SPECIAL COVERAGE
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Curfew-like situation in Srinagar ahead of R-Day
Srinagar, January 25
Curfew-like situation prevailed in entire Kashmir on the eve of Republic Day today as people preferred to stay indoors amid the tightest ever security arrangements in the summer capital and other parts of the Valley.

PDP avoids criticism of Congress-led govt
Jammu, January 25
Three developments indicate that the PDP-led by Ms Mehbooba Mufti, daughter of a former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, is in favour of honouring the coalition politics by avoiding resorting to even mild criticism of the Congress-led government.

Severe cold wave in J&K
Srinagar, January 25
People in the Kashmir valley witnessed yet another cold night as the minimum temperature dipped to minus 3.2 degree resulting in severe cold.

Two injured by leopard in Kathua
Jammu, January 25
Two youngsters were hurt critically when attacked by a leopard in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir today, official sources said.



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Curfew-like situation in Srinagar ahead of R-Day

Srinagar, January 25
Curfew-like situation prevailed in entire Kashmir on the eve of Republic Day today as people preferred to stay indoors amid the tightest ever security arrangements in the summer capital and other parts of the Valley.

Srinagar city wore a deserted look as only a few people could be seen on the road.

Hardly any traffic is plying on the roads. While private vehicles are nearly off the roads, very less public transport could be seen ferrying passengers to their respective destinations in the morning, but that too stopped plying as the day progressed.

A few shops and other business establishments were open in the morning, but had since closed down.

Only security personnel could be seen on roads, manning every nook and corner of the summer capital and other parts of the valley.

Unprecedented and extraordinary security measures have been put in place in Srinagar and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the Republic Day following intelligence reports that militants might launch a series of terror strikes, including car bomb explosions, and attempt to disrupt official functions throughout the valley on January 26.

Security personnel have been spread far and wide across the state and put in a state of maximum alert.

The heightened tension is quite palpable in the entire Valley. Almost all separatist and militant organisations have called for a complete shutdown on January 26 and asked people to observe it as “black day”.

Armed with snipers and electronic surveillance gadgets, security forces have erected barricades and blocked all entry and exit points in the entire city, particularly in and around the Bakshi Stadium, where the main Republic Day function would be held.

Surveillance cameras have been installed at various places in Srinagar city to maintain a constant vigil over sensitive spots and suspicious persons. Sniffer dogs have also been pressed into service to detect hidden explosive devices. — UNI

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PDP avoids criticism of Congress-led govt
M.L. Kak

Jammu, January 25
Three developments indicate that the PDP-led by Ms Mehbooba Mufti, daughter of a former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, is in favour of honouring the coalition politics by avoiding resorting to even mild criticism of the Congress-led government.

First, the PDP is not inclined to take up cudgels with its coalition partner, the Congress, while selecting the candidates for the byelection in Pattan and Rafiabad constituencies. The byelection has been necessitated by the resignation of Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari and Mr Dilawar Mir from the National Conference before joining the PDP.

Though the two PDP leaders, Molvi Ansari and Mr Mir, have started mobilising voters in their traditional constituencies of Pattan and Rafiabad they have left it to Mufti Sayeed and the Congress high command to decide on the candidates to be fielded when the area goes to the poll by the end of March.

Mr Mir told this correspondent: “Yes I am a serious candidate in Rafiabad as I had won from the constituency in 1996 and 2002 polls. At the same time it is for Mufti Sayeed and the Congress high command to decide whether the PDP candidates will be fielded from the two constituencies or one of the seats would be left for the Congress to contest.” He said it in the context of reports that the Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, planned to contest the Assembly election from Rafiabad though his supporters have suggested to him to contest from any seat in home district of Doda.

Mr Mir made it clear that “we do not want to upset the coalition arrangement by fighting over the byelection.”

Secondly, during the two-day meeting of the executive committee of the PDP, which ended here today, the PDP appeared to be quite harsh against the BJP and its allies for what it called “reverting to their old hawkish, and schizophrenic agenda on Kashmir by demanding abrogation of Article 370.

The resolution adopted at the meeting said the BJP’s “susceptibility to hawkish and divisive slogans could cost the subcontinent dearly at this crucial moment of the peace process.”

Political observers said the tirade launched against the BJP by the PDP was aimed at keeping the congress in good humour so that the coalition arrangement did not suffer any cracks forcing the Congress to seek support from the National Conference.

Thirdly, the PDP resolution, copies of which were circulated among newsmen, had made a casual reference to the self rule idea mooted by Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The three line resolution said “the recent ideas floated by different quarters on Kashmir need to be examined when presented in a specific format.”

It was done to avoid causing any embarrassment or annoyance to the Congress- led UPA Government in Delhi which had rejected the idea. However, the PDP leaders did not want to ignore the local compulsions and in the executive committee meeting there was free discussion on the issue.

The PDP chief, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, said: “We do not want the self-rule idea to be brushed aside.” She said party leaders had come to conclusion that the self rule idea was different from greater autonomy demand of the National Conference because former had to be discussed between India, Pakistan and people of Jammu and Kashmir while latter was an arrangement between Delhi and National Conference or between the centre and the state government.

It has become quite evident that the PDP is apprehensive of the national Conference which has already announced its willingness to support the Congress-led Government if the Congress sought “our support.” However, it is no longer a secret that the National Conference would welcome supporting the government provided the PDP was thrown out of it. Hence to ward of any threat to the PDP the party leadership resorted to a tight rope walking during the executive committee meeting.

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Severe cold wave in J&K

Srinagar, January 25
People in the Kashmir valley witnessed yet another cold night as the minimum temperature dipped to minus 3.2 degree resulting in severe cold.

Meanwhile, about 150 passengers and 16 Haj pilgrims of Dras, the second coldest place after Siberia, are still stranded here as the snow on the Kargil airport has not been cleared.

Security forces and policemen deployed in the city to thwart any militant attack on the eve of the Republic Day, were seen burning wood to keep themselves warm. Ski resort of Gulmarg and Khilanmarg where four to five feet of snow had accumulated on the slopes witnessed rush of tourists for the past three days, mostly locals, who wanted to stay away from the January 26 tension in the city and towns.

The holy Amarnath cave shrine also experienced fresh snowfall last night, official sources said.

They said there was also light snowfall at Pisso top, Mahaguns and Sheshnag.

Sources said about 150 residents of Kargil are stranded here since the first snowfall on January 1.

Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Kargil told UNI over phone that the runway at the Kargil airport has not been cleared. There is about three and a half feet of snow on the runway, he said.

He said one of the two snow clearance machines deployed in Kargil has developed technical problem.

Ghulam Mohammad said the night temperature dipped to minus 14 degree while the maximum was recorded minus 8, disrupting normal life.

A Kargil-bound passenger Ghulam Nabi said about 150 residents of Kargil are stranded here as the authorities have failed to arrange any helicopter service.

He said 16 Hajis, who arrived here from Jeddah after performing the Haj pilgrimage, are also stranded here. These Hajis are staying in the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) here, he said adding they have now confirmed tickets for Leh on January 29 from where they will travel by road to Kargil. — UNI

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Two injured by leopard in Kathua

Jammu, January 25
Two youngsters were hurt critically when attacked by a leopard in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir today, official sources said.

Hans Raj and Saleem Ahmed were grazing cattle in Gado Felal area of Billawar tehsil in the district when a leopard attacked and injured them critically, the sources said.

The animal ran away when people rushed to the spot after hearing cries of the boys, the sources said, adding both were hospitalised.

Seven leopard attacks have been reported in the Jammu region in which two persons were killed and 11 injured, they added. — PTI

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