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Governor faces NC wrath on rights issue
Jammu, February 27
Battlelines are drawn between the Congress-led coalition govt and the opposition National Conference as members of NC today ‘greeted’ the Governor, Lieut. Gen. S.K. Sinha (retd), to the legislature complex with anti-government slogans. Gulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, talks to Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Husain Baigh (left) on the first day of the Budget session of the state Assembly in Jammu on Monday.
Gulam Nabi Azad, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, talks to Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Husain Baigh (left) on the first day of the Budget session of the state Assembly in Jammu on Monday. — PTI photo

Hurriyat rejected invitation at Pak’s behest: Qureshi
Hashim Qureshi Srinagar, February 27
Democratic Liberation Party (DLP) Chairman Hashim Qureshi today said the moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq rejected the invitation to attend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s round-table conference at ‘’Pakistan’s behest’’.



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National highway reopened
Jammu, February 27
After remaining closed for the past two days due to landslides, the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway reopened today for traffic.

Lovers commit suicide
Jammu, February 27
A young man and his beloved, hailing from Punjab, allegedly committed suicide in the Katra area here after their attempts to marry were thwarted by their families, police sources said today.

Militants hurl grenade on security forces
Srinagar, February 27
Militants hurled a grenade targeting a security patrol in Baramula district today, official sources said.


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Governor faces NC wrath on rights issue
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 27
Battlelines are drawn between the Congress-led coalition government and the opposition National Conference (NC) as members of NC today ‘greeted’ the Governor, Lieut. Gen. S.K. Sinha (retd), to the legislature complex with anti-government slogans on the issue of human rights violations in the valley. They also sought a judicial inquiry into the killing of four boys at Handwara during an encounter between the Army and terrorists.

The NC legislators boycotted the proceedings and raised slogans outside the Central Hall while the Governor addressed the joint sitting of both Houses on the opening day of the Budget session. Within the hall, the CPI MLC, Mr Abdul Rehman Takroo, interrupted the Governor and raised the issue of human rights violations in the valley.

He said while on one hand the government was engaged in the peace process, on the other hand the incidents of human rights violation had increased in the valley. NC members led by Mr Abdul Rahim Rather, Leader of the Opposition, gathered outside the legislature complex in the morning and started raising slogans against the government.

They continued to raise the issue till the Governor left the complex after delivering his 90-minute address.

Thereafter, they assembled in the lobby and raised slogans while the House met.

Mr Rather demanded that action should be taken against the Army personnel who were involved in the killing of the four boys. He wanted that a judicial Inquiry by a sitting judge of the High Court should be ordered into the incident.

In his address Governor Sinha said the government had given clear instructions to the security forces that common man should not be brought to any harm while fighting terrorism and violence and that the collateral damage, if unavoidable, has to be absolutely minimum.

He said the state government was totally against all forms of excesses and would not hesitate to take action under law where such excesses are reported and proved.

‘‘The state government wholeheartedly supports the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan and the confidence building measures (CBMs) agreed upon by the two governments. It is hoped that the ongoing dialogue and CBMs lead to an era of permanent peace between the two countries’’, he said.

The Governor said the first priority of the government was to restore normalcy in the state to enable everyone to live and work without fear. ‘‘As a result of the coordinated efforts of the Army, para-military forces and the police and with the support of the ordinary people, the graph of terrorist violence is going down’’.

The year 2005 registered a drop of 24 per cent as compared to the last year in the killing of civilians and political activists.

In all 917 terrorists were killed in 2005. As many as 157 officers and jawans of the Army and para-military forces, 32 officers and jawans of the J&K Police, 37 special police officers (SPOs) and 18 members of the village defence committees had sacrificed their lives while fighting militancy last year.

Referring to the reopening of the road link between Srinagar and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Governor said earlier in the year India took a great step forward in facilitating contact between the divided families of the state by opening the Jhelum valley road for passenger traffic.

‘‘The bus to PoK may be a small beginning, but I am sure, it will pierce through the frozen mindset that have promoted violence and hatred and help usher in an era of goodwill and people to people contact, the need for which is increasingly realised in the new global scenario’’.

‘‘The recent announcement by the governments of India and Pakistan to allow trucks with merchandise to ply on the road has a great significance for the economy of the state. The start of the Poonch-Rawlakote bus service will be a boon for the people of the border areas of the Jammu province who are cut off from their kith and kin as a result of political problems’’, he added.

The Governor reiterated that the government was keen to ensure safe and respectable return of the Kashmiri migrants to their homes in the valley.

He also listed various achievements of the government and steps taken for development of the state.

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Hurriyat rejected invitation at Pak’s behest: Qureshi

Srinagar, February 27
Democratic Liberation Party (DLP) Chairman Hashim Qureshi today said the moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq rejected the invitation to attend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s round-table conference at ‘’Pakistan’s behest’’.

“I can say with absolute confidence that the Hurriyat and other separatist leaders refused to attend the round-table conference at the behest of Pakistan. Their masters across the border ordered them not to attend the meet,” Qureshi told a news conference here.

He said Pakistan and their “masters across the border” did not want them (separatists) to take part in any such meet before United States President George W Bush’s scheduled visit to India.

“The same tactics were used by Pakistan before the previous SAARC Summit,” he added.

Qureshi expressed surprise over the refusal of moderate Hurriyat leaders, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik and People’s Conference chief Sajjad Ghani Lone to attend the meet.

“Their refusal to take part in the round-table came as a surprise as they had already held talks with the Prime Minister. By declining the offer they have dejected the people of the state...It is a setback to the people,” the DLP Chief added.

However, he said breakaway Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s refusal was “understood’’ as he had declined all previous offers to hold the dialogue process with the Indian leadership.

Qureshi was the only separatist leader from Jammu and Kashmir to attend the round-table conference in New Delhi on February 25.

However, he said the absence of separatist leaders was ‘’widely felt’’ at the round-table conference.

The DLP Chairman said the US or Mr Bush have “absolutely no role’’ in the resolution of the vexed Kashmir issue and accused Pakistan of being ‘’an agent state of America’’.

‘’Pakistan is an agent state of the US. But, let us tell the whole world that the US or Mr Bush have nor role in the Kashmir resolution. Their mediation on the issue is totally unacceptable. The issue has to be resolved only by the three parties concerned - India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir,’’ he added.

Qureshi said he urged the Prime Minister to ensure ‘’dignified’’ return of disgruntled Kashmiri youths who had crossed over to Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for arms training and want to come back.

He also requested Dr Singh to convene a round-table only for separatists before the second conclave in May.

“I also requested the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley besides check in human rights violations and restoration of peace in the state,’’ Qureshi said.

“Human Rights violations, custodial killings and disappearances should come to an end in Jammu and Kashmir....these acts contribute to the increase in hatred,’’ he added.

Qureshi came into the limelight when he along with his brother Ashraf Qureshi and three others hijacked the Indian Airlines Fokker Friendship plane, also known as Ganga, on January 30, 1971 when it was on flight from Srinagar to Jammu.

The hijackers took the plane to Lahore, where they blew it up after letting the passengers alight.

Qureshi returned to India from Denmark in December 2000 and surrendered before the authorities. He is facing trial in the hijacking case. — UNI

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National highway reopened

Jammu, February 27
After remaining closed for the past two days due to landslides, the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway reopened today for traffic.

“The national highway has been reopened at around 11 am today after remaining blocked for two days due to landslides and shooting stones,” the Deputy Inspector-General, Traffic, Mr Mohmmad Amin Shah.

“No vehicle is stranded on the Jammu or Srinagar side of the highway,” he said, adding movement of the traffic is going on smoothly. — PTI

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Lovers commit suicide

Jammu, February 27
A young man and his beloved, hailing from Punjab, allegedly committed suicide in the Katra area here after their attempts to marry were thwarted by their families, police sources said today.

Rohit and Geetanjali from Pathankot and Ludhiana, respectively, allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison last night. Their bodies were found from the Katra Stadium. An empty bottle of poison was also found by the side of the bodies.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the two took the extreme step after their efforts to get married failed following opposition by their families. — PTI

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Militants hurl grenade on security forces

Srinagar, February 27
Militants hurled a grenade targeting a security patrol in Baramula district today, official sources said.

The explosive, lobbed at the patrol in Sopore town, 55 km from here, fell short of the target and exploded on the road without causing any damage, the sources said.

However, the security forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the culprits behind the act, they added. — PTI

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