|Sunday, July 16, 2000,
among 11 killed in valley
Militants with cell phones
Autonomy not an issue for migrants
library in bad shape
instability in J&K
SPO among 11 killed in valley
SRINAGAR, July 15 (UNI, PTI) — Eight militants and two securitymen were among 11 persons killed in Jammu and Kashmir since last evening, an official spokesman said today.
The deaths were reported from Sangrama Tral in Pulwama district, Magam, Karhad Leeran, Issa Wali Dhoke, Traman Gugji Pathri and the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.
Special Police Officer (SPO) Mohammad Yousuf Khan was killed in a grenade attack at Sangrama Tral last evening while Shamas Ahmad Wani was gunned down at Magam this morning.
Security forces gunned down three militants at Karhad Leeran last evening and seized three AK rifles, nine magazines, 179 rounds, eight grenades and a wireless set.
A jawan lost his life at Issa Wali Dhoke while forces killed a militant at Traman Gugji Pathri last night.
Four militants were also killed in separate encounters in the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said in Jammu that three foreign militants were killed in an exchange of fire with the Romeo Force during a search at Liran village near Darhal in the border district of Rajouri last evening. Another militant was injured in the two-hour gun battle.
The BSF unearthed explosive materials from a hideout in Jammu and Kashmir since last evening.
The BSF unearthed a militant hideout at Halmatpora in the frontier district of Kupwara in north Kashmir today and recovered five slabs of highly powerful TNT explosives and five electric detonators.
One slab of explosive was enough to raze a concrete building to the ground.
Curfew relaxed in Leh
SRINAGAR, July 15 (UNI) — Curfew was relaxed for six hours in the Buddhist town of Leh in today following further improvement in the situation.
An official spokesman said that curfew was relaxed from 8.00 a.m. to 1 p.m. today following improvement in the situation after a meeting yesterday in which all religious and political parties were present.
He said the relaxation period could be extended as there was no report of any untoward incident from any part of Leh and things were fast returning to normal.
Curfew was imposed in Leh on July 13 morning in view of communal tension between the Muslim and Buddhist communities following the killing of three monks by militants, and derogatory remarks made by the vice-president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) against the holy Quran.
He said senior civil and police officials are still camping at Leh to monitor the situation.
Militants with cell phones
JAMMU, July 15 (PTI) — Militants are using mobile phones in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu division to converse with their families and ISI sources across the border in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), BSF officials said today.
They said their intelligence wing seized a mobile phone from a militant sympathiser in Lasana area of Surankote tehsil in Poonch district yesterday, adding more such phones are being used by militants in the twin border districts." The seizure highlights the nefarious designs of Pakistani authorities in providing state-of-art technology to militants in border districts of Rajouri and Poonch”, the officials said.
The instrument was brought to Poonch by Lukman Bhai, district commander of Hizbul Mujaheedin Pir Panjal Regiment (HMPPR) in October 1999.
Autonomy not an issue for migrants
JAMMU, July 15 — The nearly 19,000 Kashmiri migrants living in five camps in Jammu and its adjoining areas for the past over 10 years are afflicted by a high incidence of diabetes and hypertension afflicting even the young both males and females.
Recently a well know diabetologist, Dr Jitendra Singh, arranged a free test of blood samples for diabetes. According to the president of Muthi Camp, Mr Chaman Lal, a large number of migrants were found to be suffering from diabetes.
He said that between 25 and 40 per cent of the meagre relief given by the government was spent by each displaced family on purchase of medicines for controlling hypertension and diabetes.
According to an eminent neurologist, Dr S. Razdan, the incidence of suicidal tendencies has also registered an upward trend among the displaced people.
Penury, unemployment, pathetic living conditions, tribulations caused during the monsoon and mid-summer heat besides painful memories of Kashmir have contributed to this condition.
Girdhari Lal of Muthi camp phase two showed a number of one-room tenements where household goods had been soiled by water seeping through leaky roofs.
Another problem confronting camp dwellers is the increase in school and college dropouts. According to Chaman Lal, for the first time in living memory scores of Pandit boys had taken to selling vegetables and opened provision stores.
He said “our educated youths are denied admission in institutions of higher learning, including professional colleges. Except for recent recruitment in the police our educated youth have not been able to get government jobs in the state.”
For most camp dwellers restoration of autonomy to the state has no significance. Nand Lal, a resident of Anantnag, said “we want restoration of our property, our safety and dignity.
He said most displaced families were for a homeland where “we can live in peace.”
Dr Ajay Chrungoo, senior leader of Panun Kashmir, said the “very survival of Kashmiri Pandits is in danger as the mortality rate is higher than the birth rate. Referring to the birth rate of Muthi camp Dr Chrungoo said “during the last two years five babies were born while more than 20 persons died.”
likely to prolong autonomy issue
JAMMU, July 15 — To be or not to be out of the NDA. The issue which has been in the air for over a week remained unresolved at the working committee meeting of the ruling National Conference session in Srinagar today.
When the working committee first met in the summer capital on July 10 to decide on future ties with the NDA following the Union Cabinet’s rejection of the autonomy resolution adopted by the state legislature it was decided to hold a second session on July 11 so that all 31 members could give vent to their feelings. But the meeting was postponed following the demise of Begum Abdullah.
Thus when the working committee met today the issue was debated in the light of the recent conciliatory approach adopted by the Centre in inviting the Chief Minister to Delhi for discussions with the Prime Minister.
But despite Dr Abdullah explaining to the working committee members that the scenario had altered following the invitation, several members were plainly not in a mood to continue in the alliance. However, the committee deferred a final decision on the issue on the plea that the Prime Minister’s stand was a "healthy and positive sign."
In this way the working committee has kept the option of pulling out of the NDA open, indicating its continued suspicion of the Centre notwithstanding the assertion of the PM that the Union Cabinet had rejected the autonomy resolution not the Autonomy Committee report.
Interestingly not a single member of the working committee opposed the demand for restoration of greater autonomy today either and most speakers adopted a defiant tone for restoration of the pre-1953 constitutional status.
The working committee decided that its next meeting will be held after the Chief Minister returns from Delhi making it clear that the ball is now in the Centre’s court.
The National Conference although it has been briefed that going back to the pre-1953 constitutional position is well nigh impossible by noted jurist, Mr L.W. Singhvi, who met Dr Abdullah in Srinagar recently, is nevertheless reluctant to step back.
Nor may it have any alternative short of deviating from its now well-publicised stand. What the ruling party can do is not take any precipitate action in this direction as it did in getting the autonomy resolution adopted by the state legislature. For if the issue is referred to Parliament or even to the Constitution Review Committee as suggested by Dr Singhvi, it allows the NC leadership to keep the autonomy ball rolling.
What the National Conference leadership is really afraid of is that the Centre has not given up on its initiative for holding talks with the All Party Hurriyat Conference.
The Chief Minister, is anxious that the Hurriyat Conference not get credit for restoring even a small fragment of the constitutional status which existed before 1953.
The NC is also observing the machinations of its rival and PDP Chief, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who has again "cautioned" the Prime Minister on the autonomy issue. The National Conference and Dr Farooq Abdullah would prefer dismissal to defeat on the autonomy slogan or worse still that it be cashed by his rival. For he knows from experience that even dismissal on the emotive issue will help him and his and his party resurrect itself from the ashes as happened in 1987 and 1996.
It’s as part of this gameplan
that Dr Abdullah is visiting Delhi with a team of ministers for
discussion of the autonomy issue. The issue is unlikely to be cleared
in a few meetings as the Centre too would try to prolong the matter
for it is in both parties interest to avoid confrontation. The Chief
Minister may not be prepared for confrontation as he needs funds for
resuming work on development projects and other works in the plan and
non-plan sectors. Thus it seems that the fire of autonomy, which has
been doused at least for now, is likely to keep smouldering for a long
time to come.
Tohra endorses NC stand
SRINAGAR, July 15 (PTI) — Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) leader G.S. Tohra today supported the ruling National Conference’s demand for greater autonomy and termed as "propaganda" the suggestion that the demand was aimed at separation of Kashmir from India.
"It is mere propaganda unleashed by BJP-led NDA government that the demand for autonomy is aimed at separation of Kashmir from India", Mr Tohra, who was here in connection with the fourth day ceremony of Begum Akbar Jehan, told reporters here.
He also refuted the charge that other states will demand autonomy on the pattern of Kashmir. "It is totally false that other states will voice similar demands as no other state in the country enjoys special status under Article 370 as J and K enjoys", he added.
However, he said Punjab and other states demanded devolution of power to the states.
He blamed successive Congress governments at the Centre for weakening the state. The states cannot even change the name of a village on their own, he said, adding agriculture and education are a state subject but there is interference in these subjects also.
library in bad shape
JAMMU, July 15 — Hundred-year-old Ranbir Library here is in a bad shape. Basic facilities for visitors and readers are missing because the renovation and expansion programme has not been completed during the past four years.
Though the library is well-equipped with rare manuscripts, books, periodicals and magazines, there is no catalogue system, depriving the readers access to books and periodicals.
The library authorities had prepared a Rs 10-lakh project for the renovation and expansion of the library building. Teh project was given to the state Public Works Department in 1996 and the work had to be completed within one year. However, paucity of funds delayed the expansion programme.
The deputy director of the library said the delay in the completion of the project had resulted in cost escalation. He said "We now need Rs 16.76 lakh for completing the expansion programme."
An engineer of the Public Works Department said unless the funds were available, work on the project "cannot be resumed."
Another handicap is that the post of chief librarian has been lying vacant for the past three years. Many senior librarians had tried to get the post but there was no response from the state government which owns the library.
The library lacks adequate seating space and the readers, most of them elderly people, have to leave the building without going through the books and magazines of their choice. Many rare books have been soiled because of leaking roof.
The authorities had purchased a computer for preparing a catalogue of the books and periodicals. This facility has not been utilised because there is no trained person to handle the computer.
instability in J&K
JAMMU, July 15 — Disturbing political and security trends have surfaced in Jammu and Kashmir in the past three weeks which have added to the 10-year-long turmoil.
The killing of three Buddhist monks at Rangun 130 km from Kargil indicates that the militants have for the first time, extended their activities to the land of lamas, stepped up infiltration from across the border, vociferous campaign for and against the grant of greater autonomy have, together, built an atmosphere of political instability.
Though the government claims that the gunning down of three monks at Ragdun was the handiwork of the militants, reports emanating from the cold desert reveal that the killing of the monks was a reaction to the derogatory remarks allegedly made by the vice-president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association against the Koran. The vice-president has been sacked by the association.
Since 1982, when the Buddhists launched an agitation for the grant of union territory status, the region has been gripped by communal polarisation. This polarisation took firm roots after the Buddhists achieved their aim of establishing the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council. The Shia-dominated Kargil has preferred to remain outside the council.
As the National Conference demand for the restoration of greater autonomy to the state gained momentum with the adoption of a resolution by the state legislature, the Buddhists started another phase of agitation for securing separate statehood for Ladakh. This widened the distance between the Muslims and the Buddhist despite an assurance given by the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) chief, Tsering Semphal, that the two communities had lived in harmony for centuries and would continue to do so.
The demand for the restoration of greater autonomy kicked up communal and regional passions in the Jammu and Ladakh regions. On Thursday there were three developments in the winter capital. One, five political organisation in Jammu formed a front for securing separate statehood for the Jammu region. The Jammu Mukti Morcha, the Panthers Party, the Democratic Movement, the Vikas Party and the Duggar
Pradesh Party joined hands and floated the Jammu Statehood Front to agitate in favour of a separate state in protest against the NC demand for the grant of greater autonomy.
Secondly, Panun Kashmir, a premier organisation of the Kashmiri displaced families, organised a seminar on "Autonomy conspiracy — nation in the trap" where prominent political leaders and intellectuals demanded quadrification of the state so that besides Pandits getting a homeland people in the Jammu and Ladakh regions got separate states to spare themselves of the "pains" that were inflicted on them in the past 50 years, by the Kashmiri political leaders and bureaucracy.
The seminar adopted a resolution demanding the dissolution of the state assembly, the dismissal of the Farooq-led government and the imposition of the Governor’s rule.
Another resolution passed expressed deep concern over what the speakers called demographic changes being carried out by the ruling National Conference circles in the Hindu-dominated Jammu district and over the continued ethnic cleansing being undertaken by the separatists and the militants in the state.
Third, militancy-related violence in different part of the state registered an upward trend resulting in the killing of more than 25 security personnel in the past three weeks. It was supplemented with the increase in the rate of infiltration from across the border which otherwise witnessed escalated firing and shelling by the Pak troops in which more than 10 BSF and Army jawans were killed.
During these three weeks Pak soldiers had made repeated attempts to capture Indian posts in Kupwara, Uri, Poonch and Rajouri which had been foiled.
On the political front inertia has gripped the mainstream political organisations. The state unit of the Congress is in a disarray and is not in a position to pose any threat to the National Conference. The BJP continues to remain confined to several pockets of the Jammu region which hardly provides it a scope for throwing a gauntlet to the National Conference.
No doubt the separatists organisations, especially the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, have not been in a position to cash on the growing political instability, kicked up by the controversy over restoration of greater autonomy they have been watching the developments with amusement.
In the midst of the prevailing political confusion militants have remained untackled by the security forces in the hilly belts.
Police sources confirmed
reports that groups of militants had sneaked into the Kargil and
Zanskar areas after crossing over the mountain belts in the Wadwan
valley in Kishtwar tehsil of Doda district. The sources said a
determined bid was being made by the militants to extend their
subversive operations in the Ladkah region. The current communal
polarisation and the preoccupation of the security forces in dealing
with the agitation of Buddhists is likely to help militants.
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