News Notes

Liberating Jailbirds

Mufti-Mohammad-Sayeed-profile-picAs soon as Mufti Mohammad Sayeed assumed charge as the chief of state, he panned his focus on pro-freedom parties. First he thanked them for the peaceful assembly elections and now he has asked for the release of political prisoners with no criminal records.

The issue of release of political prisoners is a long pending demand of all major pro-freedom groups of Kashmir valley. By striking this chord, Mufti has remained in news for his comments which is not going well with his coalition partners in Jammu.

Mufti said initiating a process of release of political prisoners would send a positive message across the political spectrum of the state adding that dissent in democracy makes the system vibrant and dynamic.

Even if the process of rehabilitating the militants who went across was started by the former chief minister Omar Abdullah but he couldn’t make his promises for this rehabilitation process. But now Mufti Sayeed has directed the DGP to prepare a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of surrendered and released militants so that they are integrated into the mainstream of the society of the state.

Significantly, Mufti’s instructions have come as another shock to the BJP whose leaders in the state say that they “will not allow it happen”. “Such things cannot go like…There are certain decisions which have to be taken at the cabinet and chief minister of a coalition government cannot take at the individual level,” said Ashok Koul, party general secretary (organization).

Meanwhile the pro-freedom group sees the initiative as a mere ‘eye wash’. Presently around 500 political prisoners, including former militants, are languishing in various jails across the state.

The spokesperson of one pro-freedom group has said the attempt is to gain political mileage and claims that only 10-12 political prisoners will be released.

Politicizing Guru

afzal-hangingMohammad Afzal Guru is dead but the politics over his name still continues. Be it to gain votes or to bargain with New Delhi, all mainstream political parties know how to sell the name of Guru. His family must be thinking when Guru was alive he never made any such big headline but because of the politics, he makes a headline even if it is a statement of two line. Long live the death politics!

Elections are over and the chief minister took his charge. It took two long years for the ruling party to say that the resolution to seek clemency for late Afzal Guru was justified and should have been adopted by the House at that time. But alas that time PDP didn’t react even if it was the strongest opposition of the assembly.

Now when the same party, PDP is ruling the state the Ministry of Home Affairs has rejected the demand that Afzal Guru’s remains be exhumed and returned to his family and termed the same as a “travesty of justice” and “paragon of inhuman standards.”

Now another issue has been raised by Awami Ittihaad Party President and MLA Langate Engineer Rashid that if Guru was cremated or buried after being hanged.

“It is quiet inhuman and barbaric that Ministry of Home Affairs is maintaining it is inhuman stand that Afzal Guru’s remains cannot be handed over to his family as he was buried, as per jail manual, in an unmarked grave. It looks eminently clear from the stand that there are apprehensions that Afzal Guru’s body has been cremated rather than buried.”

JK Judge

Janak-Raj-Kotwal-took-oath-of-office-as-a-Judge-of-the-Jammu-and-Kashmir-High-CourtJustice Janak Raj Kotwal took oath of office as a Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court at a ceremony held in High Court complex, Jammu on Wednesday.

The oath was administered by Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Justice Narayanan Nadar Paul Vasanthakumar.

Earlier, the notifications regarding the appointment of Justice Kotwal, received from Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice and the Letter of Authorization by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, authorizing the Chief Justice for administering the oath to the Judge was read out by Registrar General of the High Court, Kaneez Fatima.

A galaxy of audience including, Minister for Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs,  Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, sitting Judges of J&K High Court, Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Justice Tashi Rabstan, Justice B. S. Walia, Secretary Law,  Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu,  Shantmau, former Judges, President Bar Association Jammu,  M.K. Bhardwaj, Principal District Judge, Jammu, senior Advocates, Judicial Officers and Members of the Bar were present on the occasion.

Prior to his alleviation as Judge, Justice Janak Raj Kotwal was appointed as Additional Judge of J&K High Court on 8th March, 2013. He started his career as Munsiff Hira Nagar in November, 1982 after qualifying Kashmir Civil Service (Judicial) exam. He has served the J&K Judiciary in several capacities including, District & Sessions Judge, Principal District & Sessions Judge in almost all the districts of Jammu province, Special Judge Anti-corruption Court, Jammu, Registrar Judicial, Principal Secretary to Chief Justice, Registrar Vigilance & Registrar General of J&K High Court and Judicial Member, J&K Special Tribunal (appellate authority).

Awarded Academician

Shakil-A-Romshoo-----In recognition of his outstanding achievement in the field of Remote Sensing and Geo-information System, Prof Shakil A Romshoo, Head Department of Earth Sciences, Kashmir University has been awarded the prestigious National Geoscience Award 2013.

The award is in recognition of the significant contribution made by Prof Romshoo in the applications of Remote Sensing and GIS in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The award carries a cash award of Rs 2 lakh, certificate, citation and trophy.

The award is being conferred on Prof Romshoo by the President of India, Pranab Mukharjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi on 6 April, 2015.

An alumnus of University of Tokyo, Japan and Asian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bangkok, Prof Romshoo has worked in various national and international organizations before joining Kashmir University in 2004.

Travelled widely for academic interactions, he is the author of more than 100 national and international publications. Prof Romshoo has won several national and international awards for his research contributions.

He has earned membership of several national and state Advisory Committees/ professional bodies/programs. Presently, he is leading a research team in the field of snow and glacier studies in Himalayas with a focus on climate change. He is establishing the National Ice Core Laboratory for Himalayan glacier studies at Kashmir University.

Heritage Garden

Mughal-Garden-Nishat-Garden-SrinagarMughal Gardens of Kashmir are most likely to be included in the list of UNESCOs World Heritage Site, the central government said on Wednesday.

India has submitted a revised tentative list of 46 famous monuments/sites including the Mughal gardens of Kashmir for inclusion in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

Union Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), & Civil Aviation, Mahesh Sharma said in a reply to an un-starred question in the Rajya Sabha that the list was submitted to the World Heritage Centre in April, 2014.

Ancient Buddhist Site (Sarnath, Varanasi), Chilika Lake, Kangchendzonga National Park, Dholavira: A Harappan City, Mountain Railways of India (Extension), Silk Road Sites in India, Sri Harimandir Sahib (Amritsar, Punjab), Mughal Gardens in Kashmir are some of the sites out of the total 46 sites which have been included in the list.

Blocked Link

Srinagar-Jammu-Highway-blockedLandslides occurring due to fresh snowfall and rains forced the closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway for many days and thereby greatly distressed people.

Officials said the highway was closed after landslides occurred at Ramban. Around 100 vehicles that were allowed to proceed towards Valley after three days were stranded at several places of the highway.

“We allowed the light vehicles towards Valley after a landslide was cleared at Udhampur. However, the vehicles were stopped after another landslide occurred at Ramban. We’re making efforts to clear the highway,” IGP, Traffic Muneer Khan said.

The IGP Traffic appealed people to collect information from the traffic department before taking journey.

Closure of highway has left hundreds of Kashmir bound passengers stranded. People have exhausted their money and are facing hardships in absence of any help from the government.

“We have been stuck here for the past three days but no one from the administration has bothered to come and see what we are facing,” said Mohammad Yaqoob of Srinagar who is stuck at Jammu Bus Stand from last three days. Stranded include those on official duty from Kashmir.

Transport Minister Abdul Gani Kohli has directed the authorities to clear the highway as soon as possible. “There are hundreds of passengers stranded at Jammu. Government cannot airlift all of them at one time. I have directed the authorities to clear the road as soon as possible,” he said but was quick to add that if the highway doesn’t open government have definitely to provide some succor to them.

The frequent closure of highway has raised cries for alternative routes. Mughal Road connecting Srinagar to Rajouri and Poonch via Shopian and Sinthan Road connecting Srinagar to Kishtwar and Doda via Anantnag are two such alternatives.

Besides, the Vialoo tunnel that could actually serve the purpose of connecting Kashmir valley with the Chenab region is yet to get official nod.

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