The Roughs In LASHKAR

Till date, people knew that Moulana Showkat Ahmad, the peacenik leader of the Jamiat-e-Ahlihadis was the victim of the crisis the puritanical party faced within.

But the report that Lashkar-e-Toiba sent to the all party penal that was investigating the May 8 assassination has revealed that murder was the handiwork of certain Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen militants who were, at some point of time, associated with Lashkar as well.

The outfit has accepted that some of its members were aware of the plan though they dissociated with it and even tried to prevent the happening.

But the report that Jamiat released in a two page statement last week is historic. Firstly, it is for the first time that the local political parties asserted to a level that even LeT felt somehow morally bound to respond. Though the assassinations have been carried out throughout the last two decades, usually militants enjoyed immunity and did not offer any clues or leads.

Secondly, the report has not, by and large, negated the investigations that the state police had carried out. Within days after the murder, police had revealed the entire conspiracy and arrested almost everybody who was within the valley. Already, they are in jail and the police have submitted the charge sheet.

Police as well as the LeT say the conspiracy envisaged hitting JKLF leader Yasin Malik as well. Malik and slain cleric were close friends. The two investigations differ on one count – while police says the arms were supplied by LeT’s Sopore commander who was behind the assassination, LeT says he was approached but he refused to be part of the conspiracy.

The Power HAPPENINGS
The biggest news in power sector in J&K government is that the owners of 450-MW Baglihar are finally being permitted to take over the project and run it. The flagship project of the state, it was handed over to the centrally-owned NHPC to run under an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract. PDC was supposed to pay NHPC Rs 148.20 crores for two years ending September 2012 but in wake of massive opposition within and outside the PDC the state decided against extending the contract to spill over to second year. It has paid NHPV Rs 70 crores and is unlikely to pay anything more. Right now, the PDC is in the process of managing a large population of engineers required to keep the energy producer running. Though it has four Executive Engineers, 12 Assistant Engineers and 15 Junior Engineers at Baglihar, PDC needs 103 Junior Engineers.

The second major development was reported from Ratle – the project that GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd is implementing on BOOT basis. While the constructions are expected to start from March, the latest development involves the design.

When the PDC handed over the project to the company on competitive tariff based bidding basis, a general belief was that its installed capacity is 690 MWs (230 x 3 units). The company, however, got a Swiss consultant and the new design is totally changing the design energy set up of the project. It can now have installed capacity of 810 MWs – four units of 195-MW and one unit of 30-MW. The project will be operational by 2017 and 35 years later will become a total state property.

Obviously, the third development is northwards – Kishanganga to be precise. While in the first hearing before the Court of Arbitration at the Hague, Islamabad did not seek any immediate favour, in the second hearing (August 26) they have sought a stay over the construction of 330-MW Kishanganga in Gurez-Bandipore. The verdict might be out by the time this newspaper is on the stands. The case of Kishanganga is being heard by a 7-member bench since January 14, 2011. The bench already visited the sites on both sides of the LoC.

Performance Par EXCELLENCE
In India all the lawmakers at state and central levels have special funds available for developmental activities. Though there have been demands by a minority to roll these schemes back it still goes on. Every MP has five crore rupees available every year. But for J&K, the story is different – the MPs are unable to spend it.

J&K has emerged the third worst performer on the Member Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) issue. Since the scheme’s inception in 1993, the cenre has released a cumulative amount of Rs 273.8 cr to the MPs (from both the Houses) from J&K under this scheme since its inception in 1993. If interest is added, the amount goes up to Rs 279.94 cr. The expenditure so far is only Rs 234.03 cr – only 85.47 percent.

In the 15th Lok Sabha is concerned, the state’s six MPs were entitled to a cumulative amount of Rs 36 Cr (Rs 6 Cr each) for three years and Rs 26 Cr is already released. But the expenditure are slightly more than 35 percent. Madan Lal, Ghulam Hassan Khan and Lal Singh are the top three performers and Dr Farooq Abdullah is the worst performer. Against the availability of Rs 215 lakh, he has spent only Rs 43 lakhs. Mohammed Shafi Urvi and G N Ratanpuri have actually followed their leader.

A Fierce ENCOUNTER
The season’s first encounter was reported in Gurez when a large group of militants from PaK was attempting to infiltrate using pneumatic boats in Kishanganga. The gun battle took place near the very famous Bagtoor village where most of the infiltration bids are reported. Apart from 13 militants who were mowed down, army lost 26-years old Navdeep Singh who was commissioned in March 2011 into the Army Ordnance Corps and was serving in 15th Battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry. Lt Col J S Brar, the defence spokesman said this was the eighth infiltration attempt in August and the largest in 2011. As many as 30 militants were killed in all the eight attempts besides half a dozen soldiers.

The infiltrating group was detected by Izmarg post in Bagtoor-Kanzalwan belt using night vision glasses and sensors. The river is de facto LoC at many places. Defence sources said the infiltrators were on two sophisticated rafting boats which were meticulously installed on two wooden boats.

Gurez valley has remained a highly peaceful border belt but it has vast stretches that were consistently being used by the militants to infiltrate into Kashmir. However, this weekend the encounter took place in this belt after a very long time.

Later, addressing the media Lt Gen Hasnain said that there are around 500-700 militants waiting at the launching pads in PaK to infiltrate. “The militant infra-structure across the border is still intact and the militants are desperate to infiltrate into Kashmir,” he said.

Panchayting KASHMIR
Ever since J&K witnessed massive polls for the Panchayat this summer, the newly elected lot of leaders is constantly in the news. Take the instance of a highway village in Kishtwar. A ninth standard girl was disembarking from a bus when the conductor of the same bus molested her.

As she cried for help, her mother rushed towards her. The bus conductor got out a sharp edged weapon and attacker her mother. She was injured. The bus fled but the word spread. As the protests started, the accused conductor sought refuge with a Congress Sarpanch. He mobilized his voters and the sarpanch led an attack on the Huller village.

It triggered tensions, stone pelting and police took three hours to bring the situation to control where the buses could ply on the road. FIRs are registered and the police are investigating the case.   But panchs and sarpanches are everywhere. And everywhere they ensure they are in news. In certain cases, they are source for breaching the routine. On August 8, eight people were injured when two groups of Panches fought while electing a naib-sarpanch. They damaged the office of BDO where the negotiations were taking place. In May, a newly elected sarpanch was caught red handed violating one of his voters in Udhampur. He is facing a police case now.

Many people are worried. One of the Sarpanches in Kashmir – Irshad Ahmad Pandit – in Sari Warpora Pattan has submitted his resignation before the local BDO. He said he was doing this in protest against a system that is ailing. “The system is in shambles. I caught store keeper red-handed when he was selling sugar meant for common masses in black market. Despite being transferred by the directorate, the store keeper continues to work at his previous posting. The system is totally ailing,” Pandit was quoted saying.

A Floating Post OFFICE
Sachin Pilot, the junior IT and Communications minister was in town last week. Apart from Pahalgam where the family spent an extended holiday, he inaugurated the revived floating post office in Dal lake. This houseboat docked near Boulevard near the Nehru park will be more of a museum. The boat was there prior to militancy as well but was revived with the return of tourists in good numbers.

Pilot had a series of engagements. He announced that the communication network along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border is being strengthened so that the mobile signals from across don’t get transmitted to this side. Residents near the borders would get set phones rather than cell phones if the land lines are not operational. On prepaid Short Messaging Service (SMS), Pilot said MHA holds the key.

Flanked by Agha Syed Ruhullah, Pilot later launched the Course on Computer Concept (CCC), a basic IT literacy course developed by DOEACC in Kashmiri language. They said the level of IT literacy in the State will definitely increase with the CCC launch. Language activists appreciated the initiative. At Rangreth, Pilot inaugurated Computer Forensic Lab at DOEACC Centre. The Computer Forensic Lab is the application of scientifically proven methods to collect, process, interpret, for providing a conclusive description of cyber crime activities. He announced the Rs 37 crores State Data Centre (SDC) will be operational by April 2012. It will enable consolidation of services, applications and infrastructure to provide efficient electronic delivery of different kinds of services.

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