News Notes

Shopian Encounter

shopian-encounter-pti-360An encounter between suspected militants and forces that started in Karewa, Manlo village in district Shopian, Friday afternoon resulted in death of an army major, one army man and two militants. Locals said that fierce gunfight has started and they were running for cover. Reports said that SOG wing of police along with army and CRPF cordoned off the Karewa, Manlo village after they received a tip off about the presence of militants. They added the militants hiding in the village opened fire on the search party resulting in a gunfight. They said that at least 2 to 3 militants were hiding in the village and forces had zeroed in on them. “44 RR, Police and CRPF personnel are part of anti-militant operation there,” they said. In the fierce ensuing gun battle between security forces and militants one major rank army man Mohit lost his life after being admitted to a local hospital in Shopian. According to latest report another army man succumbed to his injury. They added that the bodies of the killed militants are yet to be retrieved. Earlier police had said that all the three militants inside a residential house had been killed. Sources said that as the army personnel came near the residential house which was blasted, they faced a fresh firing from the militant side resulting in the injury to Major Mohit. Superintendent of Police (SP) Shopian, Showkat Ahmad Shah said that three militants were hiding inside a residential house among which one was a foreigner. The hospital sources revealed that Major Mohit had received critical bullet injuries. They added that Army Major died half an hour after he was brought to the hospital. SP, however, said that a militant was still alive at the encounter site and the operation against him was suspended for the night. “Two militants have been killed but the third is alive who resumed firing after some lull,” SP said.

Messy RIDE

It takes almost two hours to travel a distance of 12 kilometres from Pampore to Srinagar. The highway that connects rest of the valley to summer capital Srinagar is in ruins leaving commuters at the mercy of divine intervention.

In last one year, the stretch from Pampore to Srinagar, one of busiest roads in Kashmir, has undergone repairs, renovations, redesigning and what not. But the pain and agony of travellers has not eased. First it was the widening that took place on the problematic stretch that resulted in massive traffic jams. But before the project could have been completed it was shelved for good. Nobody dared to ask the authorities why the widening project, from Sempora to Athwajan was abandoned all of a sudden. Even the construction material that was scattered around the road, putting lives of commuters in peril, was left to rot there. Before anybody could have realized that the unattended material would prove fatal, it resulted in loss of two precious lives when a loaded truck took a sharp turn to avoid direct hit with the construction material and hit a passenger taxi. Still nobody bothered to move the unattended material as it remained their till weather eroded a major part of it on its own.

Then next came the much awaited double-lane project that was envisioned to ease the pressure on Pampore- Srinagar highway. But like all other construction works, this too proved a continuous and unending pain for commuters rather than providing any relief. The project got delayed many times as people refused to remove encroachments. Finally when the deck was cleared for construction of new highway, slow official pace and bad weather came to the fore.

One fails to understand why authorities carpeted the new road with stones and soil only to realize that there should be pipes as well for drainage. And the road was again dug to make way for pipes. When it rained it was like manoeuvring through Jhelum for commuters.

After almost 20 filling and refilling and one year later, the 12 kilometre long stretch is still a traveller’s nightmare. By the way this is the only road that can take critically ill patients from other parts of valley to hospitals in Srinagar. Let us pray that the pain ends soon.

Compensating DEATH

A day after a government teacher (Polling officer) was killed during a firing incident in South Kashmir’s Shopian area, Election Commission of India (ECI) Friday announced an ex-gratia relief for the employees killed or injured during the polling duties. “If an employee during the polling duty is killed naturally, rupees 10 lakh will be issued in his favour and if the death occurs due to violence then the amount shall be rupees 20 lakh,” ECI said. Rupees five lakh shall also be issued to the person who turns disable while on polling duty and if the same occurs due to violence then the amount shall be rupees 10 lakh, ECI added. Sources said that Rs 60 lakh have already been issued by the ECI to Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shopian as the ex-gratia relief to the victims. A government teacher, Zia Ul Haq of Hirpora Shopian was killed and five others were injured including 2 CRPF personnel and one police personnel were injured in the militant attack. The injured were identified as Sundeep Kumar (CRPF man), Vicky Kumar (CRPF man), Ghulam Nabi (Police man) and Manzoor Ahmad (Polling official). Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Teachers Forum and Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) Teachers Forum Friday declared that as a mark of protest all the government schools and colleges in Kashmir Valley would remain closed on April 26 (Saturday). Meanwhile, in Shopian district all the government schools and Colleges remained shut on Friday in memory of the government teacher Zia-ul-Haq.

Seeking Justice

SHRC-OfficeThe State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has ordered a time bound probe into the 1990 Hawal Massacre. At least 50 persons were killed after paramilitary CRPF personnel had allegedly resorted to indiscriminate firing on the funeral procession of Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq on 21st of May 1990. The human rights body was hearing a petition filed by human rights activist Muhammad Ahsan Untoo seeking a probe into the Hawal massacre and compensation for the kin of the victims.

 “Despite various communications addressed to DGP J&K, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and also DO’s from Secretary of the Commission, authorities are unmoved to respond to any of the communication of the Commission. In view of the insensitive approach adopted by the authorities, the Commission is left with no option but to entrust the enquiry to investigative wing of this Commission. The case is listed on May 1, 2014,” the SHRC order reads.

Untoo had also sought information regarding the killing of Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq and  Hawal massacre through Right to Information Act (RTI) before the office of the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir seeking “enquiry commission report” of the Hawal massacre.

  “However, there is no information with the department as to whether there was any enquiry either judicial or magisterial ordered by the government or not,” the reply against RTI reads.

In a related development the Jammu& Kashmir High Court has ordered the state government to file status report regarding the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the killings of the 2010 Kashmir unrest. A division bench of High Court comprising Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Hasnain Massodi passed the direction on a JKLF PIL for judicial probe into 2010 killings after it observed that a direction of the order of June 6, 2013 was not complied with.

 According to the order the court had asked the government as to why the Commission of Inquiry with regard to 2010 killings was going into 17 cases only and why other cases were left out from the purview of the Commission for 117 killings.

 The order said the State Government had not filed any answer to the aforesaid issue so far.

The court   granted three weeks’ time to the state government to file the compliance report. The division bench also directed the government to file compliance report with regard to grant of ex-gratia relief in 15 cases by the next date of hearing.

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