Coronavirus COVID-19 Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Radio Raabta fills airwaves of troubled south Kashmir with breath of fresh air

Anantnag, January 17

“Hello! This is ‘Dil se Dil Tak’ welcoming its south Kashmir listeners.”

The cheerful greeting in Urdu flows into homes in south Kashmir’s militancy stronghold areas from the ‘Radio Raabta’ community station, providing not just entertainment but also a platform for locals to air their grievances.

The Army, which has been instrumental in providing wings to the dreams of locals, set up the community radio station—’Radio Raabta’ (connect)—in Anantnag as part of its outreach programme to youths of the Valley, especially south Kashmir.

It was the vision of Lt Gen B S Raju, the general officer in command of the strategically-located XV Corps, to establish a community radio station in Anantnag. It became a reality from New Year with two radio jockeys—Umar Nisar and Aaisha Gowhar.

The ‘Radio Raabta’ 90.8 FM ‘Dil se Dil Tak’ has not only become talk of the Anantnag district, but the reach is around 20 km in radius, covering parts of Pulwama and Kulgam districts in south Kashmir as well.

The station is playing Hindi and Punjabi songs after acquiring the intellectual property rights. “Soon we will have Kashmiri music after getting the rights for that,” says Nisar.

The two radio jockeys are also providing informative snippets like traffic situation and weather, as well as interviews with local achievers, especially youths.

“This has at least helped us in knowing what’s going on in the immediate surrounding,” says Umer Malik, general manager of Eden Hotel at Pahalgham.

Malik is echoed by Isaaq Bhat, owner of apple orchards at Bijbehara, who feels that ‘Radio Raabta’ would be able to highlight local issues like non-availability of roads, electric supplies and the plight faced by common people during the harsh winter months.

The necessary infrastructure for setting up the first community radio station was provided by the Victor Force, which is a part of XV Corps of the Army specially carved out to neutralise the threat of terrorism in south Kashmir and parts of central Kashmir.

Taking time out from his busy schedule, Victor Force General Officer Commanding Major General Rashim Bali is an avid listener to the station.

“Our endeavour is to make the youth dream big and, then, enable them in realising their dream!” he told PTI.

“Warm voices of our RJs today pulsate in south Kashmir. Not only do they bring joy to the locals, but we also feel immensely proud of them.” The soft launch of the radio station started last September till it hit the airwaves for public on the New Year with two RJs steering it to popularity by roping in issues related to agriculture, tourism, the coronavirus situation and bird flu.

The radio station at present hosts two shows—Morning Beats with RJ Umar Nisar and ‘Golmaal’ by RJ Aaisha Gowhar—which brings information and entertainment to the people of the area, besides talking to some youth icons to motivate people, and also about entertaining news.

The school-going girl, who doubles up as RJ with the radio station, is all energetic about the assignment.

“Being an RJ is a dream come true for me. I try and connect with the youth and children of my age group,” says an elated Gowhar.

She has been working as a child artist and appeared in an advertisement for an electric wire company. The film shows a daughter rowing her boat in the winters of Kashmir to feed her father.

Recently, ‘Radio Raabta’ held a live programme at picturesque Pahalgham, where they interviewed domestic tourists who had gathered to celebrate winter carnival there.

“It was definitely something novel, which added to the flavour of Kashmiri culture. The tourists were quite enthusiastic in getting their interviews aired real time,” says Amir Bhat, general manager of Regency Hotel.

Senior assistant professor Ruheela Hassan, the incharge of the journalism and mass communication department at Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, feels that when peace and security is a priority, it means development usually take a second place.

“Conflict affects the level of development in several ways. The delay in the introduction of a development medium in Kashmir in the form of community radio is one such consequence,” Hassan said in her published paper, ‘The Community Radio in Kashmir: A Way Forward’.

She said it was in December 2002 when the government approved the policy for the grant of licences for setting up of community radio stations across the country.

“While this medium was adopted in other states of the country much earlier, it took a long time to enter the valley of Kashmir,” Hassan said.

The first effort to use radio for the development of the community was made in 2009 when Panos South Asia, running similar programmes elsewhere, started a community radio program in Awantipora in collaboration with the IUST, according to Hassan.

“Though it was planned to establish a community radio station in the campus of IUST, but it could not become possible due to security reasons,” she said.

Hassan feels that Kashmir has seen a lot of manipulation of media and running a community radio in such a scenario is a challenge in itself.

“Though several efforts have been made to utilise this community space in the best possible manner, but a lot still needs to be done.”  — PTI

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Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Author of Didda’s biography accuses Kangana Ranaut of copyright violation over new film

Mumbai, January 16

Author Ashish Kaul, who has written the book “Didda: The Warrior Queen of Kashmir”, on Friday accused Kangana Ranaut of copyright infringement after the actor announced a film on the warrior queen.

Ranaut and producer Kamal Jain on Thursday announced a sequel to her 2019 release, “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi”, titled “Manikarnika Returns: The Legend of Didda”.

The sequel will reportedly tell the true story of Didda, who was the Queen of Kashmir and defeated Mehmood Ghaznavi twice.

Despite being struck by polio in one leg, she was one of the greatest warriors.

Kaul said not much has been written about Didda in the history, and he believes Ranaut has based the new film’s story on his book “Didda: Kashmir Ki Yodha Rani”.

He said he was commissioned by Rupa Publications to write the book about Didda in 2018, and it was published in English language.

Kaul claimed that he had approached Ranaut to write a foreword for the Hindi version of the book in September last year.

“I wrote a mail to her giving her the entire story that she has quoted yesterday. I had asked her if she would be associated with the book for forward, there was no talk of the film then. But we didn’t receive any reply from her.

“Whatever she is saying about the story is available only in my book only. She could have asked me if she wants to do a film based on my book, but she didn’t approach me,” Kaul told PTI.

When he took the matter with Ranaut and the film’s producer, they denied that they are using his story for the movie, he said, adding that he will be seeking legal counsel to “protect my rights”.

“I will do whatever it takes to protect my rights and consult legal experts in coming days,” he said.

When contacted, Ranaut and Jain were not available for a comment.

“Manikarnika Returns: The Legend of Didda” is scheduled to go on floors in January 2022. — PTI

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Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

North shivers as Srinagar records lowest temperature in 8 years; no relief for few more days

New Delhi, January 13

There was no let-up in the intense cold conditions in the north and northwestern parts of the country on Wednesday as Srinagar recorded its lowest temperature in eight years, while some places reported traffic disruptions as fog reduced visibility.

A cold wave gripped the national capital too as frosty winds from the snow-clad western Himalayas brought the minimum temperature down to 3.2 degrees Celsius. A dense fog blanketed some parts of the city, lowering visibility to 50 metres and affecting traffic movement.

The IMD said the lowest minimum temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius was reported at Ganganagar (west Rajasthan) over the plains of the country.

Due to the prevalence of dry north/northwesterly winds, minimum temperatures are very likely to remain below normal over most parts of Northwest India during next 3-4 days, said the IMD.

“Cold day/severe cold day conditions very likely to continue in many pockets over Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi and in some pockets of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand during next three days,” it said.

Cold wave to severe cold wave conditions are also likely in many pockets over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi and Uttar Pradesh; in some pockets of east Rajasthan and in isolated pockets over west Rajasthan during next 3-4 days, the IMD added.

Meanwhile, scattered to fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall and moderate thunderstorm and lightning is very likely over south Tamil Nadu, south Kerala and Lakshadweep during the next 24 hours, the IMD said in its 8 pm bulletin.

It said extremely heavy rainfall was observed at isolated places over Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

“Today, cold day conditions at a few places with severe cold day conditions at isolated places (were) observed over Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi and east Uttar Pradesh; cold day to severe cold day conditions at isolated places over west Uttar Pradesh and cold day conditions in isolated places over Punjab,” said the IMD.

Himachal Pradesh’s Keylong and Kalpa shivered at subzero temperatures, while state capital Shimla registered a low of 5.7 degrees Celsius, said the Meteorological Department.

Lahaul and Spiti’s administrative centre Keylong continued to be the coldest place in the state at minus 11.4 degrees Celsius, said Shimla MeT centre director Manmohan Singh.

Kalpa recorded a low of minus 2.6 degrees Celsius, he added.

In Uttar Pradesh, cold wave conditions prevailed at isolated places as Churk recorded the lowest temperature of 3.2 degrees Celsius.

Dense to very dense fog occurred at isolated places over the state.

Intense cold conditions prevailed in parts of Rajasthan too, where Ganganagar was recorded as the coldest place at 0.2 degree Celsius.

The Kashmir valley reeled under severe cold too, with Srinagar city – the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – recording its lowest minimum temperature in eight years, the Meteorological Department said here on Wednesday.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 7.8 degrees Celsius, which was the lowest temperature recorded in the city in eight years, said a MeT official.

He said the exact same minimum temperature was recorded in the city in 2012 on January 14.

The rest of the Valley was also reeling under intense cold.

Biting cold conditions prevailed in most parts of Punjab and Haryana also with Narnaul being the coldest place in both the states at 1.4 degrees Celsius. Narnaul in Haryana recorded a low of three notches below the normal.

Hisar was the another place where the mercury settled below the 2 degrees Celsius-mark. It registered a minimum temperature of 1.7 degrees Celsius, five notches below the normal.

Among other places in the state, Ambala, Karnal and Rohtak experienced cold conditions at 7.8, 6.5 and 5 degrees Celsius, respectively, said an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) here.

Bhiwani and Sirsa reeled under cold conditions at 2.8 and 3.4 degrees Celsius, respectively.

Chandigarh, the joint capital of both states, recorded a low of 5.7 degrees Celsius. PTI

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Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Vaccine drive accelerates, doses reach far corners of India

New Delhi, January 13

India’s drive against COVID-19 gathered momentum on Wednesday with planes carrying vaccines flying into airports across the country from where the precious cargo was dispatched to small cities and towns in readiness for the inoculation exercise beginning January 16.

From Assam to Goa and from Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala, the vaccines were carefully and swiftly transported to far corners of the country, a day after the first consignment of the Covishield vaccine from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable rolled out of the Serum Institute of India manufacturing facility in Pune.

According to sources, 95 per cent of the 1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine purchased by the government have been delivered and shipped to nearly 60 consignee points across India in two days.

Of the 55 lakh doses of indigenously developed Covaxin of Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech ordered by the Centre, the first tranche of 2.4 lakh doses have been dispatched to 12 states.

Covaxin has been sent to 12 sites, one each in Ganavaram, Guwahati, Patna, Delhi, Kurukshetra, Bengaluru, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai, Lucknow and Hyderabad, according to official sources.

The vaccines have been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database, the Health Ministry said.

The Mumbai airport authorities said it has facilitated the delivery of about 2,72,400 doses of the Covishield vaccine to 22 domestic destinations on Wednesday, starting with low-cost carrier GoAir’s first flight to Goa with  23,500 doses of Covishield vaccine.

These shipments were carried out by SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and Vistara to Bagdogra, Rajkot, Ranchi, Imphal, Agartala, Cochin, Bhopal, Kanpur, Jammu, Srinagar, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Gorakhpur, Raipur, Dehradun, Varanasi, Indore, Trivandrum and Jabalpur, it said.

On Tuesday, consignments were sent from Pune to 13 cities including Delhi.

As the vials began reaching their destinations, in readiness for the pan-India vaccination drive that will be launched on Saturday, states firmed up their plans and fine-tuned logistical details.

In Delhi, where the drive will begin in 89 centres, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his AAP government will provide the vaccine free if the Centre fails to do so.

He said he has already appealed to the Centre as there are many people in the country who can’t afford the life-saving jab.

In accordance with the national priority list, the vaccine will be first given to healthcare and frontline workers. While Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand and Union territories of Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir were among those to receive the first consignment of the vaccines on Wednesday, others like Maharashtra and West Bengal started their transportation to various districts.

A special vehicle carrying COVID-19 vaccines was held up and had to take a five-kilometer detour in West Bengal’s Purba Bardhaman district after the national highway was blocked by protesters led by state minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury who were agitating against the new farm laws, sources said.

The van, piloted by the West Bengal Police, was on its way to Bankura and Purulia to deliver the vaccines when it was stranded despite a ‘green corridor’ being arranged for its swift movement, they said.

Chowdhury, who is the state library services minister, said he was not aware of the movement of the vaccine van and cleared the road once it was brought to his notice, but by that time the vehicle had been already diverted.

The first consignment of about 94,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine reached the Madhya Pradesh capital on a scheduled flight from Mumbai, a state government official said.

From the airport, insulated vans of the health department transported the boxes—that signal India entering a decisive phase in its fight against the pandemic—to the State Vaccine Centre where Medical Education Minister Visvas Sarang inspected the arrangements. The doses will be dispatched to eight districts from Bhopal.

Kerala, too, received its first Covishield vaccine consignment on Wednesday morning on a Go Air flight that landed at Kochi. Another flight was expected to land in Thiruvananthapuram later in the day.

Sources in the National Health Mission sources said of the 4.33 lakh doses of the vaccine, 1,100 will be sent to Mahe, an enclave of Puducherry.

The vaccine will be stored in the regional vaccine centres at Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode from where it will be distributed to 133 centres.

So far, 3,62,870 people have registered themselves for a shot.

Giving details of the vaccination plans for Maharashtra, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state had already received 9.83 lakh doses of the total requirement of 17.5 lakh for the first phase.

Of these, 9.63 vials were from SII and 20,000 from Bharat Biotech, the state minister told reporters.

“We have to give the doses twice to a person in a gap of four weeks, hence 55 percent of the around eight lakh registered health workers will undergo vaccination as of now,” he said.

The Centre, he said, has asked the state to reduce the number of inoculation centres from 511 to 350, saying the government should focus on other emergencies as well.

Each vaccination session will cater to a maximum of 100 beneficiaries per day and the Union Health ministry said it has advised the states not to organise “unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day”.

“States have been advised to organise vaccination sessions taking into account 10 percent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session each day.

“Therefore, any undue haste on the part of states to organise unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day is not advised,” the Union Ministry said.

It also said that states and UTs have also been advised to increase the number of vaccination session sites that would be operational every day in a progressive manner as the vaccination process stabilises and moves forward.

The country’s financial capital, Mumbai, which will have 72 centres, received over 1.39 lakh Covishield vaccine doses, said civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

Health department staffers of the BMC brought the vaccines from neighbouring Pune under police security, it said. The civic body has created a centralised cold storage facility for vaccines in Kanjurmarg.

The towns of Aurangabad and Thane in the state got their share of the first doses too.

Goa Health Services Director Jose D’Sa told PTI that two boxes comprising 23,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine were received in the morning.

Around 18,000 health workers in the coastal state will be covered during the initial phase, another health official said.

The northeast state of Assam received its second consignment of COVID-19 vaccines when a cargo flight of a private airline carried 12,000 doses of Covaxin weighing around 78.5 kg,  from Hyderabad to Guwahati.

“The consignment was shipped by Bharat Biotech and handed over to state government officials within six minutes of its arrival,” said an Airports Authority of India spokesperson.

The first batch of 2.40 lakh vials of COVID-19 vaccine for Assam and Meghalaya had landed on Tuesday.

Guwahati’s LGBI Airport has been marked as the nodal point of distribution of vaccines for the northeast.

Assam and Tripura welcomed their first lot of Covishield doses.

“The vaccine containers were transported to a National Health Mission (NHM) storage facility at Gorkhabasti area,” State Immunization Officer Kallol Roy told reporters in Agartala.

SpiceJet said it had transported 3.5 tonnes of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday from Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to 11 cities.

GoAir said it was airlifting a total of 69,600 vials of the vaccine.

The Mumbai airport said that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented by it in anticipation of the vaccine distribution saw the terminal register a cargo processing time of just seven minutes, right from goods acceptance to dispatch at the ramp, it added.

Besides, the airport has deployed a dedicated COVID-19 task force to reduce dwell time and facilitate advanced planning and collaboration between the airport and all stakeholders in this process, it said. — PTI


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Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Sale of poultry products banned in Delhi; bird flu cases reported in Uttar Pradesh

New Delhi, January 13

Fresh bird deaths and avian influenza cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, while in neighbouring Delhi, civic bodies banned the sale of poultry products, even as the city government asked people not to panic and eat completely cooked eggs and chicken.

Unusual mortality among birds has also been reported in some districts of Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, as per a statement of the Union fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry, which has asked state governments not to ban supply of poultry products.

However, bird flu outbreak has been confirmed only in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat till now, according to the ministry.

“Further, cases of unnatural mortality of birds have been reported in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir and four districts of Jharkhand,” it said.

On banning of poultry products, the ministry said it has been found that many states are banning supply of poultry and poultry products from other states. This will add to the negative impact on the poultry industry and hence, states are requested to reconsider such decision, it said.

In the national capital, the ban on sale, storage of poultry or processed chicken meat by shops and restaurants has been imposed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).

Earlier, the Delhi government had imposed a ban on sale of processed and packaged chicken brought from outside the city, after bird flu cases were confirmed in the national capital on Monday.

The civic bodies through their veterinary services departments have also said that said owners of restaurants and hotels will face action if egg-based dishes or poultry meat and other products are served to customers.

In the past one week, Delhi has reported several bird deaths, including those of ducks at the Sanjay Lake and crows at city parks. Reports of over 50 bird deaths were also received on a helpline of the Delhi government’s animal husbandry unit on Tuesday.

The Delhi Health Department in its advisory in view of bird flu cases, asked people not to panic and follow a set of dos and don’ts, including not consuming half-cooked chicken, half-boiled or half-fried eggs.

“H5N8 is highly pathogenic in birds but the pathogenicity in humans as well as the likelihood of human infection with avian influenza (AH5N8) virus is low,” the advisory issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of Delhi stated.

It said avoid contact and prevent exposure from sick-looking sluggish chicken.

“Eat only completely cooked eggs and poultry products cooked at 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Do not consume half-cooked chicken or bird or half-boiled and half-fried eggs,” the advisory said.

Do not keep raw poultry meat near cooked meat. Wash hands frequently at the time of handling raw poultry products. Take due care of personal hygiene and maintain cleanliness in surrounding, it cautioned.

In Uttar Pradesh, bird deaths were reported from Jalaun district and avian flu cases from Kanpur.

Samples taken from two dead crows in Kanpur have tested positive for bird flu and with these, the number of confirmed cases of the influenza has increased to four in the city, forest officials said.

In Jalaun, five birds, mostly crows, were found dead and their samples have been sent for testing, while in Fatehpur district two peacock carcasses were found in a forest. However, officials ruled out bird flu as the cause of death of the peacocks.

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rajendra Kumar Sharma said as per the postmortem report, the birds died due to cold.

In the wake of the bird flu scare in Maharashtra, Thane Collector Rajesh Narvekar has instructed the forest department to pay special attention to wetland areas for migration of birds in the district.

Seven rapid response teams have been deployed in the district and a control room has been activated to monitor the bird flu situation, he said during a review meeting with senior officials. PTI

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Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Farmers’ protest: Ludhiana farmer who tried to kill himself with poison dies

Tribune News Service
Sonepat, January 12

A farmer from Ludhiana who drank poison at the ongoing farmers protest on the borders of Delhi died on Tuesday, sources said.

Labh Singh from Ludhiana’s Sirthala became the fifth person to kill himself at the ongoing protests. He was admitted to Sonepat’s Frank Institute of Medical Sciences in critical condition.

Four other people have similarly committed suicide at the protests—39-year-old Amrinder Singh from Fatehgarh Saheb’s Machrai Kalan who, like Labh Singh, poisoned himself; 65-year-old Sant Baba Ram Singh (65), a religious leader from Haryana’s Karnal district who shot himself near Kundli; 63-year-old Amarjit Singh Rai from Fazilka who drank pesticide at Tikri, another site of protest; and Kashmir Singh Dass, a farmer in his 70s who hanged himself at the Ghazipur protest site. There was also one suicide attempt—Niranjan Singh from Tarn Taran district tried to kill himself with pest control tablets at Singhu border.

— With agencies

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Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Amshipora encounter case: Army says it has no system of cash rewards for its personnel

Srinagar, January 11

The Army on Monday denied that its captain, who is facing the allegation of a fake encounter in Amshipora, was “driven” by a Rs 20-lakh reward for killing terrorists, saying there was no system of cash rewards for its personnel for any acts in combat situations or otherwise in the line of duty.

The brief statement was released by Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia.

“There are media reports quoting that Amshipora encounter actions were driven by a Rs 20 lakh award for the killing of terrorists. It is clarified that the Indian Army has no system of cash awards for its personnel for any acts in combat situations or otherwise in the line of duty,” the statement said.

It said the reports are “not based on facts of the processes internal to Indian Army”.

Three youths, who were dubbed as terrorists, were killed in the alleged fake encounter in July last year.

However, the Special Investigation Team constituted by the Jammu and Kashmir police to probe the incident stated in its charge sheet that “by staging the encounter” the accused Capt. Bhoopinder Singh and two other civilians—Tabash Nazir and Bilal Ahmed Lone—also “purposefully destroyed evidence of the real crime that they have committed and also have been purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with the motive to grab prize money of Rs 20 lakh”.

The army had ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident.

The charge sheet was filed by the police before Chief Judicial Magistrate Shopian on December 26, 2020. PTI

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Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Jammu-Srinagar highway to remain closed on Monday

Jammu, January 10

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway will remain closed on Monday due to a sudden damage of a bridge on the road, officials said on Sunday.

“No vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice-versa due to the damage of bridge at Kela Morh, Ramban. There is no optional carriageway available,” Traffic police said.

The Jammu-Srinagar highway is the main road link connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.

The road was opened for one way traffic on Saturday after remaining closed for a week due to heavy snowfall and landslides and shooting stones triggered by wet weather along the highway at many places.

The Mughal road which is a second road link connecting Kashmir valley with the Jammu region is also closed due to snow accumulation. IANS

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Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Army Captain staged Amshipura encounter for Rs 20 lakh: Police charge sheet

Shopian, January 10

The Army Captain, who was involved in the alleged fake encounter in Shopian in July last year in which three youths were killed, had hatched a conspiracy along with two civilians with the motive for “grabbing” a reward money of Rs 20 lakh and also fired at the victims even before his men could lay a cordon of the area, according to a police charge sheet.

Captain Bhoopinder Singh is currently in the custody of the Army, with informed sources saying he may face Court Martial proceedings.

The case relates to the July 18, 2020, encounter at Amshipura here in which three youths of Rajouri district—Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar—were killed and branded as terrorists.

The charge sheet submitted before the chief judicial magistrate of this district also details the role of the two civilians—Tabish Nazir and Bilal Ahmed Lone—in the case.

Lone has since turned an approver and recorded his confession statement before a magistrate.

After reports emerged on social media that the three youths were not associated with terrorism, the Army had ordered a Court of Inquiry which completed its probe earlier in September. It had found “prima facie” evidence that the troops had “exceeded” the powers granted under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Following this, the Army had initiated disciplinary proceedings.

The identities of the three youths killed in Amshipura were confirmed through a DNA test and the bodies were handed over to their families in Baramulla in October.

General officer in Command of the strategically-located XV Corps, Lt Gen B S Raju had said earlier the Summary of Evidence had been completed and the Army will take the next course of action as per law.

Officials in know of the development said the Captain may face a Court Martial proceeding for violating the powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 and for not following the dos and don’ts of the Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court.

The charge sheet submitted by the Special Investigation Team of Jammu and Kashmir Police has listed 75 witnesses in support of its findings and has also provided technical evidence including call data records of the accused persons involved in the case.

The charge sheet also has the statements of four army personnel—Subedar Garu Ram, Lance Naik Ravi Kumar, Sepoys Ashwini Kumar and Yougesh—who were part of Capt Singh’s team at the time of the incident.

They said that all of them along with the two civilians had left the Army camp together as there were reliable inputs that a contact with terrorists was possible, according to the charge sheet. 

On reaching the spot, all the four were asked to cordon off from different directions.

“As they were approaching the spot on foot after disembarking from the vehicle they heard a few bursts of live ammunition even before they had laid the cordon,” said the charge sheet, quoting the statements of the four.

Later Capt. Singh told them that he had to fire as the hiding militants were trying to escape.

“By staging the encounter,” the charge sheet said, Capt. Singh and two other civilians also “purposefully destroyed evidence of real crime that they have committed and also have been purposefully projecting false information as part of a criminal conspiracy hatched between them with motive to grab prize money of Rs 20 lakh”.

It said the accused captain of 62 Rashtriya Rifles “furnished false information to mislead the senior officer and for getting” an FIR lodged to “tailor fit his motive for grabbing prize money in furtherance of criminal conspiracy”. — PTI

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Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Major tragedy averted as IED-fitted motorcycle detected in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch

Jammu, January 10

A major tragedy was averted with the timely detection of a 2.4 kg Improvised Explosive Device (IED) fitted on a motorcycle in Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, a police officer said on Sunday.

The IED was found planted on the roadside along Gohlad Reelan-Mendhar Road by a police party around 10 pm on Saturday and was destroyed in a controlled explosion by the bomb disposal squad around 1 pm on Sunday, Poonch Senior Superintendent of Police Ramesh Angral said.

Quoting preliminary investigation, the officer said the IED along with a motorcycle was left behind by a suspected terrorist who is believed to have moved into the nearby forest area.

A joint search operation by police and Rashtriya Rifles of the Army is underway after the whole area was cordoned off to nab him, the SSP said.

The SSP said the bomb disposal squad destroyed the IED in a controlled explosion, without causing any damage.

A case under relevant sections of law has been registered and further investigation is on to bring the culprits to book, he said. — PTI

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