The residents in Rainawari Monday alleged that police and CRPF went berserk in the area and broke windowpanes of their houses and also of the shops.
Youth clashed with the government forces in Rainawari near police station and at Vishwa Bharti College which was one of the polling booths for Srinagar by polls on Sunday.
Police had to fire tear smoke shells to ward off protesters who took to streets for the second consecutive day on Monday protesting the civilian killings on Sunday.
The angry police, however, hit stones at the windowpanes and the shops at Jogi Lankar in Rainawari.
“Police and the CRPF went berserk and broke windowpanes. They did it in 2016 summer unrest and this time also,” said a resident wishing not to be named.
The locals said that they had fixed new windowpanes after they were broken by government forces last year.
“Now we have to fix new windowpanes. We don’t know why forces are resorting to vandalism. It will only aggravate the situation,” said the locals.
Another critical; Protesters torch vehicle; Police registers case
Massive protests erupted in Brein area of Nishat Srinagar on Friday after a vehicle ferrying CRPF men for election duty hit a car in which two persons were traveling, leaving one of them dead on the spot. The condition of another person was stated to be critical.
Witnesses said the incident happened at 8:30 pm.
“All of a sudden, the bus came in reverse direction hitting hard a Maruti vehicle in which two persons were traveling,” witnesses said. “The incident triggered chaos in the area with hundreds of youth coming out to rescue the injured duo. But one of the injured succumbed? immediately.”
The incident triggered massive protests in the area while protesters torched the vehicle.
CRPF spokesman in Srinagar Bhuvaish Chaudhary claimed the incident happened due to “break fail.” “It was a public vehicle and the driver was a local,” he said.
Station House Officer, Police Station Nishat, Anzar Khan said one person died in the incident. “We have registered a case and started the investigations,” he said. Meanwhile, massive protests and clashes were on in the area when this report was filed.
The slain youth was identified as Muhammad Ashraf s/o Ali Muhammad a resident of Danpora , Brein Nishat
Heavy rains coupled with defunct drainage caused waterlogging in several areas in the summer capital hampering pedestrian and vehicular movement.
Waterlogging was witnessed in various areas of city-centre including Residency Road, Lal Chowk and MA Road affecting pedestrian and vehicular movement.
The problem was compounded by defunct drainage system in various areas of the summer capital. Flood-like situation was witnessed in several areas due to waterlogging.
Inhabitants of Khanyar in Shaher-e-Khaas expressed resentment over inaction of authorities to de-water the submerged roads there. At Baba Demb, the road was submerged in nearly two feet water.
Shopkeepers of different markets in city complained that waterlogging severely affected their daily business while some complained that water entered their shops.
Various localities at Batamaloo, Bemina, Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh remained worst-hit by water logging.
“We are unable to go out to fetch eatable. It is flood-like situation outside,” said residents of Moominabad Batamaloo.
They added that the dewatering pump installed by authorities in the area was not working as power supply remained snapped.
“At least, PDD authorities must ensure that the power supply is restored so that pump can work and dewater our submerged area,” said Riyaz Ahmad Dar, a local.
He added that in case of emergency, the locals have to pass through submerged lanes and by-lanes which are submerged.
Inhabitants of Shutrashahi said water has started to enter into their residential houses. Residents of Nundresh Colony-B Bemina said that the dewatering water pump remained dysfunctional since Thursday morning. “When we approached the UEED employees at this pump station they said that it had developed some technical snag. Later, it was fixed and dewatering was resumed,” they added.
Residents of Jawahar Nagar, Aloocha Bagh, Mehjoor Nagar also complained of water-logging in these areas.
Traders at Karan Nagar market said that water-logging hit their business activity.
“The movement was restricted due to waterlogging. As a result our business activity was sluggish,” said Gowher Ahmad, a trader.
Inhabitants of Gaw Kadal and Sarai Bala said drains running in these areas were blocked due to the waterlogging. They said overflow of water from drains entered several shops.
Waheed Ahmad Sofi, a resident of Qamarwari said despite forecast for rains, authorities were unprepared to prevent waterlogging. “When they knew in advance about rains, they could have pressed de-watering pumps to areas prone to waterlogging,” he added. SMC Commissioner Dr Shafqat Khan said, “we have pressed men and machinery into service and are doing our best to dewater the submerged areas,” he said.
He added that at some places, due to snapping of electricity, the pumps were not able to function.
Rashtriya Samajwadi Party (Secular) candidate Sajad Reshid today filed his nomination papers for Srinagar Lok Sabha seat where bypoll is scheduled next month.
Reshi, a resident of Bemina locality of Srinagar, filed his nomination papers as Rashtriya Samajwadi Party (Secular) candidate before the Returning Officer here, an official spokesman said.
He is the first candidate to file papers from the seat where the bypoll was necessitated due to resignation of Tariq Hameed Karra from Lok Sabha as well as PDP.
Bypolls are being held in Srinagar along with Anantnag parliamentary seat on April 9 and April 12, respectively.
Anantnag seat fell vacant after Mehbooba Mufti resigned as Member of Parliament to become the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per the Election Commission notification, last date of filing nominations for Srinagar constituency has been fixed on March 21, while scrutiny of papers will be held on March 22 and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 24.
Meanwhile, Srinagar district administration today issued magisterial orders asking licensed arms holders residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the district to deposit their weapon in nearest police stations against proper receipt and proper identification.
“The move is aimed at ensuring peaceful, free and fair forthcoming by-elections in the district,” the spokesman said.
National Conference on Monday highlighted the PDP-BJP Government’s “brazen and shocking discrimination against Srinagar” during the District Development Board meeting chaired by CM Mehbooba Mufti.
National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said the present Government’s statements about development and expansion of Srinagar had turned out to be mere statements and rhetoric as the city was facing the worst form of discrimination in terms of inadequate funds and lack of attention of the incumbent Government towards developmental projects initiated by the previous Omar Abdullah-led Government.
The National Conference General Secretary who is also MLA Khanyar said the injustice and discrimination against Srinagar was unprecedented and the PDP-BJP Government’s step-motherly attitude towards the State’s summer capital was evident in how funds allocated for Srinagar were shockingly and dismally lower in proportion as compared to other Districts in the State. “The glaring example of the raw deal given to Srinagar is that the Plan Size for 2016-17 for Jammu is 200 crores and for Srinagar it is only 100 crores which has also been highlighted by Kashmir Post and other publications recently. The tentative figure of plan development is proposed at 212 crores for Jammu and 102 crores for Srinagar for 2017-18. Is this not clear and evident indication of your Government’s discrimination against Srinagar”, the NC General Secretary asked the Chief Minister who chaired the District Development Board Meeting.
“The other glaring example of discrimination and step motherly attitude towards Srinagar is abandoning of the Syed Meerak Shah Road Project, the KZP Road Project and other core road projects that are vital for the city’s proper development and have a direct bearing on its economic activity and prospects. No progress has been seen on the Dal Development Project, or on similar initiatives for Anchar Lake and Khush-Hal Sar Lake”, the NC General Secretary added.
The NC General Secretary said the funds allocated for Srinagar are far less in comparison to funds allocated for other districts with significantly lower population and Assembly Segments. “We are votaries of equal development of all the three regions of the State and will not want any area to be neglected in any region. Sadly it is your government that is sowing the seeds of regional animosity and discrimination by perpetrating a gross injustice against the people of Srinagar who have weathered the brunt of the floods in 2014 and the turmoil in 2016. Rather than focussing on providing an impetus to Srinagar after the devastation of 2014 and the economic stagnation of 2016, your Government has shocked us by openly showing its prejudice against Srinagar. This is totally unacceptable”, the NC General Secretary added.
“The first and foremost demand of public representatives from our party is that the Plan Size for Srinagar should be increased to the extent which has been provided for Jammu District”, he added.
“The combined population of both Reasi and Kathua Districts is around 9 lakhs and the plan size of both districts is 300 crores and it is proposed as 313 crores for 2017-18. The population of Srinagar District is more than 11 lakhs and yet you have only allocated 100 crores for Srinagar District which consists of 8 assembly segments. We are not against any particular District’s development or the funds that are allocated to them and want every area to benefit from good governance and development but why are you discriminating against Srinagar? Facts and figures don’t lie and you need to answer and explain the basis of this discrimination”, the NC General Secretary further said during the District Development Board Meeting.
“Srinagar has witnessed remarkable infrastructural, economic and structural development during the successive tenures of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Mr. Omar Abdullah as Chief Ministers of the State. They laid the edifice for Srinagar’s growth and development and ushered the city into an era of rapid growth and development. Now the ball is in your court and it doesn’t behove you to treat Srinagar with such contempt and disdain”, Sagar said while addressing the Chief Minister.
“The Government should concentrate on widening and expansion of road networks, housing sector by developing housing colonies and giving free plots to economically weaker sections as were given by Late Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Dr. Farooq Abdullah. Your government should focus on promotion and safeguarding of heritage and religious tourism, development of civic amenities, on expansion of transportation and communication links, strengthening the sewerage and drainage system and the restoration of our water bodies which are pivotal for prospects of Tourism. Above all your Government should have focused on job-creating in Srinagar – as in other parts of the State as well – but sadly all we have seen till now are photo-ops and press statements – and that is no alternative for deliverance”, the NC General Secretary added.
On the announcement of an additionality in the Plan Size for Srinagar District, the NC General Secretary said – even with the additionality – the total plan size for Srinagar District was far lower than that of Jammu District and was not adequate or in proportion of its population and number of assembly segments. “We demand that you do justice with Srinagar and as the principal opposition party – we will hold your Government accountable against any injustice against Srinagar and its people and will keep demanding that all three regions of the State receive equal and equitable allocation of funds”, the NC General Secretary added.
The NC General Secretary submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister on this occasion highlighting the discrimination with Srinagar District and listing projects that were suffering due to Government’s inattention.
Raising a question mark on the PDP-BJP government’s Common Minimum Program that calls for “equitable and balanced development” of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir, the state’s summer capital continues to be ignored by the ruling dispensation while seeking the central funding for road infrastructure.
Indicating that development of Srinagar is perhaps not a priority for the J&K Government, the Roads and Buildings Ministry has sought a meager Rs 35 crore for Srinagar out of more than Rs 1800 crore it has asked from Government of India under the Central Road Fund scheme.
Sources told Kashmir Post that the R&B department has pushed for funding of more than Rs 1800 crore for 120 projects under the CRF for 2016-17. However, it has sought only Rs 35.33 crore for two projects in Srinagar—construction of 230 meter span second bridge over river Jehlum near Doordarshan Kendra and motorable Bridge at Natipora.
An official said this is sheer discrimination with Srinagar and the State Government should have recommended Rs 180 crore to “give the summer capital its due share.”
“Going by Srinagar’s population, its share works out to Rs 180 crore from Rs 1,800 crore,” he said. “It is surprising that Srinagar figures below 18 districts in the size of funding sought under the program.”
Another official said this clearly shows that Srinagar is being discriminated in road sector.
Srinagar is the second most populous district in Jammu and Kashmir, housing 12.5 lakh souls or 10 percent of the state’s population.
“Srinagar should have been given preference keeping in view the fact that it is the state’s summer capital and an important tourist destination. But it is unfortunate that the district is being ignored,” the official said.
He said Srinagar needs massive funding for road infrastructure in the wake of devastation caused to the sector by the 2014 floods. “The PMGSY and NABARD schemes are rural-oriented and their coverage in Srinagar is almost negligible. So, Srinagar also deserved preference under the CRF,” he said.
For some districts, the funding sought by the R&B department is six times more than what has been proposed for Srinagar, according to documents.
According to documents, the R&B department has submitted projects worth Rs 180 crore each for two districts of State.
“What is perplexing is that State Government has sought more funding than Srinagar for some districts whose population is almost 10 times less than that of the summer capital,” an official said.
Repeated attempts to seek J&K government’s comments proved futile.
Commissioner/Secretary R&B Rohit Kansal did not respond to repeated calls from this reporter while Minister for R&B Naeem Akther could not be contacted as his mobile phone was switched off.
After getting clearance from Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), work on the four-laning of Boulevard road along the Dal Lake is likely to be begin by March 10, officials informed.
Decks from resuming work on the four-laning of the road stretch along the lake have been cleared after LAWDA gave its No Objection Certificate to the Roads and Buildings Department.
“All the modalities have been fulfilled and now the work on the four-laning of the road will start from March 10,” said Chief Engineer, R&B Kashmir, Sheikh Abdul Hameed.
Sources informed Kashmir Post that Minister for Roads and Buildings, Naeem Akhtar also directed the officials to expedite work on this project during his review meeting.
Officials said that earlier the Roads and Buildings department has sought NOC from LAWDA for undertaking widening of road link from Nehru Park to Kral Sangri along Dal Lake here. “Funds have already been sanctioned for this road project,” the CE added.
The government has approved the project of four-laning the road from Nehru Park to Kral Sangri with an estimated cost of Rs 33 crore. The road would have separate cycle track which would cost additional Rs 10 crore.
With a view to ease traffic movement, the government has decided to widen road from UN Office Sonwar to Kral Sangri, however in the first phase stretch from Nehru Park to Kral Sangri would be widened.
The width of the road is to be increased by eight meters on the hill side, leaving the Dal side untouched.
The previous government had proposed to construct a cantilever on the Dal Lake to widen it on both sides, but after facing public outcry, the plan was shelved as environmentalists pointed out that constructing a cantilever would mean “encroachment” of the Dal.
“Four laning of the road has been undertaken under Central Road Fund,” said a senior R&B engineer.
He added that widening of road from Nehru Park to Kral Sangri was taken up first as it does not require much money for acquisition of land.
“As per our preliminary estimates, 12 shops and 6 houses are to be dismantled to pave way for widening the 5 km stretch,” he said, adding that 43 kanals of state land would be utilized for four laning of the stretch.
Further, the road would have a cycle track on European pattern. “It is for the first time that there would be a separate cycle track in JK and for that we have submitted a DPR of Rs 10 crore,” he said, adding that carving out a separate cycle track was the brainchild of former Chief Minister late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
The official added that widening of road from Dalgate to Nehru Park requires huge funds for acquisition as on the stretch many hotels, showrooms and shops are to be demolished for paving way for widening of the road.
Widening of the road, which at present is 22 feet wide, was announced by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on August 2, 2011. He had directed the R&B to start it on war-footing. But the work was not started.
After mounting public pressure, government on Tuesday afternoon opened the newly installed Bailey bridge at Mehjoor Nagar for vehicular movement.
The Mehjoor Nagar bridge was closed on February 7 for vehicular movement after one of its supporting pillars had collapsed. The closure of the bridge had triggered protests for several days by people living in adjoining areas forcing the authorities to provide alternative to the closed bridge.
Sources said that the Bailey bridge was thrown open for public after its completion on the directions from R&B Minister Naeem Akhtar.
“There were directions from the Minister to open the bridge and not to wait for further orders or any inaugural event. The Minister had asked authorities that general public must be allowed to take benefit of this bridge,” sources said.
Closure of Mehjoor Nagar bridge had severely affected vehicular movement on Rambagh-Jawahar Nagar route and its adjoining areas due to massive traffic jams. The bridge connects Syed Abad Soiteng, Lasjan, Padshahibagh, Gandbal, Vethpora, Bagander and its adjacent areas with the city-centre.
“The Bailey bridge was installed in a shortest possible time. The work on its installation began on February 13 and today it was thrown open for public. The bridge was constructed at a cost of Rs 45 to 50 lakhs,” said R&B Chief Engineer, Abdul Hamid.
He confirmed that the government had directed authorities to throw the bridge open for public immediately on its completion.
Meanwhile, residents of areas which were badly affected due to closure of old Mehjoor Nagar bridge expressed satisfaction over the installation of Bailey bridge. “The opening of Bailey bridge had come as a relief for us,” they said.
Memories of the killings carried out by Army at Zakoora Crossing and Tengpora in the city outskirts 27 years ago are still fresh in the minds of the eyewitnesses and survivors of the tragedy. More than 40 unarmed civilians were killed and dozens more injured when the Army soldiers fired indiscriminately on protesters on March 1, 1990.
Two massacres in a day on March 1, 1990 left 26 dead in Zakoora and 21 at Tengpora Bypass, as per the reports. The Zakoora massacre was carried out when protesters were on way towards the office of United Nations Military Observers Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to submit a memorandum-seeking resolution to Kashmir issue.
A detailed account of this massacre appeared in the March 31, 1990 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly of Bombay, which reproduced the text of “India’s Kashmir War” by a team of four members Tapan Bose, Dinesh Mohan, Gautam Navlakha and Sumanta Banerjee of the Committee for Initiative on Kashmir. The Committee members while holding Jagmohan, the then state Governor responsible for these massacres wrote that: “Jagmohan’s return to Jammu and Kashmir as governor signaled the unleashing of state repression on a massive scale. The government’s tendency to treat mass demonstrations as the handiwork of Pakistani agents and use indiscriminate force against the people has alienated the Kashmiri public from India and pushed them into the arms of militants. To make matters worse Jagmohan’s identification with the BJP in the popular perception and his pronounced anti-Muslim measures has widened the gulf between Pandits and Muslims in the state.”
The eyewitnesses and the survivors of these twin massacres of March 1, 1990 told CNS that these carnages still send chill down their spine when they try to recount them. “It was a time when people hit roads on daily basis. Protests were rocking every nook and corner against the repressive policies of the then Governor Jagmohan,” eyewitnesses said.
“Amid massive pro-freedom slogans over 2000 protesters clad in shrouds were heading towards office of the United Nations to submit a memorandum seeking freedom from India. A convoy of five Army vehicles led by three Junior Commissioned Officers was returning from Sonamarg to Srinagar but found the road blocked near the crossing. After exchanging heating arguments with local police when the later requested them to wait till road gets cleared near Zakoora Crossing, the Army men turned towards the demonstration and allegedly opened fire from three machine guns fitted over the vehicles. Eleven people died on spot while 15 others succumbed to their injuries on way to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura. All but 50 other people received bullet injuries,” said eyewitnesses who alleged that the retaliation from Army was unprovoked as protesters had not resorted to any clash or argument with them.
“The local police had little or no control over the affairs of the state that time and same was the case with civil administration and it was the reason civil administration did not visit the spot and the job to ferry injured to hospital was done by local population,” they said and added that Army resorted to unprovoked firing to demean the position and status of local police officials present on the location who had requested them to wait till the protesters passed off the road.
On the same day during evening hours 21 more people were killed when Army targeted two buses near Tengpora Bypass in Batamaloo area of Srinagar city. The dead included five women. Eyewitnesses said that the passenger buses were on way to South Kashmir when they were targeted. “Some of people were chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans on the roof top of these buses. It was their only crime they were targeted,” said one of the witnesses.
The twin massacres sparked widespread protests across Kashmir while authorities imposed curfew to diffuse the volatile situation. The global human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued an appeal for urgent action on Tengpora and Zakoora massacres; however, no action was initiated against anyone. The victim families still await for justice.
Of 119 projects submitted by the J&K Government to New Delhi for funding under the Central Road Fund scheme, only two projects for Srinagar district figure in the list, indicating how much the development of J&K’s summer capital is the priority of the PDP-led Government.
The information disclosed by the Roads & Buildings department in the recently- concluded Assembly Session reveals that the State Government sought Rs 35 crore for Srinagar out of more than Rs 1700 crore it asked from the Government of India under the CRF scheme.
According to the information, the R&B department has pushed for funding of more than Rs 1700 crore for 119 projects under the CRF for 2016-17. However, the State has sought only Rs 35.33 crore for just two projects in Srinagar: construction of 230 meter span second bridge over river Jehlum near Doordarshan Kendra and motorable Bridge at Natipora.
An official said the State Government should have at least recommended Rs 170 crore for Srinagar to “give the state’s summer capital its due share.”
“Going by the population norms, the share of Srinagar works out to Rs 170 crore from Rs 1,700 crore,” he said. “It is surprising that Srinagar figures below 18 districts in the size of funding.”
Another official said this clearly shows that Srinagar is being discriminated in road sector.
Srinagar is the second most populous district of Jammu and Kashmir, housing 12.5 lakh souls or 10 percent of the state’s population.
“Srinagar should have been given preference keeping in view the fact that it is the state’s summer capital and an important tourist destination. But it is unfortunate that the district is being neglected,” the official said.
He said Srinagar needs massive funding for road infrastructure in the wake of devastation caused to the sector by the 2014 floods.
“The coverage of Srinagar district under PMGSY and NABARD is almost negligible given that these schemes are rural-specific. So Srinagar should have been given preference under the CRF,” he said.
For some districts, the funding sought by the R&B department is six times more than what has been proposed for Srinagar.
According to documents, the R&B has submitted projects worth Rs 180 crore each for two districts.
“What is more perplexing is that State Government has sought more funding than Srinagar for some districts whose population is almost 10 times less than the summer capital,” an official said.
When asked why the State Government sought less funding for Srinagar, the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Abdur Rehman Veeri, said the funding under the scheme is sought region-wise.
“We have sought equal funding for Jammu and Kashmir regions,” he told Kashmir Post on Thursday. “We don’t seek district-wise funding under the program.”
A senior official in R&B department said they might have to re-fix priorities under CRF as Centre has agreed to the funding of Rs 1000 crore only under the program.
“The issue of CRF funding was discussed in the meeting held between Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union Road Minister Nitin Gadkari earlier this month,” he said.
When contacted, Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings department Abdul Hamid said they have submitted projects to the Government as per need.
“There is no question of disparity,” he said.