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Terrorists storm CRPF camp, 5 personnel killed

A group of heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists stormed the highly secured Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) training facility in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Sunday, and killed five soldiers, including an officer, while injuring three others. Two holed-up terrorists have been neutralised so far.The outfit has claimed the responsibility for the attack. A JeM spokesman called up local news agencies to stake the claim. He also ridiculed the Operation All Out, launched by the security forces earlier this year to eliminate terrorists.The incident took place at 2 am. A group of terrorists cut the barbed wire fence of the 185th CRPF battalion, by the isolated hillside. They then lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately. Three soldiers were injured after the terrorists stormed the facility and took refuge inside one of the three blocks to engage the troops.Security forces immediately rushed in reinforcements to track down the holed-up terrorists and rescue the soldiers trapped inside the training facility.Several people were rescued before the forces took on the terrorists inside the facility. Fierce gunfight between the two sides continued throughout the day. Five CRPF soldiers, including an inspector-rank officer, were killed and three others were injured in the gunfight. Four of them died due to gunshot wounds and another one died of a cardiac arrest during evacuation. Two terrorists were also neutralised and efforts are on to neutralise other terrorists hiding in the facility.”We have recovered bodies of two terrorists. When the room intervention (room by room sanitising operation) was on to retrieve the third body, security forces came under heavy fire from the hiding terrorists. The exchange of fire is currently on,” said Rajesh Yadav, CRPF spokesman for Kashmir.The attack comes days after JeM vowed to avenge the killing of its midget chief, Noor Mohammad Tantray alias Noor Trali, by security forces in the Samboora village of Pulwama district.”I think the inputs had been coming for the last two-three days. They had been trying. They probably could not get a place and time earlier. So, they struck last night. The challenge has always been there but as long as our neighbour (Pakistan) keeps sending people like this, my police, security forces, and the people of Kashmir have to go through this. This is unfortunate,” said Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, Director General of Police.Situated on a hillock, the 185th battalion CRPF camp is a huge complex used as a training facility for jawans and officers inducted for counter-insurgency purposes. The facility also houses the police component. The complex consists of an office and administrative block, residential quarters, and a control room.”The terrorists took shelter in the quarter block. There was no hostage-like situation. Of the four soldiers, one each is from Kashmir and Rajouri district of Jammu. Two others are from Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh,” Yadav said.Calling the terrorist act dastardly, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said violence has taken a heavy toll on the society in the state, in terms of death and destruction, tearing apart of social fabric, massive economic, academic, and social losses, besides the irreparable loss of human lives.The terrorist attack on CRPF facility comes almost three months after the security forces repulsed a Pathankot-type terror attack and killed three JeM terrorists, soon after they stormed a highly fortified Border Security Force (BSF) camp neighbouring the Srinagar International Airport and the Air Force Station on October 3.

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Soldier martyred in unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Naushera sector

Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked firing on Indian Army posts in Naushera sector in the early hours on Sunday. Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively.<!– /11440465/DNA_Mobile_Article_300x250_BTF_1 –>Also readJammu and Kashmir: Terrorists attack CRPF camp in Pulwama, one jawan martyredHowever, in the exchange of fire, Sep Jagsir Singh was grievously injured and succumbed to his injuries. Sep Jagsir Singh, aged 32 years, belonged to Village Lohgarh Thakhran Wala, District Firozepur, Punjab and is survived by his wife Smt Mohinder Pall Kaur, two daughters and one son.

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Gulmarg entices New Year’s Eve revellers with a Winter Carnival on skis

As Gulmarg becomes a star destination for tourists despite the ongoing unrest, it will now also host a Winter Carnival this year to end the year in style. With the aid of the Army, the carnival is all set to rock the famed ski resorts of Gulmarg on Sunday with music, skiing, photography, gaming, snow sculpture all part of the event.The festival is in addition to the functions being organised by the local hoteliers for tourists on the New Year’s Eve in the ski resort. For the first time in the last two years, Gulmarg is fully sold out with tourists from different parts flocking the ski resort for New Year celebrations.”The Carnival has a plethora of attractions for the tourists such as Snow Scooter, ATV Race, Snowboarding, Sliding and Snowman making competitions, which will be open to locals as well as tourists without any entry fee. Apart from this, there will be a Photography Competition and live performances by local artists and youth from the Chinar 9Jawan Club, Baramulla and Army Bands,” said an Army spokesman.The carnival is aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the people and bringing them closer to the Army. “The event has already created a lot of buzz among the prospective tourists and the local tradesmen who believe that this initiative will not only spread the message of peace and harmony but will also boost the dwindling tourism business at Gulmarg”, said the spokesman.The fledgeling tourism sector has suffered huge losses post-Burhan Wani’s killing that created unrest in the valley last year. Curfews, hartals, stone pelting and encounters have shaken the confidence of the tourists. Post-Burhan Wani killing unrest has cost the hotel industry Rs 1,100 crore.Official data revealed that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015. The footfall of tourists, however, were reduced to a trickle in the corresponding period of 2016, because of the unrest.Figures reveal around 7.9 lakh tourists visited Kashmir this year. They include over 2.6 lakh Amarnath yatris who visited the cave shrine this year. Last year, 11.27 lakh tourists visited Kashmir — most of them before July 8, when Wani was killed.However, come New Year, and the tourists are making a beeline again to the famed ski resort to bid goodbye to 2017.”Gulmarg is fully packed. All the hotels are 100 per cent booked for two days. Fifty per cent of the people are tourists and the rest are locals. Some of the hotels have organised musical programmes for in-house guests and dinner on New Year’s Eve,” said Mukhtar Ahmad Shah, President J&K Hoteliers Club, Gulmarg.

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Justice for Kashmir’s Nirbhaya

Kashmir’s Nirbhaya has finally been delivered justice. A local court sentenced the accused to death on Saturday, for raping and murdering the six-year-old in 2005.The case dates back to July 2005 when the accused, Farooq Ahmad Pinzoo, enticed a six-year-old girl to his home and raped her till she died. He later dumped the body in a trench and tried to burn her clothes to destroy the evidence.After one month, he was arrested and after spending four years in prison he was granted interim bail. Last month he was arrested again after he tried to jump the bail and flee.”The accused was 40 years old when he committed the crime. The victim was his neighbour and he enticed her to his home. He raped and smothered her to death. Postmortem has proved that even after her death, he continued to rape her,” said Mujeeb Andrabi, additional public prosecutor in the case.After hearing the arguments, second additional session judge Srinagar Tahir Khurshid Raina convicted the accused for rape and murder and sentenced him to death terming it as rarest of the rare case.”The events unfolded from July 31, 2005 when deceased went missing till his arrest and his disclosure and recovery reveal a saga of shock and dismay in the whole vicinity… The whole chain of evidence before this court when tested on the touchstone of principle quoted above put this case in the rarest of the rare category… Accordingly convict is awarded capital punishment. He shall be hanged till death,” said Judge Raina.Judge Raina noted that there is in fact a steep rise in the sexual offences against the women and children. “When child is a victim of such horrendous act, then the court has to speak in the manners which match the collective conscience of the society, and also to act as a deterrent,” he said.Judgespeak“A little doll of just six who was yet to bloom and add to the beauty of the world was crushed to death in the most horren-dous and barbaric manner “After the detestable act, he wrapped the body in a sack and threw it in a trench to conceal it from the eyes of the world,” the judge said.

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Jammu: 100 underground bunkers to save locals from Pakistani shelling on LoC

More than 100 shell proof underground bunkers are being constructed to save the local population from cross-border shelling in the vulnerable villages along the Line of Control in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district in Jammu division.This follows the fresh escalation on the borders in Pir Panjal Valley of the Jammu division.District Development Commissioner (DDC) , Rajouri Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has directed the sub-divisional magistrate of Sunderbani to finalise the location to construct 100 bunkers along the Line of Control.”The DDC directed SDM Sunderbani for finalisation of location for at least 100 bunkers along LoC in Sunderbani in consultation with elected representatives, locals and army representatives”, said an official spokesman.This followed the demands made during a public meeting chaired by DDC at border village Meenka in Sunderbani near the Line of Control. More than 300 people from six panchayats participated in the meeting.Also read’Jammu and Kashmir extremely safe destination for women travelling alone’The design and layout of bunkers are being made in such a manner that they will withstand the Pakistani shells. Sources said the highlight of the bunkers will be the double RCC slab which will be covered with five feet of sand so that the shells do not penetrate inside.Tension had gripped the LoC after four army soldiers including a Major were killed when Pakistan violated ceasefire on December 23. Forty-eight hours later Indian army troops in a tit-for-tat action crossed the LoC and killed three Pakistani army men and injuring another in Rawalakote sector.Also readJammu and Kashmir: Pakistan violates ceasefire; targets Indian forward posts along LoC at PoonchFigures presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir 771 times till December 10 this year, and 110 times along the International Border till November-end. Around 30 people including 14 army personnel, 12 civilians, and four BSF personnel were killed in these ceasefire violations this year.Last year there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 13 civilians and 13 security personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured. The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen glacier came into force in November 2003.

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Botanical garden of Jammu University makes it to international list

Strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir has a reason to celebrate after the sprawling botanical garden of University of Jammu was awarded prestigious membership by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, London.Spread over an area of 6.2 acres, the Botanical garden of the Jammu University is one of the best in North India. Housing more than 500 species of angiosperms, gymnosperms, pteridophytes, bryophytes and MACRO FUNGI, the plants have been systematically been arranged as per the Bentham and Hooker’s system of classification. “Garden is having the experimental beds for researchers of the department, besides succulents, medicinal plants, and RET species. The botanical garden is also having the facilities of the green house, glass house and a registered Herbarium cum museum housing more than 12000 herbarium specimens”, said Professor Yash Paul Sharma, head, Department of Botany, Jammu University.Also readBananas successfully cultivated for first time in Jammu and KashmirScientists said the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has conferred the membership keeping in view the coordinating efforts and building plant conservation capacity in the botanic garden and for spreading awareness amongst the masses.”BGCI is the largest plant conservation network in the world that aims to collect, conserve, characterise and cultivate world’s flora to ensure their survival against their extinction in the wild and as a source of plant material for human innovation, adaptation, and resilience”, Prof Sharma said.Also readKashmir Saffron all set to take global flight, new job opportunities surface for unemployed youthIn fact, BGCI is a global voice for all botanic gardens, championing and celebrating their inspiring work. “It is an organization that represents a network of over 500 botanic gardens in more than 100 countries, including the largest and most influential gardens of the world”, he said.Prof Sharma maintained that the registration of the Botanical garden with BGCI would help in securing funds from various agencies/Institutions of the world. “It is also a step towards a Green India Mission that would help bringing all the Institutions including civil society together and the availability of expert advice and literature pertaining to biodiversity conservation and germplasm storage would be more prompt and easier”, he said

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‘Jammu and Kashmir extremely safe destination for women travelling alone’

Thanks to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), tourism honchos are cashing in on the positive indicators about women safety to promote the sector in order to ensure the increased footfalls of tourists to the valley.The 2016 NCRB report has revealed that Jammu and Kashmir recorded zero crimes against the foreigners, bringing smiles on the sullen faces of the tourism players in the valley.According to NCRB report, 382 crimes were committed against foreigners in India, of which 154 were committed in Delhi alone. Accordingly, 12 foreigners were murdered, 19 raped, 19 robbed and 38 foreign women assaulted in the country.“J&K is an extremely safe destination for women travelling alone. The feedback from women travelers from all over has been tremendous with respect to how safe they felt there”, said Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department.Post Burhan Wani killing unrest has cost the hotel industry Rs 1100 crore. Curfews, hartals, stone pelting and encounters have shaken the confidence of the tourists who have given Kashmir a miss after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8 last yearFigures reveal around 7.9 lakh tourists visited Kashmir this year. They include over 2.6 lakh Amarnath yatries who visited the cave shrine this year. Last year 11.27 lakh tourists visit Kashmir most of them before July 8 when Burhan Wani was killed.Official figures reveal that the tourism sector suffered a loss of Rs 3000 crore due to the unrest in 2016. Official data revealed that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015. The footfalls of tourist, however, were reduced to a trickle in the corresponding period of 2016 because of the post-Burhan Wani killing unrest. Tourism players are hoping that NCRB figures will help in diluting the negative perceptions about Kashmir. “People have apprehensions about visiting Kashmir, but I must tell you that Jammu and Kashmir is one of the safest tourist destinations”, said Priya Sethi, Jammu and Kashmir Minister of State for tourism.

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It’s business as usual in Kashmir

Skirmishes on the borders notwithstanding, it is business as usual for the Cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade at Chakan da Bagh crossing on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road.Tension had gripped the LoC after four Army soldiers, including a Major, were killed when Pakistan violated cease fire on Saturday. On Monday evening, Indian Army troops — in a tit-for-tat action — crossed the LoC and killed three Pakistani army men and injuring another in Rawalakote sector.However, escalating tensions between two rival armies have failed to dampen the spirit of Cross LoC trade on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road in Jammu and Kashmir. For the second day on Wednesday, the Cross-LoC trade continued uninterrupted on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road despite tensions on borders. “On Tuesday, 30 trucks from our side crossed the Chakan da Bagh crossing into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Around 19 trucks came from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). On Wednesday, 25 trucks carrying banana and tomato crossed into PoK and 12 trucks carrying kinnow and dry dates came from the other side,” said Tanveer Ahmad, Custodian, Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) Chakan da Bagh.It is after a long time that border tension has not cast its shadows on the cross LoC trade. This year the trade on Poonch-Rawalakote Road was suspended for four months due to the cross border shelling.

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Top Jaish-e-Mohammad commander gunned down in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama

In a major success for the security forces, top commander of Jaish e Mohammad was gunned down in an encounter at Samboora village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.The terrorist has been identified as Noor Mohammad Tantray alias Noor Trali, a three feet midget who had jumped parole in July and taken over the command of Jaish in South Kashmir. Tantray was arrested in Delhi in 2003 and sentenced to life by a POTA court in 2011.”The encounter has been going on since last evening in Awantipura district. There was input about presence of two to three terrorists near National Highway planning to attack convoy. One dead body of terrorist recovered so far, search for others going on”, tweeted Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir.The anti-terror operation started on Monday evening after security forces received a tip-off about the presence of terrorists in the village.Also readJammu and Kashmir: Pakistan violates ceasefire; targets Indian forward posts along LoC at PoonchImmediately the village was cordoned off and when the search team was zeroing in on the target, militants opened heavy fire.The fire was retaliated and in the ensuing gun fight one militant was gunned down. “Dead body of one mulitant with arms and ammunition recovered. Search continues”, said a police spokesman at Srinagar.Also readJammu and Kashmir | 3 terrorists gunned down in Handwara encounter, ‘raining whole night,’ tweets DGPThe 2017 also saw highest number of over 206 militants being killed since 2010. Figures reveal that 270 terrorists were killed by security forces in 2010. The figure came down to 119 in 2011. Around 84 terrorists were killed in 2012 followed by 100 in 2013, 110 in 2014 and 113 in 2015.Despite unrest, security forces killed 165 terrorists in 2016. This year close to 100 local youth have joined the terrorists ranks in the strife-torn Kashmir Valley, which is the highest in last seven years.

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From terrorist stronghold Sopore, musical duo makes it to Bollywood

From the separatist stronghold of Sopore to the glitzy world of Bollywood, Kashmir’s first music composer duo has come a long way.Nayeem Ashraf, 28, and Shabir Ahmad, 30 — who go by the name Nayeem-Shabir in the world of music — have created a place in Bollywood after struggling hard in Mumbai.The duo will be making their debut with Sarfira —a Bollywood movie — as music directors. “This is our debut movie. There are four songs in the movie, and all of them are being composed by us. This is our independent project which we have bagged after a lot of struggle,” said Nayeem.From singing in hotels, to assisting various music directors, the duo has done everything to find fame in Bollywood.”I was 20 when I moved to Mumbai. My hard work has paid off after 10 years. I was doing stage shows in hotels to survive. Music has been my passion since childhood, and I wanted to do something,” said Shabir.Nayeem received a formal training in music from University of Kashmir, while Shabir learnt guitar from Srinagar before receiving a formal training in Mumbai. Both hailed from Sopore and were struggling together in Bollywood. Their similar taste in music led them to working together.Before moving to Mumbai, Nayeem had created a niche for himself in Kashmir as well. He had composed two Kashmiri albums. He had also set up Sangam Music Group in separatist stronghold of Sopore.For Shabir, life was full of struggle. “I lost both of my parents few years back. My elder brother took care and supported me. I had to return back home. After a few years, I again moved to Mumbai to follow my dreams,” he said.After all of the struggle that the two have faced, now they are getting the notice of Bollywood for their talent. “We have two more projects in the pipeline. The work on these projects will start after few months,” Nayeem said.”After completing my graduation in Music, I moved to Mumbai in 2012. Life was tough. I met many music directors and learnt a lot from them. I assisted one music director for a Bollywood movie. It is only after a lot of struggle that we bagged Sarfira,” Nayeem said.

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A sea of emotions erupt as Kashmiri pandits use theatre to highlight their pain

Emotions ran high when migrant Kashmiri Pandit troupe staged `Rovmut Bhatta’ (Lost Pandit), a play depicting the pain and plight of the exiled community who are living as refugees in their own land.Staged by the Vomedh Rangmanch, a Kashmiri theatre troupe in the Annual Drama Festival of Jammu and Kashmir Academy for Culture, Art and Languages at Abhinav Theatre in Jammu, ‘Rovmut Bhatta’ left the jam-packed audience spellbound by the script, direction and the performance of the artists.‘Rovmut Bhatta’ is a satirical take on the journey of Kashmiri Pandits since their forced exile in 1990 after the eruption of militancy in Kashmir valley and the impact it has had on the community caught in the cobweb of terrorism and cross-cultural chaos.Also readKashmiri pandit’s sweet gesture: Candies for Eid processionThe story revolves around Tathya, a man in eighties in a coma for almost three decades whose elder son was killed by terrorists in Kashmir due to which he went into the coma and how his second son Raju shifts to Jammu along with Tathya’s foster son Jorra.One day Tathya suddenly comes out of the coma and the drama unfolds as he begins asking uncomfortable questions to his son why he or the community has not been able to get justice all these years. He finally takes it upon himself to seek justice by going on fast unto death as the leadership has failed them. He finally dies during the protest fast raising several uncomfortable questions about the political class, bureaucracy, community leadership and the confusion prevailing within the community.Also readEid-e-Milad 2017: When a Kashmiri Pandit couple stole hearts by greeting Milad procession“Rovmut Batta is a story of deep introspection. It is a story of stock-taking of what has gone wrong with Kashmir Pandit community and why? Are there only external factors responsible for all the ills that the community is faced with? Rovmut Batta is a satirical comedy with elements of introspection, reflections, nostalgia, resilience, and hope”, said Rakesh Roshan Bhat, the playwright.Director of the play Rohit Bhat said Rovmut Batta is a story of resilience and hope as the protagonist springs back into action even after being in the coma for so many years. “The optimist would say if he could do it anyone can do it, and the pessimist would say if he could not do it, no one can. They are not trying to preach anything and their intention is not to hurt anyone’s feeling but it is an attempt to pause and look back; after all isn’t this what good and meaningful theatre is all about”, he said

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Border tensions spike as Pak Army resorts to truce breach

Even before the wounds of Rajouri could heal, Pakistan army again resorted to unprovoked heavy firing on Indian forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of the Jammu division on Sunday.The ceasefire violation came a day after tension gripped the LoC when Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked firing in the Keri battalion area of Rajouri sector leaving four Indian army soldiers, including a Major from Maharashtra, dead and another injured.Deputy Commissioner of Poonch Tariq Ahmad Zargar told DNA that the cross-border firing started at 12.30 pm on Sunday at Shahpur sector of the Poonch district and there was no loss of life or the property.”It started at about 12.30 pm. There was no report of loss of any life and property. The cross-border firing continued for more than an hour”, said Zargar.Sources said soon after Pakistan opened fire, the Indian troops swung into action and retaliated in kind to silence the Pakistani guns. The exchange of fire between the two sides continued for some time before it stopped.Seemingly fearing flare up, the authorities has put all emergency departments on alert to meet exigency.”We are always in the state of alert. You never know when ceasefire violation takes place. So we keep our medical and other teams ready”, said Zargar.Meanwhile, rich tributes were paid to the four soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty in Rajouri sector of LoC on Saturday. Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh were grievously injured in the cease fire violation and succumbed later on Saturday.Indian army has vowed to avenge the killing of four brave hearts by Pakistani forces at the place and time of their chosing. “The nation will remain ever indebted of the supreme sacrifice of our heroes. Army shall retaliate this dastardly act at a place and choice of our choosing”, tweeted Nagrota based White Knight Corps of the Indian army.Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh said the sacrifices rendered by valiant army officers and soldiers would be remembered for ever. “It will be recorded in the annals of history, so that the young generation get the requisite inspiration to serve the cause of nation”, he saidFigures presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir 771 times till December 10 this year, and 110 times along the International Border till November-end. Around 30 people including 14 army personnel, 12 civilians and four BSF personnel were killed in these ceasefire violations this year.Last year there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 13 civilians and 13 security personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured. The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen glacier came into force in November 2003.

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4 soldiers killed in firing at LoC

Tension gripped the Line of Control (LoC) on Saturday when the Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing that left four Indian Army soldiers, including a Major from Maharashtra, dead, and another one injured.The incident took place in the afternoon, when the Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire and fired indiscriminately on the Indian Army posts along the LoC in the Keri battalion area of Rajouri sector in the Jammu division.Four soldiers — three Lance Naiks and a Major of the 120 Infantry Brigade — were killed while another one was injured. “Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh were grievously injured in firing and later succumbed to their injuries. Two other personnel who have sustained injuries are undergoing treatment,” said Colonel NN Joshi, defence spokesman at the Northern Command Headquarters.Vowing to avenge the killings, the Indian troops swung into action to silence the Pakistani guns. “The Indian Army has retaliated strongly and effectively on the Pakistan Army posts. Our soldiers’ martyrdom will not go in vain,” Colonel Joshi said.Hailing from Bhandara in Maharashtra, Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, 32, is survived by wife Avoli Moharkar.Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, 34, belonged to district Amritsar in Punjab and is survived by wife Kuljit Kaur and a daughter. Hailing from District Karnal, Haryana, Sepoy Pargat Singh, 30, is survived by wife Ramanpreet Kaur and a son.”They were brave and sincere soldiers. The nation will always remain indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” Colonel Joshi said.The Pakistani firing on Indian posts came on a day when J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was in Rajouri to meet locals, as part of her public outreach programme.Anger has swept across the state, with the BJP warning of another surgical strike. “It is a cowardly act by Pakistan. Bad days are in store for Pakistan. Blood of our jawans will not go in vain. Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price for it,” said Ravinder Raina, BJP MLA from Nowshera.Meanwhile, the figures presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in J&K 771 times till December 10 this year, and 110 times along the International Border (IB) till November-end.Nearly 30 people, including 14 Army personnel, 12 civilians, and four BSF personnel were killed in these ceasefire violations this year.Last year, there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 13 civilians and 13 security personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured. The truce between India and Pakistan along the IB, the LoC, and the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen glacier came into force in November 2003.

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X’mas bells in Valley church after 50 yrs

History will be created on Monday when the sacred bell at the British-era Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar will ring after 50 years, on the occasion of Christmas.The 105 kg bell, the largest of its kind in Jammu and Kashmir, was installed in the 121-year-old church in October this year. The belfry of the church was torched in 1967, in an incident of arson, and since then there had been no bell to call the faithful for the prayers.”It is a very happy and historic occasion. Most of the Christian people here are less than 50 years of age. They have never heard bells ringing on the occasion of Christmas. Only few elderly people remember that,” said SM Rath, spokesman of the Church Committee.Traditionally, the bell is used to call worshipers to the church for a prayer service and for announcing times of daily prayer. “There was no bell since 1967. We put up a bell only in October this year. Now every Sunday, the bell rings in church. This will be first time that this bell will ring on Christmas,” Rath said. Midnight prayer services, however, will not be held due to the security reasons.”We have one prayer service on December 24. Usually, the service should be held at 11.30 pm but we have not been holding the midnight services for the last 25 years. Our prayer service will be held at 6 pm on December 24. On Christmas, we will have a prayer service at 10 am,” Rath said.He further said that there are less than 200 Christians — Catholics and Protestants — living in Srinagar. There are five churches in Kashmir and regular prayer services are held only in three of them.

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Jammu and Kashmir: A police station of the women, by the women, for the women

Gender-sensitive policing is the new mantra of the Mehbooba Mufti government to combat the rising crimes against women in the restive Jammu and Kashmir.Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet has accorded sanction for the creation of four new Women Police Stations with the strength of 208 cops in the state. Two each police stations will be established in Kashmir valley and Jammu division.Militancy prone district of Pulwama and border district of Kupwara will house the new women police stations in the valley while Kathua and Doda districts of Jammu have been selected in the Jammu division. Cabinet has also accorded sanction, to the creation of 208 posts, which includes four Inspectors, four Sub Inspectors, eight Assistant Sub Inspectors, 24 Head Constables, 136 Constables and 32 posts of Followers. Each police station will have the strength of 52 personnel.“The Home Department will separately notify the jurisdiction of these four Women Police Stations in consultation with the Police Headquarters”, said an official spokesman.Presently, there are six Women Police Stations– one each in districts of Jammu, Rajouri, Udhampur, Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla –functioning in the state.Also readJammu and Kashmir | Education gets mega boost, 16 new colleges, 400 upgraded govt schools to come up next yearJammu and Kashmir has one of the lowest numbers of women cops in the police force. Figures reveal only 3.12 percent of force comprising 2252 women personnel are working in the Jammu and Kashmir police department.Police figures reveal that 2,920 cases of crime against women were reported in 2016. These include 805 cases of kidnapping, 275 cases of rape, 157 cases of eve-teasing and 1,233 cases of molestation in 2016.Also readJammu and Kashmir: Cases against 5,000 stone pelters to be withdrawnOfficial figures reveal that the Jammu and Kashmir State Commission of Women (SCW) has received 3000 complaints of domestic violence and the harassment at the work place in the last three to four years in the restive state.Waking up to the rising incidence of violence against women, SCW has started one-stop-crisis-center to help the women in distress at their doorsteps.SCW has opened an exclusive phone line where women in distress can call or text or even WhatsApp to lodge a complaint. Officials of the SCW can immediately reach out to the women and help her to redress their grievances

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Jammu and Kashmir: Clamour grows for legislation on generic drugs

Clamour is growing for passing a legislation to prompt the doctors to prescribe cheaper generic drugs instead of costly branded medicines in Jammu and Kashmir.Flagging off the debate, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) has called on the government to pass a law to make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe cheaper generic drugs in order to benefit the large poor population of the state.“Jammu and Kashmir is fully competent to bring its own legislation due to the constitutional position of the state. That would make generic drug prescribing mandatory. Unless a legal framework is put in place, the push for generic medicines will remain an idea without implementation,” said Dr Nisar ul Hassan, president of DAK.The law, DAK hoped, would make drugs affordable and accessible to poor patients who are not able to buy expensive branded drugs. “In J&K 21.63% population, comprising 24.21 lakh people do not have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power. Generic drugs are copycat versions of branded drugs and cost 80 to 90% less than branded medicines as manufacturers do not have to spend on development and promotion of the drug”, he said.Jammu and Kashmir consumes medicines worth Rs 600 crores annually and of which Rs 400 crore is spent in Kashmir valley alone. Official figures reveal that there are 9451 licensed retailers and 6073 licensed wholesaler drug distributors in Jammu and Kashmir. Of which 4912 retaliators and 4573 wholesalers are operating in the valley.Also readJammu and Kashmir | Education gets mega boost, 16 new colleges, 400 upgraded govt schools to come up next year“Research has shown that costs were lowered significantly among patients who were prescribed generic medicines compared to patients who were given branded drugs. generic drugs account for 88% of prescriptions in the United States. In J&K doctors continue to dole out unnecessary expensive therapies when equally effective cheaper generic versions are available,” he said.DAK also red-flagged the deep-rooted nexus between doctors and pharma companies that is keeping generic drugs away from patients. “For writing costly branded drugs to gullible patients, pharma companies provide these doctors everything from luxury cars, family trips to household items,” Dr Nisar saidAlso readFrom helpline to WhatsApp number: Steps taken to help women in distress in Jammu and Kashmir DAK president noted that even the chemist shops get huge margins for selling branded medicines. “Nexus is misleading people about generic drugs that is preventing these drugs from getting popular”, said Dr Nisar.

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J&K women’s body: Do soaps make women spies?

Are television serials teaching women spying, infidelity and rebellion in the restive Jammu and Kashmir? The Jammu and Kashmir State Commission for Women (SCW) has sought opinion on this question from people on social media after men complained about women watching television serials and learning spying and rebellion.”During one of our awareness programmes, some men suggested women should stop watching TV serials which teach them nothing except spying, infidelity and rebellion… I want you to respond to this….what is your view on it…” SCW asked in a Facebook post.”Usually we include men as well (in awareness camps) because of gender sensitisation. Somebody said these serials teach women spying and we should stop them from watching those. I said, no, you can’t just tell them what to watch and what not to. Everybody has a right on what to wear, eat or watch and you can’t force your opinion on them”, Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, chairperson of SCW, told DNA.Later women in the camp retorted back saying they never ask their men not to watch football, cricket or the sports channels.However, the SCW chairperson said people should discuss the issues even if these are trivial. “It is stupid. Even if it is a trivial or petty issue, we should discuss it so that we do not have to keep everything to chest. We should come out, we should open up to each other and we should talk about these things. We should evolve a discussion about every point which is making our life little bit uncomfortable”, said Mehjoor.Official figures reveal that SCW has received 3000 complaints of domestic violence and harassment at work places in the last three to four years.Waking up to the rising incidence of violence against women, SCW has started a one-stop crisis centre to help women in distress.SCW has opened an exclusive phone line where women in distress can call or text or even WhatsApp to lodge a complaint. Officials of SCW can immediately reach out to women and help her to redress their grievances.Police figures reveal that 2,920 cases of crime against women were reported in 2016. These include 805 cases of kidnapping, 275 cases of rape, 157 cases of eve-teasing and 1,233 cases of molestation in 2016.

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Jammu and Kashmir | Education gets mega boost, 16 new colleges, 400 upgraded govt schools to come up next year

Forget 2016 unrest; the students of Jammu and Kashmir have all the reasons to look forward to 2017.The education sector in the state is all set for a major boost to offset the losses it suffered in the turmoil.More than 400 government schools will be upgraded and 16 new government degree colleges will be established in Jammu and Kashmir.Of the schools to be upgraded, 200 will be promoted from middle to higher and rest 200 from higher to the higher secondary level.The fresh steps to boost education comes a year after education became the prime casualty of the separatist-sponsored civil unrest in Kashmir.Official figures reveal that 34 schools were burnt by attackers during the 2016 unrest. Around 14 incidents of the school burning were timely addressed and property saved.More than 12 lakh students were sitting home as the schools and educational institutions in the valley remained shut for five months following the unrest.“Teachers both in government and private sector deserve all praise for their commitment towards their noble profession. The state is indebted to them. Present government led by Mehbooba Mufti is committed to take education sector to a new high”, said Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Education.Economic Survey Report presented by the Jammu and Kashmir government in the Legislative Assembly few months ago has depicted a grim picture of the education scenario in the valley in 2016.According to the report, normal schooling could be conducted only for a period of four months in the Kashmir valley last year due to the unrest which started after the killing of Hizbul Mujhadeen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in Bamdoora village on July 8 2016.“No one can dispute the fact that the young generation of technocrats and officers serving the state at present are the lot which was educated by the teachers in the times of turbulence. Both public and private sector institutions are contributing to raise the education standard in their own ways”, said Bukhari.

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Man dies in crossfire, protests rock Valley

Massive protests rocked Kupwara in north Kashmir on Sunday after a 28-year-old taxi driver was shot dead at the Thandipora village of Kralpora in the border district on Saturday night.While family and locals accused the Army troops of killing Asif Iqbal Bhat, the Army spokesperson maintained that he was killed in crossfire. The police have filed an FIR ans the J&K government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, in an apparent bid to calm the tempers.Meanwhile, Sajid Iqbal, brother of the slain taxi driver, said: “A passenger called us, requesting Asif to pick him up from the Batpora Road. Then my brother said he was leaving. I was in my room when I heard the gunshots. In a minute, my parents and sisters rushed to my room and said Asif has been killed. We went out to figure out who fired the shots but somebody fired at us as well.”According to the police, Asif got seriously injured after being hit by a bullet at Thandipora.”He was shifted to the sub-district hospital in Kralpora for treatment, from where he was referred to the Srinagar hospital for better treatment, but he succumbed to his injuries,” a police spokesman said.Senior superintendent of police, Kupwara, Shamsheer Hussain said it was an unfortunate incident and they have set up inquiry commission to investigate the circumstances in which the firing took place. “We will go to the bottom of this case. Locals are alleging that an Army party opened fire. Nobody is above law. We will investigate it thoroughly,” he said.When queried, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar, said the Army had placed ambushes in the Thandipora village to maintain surveillance over the area after receiving information about the presence of terrorists there on Saturday night.”At 10.55 pm, an ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons near the Nallah in Thandipora village. The individuals were challenged by the troops but they did not respond. Thereafter, the terrorists opened fire at the ambush party, which was returned. In the crossfire, Asif Iqbal Bhat was killed due to a gunshot wound. It has been learnt that he was a Sumo taxi driver. Investigation is in progress,” Colonel Kalia said.Massive protests then rocked the village, with hundreds of people taking to the streets, raising pro-freedom slogans, blocking the roads, and clashing with the police. Sensing trouble, Kuopwara district commissioner Khalid Jahangir ordered a magisterial inquiry and asked the inquiry officer to submit a report within three weeks.Expressing grief over the incident, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti directed the district administration to speed up the probe and punish the culprits. The main Opposition, National Conference, too, condemned the killing and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident. “The FIR registered by the police must be taken to its logical conclusion. Being killed in a crossfire can’t be a justification for Asif Iqbal’s death,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, former J&K CM.Separatists also jumped on to the bandwagon to lash out against the government. While addressing the mourners over phone, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani used the occasion to call for an election boycott.WHAT HAPPENEDAsif Iqbal Bhat was shot dead at Thandipora village of Kralpora on Saturday night. The victim’s family and locals accused the Army troops of killing him.

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J&K: Army recovers body of one of the five missing soldiers in snow avalance

After five days of mammoth search and rescue operation, the Indian army has pulled off the body of one of the five missing soldiers from the tonnes of snow along the Line of Control (LoC) in Naugam sector.Sepoy Kaushal Singh of 20 Dogra regiment was among the two soldiers who were buried under the mounds of snow after they slipped down the high altitude area of the Naugam sector along the LoC on Tuesday. After hectic efforts, the specialized rescue team recovered his body from the snow.“We have recovered the body of Sepoy Kaushal Singh. Four other soldiers continue to remain missing. The search and rescue operation is on”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Massive snow avalanches had swept away army bunkers at two different places on Tuesday. The first incident had occurred at Kanzalwan sub-sector of Gurez in the LoC when a snow avalanche swept away a high altitude `Mani Post’ in Bagtoor area.Three army jawans, who were manning the post were swept away by the avalanche and continue to remain untraceable. The second incident occurred in Naugam sector along the LoC when two soldiers slipped down from the high altitude area.For the last five days, army rescuers are busy in mammoth search and rescue operations to locate five missing soldiers in the huge mounds of snow in Gurez and Naugam sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir. Inclement weather and poor visibility in high altitude areas is also hampering the search and rescue operations. Upper reaches and high altitude areas have been receiving heavy snowfall in the last five days.Indian army has pressed Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) into service and moved special equipment to the site to trace out the missing soldiers. Specially trained sniffer dogs too have been brought in to help the soldiers in the search and rescue operations. Tones of snow has accumulated at both the places and army rescuers are digging deep to locate the missing soldiers. The fresh tragedy has come 11 months after the army lost 20 soldiers in the snow avalanches in Gurez, Sonamarg and Machil areas in the north and central Kashmir.

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46 years on, families look for missing heroes through social media

When the entire nation was busy celebrating the 46th Vijay Diwas to mark the victory of 1971 war, the mood at the home of Sepoy Jagdish Lal in Kathua was sombre.It was 46 years ago that Jagdish Lal of 2-Mahar regiment went missing while fighting the Pakistani army at the Dhaka Theatre.Sepoy Lal had chosen the battlefield despite pressing needs at home in the best traditions of the army. He had left behind two minor daughters and a five-month pregnant wife, Rano Devi.Forty six years have passed; Sepoy Lal’s family believes that he is languishing in a Pakistani jail after being taken as prisoner of war. Lal is among the six soldiers of Jammu division who went missing in 1971 and their families are not giving up the fight for their return .Enter 2017; the families are now taking the battle to cyber space using social media to prod the government to bring back their dear ones from Pakistan. From Twitter battle to online petitions, the families are using social media to the hilt to force the government to act.Leading the social media campaign for the missing war heroes is Bansi Lal Raja, the son-in-law of Sepoy Lal. “I have two Twitter accounts and I more than 2,000 followers. Whenever I tweet anything about the missing soldiers, it is instantly being retweeted. From 10 to 300 my tweets are retweeted. I request everyone but no one in the government is responding”, said Raja.Raja rues the apathy shown to the missing war heroes by the governments. “If you see my Twitter handle, you will find pictures of the leaders, who are now in power protesting along with us for justice”, he said.Subadar Assa Singh of 5-Sikh regiment of Jammu had gone missing while fighting gallantly against the Pakistani forces in 1971 war in the Chamb sector of Jammu region.For the last 46 years, Subaidar Singh’s 79 year old wife Nirmal Kaur has been fighting a quiet battle to bring her husband and other war heroes’ home from Pakistan. She even went to Pakistan along with the family members of other missing soldiers but with no success.”My mother is living with only hope that her husband will come home one day. We had high hopes from the government that they will bring back our dear ones. We are now posting our pleas on Twitter but there is no response”, said Harcharan Singh, son of Subadar Assa Singh.General Officer Commanding (GOC) White Knight Corps, Lt Gen Saranjit Singh, laid wreath at Ashwamedh Shaurya Sthal War Memorial at Nagrota to honour the valiant martyrs of Indian Army.Speaking on the occasion, the GOC said Indian Army has always stood tall and met all the challenges faced by the nation in an exemplary manner, coming out victorious each and every time. He also exhorted the valiant troops of Indian Army to be “Ever Ready” to face any future challenges that the adversary may pose, with grit, determination and valour.

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After Saudi, now Kashmir wants cinema halls reopened

Clamour is growing for the reopening of cinema halls in the strife-torn Kashmir valley.This follows the decision of Saudi Arabia to open movie theatres in the Islamic kingdom from next year.”Time to reopen cinemas in Kashmir too. It’s an apolitical issue and shouldn’t be delayed anymore. Have to give our people the semblance of a normal, social life along with peace and stability. Reopening cinemas doesn’t negate the conflict or the need to resolve it,” tweeted Junaid Azim Mattu, state spokesman of Opposition National Conference.Mattu’s remarks came in response to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s tweet hailing Saudi Arabia’s decision to lift the ban on cinema halls.”I welcome the decision by Saudi Arabia to lift a decade-long ban on cinemas as part of a series of social reforms by the crown prince. Introspection and self reform are marks of a progressive society,” the CM tweeted.”I am strongly in favour of reopening of cinema halls in Kashmir. However, there is a rider. We need to have the censor board sort of thing so that there is check on the films to be shown in Kashmir. Whatever is shown in other parts of the country cannot be shown in Kashmir. We have to take our socio-political and socio-cultural moorings into consideration,” said Mushtaaque Ali Ahmad Khan, noted filmmaker and director of recently held Kashmir World Film Festival.The state doesn’t have any movie halls at present. Allah Tigers, now a defunct terror outfit, had banned cinema halls as well as sale and consumption of liquor in 1989. Led by self styled ‘Air Marshal’ Noor Khan, the outfit had ransacked and looted liquor shops and threatened to set ablaze cinema halls prompting them to shut down.There were eight single screen theatres in capital city of Srinagar. Of the eight, four were in old city which had become the citadel of separatist movement during early nineties. In 1999, Farooq Abdullah-led government tried to reopen Regal cinema in Srinagar, but on the inaugural show, terrorists attacked the cinema with grenades killing one person and injuring 12 others.Later two theatres — Neelam and Broadway — tried to reopen amid tight security, but were unable to attract cine-goers owing to security reasons. With the result Broadway closed some months later. Neelam Cinema crutched along but finally closed down in 2010. Cine goers had a narrow escape when militants attacked Neelam on September 7, 2005. Two militants and a policeman were killed in the attack.TERROR OVER FILMSJammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar had 8 single screen theatres. Allah Tigers — a terror outfit — had banned cinema halls and liquor sales in 1989. In 1999, the state govt tried to reopen a theatre, but terrorists attacked the launch killing one person.

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Snowfall brings cheers to Kashmir

Sheen paetu,, paetu, maam yeetu.. yeetu… (Snowflakes are falling and falling, come my uncle, come fast). Paradise is again reverberating with this Kashmiri folk-lore, thanks to season’s first snowfall.Kashmir has been covered by a blanket of snow bringing smiles on the faces of people who were otherwise battling with dry cold and disease. According to the Met department, there has been moderate to heavy snowfall in many areas of the valley with Gulmarg receiving the highest so far. Famed ski resort Gulmarg has received two feet of snow. Srinagar has received 3.5 cm of snow while Qazigund, the gateway to Kashmir has got 13 centimeters of snow so far. Famous health resort of Pahalgam has received 25 centimeters while Kokarnag has received 12 centimeters of snow so far. Weatherman has predicted more rain and snow with one or two spells being the heaviest across the Kashmir valleyFresh snowfall also has created quite a buzz among the netizens on the social networking sites with people greeting friends in traditional Kashmir style.Also readKashmir Saffron all set to take global flight, new job opportunities surface for unemployed youth“Woke up earlier this morning to a city with a light dusting of snow. Nau Sheen Mubarak (Greetings on season’s first snowfall)”, tweeted Omar Abdullah, former J&K chief minister posting a short video on his twitter handle.Cheers notwithstanding, snow has also caused disruption of essential services in many parts of the valley. The 300-kilometer Srinagar-Jammu highway, the lifeline for the landlocked valley, has been closed for traffic due to the snow at Jawahar Tunnel and en route.Also readDNA Special: Kashmir’s Saffron Park to engage stone pelters, youths“National Highway and Mughal Road closed. All district roads operational”, tweeted deputy inspector general of police, south Kashmir range.Jammu and Kashmir government has put all the departments on maximum alert to meet any exigency following the heavy snowfall. District Development Commissioner Anantnag Mohammad Younis Malik said 19 functional snow cutters are available in the Mechanical Division Khannabal in addition to other requisite machinery. “Snow cutters and other machines have been deployed at Sangam, Pahalgam, Dooru, and Kokernag”, he said.Around 94 shelter sheds have been established at Jawahar Tunnel where adequate ration and other facilities have been made available to help stranded passengers. Besides, health facilities have also been augmented at health centers along the national highway.

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From helpline to WhatsApp number: Steps taken to help women in distress in Jammu and Kashmir

Waking up to the rising incidence of violence against women, Jammu and Kashmir State Commission for Women (SCW) has started one-stop-crisis-centre to help the women in distress at their doorsteps.SCW has started a helpline where the women can lodge a complaint over the phone and without walking into the office of the SCW. SCW has opened an exclusive phone line where women in distress can call or text or even WhatsApp to lodge a complaint. Officials of the SCW can immediately reach out to the women and help her to redress their grievances.“Please circulate this number among all for lodging complaint regarding any issue or problem any woman is facing at home or office..J&K state commission for women has kept this number exclusively for women to text, WhatsApp, message or give miss call. The commission will contact you soon”, tweeted Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor, chairperson of SCW.Official figures reveal that the SCW has received 3000 complaints of domestic violence and harassment at the workplace in the last three to four years.Also readJammu and Kashmir women’s commission chief bats for introduction of Women’s Reservation Bill“People have no direct access. They have to come to our office and lodge complaint then we will see and call them. But the phone line gives them immediate and instant access to the commission. I am seeing since yesterday there are so many calls. I think people have problems particularly women. If this type of instant access is provided to them they will come and find a solution to their problems”, Mehjoor told DNA.The helpline will act as the one-stop crisis centre where SCW officials can seek help from police and other agencies to help the women in the distress. “We can help in many ways. If she needs the support of police we can call the concerned police station, If she needs health-related help we can call the health centre. If there is domestic violence, we can intervene and send our team. There are different channels working”, she said.Police figures reveal 2,920 cases of crime against women were reported in 2016. These include 805 cases of kidnapping, 275 cases of rape, 157 cases of eve-teasing and 1,233 cases of molestation in 2016.

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Rs 200 crore loss as saffron production dips sharply

Persistent dry spell in Kashmir valley has led a 80 per cent drop in the production of saffron causing Rs 200 crore financial loss to the farmers.Official figures reveal that saffron production in 2017 was 3.5 metric tonnes against 17 metric tonnes in 2016. Estimates worked out by the Agriculture department peg the financial loss at over Rs 200 crore.”On an average, our saffron production is 17 metric tonnes. This year there is a 80 per cent drop in production. One kilogramme saffron sells at Rs 1.6 lakh, and by that estimate we have suffered roughly Rs 200 crore loss,” said Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, director of department of agriculture, Kashmir.Experts say increased temperature and no rainfall during sprouting period are the main reasons for crop failure this year.”It requires rainfall in September. In addition, temperatures should also be moderate. Moisture in corn helps sprouting. We had no rainfall, which resulted in crest formation,” Andrabi said.Touted as world’s most expensive spice, saffron is used in multiple ways in multiple industries — ranging from medicine, beauty, colour, food, among others. Kashmiri saffron kahwa (tea) is a delicacy which is served on special occasions signifying the importance of the guests. It is used in beauty products and has a high medicinal value.Around 3,715 hectares of land is used for saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pampore in the Pulwama district of south Kashmir tops the list with 3,200 hectares under saffron cultivation. It is followed by Budgam and Srinagar with 328 and 165 hectares respectively under the saffron cultivation.”Production is almost nil and farmers are ruined. We have suffered huge financial losses this year. Government should come up with a scheme to help the farmers in distress. We have no other source of income,” said GM Pampori, president J&K Saffron Growers and Dealers Association.”Our worry is now about the mother corn. You need good water regime for multiplication of corn for next year’s crops. If the dry spell continues for another month, it will have catastrophic effect on future crops,” said Andrabi.SUDDEN DIPOfficial data reveals that saffron production in 2017 was 3.5 metric tonnes against 17 metric tonnes in 2016. Experts blame increased temperature and lack of rain in the Valley are the primary reasons behind failure of the crop this year.

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De-addiction centres to counter Udta Kashmir phenomenon

Alarmed by the rising incidence of drug abuse, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to establish de-addiction centres in all district Hospitals across the state to counter the Udta Kashmir phenomenon.“The government will establish drug de-addiction centres in each district hospital of the state in next two months”, said Bali Bhagat¸ Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Health and Medical Education.This follows the alarming increase in the incidents of drug smuggling and addiction cases in the valley. Strife-torn Kashmir is emerging as a hub of the contraband drugs with smugglers exploiting the law and order problem to carry out the nefarious trade. More than 10000 drug abusers have been treated in police de-addiction centre alone since 2008.“Civil society to contribute to saving the youth from this menace and asked them to form Mohalla Committees to monitor and report the cases of drug abuse”, said Bhagat.Health minister also directed assistant Drug Controller to conduct inspections of supply records of the chemists to keep a check on the drug abuse. SSPs have also been asked to take stringent action against habitual offenders under NDPS Act.Official figures reveal that police have seized 64 kilograms of charas, 7.5 kilograms of charas powder, 194 kilograms of bhang and bhang dust, 925 kilograms of fukki, 915 kilogram of poppy straw and 3.75 kilogram of brown sugar in different parts of the valley in 2016. If it was not enough, police seized 26457 intoxicating capsules 10553 intoxicating tablets and 12983 bottles intoxicating syrup in 2016. Around 312 persons were arrested in 2016 of whom 202 were prosecuted and 26 others were booked under Public Safety Act (PSA), under which a person can be jailed without trial and bail up to two years. Similarly in 2015 police had registered 375 cases and arrested 442 people and 13 others have been booked under PSA.Figures released by Excise Department of Jammu and Kashmir have revealed shocking details about the drug cultivation in the trouble-torn valley. Poppy crop spread over 2863 kanals (20 kanals form one hectare) of land was destroyed this year so far. Last year poppy crop spread over 2873 kanals of land was destroyed by the Excise Department.In summer this year Bhang spread over 1475 kanals of land has been destroyed in Kashmir valley. Last year the crop over 180 kanals of land was destroyed by the Excise Department.

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Now, you can register an complaint with the J&K police and keep track of it

The Jammu and Kashmir police have launched the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), a citizen portal at the Mattan Police Station to take policing and its allied services to the doorsteps of the citizens.Under CCTNS, people can lodge online complaints with any police station and keep a tab on its status. The access to the portal and creation of user ids and passwords can be availed online through a uniform resource locator by the police.The complaint will directly reach to the concerned police station where it will be processed quickly. The updates of the complaints will be uploaded at regular intervals and the complainant will be able to know its status.Also readLashkar-e-Toiba group involved in Amarnath yatra attack eliminated in Kashmir“Presently 16 Police Stations of South Kashmir Range are working on the online platform which will benefit the people,” said Swayam Prakash Pani, deputy inspector general of police, south Kashmir range, adding that the project would help in bringing transparency and accountability in the police department.The state police is hoping to cash in on this unique initiative to bridge the gap with the people who are reluctant to visit police stations or lodge complaints due to varied reasons.Also readSepoy Irfan Ahmad Dar murder | Kashmir soldier was killed for not becoming terroristOfficials said the CCTNS will help to bypass the barrier and help to build better relations between people and the police. Activists said the frequent shutting down of internet services due to law and order problems may become the irritant for the services
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Terror recruitment in J&K at a 7-year high

Close to 100 local youth have joined terror groups in strife-torn Kashmir valley so far this year. The number of locals joining terror outfits this year is the highest in the last seven years. Despite the unrest after Burhan Wani killing, only 88 youth had turned to terrorism in 2016. In 2015, only 66 youth had joined terror groups as compared to 53 in 2014.Data reveals that parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging in 2013 had also failed to motivate youth to join terrorism with only 16 locals taking to arms.South Kashmir emerged as a breeding ground for jihadists to recruit youth in 2017. Sources said that 75 per cent of the youth who joined ranks this year hail from four districts in south Kashmir. More than 25 youth who had joined ranks have already been killed in different encounters, and over a dozen have been arrested.Officials said relentless social media campaign by Pakistan and jihadists, besides religious exploitation, are some of the main reasons for young boys to take up arms.Videos of terrorists have flooded Facebook and other social networking sites to romanticise terror activity and lure gullible youth to join their ranks besides outwit the security forces and garner public support.”We are targeting local leaders of terror outfits because they are influencing the youth to join them, particularly in the south Kashmir region,” said a top police officer.Security forces, however, have opened a window of opportunity for locals to shun violence by promising proper rehabilitation for them. So far four youths, including footballer Majid Khan, have given up violence and returned home to start life afresh.2017 also saw the highest number terrorists — over 200 — being killed since 2010. Figures reveal that 270 terrorists were killed by security forces in 2010.The figure came down to 119 in 2011. Around 84 militants were killed in 2012 followed by 100 in 2013, 110 in 2014 and 113 in 2015. Despite unrest, security forces killed 165 ultras in 2016.The success against militancy in 2017 is attributed to ‘Operation All Out’ launched by the security forces early this year. The operation saw top leadership of militants being neutralized. They included Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Bhat, Lashkar-e-Tioba chief Abu Dujana and Abu Ismail, two nephews – Abu Musaib and Obaid –of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Talha Rashid nephew of Pathankote attack mastermind Moulana Masood Azhar and others.RETURNING HOMESecurity forces are providing rehabilitation for the youth who come back after shunning the path of terror and violence. This year, four such misguided youth returned to their homes so far, including footballer Majid Khan.
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Band, Baja and baraat! Mehbooba Mufti government to speed up scheme to help poor, unmarried girls of Valley

Band, baja, baraat…at last, this will become a pleasant reality for the poor girls in the terror-plagued Jammu and Kashmir!Mehbooba Mufti-led state government has revised the timelines to ensure speedy and effective implementation of the State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) and deal strictly with inordinate delay in settling the cases.Under SMAS the government provides one-time financial assistance of Rs 25,000 and five-gram gold from the Social Welfare department to poor girls living below poverty line who may not find themselves in a position to marry due to financial constraints.The 27 years of conflict and bloodbath has torn apart the social fabric in conservative Kashmir. Late marriages, infertility and depleting sex ratio has become rampant in the Kashmir Valley.A study conducted by the Sociology department at University of Kashmir in 2009 revealed shocking facts about the fallout of the turmoil.According to the study, an overwhelming majority of 88 per cent of respondents opined that conflict situation in Kashmir has contributed to the emergence of the late marriages, a phenomenon unheard of before the onset of militancy in 1990.Complying with the directions of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the government on Wednesday issued a circular, in modification to its earlier version, detailing the revised timelines.According to the revised timelines, a period of three working days has been fixed for District Social Welfare Officer, six working days for Sanctioning Authority (Deputy Commissioner) while five working days have been fixed for Director Finance, Social Welfare Department to dispose of the cases under SMAS.“The Government has issued strict directions to all the concerned for ensuring strict adherence to the revised guidelines and any deviation in this regard would be dealt strictly as per the Law”, an official spokesman said.Launched in 2015, the SMAS was aimed at facilitating the poor girls with requisite financial support to enable them solemnize their marriages. Official figures reveal that around 6,589 beneficiaries, who were found eligible to receive the assistance as per guidelines of the scheme, have been brought under the ambit of SMAS upto August 31, 2017.“The Social Welfare Department had also observed that substantial time is being taken for disposing of these cases before referring it to the administrative department for unknown reasons, which is defeating the objective of launching this vital girl specific scheme, where timely assistance has paramount significance”, said the spokesman.
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Police cracks the murder case of Kashmiri army soldier

Sepoy Irfan Ahmad Dar of Shopian chose country over his self. He preferred to die rather than to succumb to the pressure of terrorists in South Kashmir.New details have emerged about the assassination of the 23-year-old off-duty soldier Irfan Ahmad Dar of 175 Territorial Army (TA) by terrorists at Wuthmula village in South Kashmir’s Shopian district on November 25.While one militant has been arrested, three others — including the top commander Sadam Padder — are on the run. Superintendent of Police, Shopian, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said terrorists wanted Sepoy Irfan to work for them but he refused which became one of the causes of his assassination. “The terrorists tried to motivate him to work for them. But they could not succeed and ultimately they decided to kill him. Plus security force men are always the target of the militants”, he said.Sepoy Irfan Ahmad Dar, who was on a vacation, had left home at the Senzen village in his car on November 24 but did not return. On November 25 morning, his body, was riddled with bullets, was found in an orchard in the neighbouring Wuthmula village in Shopian district.Investigation conducted so far revealed that four militants — including Saddam Padder, Bilal, Touseef, newly recruited unidentified man and over ground worker (OGW) Muzamil — hatched a conspiracy to kill Sepoy Irfan.Accordingly, Muzamil went to the native village of Sepoy Irfan and took him to a pre-determined spot at Wuthmula where Saddam, Bilal, Touseef and unidentified militant were waiting in the orchard. “They came out from the orchard and fired at the Sepoy Irfan, resulting in instant death of the victim”, said a police spokesman.Based on the hard evidence, police unearthed the entire chain of conspiracy and finally nabbed one of the accused Muzamil. “The lookout for the other three militants is on and necessary legal proceedings are in progress to complete the investigation”, said the spokesman. Superintendent of Police, Shopian said, the killing was carried out jointly by the militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujhadeen.”Two of the terrorists belonged to Hizbul Mujhadeen outfit. Touseef belongs to Lashkar-e-Toiba. Muzamil was an OGW of slain Lashkar militant Waseem Shah. He worked for Saddam Paddar. They had hatched the conspiracy to kill him in the house of Touseef”, said Shriram.A massive hunt has been launched to track down the three terrorists who are on the run. “Either we will arrest them and bring them before the court or they would be eliminated”, said another officer.
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Srinagar: Accepting Farooq Abdullah’s challenge, Shiv Sena workers attempt to unfurl tricolor at Lal Chowk

Braving sub-zero temperatures, a group of Shiv Sena members tried to unfurl the tricolor at the historic Lal Chowk in a bid to offset the challenge of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.Last month Abdullah had dared the Centre to hoist the national flag in the historic Lal Chowk before talking about unfurling it in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.Police, however, detained some Shiv Sena workers and took them to the Kothi Bagh police station where they were made to talk to the top police officers and accordingly were allowed to wave the national flag outside the police station.Also readForget PoK, raise Indian flag in Srinagar first: Farooq Abdullah“We had reached Lal Chowk early in the morning. We unfurled the flag but police immediately bundled us into the vans and took us to the police station. We later talked to the DGP. We were told to unfurl the flag ahead of Lal Chowk. Later police took us in proper arrangement to the area where we unfurled the flag”, said Manish Sahni, general secretary of Shiv Sena, Jammu and Kashmir.Sahni asserted that despite police posse they were able to unfurl the tricolor at Lal Chowk before being whisked away. “We unfurled the tricolor at around 6 am because we knew they will not allow us later. It was after we unfurled the tricolor that they whisked us away in the police vans”, he said.Also readAnti Terrorist Front India announces Rs 21 lakh bounty for Farooq Abdullah’s tongueInspector General of police, Kashmir Zone, Munir Ahmad Khan said the Shiv Sena had not sought the mandatory permission from the district magistrate for the event.“There is proper procedure. One has to apply for proper permission before any such event. The permission is given by the district magistrate. This is a public place and they had not applied for the permission”, he said.Also readTerritorial Army jawan killing: Shiv Sena questions govt claim on fall of terror activities in Kashmir
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It’s raining govt jobs for pellet victims

Pellet victims have a reason to smile after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti provided government jobs to a group of victims, who lost their eyesight in the pellet gun firing in 2016 unrest.The face of the pellet horror Insha Mushtaq, who lost her eyes to pellet guns at Sadew village, however, has reportedly been promised the gas agency by the chief minister.The fresh reach-out comes days after Mehbooba ordered to withdraw cases of 4,327 stone-pelters in a bid to give them an opportunity to rebuild their lives afresh in the restive Kashmir valley.An official spokesman said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti distributed orders of appointment among a group of victims who lost their eyesight due to pellet injuries during the law and order situations in the Valley last year.”This is in continuation of her earlier measures taken for the rehabilitation of the victims of violence during the unrest of last year,” he said. It may be recalled that on September 14 and 28 the Chief Minister had also disbursed financial assistance among two groups of pellet victims.”Mehbooba Mufti, has initiated a series of measures for the rehabilitation, social integration and empowerment of youth of the State. Recently the Chief Minister directed withdrawal of cases against more than four thousand youth involved in various cases of law and order nature,” said the spokesman.
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Katas Raj temple: Kashmiri pandits hail Pak supreme court over renovation verdict

Save Sharda Committee (SSC) Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit organization fighting for the resumption of Sharda pilgrimage in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, has expressed deep gratitude to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar for the historical judgment on renovation of Katas Raj temple in Punjab province and urged him to take suo moto notice about the Sharda temple as well.“These temples like Sharda are not only of religious but historical and archeological importance too. We have been striving for the re-opening of Sharda pilgrimage on the lines of Nankana sahib Lahore”, said Ravinder Pandita, founder of Save Sharda Committee KashmirSituated 207 kilometers north of Muzaffarabad (capital of PoK) in Athmuqam Neelam Valley, the Sharada temple is located near the confluence of Kishan Ganga River and Mudhumati stream. The exact date of establishing the temple is not known, however, present style and form of the shrine were established by King Lalitaditya in 724 AD.Also readNawaz Sharif orders renovation of Katas Raj temple, says Pak will be ‘minorities-friendly country’Before independence, the annual yatra to Sharada temple was conducted from ancient times. During the Dogra rule in 1846 it became a regular feature. Historical facts reveal that Buddhist University was established near the shrine during the period of Emperor Ashoka in 273 BC known as Sharada Peeth.The last pilgrimage was undertaken by Swami Nand Lal Ji of Tikker Kupwara fame in 1947. In fact, at the time of partition Swami Nand Lal Ji carrying idols from Sharda to Tikker on horses. Few of these stone idols are lying at Devibal in Baramulla besides Tikker in Kupwara.“Our committee is willing to undertake the restoration work. The Hon’ble court may take suo-moto cognizance of our plea especially for Sharda temple in POK, which is our heritage. This may bridge the differences between Kashmiris separated by LOC. Temples and shrines are being restored and reclaimed by our organisation in our part of Kashmir as well, though we are displaced for the last 27 years”, said Pandita.
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Kashmiri pandit’s sweet gesture: Candies for Eid procession

There was a ray of hope for people in troubled south Kashmir on Friday, as it saw Kashmiryat (pluralistic cuslture) in full bloom. A Kashmiri pandit and his wife greeted the a procession of Eid Milad-un-Nabi (the Prophet’s birthday) by distributing candies to the Muslims as a token of love.Vimal and Shushma Tickoo surprised the procession that lined up on the route. Carrying a bag full of candies, the couple distributed toffees to pedestrians a a mark of respect.”We are greeting them on the auspicious occasion. We are welcoming them. We do it every year”, said Vimal.Hailing from Mattan area of Anantnag, the couple came out to greet the procession in a traditional style. “They (Muslims) too join us when we celebrate our festivals. We have brotherhood in our area. There has been no problem in Mattan. They are our well wishers”, said Shushma.The couple’s gesture stole the hearts of local Muslims. Young Muslims came forward to click selfies with the couple.Even the video of the gesture has gone viral on social networking sites. The Director General of Police, Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, retweeted the video of the couple distributing candies to the people during the Milad procession.Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), the apex body of non-migrant pandits, reveals that 677 Kashmiri pandits have been killed by the militants since 1990. The figures include mass massacres at different places. However, the state government figures reveal that only 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed in the state since 1989.Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of them, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs.Thousands marched through South Kashmir’s Anantnag to celebrate the birthday of the last messenger of Allah. The south Kashmir district has been the epicentre of last year’s unrest in the Valley.
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Eid-e-Milad 2017: When a Kashmiri Pandit couple stole hearts by greeting Milad procession

For those who spread hate, this should serve as an eye-opener.Welcome to the troubled South Kashmir, where Kashmiryat (pluralistic culture) was in full bloom on Friday.A middle-aged Kashmiri pandit couple greeted the procession of Eid Milad-ud-Nabi (Birthday of Prophet Mohommad) by distributing candies to the Muslims as a token of love and affection.Vimal and Shushma Tickoo surprised the people when they lined up on the route of the Milad procession and showered candies.Carrying a bag full of candies, the couple was distributed the toffees to pedestrians a mark of respect.“We are greeting them on the auspicious occasion. We are welcoming them. We do it every year”, said Vimal Tickoo.Hailing from Mattan area of Anantnag and braving sub-zero temperatures, the couple came out of their home to greet the procession.“They too join us when we celebrate our festival. We have so much of brotherhood in our area. There has been no problem in Mattan. They are our well wishers”, said Shushma Tickoo.The gesture of the couple stole the hearts of the local Muslims. Selfies and handshakes followed. A young Muslim man came forward to click selfies with the couple as a gesture of love from the majority community of Kashmir.The video of the kind gesture by Pandits have gone viral on social networking sites. Director General of Police Dr Shesh Paul Vaid also retweeted the video of Pandit couple distributing candies to the people during Milad procession.Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), an apex body of non migrant pandits, reveal that 677 Kashmiri pandits have been killed by the militants since 1990.The figures include the mass massacres of Kashmiri pandits at different places at different times. However the state government figures reveal that only 219 Kashmiri pandits were killed in the state since 1989. Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states.Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs. Thousands of people marched through South Kashmir’s Anantnag to celebrate the birthday of the Last Messenger of Allah.The south Kashmir district has been the epicenter of last year’s unrest in the Valley.Watch full video here:
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5 terrorists killed in J&K; toll crosses 200 after 7 years

Security forces on Thursday killed five terrorists in two major counter-terror operations in north and central Kashmir. With these two operations, the total number of terrorists neutralised by the security forces in 2017 has crossed the 200 mark. This is the highest number of terrorists neutralised in a year in the last seven years in Jammu and Kashmir.”A collective effort of the Jammu and Kashmir police, Indian Army, CRPF, CAPF & the people of Kashmir has lead to neutralisation of more than 200 terrorists in 2017 alone. This marks a huge landmark for establishing peace & stability in the state of J&K & our country,” tweeted Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir.Data reveals that 270 ultras were killed by the security forces in 2010. The figure came down to 119 in 2011. Around 84 in 2012, followed by 100 in 2013, 110 in 2014, and 113 in 2015. Despite an ongoing unrest, security forces had killed 165 terrorists in 2016.The success against terror in 2017 is attributed to ‘Operation All Out’ launched by the security forces early this year. The operation saw top leaders of different terror outfits neutralised, thus breaking the backbone of terror activity.They included Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Bhat, Lashkar-e-Tioba chief Abu Dujana and Abu Ismail, two nephews – Abu Musaib and Obaid –of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Talha Rashid nephew of Pathankote attack mastermind Moulana Masood Azhar and others.However the achievement in the war against terror came at a very high cost with more than 75 security force men laying down their lives in the line of duty this year so far.Official figures reveal that there are more than 200 militants still operating in the valley. Of whom at least 110 are locals and around 100 are foreigners, mostly Pakistani nationals.The landmark of eliminating 200 militants came on the day when security forces stepped up winter offensive and killed five militants in Phutlipora-Pakherpora village of Budgam and Sagipora village of Sopore in Baramulla district.The first operation was launched in Phutlipora village after security forces received a tip off about the presence of the militants in the area. A Joint team of Army, CRPF and police cordoned off the village at 5.30 am and an hour later contact was established when militants opened fire on the search party.”Four militants were killed in the operation. The operation is still continuing”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Massive protests and stone pelting rocked the area after people tried to disrupt the operation in Phutlipora. Youth pelted stones and tried to march towards the encounter site. Protestors also torched a private pickup truck.Security forces immediately swung into action and lobbed tear smokes shells to quell the mob. When the protesters refused to retreat, security forces fired pellet shots and other live munitions causing injuries to few people.In another operation, security forces killed a militant at Sagipora village in the apple rich town of Sopore. A soldier sustained injuries in the operation.The operation was launched after forces received information that militants are hiding in the area. When the security forces were zeroing in on the target house, they came under heavy fire. It was retaliated and in the ensuing gun fight one militant was killed.
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Kashmir Saffron all set to take global flight, new job opportunities surface for unemployed youth

Come feel the fragrance of the World Famous Kashmir Saffron in the paradise!Welcome to Saffron Spice Park, the one-stop state-of-the-art facility to put the Kashmir saffron on a global pedestal. Built at the cost of Rs 37.8 crores, the spice park constructed under the National Saffron Mission will be one of the best in the Asian subcontinent that will provide cutting-edge technology to revive the saffron trade in the state.The project after its completion will not only provide all the necessary mandated facilities to the Saffron Farmers but will also generate the avenues of the employment for the unemployed youth of the state.Also readBananas successfully cultivated for first time in Jammu and KashmirUnder the project, the government is all set to augment the facilities that include research, testing, quality control and e-trading facilities for the saffron growers. “This mission and its facilities will ultimately lead to developing an organized ecosystem for the Saffron. Development of Model Saffron Village at Samboora Pulwama has also been undertaken in convergence with National Saffron Mission”, said an official spokesman.Touted as world’s costliest spice, saffron crops suffered huge losses this year. Precious like gold, Kashmir saffron sells anything between Rs two lakh to Rs three lakh per kilogram in the market. However, cheaper Iranian variety and adulteration in Kashmiri saffron have dealt a major blow to the saffron farmers in Jammu and Kashmir. Saffron is used in multiple ways in multiple products ranging from medicine, beauty, color, food, and others. Kashmiri saffron Kahwa (tea) is a delicacy which is served on special occasions signifying the importance of the guests. It is used in Wazwan (multi-cuisine mutton dish) and halwa in Kashmir. Besides, saffron is used in beauty products and has a high medicinal value. Saffron has also religious significance and Hindus mostly use it to apply tika on their forehead.“Different types of hi-tech machinery needed for different operation has been installed. The project is almost completed and would be handed over to the department in near future”, said the spokesman.
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J&K withdraws cases against stone-pelters

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has ordered withdrawal of cases against 4,327 youth involved in 744 incidents of stone pelting and other law and order problems.This follows the recommendation of a high powered committee headed by Director General of Police Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, which submitted its report to the chief minister on Wednesday.”The DGP has been asked to regularly monitor the progress in the matter and prepare a fortnightly report in this regard,” reads a communication from the Home Department to the DGP sent on Wednesday evening.An official spokesman said the decision marks the revival of process of withdrawal of cases started by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last year immediately after taking over.”Mehbooba Mufti had set on a process of review of cases against youth from 2008 to 2014 and in the first instance 104 cases involving 634 youth were withdrawn within two months of her assuming power. The process, unfortunately, got disrupted due to the continued violence and unrest for later part of the last year,” said the spokesman.So far, 848 cases of stone-pelting has been withdrawn on the direction of chief minister Mehbooba.The chief minister had committed withdrawal of cases against youth found not involved in heinous crimes and the revival of this process has fulfilled the promise made by Mehbooba Mufti.Mehbooba recently has also directed review of cases from 2015-2017(till date) and decision would be taken on the receipt of report by the high powered committee.”The withdrawal of cases against these youth was a major demand from various sections of the society in the State who would be heaving a sigh of relief after this decision,” he said.Chief Minister described the decision as a ray of hope for these young boys and their families terming it as an opportunity for them to rebuild their lives.CM’S PROMISEThe chief minister, had committed the withdrawal of cases against youths found not involved in heinous crimes. Mehbooba had recently directed review of cases from 2015 till date and decision on the same would be taken on the receipt of report by the high-powered committee
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Line of Control becomes Line of Learning in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Winds of Change seem to be blowing on the sensitive Line of Control (LoC) with the last point on the Indo-Pak border in the Uri sector becoming the Line of Learning for the students on educational tours.As a part of education tour, the Indian army organized an excursion for 55 students of Army Goodwill School Uri and Aseem-Goodwill Computer Centre at Kamalkot to Kamaan Aman Setu– the last point on Indian side on the LoC –in Uri sector of North Kashmir a few days ago.During the visit, the students were made aware of the commercial and strategic significance of the Kaman Aman Setu. “The students also witnessed the trade services between India and Pakistan. They also visited Kaman Transit point, Cafe Kaman and the Currency Changing Point”, said an army spokesman.Officer – In – Charge of Kaman Aman Setu briefed the students about the importance of the Kaman Bridge; inter-country trade service and cross LoC bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. He also briefed them about the procedure of immigration and various facilities available at Kaman Transit Point.“All visitors displayed a keen interest in understanding the significance of the bridge and the excitement among the students was evident. Students expressed their gratitude to the Army for providing this opportunity”, said the spokesman.The strategically important bridge on the Kaman post connects North Kashmir to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The bridge was refurbished in 2005 when India and Pakistan decided to start the cross LoC Karwan-e-Aman bus, which plies every Monday in the valley.Touted as one the biggest Confidence Building Measures, the cross LoC peace bus enabled reuniting the divided families living on both sides of the Line of Control. A year later another cross LoC route connecting Poonch in Jammu to Rawlakote road in PoK.Three years later the cross LoC trade started in October 2008 when Jammu and Kashmir was up in arms over Amarnath land row. There are two cross LoC routes — Srinagar-Muzaffarabad, Poonch-Rawalakote — that are being used to ferry goods between Jammu and Kashmir and PoK.

Bananas successfully cultivated for first time in Jammu and Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scientists have achieved a rare feat after they successfully cultivated bananas in Jammu and Kashmir. It is for the first time that the experiment of growing bananas in Jammu and Kashmir has succeeded with precision.“Experimental works involved growing the banana by tissue culture technique at Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) Jammu. The samplings of this high quality tissue culture variety known as Bhim Grand Naine (G-9) banana were brought from Agro Division of Cadila Pharmaceutical Limited, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The first trial of cultivation over two acres land of Field experimental farm Chatha has been successfully completed”, said Dr. Ram Vishwakarma, Director CSIR-IIIM, Jammu.First cultivation trial was conducted by planting 2000 samplings of banana plants with the narrow spacing in August 2016. The fruit setting commenced in July-August, 2017 while as the maturity and harvesting attained in 13 months.“The plant grew to a height of 6.5 to 7.5 feet and gave yield 20-30 kg per plant and 20-25 tonnes/acre. In term of economy involved, as per market analysis, price of banana in Jammu is approximately Rs. 20 per kg. Thus on an average, 20-30 Kg yield/plant gives Rs. 250-300/Banana plant”, said Dr Vishwakarma.On the basis of market demand, approximately Rs. 2.5 lakh net return can be obtained by cultivation of this crop on one acre of land which is attractive business for farmers of the Jammu and Kashmir as it involves very less inputs but lucrative profit.More than 164,000 acres of land in India is under the banana cultivation. Most edible banana species are widely cultivated in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarart, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Many wild species of banana are also reported from Northeast and South India.Till date, no initiative of commercial cultivation of banana has been done in Jammu and Kashmir. Scientists said the commercial cultivation of banana in Jammu and Kashmir would be most profitable agriculture business for farmers of the State. This crop will be particularly suit Jammu region. “The next target of IIIM to introduce the banana cultivation in Kashmir region through modern biotechnology approach (Polyhouses) which would be done in 2018”, said the spokesman of CSIR-IIIM.

Kashmiri teen picks up pen, reaches for the stars

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His family wanted him to be an engineer, but western music and books were his first love. He dropped out of engineering college to pursue his passion of writing, much to the chagrin of his family.A year and half later, the 19-year-old Faheem Bhat has made his parents proud by penning one of the best selling English novels in Kashmir.For a debutante, it was a dream come true when his first novel, `Wandering for Love’ was released on different e-commerce sites where he shared space with top-notch writers. The icing on the cake? It will now debut in bookfairs across Delhi and Chennai in January 2018.Published by Notion Press, the novel is set in America and revolves around a young man who loses faith in reality and takes refuge to fiction. “Wandering for Love is not about romance. It is actually the love for books. It is a story about a young man who escapes reality. It is about a reverse psychology,” said Faheem.Born to a business family in the old city, Faheem has always been passionate about reading books. Listening to western songs and taking down the lyrics was his passion.After completing his matriculation, he was enrolled in an engineering college for diploma in computer sciences. Faheem could not cope with engineering and ultimately opted out after the first semester itself.”It shattered the confidence of my parents. They wanted me to prioritise academics. I focussed on writing instead and contacted my publishers. I needed Rs 65,000, which I did not have. So, I started editing the blogs and novel of my friend and earned Rs 20,000. My sisters pooled in some more and I borrowed the rest,” he said.It took him one and half years to write the novel. “Now my father is happy and is helping me repay my loans,” Faheem said.Not letting stardom get to him, Faheem has already decided the theme of his second novel. “I am planning to write fiction and will hopefully start the work soon,” he said

With three lakh saplings, ski-resort of Gulmarg set to create tree plantation record

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>World famous ski-resort of Gulmarg ​is all set to script history with three lakh trees being planted in the Gulmarg-Tangmarg bowl from today.Situated at an altitude of 4124 meters, famed winter resort of Gulmarg was declared seventh top ski resort of Asia by the CNN International in 2010. Famous for its lush green meadows and world class Alps, the resort is home to Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest peak.The USP of the resort is the world highest ropeway, known as Gulmarg Gandola, which ascends from 2650 meters to the height of 3980 meters. The resort also houses elite High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) of the army which imparts training to soldiers across the globe in high altitude warfare.The massive plantation drive will add another feather in the cap of Gulmarg as three lakh trees are being planted in the bowl. File Pic: A view of snowy Gulmarg​Organized by Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Gulmarg Chapter, in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir forest department, tourism department and J&K Police, the plantation drive will cover Gulmarg and Tangmarg areas in the ski resort.“It is for the first time in the history of Kashmir that three lakh trees will be planted in Gulmarg and Tangmarg. Not only will the trees be planted in forest land, these will be sowed in hoteliers’ premises, Gulmarg Development Authority land and other sites. We will be planting trees wherever land is available”, said Mukhtar Ahmad Shah, President J&K Hoteliers Club, Gulmarg.The plantation drive will kick off on Monday and will continue till next year when the target of planting three lakh trees will be achieved. “It is not possible to plant three lakh trees in one day. There is no time bar. The drive will continue till 300,000 trees are planted”, said Shah.File Pic: Adventure lovers ski in GulmargCheaper rates, powder snow and good facilities give Gulmarg an edge over other European destinations as a ski resort. Plus the world’s highest and Asia’s longest rope-way makes Gulmarg cream-of-the-crop adventure destinations. “Gulmarg has a great history. Now massive plantation will make it truly an international destination. Lofty mountains, world class alps and now massive tree cover will further boost the tourism in Gulmarg”, said an official.

Terrorists kill another off-duty jawan in J&K

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sending a chilling reminder to the Mehbooba Mufti government in the state, terrorists killed an Army jawan on leave at Wothmula village near Keegam in the Shopian district of the sensitive South Kashmir on Saturday.Sepoy Irfan Ahmad Dar of 175 Territorial Army (Engineers) is the third soldier to have fallen to terror bullets since May this year in the Kashmir valley.Twenty-year-old Dar had left home at Senzen village in his car on Friday. On Saturday morning, his bullet-riddled body was found in an orchard in the neighbouring Wothmula village.After completing all the legal formalities, police handed over the body to his family for the last rites. Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of the fallen soldier.According to Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar, Superintendent of Police (SP), Shopian, preliminary investigation has revealed that Dar was not abducted, but shot dead by terrorists, since he had left home for some work in his car.”His car was found nearby and its key was in his pocket. It didn’t look like kidnap. It was an act of terrorism; we have registered a case and launched a hunt to nab the culprits,” said Dinkar.The SP said militants were trying hard to show their presence since they had been under pressure after the successful anti-terror operations by security forces.”Terrorists are definitely involved. There are small groups who have been under pressure after the operations by security forces. So they carry out spectacular actions to get their presence noted,” he said.Police have put the investigations on the fast track and a massive manhunt has been launched to track down the terrorist group involved in the killing. “I want to assure you that terrorists responsible for this act will be neutralised soon,” Shriram noted.Dar was posted in the Gurez sector along the Line of Control in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district. He had come home on leave.”Dar was posted with the Territorial Army unit in Bandipora. He was on leave till November 26. He was possibly abducted and killed by terrorists. The matter is being investigated by police”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesperson at Srinagar.KILLED OFF-FIELDDar is the third soldier to have been killed when they were home on leave in Kashmir this year. On September 27, militants killed BSF jawan-on-leave Mohommad Ramzan Parrey, aka Rameez, and injured three members of his family in Bandipora.
On May 10, militants abducted Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz of Rajputana Riffles from his uncle’s residence in Shopian and was shot dead in neighbouring Harmain village.

Shopian | Territorial army jawan, on vacation, killed by terrorists in J&K

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terrorists sent a chilling reminder to Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Saturday when they killed an army soldier on leave at Wothmula village in the Shopian district of sensitive south Kashmir.Sepoy Irfan Ahmad Dar of 175 Territorial Army (Engineers), had left home at Senzen village in his car on Friday but did not return. On Saturday morning his bullet riddled body was found in an orchard in nearby Wothmula village in the Shopian district.Superintendent of Police(SP), Shopian, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar told DNA that preliminary investigation reveal that he was not abducted but shot dead by the militants since he had left home for work in his car.
ALSO READ BSF jawan Rameez Ahmad Parray shot dead by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora“His car was found nearby and his key was in his pocket. It does not look like kidnapping. It is militant action and we have registered a case and hunt is on to nab the militants”, Shriram said.Dar, 23, was posted in Gurez sector along the Line of Control in North Kashmir’s Bandiproa district. He had come home on leave few days before and was driving his own car when he went missing. “He was a Sepoy posted in some engineering wing of the army at Gurez”, said Shriram.This comes months after September killing of a BSF jawan in Bandipora’s Hajin. The terrorists had stormed the house of Rameez Ahmad Parray and started firing indiscriminately. The 30-year-old BSF personnel, who was also on leave, was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital.Parray’s killing was a stark reminder of the the kidnapping and murder of Lt Umar Faiyaz, a 22-year-old young army officer, who was posted with 2 Rajputana Rifle.
ALSO READ BJP leader found dead with throat slit open in Jammu and Kashmir’s ShopianLt Faiyaz was was picked up from his house at Harmein in Kulgam in May. The body of the young officer was later found three kilometres from his house.The incident took place when the army officer had gone to attend the wedding ceremony of a relative.He was abducted by five to six terrorists from his relative’s house in south Kashmir’s Shopian.His bullet-riddled body was found in Harmain area of Shopian. A local boy from Kulgam district, Faiyaz was in the Infantry and posted in Akhnoor area in Jammu.He was commissioned in the Army in December last year. His death, particularly the brutal nature of it had shaken the Valley.

Pakistani LeT militant captured alive in North Kashmir’s Handwara

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan terror factory was again exposed on Friday when Army captured a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant alive in the Magam forests of Handwara in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.“A Pakistan LeT terrorist apprehended in a joint operation by army and Jammu and Kashmir police in Magam forests today”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.The militant, sources said, was part of the same group which was neutralized by the security forces on November 21. Security forces had dealt a huge blow to the LeT on Tuesday when they killed three newly infiltrated Pakistani militants in an operation in Magam area of Handwara.The operation was launched after security forces received a tip off about the presence of militants in Khar Moholla area of Magam. Immediately, a joint operation was launched by the army, special operations group of J&K Police and CRPF in the area.However, during the follow up moping and sanitizing operation, security forces apprehended the Pakistan militant who was hiding in the jungles after his three associates were killed. The arrest of militant has come against the backdrop of the release of Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT founder Hafiz Mohommad Saeed from house arrest in Pakistan.Sources said the Pakistani militant has been taken away to an undisclosed location where he is being questioned. Sources said his questioning is expected to expose the terror syndicate in Pakistan. “We are questioning him and hopefully he will spill the beans about the plans and designs of the militants”, said an officer.Though it is not the first time that a Pakistani militant has been arrested, it is still rare that a foreign militant is captured alive in Kashmir. On July 26, 2016 Indian army had arrested 22 year old Bahadur Ali alias Saifullah of Lahore on the Line of Control in Nougam sector of Kupwara district. Last year on June 21, Abu Ukasha alias Hanzullah of Bahawalpur in Pakistan was arrested by the police during a routine patrol in Sogam market in Lolaab area. The 19-year-old LeT terrorist was buying groceries when a police party got suspicious about him.On May 14, 2016 Jammu and Kashmir police caught a top Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber alive from Baramulla. Earlier in February last year, the police arrested Pakistani JeM terrorist Sidiq Gujjar alias Shahid of Sialkot in Pakistan, along with three local militants from Baramulla.LeT militant Mohammed Naveed alias Usman of Faisalabad, Pakistan, was captured alive when he, along with his associate Noman, attacked a BSF convoy near Narsoo Nallah in Udhampur on August 5, 2015.On August 27, 2015, Sajad Ahmad aka Javid Ahmad alias Abu Ubadullah, a 22-year-old LeT operative of Muzaffargarh in south-west Pakistan, was captured alive after all his four associates were gunned down during a fierce gunfight at two different locations in Bijhama to Panzala forests of Baramulla district.

Govt’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma all set to kick-start ‘Mission Kashmir’ 2.0

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Mehbooba Mufti government announced amnesty to first time stone throwers, centre’s Special Representative Dineshwar Sharma is all set to kick-start `Mission Kashmir’ 2.0 and meet the cross sections of society in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.Unlike his previous visit last month, Sharma is starting his tour from the winter capital city Jammu on Friday. Sharma will be visiting the migrant pandit camps and meet the representatives of the community to discuss their problems.During his last visit he had met the delegation of Panun Kashmir, an apex body of Kashmir migrant pandits in Jammu. This time around he is touring their camps in Jagti and take on the spot view of their problems.Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims, and 1,758 Sikhs.Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), an apex body of non-migrant pandits, reveal that 677 Kashmiri pandits have been killed by the militants since 1990. The figures include the mass massacres of Kashmiri Pandits at different places at different times. However, the state government figures reveal that only 219 Kashmiri Pandits were killed in the state since 1989.“From day one we have been saying pandit townships in Kashmir are not alternative to our miseries. We believe that homeland for pandits in the valley with Union territory status is the only solution”, said Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, president of Panun Kashmir.In a resolution passed by Panun Kashmir in December 1991, Kashmiri Pandits demanded that the Centre create a homeland comprising the regions of the valley to the East and North of river Jhelum. The homeland, according to Panun Kashmir, should have a union territory status where the Constitution of India is made applicable in letter and spirit to ensure a right to life, liberty, freedom of expression and faith, equality and rule of law.“We have met Sharma last time and we do not have any problem in meeting him again if he desires so this time around. We will be pressing for a homeland. We also want to reiterate that the sovereignty of the country is non-negotiable. It is the bottom-line and government should make it clear during discussions”, said Chrungoo.

4K first-time stone pelters to benefit from amnesty scheme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 4,000 stone-pelters are likely to breathe free after the Jammu and Kashmir government decided to withdraw cases against “first-time offenders” in the valley.Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday ordered the review of cases against such offenders since 2015 till date by a committee, already constituted, and asked it to furnish its recommendations within 10 days.”The committee so tasked with the review shall be the same as was constituted earlier by the CM to review cases against youth for 2008-2014 period,” said the Government Order issued on Thursday.A government spokesman said the review of cases against these youths was a major demand from various sections of the society in the state.”It may be recalled here that soon after assuming the office, the CM had set on a process to review cases (2008 to 2014) against youth, which, unfortunately, got disrupted due to the continued violence and unrest,” he said.The CM described the decision as a ray of hope for these youth and their families terming it as an opportunity for them to rebuild their lives.”The decision would help in creating a positive and conciliatory atmosphere in the state where the youth would be able to build their lives in a much more constructive and positive way,” Mehbooba said.The CM said this confidence building measure reaffirms the Centre’s commitment towards changing the narrative in J&K and creating a reconciliatory atmosphere for sustained dialogue. “It is encouraging that the interlocutor has started on a positive note. His recommendations are being taken seriously by both the Central & State government,” she tweeted.More than 90 people have been killed and over 13000 people injured in the unrest which began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016. Over 1,100 people, mostly teenagers, have suffered injuries in their eyes when security forces fired pellet munitions to quell the mobs across Kashmir.Officially, the state government said only 76 people including two cops have died in the summer unrest. More than 4,113 policemen got injured in the four months of unrest last year.Around 2,371 law and order incidents were reported since the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016 till November 2016.

Jammu and Kashmir: Leisure trips not exciting anymore, agriculture-tourism to boost tourist footfalls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The fledgling tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir has suffered huge losses post-Burhan Wani killing that sparked unrest in the valley. Curfews, hartals, stone pelting, and encounters have shaken the confidence of the tourists who have given Kashmir a miss after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8 last year. Now, Jammu and Kashmir government is all set to introduce the Agriculture-tourism to showcase exotic agricultural products and increase the footfalls of the tourists in the restive valley.Under this ambitious plan, Gulgam Kupwara will be transformed as a model village for honey production. This area has a clean atmosphere and will be introduced to the world as new Agri-Tourism destination. Similarly, three areas have been identified as vegetable initiative clusters, which will be linked directly to the vegetable corridor of the country. More than 70 hectares in Pattan, Sopore, and Baramulla will be upgraded and every best technology will be provided to them so that the benefit is directly harvested by the farmers. Exotic saffron is another attraction that is seen as eye-catcher and can help in boosting the tourist footfalls“Every district is blessed with unique products. Like Gurez is blessed with ‘zeera’ (cumin), Kupwara with honey, Baramulla has a potential of producing exotic vegetables; Ganderbal has potential growth for potato, in addition to other basic varieties and so on”, said Sandeep Kumar Nayak, Principal Secretary to Government, Agriculture Production Department, Jammu and Kashmir. This brings a ray of hope to tourism sector here which has suffered a lot in the recent past. Official figures reveal that the tourism sector suffered a loss of Rs 3000 crore due to the unrest in 2016. Post Burhan Wani unrest has cost the hotel industry Rs 1100 crore. Official data revealed that around three lakh tourists had visited Kashmir between July 2015 and September 2015. The footfalls of tourist, however, were reduced to a trickle in the corresponding period of 2016 because of the post Burhan Wani killing unrest. Data revealed that this year around 7.9 lakh tourists visited Kashmir this year. They include over 2.6 lakh Amarnath pilgrims who visited the cave shrine this year. Last year 11.27 lakh tourists visit Kashmir most of them before July 8 when Burhan Wani was killed. “We need to come out of the local market. Let us focus on national and international markets. Foreign markets need assured supply line. May be three years after, we can. But Indian market is waiting for us. Quality vegetable of this state is better than others. So that our production should increase multiple times”, said Nayak.

Kashmiri play ‘Aalav’ makes it to 8th Theater Olympics to be held in February 2018

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Kashmiri Theatre Play ‘Aalav’ has been selected for the 8th Theatre Olympics to be held in the country from February 2018.Aalav, a Kashmiri adaptation of JM Synge’s acclaimed Irish play ‘Riders to the Sea’, is produced by a local group Theatre for Kashmir, has been earlier showcased in multiple theater festivals across south Asia and received appreciation and critical acclaim.’Theatre for Kashmir’, a local theater group headed by Arshad Mushtaq have received a formal communication from the organizers, informing them that that the committee of acclaimed theatre experts has selected Aalav to be staged in the 8th Theatre Olympics, in which some of the works of the great theater practitioners from around the world will be showcased.“This development puts Kashmiri theater on the world platform and is a matter of immense honor for theater community of Kashmir as a play produced by a local group has made it to the prestigious event. Theatre Olympics is an internationally recognized platform where theatrical productions from around 50 countries will be showcased over the period of about two months early next year across cities”, said a spokesman of ‘Theater for Kashmir’.Aalav is a Kashmiri set against the socio-cultural backdrop of contemporary Kashmiri society. The play weaves a story of an old mother and her two daughters who are waiting for their son to return. A play is a tribute to the resilient and brave women of Kashmir who have collectively bored the brunt of strife and conflict for ages.Theater Olympics is a platform for theatrical exchange, a gathering place where a dialogue despite ideological, culture and language differences is encouraged. It is to strengthen and re-establish the status of contemporary theatre in the world.“This objective is achieved by contributing to the growth of international collaboration, building a network among artists all over the world and, creating an opportunity for the host of the festival to showcase and promote their work in theatre and other performing arts”, said the spokesman.

J&K: Three top Lashkar commanders, all Pakistani, killed in encounter in Handwara

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Going all guns blazing against the militants, security forces dealt yet another blow to Lashkar-e-Taiba when they killed three top commanders in an early morning operation in Magam area of Handwara in the border district of Kupwara on Tuesday.This is the second major counter-terror operation in North Kashmir in the last four days. Nine militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba including top commander Mehmood Bhai, Zargam and nephew of 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi have been eliminated in two operations of Hajin and Handwara since Saturday.The Handwara operation was launched after security forces received a tip-off about the presence of militants in Khar Moholla area of Magam in the wee hours of Tuesday. Immediately a joint operation was launched by the army, special operations group of J&K police and CRPF in the area.When the troops were closing in on the target, they came under a heavy fire from the hiding militants. The fire was immediately retaliated and in the ensuing encounter, three militants were eliminated. “Three LeT terrorists all Pakistanis neutralized in Magam area of Handwara district in North Kashmir. Excellent work!” tweeted Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir.Deputy Inspector General of police, North Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdhi told DNA that the operation is still on in the area. “There was information about the presence of militants. We believed two to three militants were trapped. The contact was established and the firefight started”, he said.This is the third operation in the valley in the last four days. A local ultra, who had fled the encounter when top commander Sabzar Bhat was neutralized in May, was finally killed by the security forces in an encounter in Tral forests of south Kashmir on Monday. Identified as Adil Rashid, he had escaped the encounter in which Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Bhat and his associate Faizan Ahmed were killed at Saimoh village of Tral.The toll of the militants killed this year by the security forces has now touched 194. Sources said more than 71 security force men too have lost their lives in the line of duty this year so far.This year so far, sources said 70 new ultras have been able to infiltrate into Kashmir. Last year estimated net infiltration (number of militants who managed to sneak in) was 112 compared to 33 in 2015. Similarly, estimated net infiltration was 65 in 2014 compared to 97 in 2013.

J&K: Amid unrest, Soccer fever grips Valley; 54,000 youth register for tournament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soccer fever has gripped strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir with more than 54,000 youth registering online for ‘Let’s Play Football’ tournament in the restive state.The online registration, which concluded on November 15, saw 54,701 youth from all the 22 districts of the state registering for the mega Football Tournament since October 26. What was more heartening that 31% of youth comprised of girl players.District Baramulla in North Kashmir has topped the list of the players registering for the event. More than 6000 youth of the district have registered themselves online which was followed by border district of Rajouri with 4400 players signing online. Militancy hit district of Anantnag in south Kashmir came third with 3800 players registering online for the tourney.Organized by the Department Of Youth Services and Sports under the aegis of Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Let’s Play Football Tournament is all set to take off in Jammu and Kashmir with pomp and show.“Let’s Play Football is the first of its kind tournament when Football lovers from every nook and corner of the state will get a chance of showcasing their untapped talent. Players will be encouraged further and facilitated properly”, said Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad, Director Youth Services, and Sports, Jammu and Kashmir.Fayaz appreciated the efforts of Sports Officers and their subordinate staff for making the registration processes a great success with such record number of registrations. “Collecting details about the interested youth and getting them registered online was not an easy task in hilly and far-flung districts of Kashmir and Jammu divisions”, he said.The unprecedented response to the online registration comes at a time when thousands of people turned up to watch the 15th Police Martyrs Memorial Football-2017 tournament in Kashmir. The tournament was won by Jammu and Kashmir Police defeating Lone Star in a penalty shootout at Synthetic Turf TRC Ground Srinagar.Director General of Police Dr. SP Vaid said Rs 1.8 crore has been allocated to different units of the police for organizing different tournaments including Cricket, Football, Water Sports, Wall climbing etc. “Police had remained at the forefront for channelizing the energy of youth through games in the state”, he said.

Army says 190 militants killed in 2017 in J&K, asks youth to shun violence, return home

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 190 terrorists have been killed in Kashmir this year that has remarkably improved the situation in the restive Valley, security forces said on Sunday as they set up a helpline and asked youth to shun violence and join the mainstream. This coincided with more families coming out in the open, appealing to their sons, who have joined terrorist ranks, to return home.”Eighty of the terrorists killed this year were locals. Of the 110 foreigners, 66 were killed near the Line of Control (LoC) while infiltrating. We have killed approximately 125 to 130 terrorists in the hinterland of the Kashmir valley,” said Lieutenant General JS Sandhu, General Officer Commanding (GoC), 15 Corps.This, he said, has resulted in a remarkable change in the situation. “You are all aware that the agitation has been brought under control to a great extent,” he said.He said Hajin, where six top LeT terrorists were killed on Saturday, had been under the radar for sometime, given the presence of foreign terrorists there. The Haijin group of LeT has largely been decimated. Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Munir Ahmad Khan, said LeT is facing leadership crisis.There are more than 200 terrorists still operating in the Valley. Of them, 110 to 120 are local. “We look forward to continuing operations and we hope to restore peace in the Valley as soon as possible,” said Lt Gen Sandhu.Encouraged by the return of footballer-turned-terrorist Majid Irshad Khan, the CRPF established a helpline to facilitate the homecoming of the local militants.”We have come to know that some boys want to come back but they do not know how. We have a helpline, Madadgar. The police and the Army also have a helpline. Anyone, be it a militant’s friend or family member or anyone else who is looking for an opportunity to seek help from the forces or want to establish contact… this is the medium and means to contact us. We will try our best to help militants who want to return,” said Zulfikar Hassan, Inspector General of CRPF (operations).Hassan assured there will be no harassment. Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, SP Vaid, said the force was able to wean away more than 60 boys from the path of violence. “I hope other boys will shun violence and come back and adopt peaceful methods to join the mainstream,” he said.Sandhu also appealed to youth to shun violence and advised them to stop being Pakistan’s proxy in Kashmir.Meanwhile, shunning inhibitions, more families came forward appealing to their terrorist sons to shun violence and return home. Heart-wrenching videos of parents have surfaced. The mother of Ashiq Hussain Bhat, a shopkeeper in Shopian, appealed to him to return home. Bhat had left home for the shop but did not return. Later his picture brandishing a gun appeared on social media, announcing his formal joining of terrorism.”I want my son back. I appeal to him to return. He was a daily wager. We will lock the house and commit suicide. I am saying sorry if any mistake has been committed,” said his mother Fehmeeda, as tears rolled down her cheeks.Later another family of neighbouring Pulwama district went public appealing to their son Manzoor Ahmad Baba to return. “I have no one other than my children. Please let him go,” said his mother appealing to terrorist organisations to release him.Vaid said it is a very encouraging trend and more mothers should come forward to ask kids to return. “I request other mothers to appeal to their children because we do not want anybody to get hurt,” he said.KILLINGS AND COMEBACKSEighty killed this year were locals. Of 110 foreigners, 66 killed near LoC while infiltrating
More than 200 terrorists still operating in the Valley. Of them, 110 to 120 are local
CRPF sets up homecoming helpline, two more families appeal to sons to return home

In a first, IS owns up a terror attack in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the first time, the radical Islamic State (IS) or Daish has claimed responsibility for a militant attack in Kashmir.Jammu and Kashmir police was quick to deny that IS has any presence in the Valley, though it said the claims made by the Daish are a subject of investigation.Amaq News Agency of Islamic State has claimed that they carried out the attack in the Zakura area of Srinagar on November 17.A police sub-inspector was killed and an SPO injured in the attack. In retaliatory action, one militant, Mugees Ahmad Mir, was killed and another captured by the security forces.Ironically, Amaq News Agency, considered the media arm of IS, made a big faux paux by describing the deceased officer as a Pakistani policeman while owning the attack on the Special Operations Group detachment at Zakura.SITE Intel Group, which claims to be the provider of Jihadist/Far Right & Far Left/Cyber Security News, tweeted that Islamic State claims the responsibility for Zakura attack.This is the third outfit which has claimed responsibility for the Zakura attack, Tehreek-ul-Mujhadeen had claimed the attack and owned Mugees Ahmad Mir. Ansar Gazwat ul Hind, led by Zakir Musa, too had owned Mir.Mir was traveling in a car intercepted by the operational detachment of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir police near Zakura. The militants on board fired on the cops, triggering an encounter in which sub-inspector Imran Ahmad Tak was killed.Another militant was captured alive while Mir fled despite being injured in the shootout. However, he later succumbed to his injuries in a nearby colony. A resident of Parimpora on the outskirts of Srinagar, Mugees had joined Tehreek last year before switching sides to Zakir Musa-led Ansar Gazwat ul Hind.Mir’s body was wrapped in black ISIS flag with Kalima (first fundamental of Islam) inscribed on it. He was one of the few militants of Srinagar who are currently active in Kashmir.Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Shesh Paul Vaid said IS has no presence in Kashmir. “No, it (claims made by IS) is yet to be verified. I don’t think IS has imprints in Kashmir”, he said.Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Munir Ahmad Khan, ruled out any footprints of IS in the strife-torn valley.SECURITY STANDBYA police sub-inspector was killed and an SPO injured in the militant attack in the Zakura area of Srinagar on Nov 17
One militant, identified as Mugees Ahmed Mir, was killed in retaliatory action
IS third outfit to claim responsibility for attack

ISIS’ first attack in India? Daesh claims responsibility for attack in Kashmir’s Zakura

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amaq News Agency of Islamic State has claimed that they carried the attack in Zakura area of Srinagar on November 17.A police sub-inspector was killed and an SPO was injured in the attack. In the retaliatory action, one militant Mugees Ahmad Mir was also killed and another captured by the security forces.Amaq News Agency is considered as the media arm of the Islamic State. SITE Intel Group, which claims to be the provider of Jihadist/Far Right & Far Left/Cyber Security News, tweeted that Islamic State claims the responsibility for Zakura attack.This is the third outfit which has claimed the responsibility for the Zakura attack, Tehreek-ul-Mujhadeen had claimed the attack and owned Mugees Ahmad Mir. Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind led by Zakir Musa too had owned Mir.Mugees was traveling in a car which was intercepted by the operational detachment of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir police near Zakura. The militants on board fired on the cops triggering an encounter in which sub-inspector Imran Ahmad Tak was killed and an SPO injured.Another militant was captured alive while Mugees fled despite being injured in the shootout. However, he later succumbed to his injuries in the nearby colony.A resident of Parimpora in Srinagar outskirts, Mugees had joined Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen last year before switching sides to Zakir Musa led Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind. Mugees’s body was wrapped in black ISIS flag with Kalima (first fundamental of Islam) inscribed on it. He was one among the few militants of Srinagar who are currently active in Kashmir.Police is tight-lipped about the new development so far. Top police and army officers are holding a press conference on Hajin encounter in the afternoon and maybe they will spill the beans on this new development.

Slain soldier laid to rest with honours

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The last post was sounded to pay homage to fallen police sub-inspector Imran Ahmad Tak at Udhampur district in Jammu division on Saturday. He was given a hero’s farewell for valiantly taking on armed car-borne militants at Zakura in Srinagar on Friday. He suffered grievous wounds in the shootout and succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.In the gun battle, a militant of Al-Qaeda affiliate, Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind, Mugees Ahmad Mir was killed, while another was apprehended.Meanwhile, the security establishment was aghast that the mortal remains of the slain officer were transported overnight from Sringar to Udhampur in an ambulance rather than a chopper as is the norm.In Udhampur, Tak was given an emotional farewell, with people, as a mark of respect, closing the market to pay homage to the martyr. The journey stopped at several places with local people garlanding the slain officer. “Martyr SI Imran Tak reaches home. Basantgarh market closed. Martyr garlanded at many places en-route”, tweeted Jammu and Kashmir police. At the funeral, top ministers, police officers and other people converged to lay a floral wreath on his mortal remains. Leading the nation in the homage was Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh, state BJP chief Sat Sharma and Industries Minister Chander Prakash Ganga.”Attended the wreath laying ceremony of Shaheed SI Imran Tak in Udhampur, who sacrificed his life while fighting millitants in Zakura Kashmir. Salute to the brave soul. My sympathies to the bereaved family. Perpetrators of this attack will be dealt sternly. Jai Hind”, tweeted Dr Singh.TAK’S CAREERHailing from the remote Basanthgarh area of Udhampur district in Jammu, 31-year-old Tak was a 2010 batch officer of the Jammu and Kashmir police

J&K: Curfew like restrictions in part of Srinagar after killing of top militant Mugees Ahmad Mir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in the sensitive old city after tension gripped Srinagar following the killing of a top commander of Al-Qaeda linked Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind Mugees Ahmad Mir near Zakura on Friday evening.Jammu and Kashmir government has also ordered the closure of schools and colleges on Saturday as a precautionary measure to keep anti-national elements at bay and prevent any protest marches in the city. However, the school board examinations will be held on schedule as authorities have decided to consider roll number slips as curfew passes.Authorities have imposed curfew-like restrictions in the areas falling under the eight police station in Srinagar city. These include Pairmpora, Rainawar, Safa Kadal, Nowhatta, Khanyar and MR Gunj, There will be partial restrictions in areas under Maisuma and Kralkhud police stations. Tensions rose on Friday evening after security forces killed the top commander of Zakid Musa led Al Qaeda linked Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind in a shootout at Zakura in Srinagar outskirts. Mugees Ahmad Mir was traveling in a car which was intercepted by the operational detachment of the Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir police near Zakura. The militants on board fired on the cops triggering an encounter in which sub-inspector Imran Ahmad Tak was killed and SPO injured. Another militant was captured alive while Mugees had fled despite being injured in the shootout. However, he later succumbed to his injuries.A resident of Parimpora in Srinagar outskirts, Mugees had joined Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen last year before switching sides to Zakir Musa led Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind. Director General of Police SP Vaid said the killing of Mugees is a big success for the security forces. “Yes it is a big success for the security forces”, he saidLate in the evening, Mugees’s body reached his home in Parimpora in Srinagar outskirts. His body was wrapped in black ISIS flag with Kalima (first fundamental of Islam) inscribed on it. Mugees was one among the few militants of Srinagar who are currently active in Kashmir.

Kashmiris line up to become proud Indian army soldiers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When militants killed 22-year-old army officer Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz in May, little did they realize that their actions will only strengthen the resolve of the Kashmiri youth to serve the motherland by joining the Indian army.Militants had abducted Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, of the Rajputana Riffles from his maternal uncle’s home in Batpora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district, where he had gone to attend cousin’s wedding on May 10.Lieutenant Fayaz, who was unarmed and had come home on leave, was taken to the neighboring Harmain village, where he was shot dead. Hailing from the Sadsun village of Kulgam district, his assassination had shocked the entire nation, since the officer was unarmed and commissioned in the Army just a few months ago. Six months on, thousands of youth swarmed the army recruitment rally in Kupwara to don the olive greens and defend the motherland against the inimical elements in the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.Army’s Recruitment Rally commenced on November 15 at Panzgam garrison for the candidates of the border districts of Kupwara and Bandipora in North Kashmir.“An overwhelming response was visible among the locals of the remote border district as youths in thousands turned up for participating in various tests conducted for enrollment into Indian Army”, said an army spokesman at Srinagar. The rally which is being conducted from November 15 to 23 will test the candidates for their physical standards and other ground tests followed by an aptitude test and medical examination. A candidate has to clear all these tests and examination with high standards so as to get a seat in the final merit list. “Candidates were seen to be highly motivated and over-exuberant as they braved out the winter and came in thousands for the early morning run. The huge turnout of youth is a clear indicator that they pay no heed to the calls given by inimical element and want to be part of elite Indian Army and participate in nation building”, said the spokesman.This is the second time in four months when Kashmiri youth have defied odds to join the Indian army. More than 3000 youth from Jammu and Kashmir appeared for the written exam for the selection of officers in the Territorial Army in July. Of whom, more than 800 youth hailed from the restive Kashmir valley alone, a figure which is almost double than the previous year.

Videos of glorified militants stage a comeback in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After brief hiatus, militants have again unleashed a psychological warfare on the social media in the strife-torn Kashmir.Fresh videos of militants have flooded Facebook and other social networking sites to romanticize militancy and to lure gullible youth to join their ranks beside outwit the security forces and garner public support.A new video of militants dressed in pheran (traditional Kashmiri loose long gown used by people in winters to keep themselves warm) and Pathan caps have gone viral on the social media. Shot in undisclosed dense forest area, the gun-wielding militants are seeing patrolling and raising their index finger (symbolizing oneness of Allah).Sources said the video seems to be fresh given the attire of the militants as Kashmir is witnessing sub-zero temperatures. In another video, two militant commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba are seen wrestling in a room while a commentary runs in the background about the friendly bout. Wearing olive green army fatigues, the two commanders are seen trying to pin down each other in a well laid out room.Sources said security agencies have started an investigation to find out the veracity of the videos that have been posted on the social media sites. “We are looking into the matter. It will be premature to comment unless we know where and when was the video shot”, said a police officer.The fresh videos have been posted at a time when security forces have gone all out against the militants killing more than 182 since January this year. The videos have surfaced after months of hiatus as the militant top brass had issued directions to their cadres to avoid using mobile phones. However, after suffering reverses, the militants have again started posting videos seemingly to show their presence and raise the morale of their cadres.“It is a psychological warfare. Militants are trying to show their presence because they have been hit hard by the forces in the last few months”, said another security force officer.Sources said around 70 security force men have lost their lives in the line of duty this year so far. This year so far, sources said 70 new ultras have been able to infiltrate into Kashmir. Last year estimated net infiltration (number of militants who managed to sneak in) was 112 compared to 33 in 2015. Similarly, estimated net infiltration was 65 in 2014 compared to 97 in 2013.

Army takes J&K women for a ‘cake’ walk

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When 19-year-old Mehak Khursheed enrolled in a baking course, little did she realize that she would be judged for bending gender roles in a male-dominated society. Four months on, Mehak became the first woman to be part of the joint venture between the Indian Army and Pune-based NGO, Aseem Foundation — the All Women Bakery.The bakery manufactures distinctive apple-walnut cookies that are sold under the brand name ‘Kosher Krunch’ in Maharashtra. In Kashmiri, ‘kosher’ means ‘Kashmiri’.Mehak is among the four women who run the all-women bakery in Indian Army’s 12 Brigade headquarters in the Uri sector. The initiative is part of the Army’s Operation Sadbhavana, aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the people in restive Jammu and Kashmir.”I wanted to do something different,” said Mehak. “In our area, baking by women is looked down upon; most girls prefer stitching and tailoring. But I wanted to change this thought and enrolled in the four-month bakery course conducted by Tata Strive through the Indian Army. Later, Aseem Foundation gave us a chance to work in the bakery,” says Mehak.To emancipate women and work towards skill-development of under-privileged youth, who may not be able to complete formal studies in the remote tehsil, the army camp in Uri started Chinar 9 Jawan Club in March 2016. It inaugurated the All Women Bakery in July 2017, and since then, the women have been 30 to 40 kilograms of apple walnut cookies per month. These are sent to Pune to be packaged and then sold in the market.”In 2017, the Army told Aseem Foundation about the activities of the Chinar 9Jawan club and that’s how the All Women Bakery emerged,” says Captain Neha Joshi, army education officer and in-charge of Chinar 9Jawan club. “In July 2017, three students from the bakery course were selected by Aseem Foundation and production of Kosher Krunch cookies started. Aseem Foundation shared the profits with the bakers.”Within a short span of the four months, Kosher Krunch carved a market niche and received Diwali orders. “These biscuits are not sold in the open market; they are sold only through the Aseem Foundation. Before Diwali, we were asked to bake an additional 35 kg for the festive season. It is becoming famous!” says Mehak.Their work has changed the perception about them. “Earlier, we were taunted as Kulcai-walis (kulche-walis) by the boys,” says Yasmin Younis, another baker, “Now their thinking has changed and more girls are coming for admission. They too have realized that women are not far behind.”

Udta Kashmir! Drugs replace terror as biggest threat to J&K

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Forget terror, now drugs pose the biggest threat to the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.Official figures reveal that police have seized 64 kilograms of charas, 7.5 kilograms of charas powder, 194 kilograms of bhang and bhang dust, 925 kilograms of fukki, 915 kilograms of poppy straw and 3.75 kilograms of brown sugar in different parts of the valley in 2016. If it was not enough, police seized 26457 intoxicating capsules 10553 intoxicating tablets and 12983 bottles intoxicating syrup in 2016. “Drugs is a bigger threat than terrorism.We are waging a war against it and we seek people’s cooperation in eradicating it from the state”, said Dr Shesh Paul Vaid, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir.Around 312 persons were arrested in 2016 of whom 202 were prosecuted and 26 others were booked under Public Safety Act (PSA), under which a person can be jailed without trial and bail up to two years. Similarly in 2015 police had registered 375 cases and arrested 442 people and 13 others have been booked under PSA.South Kashmir is emerging as a hub of the contraband drugs. In September alone more than 712 kilos of different contraband drugs have been seized in Pulwama district of South Kashmir. This includes 244 kilograms of cannabis powder, 43 Kilograms of cannabis leaves ( the raw material of charas) and a large quantity of poppy straw and other drug derivatives.For the last two months, 60 drug peddlers were arrested and huge quantity of contraband substances including 486 Kilograms of Poppy Straw, 510 bottles of Codeine Phosphate, 1,29,600 tablets etc were recovered from their possession in neighboring Kulgam district of south Kashmir.Figures released by Excise Department of Jammu and Kashmir have revealed shocking details about the drug cultivation in the trouble-torn valley. Poppy crop spread over 2863 kanals (20 kanals form one hectare) of land was destroyed this year so far. Last year poppy crop spread over 2873 kanals of land was destroyed by the Excise Department.In summer this year Bhang spread over 1475 kanals of land has been destroyed in Kashmir valley. Last year the crop over 180 kanals of land was destroyed by the Excise Department. Poppy crop is sown in November and December and harvested from April to mid June. “A paddy sown on one kanal of land fetches Rs 4000 to Rs 5000 for a farmer. While as sowing poppy on one kanal of land will fetch him Rs 70000 to Rs one lakh”, said an official of Excise department.

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