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Hurriyat factions turn down offer on talks
Third roundtable conference
Jammu, August 17
The two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, one headed by Molvi Umar Farooq and the other by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, have turned down yet another offer from the Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, appealing the Kashmiri separatists to participate in the third roundtable conference to be held shortly.

IAS officer granted interim bail in sex racket case
Srinagar, August 17
A local court today granted interim bail on health grounds to senior IAS officer M.Iqbal Khandey arrested in connection with the sex racket case here.

IAF’s Kargil hero Nachiketa soars higher
Srinagar, August 17
When Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa was shot down during the 1999 Kargil operations and taken prisoner by the Pakistani army before being dramatically released, many thought his flying days were over due to a spinal injury he sustained while ejecting from his MiG-27 fighter - but he has proved the sceptics wrong.

Three security personnel among six killed
Srinagar, August 17
Three security personnel, including a police officer, were among six persons killed, while the security forces averted two major tragedies and arrested eight exfiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir over night, official sources said today.


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EARLIER STORIES



Cong, PDP differ on self-rule formula
Srinagar, August 17
The two main coalition partners in the state—Congress and PDP—seem to differ on the self-rule formula for the resolution of Kashmir issue and restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP wants Cong to snap ties with PDP
Jammu, August 17
Prof Hari Om, state BJP vice-president and spokesman, today urged the ruling Congress to snap its ties with Mufti Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for denouncing the Indian Constitution and endorsing the Pakistani demand for “self-rule and demilitarisation” in Jammu and Kashmir.

VC offers trip to Singapore for B.Ed colleges
Jammu, August 17
Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University, today offered to organise a trip for a delegation of private B.Ed colleges to Singapore with a view to providing them exposure of the development in the field of education there.

2 militants killed
Jammu, August 17
Two militants were killed in an encounter with the security forces in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir this evening.




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Hurriyat factions turn down offer on talks
Third roundtable conference
Our Correspondent

Jammu, August 17
The two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, one headed by Molvi Umar Farooq and the other by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, have turned down yet another offer from the Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, appealing the Kashmiri separatists to participate in the third roundtable conference to be held shortly.

The APHC leadership had not responded to the invitation to the second roundtable conference that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had held in Srinagar on May 24 and 25.

Commenting on Mr Azad’s appeal to the separatists, made at the Independence Day function, a senior APHC leader Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat, said today “we are not for excursions.”

He said “participating in the roundtable conferences was like taking part in picnics. We want to have a serious dialogue for discussing the fate of the entire South Asian region and the roundtable conferences were being held to discuss good governance, corruption free administration, Centre-state relations and other allied issues.”

The APHC leadership, inside reports indicated, had started adopting what is called a “proactive posture” after it failed to persuade the Government of India to resume dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference leaders. This is evident from the hardened stance that the APHC Chairman, Molvi Umar Farooq, had adopted while speaking at a function organised in Srinagar on August 16 by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Farooq, while advocating that dialogue was better than deadlock, said mainstream politicians represented Delhi in Kashmir whereas the Hurriyat Conference was a symbol of resistance. He said even if the right of self-determination was non-negotiable a solution to the Kashmir issue, acceptable to all parties connected with the dispute, could be found through sustained dialogue. He also wanted militants, especially Hizbul Mujahideen, to be involved in the talks.

In reference to the Chief Minister’s plea to separatists to participate in the third round table conference Mr Geelani said “we are not separatists, we are freedom fighters.”

In the meantime Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat said despite an inordinate delay in the resumption of Centre-Hurriyat talks “we continue to nurture a couple of ideas which could lead to the settlement of the Kashmir issue.”

He said, “We had decided to dish out these ideas during our meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But since the talks are yet to be resumed we have these solutions in our mind.”

It is in this connection that APHC Chairman Molvi Umar Farooq announced that he would be visiting Ireland next month for studying the Irish peace model.

He has also stated that there could be many solutions to the Kashmir issue which include the formation of the United States of Kashmir and a modified version of the idea of self-rule.

Prof. Bhat said, “When talks with us are resumed ideas will flow like water from lofty mountains and these very ideas may form the basis for resolving the Kashmir issue.”

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IAS officer granted interim bail in sex racket case

Srinagar, August 17
A local court today granted interim bail on health grounds to senior IAS officer M.Iqbal Khandey arrested in connection with the sex racket case here.

Principal District and Sessions Judge M.Yaqoob Mir granted interim bail till further orders to Khandey and imposed conditions which include restrictions on his leaving Srinagar city without permission.

The judge also directed Khandey to submit a sum of Rs 1 lakh for bail and another Rs 1 lakh in surety, besides making his appearance in court on every date of hearing mandatory. The judge warned Khandey against attempts to tamper with evidence or witnesses.

Khandey’s bail plea was granted after a report by a team of doctors from SKIMS Institute said the IAS officer was diagnosed to be suffering from cancer, the judge said.

He had already been treated for lung cancer and doctors apprehended that he might contract infection if lodged in a crowded room.

The plea of CBI that Khandey might tamper with evidence or witnesses since he was an influential person was rejected by the judge saying he was at large when the CBI took over the case but no attempt had been made by him to interfere in the probe.

Khandey is the first person, out of the 18 arrested by the CBI in connection with the case, to be granted bail by any court here.

His bail application was rejected by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar, on July 18.

The judge reserved orders till tomorrow on the bail applications of former state minister G.A Mir, Deputy SP M. Ashraf Mir and Mehrajuddin Malik.

Meanwhile, the court also heard arguments of the defence lawyer and the CBI counsel on the chargesheet. The proceedings were held in-camera and the court fixed August 26 as the next date of hearing for the case. — PTI

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IAF’s Kargil hero Nachiketa soars higher

Srinagar, August 17
When Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa was shot down during the 1999 Kargil operations and taken prisoner by the Pakistani army before being dramatically released, many thought his flying days were over due to a spinal injury he sustained while ejecting from his MiG-27 fighter - but he has proved the sceptics wrong.

Today a Squadron Leader flying AN-32 transport aircraft, Nachiketa has been approved for promotion to Wing Commander and could rise even higher, his peers in the Indian Air Force (IAF) say.

“I would even say that depending on the circumstances, he could even make the (IAF) chief,” Air Marshal AK Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, maintained, not exactly in jest.

Nachiketa, however, wouldn’t speculate on this, only saying: “The IAF is my home; I will definitely stay in the Air Force.” Nachiketa is one the very few IAF pilots to have returned after their aircraft crashed in enemy territory. He was shot down on May 28, 1999, and was held in captivity before being released a week later on June 4. He was later diagnosed with a back problem - a compression fracture - meaning he could never fly fighters again. However, after a series of remedial measures and retraining, he has been flying AN-24s since 2004 and is currently posted with the Chandigarh-based 48 Squadron.

Did he miss flying fighters? “Definitely. But, then, even this flying is very good. In fact, all flying is very good and very challenging - be it fighters, helicopters or transports,” Nachiketa told IANS.

“I think I’ve reconciled (myself to not flying fighters) because, from a broader perspective, I think life has got much more than fighters,” he added.

Detailing the dramatic events of the day he crashed, he said: “I had a technical problem with the engine; my engine shut and I had to re-ignite. But you have to be flying at a certain height before you can do so. In my case, since I was flying over a terrain of 5 plus km, I did not have the adequate height. As a result, I had to eject.”

“About two to three hours after I ejected, I was ambushed and there was a fire fight. Regular Pakistani army troops fired at me, I fired back. Eventually, I was captured because I was outnumbered. I had one pistol vis-à-vis five-six AK-56s,” Nachiketa stated.”

“After about a two-hour halt at a place in the Batalik sector, I was taken by a helicopter to Skardu. After a night’s halt, I was shifted to Rawalpindi.”

“I stayed there for four days. Thereafter a decision to release me was taken and I came back via the Wagah border,” he said.

Looking back at the incident, was it wise to have flown an aircraft like the MiG-27 in the mountainous Kargil terrain? “I think that is for the tactics and policy makers to decide. We just do whatever is best for us,” Nachiketa replied, adding “With the available intelligence at that time, we thought it was a good decision.” Asked how his captors treated him, he said: “They took it in two phases.”

“First they declared me uncooperative. Then it became quite bad. I don’t want to go into specifics.” What did his captors question him about? “They asked me about our forces, their deployment, the kind of avionics and ammunition which we have.” He replied in the negative when asked if he expected to come back after he was captured? “Absolutely not. As per our background, from 1971 what we have seen, no one generally comes back.” Did he debate issues of life and death after being captured? “The only thing I was planning from my side was escape. But that takes time.”

“Initially, there is high security, then slowly there is dilution. Being released by Pakistan was a surprise.”

Asked if the IAF trained its personnel about what to do if one is captured, he replied: “In all our training, starting from the cadet days, the entire focus is on survival. In the Air Force, we have a special survival course for aircrew so that we are better prepared to handle such eventualities.”

— Indo-Asian News Service

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Three security personnel among six killed

Srinagar, August 17
Three security personnel, including a police officer, were among six persons killed, while the security forces averted two major tragedies and arrested eight exfiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir over night, official sources said today.

A militant was arrested before he could lob hand grenades at the crowded general bus stand at Batmaloo today.

They said militants shot dead Sub-Inspector Mohammad Jamal of Zakura police station at Lal Bazar on the outskirts of the city this afternoon.

Jamal was shot in the head from a close range with a pistol. He died before he could be shifted to a hospital, they added.

Earlier during the day, militants shot at and critically wounded two CRPF personnel from a point-blank range in the busy Koker Bazar.

The injured CRPF personnel, identified as Head Constable K.N. Mishra and Constable Akhilesh Kumar, were rushed to hospital where their condition was stated to be very critical. One of the jawans later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

The security forces cordoned off the entire Koker Bazar and the adjoining areas and launched a search operation to apprehend the militants responsible for the attack. Lal Chowk and the Amira Kadal bridge were also closed for several hours.

The security forces were searching the area with the help of a dog squad and shopkeepers and other pedestrians were being frisked and their identity cards checked.

Sources said the militants, who shot at and wounded the CRPF personnel, were wearing red shirts.

Later, the security forces detained about 15 youths wearing red shirts.

About an hour later, militants struck at Kanikadal in the old city and shot at and wounded police constable Fayaz Ahmad of Shaheedgunj police station.

The injured constable was rushed to hospital with a bullet wound in the neck.

A caller, who identified himself as the spokesman of the JeM, told media organisations that militants of the outfit carried out the attacks in the city. He threatened more such attack in future.

This was the first major strike by militants after the killing of four security personnel by militants at Karan Nagar and Dalgate on August 1. — UNI

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Cong, PDP differ on self-rule formula
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 17
The two main coalition partners in the state—Congress and PDP—seem to differ on the self-rule formula for the resolution of Kashmir issue and restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ms Mehbooba Mufti, president of the PDP, while hailing Prime Minister’s Independence Day statement calling for exploring new ways to build a peaceful future for the state, described self-rule as the “ideal formula” for resolving the Kashmir problem. She said it would not only fulfill the aspirations of all three regions of the state, but would also be applicable to the part of Kashmir in Pakistani control as well, and develop Pakistan’s stakes in the peace process.

Ms Mufti said through the instrument of accession in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was provided with the best model of self-rule and even the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said that “Jammu and Kashmir is going to be a show window for the whole world to gaze at”. Ms Mufti added, however, in the absence of any adequate guarantees that self-rule model had faced severe erosion over the years leading to steady disillusionment and alienation of the people. ‘‘Self-rule’’, she said ‘‘must be guaranteed by India and Pakistan in the respective areas of the state under their control’’. This, she said, should be permanent settlement of the problem instead of an arrangement to make it sustainable.

Ms Mufti said “in order to catch up with the fast growing global economies, it would be in the larger interest of our country and Pakistan to avail the opportunity of settling the problem plaguing their growth so that the people in both the countries could reap the benefits of trade and economic activity in the region”.

Senior Congress leader and Transport Minister clarified the coalition’s stand on self-rule by saying that it already existed in the present democratic set up. “Democracy grants everyone an opportunity to choose the representatives of their liking and inclination, either on the basis of conviction or ideology, as such nothing could be best exemplified as self-rule but the democratic decentralisation”, he commented. He said the coalition government was ensuring self-rule even at the grassroot level by conducting elections to the basic institution of Panchayats very soon. The Congress leader said an indivisible link was there between self-rule and good governance.

The Transport Minister also ruled out the demand for demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir, describing it as “foreign agenda and an impossible proposition to accept”.

He said dialogue was continuing for opening of other routes, including Jammu-Sialkote or Kargil-Skardu, as well. He informed about the progress achieved in the roundtable conferences, adding that five working groups had been constituted to look into all issues. He, however, deplored the approach of some of the political parties in resolving the issues confronting people of the state and advised them to adopt a constructive approach.

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BJP wants Cong to snap ties with PDP
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 17
Prof Hari Om, state BJP vice-president and spokesman, today urged the ruling Congress to snap its ties with Mufti Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for denouncing the Indian Constitution and endorsing the Pakistani demand for “self-rule and demilitarisation” in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement here, Prof Hari Om alleged that the love of the PDP with Pakistan was fraught with dangerous consequences. It was strange that with diametrically opposite views on the state’s political future, the Congress was continuing its alliance with the PDP.

He ridiculed the Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Omar Farooq for trying to mislead the people of Kashmir by asking India to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir.

He asked the Mirwaiz to first study these resolutions that required Pakistan to vacate all the illegally occupied areas of J&K, including Gilgit and Baltistan. In other words, the UN resolutions implicitly and explicitly recognise the Indian sovereignty over the state as it existed on August 15, 1947.

Prof Hari Om asked the Mirwaiz to explain what he has to say about the state’s Aksai-Chin area that Pakistan ceded to China decades ago.

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VC offers trip to Singapore for B.Ed colleges
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 17
Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University, today offered to organise a trip for a delegation of private B.Ed colleges to Singapore with a view to providing them exposure of the development in the field of education there.

Prof Mattoo, who inaugurated the office of the Forum of Recognised Colleges (FORCE) here, said the private B.Ed colleges should strive to make Jammu a hub of education like Singapore.

He said with as many as 65 private B.Ed colleges already in the Jammu division students from the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan were every year competing to get admission here. This has helped further boost the economy of the area.

Prof Mattoo stressed the need for maintaining quality of education and making the institutions centres of excellence.

He said the faculty in most of the B.Ed colleges here was qualified. However, continuous efforts should be made to further improve the standards of education.

Mr R.S. Chib, president of FORCE, recalled that the private B.Ed colleges faced turmoil last year because of certain legal problems.

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2 militants killed

Jammu, August 17
Two militants were killed in an encounter with the security forces in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir this evening.

The gunbattle, ensued during a combing operation in the Gool area of Udhampur district, was still going on, defence officials said. Two of the militants have been killed, they said. — PTI

 

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