Archive for ‘Srinagar’

25/06/2019

Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Police arrested the publisher of one of the most widely read newspapers in Indian-controlled Kashmir in a midnight raid over a decades-old case, the police and his brother said on Tuesday, highlighting the difficulties facing media in the region.

Tension has run high in the Himalayan region since more than 40 Indian police were killed in a February suicide car bomb attack by a militant group based in Pakistan.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the heart of more than seven decades of hostility between nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan. Each claims it in full but rules only a part.

Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, 62, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, was arrested at his home in the region’s main city of Srinagar, half an hour before midnight on Monday.

“It is harassment,” his brother, Mohammad Morifat Qadri, told Reuters. “Why is a 1993 arrest warrant executed today? And why against him only?”

Qadri was released on bail after a court appearance on Tuesday.

The case dates from 1990, when Qadri was one of nine journalists to publish a statement by a militant group fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. An arrest warrant for Qadri was issued in 1993, but it was never served.

Qadri had visited the police station involved in the arrest multiple times since the warrant was issued, most recently in 2017 to apply for a passport, his brother added.

Asked why Qadri was arrested at night, Srinagar police chief Haseeb Mughal told Reuters, “Police were busy during the day.”

The Kashmir Union of Working Journalists condemned the arrest, saying it seemed to be aimed at muzzling the press.

“Qadri was attending the office on a daily basis and there was absolutely no need for carrying out a midnight raid at his residence,” it said in a statement.

Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence.
Both sides are stepping up efforts to control the flow of information, with the situation at its worst in decades, dozens of journalists have told Reuters.
India is one of the world’s worst places to be a journalist, ranked 138th among 180 countries on the press freedom index of international monitor Reporters Without Borders, with conditions in Kashmir cited as a key reason.
Source: Reuters
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18/04/2019

India election 2019: Can West Bengal’s female candidates win?

A supporter throws marigold petals at Mahua Moitra
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Women make up nearly half of India’s 900 million voters, but they are still poorly represented in the country’s law-making bodies. One political party is trying to correct the balance by nominating 41% female candidates. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled to the state of West Bengal to see how they are faring.

On a bright sunny morning, as an open jeep decorated with bright yellow and orange flowers hurtles along the dirt track from one village to the next, women in colourful saris and men rush to greet Mahua Moitra.

They shower bright orange marigold petals on her, place garlands around her neck and many reach out to shake and kiss her hands. She waves at them, greeting them with her palms joined: “Give me your blessings.”

Young men and women whip out their smartphones to take photos and selfies. On the way, she’s offered coconut water and sweets.

Ms Moitra, who is contesting the general election as a candidate of the state’s governing Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), is campaigning in her constituency Krishnanagar.

Women offer sweets to Mahua Moitra
Image caption On the campaign trail, women offer coconut water and sweets
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Women throw marigold petals at Mahua Moitra
Image caption Supporters throw marigold petals at Mahua Moitra
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In one village, party workers tell her about an old man who’s too ill to come to meet her, so she walks to his home to greet him.

Her jeep is followed by dozens of bikes and their riders, all young men, chanting slogans like “Long live Trinamool Congress, Long live Mamata Banerjee.”

The loud, colourful procession is led by a small truck, fitted with loudspeakers, from which announcements asking people to vote for Ms Moitra are played on a loop.

With the election season well under way in India and political leaders criss-crossing the length and breadth of the country, addressing rallies, I’m travelling across the country to see if the high-decibel campaigns are addressing the real issues that actually affect millions of people. One of them is getting more women into parliament.

In India, only 11% of members of parliament are women, and in state assemblies it’s 9%. In a list of 193 countries this year, India was ranked 149th for female representation in parliament – below Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

A bill to reserve 33% of seats for women in parliament and regional assemblies has been pending since 1996, so the decision by the TMC – led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – to give 41% of her party nominations to women has created a huge buzz.

Mahua Moitra during her road show
Image caption Ms Moitra quit her banker’s job in London to return to India and enter politics
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Ms Banerjee, who set up the TMC in 1998 after falling out with the Congress party, is a feisty politician who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.

Her female candidates, says my BBC Bengali colleague Subhajyoti Ghosh, are an “interesting mix” of career politicians and first-timers. They include actors, doctors, a tribal activist and the 25-year-old widow of a recently-murdered politician.

Ms Moitra, the TMC’s national spokesperson and a member of the state assembly since 2016, is among 17 women who have made it to the party’s list of 42 general election nominees.

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Read more from Geeta Pandey

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A former investment banker with JP Morgan, she gave up a well-paying job in London in 2009 to return to the heat and dust of Indian politics.

Her decision left her family aghast. Her parents, she told me, thought she was “insane”. Some party workers too had their doubts – “she’s a memsahib”, they said at the time, “she won’t survive”.

A poster of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal
Image caption Mamata Banerjee was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012
Presentational white spaceBut she has survived – and thrived. In 2016, she won the Karimpur assembly seat that no non-Left party had won since 1972 and has now set her eyes on the national parliament.

She’s agreed to let me follow her on the campaign trail, so for two days I’ve been a “fly on the wall” – standing behind her in her jeep, travelling in her car, watching her strategise with party workers, aides and confidants.

The previous evening, I had watched her be the chief guest at a college cricket match and address a gathering at the local market in Plassey.

A four-hour drive from Kolkata, Plassey is the site of the famous 1757 battle between the British East India Company and the local ruler supported by the French.

Ms Moitra takes her spot to speak and clearly takes aim at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as she talks about a deadly suicide attack in Kashmir and India’s subsequent air raid in Pakistan.

The bike riders
Image caption Her jeep is followed by dozens of supporters on bikes
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Women shaking hands
Image caption Many women reach out to shake hands with Ms Moitra

“What’s the point of saying you killed all those terrorists in Pakistan? It’s not important who you killed in Pakistan or how many. What’s important is you failed to protect our soldiers.”

She talks about how the government has failed to create jobs and accuses the BJP of trying to divide Hindus and Muslims.

“You have taken away our livelihoods and you’re trying to teach us about [the Hindu god] Ram and [Muslim saint] Rahim? I don’t have to write my religion on my forehead,” she declares to loud claps from her supporters.

Elections in the past were to change the government, she says, but this election is to save the constitution of India. “It is no ordinary vote.”

Her main rival is the BJP’s Kalyan Chaubey, a former footballer who played in goal for India. So drawing a football analogy, she declares: “I’m an A-league centre-forward player, stop my goal if you can. I am here to win.”

Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a founder member of the TMC and two-term MP, says to nominate so many women is part of a “continuous process” followed by Mamata Banerjee because “you can’t develop a society without uplifting the status of its women”.

In the last general election in 2014, she points out that the party nominated 33% women and 12 of their 34 MPs in the outgoing lower house were women.

Ms Banerjee, she says, believes that gender sensitive laws will come only if more women are in power.

At a campaign rally that Dr Ghosh Dastidar addresses in Kumhra Kashipur village in her constituency Barasat, women are seated in the front rows.

Their opinion though is divided over whether having more women in parliament will actually benefit other women.

Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar being welcomed in her constituency
Image caption Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar is among the founder members of the TMC and a two-term MP
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Supriya Biswas says it’s easier if their MP is a woman because then it’s easier to approach her. “For, who can understand a woman better than a woman?”

Archana Mallick and Meena Mouli, who live just across from the rally ground, point to the broken roads near their homes and complain about poor medical facilities in their village. They say that the candidate’s gender is “inconsequential” and what’s important is “who works for our benefit”.

Studies, however, show that female representatives bring economic growth to their constituencies because they are more concerned than men about issues such as water supply, electricity, road connectivity and health facilities.

Saswati Ghosh, professor of economics at Kolkata’s City College, says that politics in India is “still very patriarchal” and it’s “absolutely necessary” to elect more women MPs.

“It is important to have more women in lawmaking bodies because I think after a certain number, you’ll reach the threshold level and that will lead to change. I don’t know if 33% is the magic number that will change the quality of discourse, maybe 25% can do the trick?”

Archana Mallick and Meena Mouli say a candidate's gender is "inconsequential"
Image caption Archana Mallick and Meena Mouli say a candidate’s gender is “inconsequential”

Critics, however, question whether celebrities are the right candidates to bring about that change.

Prof Ghosh says actors and celebrities make for “winnable candidates” and that’s why all parties choose them even though sometimes they may not be the right candidates to reach that threshold.

But, she says that Ms Banerjee is a strong leader who’s regarded by many women as “a role model who inspires more women to come into politics”.

And that’s something that many Indians think the country sorely needs.

In their manifestos, the main opposition Congress party has promised to pass the women’s reservation bill, if elected to power. So has the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, although it had made similar promises in its last manifesto and did nothing about it.

By allotting 41% seats to women, Ms Banerjee has shown that one doesn’t need to set artificial quotas to elect more women.

Source: The BBC

07/03/2019

Days after Pulwama, 1 killed, 29 injured in grenade blast inside bus in Jammu

The incident comes less than a month after over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

One person was killed and 29, including a woman injured in a blast after a grenade was tossed at a bus in the general bus stand in the heart of Jammu on Thursday. The condition of five injured is said to be serious.
The killed youth has been identified as a 17-year-old Mohammad Sharik of Haridwar in Uttrakhand.
Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said a local investigation has been initiated into the incident. He further said the government has given complete liberty to the forces to take all necessary steps.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police has been rushed to the site of the blast.
The Chinese grenade exploded in the bus at about 12 noon. The driver and conductor were among the injured rushed to the Government Medical College, Jammu. The injured include passengers belonging to Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Jammu and the Kashmir valley.
Visuals from the blast site showed the damaged bus of the J&K Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) in which the grenade exploded.
The area has been cordoned off by the security personnel. Nature and the cause is being ascertained, police said.
Fifteen suspects have been rounded up for interrogation.
The grenade attack has coincided with the shifting of detained separatist Yasin Malik to the Jammu’s Kot-Bhalwal jail.
Police suspected the JeM outfit behind the attack. Some radicals had threatened of revenge during the recent communal tension here when about six cars were burnt.
K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma,  both advisors to the Governor, visited the spot to take stock of the situation. The divisional commissioner, deputy commissioner and senior police and civil officers also visited the spot.
This is the third grenade attack in the bus stand during the past few months.
The blast comes at a time when Jammu and Kashmir is on a high alert following the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the incident and called for unity to defeat terror elements in the state.
“I condemn this act of terror in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for speedy recovery of those injured. The perpetrators are out there to inflict pain and divide us. Our unity has to be our tool to defeat them,” Mufti tweeted.
The provincial president of National Conference, Devender Rana, visited the hospital to inquire about the wellbeing of injured persons.
The incident comes less than a month after over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.
The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying around 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.
Source; The Statesman
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

25/02/2019

‘Give peace a chance’: After PM Modi’s ‘Pathan’ dare, Imran Khan says he ‘stands by’ his words on Pulwama

PM Modi said that he told him ‘let us fight against poverty and illiteracy’ and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son, ‘but went back on it’.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to “give peace a chance” and assured him that he “stands by” his words and will “immediately act” if New Delhi provides Islamabad with “actionable intelligence” on the Pulwama attack.

 

Khan’s remarks came a day after PM Modi in a rally in Rajasthan, recalled his conversation with the Pakistan PM during a congratulatory call after he became the country’s premier.

PM Modi had told him “let us fight against poverty and illiteracy” and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son “but went back on it”.

“There is consensus in the entire world against terrorism. We are moving ahead with strength to punish the perpetrators of terrorism…The scores will be settled this time, settled for good…This is a changed India, this pain will not be tolerated…We know how to crush terrorism,” PM Modi further said.

A statement released by the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office said, “PM Imran Khan stand by his words that if India gives us actionable intelligence, we will immediately act.”

PM Modi should “give peace a chance”, Khan said in the statement.

In his first statement issued since the February 14 attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Tuesday accused India of blaming his country “without evidence” and warned of retaliation against any military action by India.

However, he assured India that he would act against the perpetrators of the deadly Pulwama terror attack, carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group and said that the issue between the two countries can be solved through dialogue.

India had called Khan’s offer to investigate the attack if provided proof as a “lame excuse”.

The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past few weeks as New Delhi accused Islamabad of the Pulwama attack.

India has accused Islamabad’s spy agency ISI of being involved in the attack and has maintained that the terror group JeM is a “child of the Pakistan Army”.

Following the attack, India immediately withdrew the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status granted to Pakistan and initiated steps to isolate the neighbouring country from the international community.

Earlier, India had also announced its decision to stop the flow of its share of water from the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in many of his public speeches after the attack, said that the security forces have been given full freedom to decide the future course of action regarding the terrorist attack in Pulwama.

India’s neighbours, including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan—and other countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia and Canada came out in strong support of New Delhi following the terror attack.

Over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.

The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying around 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.

Source: The Statesman
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

15/02/2019

Pulwama attack: India will ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan

India has said it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Federal Minister Arun Jaitley said India would take “all possible diplomatic steps” to cut Pakistan off from the international community.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to act against the militant group which said it carried out the attack.

This is the deadliest attack to hit the disputed region in decades.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.

An insurgency has been ongoing in Indian-administered Kashmir since the late 1980s and there has been an uptick in violence in recent years.

How will India ‘punish’ Pakistan?

India says that Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group behind the attack, has long had sanctuary in Pakistan and accuses its neighbour of failing to crack down on it.

It has called for global sanctions against the group and has said it wants its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council.

Although India has tried to do this several times in the past, its attempts were repeatedly blocked by China, an ally of Pakistan.

Mr Jaitley set out India’s determination to hold Pakistan to account when speaking to reporters after attending a security meeting early on Friday.

He also confirmed that India would revoke Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan, a special trading privilege granted in 1996.

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the bombing but rejected allegations that it was in any way responsible.

But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech that those behind the attack would pay a “heavy price”, many analysts expect more action from Delhi.

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, Delhi said it carried out a campaign of “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the de facto border. But a BBC investigation found little evidence militants had been hit.

However analysts say that even if the Indian government wants to go further this time, at the moment its options appear limited due to heavy snow across the region.

map

How did the attack unfold?

The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram into a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar.

“A car overtook the convoy and rammed into a bus,” a senior police official told BBC Urdu.

It stands as the deadliest militant attack on Indian forces in Kashmir since the insurgency began in 1989.

The bomber is reported to be Adil Dar, a high school dropout who left home in March 2018. He is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Soon after the attack Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video, which was then aired on the India Today TV channel. In it, a young man identified as Adil Dar spoke about what he described as atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. He said he joined the banned group in 2018 and was eventually “assigned” the task of carrying out the attack in Pulwama.

He also said that by the time the video was released he would be in jannat (heaven).

Dar is one of many young Kashmiri men who have been radicalised in recent years. On Thursday, main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018.

India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces.

What’s the reaction?

“We will give a befitting reply, our neighbour will not be allowed to de-stabilise us,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Mr Gandhi and two former Indian chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir all condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

The attack has also been widely condemned around the world, including by the US and the UN Secretary General.

The White House called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

Pakistan said it strongly rejected any attempts “to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations”.

What’s the background?

There have been at least 10 suicide attacks since 1989 but this is only the second suicide attack to use a car.

Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.

At least 19 Indian soldiers were killed when militants stormed a base in Uri in 2016. Delhi blamed that attack on the Pakistani state, which denied any involvement.

The latest attack also follows a spike in violence in Kashmir that came about after Indian forces killed a popular militant, 22-year-old Burhan Wani, in 2016.

More than 500 people were killed in 2018 – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – all but one were over Kashmir.

Who are Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Started by cleric Masood Azhar in 2000, the group has been blamed for attacks on Indian soil in the past, including one in 2001 on the parliament in Delhi which took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Most recently, the group was blamed for attacking an Indian air force base in 2016 near the border in Punjab state. Seven Indian security personnel and six militants were killed.

It has been designated a “terrorist” organisation by India, the UK, US and UN and has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

However Masood Azhar remains at large and is reportedly based in the Bahawalpur area in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

India has demanded his extradition from Pakistan but Islamabad has refused, citing a lack of proof.

Source: The BBC

14/02/2019

20 CRPF jawans killed, over 45 injured in suicide blast in J-K’s Pulwama; JeM claims attack

This is the worst terror attack on security personnel since the Uri incident in September 2016 which left 18 soldiers dead.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

 

CRPF DG RR Bhatnagar said the convoy carrying the soldiers was travelling from Jammu to Srinagar when the attack occurred. Terrorists continued to fire at the convoy even after the bus was completely charred. The convoy consisted of 70 vehicles carrying about 2500 soldiers. Two CRPF vehicles were damaged in the attack.

The attack has reportedly happened on a heavily guarded highway.

The attack is being taken seriously as the highway particularly in South Kashmir is properly sanitised before movement of convoys of security forces. The Road Opening Parties (ROPs) also conduct thorough checking of the road for possible IEDs.

The DGP of J-K Police, Dilbag Singh, confirmed that it was a suicide attack in which an explosive-laden car was rammed into the CRPF bus.

The bus was completely destroyed and mutilated bodies of the jawans lay scattered on the road that also bore blood stains.

At least 13 jawans were killed on the spot and others succumbed in the hospital.

The injured jawans have been rushed to the 92 Base hospital of the Military and CRPF hospital.

Pakistan backed Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack, in a text message to Kashmiri News Agency GNS.

A spokesman of JeM claimed that the attack was carried out by their activist Aadil Ahmad of Gundi Bagh in Pulwama.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the gruesome attack.Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the attack and extended his condolences to the families of the bereaved.

 

The convoy was held up in Jammu for the past six days due to the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar highway because of snow and landslides and proceeded to Srinagar this morning only after the highway was opened for one way traffic.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to be assigned the investigation of the attack.

This is the worst terror attack on security personnel since the Uri incident in September 2016.

Eighteen soldiers were killed and several others injured when heavily-armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the Indian Army in North Kashmir’s Uri town.

Source: The Statesman
18/01/2019

Second grenade attack in Srinagar in 24 hours as terrorists target CRPF

Militants toss a grenade at a CRPF bunker in Lal Chowk area, 24 hours after a similar attack on policemen at Srinagar’s Zero Bridge

Statesman News Service | Jammu | 

Within 24 hours of a grenade attack in which three policemen were injured in Srinagar, terrorists on Friday tossed another grenade at a bunker of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the busy Lal Chowk area in the heart of the city.

However, no one was injured in the attack.

In another incident, terrorists tossed a grenade at the Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) camp in the Gagran area of Shopian district in South Kashmir.

The three attacks come days ahead of Republic Day celebrations in the country.

On Friday afternoon, the terrorists lobbed a grenade at a CRPF bunker at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk. Officials said the grenade exploded on the roadside, adding that no one was injured.

A private car parked on the roadside and a shop in the vicinity were partly damaged due to the explosion.

On Thursday, militants hurled a grenade on police personnel at Zero Bridge in Srinagar on Thursday, injuring three policemen.

Meanwhile, security forces have started a search operation in Pulwama district following information about militant presence. They have cordoned off Gulshanpora village in Tral area.

Source: The Statesman