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The Bijbehara Blast

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A mysterious blast inside a tourist vehicle at Bijbehara created uproar on various fronts and gave birth to lot of media speculations this week. While national media caused panic by dubbing it as a “grenade attack”, the police clarified that it was an LPG blast.

Among eight passengers, two died on spot. Third one had breathed her last on her arrival for treatment at SKIMS. Fourth one, 70-year-old Indira Parvathi, was in coma at the hospital’s surgical ICU was unlikely to survive.

Initially, the officials maintained that the blast had occurred when militants lobbed a hand grenade on the bus. With that, the condemnations began to pour in from different political parties. However, later in the afternoon, Kashmir zone headquarters of J&K Police issued a statement, seeking to clarify that an LPG cylinder had exploded accidentally on the bus.

DIG South Kashmir said that the explosion occurred at 1.30 p.m. He said that initially there was a lot of confusion as the inputs invariably said that a grenade had exploded inside the bus. He said that later a team of officers, including SDPO and SHO of Bijbehara, said that an LPG cylinder had actually went off inside the bus.

The driver of the ill-fated bus, Ashok Kumar, recorded his statement at Police Station Bijbehara in which he made it clear that he had carried the family of eight women from Jammu to Katra where they performed pilgrimage at Mata Vaishnu Devi shrine. They wanted to visit Pahalgam. He said that the group had no programme of pilgrimage to Amarnath shrine.

The DIG said that the police were investigating whether the bus had stopped for lunch or tea at any highway stations between Udhampur and Bijbehara. He ruled out the grenade attack since not a single glass pane or wind screen of the bus had broken. He maintained that the confusion between the LPG blast and an explosive device would be cleared by the ballistic examination of the samples. Ballistic experts of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Srinagar collected samples of explosion and is expected to make everything clear within a week’s time.

The Controversy over SHRINE

Confusion is still reigning supreme over the Dastgeer sahib shrine gutting. New report ruled out short circuit theory, but at the same time it is ‘clueless’ over real cause of blaze. The report filed by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) has raised certain queries on the findings. It has ruled out the use of any combustible substance, but it has not been able to detect the cause of fire. Analysis was conducted in FSL’s Dalgate office.

New samples may now be sent to FSL Chandigarh for further analysis. After receiving FSL report, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari admitted that certain confusions were prevalent in the report and has sought answers from the people who have carried out the analysis.

About the investigation by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) into the gutting of the shrine, the SSP said that probe was on. “Investigations are on and every angle is being investigated.” The SIT officials said that they have sought complete details of management of the shrine from Wakf Board, ‘However, their response in slow,’ an official said. Earlier, the SIT had also said that while investigating the old-wiring angle that might have resulted in short circuit, Waqf Board did not cooperate fully.

Meanwhile, the officials of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Srinagar have claimed that the crime scene in the incident was not preserved and “gutted material/ wires were removed” before the samples were taken for analysis. The samples collected on June 26, a day after the fire incident, by in-charge FSL mobile unit PCR Srinagar have failed to detect the cause of fire. Sources say the crime scene was not preserved, which was vital for proper scientific investigation.

Many says if the claims made by FSL are genuine, it would be a big embarrassment for the state government, since it will put a question mark on both inquires conducted by civil administration and police. The shrine of Dastgeer Sahab (RA) was gutted in a mysterious fire in Khanyar area of old Srinagar on 25th June.

The Pandit ALLOTMENTS
Serious allegations of corruption and nepotism were raised after Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Ravinder Pandita, declared the names of 549 Kashmiri Pandits who have been allotted two-room tenement at Jagti Township.

The erring Kashmiri Pandits, whose name was not there in the list have alleged gross misappropriation in the allotment of these houses, build under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Program, J&K and for the rehabilitation and return of KPs. The fact that the plan was devised by the Prime Minister himself raised expectations that the allotment would be fair without any room for doubt or misgivings.

But more than half of the allotments were made to the KP families with meager income. This puts a big question mark over the fairness of allotment. How the state government determined who has meager income and what is the standard of meager income?          According to Planning Commission’s observation, a person can fend himself with about Rs 70 per day. Is that the criteria that a family with monthly income of Rs 2100 qualifies for the meager income? Allotment hopefuls blamed authorities of using this particular clause for their own benefits. This clause is inserted so that the officials can use their discretion and make allotments to those who would bribe them.

The allegation of corruption in allotment of Jagti Township houses not only undermines the office of the Prime Minister, but also puts a big question mark over the judicious use of exchequers money.

Sorry, It Involves SOVEREIGNTY
In a response to RTI application filed to disclose the whereabouts of Instrument of Accession (IOA), the state has refused to disclose information under the section 8 of RTI Act while as same application was filed before the centre and they have revealed the necessary information.

The application was filed by Irfan Hafiz Lone, vice president of the Baramulla Bar Association. The state government had refused to disclose the information saying the disclosure would impinge upon the security, sovereignty and integrity of the country. The section 8 of the RTI Act says that the “information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state or lead to incitement of an offence cannot be disclosed.”

While as the government of India disclosed the IOA is lying with National Archives of India (NAI). National Archives of India has claimed that the IOA is in their possession. According to the information revealed by GOI, the document was transferred to NAI by the ministry of home affairs in 2010 with signatures of Maharaja Hari Singh, and Lord Mountbatten on the document.

Pertinently, under section 16 of JK RTI Act, an applicant is empowered to file first appeal before FAA, if he/she was not satisfied with the answer of PIO.

Another TRAGEDY
Several cases of rapes and gangrapes have been reported in the past few months from different areas of Jammu but so far, not even in a single case has the accused been punished. In one such case, the Kalakot alleged gangrape of Class X student took a new twist on Sunday when the main accused, Shabnam Akhter, 20, daughter of Talib Hussain of Khadadian (Kalakot Rajouri), who allegedly lured and introduced the victim to the accused, committed suicide by consuming poison at her residence.

Shabnum had introduced the victim Arti, 17, (name changed) to the four accused in the alleged gang rape case at her school principal’s office. They had later taken Arti to an isolated place where she was raped on July 20.  Shabnum is believed to have to consumed poison because of the social stigma.

Arti had shared the ordeal with her mother after which the mother-daughter duo, and one of their other relatives, lodged a complaint with the concerned police station on the same day. Next day, all of the boys were let off and then Arti consumed poison. Though a case in this connection was registered against Shabnum but she was not arrested by police. The victim’s family says that it all happened due to the negligence on the part of police.

Now the locals are demanding a magisterial probe in the case, claiming that they don’t trust police investigation. The SHO of the area, KD Bhagat, had allegedly released the accused school principal on the same day he was arrested and the police are allegedly pressurising the victim’s family to compromise. In this regard, a letter signed by several prominent persons of the area has been flashed to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for seeking his intervention and an action against SHO.

Another complaint has been sent to the National Women Rights Commission, New Delhi. The family alleges that the Netaji Subash Chander Academy where these accused are teachers and one of them acting as Principal, has registration for Tatapani with School Education department but the school is being illegally run at Khadgala (Kalakote). Again, despite strict orders from DSE, Jammu regarding the summer vacations, this school continued functioning during most of the vacation period.

The police claims to have arrested two more accused Aurangzed and Iftikar Hussain. And after the death of Shabnum, an FIR No.45/12 under section 363/376 and 306 has been registered on the complaint of Kamlesh Devi. Inquest proceedings under section 174 CrPC have been initiated by the police to probe the reason of suicide.

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