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Amid protests over the alleged “desecration” of a temple in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the state government on Friday said an investigation of the shrine’s complex has found all its properties “intact”.

Jammu: Amid protests over the alleged “desecration” of a temple in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the state government on Friday said an investigation of the shrine’s complex has found all its properties “intact”.

A team of district officials carried out the examination of the Bhargashakha Bhagwati temple in Mattan area after posts and pictures alleging its “desecration” were uploaded on social networking sites by “mischievous elements”, an official spokesman said.

“After investigation and examination of the complex, all the properties were found intact. The main door to the premises was locked and keys handed over to the community members living in the area,” the spokesman said.

The Anantnag district administration has also appealed to people to ignore rumours aimed at creating trouble.

Meanwhile, Kashmiri Pandit and Jammu-based organisations today staged protests here over the alleged “desecration”.

The organisations, including All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC), Panun Kashmir, Jammu for India, and All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference, among others, demanded the registration of an FIR and the constitution of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to take action in the case, which they claimed was “downplayed” by the state government.

“We condemn the incident. We urge the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order a probe and bring the miscreants involved to book as they are trying to instigate communal tension,” APMCC Chairman Vinod Pandit told reporters.

He also demanded adequate security for temples in Kashmir.

National Conference Minority Cell President M K Yogi said: “Being the custodian of the Kashmiri Hindu properties and their worship places, the PDP-BJP government has abdicated its responsibility by giving a long rope to wrong-doers.”

Forces Fire Pellets In Eyes of Rajouri Kadal Youth

Massive protests erupted in Pulwama town on Friday. At least four persons were injured in the resultant clashes.
Reports said that soon after congregational prayers, people staged pro-freedom protests outside the mosques. As government forces tried to disperse the protesters using force, they retaliated by stones. Forces lobbed tear gas shells.
As the clashes intensified, the forces resorted to aerial firing. Soon more clashes erupted in Rajpora chowk, Muran chowk, Tahab chowk, Chatapora, etc.
The whole Pulwama town was engulfed by tear smoke.
The clashes led to closure of all business establishments, traffic went off the roads. At least four persons were injured in the clashes.
Residents of Chatapora said that government forces thrashed several residents, injuring many and damaged several cars in the area.
“The forces damaged cars, damaged houses and beat up people,” locals said. “Many vehicles got damaged during clashes but no one was beaten up by forces,” SSP Pulwama Rayees Bhat said.
Reports said that clashes broke out in Nowhatta and Gojwara areas of old Srinagar Friday afternoon. Scores of youth raising pro-freedom slogans were intercepted by forces who lobbed tear gas shells. The youth responded with bricks and stones. The clashes later spilled over to Bohri Kadal, Saraf Kadal and Rajouri Kadal.
According to witnesses, government forces fired pellets in the eyes of a boy, Arsalan, at Rajouri Kadal. He was shifted to SMHS hospital for treatment. Clashes were on in the area till late evening.
Reports from Sopore said that after Friday prayers, clashes erupted between forces and protesting youth. Protesters attempted to march from Markazi Jamia Masjid area to main Chowk and main bazaar area of town amid pro-freedom slogans, but were stopped by the government forces already deployed in the area. This resulted in clashes as the angry protesters pelted stones on forces who retaliated with tear smoke shells. According to reports, police resorted to teargas shelling and firing of sound grenades to quell the protests and push back the agitated youth. Reports said the clashes later spilled over to Batpora and Shah Dargah chowk of the town where scores of youth appeared on roads and started protests against the action of government forces on students and civilian killing at Kupwara.

State President, Shri Ram Sena, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajiv Mahajan demanded the government of India to immediately separate Jammu and Ladakh region from Kashmir and give Jammu separate statehood, Kashmir separate state and Ladakh as Union territory “to end discrimination with the citizens of Jammu and Ladakh at the hands of Kashmiri rulers.”
Addressing a press conference here today, Rajiv Mahajan said that “we have our own political, social and economic aspirations, which cannot be met under the 70-year-old Kashmir dominated dispensation.”
He slammed BJP for putting Jammu’s interests and development “subservient to the pleasure of Kashmir based political party for remaining stuck to power.”
Mahajan said that for the past two and half year of BJP- PDP dispensation, “Jammu has been the worst sufferer of discrimination at the hands of Kashmir dominant rulers.”
Mahajan said the partnership of the ruling alliance parties, BJP and PDP “sans unity with the result that the people of the State in general and the Jammu region in particular are suffering on account of development”.
Mahajan appealed the BJP national president Amit Shah who is visiting Jammu and Kashmir state on Saturday “to think over the plight of Jammu people who after providing splendid mandate to BJP in last Assembly elections has sent 25 MLAs to the legislative assembly are still depressed and are not getting their due share in employment and development front”.
“Trifurcation of the State is the only viable option that can meet the aspirations of not only the people of Jammu region but also of Ladakh and Kashmir regions.”

Addresses gathering at Jamia after seven weeks; Says students forced to take to roads because of choked spaces

Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Friday asked New Delhi to read the “loud message” of Kashmiri students who have been forced to hit the streets to demand freedom from the “forcible control” after the state government choked all spaces for peaceful demonstrations.
“Young boys and girls who are Kashmir’s fourth generation after 1947 are taking to streets now. They don’t demand jobs, packages or any other basic amenity but hitting the roads with a clear message of what they want,” Mirwaiz told a gathering at the historic Jamia Masjid in old Srinagar.
He was allowed to address the Friday gathering at Jamia after a gap of seven weeks during which the government confined him to his home.
He said the students including college and university going girls are protesting on roads now as authorities in Kashmir have choked all spaces for peaceful demonstrations.
“Our students were asked not to be part of seminars, peaceful protests, discussions within colleges or university premises. And today they are taking to roads with a clear message that they want freedom from the forcible rule,” said Mirwaiz.
“Spontaneous mass student protests and agitation across the valley makes it clear that every section and segment of the Kashmir society is actively connected with the sentiment. This sentiment has got embedded in our collective consciousness as a nation and drives us especially our youth to break free from the yoke of occupation,” he added.
He said the J&K government knows only one language—to muzzle the genuine voices through military might.
“It is because of these tactics that today people’s anger is visible on streets in Srinagar, north and South Kashmir. Kashmir’s every lane and inch is displaying anger against the forcible control of Delhi on Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said.
He said student protests were a “loud and clear” message to New Delhi that no matter how much military power “it will use in Kashmir to suppress the movement, people will continue to demand their birth right.”
Asking New Delhi for how long it will crush civil liberties of people, Mirwaiz said, “It is high time New Delhi accept the ground realities in Kashmir. It must initiate a serious dialogue on the Kashmir issue by involving Kashmiris and Pakistan, which is party to the issue.”
“It is time that the leadership of Delhi recognizes the fact and confronts the reality in an imaginative way rather than taking refuge in the often repeated self-deceptive statements and phraseology.”
Mirwaiz said that three former Army chiefs in their recent statements on Kashmir situation have made it clear that “Kashmir was a political issue and can’t be handled militarily for long.”
“But unfortunately, the government of India continues to adopt its rigid approach and wants to crush the genuine voices through military might with the help of draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA. At times, Delhi states Kashmir is a governance issue, the issue of road, water and power and these statements were made to befool the world community,” he said.
The Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman said that despite caging the entire Hurriyat leadership for months and years together, the “government couldn’t ensure normalcy.”
“Today, I am meeting you after seven weeks. Authorities barred me from attending religious, social, and political activities and confined me to house. In 2016, I was caged for six months—two months in jail and four months in house,” he said.
“Syed Ali Geelani remains under house arrest while Muhammad Yasin Malik often lands in Central Jail Srinagar. Hurriyat activists are lodged in Kotbalwal, Central Jail and even Rajashtan jails.”
He said even there was no space for prisoners in jails as “arrest spree of police touched all limits” but failed to break the resolve of Kashmiris, who remained steadfast despite the “worst form of suppression.”
He said much blood of innocent Kashmiris has flowed down the Jhelum and people of Kashmir are not happy over the deaths of soldiers either.
“The dance of death can only stop if Delhi looks beyond selling electoral dividends and its status quoist rant,” Mirwaiz said.
“To end bloodshed in Kashmir and establish real peace in the region, Delhi has to behave as a genuine and mature democracy. It has to seriously and sincerely engage with the people of Kashmir taking into account their political will and aspirations and simultaneously start a process of engagement with Pakistan and Kashmiris.”
Mirwaiz also raised pro-freedom slogans, which reverberated in the grand mosque.

The state meteorological department today said a long wet spell, with light to moderate rainfall and thundershowers, is expected in the Kashmir valley and is likely to last for a week beginning today.
The department in its forecast bulletin said rainfall of varying intensity was expected in the region during the next seven days.
The intensity of rainfall is likely to change on a day-to-day basis with “fairly widespread” rainfall expected on Thursday and Saturday and “scattered” downpour on Monday and Wednesday.
The department said the downpour was expected to begin today with a possibility of light rain and thundershowers occurring at a few places in the state, including in Srinagar.
The weather department said the downpour was also expected in the state’s Jammu and Ladakh regions.
The expected wet spell is caused by two western disturbance systems – one of which is circulating over the eastern parts of the state and another is approaching in its direction.
The Kashmir valley has witnessed unusually large amount of precipitation this year with several spells of heavy snowfall during the winter months followed by several back-to-back spells of rainfall.
The increased precipitation has also swollen the water volume of the Jhelum river, which had crossed the ‘flood declaration level’ earlier this month.

Say pellets and peace can’t go together; seek political solution to crisis

In Valley, the disturbing images of boys and girls in uniforms throwing stones at security forces without the fear of death send a larger message that the new generation is clearly caught in conflict between their personal and political aspirations. It also raises a question whether they are serious about their careers.
From nearly a decade, it just needs a trigger to mobilise protests in Kashmir. But this past week has been different as young boys and girls in their teens and early twenties are showing their outrage and alienation.
“We come to college to fulfil our dreams. We are not here to throw stones. We also want to become doctors, engineers and do well in life. But what has the government been doing with us? We are being alienated. We want peace and prosperity but first we want dignity,” says 22-year-old Tabish Parvez, a second year graduation student in Srinagar which witnessed intense clashes of students on Monday leading to a shutdown in the whole area.
Many believe that the government’s mishandling of the situation in Degree College, Pulwama, where security forces entered the college triggering clashes with students in which around 54 were injured on April 13, was a major mistake which led to the violent atmosphere. “The Army should not have been allowed to enter the college which resulted in clashes and led to this crisis. The situation was not handled properly,” said a senior government official. At the University of Kashmir, which is the highest seat of learning in the Valley having more than 7,000 students on its roll, student activism has been banned but the Kashmir University Students’ Union continues to hold protests within the varsity. The students who take part in the protests say they will continue to raise their voice in favour of the political resolution in Kashmir.
“We want that Kashmir should be like any other place- safe and prospering, but the way the situation has unfolded, pellets and peace can’t go together. The government has to engage in a political resolution. Who will talk for us? Today, every young girl and boy is ready to die,” says Sabahat, a 22-year-old student of English literature at the university.
Another student, Aqib Shah, believes that the political problem for the youth is a more serious issue for than their careers and economy. “Solve this crisis soon otherwise more the delay, more will be the trouble,” he says.

The state government directed internet service providers to block 22 social networking platforms to clamp down on tensions spurring clashes between security forces and civilians. However, a day after the ban was imposed, people found a way around the gag.

Kashmiris are turning to freely available technology to beat a government ban on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, undermining efforts to tamp down on the spread of videos and images that, officials believe, fan tension.

“Even before the ban was announced, we knew that there are alternative ways of accessing social media. It is common knowledge here as such internet bans were implemented earlier as well,” said Kashmir University staffer Zahoor Ahmad, one of many accessing Facebook on Friday, two days after the ban was ordered.

The alternative methods Ahmad refers to are virtual private networking (VPN) tools and encrypted messenger services such as Signal, available as open source software on the Internet.

VPN applications are gaining popularity in the Valley since the government directed service providers on Wednesday to block 22 websites and services, including popular messaging application WhatsApp.

Srinagar-based blogger Muhammad Faysal shared a list of more 12 applications that beat the ban in a tweet.

The government said the clampdown was necessary for ‘public safety’ after several viral videos depicting alleged abuse of civilians by security forces sparked protests.

“Rather than banning social media sites, the authorities should ensure that large videos or pictures are not shared. A person who cannot share a video on social media in Kashmir can always seek help from somebody sitting outside Kashmir. When you use proxy applications like VPN or Signal amid restrictions, your identity will remain hidden,” said Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst at Gurgaon-based Cyber MediaReserach.

Signal is a WhatsApp alternative, but with a heavily encrypted network that is hard to firewall by internet service providers.

Kashmir has been on the boil, with nearly 100 killed and thousands injured, since militant leader Burhan Wani was killed last year. Despite calls for resuming dialogue, the government has ruled out any talks with separatist elements. Violence spiked again this month after eight people were killed during an assembly by-election in Srinagar. A video clip from that day of a Kashmiri man being used as a human shield went viral soon afterwards, prompting anger within the people.

As the clampdown on social media spread, so did the word about VPNs.

“My friend downloaded Opera VPN on my phone. I was unable to access the banned sites before I started using the app,” said Omar Behzad, an employee at Srinagar’s Government Medical college.

Won’t talk with separatists who demand ‘azaadi’: Centre to SC about dialogue on Kashmir unrest

The Centre told the Supreme Court today that it won’t hold talks on resolving the unrest in Kashmir with separatist leaders or those people who demand ‘azaadi’.
The Centre made this statement while the top court was hearing a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association against the use of pellet guns.
The Association wants the Centre to hold talks with Hurriyat leaders. To that, the Centre told the court it will talk only to those persons who are legally permitted to hold talks on people’s behalf.
The apex court then asked the J&K Bar Association to submit to it the names of relevant people who can hold talks with the Centre. The SC further said it would direct the Centre to hold talks with relevant stakeholders in the state only if there is a first step from the people whose cause the Bar Association is espousing.
The Bar Association wants the armed forces and police to stop using pellet guns. Critics say pellets seriously injure people and cause them to go blind. Security forces have used and continue to use them in Kashmir during protests. Unrest and protests in the state began last year after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
The SC today said it would tell the armed forces and police in the state to suspend the use of pellet guns if it is assured stone-throwing protests will stop.
The court then scheduled May 9 as the date for the Bar Association to talk to stakeholders and to get back to it on the issues discussed today.

“We are from border area (Kashmir), our houses shops, factories and colleges have been closed by four months strike in J&K,” reads the pamphlet used by these persons. “We request you to help us because this is genuine case and you are our Indian brothers,” the pamphlet reads.

A few groups of people from north Kashmir are posing as victims of Kashmir conflict in Mumbai, seeking charity and bringing bad name to the state.
These beggars frequent around residential areas, colleges, hospitals asking for money by narrating concocted tales. Documents and photographs available with Kashmir Post reveal that these groups are from Kamthimag village, Magam Tangmarg, and Jumatari Manigah, Kupwara. They have named their makeshift tents as Jammu and Kashmir Strike Camp, displaying phone numbers 9419066791 and 7006904033.
“We are from border area (Kashmir), our houses shops, factories and colleges have been closed by four months strike in J&K,” reads the pamphlet used by these persons. “We request you to help us because this is genuine case and you are our Indian brothers,” the pamphlet reads.
A family of Manigah Kupwara is using their children to collect money. Their wards use the marks cards issued by Government Boys High School Manigah Kupwara for begging, pretending to be students who couldn’t complete their education due to conflict.
A family from Kamthimag Magam Tangmarg headed by Ghulam Mohidin Wani (38) s/o Abdul Rahim Wani also shares bank account number with the people, asking them to deposit money in the account. As this reporter, without revealing identification, contacted Wani on phone, he said: “I am in Mumbai and people here are donating to help us. I was rendered homeless during 2014 floods.” Asked he is collecting money in the name of conflict, he said: “Yes, and if you want to help me, you can transfer money to my account SB-94311 J&K Bank branch Magam.”
The children of these families are concocting stories as “how militants burnt our houses and educational institutions,” a group of Kashmiris told Kashmir Post over phone from Mumbai.
These beggars are increasingly being recognized as frauds by outsiders too. “In a Masjid they claim to be victims of army and in a temple they gather donations by claiming to be victims of militants,” said Showkat Ahmad, a Kashmiri who often visits Mumbai in connection with his business.

  • 3 Army men, including captain, 2 attackers killed
  • Civilian killed in Army firing on protesters demanding bodies of militants

Three army men including a captain were killed and five others injured in a pre-dawn fidayeen attack on army’s Panzgam garrison near Line of Control (LoC) in border district of Kupwara on Thursday. Two militants were also killed in the retaliatory firing.
A civilian was also killed in Army firing on protesters who were demanding bodies of militants.
Defence spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said two heavily armed militants stormed the army garrison at Panzgam, Kupwara at around 4:30 am.
“The militants were engaged by army men deployed in the camp in a gun battle. In the ensuing firefight, three army men including a Captain were killed and five other army men sustained injuries,” he said.
Kalia said both the attackers were also killed in the gunfight.
“The injured army men were evacuated to army hospital, Srinagar for specialized treatment,” he said.
The slain army men were identified as Captain Ayush Yadav, 26, from Kanpur, UP; Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar, 46, from Rajasthan and Naik B.V. Ramanna, 38, from Visakhapatnam.
An army official said the captain was killed when he moved to stop militants from entering into living area.
He said militants cut through two-layered barbed wire fencing of the Army garrison following which they lobbed hand grenades and fired indiscriminately.
Addressing reporters at Panzgam Army garrison, Lt Colonel Sorub Joshi said militants were observed cutting the perimeter fence of the garrison.
“Army men launched the operation at 4: 30 am when two to three militants were observed cutting the perimeter fence of the garrison. The Army patrol immediately challenged and fired on the militants, who fired back and started running towards the living area of one of the units in the garrison,” he said.
Joshi said the army men in the living area fired and pinned down the militants.
“The heavy volume of fire forced the militants to withdraw and they were chased to exit of the garrison. Throughout the operation, no militant was given entry to the living area by accurate and heavy firing from all directions,” he said adding both the attackers were killed.
Panzgam is the rear administrative area for some nine Army units in Kupwara.
Joshi said the search and combing operation was in progress.
He said three AK-47 rifles, nine magazines, 156 rounds of AK-47, one Chinese pistol, one pistol magazine, one UBGL and three grenades, three hand grenades, three matrix sheets, two GPS, one smart phone, two radio sets and some food items were recovered from possession of the slain militants.
“The recovery of one additional AK 47 indicates presence of the third militant. The combing operation is going on,” he said.
According to Joshi, the gunfight lasted for 35 minutes.
He said the third militant was injured during gunfight and left his weapon and was on run.
“The search operation has been launched to track him down. Several army teams were hunting for the militant in the villages near the garrison,” the officer said.
He said identity of the slain militants was being ascertained.
“However, material recovered from their possession indicates that they were foreigners,” he said.
Meanwhile, massive protests erupted near the army camp after the gunfight ended with locals demanding bodies of the slain militants.
The people of several villages living closed to the army camp took to roads and staged a protest near the army camp. Chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, the protestors were demanding bodies of the militants killed in the encounter for their proper burial.
The protesters pelted stones on Army convoy, which were moving in the area while the combing operation was on.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary forces were deployed in the area to contain the protests.
The protestors clashed by the force personnel by pelting stones on them.
As the protests and clashes continued, army men opened fire on the protestors causing death of a civilian.
The deceased was identified as Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, 57, son of Khazir Mohammad Bhat of Panzgam village.
His son Umar Yousuf alleged that the army men fired indiscriminately on the protestors.
“They fired directly on my father, who was standing here. They did not resort to baton charge to disper the protestors and instead opened fire to kill people. They fired on people without any warning,” he said.
After the killing of civilian, protests intensified in the area and spread to adjoining areas as well.

5th Major Attack In 2 Years
November 29, 2016: Militants attack army camp at Nagrota in Jammu, killing 7 army men including two officers September 18, 2016: Seventeen army men were killed on army base in Uri area of Baramulla district. All the four attackers were also killed.
June 25, 2016: Eight CRPF men were killed and 20 others injured when Lashkar militants attacked their convoy in Pampore area on on Srinagar-Jammu Highway.
February 21, 2016: Three army commandos, including two Captains were among seven security men killed in fidayeen attack on EDI building.

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