Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Archive for June 11th, 2009

Kashmir’s regular ‘stone pelters’ flourish in demonstrations

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

Srinagar ‘Pitch’ Kaka, Arshad ‘generator’, Arshad ‘googly’ – these are not the names from the lexicon of the Mumbai underworld but are ‘stone pelters’ in the valley who have got these nicknames after targeting the police during demonstrations.

“So many cases have been registered against them. We, in fact, have lost track of their actual identity,” a senior police official said in Srinagar.

Pitch Kaka looks like any other middle aged person enjoying ‘kahwa’ in the warm afternoons in Srinagar but come any demonstration, this 50-year-old starts hurling stones on the forces with an impeccable accuracy.

Another stone pelter Arshad from Rainawari, who was killed last month, got the sobriquet “generator” because he used to ‘start’ hurling stones during any protest.

“Teri jaan meri jaan” is not a movie title but name of a professional stone pelter who shouts this line before aiming at the police.

An interesting case is of “uncle chips”, a middle-aged seller of chips and cold drinks who targets the policemen during demonstrations and then sells his chips and cold drinks to the tired protesters.

Their names appear in the police files with such frequency that their original names are hard to remember in some cases, the official said.

“Stone throwing has virtually become a business for these people and there is no stringent law to take on them,” he said adding they easily got bail.

On many occasions, these miscreants also find themselves at the receiving end, some getting hit by bullets or rubber bullets fired by the security forces to disperse

Raju ‘rubber bullet’ was hit twice by rubber bullets.

Dilruba, cobra, Arshad googly and Hartal are some other nicknames which figure prominently in the police files in Srinagar.


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Shopian incident shameful, says Congress

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

New Delhi The Congress on Monday termed the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian in Jammu and Kashmir as shameful and said it was a law and order issue and the state government was handling it.

“This is shameful … It is a law and order issue and the state government will take strict action,” party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told reporters in New Delhi.

He said the state government was taking effective steps.

Congress shares power in Jammu and Kashmir along with its ally National Conference.


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Chidambaram likely to visit Kashmir on June 11

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

New Delhi In the backdrop of ongoing protests in Kashmir over the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian, Home Minister P Chidambaram is likely to visit Srinagar on June 11 to review the overall security situation in the state, sources in the ministry said.

Chidambaram is said to have already received inputs from Special Secretary Internal Security Raman Srivastava, who returned from the valley on Sunday after a three-day visit during which he met representatives of the state government, army, central paramilitary forces and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, sources said.

During the visit the Home minister will meet the top officials of the state government, army, paramilitary forces, intelligence to take a stock of security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, they said.

The visit of the Home Minister will be the first after taking reign of the ministry in the new UPA government.

Protests had started in Srinagar after the bodies of Asiya (17) and her sister-in-law Nelofar (22) were fished out of a stream in Shopian, 52 km from that city, on May 30 after they went missing from an orchard.

The state government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the matter.


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Hurriyat calls off strike, protests to continue

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

Normalcy returned to major towns of Kashmir valley on Tuesday after the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference ended their strike called to protest the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian.

A Hurriyat spokesman said that although they have not extended the strike any further, demonstrations will continue in the valley.

“There is no truth in the rumours that strike has been extended further,” spokesman of Hurriyat Ayaz Akbar said, asking people to resume their normal activities.

Shops and markets, government offices, educational institutions, banks, courts and business establishments reopened on Tuesday morning and vehicles were back on the roads bringing life back to normal in the summer capital that witnessed massive protests for eight days.

However, Akbar asked people to observe the programme already announced by the Hurriyat hours before its chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani along with his aides was arrested on Friday. As per the programme, students will hold demonstrations in their schools on Wednesday followed by protests by office goers on Thursday.

The valley witnessed violent protests and curfew-like situation for eight days against the alleged rape and murder of Asiya (17) and her sister-in-law Nilofar (22) with authorities imposing restrictions to thwart the separatists’ planned march to Shopian.

Akbar asked people to reach Pulwama, 32 kms from Srinagar in south Kashmir, on Friday to register protest against the incident and said the lawyer fraternity will stage demonstrations on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Majilis-e-shoora (advisory council) of the Hurriyat will meet and decide the future course of action, he said.

The inquiry commission that is to probe the alleged rape and murder case could not record the statements of people or eye-witnesses in view of tension in the town on Monday that left 15 persons, including four CRPF and three policemen injured.

Three of the four civilians injured at Sofannaman were hit by bullets and have been admitted to a hospital. The condition of all of them is stated to be out of danger, a government spokesman said.

Police has constituted a three-member team to investigate into the case under the supervision of DIG South Kashmir Range.


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Omar favours pre-1989 era troop levels in J-K

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 11, 2009

London Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah favours troop levels in the state to be reduced to numbers that existed prior to 1989, but says the Centre can’t undertake this presently with upswing in infiltration attempts.

“The first step is to reduce their (army) visibility and the second step is to start reducing numbers,” Abdullah said asserting “and it will happen”.

“I would be satisfied with a troop level that existed prior to 1989. The response I’ve got from the defence minister, home minister — I think they understand the need to balance peoples’ requirements,” Abdullah said in an interview to London-based ‘Financial Times’.

This is the first comment by Omar Abdullah on possible reduction of troops from the state, which is the demand being made by major opposition and separatist groups in the state.

Though army refuses to divulge the numbers of troops citing security reasons, according to estimates the army had deployed more than two Corps in the state prior to 1989, the year the militancy took a serious turn in the Valley.

Making public his views on issues like resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue, Abdullah said he believes New Delhi needs to be more pro-active and should go ahead on talks with the new democratic set up in Islamabad.

But, at the same time Abdullah said Pakistan has to play its part as well to meet India’s concern expressed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.

However, Abdullah dwelt much of the time on the troops withdrawal issue, saying it can not be undertaken in immediate context as there had been numerous attempts in March and April this year to infiltrate large batches of militants from across the Line of Control (LoC).

“It was an apparent attempt to make their presence felt during the elections. But that hasn’t happened,” he said. “Clearly you cannot expect the Government of India to withdraw the troops in the kind of numbers that is being suggested with the attempts at infiltration into Kashmir being what they are,” the youngest-ever chief minister of the state said.

“We’ve had very serious attempts of infiltration in March and April of this year and that obviously remains a concern. Levels of tension between India and Pakistan determine troop placements as well.”

Asked whether the infiltrators were stopped, he said: “Some made their way through; some were turned back at the line of control itself, and some were killed in encounters with the security forces. So it’s been a mixed bag of results… There is speculation that there was one group of 100 plus (militants) that came in…all the way through… at a time when the passes were still covered in snow, and some of our posts had yet to be retaken after the winter vacation.”

“They took advantage of that situation, came in very well equipped with cold weather gear, GPS equipment etc… We were concerned they would make their presence felt during the elections, but that hasn’t happened.

“Fortunately, over the years, our intelligence gathering has gotten stronger, we are able to gather much better quality of human intelligence which allows us to neutralize these threats before they become a serious problem for us,” Abdullah said.

On the support militants received locally in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “There are pockets of support, where support is given voluntarily. There are areas where support is encouraged by local over-ground workers, and some areas where support is forced through fear of a barrel of a gun.

“What has changed for us is that earlier where support was given, or support was taken, the people who were forced to do this would keep quiet. Now, no sooner have these people left and move on we do get information to our local police and other sources and we are able to take corrective steps. This availability of local intelligence wasn’t there earlier, so that is a significant change.”

Asked whether Congress-led UPA which has been returned to power has an opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue, the chief minister said: “we are looking for greater stability across the border and the Line of Control. That would help. At one point, a month or two ago, it looked much worse in Islamabad than it does now. Let’s see. Hopefully.”

He hoped that in the coming five years, Kashmir – both internationally and domestically – would receive the due focus of Dr Manmohan Singh’s Government.

Asked what kind of small steps that could help improve the situation, he said: “That’s less to do with the dialogue process and more to do with what my government can deliver -improve road network, better power supply, better health delivery at the primary and secondary levels.

“These are some of the things we are going to be working with the Government of India to deliver… Internationally, its rebuilding that confidence in the dialogue process.”

Abdullah said his party, the National Conference, believed the autonomous position of Jammu and Kashmir has to e strengthened, not weakened.

“I’d like to believe you will see a significant improvement in terms of the political space available, the security environment that prevails, the human rights record… most of the parameters that people use to define normality,” he added.

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