Normalcy returned in Kashmir valley today after three days of restrictions and strike in the aftermath of killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat in an encounter with government forces.
There were no restrictions anywhere in Kashmir, officials said, adding life was going on normally across the valley.
Shops, offices, fuel stations and other business establishments opened here this morning, while public transport resumed after three days, the officials said.
They said similar reports of restoration of normalcy were received from other districts of the valley except Pulwama district where markets got closed after forces resorted to shelling stone-throwing protesters.
However, the officials said class work in all schools and colleges in the districts of Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama and Budgam has been suspended for the day as a precautionary measure.
They said all higher secondary schools and colleges in Srinagar have also been closed for today.
The class work in few higher secondary schools and colleges in the districts of Ganderbal and Kupwara has also been suspended for the day, but university-level examinations were being conducted as per the schedule, the officials said.
The authorities restored the outgoing call facility on prepaid numbers last night, but mobile Internet services continued to remain suspended across the valley as a precautionary measure.
Curfew-like restrictions were imposed on Sunday in the districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian all in south Kashmir, as also in seven police station areas of Srinagar and in Sopore township in north Kashmir.
The restrictions were placed following the killing of Sabzar and his colleague in the encounter in Soimoh area of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district a day earlier.
The restrictions continued till yesterday.
Separatist groups had called for a two-day strike from Sunday and had asked people to march to Tral on Tuesday to pay tributes to the slain militants.
The moon, marking the beginning of the Islamic month of Ramazan, was not sighted on Friday and the first day of the holy month will now fall on Sunday (May 28).
The announcement was made by the Chairman of Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Pakistan, Mufti Munibur Rehman, in a press conference held after the conclusion of an official meeting of the committee on Friday in the federal capital.
The Chairman Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee said that no witnesses regarding the moon sighting were received from across the country. “The Holy month of Ramazan would now begin from May 28.
Keeping it ‘discrimination tradition’ alive, Jammu Kashmir Government has sanctioned more funds to Jammu Division as compared to Kashmir to implement different schemes under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for current financial year 2017-18.
Well placed sources told news agency CNS that Rs 374 crore has gone into the kitty of Jammu Divisions while peanuts (Rs 178 crore) have been sanctioned for Kashmir Division. The ironical part is that as compared to whooping Rs 55 crore sanctioned to Jammu district, Srinagar has been awarded only Rs one crore.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act” (or, MGNREGA), is a labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Sources said that Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department in a bid to implement MGNREGA schemes in Jammu and Kashmir has sanctioned Rs 570 crore out of which Jammu has got Rs 374 crore, Kashmir Rs 178 crore and Rs 18 crore has been sanctioned for the Ladakh region.
The fund distribution district wise data reveals that Srinagar has been allotted Rs one crore, Jammu Rs 55 crore, Anantnag Rs 45 crore, Budgam 12 crore, Bandipora 6 crore, Baramulla 18 crore, Ganderbal 13 crore, Kulgam and Kupwara Rs 33 crore each, Pulwama 10 crore, Shopian 7 crore, Samba Rs 6 crore, Reasi Rs 30 crore, Kathua Rs 18 crore, Kishtwar Rs 70 crore, Poonch Rs 37 crore, Rajouri Rs 56 crore, Ramban 12 crore, Udhampur Rs 20 crore, Kargil Rs 6 crore and Leh has been allotted Rs 12 crore.
Kashmir based employees have castigated Rural Development Ministry for resorting to this discrimination. The said that major gap in fund distribution is aimed at to provide salaries to those people in Jammu who have illegally been adjusted in the department.
“The funds that are made available to Block Development Offices are being spent on the official tours of bureaucrats and ministers. The expenditure incurring on the tour and travels of these top officials is borne by employees working under MGNREGA,” they said.
After coming under fire for having a dialogue with Hurriyat leaders, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Friday asserted that it was conveyed to him that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message that ‘terror and tourism cannot go together’ has ruined tourism industries in Jammu and Kashmir this year.
Speaking to ANI here, Aiyar said, “The tour operators of the Valley were present in the meeting with the Hurriyat leaders and they told me that Modi’s message that terror and tourism cannot go together has ruined tourism industries in this valley this year. He has inflicted untold harm by going around proclaiming that the valley has nothing to offer but terror.”
Talking about his meeting, the senior Congress leader further said that now he was more convinced that the situation in the Valley is extremely grave and that corrective actions need to be taken sooner than later, otherwise much bigger problems will surface.
In an effort to resume dialogue with the stakeholders in Kashmir, five-member delegation led by Aiyar yesterday called on moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and discussed ways to calm down the protestors.
The delegation discussed the prevailing situation in the Valley and the necessary steps to be initiated for bringing peace in Kashmir, which has been marred by violent protests since July 2016.
Considering the situation very critical where students and youth have joined the protests, Aiyar insisted that the Central Government should hold dialogue with all the stakeholders in Kashmir as it would bring enduring solutions by bringing peace in the Valley as well as reduce tensions between India and Pakistan.
Aiyar also showed his willingness to meet the pro-independence JKLF chief Yasin Malik, but he refused to meet the delegation.
The meetings with Hurriyat leaders assume significance after the group insisted that the Central Government should hold talks with Pakistan including separatists for resolution of the Kashmir issue.
However, Reacting on the Supreme Court orders, wherein it asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) to take to various stakeholders and consider their opinion in connection with the plea against the use of pellet guns in the state, the Centre on April 28th categorically said that it would not talk to people who were separatist leaders and those who talk of ‘Azaadi’ and freedom
Jammu and Kashmir police has arrested three drug peddlers and recovered over half a kilogram of contraband substance from their possession in Central Kashmir’s Srinagar and Budgam districts.
“A police party of police Station Lal Bazar apprehended two drug peddlers, identified as Nazir Ahmad Khan and Mehraj-u-Din Wani during naka checking at Zahidpora, Hawal. Police recovered 100 grams of Charas from their possession,” said a spokesman
A case FIR number 19/2017 under section 8/21 NDPS Act has been registered against them and further investigation has been taken up.
A patrolling party of police station Magam in District Budgam noticed suspicious movement of a man at bus stand Magam.
“The suspect was immediately apprehended and on his checking police recovered 550 grams of Charas. The accused was later identified as Ghulam Qadir Ganie son of Ghulam Rasool Ganie a resident of Batpora Magam.”
A case FIR number 61/2017 under section 8/20 NDPS Act stands registered against him and investigation has been taken up.
Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, which the police have described as a militancy-free zone for more than a decade, is apparently witnessing a fresh recruitment of locals as the gun-totting image of an 18-year-old Srinagar boy has gone viral on social media in the past 24 hours.
Wearing army fatigues, pictures of Tufail Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar’s Qamarwari area, apparently circulated by the Hizbul Mujahideen, have taken the security agencies by surprise.
Mir, a first year student of Government Bemina Degree College, has been missing since May 20. “The youth has joined the Hizb ranks. We are following the case closely. It’s surprising that his picture emerged just five days after he went missing,” said a police officer of the counter-insurgency cell. “Usually, fresh recruits remain underground for more than a month. In this case, it’s not even a week.”
Since January this year, there were constant inputs, according to the police, of growing numbers of militants in Srinagar, where local recruitment has been negligible in the past one decade.
The last local militants from Srinagar, Ibrahim Dar, a resident of Batamallo’s Tengpora, and Ishfaq Ahmad Rather, Narwara, were killed in encounter in Lawaypora, on the outskirts of Srinagar, in 2005. The major engagement between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir from 2003 till 2008 saw a major decline in locals from Srinagar joining the militant ranks. However, in the past one year, according to the police data, nine locals have joined the militancy.
“At least two youth took up the arms since January this year,” police said.
At least 13 militants are active in Srinagar, which include two foreigners.
The holy month of Ramadhan will begin in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, May 27, the Supreme Court announced on Thursday.
The crescent moon was not sighted on Thursday and so fasting will start Saturday, reported Arab News.
The moon will be out/disappear on the entire Islamic world, Thursday and, based on this, there is no crescent,” astronomer Khalid Al-Zaaq, a member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences said in a series of tweets.
He added that this year’s Ramadan will begin and end on a Saturday, which makes it a 29-day month. “(Ramadan) will have four Fridays,” he added.
UAE also announced Saturday the first day of Ramadan as the moon-sighting committee failed to spot the new moon crescent on Thursday night.
Qatari Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs said on its Twitter account that “Due to the lack of a moon sighting this night, the committee announces that investigation will continue tomorrow.”
Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Ghana have, too, declared Saturday the first day of Ramadan.
More than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn until sunset
A teenage boy drowned in river Lidder at tourist resort Pahlagam in southern district of Anantnag Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that a boy aged around 17-18 years drowned in the river when he went for swimming. The boy reportedly had gone on school picnic and initial reports said that the deceased is a resident of Eidgah area of Srinagar.
His body was fished out near Poshwan park in Batkoot, police sources said. The identity of the boy is being ascertained
The joint resistance leadership has called for peaceful protests after Friday prayers against the honouring of army officer who tied a Kashmiri civilian to the bonnet of his jeep during the Srinagar-Budgam by-poll.
The Commendation Card for Major Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles was given for his “sustained efforts” in counter-insurgency operations, the Indian Army had said
In a statement, the leadership termed the commendation card to the officer as “Indian fascism
A youth was electrocuted to death in Hakbara village of Hajin in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Thursday afternoon.
An official said that Lateef Ahamd Shergojri, son of Abdul Rashid Shergohri, resident if Yarbalpora, Hakbara in Hajin township died of electric shock at his home.
He said that the deceased was working in a cheese production unit at his home where some electric appliance developed some technical snag. “He received an electric shock while trying to repair the appliance and died on the spot,” he added.
Singer Sonu Nigam on Wednesday announced he will quit Twitter and has urged all “logical and sensible patriots” to do the same, following the suspension of singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya’s micro-blogging account.
“I quit Twitter today in defiance of this one sided sham,” Sonu Nigam tweeted.
He said: “One could disagree with Abhijeetda’s language but isn’t Shehla’s accusation that BJP has a sex racket, provocation enough to supporters?”
“If his account is deleted, why not her? And the other morons who hurl… abuses to every achiever?” he asked.
Twitter on Tuesday suspended the account of Abhijeet over sexist and offensive remarks, which stirred up a storm online.
In a series of tweets, Abhijeet abused some women users, particularly JNU student-activist Shehla Rashid, following which Twitter took the action.
When Shehla openly discussed about sex scandals involving BJP leaders, she was “abused by Abhijeet and hundreds of Sanghi trolls”.
In reply to her statement, Abhijeet had tweeted: “There is a rumour she took money in advance for two hours and didn’t satisfy the client. Big racket
At least seven patients at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) died on Wednesday due to lack of treatment following a flash strike by junior doctors that started after midnight, officials said.
The doctors have threatened to stay away from work for 24 hours if action was not taken against police officials who lathicharged them a few days back injuring some of them.
“Seven critical patients died due to lack of treatment following the strike by PMCH junior doctors on Wednesday morning which has badly hit emergency and OPD services,” an official said.
At least 24 persons were killed and eight others injured when the bus they were travelling in plunged into a deep gorge in Uttarakhand late on Tuesday, police said.The accident took place near Nalupani in Uttarkashi district when a bus full of pilgrims from Indore, Madhya Pradesh were returning from the Gangotri shrine.
Three people are still missing and the eight injured, who were rescued after great efforts and difficulty, have been admitted at the Community Health Centre at Chinyalisaud, an official informed IANS.
Some passengers of the ill-fated bus also fell in the Bhagirathi rover flowing below. District officials including district magistrate Ashish Srivastava rushed to the spot but owing to darkness rescue efforts were hampered.
With the hill being very steep, rescue was further delayed and went on till the morning. SDRF, police and ITBP teams then went down from the other side and rescued eight passengers. Bodies have been recovered but are yet to be identified.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has condoled the loss of lives in the mishap and has announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh each for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for those injured.
Officials have also been asked to identify danger zones on routes of the annual ‘Chaar Dham Yatra’, put up speed monitors, turning warnings and put up crash barriers.
Militants escaped after exchanging heavy fire with government forces in Hakdipora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district late Tuesday night, sources said.
They said that the government forces laid siege to the village and launched a search operation after inputs about the presence of at least three militants
As the searches were on, militants present in the area opened fire on the search party and tried to break the cordon, they said.
Sources said that the forces retaliated, triggering an encounter, which lasted for nearly half an hour.
As the news of the gunfight spread, people from nearby villages reached the gunfight site and pelted stones on the forces personnel, who retaliated with teargas shells.
Intelligence agencies say Zakir Rashid Bhat, alias Musa, and Hizbul leadership differed over political killings in the Valley
Top leaders of the Hizbul Mujahideen are trying a patch-up with their former “Kashmir commander” Zakir Rashid Bhat who severed ties with the militant group a few days ago, intelligence agencies have said.
Bhat, better known by his alias Musa, released audio messages 10 days ago announcing his exit after the leadership criticised him for threatening to behead Hurriyat leaders for saying the “separatist movement” in the Valley was political and not religious in nature.
The goal of militants and separatists should be to establish Islamic rule, the 23-year-old engineering dropout had said.
The Kashmiri militant group is yet to name his successor.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Intelligence agencies see the delay as a sign of his subordinates’ reluctance to take Bhat’s position, which would amount to picking sides in a feud between their former commander and senior leadership.
Sources in intelligence say Bhat’s departure was not because of ideological differences, as claimed by him. He and the Pakistan-based leadership didn’t agree on the group’s activities in the Valley.
“Inputs suggest that orders passed on to Zakir (Bhat) and his team were not implementable and strategies formulated by him were not entirely acceptable to Pakistan-based leaders,” a security official in Kashmir said.
These revelations, shared within the border state’s security establishment, are part of the intelligence agencies reading of the Hizbul feud.
Political murders and killings of those considered close to the establishment drove the two apart.
“The difference of opinion being whether intimidation and political killings are the best way to sustain militancy in the valley,” said a security official. The other issue was funds.
Bhat wanted to step up activities and sought support from the outfit’s Pakistan-based leaders. “Owing to the tightening grip of security agencies, funding of militant groups has taken a major hit,” the official said.
The Kashmir Valley has seen a series of bank robberies in the last few months. Police have blamed them on Hizbul and Lashkar-e-Taiba, looking for funds to carry out attacks, buy weapons and pay informers.
A resident of Pulwama in south Kashmir, the hotbed of militancy, Bhat took over from Burhan Wani who was gunned down by security forces on July 8, 2016, triggering months of violence and street protests.
“Our intention should be that, we have to achieve azadi to establish Islamic rule and not for secular state. If we are fighting for secular state then my blood won’t be spilled for that purpose,” he said in an audio message on May 13, announcing his exit.
Intelligence community in Kashmir point to Wani and Bhat’s contrasting leadership styles. While Wani used social media to influence youth to join militancy, Bhat used the medium to project a hardened stand against local police and their so-called informers.
“Evoking Islam, jihad, Caliphate is not new to militant outfits in Kashmir. Insurgency here is also shaped by local realities such as shelter, funding, a network of informers,” the security official said.
A four year old boy died in a bear attack at Gujar Basti Midoora hamlet in Awantipora area of south Kashmir on Tuesday.
The deceased, identified as Qamar din, son of Mohammad Sadiq, resident of Top Gujar Basti Midoora, was killed after a bear attacked him when he was playing near his house, witnesses said.
He was shifted to Sub District Hospital Tral, where doctors declared him brought dead.