Sarfu MURDER

In what could be described as a sensational case, the alleged suicide committed by Sarfu, a notorious trans-border smuggler, who, police claimed ended his life in the lock-up of the Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) at Miran Sahib on August 17 last, has turned out to be a case of murder.

A report prepared by three doctors at the Jammu Medical College said that the rupture was caused due to fatal blow in his stomach and it confirmed the exact cause of the death.

Sarfu Ram, 48, was found hanging in a compound inside the lock-up of the JIC during wee hours of August 17 and it was alleged that he committed suicide.

However, the post-mortem report of Sarfu revealed that his stomach and intestines got ruptured which caused profuse bleeding resulting- Peritonitis a blood infection that causes person to go into shock which quickly lead to death.

The custodial death was immediately reported to the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, who ordered a magisterial inquiry into it and adding two CID officials Head Constable, Kuldeep Singh, the Guard Commander at the JIC and Qadir Hussain, Sentry on duty were placed under suspension. Following the incident a case in the death was registered at Miran Sahib police station under Section 174 CrPC.

In a fake encounter recently by a Special Police Officer (SPO) and a Territorial Army (TA) jawan, the body of an insane youth was exhumed from the graveyard at Hari area of Surankote in Poonch district by police on an order obtained from the District Magistrate to take samples for DNA profiling as two families had staked claim over the victim.

Power TRANSFER
Finally the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced the transfer of the first set of powers to recently-elected panchayats in the state.

Chief Minster said his government had promised to transfer the power to sarpanches and panches and they have fulfilled it.
 
He said, “ There were apprehensions created by certain elements in the minds of sarpanches and panches with regard to the transfer of power but I announce the first installment of powers to the panchayats removing all such speculation in this regard.”

The Panchayats are also empowered with regard to regulations of buildings, shops, entertainment houses, checking of offensive or dangerous trades, construction and maintenance of slaughter houses, regulation of sale and preservation of meat and processing of skins and hides, regulation of sale and preservation of fish, vegetables and other perishable articles of food, regulation of fairs and festivals.

The Chief Minister said transfer of more power to the panchayats would be deliberated by the Cabinet and subsequently by the Legislature to make these institutions more effective and powerful.

He said Planning and Rural Development Departments are jointly working for the transfer of financial powers to the panchayats.
“I have interacted with panchayat members in some 40 Assembly constituencies and found them capable enough to shoulder responsibilities being entrusted to them,” he said.

Negotiations at LoC
For the soldiers manning the forward positions in Lam sector of Nowshera, it was unusual on August 27 when they noticed a huge group including women and children moving towards them. Fortunately it was 9 am and the soldiers didn’t open fire on them. They came and sat on the LoC. They were a family comprising two men, three women and five children.

Mohammad Ayub, 60 year old, who headed the group told the army officers that they are actually residents of Pukharni. He said they had migrated to PaK after being lured for jobs and a better life, which they claimed proved a hoax. They said they were civilians and wanted to return home. After the army officers informed their seniors, the decision was taken that they cannot be allowed to cross the line. They offered their full identities but were not permitted to return. This forced them for a sit in protest for around three hours. After they were refused, they finally returned.

Clashes In SMVDU
Clashes broke out inside the campus of Shri Mata Vashno Devi University (SMVDU) Katra last week resulting in injuries to 18 students and three security guards. The clashes broke out following an announcement during the fresher’s party of students. As the name of Ashwani Kumar Rao as cultural secretary of the campus was announced by the university officials, a group of students began shouting slogans and hurling abuses at each other.

Some students came to blows which resulted in injuries.  Parents have demanded probe into the matter, besides strict action against those responsible for instigating violence. Besides incidents of violent clashes between students, the recent complaints of sexual harassment and sheltering rouge elements has brought disrepute to the university.

It remains to be seen if the institution funded by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board comes clean on controversies surrounding it.

Eid CELEBRATED
On Wednesday, Eid was celebrated peacefully in the valley amid brief spells of protests, sloganeering and clashes between police and youth at a number of places across  Kashmir. After Mirwaiz Umer Farooq led Eid prayers, a huge group of people resorted to pro-freedom sloganeering while leaving the venue. The clashes between police resulted in injuries to a woman and a cop. Protests were also reported from Kawdara, Safa Kdal, Rajouri Kadal and uptown Humhama that falls in Budgam district.

In South Kashmir police and youth clashed at a number of places after Qazi Yasir led one pro-freedom procession in the morning. The protests escalated to interior towns of Malakhnag and Cheeni Chowk after police stopped some of the peaceful marches that started from different mosques in the town. Syed Ali Geelani, who had this time given a slip to police, led a huge procession after the prayers in Sopore. There were minor clashes in Aarmpora, Cement Bridge and town’s main square.

The protests and clashes were the result of the arrest of 73 youth during the night of Shab-e-Qadr. In the subsequent two days, police seized scores of motor cycles across the city. When CM announced general amnesty to stone pelters, some of the arrested were set free.  

Eid prayers were held peacefully at other places, including Polo Ground, Hazratbal and Sonawar in Srinagar where people gathered in huge congregations.  Police had massive deployment across the city and all the main towns in Kashmir. CRPF and police were deployed in full anti-riot gear outside mosques in the city.

Meanwhile, troopers of India and Pakistan exchanged sweets at two places on the Line of Control (LoC)—one at Chakan-Da-Bagh and another at Roshni Crossing in Poonch district to celebrate Eid festival. In the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri Pakistan Army had reportedly violated ceasefire by resorting to firing days before Eid and given cover to desperate infiltrators.

Rehabilitating KERNI
It was at the peak of the trans-LoC shelling that a large chunk of population living in 14 hamlets in the firing range were evacuated in 2001. They were taken towards the hinterland in the periphery of the Poonch town where they were living in a couple of make shift colonies. After the rival armies entered into an agreement calling for a ceasefire on the LoC, there were murmurs of sending back the civilians home. Well, before it could be executed, the earthquake took place that added to the problems. After consistently being demanded by the displaced population, the government – the armed forces to be precise finally took a call and sent the first batch of 108 individuals to their Kerni village on April 21.  Around 352 individuals had actually migrated from the forward village in 2001.

Army was planning to send the remaining in a couple of batches. But the villagers were not ready. They wanted to return home en masse. Finally the army conceded the demand and last week on August 26,  244 individuals were permitted to go back home. It was a formal ceremony involving the army, police and the civilian administration. The population went back drum-beating. However, they saw the village in a poor condition without water supply and electricity. The demand from the villagers is for immediate supply of timber and tin sheets for repairs and resumption of the basic supplies. Authorities say the road is under construction while they are awaiting approval to the proposals for reviving the basic amenities to the village. The only facility that the government has created is the setting up of a police post in the hamlet. Defence sources suggest the permission for residents of other hamlets to go back home will solely depend on the pilot project at Kerni. If the experiment succeeds, villagers falling from Mendhar, Mandi, Balakote, and other Poonch belts will return home in a phased manner. Interestingly, Kerni was depopulated on Eid in 2001 and they went home on the same day.

Hotel SEALED
Commercialization of Pahalgam received another blow when authorities sealed Grand Mumtaz hotel in Pahalgam allegedly for violating High Court orders of December 24. The seal follows the ban on constructions in the world famous health resort.

The team was formed by DC included Tehsildar and Executive Officer of Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) and was supported by a police party. The party also demolished some newly constructed portion of the hotel.

The grand Mumtaz hotel owner was also accused of cutting trees in brazen violation of the forest rules. “We find the hotel management has violated the orders of this court by resorting to construction and also by felling the standing green trees. Apart from issuing contempt notice against the owner, we feel it would be just to direct Deputy Commissioner to seal the Grand Mumtaz hotel by evacuating any guests staying in the hotel.” the Division Bench of the High court had observed in its August 20 order.

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