In Srinagar, people throng to make calls to their kin

There is a massive surge in the people going to Deputy Commissioner office daily for thronging the six helplines set up for people for making phone calls. As many as 14,000 phone calls have been made and received ever since the helplines were set up a week back.

There are 46 helplines that have been set up for people for making calls. Most of them have been set up in police stations.

But with just a few landlines operational, only some lucky ones get through to their loved ones.

“I am happy I could talk with my son who is studying in Delhi. I waited for hours for my turn”, said Fareeda.

“The challenge is to deal with people who are angry, mostly relatives of people who have gone on hajj pilgrimage are making calls mostly”, said Waheed who runs the operations at the helplines.

There are those who are happy to get in touch with their loved ones but many are returning disappointed.

Irfan is one of those who tried to call his parents who have gone on Hajj, but could not connect with them.

“It is very frustrating… I am not able to talk with my parents, their phones are out of range, I have been making desperate bids at calling them”, Irfan said

Ghulam Nabi is another of those who returned disappointed. He came with his wife to call his son in Oman.

“I have no contact with my son… I made many attempts to call him but couldn”t reach him. I want the communication blockade to go”, Ghulam Nabi said.


Restrictions imposed in Srinagar over separatist march

Authorities have imposed restrictions in Srinagar on Tuesday to prevent a separatist-called commemoration march.

The Hurriyat Conference has called for the march to the Martyrs Graveyard in the Old City’s Eidgah area to pay homage to two senior separatist leaders, Mirwaiz Moulana Moulvi Muhammad Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone, who were killed by unidentified assailants on this day in 1990 and 2002.

Mirwaiz Moulana Moulvi Muhammad Farooq, the father of Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was killed in his residence in the outskirts of the city on May 21, 1990. While, Abdul Gani Lone, father of Sajad Lone and Bilal Lone, was killed in the Martyrs Graveyard on May 21, 2002.

Restrictions were imposed in the city’s Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj and Safa Kadal areas.

Heavy contingents of state police and the CRPF have been deployed to maintain law and order.

Meanwhile, shops, public transport, other business establishments and educational institutions remained closed.



Civilian among three killed in Shopian gunfight in J&K

While a police statement said that three militants were killed in a gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district, it was confirmed later that one of the victim was a civilian.

The police said in a statement on Thursday that three militants were killed in the gunfight that took place earlier in the day in Handew village.

While two victims were identified as Yawar Mushtaq and Shakeel Ahmed, both Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants from Shopian, the third was identified as a civilian, Ishtiyaq Ahmed Bhat.

A soldier, Rohit Kumar Yadav who was injured in the gunfight, succumbed to his wounds on Thursday night in the Army’s 92 base hospital in Srinagar, the police said.

In Thursday’s two gunfights in Pulwama and Shopian districts killed a total of five militants, two civilians and two soldiers.

Three Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, including a top commander identified as a Pakistan national Khalid Bhai, a civilian and a soldier were killed in a gunfight in Dalipora village of Pulwama.

Police said Khalid Bhai had masterminded the 2017 attack on the Lethpora CRPF camp in Pulwama district in which five troopers were killed.

In a third shootout between the security forces and militants in Kupwara’s Kandi forests on Thursday, there were no reports of any casualty.



Farooq Abdullah is front-runner in Srinagar Lok Sabha seat

Four-time Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is the front-runner in the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha seat although he is locked in a triangular contest as he seeks re-election from here.

In his over 40-year-long political career, Abdullah, now 82, has lost only one election. That was in 2014 when Tariq Hameed Karra of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defeated him in Srinagar.

Karra later resigned both from the PDP and Parliament after which Abdullah avenged his defeat by winning the by-election in 2017 against Nazir Ahmad Khan of the PDP.

To ensure Abdullah’s victory, the National Conference has entered into an alliance with the Congress.

In return, the NC has not fielded any candidate in Jammu and Udhampur Lok Sabha seats to improve the victory margins of the Congress candidates.

In Srinagar, Abdullah is challenged mainly by Aga Syed Mohsin of the PDP and Irfan Raza Ansari of the Peoples Conference.

The BJP has fielded Khalid Jahangir, a former journalist who has never contested any election so far.

There are other candidates in the fray in Srinagar including from the National Panthers Party, Janata Dal-United and independents but their vote base in the constituency is unlikely to pose much of a problem for the veteran Abdullah, who has Jammu and Kashmir in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1996.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency is spread over three districts: Srinagar, Badgam and Ganderbal.

Since 1990, after militancy started in the state, urban voting segments like those in Srinagar city and elsewhere have recorded very low voter turnout, thereby leaving the destiny of contestants in the hands of voters in rural segments.

Abdullah won in 2017 when just 7 per cent of votes were polled and amid violence which left six people dead.

Abdullah’s winning prospects therefore depend heavily on the voter turnout in rural areas of Kangan, Ganderbal, Beerwah, Khansahib, Chrar-e-Sharief and Badgam.

Gujjar leader and former Minister Mian Altaf Ahmed has dominating political influence which is expected to help Abdullah in Kangan and Ganderbal.

In addition, the National Conference has strong pockets of influence in Beerwah, Badgam and Chrar-e-Sharief.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat has 12,90,318 voters and 1,716 polling stations.

In addition, 26 polling stations will be set up for migrant voters including 21 in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in New Delhi.

Srinagar will vote on April 18, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.



Enforcement Directorate attaches Shabir Shah’s Srinagar property

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached the immovable property of Shabir Ahmad Shah, the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), in Srinagar in a terror financing case, the agency said on Friday.
JKDFP, a separatist political party launched by Shah in May 1998, favours tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir’s representatives.
The ED attached Shah’s property located in Effandi Bagh, Rawalpora which was being held in the name of his wife and daughters. The attachment was made under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It was shown that the property had been gifted to Shah’s wife and daughters by his sisters-in-law in 2005, which was purchased in their name by his father-in-law in 1999, said the ED.
However, the agency said, that in spite of repeated opportunities given to his father-in-law and sisters-in-law, they failed to justify the sources of funds to acquire the property.
“Investigation has also revealed that Shabir Ahmad Shah is the de-facto owner of the property purchased vide unexplained source of fund by his father-in-law.”
Shah has been involved in carrying out “illicit activities” along with his accomplice Mohd Aslam Wani, an activist of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), said the ED.
“Shah was using Aslam Wani as a carrier for collecting hawala money sent by his Pakistan-based sympathizers through hawala operators to Srinagar,” said the ED.
During the investigation initiated by ED on the basis of charge sheet filled by Delhi Police, Shah admitted that he was not having any source of income and failed to explain any legitimate source of money for his expenses.
Investigation also revealed that he was in touch with Hafiz Saeed, chief of banned outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa, which is based in Pakistan, said the ED.
“Shah had been receiving money for carrying out separatist activities in J&K and has acquired various properties through a maze of dubious transactions,” the ED said.
Wani and Shah were arrested by the ED in 2017 on charges of money laundering. Wani was granted bail by the Delhi High Court in January 2019. Shah is still in judicial custody.
Earlier, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet alleging that in 2005 Wani was caught with 5 kg of explosive, a pistol with 15 live cartridges and Rs 62,96,000 in cash.
Wani reportedly admitted that Rs 52.96 lakh of the money belonged to Shah and was to be delivered to him in Srinagar.
He further revealed that Shah was directing hawala operators from Pakistan to deliver money to him in Delhi.
Wani also informed police that in the past also he has been acting as a carrier for Shah and has delivered Rs 2.08 crore on various occasions.

Violence as 28-year-old man dies in police custody in Srinagar

A 28-year-old man belonging to Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district died in police custody in Srinagar, triggering a spontaneous shutdown and street clashes in Awantipora town.

As news reached Awantipora that Rizwan Asad Pandit, 28, a private school teacher, had died in police custody, clashes started between the security forces and stone-pelting youths.

All shops and other businesses were hurriedly closed and traffic also went off the roads in the town.

As a precaution, all exams scheduled for Tuesday in the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) at Awantipora were postponed.

Mobile Internet services were suspended in Awantipora and adjoining areas.

Authorities rushed reinforcements of security forces to Awantipora to maintain law and order.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. This is an unacceptable development and must be investigated in a transparent, time bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man.”

The National Conference leader added that with “midnight raids, crackdowns, rampant arrests, custodial murders, denial of democratic right to choose a government. Kashmir continues to suffer the fallout of the disastrous PDP-BJP alliance and from the Modi government’s muscular approach to J&K”.

Police said Rizwan was arrested three days back in connection with a militancy related case.

“He died during Monday night,” a police officer said, adding that a magisterial probe had been ordered.

“In addition, a departmental inquiry has been ordered into the circumstances that led to the death,” the officer said.



Seven CRPF troopers injured in Srinagar road accident

Seven Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were injured on Saturday in a road accident in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar district.
A CRPF mobile bunker went out of the driver’s control and turned turtle in Parimpora area on the outskirts of Srinagar city, police said.

The injured were shifted to a hospital where a sub-inspector and a head constable were said to be in a critical condition.



NIA raids Yasin Malik’s Srinagar residence on Tuesday

National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers on Tuesday raided the Srinagar residence of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik.

The counter-terrorism agency men along with the state police and others cordoned off Malik’s residence at around 7.30 a.m., a JKLF source said.

“This raid was carried out while the JKLF chief was still lodged in Kothibagh police station,” he added.

NIA confirmation as to what promoted the raid was awaited.



Court tells Minerva FC to await I-League panel ruling on Srinagar match

The Delhi High Court on Friday told Minerva Punjab FC to await the ruling of a committee appointed by I-League on the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) refusal to postpone the match in Srinagar against Real Kashmir FC.

The court directed the petitioners to seek recourse there and said they could approach it if they still felt aggrieved.

“Justice Vibhu Bakhru took cognizance of the fact that the matter had been referred to the League committee and directed the petitioners to seek recourse there with liberty to approach the court as per law, if aggrieved by their decision,” said a Minerva press statement.

Minerva Punjab filed a petition in the Delhi High Court after the AIFF refused to postpone the match in Srinagar or shift the venue in the wake of the suicide bombing in Kashmir which killed 40 CRPF troopers.

The timely filing of the case saved the club the three points being awarded to Real Kashmir. The match was scheduled to be played on February 18, four days after the Pulwama terror attack.