News Notes


Marking Kousar Nag!

Kousar-Nag-ProtestsRecently announced Kousar Nag yatra from Aharbal route in south Kashmir, is in the middle of a brewing controversy with both locals as well as separatist camp up in arms against it. While the locals in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district clashed with police and CRPF on Thursday leaving more than two dozen people injured, senior Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for peaceful protests on Friday after prayers and a complete shutdown on Saturday against what he termed the yatra as “Narendra Modi’s Israeli-type plan of turning Kashmir into another Gaza.”

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Kousar Nag, a glacial lake in the mountains of Pir Panjal in Kashmir’s Kulgam district, serves as source to famous Aharbal waterfall and Veshav rivulet. The lake, acting as a source for various rivers and their tributaries flowing in the area, is responsible for the irrigation of vast swathes of agriculture lands and apple-rich orchards in Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts of south Kashmir.

All Pandit Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC), a New Delhi-based Kashmiri Pandits’ group, with the consent of state government, on July 21 had announced a yatra to the picturesque lake to start from July 31.

After sensing that the controversy might snowball into a 2008 Shrine Board like agitation – in which whole valley was engulfed in a spree of violent protests against the Indian rule leaving 72 civilians dead in police and CRPF firing – the Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday revoked its earlier order of allowing the yatra through Aharbal trek.

Four years back the yatra to Kounsar Nag lake was flagged off through Reasi district in Jammu – a two-day narrow and rocky trek through panoramic mountain range acting as a wall between the two regions of the state. However, the government’s order to allow the yatra through ecologically fragile area of Aharbal, this year, is being seen by the locals as well as separatist leadership, as an attempt by the Hindu right-wing government at the centre to turn the valley into a hub of Hindu religious tourism.

Save Kounsar Nag Front (SKNF), a group of locals and activists from Kulgam, have joined their hands to protest against the yatra, called for shutdown and a protest march against the yatra. On Thursday, when a protest march by SKNF to high altitude lake, was stopped by Police at Aharbal, clashes erupted between locals and Police leaving many injured. The locals have been at the forefront against the yatra and claim that allowing the yatra from Aharbal will be a disaster to the environment.

On the other hand, All Pandit Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) a Kashmir Pandit group, have termed the revocation of the government’s order as the “pressure of some elements hell-bent upon foiling the return of Kashmiri Pandits by stopping the Kousar Nag Yatra even after clearing it earlier”

“The order says trekking is open for tourists and not pilgrimage. If it was not a traditional route then how come the administration allowed it in the first place?” asked spokesman of APMCC Amit Raina.

At least 4,000 people are set to embark on the pilgrimage to the lake, said to be among the Valley’s purest, from Jammu’s Reasi district.

In his statement on Thursday, Hurriyat hardliner, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, called the move as “cultural aggression by Delhi’s communal forces.” He also took a dig at state government led by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for playing a “criminal role” by incorporating Kousar Nag as a tourist spot.

“It is an Israeli-type plan of occupying the Valley’s land and transforming Kashmir into a hub of the Hindu religious tourism,” Geelani said.


Boy-shownung-Palestine-Flag-to-Police-on-Eid-ul-Fitr-2014On Eid ul Fitr this year,besides remembering those killed, disappeared and oppressed in decadal long conflict, Kashmiris took out processions in solidarity with Gazans. There were protests everywhere; some of them biggest since 2010 anti-India protests. In South Kashmir’s Islamabad district, youngsters brandished ‘Save Gaza’ flags on their vehicles and drove around the town to register their sympathies with Gazans who are currently under attack by Israeli forces.

In Srinagar’s Eidghah, just after special Eid prayers, people particularly youth took out a protest rally and unfurled Islamic and pro-freedom flags. In order to maintain the situation, forces fired tear-smoke shell to disperse the protestors.

In North Kashmir’s Bandipora, as the Eid prayers concluded, youth took out a rally through main town raising anit-Israeli slogans. The day ended with people retiring to their homes with Gaza on their mind!

Kashmir’s ISIS?

ISIS-in-KashmirThe army on Friday said the surfacing of ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flags’ during street protests and clashes are a matter of concern for the forces.

Talking to media persons here, the GOC 15 Chinar Corps, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, said, “All I can say is in a forum like this, it deserves and is getting the highest security concerns from all of us.”

Since last month, the youths in downtown Srinagar have displayed the ‘black flags of Al Qaeda inspired group ISIS’, during pro-Palestine and anti-India protests and clashes.

The ISIS, also called as ‘Islamic State (IS) has been making headlines since it seized large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq and announced ‘Caliphate’ with Abu Bakr-al Bagdadi as its leader or ‘Caliph’.

On July 11, Friday, the ‘ISIS flag’ made debut in Kashmir during a pro-Palestine protest outside Central Jamia Masjid in downtown city. Since then, the flags have been displayed at least five times including once in city centre Lal Chowk during pro-Palestine protest by students.

On Eid day, besides ‘ISIS flags’, the ‘flags of Al Qaeda and Taliban’ were waved by youth in Eidgah area of old city during clashes with police and paramilitary.

At several places in Srinagar, the pro-ISIS graffiti have appeared. In Batamaloo neighbourhood of Srinagar, there is a graffiti, which reads: ‘Welcome ISIS’.

A defence official said there is no presence of Al Qaeda, ISIS or Taliban in Kashmir. “But many youth in Kashmir are embracing their ideology. A large number of youths are getting radicalized.”

Last week, the Northern Command General, also expressed similar concern over surfacing of ‘ISIS flags’ in Kashmir and said: “such things bother us.”

Cleaning MESS!

Mission-Falah-of-the-Army-in-Tossamaidan-firing-range-in-Budgam-districtThe army on Friday said the decision to vacate Tosa Maidan firing range lies with the committee constituted by the government.

Talking to media persons here, the GOC 15 Chinar Corps, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, said: “The government has constituted a high level committee in this regard. Any decision by the committee would be taken keeping in mind the interest of nation and people from the security point of view.”

The army has already applied for the extension of the lease. The Chief Secretary led panel so far has not taken any decision on granting extension of lease to the army. The panel, according to reports, is looking for alternative sites. The panel had met on Thursday, reports added.

The GOC also said that the victims of unexploded shells are being compensated by army. “We were saddened by July 17 incident in which Altaf Fayaz was injured. We admitted him in 92 Base Hospital and he was treated free of cost. The army would take care of his studies and other needs,” he said.

Geelani PROBLEM!

Geelani-on-EidOctogenarian Pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani has been barred from offering congregational prayers in public for the consecutive 17 Friday by authorities now. Of late, the state authorities have been maintaining that his presence in public has been ‘cause’ of ‘law and order problem’.

“August 1 was the 17th Friday when Geelani has been barred from offering congregational Friday prayers. The state authorities by such actions vindicate the popularity of the senior leader and stopping any person from offering prayers is the condemnable act,” Hurriyat Conference (G) Ayaz Akbar maintained.

Suffering from various ailments, the Hurriyat patriarch has been moving to New Delhi in winters while early spring, he comes back but, the routine affair of the authorities has been to place him under house arrest. Once Geelani lands in Kashmir’s lone airport in outskirts of Srinagar, Kashmir police, reports say, have been taking him under custody to his Hyderpora residence where a police vehicle is placed against its main gate.

As Kashmir celebrated Eid-Ul-Fitr, Geelani along with all top Pro-freedom leadership was placed under house arrest. For Geelani, it has been a routine now. Reports said that besides offering individual prayers, Eid prayer is mandatorily to be offered in a congregation in Islam, Geelani spends his day studying and the interacting with various delegations of ‘uninvited’ guests mostly that of youth.

Social networking site, Facebook, remained flooded with the pictures of Geelani showing youth passionately listening to him on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr when people were busy enjoying different feasts and visiting their near ones.

Nevertheless, the authorities are pacing Geelani’s apparent successor and his life time friend from remote North Kashmir’s Lolab valley, Muhammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai under house arrest. Like Geelani Sehrai too is not keeping good with his health.


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