It will document Kashmir history: Director CCAS

Archaeologists have discovered 5000-year-old sites and remains in three north Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara.
The 5000-year-old sites in many hamlets across the three north Kashmir districts were found during the first intensive systematic survey by a team of archaeologists and linguists from Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS) of the University of Kashmir (KU).
The archaeological discovery is considered significant as the discovered prehistoric sites are among the very few to have been excavated in the north Kashmir.
The team headed by Director CCAS, Prof G N Khaki during the 10-day extensive survey from March 8 to 18 discovered many sites and remains dating back to Neolithic, Megalithic, Kushan and Karakotta period.
The prehistoric sites and remains dating back to 5000 BC were discovered in Yembarzalwore Kupwara, Turkpora Bandipora, Harwan Sopore, Tregam Kupwara and Vizer Kreeri Baramulla.
Two prehistoric cave sites were discovered in Yemberzolware Kupwara and Turkpora area of Bandipora while Neolithic, Megalithic stone tools, terracotta tile fragments, coins, pottery and structural remains were discovered in Vizer Kreeri, Trehgam Kupwara, and Bomai, Harwan Sopore.
The CCAS team lead by Khaki comprising archaeologists and linguists Ajmal Shah, Mumtaz Yatoo, Afaaq Aziz visited many hamlets across three districts and found many remains dumped around the archaeological sites in these hamlets.
Taking to Kashmir Post, Khaki said the discovery would add and strengthen the documentary history of Kashmir and has great importance to the archaeologists, historians, researchers and academicians.
“With the discovery of materials we can further set the history of the Kashmir,” he said. “The detailed analysis of the material culture collected by the team will be published in the near future.”
Khaki said the material historical elements were significant components of any culture and civilisation.
The Neolithic Age is said to have stretched from 6500 BC to 1400 BC, and the discovered sites could be from around 5000 BC.
North Kashmir has remained one of the important migration corridors of Kashmir valley since 5000 years.
It has connected Kashmir to the outside world through a network of arterial routes leading to the Grand Silk Route connecting Kashmir to South and Central Asia.
Dr. Ajmal Shah an archaeologist and researchers who were part of the team told Kashmir Post that the archaeological exploration was conceived with the idea to unravel the settlements and migration routes through the study of the material culture of the bygone era.
“The discovery lead us to believe that Kashmir has great bearing on some important regions of South and Central Asia like China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan,” Shah said
The team wants the discovered sites to be protected and the antiques displayed in the museum for the benefit of the public.
“These archaeological sites are having richest cultural material pertaining to the Northern Neolithic Culture of the subcontinent,” Shah said. “If excavated, there sites will add a mine full of information about Kashmir valley’s cultural heritage.”

The former union minister Yashwant Sinha led track-II delegation held deliberations with different groups at Dak Bunglow here in north Kashmir on Tuesday.
Sources said the civil society members stressed upon the visiting delegation about the importance of settlement of Kashmir issue.

While conveying the visiting delegation about the pain and misery which people of Kashmir are facing since 1947, the civil society members expressed their deep concern over the lack of meaningful dialogue over Kashmir dispute.
“If Government of India is sincere about the peaceful resolution of K-dispute, then need of the hour is to show statesmanship and put all the efforts in the direction of resolution of the issue” said A R Shalla, a civil society member during interaction with the Sinha led track-II delegation.
He told the visiting delegation that “meaningful dialogue should be held with all the stake holders, including Pakistan and Hurriyat Conference, so that an amicable solution is possible”.

The traders federation Baramulla also met the Sinha led delegation and urged him to take decisive measures vis-a-vis Kashmir resolution.
While talking to Kashmir Post, General Secretary traders federation Baramulla said that he told the visiting delegation that despite efforts being made to suppress the popular demand of the people of Kashmir, the voice has emerged much more forcefully which reflects that sentiment can never be sidelined. “The peace in Kashmir is subject to the dialogue process with all the stake holders. If the effort is in right direction, aimed to settle the issue once for all then all can become a part of this effort” said Tariq Ahmad Mughloo, General secretary, traders federation Baramulla.
While stressing upon the visiting delegation to adopt human approach towards the issue, Advocate Neelofar told the visiting delegation that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had gone through tremendous ordeal and the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue would act as a catalyst in the prosperity of both India and Pakistan. “Meaningful dialogue over Kashmir dispute will pave way for peace in this region. If the present process is just to kill time then the people of Jammu and Kashmir will lose faith in the dialogue process” advocate Neelofar added.

The High Court has formed an expert committee headed by Deputy Commissioner Baramulla to ensure that no illegal structure is constructed in famous tourist resort of Gulmarg.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against encroachments in Gulmarg, a single bench headed by Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar directed Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and SSP Baramulla to seal all the illegal constructions after on-spot inspection of the tourist resort.
“A committee of Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and SSP Baramulla is constituted. The committee shall visit the Gulmarg within three days time from today. It shall ensure that no illegal constructional activities are carried at Gulmarg,” the court said.
It directed the authorities to seal the structure in case illegal construction is found to be going on the spot.
The bench asked the expert committee to file the latest status report about the visit and any kind of illegal constructions by or before the next date of hearing, which will be held in the week commencing from December 19.
The court has observed that Dal, Jhelum, Pahalgam and other tourist places have been facing the threat of extinction due to illegal constructions.
“Some persons are in illegal possession of state land. If there would be a poor man in their place, you would throw him out within seconds,” the court had observed and reminded the government of its duty to enforce the law of land.
The court has already stopped all construction activities in Gulmarg.
“If any person violates the court directions and continues with the construction activities, then the GDA shall forthwith seal such structure,” the court had said.
The court had also directed that no building material or constructional material shall be transported to Gulmarg till further orders.
The PIL was filed in 2012 by one Mohammad Rafiq Zargar seeking directions to save the Gulmarg and Tangmarg from encroachments and pollution.

44-held-in-baramulla-for-terror-related-activities-let-issued-warning-to-shoPakistan-based terror group Laskar-e-Taiba has issued a warning to the Baramulla SHO for facilitating an operation on Monday in which at least 44 have been arrested for terror-related activities.
It was a multi-agency crackdown in the old town of Baramulla in north Kashmir on Monday. After 700-odd houses were searched, security agencies seized petrol bombs, Chinese and Pakistani flags, LeT and Jaish letterheads, illegal mobile phones and other seditious material, defence spokesperson Manish Kumar said.
The crackdown was part of a joint operation by the Army, the BSF, the CRPF and police in 10 localities, including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj and Jamia, considered safe havens for terrorists
A large number of suspected hideouts were also busted during the search operation, Col Manish added.
However, according to locals, around 1am on Monday, the security forces jointly laid siege to the entire old town. “An announcement was made about the crackdown and people were asked to stay indoors. The personnel conducted house-to-house searches,” a local said.
Before entering the old town, the forces had sealed the bridges connecting it with the Civil Lines area to restrict public movement, they said. “The forces checked the youngsters for pellet injuries and similar wounds to identify those who had participated in protests and resorted to stone-pelting,” another local claimed. Sources said the crackdown was the first major one in Baramulla in more than a decade.
Police, however, claimed that the search operation was launched to nab militants. “We had information about the presence of militants in the area. It was an anti-militancy operation aimed at nabbing some Jaish-e-Mohammed militants who had taken refuge in the area,” Baramulla SSP Imtiyaz Hussain Mir said.

People irked over ‘Ban’ on night movement on HighwayThe decision of security forces to “disallow” night traffic on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway for the past three days has triggered anger among people, especially fruit growers.
While District Magistrate, Baramulla, Naseer Ahmed Naqash said no night curfew order was issued by him, commuters travelling on the highway and other routes accuse the Army and the police of not allowing them to travel during the night, saying the forces take the excuse of night curfew.
“The Army does not allow any movement on the highway after 9 pm,” said Suhail Ahmed, a resident of Baramulla. “The Army, which has erected barricades at various points on the highway, clearly told us that due to night curfew, they will not allow them to proceed.” he said.
Since the unrest in the Valley, people had been travelling during nights to avoid stone-throwing that has almost halted the traffic movement on the highway during the day.
In fact, the Army has also been moving its convoys during the night on the critical highway following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Recently, the government decided to restore the highway, with the Army offering to help the government in securing the road link.
While confirming the decision to halt the night traffic, a senior government official said the move was aimed at “countering” the separatists’ programmes in north Kashmir and push locals to travel during the day.
However, the Baramulla District Magistrate feigned ignorance about the night curfew. “There are no written orders from me for night curfew. They (security forces) must be doing it for security reasons for checking the vehicles,” the DM said. “As such, there is no restriction on the civilian movement on the highway and is open 24×7 and we are taking measures to provide security,” he said.
The Army also denies any such restrictions. “There is no such night restriction on the highway,” said Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col NN Joshi.Residents of Baramulla, Sopore and Kupwara said the Army and the administration were hiding facts and restrictions on night movement had caused them hardships.
The curbs on night movement have severely hit the fruit growers who were dispatching their truckloads of fruit outside the state.
“The fruit-laden trucks are not allowed to enter or leave Sopore during the night for past two days as security forces block all roads,” said Firdous Ahmed, affairs secretary, Sopore fruit mandi. “Because of the unrest, we used to dispatch at least 50 trucks during the night outside the state, but the restrictions have halted the movement. We are not able to move trucks during the day due to protests.”
Another fruit grower said the government had termed the industry as a backbone, but it seemed the whole system was messed up. “The halting of night traffic shows that the government machinery is in a mess,” said a fruit grower.

In Sopore, a separatist stronghold, protesters pelt policemen with stones in the day and keep “vigil” against their raids at night.

It is 11 in the night and the road near Sopore bridge is blocked by big rocks, branches and cement blocks. A few metres away, worn-out tyres burn bright in the darkness and young boys keep vigil.
“Where are you heading to,” the boys ask the driver as the vehicle slowly moves past them, flash lights switched off and both blinkers on — a signal to the protesters that the driver is a civilian out for urgent work. The boys look inside the car to ensure there is no policeman inside. “You can go,” they say, clearing a small gap in the blockade for the car to pass.
In Sopore, a separatist stronghold, protesters pelt policemen with stones in the day and keep “vigil” against their raids at night.
After the first two weeks of protests across the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, police have raided many villages in the night to arrest protesters.
To prevent arrests, people in Sopore have erected barricades on roads where youths keep vigil. A separate group of youths stay in mosques from where loudspeakers blare pro-azadi slogans. Their job is to make an announcement from the mosque if police tries to raid a neighbourhood.
“Police have intensified the arrests. They enter mohallas during the night and arrest youths,” said an 18-year-old manning a blockade. “This (creating blockades) has helped us to keep police away”. Youths keeping vigil at night pass the time by analysing the Valley situation and indulging in gossip. “The other day, some youths were brewing tea on a bonfire. Suddenly police arrived. The youths ran away and police took away the utensils,” said a youth.
It is not only in Sopore that the protesters have erected barricades to keep police away. Such barricades have been installed at villages in south Kashmir too.
At the “checkpoints”, youths every vehicle before letting it pass and question every passerby about his identity. If they get suspicious about the identity of a person, they demand his identity card, much like police or paramilitary forces.

The state government has been under pressure from the Centre for setting up separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits in central, north and south Kashmir. 

Land identified in Baramulla for Kashmiri Pandit colony, say J&K officialsThe Jammu and Kashmir government has finally identified a big chunk of land in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, close to the national highway and railway station, for setting up a colony for Kashmiri Pandits, officials have said.

The state government has been under pressure from the Centre for setting up separate colonies for Kashmiri Pandits in central, north and south Kashmir.

Officials said the state revenue department has finally zeroed in on a big chunk of land spread over more than 200 kanals at Kanispora Johema on the outskirts of Baramulla district. They added that the state government has held talks with the owner of the land and he has reportedly agreed to give it to the government.

Revenue officials in Baramulla told Kashmir POST that the land is being procured for a transit colony, like the ones the government has already set up for Kashmiri Pandit employees who volunteered to work in the Valley and were given government jobs.


Fresh snow adds cheer as ski course ends in GulmargThe Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) completed its sixth skiing course of the season at Gulmarg skiing resort in north Kashmir.
“The fresh snowfall brought in cheer and facilitated the IISM to complete its 6th ski course successfully. Today, more than 80 students passed out from the IISM completing a two-week ski course here in Gulmarg,” IISM Principal Col JS Dhillon said.
Speaking on the occasion, Cable Car Corporation General Manager Riyaz Ahmad Malik, who was the chief guest, said the institute was not only promoting adventure tourism in the state, but also helping local youth to gain meaningful employment as guides and instructors in the tourism sector after qualifying its various adventure courses.
Dhillon said the institute trained more than 500 youth every winter in skiing courses. “It has also trained youth from remote areas free of cost. Many youths, who passed out from the IISM, have become national champions and are likely to represent the country in international competitions,” he said.
He said the institute gave an opportunity to local youth to interact with several professionals and intellectuals, who come from all over the country to do ski courses. Recently, a three-year-old girl, Zainab, became the youngest to qualify the basic ski course.

Found in injured condition, animal dies despite efforts to save it

Rare musk deer spotted in north KashmirA Kashmir musk deer was spotted in the north Kashmir forests in an injured condition on Wednesday.
Also known as ‘vampire deer’, the animal was found in Baderkhal forests in the Wadipora area of Handwara in north Kashmir by some locals. Despite strenuous efforts by the wildlife and forest officials, the rare animal could not be saved.
The animal was in bad condition and had predator injuries, said a forest official.
Soon after it was spotted by locals, the forest and the wildlife officials rushed to the spot to rescue the animal. “Despite our efforts, the animal could not be saved. It succumbed to its injuries,” wildlife warden, north Kashmir, Mohammad Maqbool Baba told KP.
Kashmir musk deer or moschus cupreus (scientific name) is as endangered species. It is also listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.
The animal not only faces threat from shrinking habitat but is also high on the poachers list for its prized musk or scent glands.
Though native to Afghanistan, Kashmir musk deer was spotted in the trouble-torn country after nearly six decades in 2009 in the Nuristan region by researchers.
Asked how the deer had sustained injuries and how it strayed into the lower forest area, Baba said initial examination revealed that it might have been attacked by a predator. “The animal might have strayed into the lower forests due to cold and came under attack from a predator. When the animal was recovered, it appeared frightened,” Baba said, adding that a sizeable population of the species was found across Kashmir.
“Kashmir musk deer is an endangered wild animal, but we have a significant population of this species in the Valley,” he said.

Work on Baramulla highway at snail’s paceEven as the High Court has sought fortnightly periodical progress reports from Beacon, the work on the widening of the 7.5-km stretch of the Srinagar-Baramulla highway is going on at a snail’s pace. Though the executing agency has set the deadline of May 31 this year to complete the works and open the highway stretch for vehicular traffic, the Beacon authorities said blacktopping of the stretch would commence from the second week of March.
The work on the four-laning of the 7.5-km-long stretch from Parimpora to Narbal was allotted to Project Beacon by the Union Government seven years ago in 2007. However, the stretch is yet to be completed and since then Beacon has missed several deadlines.
Taking a serious note of the slow pace of work by the executing agency, the J&K High Court had on January 5 directed Beacon to complete the works on the stretch by May 31. However, despite the court’s monitoring and improved weather conditions during this winter, the Beacon appears to have gone slow. It is still engaged with laying non-bituminous layers and blacktopping is yet to start.
With vehicular traffic still not resuming on the new, but incomplete lanes, the result is daily traffic jams, particularly at the busy intersections and bottlenecks.
“For almost a decade now, this stretch is still under construction. It seems an unending process,” said Tariq Ahmad, a daily commuter from north Kashmir. He said traffic jams on this highway beyond Narbal and HMT Chowk had become a norm now. “The condition worsens one the Durbar moves back to Kashmir and tourist inflow to north Kashmir resort of Gulmarg witnesses a flip,” he added. On the other hand, the Beacon authorities said they were sticking to the schedule. “The non-bituminus work is almost complete now. From 2nd week of March, we will also start blacktopping from HMT Chowk onwards. Besides, we will also remove bottlenecks near Tata Fairdeal showroom,” said Brigadier Ashih Kumar Das, Chief Engineer, Beacon, which is executing the highway widening project.
However, claims by Beacon notwithstanding, the facts on the ground speak otherwise. The service lanes on both sides of the highway are yet to be completed. Besides, the central divider is yet to be constructed and its earth filling has also not commenced yet. “We are not yet touching the service lanes as it is going to take time. For the time being, we are focussed with completing the highway,” Das said.