Monday, June 29, 2009

'Yes we can'

In NHPC’s absence, JK PDC running Baglihar successfully 


Srinagar, June 28: Even as the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation has not taken over the operation and maintenance of the 450-mw Baglihar project, the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation has successfully run the facility ever since its commissioning in October last putting a question mark on the government’s decision to hand it over to the former. 
 The NHPC is believed to have approached the premier company in the international power generation sector, Siemens, for assistance to operate and maintain the state-owned power plant. However, there has been no response from the company. “They (NHPC) don’t have the expertise well versed to maintain the state-of-the art project because of which it is reluctant to take over the job,” sources told Greater Kashmir Sunday.
 A senior JKPDC official, wishing anonymity, said the project was being successfully run by the Corporation.
“The JKPDC engineers are looking after its maintenance and operation with finesse showing that the state government’s apprehensions about their competence were misplaced. The decision to handover the project to NHPC was taken in   a hurry,” he said.  
 At a meeting in March this year, the JKPDC board of directors had decided to hand over the Baglihar project to the NHPC for operation and maintenance. The move had evoked severe criticism from JKPDC rank and file who believed that the Corporation had the wherewithal and expertise to run the project.
 “As per the agreements between the two corporations, the NHPC would charge Rs 120 crore annually for maintenance and operation of the project for two years,” the official said, adding it had even taken an advance of Rs 25 crore from the state government recently. However, even after receiving the advance payment, the NHPC failed to live up to its commitment to run the facility. 
 Having run the power project successfully, the PDC officials have urged the government to reconsider the earlier decision and even demanded an inquiry into why the corporations’ manpower was not trained for maintenance and operation of project.  
 “It could have been done for the past nine years since the execution of the Baglihar project was taken up. Unfortunately, the authorities didn’t pay any heed to the all important aspect. Those responsible for it should be punished,” said a senior JKPDC engineer. 
 “It seems a conspiracy is being hatched at some levels to prove that Baglihar is a failure and the state government has no wherewithal either to set up or manage the power projects independently,” sources said. “In any case, Baglihar project, whose daily income is more than Rs three crore, should have been accorded a high priority.”
 The JKPDC officials are apprehensive of the fact that the Baglihar was set up on the river Chenab in between Dul Hasti and Salal, both centrally-owned projects run by NHPC.
 “The corporation has its interests directly linked with the two projects. With Baglihar sandwiched between Dul Hasti and Salal, the NHPC will have full control on when to release the water from Dul Hasti to Baglihar and onwards to Salal for generation at the cost of state owned project.” the official said.


The day, they struggled for a way forward

Youth involved, but not engaged: Drabu

Agha Ashraf Is Ashamed Of Being Indian

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, June 28: At a seminar on ‘Kashmir-The Way Forward’ organized by GK Foundation on Sunday, noted academics, economists, writers, and lawyers found it hard to suggest or even hint at any way forward but eloquently-- some of them passionately-- pointed out the lacunae in the resistance and the leadership. 
 In his keynote address, veteran educationist Prof Agha Ashraf Ali made a trip to history, recalling the glory of renaissance in the medieval Muslim world. In his unique style he swept a wide range of ideas in an attempt to suggest a way forward, praising the thinking prowess of C Rajagopalachari and humility of Omar Abdullah, advising the participants to read three ‘important’ books on history, and expressing concern over presence of crorepati parliamentarians in Indian parliament. Agha Ashraf, however, said the onerous task for the leadership of all hues was to base their struggle in ‘our own cultural and historical ethos.’ The climax of his key note speech was an admission that he was ashamed of being an Indian.
 The vice-chancellor of the Islamic University, Prof. Sidiq Wahid, succinctly explained the intractability of Kashmir dispute by recalling that he attended a seminar in 1993 that was similarly titled as ‘
Kashmir-The Way Forward.’ As the intellectuals were debating the same thing 16 years later, while the issue became layered over the time, Prof.Wahid said, in despair, we needed a political archaeologist to uncover and resolve it.
 Though no original idea emerged from the whole discourse on the topic, the speakers in their own distinct ways made some important observations that can pave the way forward.
 The seminar was held in three sessions. The speakers read the papers in each session, which was followed by brief comments and questions. Noted economist and chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Dr Haseeb Drabu, said the greatest intellectual challenge facing
Jammu and Kashmir today is exploring a new ideological consensus between “the indifference of the mainstream integrationists and the anarchist intolerance of the separatists”. 
 Speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar on “Kashmir - The Way Forward” organized by Greater
Kashmir Foundation here, Dr Drabu said the obsession with an “either-or” solution has colonized the mind of the state’s civil society. “This has far greater implication for the future, than the occupation of a territory,” he said and added the obsession of search for solutions in the past has colonized the mind of the state’s civil society. “This has far greater implication for the future, as indeed it has for the present,” he said.

Stressing the need for active political engagement of the state’s younger generation, Drabu said the state’s young population is shaped by an unprecedented civil strife, political disruption, social chaos at home and great progress abroad. 

 With 40 per cent of the population between the age group of 15 to 30, he said there is a stark and serious generational mismatch between the ones who represent and those who are being represented, and also between the ones who speak and those who are spoken for. 
 “Although, a generational shift at the top level in the politics of Jammu and Kashmir has already taken place, what this new leadership needs to do now is to build a younger following,” Dr Drabu said in his presentation - Generation Next: Engagement, Ideology and Ethics. “A leadership that speaks to and relates to the youth and their new politics – the politics of ethics and substance,” he said. 
 Admiring the state’s young leadership across the political divide, Drabu said such a confluence of young blood and brains across all shades of the political spectrum is rare indeed. “But they have to carry along the state’s huge young generation,” he said.
 Dr Drabu’s basic premise of a generational shift was not confined to political leadership alone. He wanted the generation next political leadership to be complemented by a younger business leadership. “If the state’s new generation shares a set of political beliefs, these have to be translated into a political agenda and an economic philosophy,” he said and added that the state today needs a generational spokesman, who represents the aspirations of its emancipated young population. “If their resources are channelized productively, we could have a politically empowered, socially responsible, ethically aware and economically independent generation of new citizens,” he said.
In his address on “The scope of Resistance: Between hysteria and apology” GK columnist Ajaz-ul-Haque characterized the four phases of 1947, 1953, 1975 and 1990 in Kashmir history as occupation, resistance, compromise and rebellion. Ajaz said that factors like fear and sycophancy have marred the intelligentsia of
Kashmir. Elaborating the concept of resistance, Ajaz said resistance was abnormal response to an abnormal situation and that makes it normal. He however said one shouldn’t annihilate oneself in a bid to annihilate his enemy during the resistance. “Living for the cause demands more commitment then dying for it,” he added. Haq strongly opposed what he termed as “contractualism of mass sentiment” and said monster of suspension would end when people who have assumed charge of giving certificates about loyalties would rethink at their acts. He said sentiment belongs to all and said famous resistance writers including Franz Fanon celebrated the values of resistance without eulogizing violence. 
 Dr Altaf Hussain said
Kashmir was not the dispute or issue about the terrorism. “Yes, if you are concerned about the terrorism, yes we are facing it and it is State terrorism,” he said. He said 700,000 troops in Jammu Kashmir were not to counter militants but to control the population. He said those who propagate values of Gandhi and Nehru had not a word for Kashmiris who have been subjected to massive human rights abuses. He said Marxists, Communists and Gandhians had not a word for Kashmiris. He said some people were trying to bury Kashmir dispute under the garb of reconciliation and peace. He said don’t trust people who don’t have proper honest track record.
 Dr Hameeda Nayeem who teaches in
Kashmir University said that the demilitarization should take place. She said there was no harm in talking about the solutions when world was talking about Kashmir and South Asia. Road to peace in South Asia, he said, moves through Kashmir. 
 In his presidential address Agha Ashraf Ali asked people to have humility. He described humility as “concealed form of love.” He said after Shopian incident he feels ashamed of being Indian.
 In his introductory note, Z.G Muhammad said the rape and murder of two women of Shopian had left the society shell shocked. He said the Greater
Kashmir owes certain responsibility towards the society. He said ‘Kashmir-The Way Forward’ was a move by the Greater Kashmir to involve the society in the debate. 
 Prof Riyaz Punjabi, who presided over the first session, said it was good to have such debates. “This helps the society in idea exchange and ending the chaos,” he said. ” He said the issue of the right to self determination needed to be revisited in the light of the relevant UN commission’s records in which a reference to Kashmir was made only once in the past 60 years. He stressed the need to create awareness among the generation next about the ground realities. 
 However, Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain defended resistance and said status quoists wouldn’t have last word on
Kashmir dispute. 
 The GK correspondent Faheem Aslam anchored the session.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kashmir gives US its Muslim face

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has appointed Farah Pandith to serve as special representative to Muslim communities, in charge of a new office that is responsible for outreach with Muslims around the world.

According to a notice published by the State Department June 23, Special Representative Pandith and her staff will carry out Clinton’s efforts to “engage with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organizational level.”

Pandith previously was an adviser on Muslim engagement at the State Department, serving as a senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.  She has also served on the National Security Council as the coordinator for U.S. policy on outreach to Muslims, and worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development on assistance projects for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories.

Pandith, who is Muslim, immigrated to the United States with her parents from Srinagar, Kashmir.  She told the Italian press agency Adnkronos in 2007 that she sees her personal experience as an illustration of how Muslim immigrants to the United States can successfully integrate themselves into American society.

She said that along with the importance of education, “I also learned … to balance pride in my cultural heritage with a deep attachment to the values of America."

In his June 4 speech in Cairo to Muslims around the world, President Obama said he was seeking “a new beginning” between the United States and Muslims “based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and … based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

The United States and Islam share common principles of justice, progress, tolerance and “the dignity of all human beings,” Obama said.  He also urged Americans and Muslims to commit themselves to a “sustained effort to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.” (See “Obama Calls for a New Beginning with Muslims Around the World.”)

 Help us to resolve Kashmir; Pakistan tells world

We Will Help, Every Possible Way: US

Islamabad, June 25: Prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday called upon the world at large and the United States in particular, to play their role towards resolution of “core issue” of Kashmir as well as the water issue between Pakistan and India.

Talking to General James Jones, US national security advisor, the prime minister said resolution of Pakistan’s core issues with India would help Pak leadership to focus on war against extremism on its western border to ensure peace and stability in South Asia.
The Obama Administration would help in “every possible way” to settle the
Kashmir problem and to resume the stalled Indo-Pak dialogue, General Jones said while responding to Gilani’s call.
“The US government would help in every possible way for the resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India and for resolution of the core issues like Kashmir dispute and water distribution between the two countries,” Jones was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the prime minister’s house in Islamabad.
Underlining Pakistan’s strong anti-extremist action, the prime minister expressed his disappointment over the world’s response to help Pakistan win against evil forces and provide relief to the dislocated people, had not been adequate.
He urged the
United States to write off Pakistan’s debt to help in overcoming its immediate economic difficulties and make up for the economic losses it suffered as a frontline state in fight against extremism.
The prime minister noted that while
Pakistan’s law enforcement and anti-terror campaign in Malakand division was now nearing a successful conclusion, the promises of capacity building of its law enforcement agencies still remained unfulfilled.
He emphasized that once military action was over, these agencies would take over. It requires new recruitments, proper training and adequate equipment and should be provided a social safety net to cater for their families in case of casualties.
Gilani said the dignified and honourable return of dislocated persons to their homes must be facilitated for winning the hearts and minds of people, for which the international community had to fulfill its responsibility.
The prime minister also expressed his concern that there would be an influx of refugees from
Afghanistan, in the aftermath of new deployment of US and NATO forces there. He also called for stopping the drone attacks in order to ensure success of Pakistan’s strategy for isolating the militants from the tribes.
US national security advisor expressed his full agreement with the views of the prime minister and assured him that the US government would do every thing it could to help Pakistan.
He reaffirmed president Obama’s keen desire to have a long-term multifaceted and strategic cooperation with
Pakistan under a new comprehensive regional strategy.
General James Jones further stated that the
US government would help in every possible way for the resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India and for resolution of the core issues like Kashmir dispute and water distribution between the two countries.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PDP, NC and Human Rights

The pro-India political parties raise the issue of human rights only when they are out of power. Is this a tactic to make human rights a state-centric discourse, asks Naseer A Ganai 

There is a pattern to it and it has not changed over the years.  Look at the scores of cases of human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir and then see the reaction of the political parties to it. If PDP is in power, it allows NC to criticize and condemn it on human rights issue. And if NC is in power, it gives PDP enough room to ‘abuse’ it on human rights abuses. But whichever party is in power, it takes “due care” of the pro-freedom groups. Their leaders are not given any chance to express their views. They are arrested, booked under the preventive detention laws or put under house arrest. But the question is why they do so? Before answering this, let us look at the action and reaction of the PDP and the NC on human rights issue, when they were in and out of power. 
First the Shopian tragedy: the incident outraged Kashmiris. Instantly people observed the strike and followed the protest calls given by the aged leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The response to the call indicated that the pro-freedom leadership has hold over people irrespective of their participation in the elections. The response apparently baffled the mainstream pro-India parties. They started taking the jump. And the opposition was the first to do so. So the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti courted arrest against the barbaric act in Shopian.  She even went to the Shopian police station and inquired about the FIR. Then after few days, the PDP issued a statement saying that her party forced the government to register the case of rape and murder. First they raised the cry and then they tried to reap its benefits. Through this one statement, the PDP tried its best to wash out the 8-days of continuous strike observed by people of Kashmir over the outrageous act. With this statement the party tried to belittle the sacrifices made by people of Kashmir in hundreds of protest rallies across the valley and in various parts of Jammu division. And ostensibly tried to convey that if chief minister Omar Abdullah has been forced to retract from his earlier statement wherein Omer said “initial reports didn’t confirm rape and murder,” it is due to the PDP and others have no role it. Others, means the pro-freedom parties. Almost all pro-freedom leaders have been taken into preventive custody.   
It is not the first time that the pro-India parties have tried to be on forefront on the human rights issues. The National Conference acted in same manner when the PDP was in power. It would raise issues of human rights violation after it was ousted from the power by the PDP led congress government in 2002. 
In fact the discussions on human rights issues in the State legislative assembly have now become the permanent feature and the party which is not in power is most vocal on the issue. Here are two examples.  The PDP refused to acknowledge custodial disappearance of over 10,000 people as reported by the Association of Disappeared Persons when its patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed said that only 60 persons have disappeared. Later in the Assembly the then Minister for Home Abdul Rahman Veeri said 3952 persons had disappeared. NC ridiculed Mufti for the statement and accused him of lying. In 2006 four boys who were playing cricket in Doodhipora Kupwara were killed by the troops. Thousands of people lodged protest on the call of the pro-freedom parties. Realizing the gravity of situation, the NC stepped in. It condemned the government right and left. The NC legislators raised the issue in the Assembly. The NC boycotted the then Governor N.N Vohra’s speech and the present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, who was the leader of opposition, walked out from the Assembly along with his 27 other legislators. Rather was carrying the placards in his hand asking for “end of human of rights violation in Kashmir.” 
The NC legislators were outside the Assembly talking to media denouncing the government and the PDP. The PDP members who this year didn’t allow Governor N.N Vohra to continue his speech over human rights issue were calmly listening to General Sinha’s speech in 2006 after Doodhipora aftermath. Later in the Assembly Sharif-Din-Shariq challenged the claim of government and army that the youth were crossing the border. The government ordered judicial inquiry in the matter. Four years down the line, nothing has happened in the case. 
This is how pro-India mainstream parties run the government here and at the same pretend themselves to be pro-people as well. They keep everything thing within themselves including the governance, human rights issue and larger Kashmir dispute.   No doubt that Abdul Rahim Rather, Mehboob Beg, Sharif Din Shariq and all others from National Conference have every right to raise the human rights issue. Mehboob Beg has given fiery speech in the Assembly over the rights abuses when NC was in opposition. He condemned the then chief minister over rape of Kupwara woman and daughter, when the latter stated that only mother has been raped. But it seems after switching over to treasury benches, the connotation of human rights too changes for him. Mehboob is silent on Shopian and Mehbooba Mufti is vocal. But where was she when her party was in power.  She has every right to force herself into a police station and get herself arrested. But why they are raising the issue of our dignity when they are out of power. When the NC was raising the human rights issue in the Assembly the PDP was accusing it playing politics over human rights and the same is happening now. This time the NC is silent and the PDP is raising the issue. It seems they have tacit understanding in this kettle calling pot black. The have, it seems an understanding to keep the pro-freedom groups out of discourse. And PDP and NC are the part of the State. And they being part of the State their slogans on human rights least bothers the State. If we put it this way, even the human rights violation issue when raised by either NC or the PDP, becomes State discourse.  
Had it not been so, then why both the parties failed to bring resolution for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the Assembly where they created ruckus over human rights issue. 
PDP came into power in 2002. It talked lot about the AFSPA revocation. NC too was vociferous about it. But for eight years they only talked about it. They could have easily brought the resolution in the Assembly to convey New Delhi that it should something. That is it. It is not New Delhi would have instantly accepted the demand. There is possibility of its outright rejection by New Delhi even after its passage in the State legislature. But that is separate question. The passing of resolution would have conveyed seriousness of PDP and the NC over human rights issue.  But both the parties didn’t bring the resolution even for the sake of it. This is there commitment to the human rights! Mehbooba says her government took up the issue of revocation of AFSPA with the prime minister when the PDP was in power. Omar Abdullah says the same thing that he took up the issue with Home Minister and the Prime Minister. Indeed the Home Minister P. Chadambaram corroborated him last week. But what is the need? If you are really concerned about the revocation of the Act why you didn’t bring resolution for eight years? If you want to convey it to New Delhi the best way was through the legislature.  It gives credence to the theory that both the parties are raising human rights issue as part of State discourse to confine it within the parties which are part of the State. 






Saffrom Festival in JU

RSS Chief preaches Hindutva

Harmeet Singh

Jammu, June 23: In the RSS-sponsored function at General Zorawar Singh auditorium of Jammu University on Tuesday fiery speeches were given by the BJP and RSS chiefs advocating Hindutva and abrogation of Article 370.  

 Addressing the right-wing convention, RSS chief Mohan Rao Bhagwat and BJP supremo Rajnath Singh strongly advocated Hindutva and abrogation of Article 370 that guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir. 
 The event was organized by the Foundation to commemorate the death anniversary of BJP ideologue and founder president of Bharatiya Janasangh, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. 
 The RSS chief forcefully advocated right-wing ideology saying that Hindutva was the fundamental constituent of Sangh and BJP ideology and the survival of these sister organizations was solely dependent on it. “Without Hindutva the political organization (BJP) and its ‘social’ wing (RSS) could not imagine to survive,” Bhagwat thundered. He said BJP was founded by Mookerjee solely for promoting Hindutva ideology and the party can’t go back on its core agenda.
 “We can never forfeit the word Hindu and Hindutva as we would be rendered nonentities without these. We have to carry forward our Hindutva agenda, come what may,” Bhagwat said.
 Calling for abrogation of Article 370 - guaranteeing special status to Jammu and Kashmir – Bhagwat said it was an important issue with both BJP and the RSS, as they are for “J&K’s integration with the Indian union.” He said abrogation of Article 370 would always remain a key issue for BJP and RSS.
 In his address, the BJP president, Rajnath Singh, focused on the issues of militancy and doing away with the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He said Article 370 was the main source for discrimination with Jammu and Ladakh regions and the root cause of militancy in the state. He said even after losing the parliamentary elections recently, BJP never gave up its demand for abrogating Article 370. 
 “We lost the recent parliamentary elections, still we are pleading the abrogation (of Article 370) as it is the fundamental duty of every ‘nationalist’ to struggle for J&K’s integration with the country. We cannot afford another division and thus it is our national cause to advocate abrogation of this discriminatory article,” he stressed.
 Speaking in the morning session, former Punjab DGP, KPS Gill, lambasted the center for its alleged failure to formulate a national security policy. He said there was more danger to the country’s security from its politicians than from Pakistan.
 “There is neither national security policy nor strategic planning in the country. The present government has failed in this regard,” Gill said while delivering the keynote address at the seminar on ‘Security of Northern Frontier and National Integration’. Charging the UPA government with caring little for the country’s strategic interests either in South Asia or in the global context, he said, “I tell you, the country’s security faces more danger from the politicians and their ideology than from Pakistan”. “What is UPA doing to evolve a national security policy? Nothing. Be it the problems of Maoists, Naxals, Punjab violence, Karantaka communal clashes or even terror attacks in various places,” he said. “They (UPA) have done nothing to rein them in,” Gill said.
 Others who addressed the morning session included former ambassador and visiting professor of Jamia Milia Islamia University, TCA Rangachari, T Sobdan, senior fellow, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, Lt Gen (retd) MC Bhandari, ex-BGS 15 Corps and well known Buddhist leader Thupstan Chewnag. 
 Sources in the University told Greater Kashmir that the administration permitted the seminar and other academic activities as per schedule, but refused the organizers to political function – an advice the organizers never adhered to.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Story of water resources of JK

NHPC to add 2800 MW Energy In 5 Years 

JKPDC Struggling With 3


Srinagar, June 19: While the government of India subsidiary, National Hydro-electric Power Corporation is commissioning around 3,000 megawatt capacity power projects in Jammu and Kashmir during the next five years, the state’s own Power Development Corporation has just 3.61 megawatts capacity power projects in the pipeline for the period.

The NHPC has already three power projects - Salal (690 mw), Uri (480 mw) and Dulhasti (390 mw) operational in Jammu and Kashmir and has laid its hands on another seven projects in the state. These include Uri-II (280 mw), Kishenganga (330 mw), Bursar (1020 mw), Pakal Dul (1000 mw), Sewa-II (120 mw), Nimo Bazgo (30 mw) and Chutak (18 mw) with a cumulative installed capacity of 2800 megawatts.
Paradoxically, in the state sector, only four projects--Pahalgam-III (1.50 mw), Machil (0.35 mw), Sanjak (1.26 mw) and Baderwah-III (0.50 mw)–with a cumulative installed capacity of 3.61 mw are expected to become operational during the next five years. Although the state government had set the deadline of 2008-09 for commissioning of these projects, the PDC seems to be nowhere near the deadline.
Curiously, even the preliminary work on some major projects in the state sector--New Ganderbal (93 mw), Kiru (600 mw), Kawar (520 mw), Ratle (690 mw), Kirthai-I (240 mw), Parnai (37.5 mw) and Swalakote-I and II (1200 mw) – has not been started over several decades past. At a meeting of the JKPDC’s board of directors chaired by the chief minister on May 26, 2009, the officials proposed revising the execution period of these projects. The chief minister, according to sources, has set 2013 as the fresh deadline for New Ganderbal, Kirthai-I, Ratle and Parnai, 2016 for Kirthai-II. In addition, three power projects are being jointly executed by JKPDC and NHPC, to be completed by 2014.
According to experts associated with the state’s power sector, there is no clear-cut policy or roadmap with the government on utilizing the state’s abundant water resources for power generation. “The state government has been reworking the deadlines on power projects for the past three decades,” said an official who has worked JKPDC.
According to insiders, New Ganderbal, Kiru, Kawar, Ratle and some other power projects were identified and declared viable in early 80s. “Even DPRs have been prepared for most projects but except for reworking their completion time, the successive regimes have not moved beyond the paperwork,” sources said.
Sources said, when the New Ganderbal project was conceived its estimated cost was worked out at Rs 200 crore. “Today the cost of the project stands at a whopping Rs 748 crore but not even a single step has been taken to start the work,” sources said.
Sources said the state government had approached the Asian Development Bank for funding the project and in 2007 its team had even visited the project site. But nobody knows what happened to the proposal. 
Other projects have also met with the same fate. The cost of Kirthai, Kiru, Kawar Ratle has escalated by two to three times to Rs 1510 crore, Rs 2381.90 crore, Rs 3386.12 crore and Rs 805.4 crore respectively even though the projects are yet to take off for execution.
Besides, the court has stayed the work on Swalakote-I and II (1200 mw) projects. The project cost has already escalated to Rs 7000 crore.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not dispute, India says Kashmir is problem

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, June 12: The Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said the Jammu and Kashmir State was facing peculiar problem and it needs political solution.

“JK faces a special situation and it has faced special situation from many many years. And those problems require a political solution,” the Home Minister said while addressing media persons here.

Flanked by the chief minister Omer Abdullah, the Home Minister said unresolved political problems were coming in way of development of the State. “Therefore while we address some problems shared by all states, we will have to address unique problems that come in way of the development and obviously one has in mind political issue involved in JK,” the Home Minister said.  Asked whether Government would invite separatists for dialogue, he said to address the political issues government would engage everyone for dialogue. “Government is aware about the political issues involving Jammu and Kashmir. The process of dialogue has to commence. That is my intention and policy of the government and we will discuss the matter and commence (dialogue) at appropriate time,” he said.

Troop level should be at 1989

The Home Minister when asked about the Chief Minister Omer Abdullah’s demand that the troop level should be reduced to 1989 position, said government has agreement on the issue. “I am aware of this request,” he said. “In fact we spent significant part yesterday looking at security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and how we should respond while keeping in mind that militant activities are contained and reduced. I will discuss (the issue) with the Prime Minister and Defence Minister. I will move on that road. We have agreed on that road and you are welcome to join us,” the Home Minister said.

Shopian incident

About the Shopian incident, he said the state govt has briefed him on Shopian incident. He said it is intention of State government to hold thorough inquiry and punish the guilty. “The intention of the chief minister CM is hold thorough inquiry and punish the guilty and I am certain thorough inquiry would be conducted and guilty punished,” he said.

Asked whether the State government mishandled the case he said, “The intention is not to take action. The intention is to take action based on the information received by the State government. I think one must acknowledge that the intentions are good and if the intentions are good there will be proper action, proper follow up and any one found guilty would be punished,” he said.


About the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and its revocation the Home Minister said the AFSPA was subject matter that has been taken up by the Chief Minister Omer Abdullah with him on March 1, 2009. “I had promised him that I will look into the matter,” he said. He said he would discuss the matter with prime minister and defence minister and look into it in all earnest. “Every relevant aspect of the issue has been discussed,” he said. He however said he would issue statement after holding discussion with the prime minister and the defence minister on the issue.

Primary role for Police

The Home Minister said government has intention to redraw the lines of responsibility for security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and the State police would be given primary responsibility.

“It is our intention to redraw the lines of responsibilities,” he said. Elaborating, he said Army has responsibilities for conventional defence on the borders, of counter infiltration along the borders and to “counter terrorism” within the State. “The paramilitary forces are to intended aide the State police in maintaining the law and public order and countering terrorism. The State police is principal instrument for maintaining the law and order, public order and fighting militancy,” he said. He said it would take some time to draw the lines of responsibilities.  “The primary responsibility would lie on the State police,” he emphasized.

Asked whether police would substitute the Army, he said the Government would like the Army to operate in areas in far away from towns and cities. “If the state police call paramilitary forces for an aide then the paramilitary forces have responsibility to come to the aide of the State government. But the primary responsibility to maintain law and order in towns and cities must lie with the State police,” he said. “In a difficult situation if army is called for help, it has to come forward,” he said.

Agitation on rise

The Home Minister said militancy has come down in the State and the militant activities have been reduced and contained. “There is of course infiltration but many infiltrations have been neutralized on the borders,” he said. However, he said agitational activities were on the rise. “While in democracy peaceful demonstration and agitations are unavoidable, we must ensure agitation must not interfere with the normal lives of people. People want to work. Normal life can’t be interrupted virtually everyday,” he said. “I appeal everybody that agitational activities must be contained and must not interfere with the peoples’ lives virtually every day. I believe that most organisation have began rethink over the subject that the normal life should carry on,” he said.

Asked about use of force on peaceful agitators he said, “Ideally one would like demonstrations are peaceful and there is no cane charge.” But, he said, it was an ideal situation. He said in a democracy one accepts peaceful demonstration and agitation, but they should not interfere with the normal life. “Certainly people have right to agitation. But there must be some moderation,” he said.

On US statement on Kashmir

The Home Minister refused to comment on the statement issued by the US under secretary of State William Burns that Kashmir issue should be resolved according wishes of Kashmiris. “I don’t have to respond to what Mr Burns has said it. “If Mr Burns has said it, why should we respond to it? Let us confine ourselves what we are doing here for last two days,” he said in response to a question.


Asked whether there is Taliban in Kashmir, he said there were no intelligence inputs of any Taliban threat to the State.

 Stability and security

He said the stability and the security were must to create environment of stability and security in the State. “These are pre-requisite for economic development,” he said.

He said the recent Assembly and Parliamentary elections have brought stability.

“Next step is to improve the security environment. I have assured the chief minister and the State government that the centre government would aide the state government in every possible manner to improve the security environment in the state,” he said.




Friday, June 12, 2009

Govt knows the culprits

Hilal Ahmad 

Shopian, June 11: Deliberately enshrouded in mystery is the identity of the rapists and murderers of Asiya and Neelofar. This is what the people of Shopian believe. In hushed voices they even point fingers at a particular security agency, but want the police to come out with truth, as they believe police know who the culprits are. Some top civilian officers echo the local people’s beliefs.
Forensic experts have confirmed rape and murder of the victims. Police has registered a case of rape and murder. An eyewitness has deposed before a government appointed judicial commission, saying he saw uniformed men standing guard near a security vehicle on the bridge over Rambi Ara Nallah talking to each other in Hindi. He also saw some uniformed men inside the vehicle, and then he heard cries of women inside it, calling brother and mother for help. The witness was threatened with dire consequences if he didn’t leave the spot.
On the 13th day today, people staged a demonstration, and the victims’ husband and brothers showed to the police officers of the Special Investigation Team the spots in the stream where the bodies of the victims were dumped after the crime.
As police and civilian officials and the Commission of Inquiry remain tightlipped about the suspects, the people reiterated some essential details they believe strongly point toward the involvement of security agencies. For the time being people are only working, by deduction, the involvement of security agencies.
At around 7 PM on May 29 Asiya and Neelofar left their orchard. The distance between the orchard and the Rambi Ara bridge is less than a kilometer. The person who lives adjacent to their orchard saw them taking the shortest path to the bridge through the stream, directly observable from the District Police Lines and CRPF camp across. The path is also noticeable from the Rambi Ara bridge. The CRPF camp has round-the-clock surveillance bunker. Alongside the regular road that leads to the orchard there are several houses located at intervals.
Asiya’s three brothers and a family friend began the search at around 8 PM. They asked the people living in the vicinity about her and Neelofar’s whereabouts. For more than two hours, they scoured every nook of the stream, but found nothing. The CRPF troopers at regular intervals flashed searchlights at them, intriguingly without asking what they were doing. The family informed the police and at around 10.30 PM a police team with searchlights visited the spot. Till 2.30 AM the policemen and the family members vainly search both sides of the stream. Policemen suspend the search and tell the family that they would resume it in the morning. At 5 AM the family members call the police and rush to the spot. During the night they had searched a stretch of the stream on one side of the bridge. But in the morning they began search on the other side. In the meantime the Station House Officer (SHO) arrived and stopped his vehicle on the bridge and pointing at a body lying in the stream told Neelofar’s husband Shakeel Ahmad Ahangar “look there is the dead body.” Shakeel says Neelofar’s right arm was raised and stiff, and on the corner of her lips he found foam.
The family and the police then go downstream, walking nearly one and a half kilometer, and find Asiya’s body on a stone bed in the midstream. The torn kameez on her body is dry on the upper side and wet underneath due to seepage. The spot where Asiya’s body is found is frequented by tractors and trucks that extract boulders from the stream. Police ambulance arrives within no time and a police photographer shoots the images of the outraged girls.
The members of the local Committee formed yesterday to seek justice for the victims on Thursday said:
● The culprits are aware of the terrain. They know that truckers don’t extract boulders on Friday because of the belief that it is haunted by spirits on that day. Normally people extract boulders till 9 PM.
● They are the ones who can abduct girls and ferry them in vehicles during night hours, and then dump their bodies at an opportune moment. The bodies were dumped between 2.30 AM and 5 AM. The killers must have been watching the family and police searching the area because they dumped Neelofar’s body at the spot where the brothers and policemen had searched together for three hours during the night.
● From the beginning the Superintendent of Police, now transferred, was hell-bent on passing the incident off as a case of drowning. 
It was on the insistence of the demonstrating people and a top civilian officer that the second autopsy on the bodies was conducted, which finally established rape and murder. The SP had dismissed the second autopsy as “unnecessary”, a top official wishing anonymity told Greater Kashmir. (On Thursday the people were demanding the SP “should be hanged” during the protest demonstration.)
● The attempts at cover up by the government strengthens our suspicion that police was aware of the rape and murder from the day one. There has not been a case of drowning in the past 15 years in the Nallah. The District Police Line is located on the banks of the Nallah and they were aware of the fact that even a small animal can cross the stream in which they claimed the victims were drowned.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


New Delhi, June 11 (PTI) The US today pushed for resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue while emphasising that the resolution of the Kashmir issue should take into account the "wishes" of the people of the state, resonating Pakistan's view.
US Under Secretary of State William Burns told a press conference here after discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the "pace, scope and character" of the Indo-Pak dialogue, suspended since the Mumbai terror attacks, be decided by the leaders of the two countries.

"The US has always welcomed dialogue between India and Pakistan. But it is also obvious that pace, scope and character of that dialogue is something Indian and Pakistani leaders have to decide. And how and when to approach that dialogue is also something for them to decide," he said.

Burns, the first high-ranking US official to visit India after the recent elections, handed over a letter from President Barack Obama to Singh but declined to divulge its content.

In response to a question on Kashmir, Burns said "it remains our view that resolution of the Kashmir issue has to take into account wishes of Kashmiri people." On Mumbai terror attacks, the US official said Pakistan has a special responsibility to bring the perpetrators to justice and take "concrete steps" to ensure there is "no repeat" of it. PTI

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shoot the Messenger

In his press conference, the chief minister asked the media to be balanced while covering events. That is fine. But what wrong is media doing if the state has failed to convince people on the truth about Shopian tragedy. Naseer A Ganai comments.

This much you know: On June 1, when Kashmir was on boil against the alleged rape and murder of two women by the “security forces” in Shopian, the chief minister Omer Abdullah addressed a press conference. In Shopian the women went missing on May 29 when they were on their way to orchards and their bodies were found in the morning of May 30 on a riverside. The family members and the residents said the security forces raped the women before murdering them. The incident evoked widespread protests across the Valley in which over 300 people have been injured, four of them critical, one of whom later succumbed to injuries.
Back to the press conference, the chief minister said his government enjoys credibility among people and he would sacrifice power for the sake of credibility. However in the same breath he contradicted himself by saying that “people have no faith in the state institutions and even if the government would come up with the findings about the Shopian killings, people will not believe its findings.” He then announced a judicial probe into the incident. Fine so far. The chief minister however didn’t stop there. He asked the media not to blow “trivial issues out of proportion” and use the word alleged when the allegation has not been proved. He referred the incident in which an Army truck hit a scooter outside the 15 Corpse headquarter, killing a youth. He said people lodged protests against the accidental killing and blocked the road and media gave it full coverage. On the same day, he said, three other incidents involving civilians took place in valley but no one protested against them. The CM is perhaps forgetting that Army represents the State, and as he rightly pointed out, people have no faith in the state institutions. So they believed that Army vehicle deliberately hit the scooter and killed the youth. Hence, widespread protests and the local media coverage.
The CM went on. About the media reportage of the Shopian incident, he said some new channels were reporting “Bandh in valley against the rape and murder of two women by security forces.” Then he had questions for media: where from you established that rape has taken place when his government has not been able to establish neither rape nor the murder? He asked the media to be balanced. But the question is: If the media is carrying the version of people of the Shopian district and family members of the two women, is it doing anything wrong? If the State government has failed to convince people, protesting for the past four days whether the girls have been subjected to rape or not, is it the fault of media?
The police registered the rape and murder case after ten painful days despite Supreme Court ruling last year: "In a given case, even if the doctor, who examined the victim, does not find [any] sign of rape, it is no ground to disbelieve the sole testimony of the prosecution." Now if media is reporting about the misuse of force by the State government against the protesters, is it unprofessional?
Doctors say within 15 minutes it could be established whether the rape has taken place or not but the State government, which claims enjoying credibility among people, has failed to establish the cause of the death of two women even after four days of the incident. And instead of accepting its incompetence it is as usual trying to blame the media for everything particularly the local media and cable news networks in the valley. The State needs scapegoat and it finds in media here.
Last year when pro-freedom marches started in Kashmir the State acted in the same manner. In June, 2008 over a million people marched to the United Nations Militarily Observers Group office in Srinagar, calling for independence. The million men march embarrassed the Government of India and the State Government. The government then took two steps. First, it went for undeclared curfew that has become a norm since then putting whole valley under siege. Undeclared curfew is curfew but without announcement. In undeclared curfew, lawyers say, there are more chances of killing as civilians don’t know that stepping out would cost them their lives. Last year it placed barbed wires across the streets, highways and restricted the movement of people and didn’t allow anyone to come out. It also booked almost all separatist leaders under the infamous Public Safety Act, under which a person is jailed without trial for 2 years.
This year it followed the same technique of undeclared curfew. Its second step after curbing the movement of people was to curb the media. It closed down all cable news channels without issuing any order. In JK, State does not believe in written orders. It just tries to bring the ‘order’ without issuing it. Democracy Zindabad!
The cable news channels, which were giving full coverage to protests and government action against protesters, were only allowed to work after they were forced to sign an agreement that they would show only to people what government wanted them to. Here lies the difference. In Kashmir media are being forced to comply with the State policies. The New Delhi based news channels and the newspaper comply with the State policies about Kashmir willingly.
However the cable news channels would part ways with the agreement this month when they saw thousands on streets protesting against the alleged rape and murder. They showed everything. Protests, statements and of course the government version. Now they have been asked to follow last year’s guidelines. If they fail to, the government can close them down.
Last year the state government acted against the newspapers as well. It didn’t allow journalists to move out of their homes, and those who came out, their identity cards were torn to pieces while many were thrashed. This way, it stopped publication of all newspapers across Kashmir valley for over eight days. In Kashmir protesters accuse media of not giving enough space to them and the security forces beat them up for “inciting the masses.” For the last two years over a dozen photo journalists, camera men were thrashed and beaten up by the security forces while doing their professional work. Many a time photojournalists have gone for sit-in demos against the atrocities of police and security forces on them but situation never improves. At times they get thrashing from people as well.
Last year when scores of journalists were thrashed by the security forces for covering protesters in Sopur, the Srinagar based journalists who were working for local, national and international media groups; perhaps first time issued a statement. The September 2008 statement says it all: “In the aftermath of the Amarnath land controversy, members of press in Kashmir have been coming under serious attack by the personnel of CRPF and in some measure by the crowds. We have reasons to believe that the attacks happen by deliberate design of the State agencies. When the Governor N N Vohra was informed about these attacks, he pleaded ignorance and, in presence of some members of press and the secretary information, instructed the Director General of Police not to let such attacks to continue.”
However, to cite one instance, the attacks continued the next day, confirming our suspicion that the attacks are carried out by design. Journalists have faced irrational demands from CRPF personnel manning the streets like "you are not carrying a curfew pass for your camera." Such instances speak volumes about the pathetic state of affairs. It seems the chief minister too wants journalists in Kashmir to carry curfew passes for their cameras.