought admission in various institutions through NGOs and do not qualify for the scholarship so that their educational career is not marred,” he said.

Omar Abdullah said that some NGOs and the educational institutions have admitted students in bulk despite the fact that there is a cap placed in the scheme for grant of scholarship to only first five position holders. “It is as such required for students to ascertain whether they are falling in the first five positions or not before moving ahead to seek admission under SSS”, he elaborated.

The Chief Minister said that SSS could prove highly beneficial for the students of the State to seek higher trainings and education in the reputed educational institutions in India. However, he underlined the importance of involving the state government in the implementation of the scheme through Higher Education Department so that students are not duped by unscrupulous elements and are properly guided for seeking admission and obtaining scholarships provided under the scheme. He said matter has already been taken up with the Union Government. He expressed the hope that positive results will be coming soon in this direction.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here