The Militancy PARANOIA
Return of militancy paranoia ended this week when Srinagar District Police made public that all 13 terror attacks that took place in the last 18 months in the summer capital have been solved with the arrest of three militants of Harkatul Mujahideen. One of them turned out to be the Personal Security Officer (PSO) of a Senior Superintendent of Police.
IGP Kashmir, SM Sahai disclosed that a constable of the Security Wing of J&K Police, namely Abdul Rashid Shigan, son of Abdul Ahad Shigan, resident of Lachhmanpora, Batamaloo was a kingpin of Harkatul Mujahideen guerrilla group that had carried terrorist strikes in Srinagar since last year.
Currently posted as PSO to SSP Bandipore, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Shigan had been arrested on Monday along with two of his close associates, namely Imitiyaz Ahmad Gojri alias Amir, son of late Ghulam Qadir Gojri, resident of Nawa Kadal, Srinagar. Sahai said that the prize catch, Abdul Rashid Shigan, had been operating under codenames of Maulvi and Omar Mukhtar.
The police claimed to have solved 13 cases with the arrest of the three militants, include high profile attacks on three ruling National Conference (NC) functionaries including Minister of Law and Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar, in which one constable had died. According to the details provided by Sahai, Omar Mukhtar and his group had also gunned down retired Dy SP Abdul Hamid Bhat of Firdausabad, Batamaloo, NC’s Block President of Natipora, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, ASI Sukhpal Singh at Safa Kadal, NC worker Bashir Ahmed of Dhobi Mohalla, Batamaloo and Inspector of Police Telecommunication Wing, Bashir Ahmad at Bemina.
Sources revealed that early in the morning of Eid-ul-Fitr, SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Bukhari, contacted Commanding Officer of IRP 11th Bn (Security) and requested him to provide 300 men including constable Abdul Rashid Shigan for duty at the congregational prayers at Eidgah. When the deployment reported for duty, SSP Bukhari picked up constable Shigan. He was subjected to sustained interrogation during which he spilled the beans.
During the course of investigations, it became clear that Abdul Rashid Shigan was an active militant of Harkatul Mujahideen outfit until 1998. Despite being a militant, he parted with bribe money of Rs 25,000 and got himself recruited as a constable in J&K Armed police. However, in a couple of years, he became a militant. During interrogation, police claimed to prove that Omar Mukhtar was directly in touch with his handlers in Pakistan.
The power-ful THIEVES
Last month, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, took a strong stance over the power theft in state. Little did he know that the son of his senior party member will be caught for stealing electricity!
On the directions of Omar Abdullah, a Special Enforcement Wing (SEW) was constituted to unravel the misuse of electricity by high-end consumers in connivance with the officers of the Power Development Department. And in such raids, in some commercial and residential areas of Srinagar and Jammu, various hotels and industrial units (having high consumption) were caught stealing electricity.
Hilal Ahmad Rather son of Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was caught ‘red handed’ when his company, a call centre of a mobile telephone company, was consuming electricity without any meter and was not holding any document regarding the connection. The theft was detected a month ago by the enforcement wing of the Power Development Department. The inspecting team had said the call centre was consuming electricity on a flat rate of 5 KW but when instantaneous load was checked, it was found that around 95 KW were consumed by the centre. Around ten 1.5 ton ACs, more than 100 computers and 150 CFLs were found working at the time of raid.
The authorities have deftly lobbed the ball in the court of ‘higher authorities’ to take a final call on the nature of action and penalty. The inspecting team had even ordered disconnection of the electricity connection but the owner’s arrival on the scene followed by a phone call to the Principal Secretary of Power, Sudhanshu Pandey who is collecting information on the issue to be reported to CM, ensured that all was back in order. As per SEW, some of the residential houses in Srinagar and Jammu which have been converted to commercial hotels have been found paying electricity on the basis of residential rates. In the industrial area of Samba, several major violations by some units were detected and penal action was taken on the spot. The violations were also detected in several establishments at Narwal and Transport Nagar which include Oberoi Service Station and Ajay Food Products, etc. During surprise inspection in Katra, the Special Enforcement Wing noticed violations in Katra Continental, Devi Grand, Asia Hotel, Hotel Basera, Hotel KC and Hotel Vaishnodevi. Even streetlights and water lift pumps have been found operating on illegal connections. In adjoining state of Punjab, Inspector General of Police is heading SEW and police officers of the rank of Inspector and DySPs are being deputed to the wing to deal with the offences under Electricity Act.
Plea For CLOSURE
The investigating wings of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) were clipped off when the state government asked it to dispose off the case on unmarked graves. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which is yet to take form, will now investigate the matter.
The state’s Home Department in its 27- page Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted to the SHRC maintains that most of the unmarked graves already stand identified by the respective police stations during past over 20 years. The remaining ones are mostly of unidentified militants who were killed in encounters with various security agencies. However, the Home Department maintains in the report that the government is open to further probe including DNA sampling to confirm identify of the deceased.
The special secretary to the state government says it has always been open minded and transparent on all issues pertaining to human rights and that any complaint or grievance by any individual shall be put to proper scrutiny and investigation to the satisfaction of the complainant. Pertinently, the SHRC launched investigation into the unmarked graves following massive campaign by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) which released a report, “Facts Underground” in March, 2008, alleging presence of unmarked graves in the state.
Subsequently, the SHRC had issued notices to the then Congress-PDP government asking it to set up the probe committee. In December 2009, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights, released a report on unmarked graves ‘Buried Evidence: Unknown, Unmarked, and Mass Graves in Indian-administered Kashmir. The report reads, “The honorable CM was pleased to mention that the government shall look into all the aspects relating to the establishment of such a Commission. The CM also raised the issue of setting up of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the meeting of the National Integration Council held in New Delhi in September 2011,” the report said. Incidentally, last year, Omar Abdullah had hinted at setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek an Indo-Pak joint strategy in form of a Jammu and Kashmir centric confidence building measures so that all aspects of conflict are addressed. Interestingly, the SHRC has asked for prosecution of the people involved in perpetrating enforced disappearance.
A Soldier REMEMBERS
One last time, the administrative commandant of Mhow station headquarters Col Danvir Singh took the salute on August 13 this year. He survived terrorist ambushes in Kashmir during three-month long thrilling military operation that his battalion undertook in the strife-torn valley.
It was 1995 when his 9 Sikh Light Infantry battalion was posted to Bijbehara in Anantnag, Kashmir. Singh was a captain and was commanding one of the companies of the battalion. On May 30 that year, the battalion commanding officer Col R R Gaur was on his way from Siroma to Bijbehara when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew off his Jonga vehicle. Col Gaur and four others were killed and the unit was left rudderless.
On June 16, the same group of terrorists fielded an ambush on a patrol party. It was an attack just after five days of the IED blast. Major P P Singh and N K Dev Singh were killed and four others were wounded. “During evacuation of the wounded soldiers in a private car, yet another IED blew off killing Sepoy Karamjit Singh. In retaliation, the forces started killed the militants one after the other till they found their Afghani commander Abu Hamza,” Singh remembers.
Abu Hamza was the local commander and the mastermind behind the killing of the officers and jawans. “On October 10, Capt Navratan engaged and gunned down Abu Hamza in an encounter that lasted for hours together. In a period of six months, the battalion continued to gun down a large number of terrorists and re-established the control over the situation,” he said.
“Had the battalion Subhedar Major not controlled the emotionally-charged battalion, it could have been disastrous. Also, the Subhedar Major who joined the Army as a sepoy is not well educated and his experience is limited to the battalion. But he is able to do what others can’t. Long experience of dealing with troops proves handy. It has taught that there is no substitute to the experience,” Singh added.
A Radiation ADVISORY
In a country where government has always been more conservative about the welfare of animals, this time they have again shown their activism skills. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has issued detailed advisory containing directions to various agencies to avoid the impacts of eelectromagnetic radiations from the cell-phone towers on birds and bees.
It is assumed that this advisory is going to benefit Jammu and Srinagar cities more where cell-phones towers were installed abundantly without following the norms. As per the rules, new towers should not be permitted within a radius of one kilometre of the existing towers and telecom service providers should share infrastructure to minimize the need of more towers. Above all, such towers are hazardous for humans as well. But the issue was never taken up seriously to lessen its effect on humans.
The advisory has asked the officials to conduct regular auditing and monitoring of EMR (electro-magnetic radiations) in urban localities, educational institutes, hospitals, industrial, residential premises and especially around the protected areas and ecologically sensitive areas. In addition, the advisory states that the problematic towers should also be suitably relocated or removed.
It has also been mentioned that the location and frequencies of cell phone towers should be made available in public domain and location-wise GSI mapping of all cell phone towers should be maintained which would help in monitoring the population of birds and bees in and around the mobile towers and wildlife protected area. The advisory also states that the security lighting should also be minimized to avoid bird hits.
The advisory has been sent to the Chief Secretary and Secretary, Environment and Forest Department of Jammu and Kashmir and other states of the country by Vivek Saxena, Deputy Inspector General (Wildlife Division) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, mentioning that an Expert Committee constituted by the Ministry has revealed that Electro-Magnetic Radiations of the cell-phone towers have been interfering with the biological systems.