SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



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 in Leh
Jammu, February 8
Curfew was clamped in Leh town today when communal tension gripped the town following incidents of arson and violence between members of two communities.

Charge sheet against Dy Director, 7 others
Srinagar, February 8
The Jammu and Kashmir Vigilance Organisation has produced chargesheet against two senior government officials, including a Deputy Director of the Social Welfare Department, and six others in a court for allegedly making illegal appointments.

Kashmiri youth keen on joining Army, defy militants’ threats
Jammu, February 8
When thousands of Kashmiri youths appeared at the Army recruitment rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital on Tuesday in the face of threats from various militant groups, it sent three messages to the separatists and the government.

40 Kashmiri Pandits take part in Army’s recruitment drive
Langate, Kupwara, February 8
As many as 40 migrant Kashmiri Pandit youth today lined up with thousands of Muslim brethren to take part in the Army’s five day recruitment drive in this border district of Jammu and Kashmir.



YOUR TOWN
Jammu


EARLIER STORIES
  Seized weapons rust as forces continue to spend on new
Jammu, February 8
Large quantities of arms and ammunition seized from militants during the past over 16 years may get wasted in the police and Army armoury if the government failed to have a definite policy on their utilisation.

10 mini-power projects approved
Jammu, February 8
Faced with an acute power shortage, the Jammu and Kashmir Government yesterday approved immediate execution of 10 mini and micro hydroelectric projects to generate 97 MWs of electricity by the private sector.

Ministry expansion: Azad keeps MLAs guessing
Jammu, February 8
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has been keeping the legislators of his ruling coalition guessing about the expansion of his 13-member ministry. The legislators seeking a ministerial berth these days are keeping close watch on the activities in the CM’s circles. They became alert this afternoon when word spread that Mr Azad was going to Raj Bhavan at 4 pm to meet the Governor.

Man arrested for attack on Minister
Jammu, February 8
Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Science and Information Technology Taj Mohiuddin was allegedly assulted by a retired engineer after an altercation at the civil secretariat here, official sources said today.

CRPF driver shoots self
Jammu, February 8
A Central Reserve Police Force man allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon at a camp on the outskirts of Jammu city last night, official sources said.


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Curfew in Leh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 8
Curfew was clamped in Leh town today when communal tension gripped the town following incidents of arson and violence between members of two communities.
The town, which generally has remained peaceful, turned violent following desecration of a religious place by members of one community, the other community retaliated by throwing a few stones on another’s religious place.

Such incidents continued since yesterday, but the situation suddenly took a serious turn after a large number of lamas gathered in the town to protest against these incidents.

Deputy Commissioner, Satesh Nehru, imposed curfew to prevent further violence.

However, Section 144 replaced the curfew later in the evening so that Shias could take out the Muharram procession. They were asked not to take the route towards the Buddhist monastery.

Meanwhile, Mr Nehru convened a meeting of religious heads to defuse the situation.

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Charge sheet against Dy Director, 7 others

Srinagar, February 8
The Jammu and Kashmir Vigilance Organisation has produced chargesheet against two senior government officials, including a Deputy Director of the Social Welfare Department, and six others in a court for allegedly making illegal appointments.

An official spokesman said here today that the case was registered on the complaint of Abdul Aziz, a resident of Rajouri in the Jammu region, alleging that the District Social Welfare Officer, Rajouri, demanded and accepted a bribe of Rs 45,000 each from him and three others for arranging a job in the Social Welfare Department.

In the course of investigations, it was established that the then Deputy Director, Social Welfare Department, Jammu, Mohammad Tariq Mir, and his Section Officer, Sat Pal Sharma, had allegedly misused their official position by appointing six persons in the department without competence and adhering to the procedure, he added.

The accused official issued appointment orders on forged dispatch numbers, the spokesman said, adding the investigations also proved that the Social Welfare Minister’s recommendations were superimposed on the applications by him.

The evidence gathered during the inquiry established a prima facie case against the accused, he added.

The spokesman said the charge sheet against all accused was produced before the court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu yesterday.

The next date of hearing has been fixed on March 18, he added. — UNI

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Kashmiri youth keen on joining Army,
defy militants’ threats

M.L.Kak

Jammu, February 8
When thousands of Kashmiri youths appeared at the Army recruitment rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital on Tuesday in the face of threats from various militant groups, it sent three messages to the separatists and the government.
Besides the Muzaffarabad-based Jehad Council, Hizbul Mujahideen rebel outfit had dished out threats to the family members of those youths who had participated in the Army recruitment rally.

While the Jehad Council,Lashkar-i-Toiba and Al Badr had directed the Kashmiri youths to stay away from the recruitment rally, Hizbul Mujahideen had threatened that the family members of those youths who participated in the rally, would be pushed out of the valley after locking their houses.

Despite these threats, more than 10,000 Kashmiri youths appeared for an interview at the Army recruitment rally.

The first inference is that the level of unemployment in the Kashmir valley has touched a new high forcing the youth to defy militant threats and seek jobs in the Army.

Secondly, it was a clear hint to the separatists, especially the rebels, that their ideologies and plans have no relevance for the Kashmiri people who had lost more than 40,000 of their kith and kin. During the last 16 years, their trade and job opportunities have suffered a severe setback.

A year ago, Mufti Mohd Sayeed, who them headed the coalition government, persuaded the Indian Air Force to hold the recruitment rally in Srinagar.

In the first such exercise, several hundred Kashmiri youths had appeared for the written test and viva voce.

The IAF authorities had confirmed that the response to the rally was the highest ever from the Kashmir valley.

Apparently, people in Kashmir are fed up with the prolonged militancy related turmoil and hence they keep on encouraging their wards in seeking better job avenues outside the state government.

And the high level of response to the Army recruitment rally clearly indicated that the rebel groups could no longer ensure that their writ would run in the valley.

Thirdly, the role the Army played in carrying out relief and rescue measures, during the October 8 earthquake has convinced many in Kashmir that the troops are not their ‘killers.’

The level of unemployment in the state has remained a constant worry for the successive chief Ministers. Right from Dr Farooq Abdullah to Mufti Mohd.Sayeed and now Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad their main plea with the centre was to increase job opportunities for Kashmiri youths.

Mufti Mohd Sayeed was instrumental in persuading the central Government for sanctioning seven battalions of Home and Hearth territorial Army.

Even response to a recruitment drive for the Territorial Army during the last one year has been phenomenal.

Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, is confident that return of peace and normalcy to the state will mainly depend on engaging Kashmiri youths in gainful employment.

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40 Kashmiri Pandits take part in
Army’s recruitment drive

Langate, Kupwara, February 8
As many as 40 migrant Kashmiri Pandit youth today lined up with thousands of Muslim brethren to take part in the Army’s five day recruitment drive in this border district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Pandit youth had come all the way to this militancy- prone area from different migrant camps in the Jammu region.

There are 80 posts for which thousands of Kashmiri youth would test their fate during the Army’s recruitment drive, which began yesterday and will end on February 11.

The Army will then hold the recruitment rally at border district of Baramula in north Kashmir followed by another at Rangreth near Srinagar.

Talking to UNI, Vikas, one of the 40, said unemployment was the main reason that drove the Kashmiri Pandit youth to join the Army.

He has done Masters in Commerce and had been facing interviews and tests for several years now, but without success.

‘’I had tried my luck everywhere, but didn’t find a job. So, finally I decided to join the armed forces,’’ he added.

Coming from Purkhu camp near Jammu, Vikas said, he would be serving the nation by joining the army.

His sentiments were echoed by several other Kashmiri Pandit youth.

This is for the first time in past several years that so many Kashmiri Pandit youth have taken part in any recruitment drive conducted by the Army or para-military forces. — UNI

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Seized weapons rust as forces
continue to spend on new

M.L. Kak

Jammu, February 8
Large quantities of arms and ammunition seized from militants during the past over 16 years may get wasted in the police and Army armoury if the government failed to have a definite policy on their utilisation.

Official figures reveal that between 1990 and 2001 the security agencies seized 23,214 assault rifles in the state. During the past four years, more than 7,000 AK series rifles had been seized, raising the figure of total seizure of assault rifles to around 30,000.

A senior police official said in the initial years of militancy, major portion of the assault rifles seized from militants was given to police personnel engaged in anti-insurgency operations. This was done because of acute shortage of sophisticated weapons among the police and paramilitary forces.

The idea was to carry out gradual replacement of .303 guns that had become obsolete against the better weaponry of militants.

From 1996, when procurement of sophisticated weapons for the police began, the weapons seized from the militants found their way into the Kots at district headquarters, another police official said.

Those seized by the Army were generally put on display. At present, the police personnel do not face any shortage of sophisticated weapons and those engaged in anti-militancy operations had been equipped with assault rifles and SLRS, sources said.

Under the law, the security agencies were supposed to dump the seized weapons and ammunition in Kots and the stuff “can be used only after the court permission as for each seizure a case is filed at some police station”.

Had there been proper guidelines from the government, the arms and ammunition could so seized could be used by the security personnel thus reducing the burden on the state and the Central exchequer, another official said.

Around 15,000 pistols/revolvers had been seized by the security agencies from militants during the past 16 years and not more than 20 per cent had been used by “our forces and the rest had been dumped in the Kots”.

The security personnel could have been given the liberty of handling and using over 2,000 UMGs and RPGs seized from militants, sources said.

The case with explosives and hand grenades was quite different. The police said during the past 16 years, more than 45,000 hand grenades and over 20,000 kg explosives had been seized from militants, but more than 80 per cent of the stuff had to be destroyed.

A police official said several years ago some hand grenades seized from militants had been kept at the Safakadal police station Kot. One evening, a constable had went inside the Kot for some work. While he was examining some files, power supply got disrupted and the constable lit a candle. One hand grenade caught fire and the entire police station was damaged. Since then, the security forces have started defusing or destroying grenades and other explosives.

Security experts favour proper utilisation of arms and ammunition seized from militants in order avoid their rusting in the Kots. They argue that the quantity of weapons and ammunition seized during anti-insurgency operations could equip one division of the Army.

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10 mini-power projects approved
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 8
Faced with an acute power shortage, the Jammu and Kashmir Government yesterday approved immediate execution of 10 mini and micro hydroelectric projects to generate 97 MWs of electricity by the private sector.

Taking a serious note of the delay in assigning mini and micro hydroelectric projects to the private parties in the state, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad ordered the authorities to complete all formalities pertaining to 19 projects within the next two months so that work could be started in April.

Mr Azad, who was reviewing the power sector here, observed that in other states such projects were being completed in eight months but in J&K several years have been wasted in procedural delays.

He said that a time-frame for completion of these projects should be specified in the MoU.

The state government had offered 25 projects to the private sector, but response has been received for 19 projects that would generate 125 MW of electricity.

Mr Azad ordered that all hurdles and procedural delays in execution of mini and micro hydel projects should be removed. Work on these projects was pending for the last about 10 years.

He ordered that a single window system should be introduced for clearance of all power projects. He observed that in various cases geological and hydrological surveys were still pending.

He ordered the power development department to get these surveys done through official agencies within one month.

He asked the power department to examine the possibility of allowing the private sector to build power projects of 50 MW against the policy of 25 MW.

The Chief Minister said that the private sector should be involved in execution of the projects that had been declared feasible by the hydro and geological experts.

These projects include, Aharbal 22 mw, Branwar 5 mw, Hirpora 9 MW, Tangmarg 12 mw, Atwatoo 12 mw, Boonyar 1.3 mw, Kahmil Kupwara 5 mw, Rangila-Dunadi Doda 12 mw, Drung-Kathua 5 mw and Mandi-Poonch 12 mw.

The Chief Minister directed that work should be executed in these projects in double shift to complete these in the shortest possible time.

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Ministry expansion: Azad keeps MLAs guessing
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 8
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has been keeping the legislators of his ruling coalition guessing about the expansion of his 13-member ministry.
The legislators seeking a ministerial berth these days are keeping close watch on the activities in the CM’s circles. They became alert this afternoon when word spread that Mr Azad was going to Raj Bhavan at 4 pm to meet the Governor.

This led the rumour mill churning out stories of expansion tomorrow when the Azad-led ministry completes 100 days in office. However, disappointment came among the ministry seekers when it was known that the CM had gone to Raj Bhavan to join the Governor for a tea party thrown to honour those awarded on this Republic Day.

Curiosity has increased not only among the legislators, but also among the people following the recent reports in which Mr Azad had said that the ministry could be expanded any time now.

There is not that level of enthusiasm among the legislators of the PDP of Mufti Sayeed as being a local party; their nominees in the ministry would be decided here. Several legislators belonging to the Congress were hopping between here and Delhi in a bid to find a place in the ministry.

Sources said that expansion of the ministry was imminent, as Mr Azad has overburdened himself by retaining among others the portfolios of Health, Education and Revenue. Independent ministers because of the volume of work involved generally handled these portfolios.

It is another guess whether the expansion would be done before or after the budget session that begins on February 27. However, indications suggest that it might happen before the long stretched session so that the CM could reduce his burden.

With already 13 ministers, including Mr Azad, in the cabinet, there is room for 12 new ministers as the new law provides that the strength of the ministry would be restricted to 20 per cent of the membership of the two Houses which comes to 25. But these were indications that Mr Azad might not fill the 12 vacancies in one go and might induct eight new ministers this time.

Sources said that the Congress might get four ministerial berths, while the PDP may find three. The PDF was expected to find one more place in the ministry.

Five of the 14 districts in the state are unrepresented in the ministry.

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Man arrested for attack on Minister

Jammu, February 8
Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Science and Information Technology Taj Mohiuddin was allegedly assulted by a retired engineer after an altercation at the civil secretariat here, official sources said today. 

Firoz Din Sheikh, who belongs to the Minister’s Assembly constituency of Uri, was arrested, the sources said. Sheikh caught the Minister by his collar and assulted him in his office yesterday after a verbal duel over alleged irregularities in relief distribution in Uri, they said.

Mr Mohiuddin’s security guards rushed into the room and took Sheikh out. Later, a case was registered and he was arrested, the sources said. — PTI

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CRPF driver shoots self

Jammu, February 8
A Central Reserve Police Force man allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon at a camp on the outskirts of Jammu city last night, official sources said.

Head constable driver Mukhtiyar Singh allegedly shot himself inside a barrack of the 26 batalion of the CRPF, Sidhra camp last night, sources said.

Hearing the sound of gun shots, officers rushed to the barrack where they found him lying dead.

The body was shifted to the government medical college, where a post-mortem examination was conducted, they said. The deceased was a resident of Badarpur, Punjab.

His body has been sent to his native place, they said. The reason behind his extreme step was, however, not yet ascertained. —PTI

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Court orders release of 6 detainees

Srinagar, February 8
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has quashed the detention of six persons under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and ordered their immediate release.
Justice Imtiyaz Hussain passed the orders after hearing the arguments in the cases against Manzoor Inam-ul-Malik, Abdul Qayoom, Mohammad Akbar Dar, Manzoor Ahmad Mir, Ghulam Mohammad Shah and Sajjad Ahmad Wani. He quashed the charges against them and ordered their immediate release from different jails. — UNI

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JKPM joins Hurriyat Conference

Srinagar, February 8
The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement today joined the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.“The decision to join Hurriyat was taken at a meeting of the party taking into consideration the interest of the people of Kashmir,” JKPM general secretary Zaffar Khurshid Ahmad told reporters.
The Mirwaiz said the party would be given its due position in the amalgam. — PTI

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Charas seized, one held

Jammu, February 8
The Police recovered 8 kg of charas and arrested a man in this connection in Jammu city early today, official sources said.
A police team intercepted a car at Gangyal on the Jammu-Pathankot highway and recovered the contraband from the vehicle, the sources said. The driver of the car, identified as Mehraj Din of Banderpura village of Anantnag district, was arrested, they said adding, during questioning he confessed that he was smuggling charas to Punjab. A case has been registered under the Narcotics Act. — PTI

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