Archive for ‘paramilitary’

25/02/2019

India toughens Kashmir crackdown; five dead in battle with militants, more detained

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a gun battle between members of a Pakistani militant group and Indian security forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday as India intensified a security

Indian authorities have killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack, which also sparked the roundup of separatists which India says is needed to head off trouble ahead of a general election to be held by May.

Most of those rounded up over the last two days were linked to the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

“Since JeI has a wider network across Kashmir and they are mobilising anti-India protests, their arrest could help in curbing such protests ahead of elections,” the senior police officer said.

 

One well-known separatist leader, Abdul Gani Bhat, was placed under house arrest, according to his political party.

Separatists called a strike to protest against the detentions. Many shops, petrol stations, and businesses closed, with few people and vehicles on streets in sensitive areas, except for troop patrols.

In some areas of the main city of Srinagar, the government limited the movement of people and vehicles.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident,” the police said.

FUEL SUPPLIES LOW

 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir said fuel rationing had been introduced in the Kashmir Valley where there was only enough gasoline for one day, diesel for four days and no liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The government said it would seek to increase supplies to the region and that shortages are the result of road blockages after the suicide bomb attack.

Indian paramilitary troops in riot gear arrived in strength at first light, said Shakeel Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in the Srinagar district.

“At places, they have blocked the main roads with steel barricades and concertina wire,” he said.

State Governor Satya Pal Malik called on residents not to believe “rumours of any extreme nature”. The government said an increase in police numbers was to prevent candidates and voters from being intimidated into not standing or voting in the general election.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who chairs the Hurriyat Conference of separatist groups, said arbitrary arrests and jailing of leaders, activists and young people for their political beliefs had happened across Kashmir for 30 years.

“Intimidating activists and leadership will not deter them from their path, nor will it stop people from demanding the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through self-determination,” he said.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the Indian home ministry to seek comment went unanswered.

TENSIONS RAISED

The suicide bomb attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. India blames Pakistan for harbouring militant groups operating in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

After the attack, India dropped trade privileges for Pakistan and prepared to send as many as 10,000 more troops to the contested area, according to a home ministry letter seen by Reuters.

The Indian army said that early on Sunday evening Pakistan violated the two nations’ ceasefire at the Rajouri area of the border, through shelling from mortars and small arms fire. Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the Indian army was “retaliating strongly and effectively”.

Ceasefire violations are not unusual along the border.

A Pakistani security official said Pakistani forces had not initiated any action but had responded to Indian firing.

Kashmir is likely to be a key issue in India’s election, distracting from concerns about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have managed the economy.

Modi has promised a strong response to the attack, saying in a monthly radio broadcast on Sunday that it had caused anguish to all of India.

Modi added that the army had vowed to destroy the militants and those who helped them.

Islamabad has warned it would respond with “full force” if attacked. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India to show restraint or it would put “the entire region’s peace and security at stake”.
India’s Supreme Court will hear a case this week seeking to drop a constitutional provision that bars non-residents from moving to the state of Jammu and Kashmir that encompasses the Muslim-majority region.

 

If passed, it could further escalate tensions.

Source: Reuters

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23/02/2019

Time to test Pathan’s words: PM Modi on Imran Khan’s promise

At a public rally in Rajasthan, PM Modi said attacks on Kashmiri youths after Pulwama terror attack help the enemies of the country.

INDIA Updated: Feb 23, 2019 19:11 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Tonk, Rajasthan
Narendra Modi,Modi in Tonk,Pulwama terror attack
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting, in Tonk in Rajasthan on Saturday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday denounced reported attacks on Kashmiri youths in some parts of the country following Pulwama terror attack killing at least 40 soldiers on February 14. PM Modi said Kashmiri youths should not be targeted anywhere in the country.

Speaking at a public rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk, PM Modi said, “Our fight is against terror, the enemies of humanity… Our fight is for Kashmir not against Kashmir, not against Kashmiris.”

“What happened to Kashmiri youths in the last few days…It does not matter whether the incident was small or big, such things should not happen. Kashmiri youths are victims of terror. Every child of Kashmir is with India in our fight against terror,” said PM Modi.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed the statement of PM Modi. “Thank you @narendramodi Sahib. Aaj aap ne hamaray dil ki baat keh di (you said what I have in my heart),” wrote Abdullah on Twitter soon after the prime minister made the comment at his rally.

PM Modi referred to his congratulatory phone call to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, when he assumed office after the general elections in Pakistan last year. PM Modi said, “As per protocol, I telephoned Pakistan’s new prime minister. I told him we have fought for long. Let India and Pakistan together fight poverty and illiteracy.”

“Pakistan’s prime minister told me, ‘I am the son of a Pathan. I do what I say.’ It is time to test his words,” PM Modi said at his rally in Rajasthan.

Also read: Centre moves 100 companies of paramilitary forces to Srinagar amid massive crackdown

The prime minister said incidents like these “give power to Bharat ke tukde honge gang” and their supporters. “It is the responsibility of every Indian to protect every laal (child) of Kashmir,” he said.

The prime minister served another warning to Kashmiri separatist leaders, many of whom were stripped of their security cover early this week. The Union home ministry had ordered to review the security provided by the government to the separatist leaders in the wake of Pulwama attack.

PM Modi said, “Action has been taken against separatists and more action will be taken against such people…We can’t keep silent, we know how to crush terror.”

‘Trust Modi Sarkar’

Asserting that the government has moved swiftly to “avenge” Pulwama terror attack, PM Modi said all the major institutions of the world have condemned “the terror attack that was engineered at Pulwama”.

“I am proud that our security forces sent the perpetrators (of Pulwama attack) within 100 hours to where they belong,” he said referring to encounter in Pulwama a day after the terror attack on Jammu-Srinagar highway, where a CRPF convoy carrying more than 2,500 jawans was targeted by a suicide bomber.

Also read:In crackdown in Kashmir, JLKF chief Yasin Malik, Jamaat leaders detained

“Trust the brave soldiers of the country and trust the Modi government…This time, everyone will be taken to justice and complete justice will be served,” said PM Modi adding, “Your pradhan sevak is busy finishing terror…If I am destined to put locks to the factory of terror, so be it.”

He also talked about the steps, the government has taken to put pressure on Pakistan following Pulwama attack. He said, “Pakistan is being accounted for everything that they have done. There is anxiety in Pakistan due to the steps we have taken after the terror attack.”

A day after Pulwama terror attack, the government decided at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to withdraw the most favoured nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan in 1996. The government also hiked tariff on goods to be imported from Pakistan by 200 per cent.

The external affairs ministry reached out to more than a dozen countries to corner Pakistan, which denied its hand behind the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir despite Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group based out of that country, claimed responsibility for the attack on CRPF jawans.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution condemning Pulwama terror attack. The UNSC named Jaish-e-Mohammed in its statement. The UNSC resolution was unanimously approved by all members including China, which has been shielding Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar from being declared as global terrorist by the top UN body.

In the latter half of his public speech, PM Modi sounded poll bugle throwing what appeared as an election slogan, “Modi hai to mumkin hai” (it is possible if Modi is there). He said, “People have faith in the current government because of the work done in last four years. Modi hai to mumkin hai.”

He listed out achievements of his government and talked about schemes such health insurance, One-Rank-One-Pension and electrification among others repeating the same slogan at the end. He also accused the Congress of misleading the people of Rajasthan in last year’s assembly election by making farm loan waiver promise.

Source: Hindustan Times

21/02/2019

India withdraws security for Kashmir separatist leaders

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Jammu and Kashmir state withdrew the security details for 18 separatist leaders and 155 other opposition figures on Wednesday after an Islamist suicide bomber killed 40 paramilitary troopers last week.

The restive mountain state is currently administered by India’s federal government after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party walked out a coalition with a major Kashmiri party.

The separatist leaders had been allocated security personnel to protect them from militants after they entered talks with the federal government.

In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir state government said it “felt that providing security to these separatist leaders is a wastage of scarce state resources which could be better utilized elsewhere”.

Besides the separatist leaders, the security of 155 political figures and activists – some from mainstream opposition parties – was also withdrawn, the statement said.

“Through this (step), over 1,000 police personnel and over 100 vehicles are freed to do regular police work,” it said.

Both India and Pakistan lay claim to Kashmir and have twice gone to war over it since independence from Britain in 1947. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting decades of sporadic insurgency in its only Muslim-majority state.

Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the Kashmiri people.

Source: Reuters

18/02/2019

Pulwama attack: Four Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir gun battle

Four soldiers have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in a gun battle with militants, police say.

The clash occurred in Pulwama district, where more than 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide attack on Thursday, raising tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

A civilian and two alleged militants were also killed as Indian troops searched for suspects.

Meanwhile Pakistan recalled its ambassador for consultations.

India had already recalled its top diplomat from Pakistan in the wake of Thursday’s attack – in which it said the Pakistani state was complicit.

Pakistan denies any role in the bombing, which was claimed by a group based on its soil – Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)

What’s happening in Pulwama?

Police say two militants who were trapped in Pinglena village were killed in Monday’s operation. Both are JeM members and one is a Pakistani national, authorities said.

Heavy gunfire has been heard, and Indian security officials are appealing to villagers to stay indoors.

Police told BBC Urdu that when they fired “warning shots” at the house where the alleged militants were hiding, they fired back. One officer critically injured was taken to hospital.

The owner of the house was killed during the exchange of fire, police added.

Indian security forces have been hunting for militants with suspected links to JeM following Thursday’s bombing, which saw a vehicle packed with explosives ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces.

map

The suicide bomber was identified as a local Kashmiri aged between 19 and 21.

More than 20 people were detained on Sunday, according to police.

How high are tensions?

Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan since independence.

Both countries claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but control only parts of it. They have fought two wars and a limited conflict in the region.

Thursday’s attack was the deadliest attack against Indian forces since an Islamist-led insurgency began in 1989. It sparked anti-Pakistan protests in some Indian cities and angry mobs targeted Kashmiri students and businessmen.

Mobile internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir were cut over the weekend and the Indian government has pulled security normally provided to at least five Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Isolated incidents of students from Kashmir being beaten up or evicted from their accommodation in northern Indian states have also been reported.

India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) offered help to students in need, but also warned of false reports.

In broader terms, there has has been a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir since Indian forces killed a popular militant in 2016. Significant numbers of young men have joined the insurgency in recent years and the funerals of well-known militants draw huge crowds who want to pay respects to “martyrs”.

India has been accused of using excessive force to control protests with thousands of people suffering eye injuries or being blinded by pellet guns.

How might India retaliate?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing an election later this year, has vowed a strong response and says he will give the military free rein.

The last time an attack on Indian forces close to this magnitude occurred in Kashmir was in 2016, when 19 soldiers were killed at a base. In response to that, India carried out “surgical strikes” which involved Indian soldiers crossing the de facto border to hit Pakistani posts.

This time analysts say heavy snow in the region could make that kind of limited ground response impossible. But there are fears that going further, for example with air strikes, could lead to Pakistani retaliation and a significant escalation.

So far India has focused on retaliation by economic and diplomatic means. It has revoked Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation trading status, raised customs duties to 200% and vowed to isolate it in the international community.

Presentational grey line

Despite tensions Pakistan is calm

By Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan correspondent

The threat of Indian military action has not provoked widespread concern amongst the general public in Pakistan. Previous attacks by militants like JeM, believed to have close links to the intelligence services, have been seen as attempts by the Pakistani military to prevent the civilian government developing too friendly a relationship with India.

However, since Imran Khan was elected as prime minister here, many have begun to believe both the army and his administration were united in wanting to improve cross border ties.

Whether Pakistan was involved in the attack or not, it seems unlikely concerted action will now be taken against JeM. Its leader has been in “protective custody” since another attack in 2016, but still regularly releases audio messages to followers.

The group has in the past been a useful tool for Pakistan’s intelligence services wanting to foment unrest across the border, and authorities may now be reluctant to confront them, in case they turn against the Pakistani state as some of their members have done in the past.

Source: The BBC

17/02/2019

Kashmiri Muslims evicted, threatened after deadly attack on Indian forces

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – India has warned against rising communal tensions across the country as Kashmiris living outside their state faced property evictions, job suspensions and attacks on social media after a suicide bomber killed 44 policemen in the region.

The car bomb attack on a security convoy on Thursday, claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri man, was the worst in decades of insurgency in the disputed area, which is claimed in full by both the nuclear-armed neighbours but ruled in part.

As the bodies of the paramilitary policemen who died in the attack were returned to families across India this weekend, passionate crowds waving the Indian flag gathered in the streets to honour them and shouted demands for revenge. Pakistan has denied any role in the killings.

Kashmiri Muslims, meanwhile, are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India, mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, forcing the federal interior ministry to issue an advisory to all states to “ensure their safety and security and maintain communal harmony”.

Aqib Ahmad, a Kashmiri student in Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, said the owner of the house he was staying in had asked him to move out fearing an attack on his property. Rates for air tickets to Kashmir have sky-rocketed as tensions escalate, he said.

Two other students in Dehradun said they also had been asked to vacate their rooms immediately.

 

Local media reported that some Kashmiri students were assaulted by members of Hindu right-wing groups in Uttarakhand, while a Kashmiri man had been booked by the police in the southern city of Bengaluru under a colonial-era sedition law for a post allegedly backing the militants. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

Police in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state said they were providing temporary accommodation to people returning to Kashmir. The police urged Kashmiris to contact their hotline for “speedy assistance in case they face any difficulties/harrasment”.

“TRAITOR”

Fear has engulfed Kashmiri students in Haryana’s Ambala district after a video on social media showed a village headman asking people to evict Kashmiri students in the area.

“In case it is not done, the person in whose residence such students are living will be considered as a traitor,” the man says in the video, whose authenticity Reuters has not been able to independently verify.

 

Police said they were investigating the matter.

Since the video surfaced on social media on Saturday, at least half a dozen Kashmiri students have been shifted to the hostel of a university campus in Ambala.

A Facebook user named Anshul Saxena, meanwhile, has claimed credit for getting people fired or suspended for posts he calls “anti-national”.

Saxena uploaded a screengrab of a suspension letter handed out to a Kashmiri employee of a pharmaceutical company who had allegedly written in favour of the attack.

The attack on India’s paramilitary police follows the deadliest year in Kashmir for security personnel since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power nearly five years ago.

44 killed in worst Kashmir attack in decades
Government data shows 91 officers lost their lives in Kashmir last year, about 14 percent more than 2017. Thousands of people, including militants and civilians, have died since the insurgency began in late 1980s.
Political leaders from Kashmir appealed to the government to ensure security of Kashmiris across India, while many people on Twitter said their homes were open to Kashmiris seeking shelter.
“Understand the pain and anguish,” Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of J&K, said in a tweet. “But we must not allow such mischievous elements to use this as an excuse to persecute/harass people from J&K. Why should they suffer for somebody else’s action?”
Source: Reuters
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