The Kulgam CRISIS

A 30-year-old married woman, RuqayaBano, from Gujjardara, Manzgamalleged she was kidnapped and gang rapped in KheranbalBehak by soldiers. She was going for ablutions when she was abducted. Police quickly reacted and registered an FIR at police station DamhaalHanjipora. As protests broke out senior political and police officials flew to the spot and announced a Special Investigative Team (SIT). In presence of senior officers on Thursday Ruqaya narrated the entire story and claimed she can identify the two who played with her modesty. Police, civil administration and the army reacted quickly. A medical examination was carried out and the doctors, according to police have not found any injury. Her husband had told reporters she was left in the meadow and made her way home in a state of shock but would be able to identify her attackers.

In Srinagar, Lt Gen S A Hussnain himself addressed a news conference where he announced the army will cooperate with the investigations even though there is an internal enquiry going on. General Hussnain suggested militants may have staged the attack to incite public anger against the army. “Terrorists also use combat uniform that could resemble the army’s”, Hasnain told reporters. “We’ve conducted certain operations a fortnight ago in the same area, and the terrorists are under pressure. Therefore, this was something which was not unexpected,” AP quoted the General saying.

“There are different versions of the same situation. There are inimical forces who want to create a situation for the state government and the security forces,” IANS quoted the General saying. “There are emerging versions of this. There will be many new versions which will come in the next few days. Therefore, we cannot go by a single version. We are not foreclosing any option at all.”

Locals, however, protested in neighbouring Manzgam setting ablaze local magistrate’s vehicle and a scooter of a newspaper hawker.They were keen to go to the lady’s home but were stopped by police. Geelani’sHurriyat has already called for a strike on Saturday. PDP president MsMehbooba Mufti visited the lady’s home and waited for her to come back from the police station. She later returned without meeting her but talked to her over the phone. This, however, has angered local lawmaker MsSakinaIttoo who accused Ms Mufti of whipping the passion up.

Hey, Come to US!
The army repeating the past again creates unrest in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Army has sent a proposal to the MHA seeking “operational control” of the force as they did in 2004-05, but it was rejected then.

The forces, over this proposal, are divided into two factions, one supports ITBP and the other supports the army. The home ministry has not yet reacted to the proposal as they believe this move can have negative implications on the working of the forces. This can not only affect the morale of the soldiers but also has a potential to create chaos and confusion among the ranks of the paramilitary forces in general.

ITBP is against this proposal. Its official says it is a “disappointing proposal” and should not be encouraged but army and ex-army officials support the idea saying, it will help in better border management.

G K Pillai, the former Union home secretary, says that there is no requirement of army to intervene in the working of other para-military forces. He believes that army is already controlling many parts of the border and can be consulted at times when needed. So, there is no need of putting the entire force under army’s control.

Experts feel it is good to keep army away in the presently existing “peaceful” conditions. They say the forces should be allowed to act independently. Getting in army on the borders also means violation of Geneva Convention which says, no international border should be manned by the army. ITBP presently covers 4,000 kms of the Indo China border.

Explaining A CULTURE
Employee leaders have come to a new low. Their leaders recently said they will disclose the assets and wrongdoings of the bureaucrats if the government does not accede to their demands! Terming it “operation blue”, JCC leader Abdul Qayoom Wani said, is against the government officials for which, the leader claimed ground
work is in progress.

They have threatened the government that if within 18 days their demands are not met a token two days strike will be held across the state. He revealed that ground work on identifying the corrupt officials and politicians has been on and the findings would be revealed after August 6.The employees have been demanding release of arrears due under the sixth pay commission, enhancement of retirement age from 58 to 60 years, regularisation of daily wagers, release of housing rental allowance, conversion of COLA into DA since last year. The issue came to the fore in 2009 when employees took to roads.

Agreeing to their demands, the government reached a deal with the employees, promising the release of arrears by August that that year. However, the government did not keep the promise resulting in frequent strikes by employees. In April last year, the employees went for shutdown of offices for nearly 10 days before court declared the strike “null and void” and the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, motivated them to negotiate. Later, the government came up with a roadmap for the fulfillment of the demands, but JCC has already rejected it.

Qayoom might be able to get something for the flock he leads, but he and his colleagues have destroyed their credibility – if there was something left. In other words he is publicly saying they know all the mess within the government. They will reveal it if their interests are not taken care of. If they get what they want, they will keep their mouth shut. It is blackmail of a cheap order.

No More CARS
Following  the state government’s directive asking Kashmir university to end its  the financial crisis, the varsity has asked its departments to adopt “austerity measures” for bringing down the annual expenses particularly the hefty amounts on the purchase and maintenance of departmental vehicles. However the new policies are taking a heavy toll on the students too. As per the order from the state finance department, all varsity departments have been disallowed purchase of fresh vehicles.

Presently, the varsity has around 100 vehicles with a cumulative maintenance cost of Rs 60 lakh annually. The new vice chancellor had already taken a note in one of his first meetings. Now when the government has asked for an end to the crisis, the reduction in the number of vehicles is seen as the first and the foremost thing that needs to be done.

The order for austerity has been circulated to all the departments of the varsity with instructions to act immediately. Maintaining the ban on the engagement on contractual/ consolidated/adhoc /casual basis, the varsity has strictly called for an end to re-employment or extension to retiring officials. Currently the university has many retired officials holding key positions and many new posts which are occupied by retired officials both from the university and outside.

The varsity has also asked the departments to self finance up to 50 per cent the additional faculty positions they may create. The share, however, must reach 75 per cent within five years. That means more burdens on the students in terms of tuition and hostel charges that have almost doubled from last two years.

Fever FUNCTIONS
The eleventh hour indefinite postponement of the scheduled high level meeting last week, to select chairman and members of the defunct State Accountability Commission (SAC) and two members of the state Information Commission, was forced by the Congress coalition partner, the National Conference.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s ‘indisposition’, cited as official reason for cancellation of the meeting, is seen only as a fig leaf.

The meeting scheduled to be attended by the chief minister, leader of oppositionMehbooba Mufti, chief justice of the high court and two senior ministers had been planned about a month ago. A panel of names was circulated two days ago listing probable candidates for the proposed selection. Omar was accordingly asked to stand down and call off the meeting. The bill to establish the SAC was introduced in the state legislature in 2002 during the PDP-Congress coalition. The bill was passed and it became an Act, resulting in the formation of SAC in 2003.

However, after resignation of SAC’s first chairman, Justice RP Sethi, against alleged interference by the state government in its functioning, the state Government has been making recurring claims on re-constituting it.

Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission Act of 2003 was amended is known the “Principal Act.”

The Commission shall consist of a chairperson who has been a judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of a High Court and two members who have also been the High Court judges.

The former Chief Justices and judges under consideration include Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan, Justice VK Gupta, Justice Bilal Nazki, Justice SK Gupta, Justice Yash Paul Nargotra, Justice Bashir Ahmad Kirmani, Rattan Chand Gandhi and Hakim ImtiyazHussain.

Ahead of the crucial meeting, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had urged the government to intimate the committee, in advance, the names of persons under consideration, to ensure “greater transparency” in the selection process.

The PDP, is determined to subvert the National Conference-led coalition government’s plan of appointing Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakroo, as Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) even as it is likely to favour nomination of two former judges of J&K High Court—YashpalNargotra and Hakeem ImtiyazHussain— as members of the inegrity watchdog

Over To COLOMBOO
Kishtwar is becoming a favourite place for the sapphire smugglers. The police there busted an international gang of sapphire smugglers by arresting three Sri Lankans and their local accomplice at Hanjala in Kishtwar.

Last week a police team led by DySP Headquarters AbrarChoudhary intercepted the vehicle of smugglers at Hanjala towards north of Kishtwar town and finally succeeded in laying hands on the members of the international gang involved in the smuggling of world famous Padder sapphire.

From the possession of the smugglers, police recovered sapphire worth lakhs of rupees and the same was sent for quantification in the presence of the Magistrate. All the four smugglers were booked under Sections 4/5 of J&K Sapphire (Prevention of Smuggling) Act.

High quality blue sapphire worth lakhs of rupees, which they had illegally brought from Sonchan mines at Paddar, few kilometres ahead ofKishtwar town, and were trying to smuggle it out of the area in a car, was also seized.

The accused were identified as Mohammed Ikram, son of Abu Hassan,Mohammed Shah Bin Qasim Bin Hattar, son of Zaabur Bin Sultan Izakore, Akbar Qasim, son of Azhar Al Zehrat, all residents of Berola in Kalutara district of Srilanka, and Ramesh Kumar, son of Dewan Chand Thakur of Sounder Dachan, Kishtwar.

This is the first time when police have busted a gang of international gem smugglers in Chenab region which operated from Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hongkong and some other countries.

The involvement of some top officials of J&K minerals was not ruled out. As far as the involvement of employees of Geology and Mining department is concerned, Kishtwar police are still working on various modalities regarding the actual quantity of extracted Sapphire from the mines of SunchamPadder and for this Kishtwar police are likely to scrutinize the record of Geology and Mining Department for which necessary procedure as warranted under law is being followed.

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