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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R    E D I T I O N

Bill on delimitation rejected
Jammu, March 6
Turning out to be a hard nut to crack for pro-Jammu parties, like the Panthers Party, the BJP and the JSM, state Legislative Assembly today rejected a Bill seeking increase in the number of the Assembly constituencies proportionate to size, population and topography of the Jammu region.

  House adjourned amid ruckus 

Job to each family
Oppn stages walkout over govt’s denial

Jammu, March 6
After the NC-Congress government denied of having made any commitment to provide one government job to at least one member of each family in the state, the entire Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly here today.

Cordoning off of religious places 
Mirwaiz Umar threatens stir 

Srinagar, March 6
APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has expressed concern over the frequent incidents of cordoning off of places of worship by the security forces. He alleged it amounted to interference in the religious affairs of people of Kashmir.



YOUR TOWN
Jammu
Srinagar


EARLIER STORIES

1 killed, 30 injured in clashes
Srinagar, March 6
Agitators attack a police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar One person was killed and at least 30 others, including 10 police personnel, were injured in clashes after the Friday prayers in the downtown Nowhatta area here and Sopore town of north Kashmir today. 




Agitators attack a police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar on Friday. Tribune photo: Amin War

Couple hurt in blast at Bhaderwah
Udhampur, March 6
Farooq Ahmed being shifted to GMC, Jammu A couple was injured in a grenade blast in a house at Bhaderwah early this morning. The two were tenants in the house of Arfat Goni, who along with his family has been living in Jammu.




Farooq Ahmed being shifted to GMC, Jammu, on Friday. 
Tribune photo: Anand Sharma

Transport policy to curb mishaps mooted
Jammu, March 6
The government plans to formulate a comprehensive transport policy to rein in road accidents, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayti Raj Ali Mohammad Sagar said in the Legislative Council today.

Eve-teasing: Police inaction alleged
Jammu, March 6
The traffic police seems to have turned a blind eye toward law violators, as the department has been ignoring serious complaints of rash driving, overloading and even eve teasing.

Revenue officials booked for encroaching land
Jammu, March 6
The Crime Branch today registered a case against Revenue Department officials and three other persons for encroaching a piece of land in Sunjwan village. The land belonged to the Evacuees Property Department.

VDC members await salaries
Jammu, March 6
Members of village defence committees today held a demonstration here against the non-payment of their salaries.

Thief names cop as accomplice
Srinagar, March 6
High drama prevailed in Safakadal in downtown today where locals caught an alleged thief in the night and he “confessed” to them that he broke into houses on the prompting of an ASI.

Inter-collegiate athletic meet ends
Jammu, March 6 \
The Inter-collegiate annual athletic meet concluded here today at the campus of Jammu University. Governor of the state who also happens to be the chancellor of the varsity was the chief guest on the occasion.








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Bill on delimitation rejected
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
Turning out to be a hard nut to crack for pro-Jammu parties, like the Panthers Party, the BJP and the JSM, state Legislative Assembly today rejected a Bill seeking increase in the number of the Assembly constituencies proportionate to size, population and topography of the Jammu region.

Panther’s Party legislators Harsh Dev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal, staged a walkout in protest after the House via voice-vote rejected the Bill.

Harsh had moved a private member’s Bill for leave to introduce

“The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Amendment) Bill 2009” seeking increase in the number of Assembly constituencies via fresh delimitation.

In the wake of the long-pending demand for constitution of the delimitation commission so as to redraw Assembly constituencies and remove regional discrimination, the Bill should be passed, he said.

He coined a suggestion of having 52 Assembly seats each for Jammu and Kashmir regions, while having six for Ladakh region.

Besides this, 30 seats should be kept for the PoK refugees, out of which eight seats should be filled up from families, which have settled in Jammu, after being uprooted because of wars with Pakistan.

Harsh also sought an increase in the reserved seats for women from two to six.

Yet again, he cited population, size and difficult topography of Jammu region vis-ŕ-vis Kashmir region.

Despite having bigger population, larger size and difficult terrain the Jammu region has 37 seats compared to 46 of the Kashmir region, he said, adding that BJP, too, had been raising this demand.

However, Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, who opposed the Bill, reminded Harsh that if passed, the Bill would cast huge financial burden on a shackled state economy.

Accusing the government of being anti-Jammu, Harsh said he would not accept Rather’s logic and subsequently he, along with Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal, staged a walkout.

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House adjourned amid ruckus 

After Panthers Party legislator Harsh Dev Singh had staged a walkout over the rejection of a Bill seeking amendment to the state constitution to delimit Assembly constituencies earlier in the day, BJP, Panthers Party and JSM legislators stormed the well on the issue forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House here this evening.

It all happened when Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rahim Rather cited ‘constraints’ opposing a private member’s Bill introduced jointly by the BJP legislators Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Ashok Khajuria and Jugal Kishore.

The trio, too, had sought an amendment to the Constitution of the state so as to pave way for the Delimitation Commission to increase the Assembly constituencies of the Jammu region as per its area, population and difficult topography.

While Gupta was citing logics to seek passage to the Bill, Rather opposed it.

However, the BJP found an ally in Congress legislators Raman Bhalla and GM Saroori, who felt that being a sensitive issue associated with the aspirations of the people, the government should bring a Bill on its own.

BJP’s Ashok Khajuria and Jugal Kishore, raised doubts over the government’s intentions accusing it of deliberately depriving the Jammu region of political power.

Like Harsh Dev Singh, Chaman Lal Gupta also referred to area, population and topography of the Jammu region vis-ŕ-vis Kashmir, which has 46 Assembly seats compared to 37 of Jammu.

Amid ruckus, Rather said a consensus over the issue should be evolved in the House. In the last Assembly session of the previous government, they had moved a similar Bill, which was defeated because it required a two-thirds majority.

The government would take up the issue in the state Cabinet, he added. However, Rather failed to convince BJP, Panthers Party and JSM legislators, who stormed into the well of the Speaker.

Eventually, Lone had to adjourn the House for the day around 4.45 pm.

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Job to each family
Oppn stages walkout over govt’s denial
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
After the NC-Congress government denied of having made any commitment to provide one government job to at least one member of each family in the state, the entire Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly here today.

Even though Speaker Mohammed Akbar Lone tried to clarify what Industries and Commerce Minister Surjit Singh Salathia, holding labour and employment portfolio, meant to say, the Opposition comprising the PDP, the BJP, the Panthers Party and the Jammu State Morcha (JSM) created ruckus before staging a walkout.

Responding to a query of Panthers Party legislator Balwant Singh Mankotia during Question Hour as to whether the government had promised one job to at least one member of each family in the state, Salathia said no such proposal was under the consideration of the government.

Stung by Salathia’s statement, the Opposition MLAs were up on their feet reminding the ruling allies, particularly the NC, of its poll promise. Amid the din, the Opposition charged Salathia of telling white lies and misleading the House.

As pandemonium struck the House, the Speaker was heard as saying to the Opposition members that they misunderstood the minister.

However, JSM legislator Ashwani Kumar Sharma along with other legislators resorted to sloganeering, demanding that the government must fulfil its promise and jobs be given to the unemployed youth.

Mankotia, too, reminded the NC that during election rallies the party had promised one government job to each family in the state.

The Opposition described Salathia’s remarks as a bundle of lies and flayed the government for not having any employment policy to tackle the spiralling unemployment, which has gained an alarming proportion.

To counter Opposition’s onslaught, NC legislator Nazir Ahmed Gurezi said the PDP had also promised to provide two jobs to each family, but the same vanished into thin air after the party came to power.

If the PDP could not fulfil its promise in six years of its coalition rule, how the NC, which had not completed even six weeks in office, could do it, he said.

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Cordoning off of religious places 
Mirwaiz Umar threatens stir 
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 6
APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has expressed concern over the frequent incidents of cordoning off of places of worship by the security forces. He alleged it amounted to interference in the religious affairs of people of Kashmir.

He said the places of worship, particularly the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, was being cordoned off frequently by the security forces, thereby preventing people from offering prayers.

Addressing the Friday congregation at the Jamia Masjid here today, the Mirwaiz threatened to launch a mass agitation in case such incidents were not stopped forthwith.

In view of the protest demonstrations against the killing of two youth allegedly by the security forces in Sopore last month and the mysterious killing of a youth here, the police and the security forces had imposed restrictions in different parts of the city and other major towns of north Kashmir. As a result of the restrictions, the Friday prayers could not be held at the Jamia Masjid last week.

The Mirwaiz, who delivers the weekly sermon, was also kept under house arrest to prevent him from proceeding to the Jamia Masjid.

The Nowhatta area around the Jamia Masjid like some other areas of Srinagar downtown has been witness to series of protest demonstrations during the three-month-long Amarnath land row. This was followed by the frequent protest demonstrations during the election days particularly Fridays during the Assembly elections held between November 17 and December 24 last year. The restrictions were imposed by the police and security agencies to prevent the recurrence of the protests and prevent people from marching to district headquarters on the election dates. This was part of the anti-election programme launched by various separatist organisations.

The Mirwaiz today also sought the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to take a serious note of interference in the religious affairs of people of Kashmir and convene an emergency session in this regard.

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1 killed, 30 injured in clashes
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 6
One person was killed and at least 30 others, including 10 police personnel, were injured in clashes after the Friday prayers in the downtown Nowhatta area here and Sopore town of north Kashmir today. The police resorted to a canecharge, lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air to quell the demonstrators in Jamia Masjid area here after the prayers and in Sopore town of Baramulla district in north Kashmir.

The protesters were demanding action against those responsible for the killing of two civilians, allegedly by the Army, at Bomai, near Sopore, recently, and the release of all those detained during the Amarnath land row agitation and the Assembly elections.

Strict restrictions were imposed in the Jamia Masjid area last Friday which had prevented such incidents even as Friday prayers were not offered at Jama Masjid last week. Trouble started around the Jama Masjid area this afternoon soon after the Friday prayers. Eyewitnesses said that agitated youth pelted stones on police and CRPF personnel deployed in the area in large numbers, prompting securitymen to chase away the protesters. The police lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air to disperse the protesters in which at least 18 persons were injured.

One of the protesters with bullet injuries, Shahid Ahmad Ahangar, succumbed to his injuries in SMHS hospital, the police said. Another youth, Shabir Ahmad Baba of Buchpora, who was injured when hit by a speeding CRPF vehicle in the melee, has also been admitted to the SMHS hospital. His condition was stated to be critical

Officials said agitated youths attacked the vehicles escorting a CRPF Commandant during the clashes near Nowhatta. However, the CRPF officer escaped unhurt while five jawans were hurt in the clashes. The situation was tense in most parts of downtown, including Rajouri Kadal, Rainawari, Kawdara and Safakadal, following the death of Shahid Ahmad Ahangar.

The Police lobbed tear gas shells and fired in air in Sopore where demonstrations were held after the Friday prayers against the killing of two youths at Bomai village on February 21. At least six persons were injured in the clashes there.

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Couple hurt in blast at Bhaderwah
Dinesh Manhotra
Tribune News Service

Udhampur, March 6
A couple was injured in a grenade blast in a house at Bhaderwah early this morning. The two were tenants in the house of Arfat Goni, who along with his family has been living in Jammu.

The injured have been identified as Farooq Ahmed and his wife, Shameema, native of Bhalesa area of Gandoh tehsil, presently putting up at Bhaderwah.

Although senior police officers have been “investigating” the matter to ascertain the real cause of the blast, sources said that the couple was fiddling with the grenade when it exploded.

Tension gripped Bhaderwah after the explosion as residents took it as a militant attack.

The police rushed to the spot and shifted the injured couple to hospital.

The couple told the police that militants had hurled a grenade in the house. “We are trying to ascertain the real cause of the blast”, Hemant Kumar Lohia, DIG, Doda-Ramban range, said, adding that a “police team had been rushed to the spot to collect circumstantial evidence”.

Sources said the police had picked up two suspects after the blast. It is worthwhile to mention here that two Laskher-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists, including a foreigner, were killed in an encounter at this house on September 18, 2007, when they were planning to target the then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

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Transport policy to curb mishaps mooted
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
The government plans to formulate a comprehensive transport policy to rein in road accidents, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayti Raj Ali Mohammad Sagar said in the Legislative Council today.

Under the new policy, coordination among departments like roads and buildings, police, urban development, transport and allied agencies would be made mandatory. Regarding the inconvenience caused to women passengers, Sagar said directions had been issued to transport functionaries for earmarking seats for them as well as handicapped. Taj Mohi-ud-Din, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister, said in reply to a calling-attention motion moved by Rashid Qureshi that 69,918 families had been covered in Poonch district under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS). As far as Mendhar tehsil was concerned 17488 families stood covered under the TPDS. 

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Eve-teasing: Police inaction alleged
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
The traffic police seems to have turned a blind eye toward law violators, as the department has been ignoring serious complaints of rash driving, overloading and even eve teasing.

In one such incident recently, a woman reporter with The Tribune, while on her way back home after finishing office work, was harassed by the conductor and the driver of a Matador in a drunken state. The reporter lodged a complaint with the SSP, Traffic, Jammu, who assured her of action against the culprits.

However, when no action was taken, a Tribune team requested the SSP, Traffic, to look into the issue personally.

The SSP, who had assured of action against the culprits, today called the reporter to identify them. However, on reaching the office of the SSP, no accused was present and the officer told the reporter that “they are here and you people should talk to them yourself.”

When the SSP was reminded that it was his duty to punish the accused, he said he had other important issues to address. “I have to attend a meeting at the DC office.”

“When I called the SSP, Traffic, he told me that I should not pursue the case, as who would be responsible if the accused commit some crime after being let off,” the victim reporter said.

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Revenue officials booked for encroaching land
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
The Crime Branch today registered a case against Revenue Department officials and three other persons for encroaching a piece of land in Sunjwan village. The land belonged to the Evacuees Property Department.

The case has been registered against revenue officials and Amrit Kour of Phinder, Romesh Badyal of Ward No 12, Bari Brahmana and another woman Suman Bansal of Canal Road. Talking to The Tribune, SSP, Crime Branch, JP Singh said the Crime Branch received a photocopy of an order issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, dated December 15, 2007.

The order says that land falling under Khasra No 874 measuring eight Kanal and 17 Marla situated at Sunjwan Village has been found recorded under the cultivation of one Tillo Ram on payment of rent “Nakdi Hasab Part Deh” without the permission of the department. On the spot checking revealed that the land was in possession of private builders and the copy of record of right pertaining to years 1998-99 of Sunjwan village, also revealed that Khasra No 874 belongs to one Mir-ud-Din and it was in his personal cultivation, said the SSP.

However, the report of Patwari concerned counter signed by the Girdawar and Tehsildar Settlement revealed that the said land stands mutated in the name of Amrit Kour, who in turn sold it to Suman Bansal. The land belongs to the Evacuees Property Department and without its permission neither the land can be transferred nor alienated, he added.

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VDC members await salaries
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6
Members of village defence committees today held a demonstration here against the non-payment of their salaries.

The protesters blamed the successive governments for ignoring their longpending demands after the formation of VDCs in1995. VDC member Rajeev Charak said despite VDC members risking their lives fighting militants in far-off areas, the government has decreased their salary from Rs 1125 to Rs 420.

The protesters demanded that the government should provide salaries to VDC members on the same pattern as SPOs. “We have been given outdated weapons to fight against militants armed with sophisticated weapons but still we risk our lives to save the lives of common villagers,” Charak said.

“Whether it is the Army, police, paramilitary forces or any other security agency our men have been giving their support in operations but despite appreciating their work the government has turned a blind eye towards them,” Dr Tirth Singh Bali, coordinator of the VDC forum, said. The protesting VDC members appealed to the people and the political class to support the VDC members in their fight for their basic rights.

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Thief names cop as accomplice
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 6
High drama prevailed in Safakadal in downtown today where locals caught an alleged thief in the night and he “confessed” to them that he broke into houses on the prompting of an ASI.

Locals said they nabbed Umar, a local resident, following a spate of thefts in the area. Agitated people snipped his hair and beat him up. What added fuel to the fire was his claim that ASI Bashir would direct him to houses.

As it caused mayhem in the area SP Wahid Shah reached the spot to pacify the crowd.

However, the SP said the thief had implicated a cop to deflect the people’s anger. Shah claimed that there was no police official posted locally by this name. The accused was, however, arrested and a case registered.

“I don’t know about the thief’s claims but nobody trusts cops here as they are hand in glove with criminals,” Abdul Sattar, a trader, said.

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Inter-collegiate athletic meet ends
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 6\
The Inter-collegiate annual athletic meet concluded here today at the campus of Jammu University. Governor of the state who also happens to be the chancellor of the varsity was the chief guest on the occasion.

Giving details of the event, director of sports and physical education, Prof Lokesh Verma said 266 students from different departments of the varsity and affiliated colleges participated in the event.

In 500 m race (men), Shinda Kumar from Government MAM College bagged first prize, whereas in high jump (men) Marinder Singh of the same college got 
first position.

Similarly, in Disc Throw (men), Jugal Kishore of GDC, Udhampur, got first prize and in 400 m race (men), Opinder Singh of the varsity department received first prize.

In 1,500 m race (women), Reema Chhatri of Government Women College Parade got first prize. In 100 m (men), Jai Kumar of Trikuta Degree College garnered the first prize whereas in 100 m race (women), Monika from Women College Parade received the first prize.

In the Relay race (men), Amnider Singh, Manider Singh, Mushtaq and Sandeep were declared winners while in the women category Manpreet Kaur, Kajal Rani, Reema Chhatri and Monika Chalotra from Women College Parade won first position.

Jai Kumar of Trikuta Degree College and Jugal Kumar of Government Degree College, Udhampur, were declared joint best athletes in men section, while Monika was declared as best in the women category.

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