Locals Rename Chowk In Memory Of Youth Killed By BSF
On the fifth consecutive day on Friday the highway township Baroosa and adjoining areas continued to remain shut to mourn the killing of a local youth, Omar Farooq (25), by Border Security Force on April 9.
Locals assembled outside Jamia Masjid Baroosa after Friday prayers and marched up to main chowk where they staged sit-in for an hour.
A Hurriyat (G) leader after addressing prayer congregation in the Jamia Masjid lead the protest march.
“We demand probe in the matter, arrest of killers and punishment to the guilty,” the protesters said.
Other areas which observed shutdown include Tulamulla, Lar, Thooru, Dangerpora, Yangoora and Kurhama.
Locals at Baroosa announced that the Baroosa chowk is hereafter re-named as Omar Chowk. “We are soon going to install a signboard with photo and name of Omar Farooq,” a group of residents at Baroosa said.
Locals said that Omar Farooq of Baroosa was killed and two other youth received bullet injuries when a BSF party on election duty opened fire on protesters at Baroosa on April 9, the day when elections were conducted in central Kashmir.
Seven other youth were killed by security forces in Budgam district on the same day.
Two militants have been killed in an encounter that broke out in Hadoora area of Shuhama in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Tuesday morning.
An army spokesperson Col Manish Pandey said that two militants have been killed in the gunfight.
Importantly, Both the bodies and two AK-47 rifles have been recovered from the site of the gunfight.
Pandey said that a sanitization operation is going on in the area.
The issue of non-engagement of local technocrats and skilled labourers in the construction work of the Z-Morh tunnel at Sonmarg led to noisy scenes and a virtual confrontation between Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and National Conference (NC) leader Mian Altaf Ahmad in the Assembly today.
Senior NC member and former minister Mian Altaf walked out of the House in protest over the use of “unparliamentary language” by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu while replying to the former’s calling attention motion. Members of the NC and Congress also joined the walkout.
“A serious issue has been raised, let us go beyond the constituency and look at the overall scenario pertaining to the development of the state,” said Drabu. Having been unsatisfied with the written reply from the minister, Mian Altaf said that the promises made earlier had not been fulfilled. He said that the people of the area had cooperated fully and an assurance had been given that degree and diploma-holders from the Kangan constituency of the Ganderbal district would be adjusted in the construction work. The 6.5-km Z-Morh tunnel is a part of the Zojila tunnel that will connect the Kashmir valley with the Ladakh region. It falls in the Kangan constituency. The work on the Z-Morh tunnel started on November 11, 2015.
In his reply, the Finance Minister said that 300 local persons had been employed in the construction work. Of these, 150 workers had been engaged through various sub-contractors. He said this was in addition to the employment of 151 from the state, including 72 from the Kangan constituency and 79 from other districts.
Scenes of communal harmony mixed with resentment among a section of the migrant Kashmiri Pandits were witnessed today at the shrine of Ragnya Devi at Tulmulla, 27 km from Srinagar city.
Thousands of Pandits from all over the country prayed during the annual Mela Kheer Bhawani as the Hindu festival this time coincided with the fasting month of Ramadan after around three decades. A large number of local Muslims, ranging from street-side vendors and common residents to government officials, too were present at the shrine to welcome the devotees.
Keeping up with the traditions, devotees were seen making offerings of ‘kheer’ and flower petals to Ragnya Devi amid chanting of hymns and devotional songs. However, a protest erupted soon after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti left after paying obeisance at the shrine.
The protesting migrants shouted slogans against both the mainstream and separatist leaders for only doing ‘lip service’ over the return of Pandits. They also hit out at the government for ‘failing’ to provide security to the devotees as two Pandits were reportedly injured in a stone-throwing incident in south Kashmir last evening.
“The PDP and BJP are only doing lip service. Two devotees got injured in stone-throwing yesterday… how can the government ensure the return of Pandits in the present circumstances?” shouted a protester as others were pushed out of the shrine by the police.
As a group of migrants continued to protest outside, a few devotees tried to calm others who too were moved by the protesters. “We have come here to pray. It will be better to stay calm,” said a devotee. A debate on the row over separate townships for Pandits followed.
“I have sold my property after migration… where will I stay now? We are willing to stay at our former native places if we are provided land there. However, if you cannot do so, you have to set up colonies or townships for us,” said MK Bhat, a migrant.
While the debate continued with some favouring and others opposing townships, Kheer Bhawani continued to present scenes of communal harmony witnessed before the eruption of militancy over 25 years ago.
Waqar Bashir, a resident of the nearby Gulab Bagh area, said he visited Tulmulla every year to witness the ‘old Kashmir’. “For me, Tulmulla epitomises the old Kashmir when Pandits and Muslims used to live together in peace. Though some Pandits still live here, we get to see them in full glory only during Mela Kheer Bhawani. Pandits are the missing element of our society,” he said.
The spring surrounding the white marbled shrine at Tulmulla is famous for its changing colours. Devotees say the spring changes seven colours. They say black or red is not a good omen while light colours like blue, white and pink augur well for the future.
At least two dozen persons were injured in clashes in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district after alleged misbehaviour of policemen with students. The district authorities have ordered a probe into the incident.
The trouble erupted when the police stopped an overloaded bus, on way to Ganderbal from Safapora, for violation of traffic rules near Kheer Bhawani.
Students, who were aboard the bus, questioned the policemen for stopping the bus, claiming there were other vehicles that were not following traffic rules.
A police officer claimed the students asked the cops not to challan the driver.
“When we were arguing with the police, they misbehaved and even thrashed a few students,” said a student of Government Degree College, Ganderbal, who did not want to be named.
This led to massive clashes in the area and students pelted stones at the police. Cops fired dozens of tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
The clashes continued for many hours and left nearly two dozen people, including policemen, injured.
Ganderbal District Magistrate Tariq Hussain Ganai said that an investigation would be carried out into the incident. “I have ordered a probe. If anyone is found guilty, then action will be taken,” Ganai said
The National Investigation Agency has booked a youth from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district for his alleged links with the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) organization.
Sheikh Azhar Al Islam (22) son of AbdusSattar of Prang area in Kangan Ganderbal was arrested along with Adnan Hussain from Karnataka and Muhammad Farhan from Maharashtra by the NIA on January 31 from New Delhi’s IGI Airport soon after they had arrived from the United Arab Emirates. “He (Azhar) has been booked for IS links and sent to a jail,” Inspector General of Police, (NIA) Sudhir Kumar Singh told over phone from New Delhi.
Singh who is also Public Relations Officer of the NIA, claimed: “The investigators have found his involvement with the IS.”
Azhar is the first youth from Kashmir who has been booked by the NIA for alleged links with the IS.
Sources in the NIA said Azhar along with two others was held for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to “identify, motivate and radicalize youth and train Indian citizens, both in India and other friendly countries, to join the IS.”
Azhar, according to his family, moved to the UAE on June 1, 2015 after he got a job in a hotel there. They had said the family compulsions forced Azhar to look for a job abroad.
“His mother underwent two surgeries and family has lot of debt,” his family members had said, soon after his arrest by the NIA. “Our ward is completely innocent.”
Police in J&K had said Azhar is not involved in any “subversive activity.”
“Our records maintain that he was not previously involved in any adverse activity,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gillani, had told after Azhar’s arrest. “This is revealed in our preliminary investigation. We are carrying out further investigation.”
Pertinently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has time and again cleared that there is no presence of IS in J&K.
“At the grassroots, IS doesn’t have any leader or a commander in the State. Only a few people are downloading pictures of this organization from the internet and displaying it,” the MHA officials have said, time and again.
The third session of the Music Concert SaMaPa Aalap was held today at Sainik School Manasbal.
The music festival is being organised by SaMaPa (Sopori Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in collaboration with Divisional/District Administration, Department of Information and Public Relations, Department of Tourism, Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Radio Kashmir and Doordarshan Srinagar. The musical events are being held across Kashmir from 16th to 26th March 2016.
District Development Commissioner, Ganderbal, Showkat Aijaz Bhat was the chief guest on the occasion.
The programme was witnessed by more than 500 students and music lovers of Ganderbal.
Classical Music maestros Ustad Mazhar Ali Khan and Ustad Jawad Ali Khan lightened the function by presenting soul touching raags and classical songs based on Sufiana kalam.
Renowned artists Kaiser Nizami and Munir Ahmad Mir besides students from Sainik School Mansbal, Dreamland School Ganderbal and Boys Higher Secondary School Ganderbal also participated in the concert and mesmerised the audience by their performances.
Speaking on the occasion, Abhay Rustom Sopori said that the motive behind organising such concerts is to make students and youth aware about the heritage and culture of Kashmir and provide platform to the budding student artists.
DDC, Showkat Aijaz said listening to Sufiana kalam was a moment of spiritual elevation and thanked the artists for performing in the concert.
A senior police official told KP forces launched a combing operation in Wanihama Bala area of Shuhama in Ganderbal district following inputs about presence of militants there.
“The hiding militants fired towards the security men. The fire was returned by the troops. Both sides exchanged fire for some time,” he said.
The official said after the brief gunfight, militants managed to escape under the cover of dense forest.
“An AK-47 rifle was recovered by the security men during the search operation” he said.