Jammu, July 10 ( IANS) Even as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is trying to strengthen ties with the Congress, his uncle and additional general secretary of the National Conference (NC), Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, has intensified his attack on the national party. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in Jammu, Kamal attacked Congress leaders and its state unit spokesperson Ravinder Sharma. On the other hand Abdullah has offered unqualified support to the UPA's candidates for President and vice president. "This is their (Congress) compulsion to support NC as we are the single largest group in the assembly and Congress doesn't have the numbers to form the government," he said. He was reacting to Sharma's charge that Kamal was denigrating Congress leadership without recognising the fact that National Conference was in power because of it. The NC has 28 members in the House of 87, while Congress has 17. The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party is having 21 seats in the state legislative assembly. Kamal said it is "Congress' compulsion" and "they (Congress) can do nothing to destablise the government, it will live upto 2014".
Srinagar, July 10 (IANS) The Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-headed faction of the separatist Hurriyat conglomerate Tuesday announced the formation of an economic advisory council to address day-to-day issues of Kashmir's people and fight their "economic exploitation". "There is massive exploitation of our resources both by the central government and the state administration in every sphere, be it water resources, trade, economy or other fields of daily activity," the Mirwaiz said at a press conference here. "The Hurriyat conference cannot remain away from the day to day problems of our people. We have therefore decided to form an economic advisory council which will be drawn from the various segments of our civil society to fight the economic exploitation of our people." Mirwaiz Umer said the trade across the line of control (LOC), started as a confidence-building measure (CBM), has become trade between India and Pakistan. "The cross LOC trade has become trade between Indian and Pakistan traders as there is no Kashmir element involved in this trade," he said. "We do not oppose CBMs between the two countries, but they must be Kashmir specific to address the problems of the people of Kashmir," he said. The Mirwaiz warned that dialogue between India and Pakistan would reach nowhere unless it involved the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu, July 10 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir's ruling National Conference will host a lunch for United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee here July 15. The National Conference has decided in principle to support Mukherjee in the JUly 19 poll since it is a part of the UPA, party sources said. Mukherjee will also meet leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Srinagar, July 10 (IANS) Security forces Tuesday killed a senior Hizbul Mujahideen commander in Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal district, police here said. Ghulam Nabi War alias 'Naba Commander', the district commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in a gunfight with troops of 24 Rashtriya Rifles and state police in Hayan Palpora village in the district, 45 km from here, a police officer told IANS. Another officer said the slain guerrilla had been operating in the area for six years and was on the most wanted list of security forces. "He was a local and belonged to Akhal village in Ganderbal", the officer said.
New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central government on a plea seeking a special investigation team probe into alleged killings and human rights violation by Border Security Force (BSF)personnel on the India-Bangladesh border. An apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar issued the notice after senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told the court that the central paramilitary force was engaged in extra-judicial killings in the garb of self-defence. The court directed the tagging of the matter with a similar petition alleging extra-judicial killings in Jammu and Kashmir. The petition sought a special investigation team (SIT), with officers who were from states other than West Bengal, to probe the killings and report to the apex court. The petition said that hundreds of unarmed people both from India and Bangladesh were killed or tortured by BSF personnel while trying to stop infiltration. The BSF has nearly 80,000 personnel guarding the India-Bangladesh border, said petitioner NGO Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch. The petition said that more than 200 Indian nationals became victims of torture and extra-judicial killings by the BSF between 2005-11.
Gurgaon, July 9 (IANS) Members of several social and religious organisations staged a joint demonstration under the banner of the "Jammu-Kashmir Sangharsh Samiti" here Monday to protest against the report of the three-member team of interlocutors constituted by the central government to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir issue, a spokesman said. Alleging that the report was a threat to the country's unity and sovereignty, the protesters termed the whole move as a conspiracy to legitimize the separatists' demands by putting these in an official format. Following the demonstration at the local judicial complex, the protesters went to the local mini-secretariat, carrying placards and raising slogans against the interlocutors' report. There, they also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner P.C. Meena for being forwarded to the president demanding outright rejection of the report. "As such, it is not possible even to debate or criticize the report, and it has to be completely rejected in order to nip such evil tendencies in the bud," a senior state BJP leader told reporters.
Jammu, July 9 (IANS) The Congress in Jammu and Kashmir has warned its ruling alliance partner National Conference (NC) that it should remember that it was in power in the state because of the Congress. In a hard hitting statement, Congress spokesperson in the state, Ravinder Sharma targeted Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, NC Additional General Secretary and uncle of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Sharma said that Sheikh Mustafa Kamal's diatribe against the Congress and its leaders by twisting historical facts was 'intolerable'. Sharma took strong exception to the repeated utterances of Kamal against the Congress party and leadership, Pradesh Congress Committee and asked its "coalition partner to stop it forthwith as it can lead to disturbing the smooth functioning of the coalition." Kamal in his rallies in Kathua and other places in the Jammu region has been accusing Congress of "hatching conspiracies to weaken the National Conference since 1947." Sharma termed "these utterances as highly objectionable, mischievous and distortion of historical facts, which are intolerable for Congress cadres." He said that Kamal should know that it was due to the support of the Congress that National Conference was in power and leading the coalition with Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister and his (Kamal's) elder brother Farooq Abdullah was enjoying a ministerial berth in the union Government. "The Congress cadres would no longer tolerate these false, baseless, malicious, mischievous statements of the official spokesman of the National Conference and would be forced to take up the issue with the Congress high command," Sharma said.
Srinagar, July 9 (IANS) Concerned over the deaths of 47 pilgrims due to natural causes during this year's annual Amarnath Yatra, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra Monday directed the authorities to take immediate steps to enhance healthcare during the Yatra. Various possible reasons for the progressing number of Yatris losing their lives were discussed at length in an urgent meeting held Monday at the state Raj Bhavan under the governor's chairmanship who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB). The governor stressed that all possible causes for the mortalities should be critically analyzed to reduce the numbers of fatalities. In this context, he directed the chief executive officer (CEO) of the SASB to issue immediate instructions to all concerned officers in Yatra camps to further augment healthcare facilities on the entire Yatra route. The governor asked the state health secretary to take immediate action to provide oxymeters at various locations to check the oxygen levels of the Yatris reporting at the health camps. The governor also asked for increasing the deployment of specialist doctors at the base camps and at critical places like Brarimarg, Sangam, PissuTop, Zojibal, Nagakoti to attend to the seriously ailing patients. The annual pilgrimage to the 13,000 feet high Himalayan Hindu cave shrine began here June 25 and will end August 2 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival. So far, nearly three hundred thousand pilgrims have had a glimpse of the ice lingam inside the cave shrine. The ice stalagmite structure is believed by the devotees to symbolize the mythological powers of Lord Shiva.
Mumbai, July 9 (IANS) A Mumbai court Monday remanded Parvez Tak, a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist and stepfather of missing Bollywood starlet Laila Khan, to police custody till July 19. According to the prosecution, the Mumbai police Crime Branch will now question Tak as to where did he kept Laila Khan and her other family members after kidnapping them and whether he killed them. A team of Crime Branch officials, late Sunday, brought Tak to Mumbai for further questioning. The Jammu and Kashmir Police had Saturday handed him over the Mumbai police for further questioning in the case of Khan's mysterious disappearance. Police had on Saturday got the permission from a Kishtwar court in Jammu to bring Tak to Mumbai. Tak, a native of Kishtwar town, about 230 km northeast of Jammu, was arrested June 21 after Khan's vehicle was found in the town. During interrogation, Tak revealed that Khan, missing since February 2011, had been killed along with four other members of her family and their bodies had been disposed of somewhere near Mumbai. A case of kidnapping has been registered at Mumbai's Oshiwara police station by her her father Nadir Patel. According to the complaint, Tak and his accomplice Asif Sheikh had allegedly kidnapped Khan and her family members. Khan, whose original name is Reshma Patel, was last seen in a 2008 movie "Wafaa" with Rajesh Khanna.
Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) Three weeks after a fire gutted the Maharashtra seccretariat, the Democratic Front government is preparing to face the opposition's ire over a host of issues during the assembly's monsoon session starting Monday. The problems which the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition is grappling with are readymade and the aggressive Opposition plans to embarrass the government over the issues. The opposition is expected to rake up the issues of corruption charges against Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare, a confidant of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, the Adarsh Housing Society scam in which former chief minister Ashok Chavan has been named an accused, and a police complaint against a top bureaucrat and top realtor in a Rs.45,000-crore land scam. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peasants & Workers Party have already demanded a probe into Tatkare's wealth. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya and Jayant Patil claim they have evidence against the land deals and the 140 companies set up by Tatkare and his family within a span of three years. Somaiya has called on Governor K. Sankaranarayanan and officials of the union finance ministry in New Delhi, demanding a probe into these alleged acts of omission. However, NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has dismissed the allegations against Tatkare. On the Adarsh scam, after Ashok Chavan was named in the CBI charge-sheet, the opposition has demanded charge-sheets against two other former chief ministers - Vilasrao Desmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde. Both are currently union ministers. Chavan, who resigned as chief minister in 2010 after the scam was revealed, has been booked with 12 others, including former Congress legislator Kanhaiyalal Gidwani. Adding fuel to scam probe was "routine" transfer of CBI Joint Director Rishi Raj Singh, who was leading investigation, raising eyebrows and a political storm. Add to this, a Mumbai court ordered filing of a first information report (FIR) against bureaucrat Thomas Benjamin and others for their alleged involvement in a Rs.45,000 land scam at Powai's Hiranandani Complex, owned by leading realtor Niranjan Hiranandani. Following this, the Anti-Corruption Bureau lodged the FIR last week and started a probe. Also, nearly three months ago, when the governor raised the issue of incomplete irrigation projects, the government was forced to admit the shortcomings and bring out a white paper. With Maharashtra facing deficient rainfall and grim water situation, the government would need Rs.75,000 crore to complete the pending projects. The arrest of 26/11 conspirator Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, currently in the custody of Delhi Police. The opposition has been demanding details of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) operative Jundal's exact role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks since he is from from the town of Beed in the state's backward Marathwada region, and role of similar groups or people in such attacks. The tougher questions would be on the disappearance of Bollywood starlet Laila Khan with at least five of her family members for over 18 months and her alleged links with the LeT. While her stepfather and a suspected LeT operative Parvez Iqbal Tak told the Jammu police that Laila and her family had been murdered and buried in Mumbai, her father Nadir Shah Patel had dismissed the claims. Though the Mumbai police have no evidence to back Tak's claims since the bodies are untraced, the case could raise serious questions on he city's law and order problem. (Quaid Najmi can be contacted at email@example.com)