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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Politicking on daughters’ Bill
gains momentum
Jammu, August 22
The three main political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are trying to exploit sentiments of the people by sticking to their guns on the issue of the controversial daughters’ Bill that seeks to deny citizenship rights to women marrying outside the state.

NC adamant on daughters Bill in
original form
Srinagar, August 22
The Opposition National Conference is adamant on its demand of reintroducing the controversial daughters’ Bill in its original form in the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature, which began its summer session here last week.

Leadership crisis worries Kashmiri Pandits
Jammu, August 22
Over three lakh Kashmiri Pandit migrants have been plagued by leadership crisis following the birth of several community organisations and rapid fragmentation of established bodies.

2 jawans among seven killed in J&K
Srinagar, August 22
Seven persons, including four militants and two jawans, have been killed in separate militancy-related incidents across Jammu and Kashmir since last night, an official spokesman said here today.

‘Missing’ son sends marriage invitation from PoK
Srinagar, August 22
Several persons, declared missing in Jammu and Kashmir, have been traced by security agencies either to their homes within the state or in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Parents of one such person, Javed Ahmad Bhat, have found out to their extreme happiness that their disappeared son is getting married in the PoK, according to highly-placed sources.

Kashmir attracting Malaysian tourists
Srinagar, August 22
While the flow of tourists, both domestic and foreign, to the Kashmir valley is on the increase, many more from Malaysia are eager to see the charms of the Himalayan valley.



YOUR TOWN
Jammu
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In video:
The annual 'Machail Yatra' kicks off in Kashmir.
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EARLIER STORIES

 
Amarnath yatra enters final phase     
Srinagar, August 22
In the run up to the final phase of Amarnath yatra, the holy mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva was worshipped by Mahant Deepinder Giri at the well attended ceremony at historic temple Dashnami Akhara here last evening.

Pilgrims being carried to the holy cave of Amarnath on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Getting mobile connection uphill
task in J&K
Jammu, August 22
Getting a mobile phone connection may be a child’s play in most parts of the country, but not so in Jammu and Kashmir.
In this state that has been battling against terrorism for almost 15 years now, it can take anything up to two months to get a mobile connection after one applies for it.

Pilgrims being carried to the holy cave of Amarnath

Hurriyat (Abbas) to meet on Aug 24
Srinagar, August 22
A crucial meeting of the working committee and the general council of the Separatist Hurriyat Conference (Abbas) will be held here on Tuesday. This would be its first meeting after the breakaway faction leader, Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani, floated his new party here recently, outside his parent organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Police told to probe youths’ disappearance
Srinagar, August 22
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the police to register a case into the enforced custodial disappearance of two youths, reportedly arrested by the Central Reserve Police Force from Batamaloo 14 years ago.

Army deserter arrested
Jammu, August 22
Army officials yesterday arrested a sepoy who had deserted allegedly the troops during an operation in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said. Sepoy Gurmeet Singh, who had deserted Army during an operation in Parholi area along the Line of Control in Rajaouri district on Thursday night, was arrested this morning from a bus stand in Gurdaspur, Punjab, the sources said.

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Politicking on daughters’ Bill gains momentum
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 22
The three main political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are trying to exploit sentiments of the people by sticking to their guns on the issue of the controversial daughters’ Bill that seeks to deny citizenship rights to women marrying outside the state.

Much noise is expected to be witnessed on the issue in the Assembly when it reassembles at Srinagar tomorrow. The house was adjourned for four days on Wednesday amidst din created by the National Conference (NC) members.

It is almost certain that the Bill that was expected to be introduced in an amended form would not get passed as the ruling PDP and the Opposition NC, that are in favour of the legislation, do not have a two thirds strength in the house. Even knowing the fact, both these parties were trying to widen their support particularly in the Kashmir valley by repeatedly raking up the issue.

Interestingly, the PDP, the Congress and the Panthers Party, those are coalition partners in the Mufti-led government, are opposing each other on the issue. The Congress and the Panthers Party have announced to oppose the Bill that is being seen as “anti-Jammu”.

While the Kashmir-based PDP and the NC are bent upon getting the Bill passed, the Congress and the Panthers Party having their base in Jammu are opposed to it. The Bill that could not be passed in the last session of the legislature is being seen as an attempt of the Kashmir-dominated government to deprive the women of Jammu of their property rights.

The Congress came under severe criticism during the last session of the Assembly when the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, worked over time to get the Bill passed by driving a consensus on the issue in the House. However, the Congress and the Panthers Party later realised that they had committed a blunder as the issue boomeranged in Jammu division. Mr Sharma was snubbed by the Congress high command and immediate steps were taken to stall the Bill in the upper house, where it was not put to vote.

This time the Bill was expected to die its own death, as it could not be passed in the House of 87 without the support of the Congress. Even if the PDP and the NC join hands on the issue, they do not have a two-thirds majority to get the Bill passed. However, both were trying to out wit each other on the issue by making noises in favour of the Bill.

Observers point out that Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed will not have faced this much embarrassment on the issue had the Congress acted wisely during the last session and not voted in favour of the Bill in the Assembly.

This is not for the first time that such an emotional issue has been raked up in the state for political advantage by the ruling party. The NC during its own regime in 1983 passed the controversial Resettlement Act that allowed the return of those persons to the state who had settled in Pakistan.

Mr Bhim Singh challenged the Bill in the Supreme Court, where it is awaiting final judgement.

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NC adamant on daughters Bill in original form
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 22
The Opposition National Conference is adamant on its demand of reintroducing the controversial daughters’ Bill in its original form in the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature, which began its summer session here last week. The two Houses resume their business here tomorrow after a gap of two days as both the ruling alliance partners and the Opposition National Conference gear up to deal with the Permanent Residents (disqualification) Bill 2004.

A crucial meeting of the National Conference legislature party was held here this evening under the chairmanship of the party president, Mr Omar Abdullah. The chief patron and former Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, also attended, apart from the party general secretary, Sheikh Nazir Ahmad, and Legislature Party leader, Mr Abdul Rahim Rather. The MLC, Mr Nizamuddin Khattana, who had not been participating in its meetings and had also stayed away from voting on the no-confidence motion against Legislative Council chairman, Abdul Rashid Dar, did not attend today’s meeting.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, who attended the legislators’ meeting for one and a half hours, left it to the party president and other senior party leaders to work out the strategy in dealing with the issue for it was “the question of the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. “He asked the legislators to give true representation to the people in the legislature”, as masses had suffered a lot under the Mufti regime.

“This is a very sensitive issue… we want the Bill in its original form”, said a senior NC MLA at the venue of the NC legislators meeting held here today. Since the Bill was almost dead for not having been presented before any of the two Houses over the past five months, it is feared that the coalition government may bring it with some amendments, according to the opposition NC. “It is of no use if brought with amendments”, said the NC leader. A strategy was being worked out to deal with the issue before the legislature when it resumes here tomorrow. The NC leader added that there were other issues, including the human rights violation, bad governance, and non-availability of essential commodities to the masses.

On Wednesday and Thursday last both Houses of the state legislature witnessed noisy scenes over the Bill that had not been passed in the Upper House earlier in March following adjournment. This led to the expulsion of the Legislative Council Chairman, Mr Abdul Rashid Dar, from the National Conference, against whom a no-confidence motion also failed in the council last week. The NC has 27 members in the 87-member Legislative Assembly and 14 in the 36-member Legislative Council.

The Congress with 20 members is against the passage of the Bill, while both the regional parties, the NC and the ruling PDP are supporting it.

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Leadership crisis worries Kashmiri Pandits
Our Correspondent

Jammu, August 22
Over three lakh Kashmiri Pandit migrants have been plagued by leadership crisis following the birth of several community organisations and rapid fragmentation of established bodies.

“We do not have a single leader who can claim to represent a majority of the community people,”said Mr Ramesh Kumar of the Muthi migrant camp in Jammu.

It all started with the split in the Panun Kashmir, a premier organisation of displaced people, in 1993 when Mr Ashwani Chrungoo quit the organisation and floated the Panun Kashmir Movement. Since then there has been no going back and another jolt to this main organisation came when Dr Agnishekhar and Dr Ajay Chrungoo fell apart, thereby giving rise to three groups in the Panun Kashmir.

Dr Angishekhar recently announced his resignation from the presidentship of a faction of the Panun Kashmir.Sources close to him said that a number of his supporters in the organisation had started opposing his policies.

A senior Pandit leader told this correspondent today that a senior RSS leader had been responsible for fragmenting Pandit bodies. In this connection, he said that RSS leaders engineered the formation of the JK Vichar Manch, the Pir Panchal, the Prem Nath Bhat Memorial and other smaller groups to prevent the displaced community to have a leader of stature.

At one stage several Pandit organisations in Jammu decided to come under the umbrella of the All India Kashmiri Samaj.The honeymoon did not last long and the Panun Kashmir, headed by Dr Ajay Chrungoo, All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference general secretary, Mr Hira Lal Chatha, Mr O.N. Trisal, chief of the State Pandit Solidarity Conference, formed a separate conglomerate alongwith JK watch, which has a recent origin.
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2 jawans among seven killed in J&K

Srinagar, August 22
Seven persons, including four militants and two jawans, have been killed in separate militancy-related incidents across Jammu and Kashmir since last night, an official spokesman said here today.

Two militants were killed in an overnight encounter with the security forces in the Dagwan forest area near Dachigam National Park here, the spokesman said.

The ultras have been identified as Abuzar Qasib and Abu Gafar both Pakistanis. Two AK rifles, five magazines, 118 rounds and two damaged wireless sets were recovered from the possession of the slain militants, he added.

In another encounter, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in a gunbattle with security forces in Khul village of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The slain ultras have been identified as Riyaz Ahmad Malik and Shabir Ahmad Bhat, both residents of the village. One AK rifle, five magazines, 11 rounds, one wireless set, one UBGL and one SLR were recovered from their possession, he said.

Two Army personnel were killed in an ambush by militants in Kupwara district. Heavily-armed militants opened fire on a patrol party of Rashtriya Rifles at Chack-e-Natnoosa village, triggering an encounter between the two sides, he said.

The Armymen have been identified as Deepak Arun and Kuldeep Singh. The ultras fled the scene without any casualty, under the cover of darkness.

Militants entered the house of Rahim Mir at Ludna village in Doda district last night and shot dead his daughter, Shazia Bano, the spokesman said.

Ultras shot at and injured Abdul Salam Itoo at Dregam in the Qazigund area of Anantnag district last night.

According to a UNI report from Jammu, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Constable was wounded when some unidentified gunmen opened fired at him at Banihal in Doda district last night. The sources said CRPF Constable Kishore Kumar was deployed at Banihal where railway employees are constructing the railway track when he was shot at from behind. — PTI
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‘Missing’ son sends marriage invitation from PoK

Srinagar, August 22
Several persons, declared missing in Jammu and Kashmir, have been traced by security agencies either to their homes within the state or in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Parents of one such person, Javed Ahmad Bhat, have found out to their extreme happiness that their disappeared son is getting married in the PoK, according to highly-placed sources.

The happy parents of a village in Kulgam tehsil of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district could not have asked for more when they opened a letter from Muzaffarabad from their “lost” son. Informing his family about his welfare, Bhat who is now working as a salesman in a provision store in Muzaffarabad, invited them to come and bless him on the auspicious occasion of his marriage, the sources said.

Information received from some of the parents of the disappeared persons revealed that their ‘dear ones’, who had exfiltrated for arms training, had been traced out in the PoK through different contacts.

Zulfikar Hussain Kathu of Tangmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramula district has been found settled in Bagh district of PoK after infiltrating in 1995. The police had investigated all 121 cases of persons who had been claimed by a human rights organisation to have been missing recently and found at least 39 of them in their respective homes, an official spokesperson said.

Twentyone were found to have joined militant organisations while 10 others were killed in terrorist operations, the sources said.

The relations of these disappeared persons were now seeking travel documents like passports to visit them.

In another turn to the mystery of the disappeared persons, many of them have started returning home.

Recently, three such persons have returned to the state via Nepal and surrendered before the local police with a desire to call it a day as far as militancy is concerned, the sources claimed.

They have been identified as Rouf Ahmad Dar of Batamaloo in the city, Shabir Ahmad Hakeem of Naseerabad, Sopore, and Shabeer Ahmad Paswal of Batpora in Kupwara district.

Commenting on the revelations, a senior police official said it had vindicated government’s stand that most of such persons had been either taken across the border for arms training or joined militant ranks, may be without their parents’ knowledge. — PTI

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Kashmir attracting Malaysian tourists
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 22
While the flow of tourists, both domestic and foreign, to the Kashmir valley is on the increase, many more from Malaysia are eager to see the charms of the Himalayan valley. This was conveyed to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, by a leading tour operator from Malaysia, Mr A. Baharuddin, here yesterday. He said: “An estimated five million Malay-speaking people of our country want to visit Kashmir.” Mr Baharuddin called on the Chief Minister along with his latest group of 34 tourists comprising Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. They interacted with the Chief Minister and shared their experiences about the visit.

Mr Baharuddin said another group of 34 Malaysians would be arriving here next month while 200 more have bookings up to the year-end. These are mainly retired government officials, he said, adding that this year 13 groups would visit Kashmir. He has prepared and distributed 20,000 CDs on the Kashmir tourism in Malaysia last year and is making another 5000 this year.

The arrivals from Malaysia have shown an increase of 148 per cent over the past year. “This year, we have already received 600 Malaysian tourists as against 200 last year”, said the Director-General Tourism, Mr Mohammad Salim Baig.

In order to boost the tourist flow to India, Singapore Airlines has started operating direct flights to Amritsar this year. The Jammu and Kashmir government is persuading the Centre to operate flights from Amritsar to Kashmir to attract a larger number of Southeast Asian tourists. The Chief Minister has also highlighted the need to connect north Indian states with South Asia.

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Amarnath yatra enters final phase
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 22
In the run up to the final phase of Amarnath yatra, the holy mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva was worshipped by Mahant Deepinder Giri at the well attended ceremony at historic temple Dashnami Akhara here last evening.

A large number of sadhus and devotees joined the Puja ceremony on the occasion of Nag Panchmi. According to Mahant Deepinder Giri, the Chhari Mubarak would leave for the final phase of the yatra on Wednesday alongwith the devotees. It would perform Puja at the holy cave of Swami Amarnath on August 30 on the occasion of Sharavan Purnima.

With this, 45-day long Amarnath pilgrimage would come to an end. Earlier, Chhari was taken to the historic temple of Shankracharya on August 19 on the occasion of Samavati Amavasa and to the Sharika temple at Hari Parbat on August 20 for performing pujan. Mahant said this year (2.80 lakh pilgrims) had so far joined the yatra which was the highest ever.

Meanwhile, according to the official spokesman, 2.76 lakh pilgrims had darshan at the holy cave shrine till last evening. So far 2.82 lakh pilgrims have visited Kashmir valley in connection with the pilgrimage. After having darshan at the holy cave shrine, 117550 yatris have returned to Pahalgam and 156601 yatris to Baltal.

One more yatri Ashok Kumar, (40) of Rasmesh Nagar, Delhi died at Mahaguns Top due to cardiac arrest. Today, another batch of yatris left Jammu for Kashmir valley, an official spokesman said.

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Getting mobile connection uphill task in J&K

Jammu, August 22
Getting a mobile phone connection may be a child’s play in most parts of the country, but not so in Jammu and Kashmir.

In this state that has been battling against terrorism for almost 15 years now, it can take anything up to two months to get a mobile connection after one applies for it.

The problems for intending mobile phone users in this state are compounded by a large number of factors, including the absence of private players so far.

Till now, the only company operating in the state is the state-run BSNL. Also, there is no concept of pre-paid mobile connections here, which makes it impossible for people coming here for a short period to use their handsets.

Moreover, with no private players operating in this region the roaming facility also doesn’t work here.

However, the official explanation that the ultras might use mobiles for their activities also doesn’t hold much water since the terrorists network through much advanced satellite phones. According to official figures, right now there are only around 40,000 subscribers of mobile phones in the state although the demand for the service is much more.

According to estimates,there are at least between one lakh to 1.5 lakh people waiting to get a mobile connection.

The BSNL launched its mobile phone service in Jammu and Kashmir in September last year. At that time the demand for connections was so large that initially the lucky ones were chosen by draws.

Another problem faced by mobile phone users here is the quality of service being provided by the BSNL, which leaves much to be desired.

The subscribers complain that most of the times connectivity is very poor.

The mobile service also does not work in the border areas because of jamming at the Indo-Pakistan border and this adds to the woes of the consumers. — PTI

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Hurriyat (Abbas) to meet on Aug 24
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 22
A crucial meeting of the working committee and the general council of the Separatist Hurriyat Conference (Abbas) will be held here on Tuesday. This would be its first meeting after the breakaway faction leader, Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani, floated his new party here recently, outside his parent organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami.

A decision to hold a joint meeting was held at the three-hour-long executive council meet of the Hurriyat Conference here on Thursday. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of acting chairman, Mr Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

A spokesman of the APHC said it was decided that four new cells of the Administrative, Press, Public Relations and Human Rights would be created. He said Mr Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi, chairman of the Peoples Political Front, would be the head of the Administrative wing, while Shahidul Islam, special secretary to Mirwaiz, would be its press secretary. Mr Syed Saleem Geelani would be appointed as the chief of the Public Relations cell and Mohammad Yusuf Naqash as head of the Human Rights cell.

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Police told to probe youths’ disappearance

Srinagar, August 22
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the police to register a case into the enforced custodial disappearance of two youths, reportedly arrested by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from Batamaloo 14 years ago.

The high court order came on a writ petition that Muhmmad Maqbool Bhat, son of Habibullah Bhat, and Naseer Ahmad Dar of Kangan Bagh had left their homes on July 21, 1990, and their whereabouts remain unknown till date. The petitioner alleged that the youths were reportedly arrested by the CRPF.

Justice R.C. Gandhi in his judgement ordered Batamaloo police station to immediately start investigating the case.

The Additional Advocate General, Mohammad Ameen Rathore, in his argument told the court he did not know that the Gangbugh area came under the purview of Batamaloo police station.

However, the Judge asked the SHO, Batamaloo, to hand over the case to police station concerned if the Gangbugh area does not come under the purview of Batamaloo police station. — UNI

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Army deserter arrested

Jammu, August 22
Army officials yesterday arrested a sepoy who had deserted allegedly the troops during an operation in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said. Sepoy Gurmeet Singh, who had deserted Army during an operation in Parholi area along the Line of Control in Rajaouri district on Thursday night, was arrested this morning from a bus stand in Gurdaspur, Punjab, the sources said.

The jawan had escaped from the spot during the operation along with his service weapon and other ammunition, they said. Armed forces launched an operation to trace out, they said adding that on specific information, a team of army officials was sent to Punjab yesterday. Gurmeet had gone to his home in Gurdaspur after fleeing from operation, they said, adding he was being brought back here for interrogation. — PTI

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Suicide by jawan

Jammu, August 22
A jawan has committed suicide by shooting himself with his service revolver in Rajauri district of Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said on Saturday. Identified as Sepoy Kala Sathia, the jawan was on guard duty at a camp in Bathra area of Rajauri district last night when the incident took place, they said. The jawan died on the spot. The reason behind his suicide was not known yet. — PTI

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Jawan hurt in blast

Jammu, August 22
An Army jawan has been injured in a landmine blast in the Doonga area in Rajouri district, according to official sources. The mishap took place on Friday when the jawan identified as Gurvinder Singh was patrolling near the Line of Control in the area, the sources said. He has been hospitalised. — PTI

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Student dies in accident

Jammu, August 22
A student was killed on the spot when the scooter he was riding on was hit by a minibus near Kunjwani here on Saturday. The police said the incident occurred when Neeraj (13), a student of class VI, was going to school on the scooter with his sister. She has received minor injuries. Neeraj was a student of the Army School of Kunjwani. — UNI

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MP hurt as revolver goes off

Jammu, August 22
Congress MP from Doda-Udhampur constituency Lal Singh was injured in his leg after his revolver went off accidentally at Kathua railway station about 90 km from here today. The police said the licensed revolver of Mr Lal Singh went off as he tried to unload it. He was taken to a private nursing home from where he was discharged after a minor operation. — PTI

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2 Scouts to get President’s award
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 22
Two Scouts of Kendriya Vidyalaya number one here, Jasleen Singh and Ankush, have qualified for the President’s award. The two Scouts had appeared for the Rashtrapati Scouts Award test at the national level.

According to the Principal of the school, they have been active members of the scouting movement They had qualified for the state award in a test in New Delhi in 2002.

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