The Times of India – Stop cross-LoC trade if it is a threat, but don’t harass us: Traders

Hakeem Irfan Rashid

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 19 September 2017. Traders engaged in business across the Line of Control in J&K have asked the government to stop the barter trade if it is a threat to national security and put an end to the harassment of the traders who they said are repeatedly summoned and questioned by the National Investigation Agency.

The NIA has sent notices to around 40 cross LoC traders and raided houses, offices and businesses of 15 traders, seized documents, electronic gadgets and called many of them for questioning to New Delhi, Lucknow and Nagpur.

The traders stated that the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his recent visit to J&K assured them that they won’t be summoned to New Delhi or any other place, but despite his intervention some of the traders have again been summoned to New Delhi and Lucknow.

“We are traders not terrorists. If government and its agencies believe than this trade is a threat to national security let them stop it. We are not scared of any investigation, but let the investigators should question us here in the state. We can’t afford to go to New Delhi, Nagpur or Lucknow every now and then,” one of the traders Samiullah told ET.

A delegation of the cross LoC traders also met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led Congress policy planning group here in Srinagar to convey their concerns and urged them to raise the issue in New Delhi. The traders have threatened to stop the trade themselves from October, if the government didn’t pay heed to their concerns.

The NIA while investigating a case registered in May this year regarding illegal transfer of money to Hurriyat leaders has questioned many cross LoC traders and the trade has also intermittently halted due to various reasons.

“We have been made the sacrificial lambs of this confidence building measure between India and Pakistan,” Showkat Ahmad Kaloo, another cross LoC trader, told ET. The traders blamed the PDP-BJP government’s internal differences for their plight, claiming that PDP wants to continue the trade while as BJP opposes it.

“In the fight between two elephants, grass is trampled,” another trader added.

The cross LoC zero tariff barter trade with no custom duty was started in October 2008 as a biggest CBM between India and Pakistan and is conducted from Chakan-da-bagh-Rawalakote route in Jammu and Salamabad-Chokoti in Kashmir. The government has made list of 21 items that can be traded.

“Now we have to pay double tax after GST regime was implemented and cannot even do trade on credit as it is barter trade. Only 35 traders are presently doing the trade out of more than 750 registered traders,” said another trader Rashid Ali.

The trade is vulnerable due to shaky relations between the two countries and is stopped even on a minor ceasefire violation or any political confrontation. Besides, increasing intervention of investigating agencies accusing the traders of their involvement in drug trafficking and hawala transactions.

During the NIA raids, the traders claimed that their wallets, ATM cards, property documents, medical reports, mobile phones and even the registers documenting gifts received on given during functions have been seized.

“They make us feel like criminals and the electronic media without any proof only amplifies the accusations which have not even been proven till now,” said another trader.


The Indian Express – An inter-religion marriage triggers communal divide in Leh, and exodus

The undercurrents of communal discord rose to the surface here over the last week as news spread of the marriage of a Buddhist woman, who had converted to Islam in 2015, to a Muslim man from Kargil. The two were married on July 31, and the LBA suspects that the conversion and the marriage may have been conducted under duress.

Naveed Iqbal

Leh-Ladakh-J&K-India, 15 September 2017. On Thursday, as the deadline issued by the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) for people from Kargil to leave ran out, Chandu market, a row of shops and tea stalls just off the main road in Leh, wore an abandoned look.

The LBA is a self-styled “welfare group” that works towards “safeguarding the interests” of what they call a “religious micro-minority” in the Ladakh region of Muslim-majority J&K.

The undercurrents of communal discord rose to the surface here over the last week as news spread of the marriage of a Buddhist woman, who had converted to Islam in 2015, to a Muslim man from Kargil. The two were married on July 31, and the LBA suspects that the conversion and the marriage may have been conducted under duress.

A week ago, the LBA held a public rally where they asked people from Kargil, who were living and working in Leh, to “leave town by September 14 and tell their leaders in Kargil to arrange employment for them”. Many Kargil residents find employment in Leh during the tourist season.

Speaking to The Indian Express, LBA vice-president P T Kunzang said, “We have a floating population of about 50,000 people in Leh. No one has ever been harassed here, but a strong message had to be sent to the religious leaders in Leh because they cannot find jobs and livelihood here and also snatch our girls”.

Asked about the marriage that led to the tension, he said, “Why has the girl not been allowed to talk to her parents? I agree that she is an adult and she has the right to choose her religion and partner, but why the secrecy about her whereabouts”?

According to Uday Bhaskar B, Senior Superintendent of Police, Leh, the woman’s family approached police about ten days ago to register a complaint about their “missing” daughter.

“The police investigated and the woman (Stanzin Saldon, now called Shifah) was traced in Jammu. We sent a team there along with her brother. However, we received a court order on September 8, instructing police not to harass the couple. So, the team came back,” the officer said.

According to LBA, a woman police officer in Jammu told the family that she had spoken to Saldon. “The officer said she had spoken to Saldon who told her that she did not wish to speak to anyone from her family,” Kunzang said.

While the family and police looked for Saldon, the LBA issued its ultimatum. In the week since, at least three incidents of violence have been recorded in Leh. Two of those were linked to Muslim men from Kargil allegedly being involved in relationships with Buddhist women in Leh.

One incident involved a meat-shop owner who allegedly kept his outlet open on the day of the full moon, when Buddhists do not consume meat.

On Thursday, as tourists flooded the main plaza in town and the district administration claimed that the situation was “under control,” a police vehicle remained stationed in the market and non-uniformed policemen patrolled the streets.

On Friday, the district administration will hold a “peace meeting” with the three major religious groups in town — LBA, Anjuman Imamiya (a Shia Muslim group), and Anjuman Moin-Ul-Islam (a Sunni group). Officially, the event is being described as an “introduction meeting” for the new district commissioner who took office on Thursday.

Apart from economic and political differences between the two districts, conversions remain the biggest cause for discord in the region. In 1989, the region witnessed clashes between Buddhists and Muslims. The LBA claims that in the last 25 years, over 90 cases of conversion of Buddhist women to Islam have taken place.

An inter-religion marriage triggers communal divide in Leh, and exodus

The Statesman – Kashmir situation outcome of Congress misrule: Jitendra Singh

Jammu, 12 September 2017. Union minister and senior BJP leader Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said the absence of peace in the Valley was a “cumulative outcome” of nearly half a century of “misrule” of the Congress.

He also lashed out at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “destroyed” the People’s Democratic Party by making an alliance with it.

“Whatever he (Rahul Gandhi) has said doesn’t reflect the popular sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir or people of India at large. In fact, it’s the Congress which has been over the years making opportunistic alliances alternately with one or the other regional party in Kashmir,” he added.

Singh said the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state has taken up the “herculean task” of restoring normalcy in the state.

“The absence of peace in the Valley was a cumulative outcome of nearly half a century of misrule of the Congress party,” he told reporters here.

He said the youth of the state are very keen on joining the path of development led by PM Modi.

“Look at the statistics we have. So many toppers from the militancy-affected areas. They know that their future lies with this caravan led by Modi and they don’t want to miss out on these opportunities,” he added.

Addressing students at the University of California, Berkeley, US, Gandhi had earlier said that when Congress-led UPA was in power, he worked with former prime minister Manmohan Singh and senior leaders like P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh to address the issues facing Jammu and Kashmir.

“By 2013, we basically broke the back of terror. I hugged the then prime minister Manmohan Singh and told him it was one of the biggest achievements,” he added.

He further said the PDP had been instrumental in bringing youngsters in politics, but the day Prime Minister Modi made alliance with the PDP, he “destroyed” it.

“So he (PM Modi) massively opened up the space for the terrorists in Kashmir, and you saw the increase in violence,” he added.

Dawn – Amnesty International urges ban on pellet shotguns in held Kashmir

Srinagar-Jammu & Kashmir-India, 14 September 2017. An international human rights group urged India on Wednesday to immediately ban the use of shotguns by government forces in suppressing protests against Indian rule in India-held Kashmir, saying pellets fired by the weapons have blinded and killed people indiscriminately.

Amnesty International also criticised Indian authorities for failing to support those who have been injured and disabled by the weapons.

“Authorities claim the pellet shotgun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is. There is no proper way to use pellet-firing shotguns,” said Aakar Patel, head of the group’s Indian chapter.

Patel said shotguns have caused immense suffering in Kashmir and are not used anywhere else in India. “This weapon has only been reserved for Kashmiris,” he said. “It is irresponsible of authorities to continue the use of these shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do.”

The group issued a report, ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns’, which profiles 88 people whose eyesight was damaged by metal pellets fired by Indian forces between 2014 and 2017, showcasing what it called the “human cost of the government’s heavy-handed crackdown in [India-held] Kashmir”.

The report includes 14 female victims who were wounded inside their homes.

Indian authorities did not immediately respond to the report.

“These inherently inaccurate shotguns fire hundreds of metal pellets which spread over a wide area,” the report said. It said pellets alone have killed at least 14 people in a little more than a year since then.

“Authorities have a duty to maintain public order, but using pellet shotguns is not the solution,” Patel said. “Security forces must address stone-throwing or other violence by protesters by means that allow for better targeting or more control over the harm caused.”

He said the government should “immediately stop the use of pellet-firing shotguns and ensure that the use of all other weapons is in line with international human rights standards on use of force.”

BBC News – I am 70: The shopkeeper who lived through Kashmir’s wars

Athmuqam, Azad Kashmir (POK), 17 August 2017. As India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years since their creation as sovereign states, the BBC’s M Ilyas Khan meets a Kashmiri shopkeeper who was born at the same time as Pakistan.

The story of Mohammad Younus Butt is the story of Neelum Valley, a narrow river valley in north-western Kashmir.

Mr Butt’s father died three months before his birth, leaving a widow, three more sons, a daughter and a two-acre farm.

He was born in Athmuqam, then a tiny, obscure village. A that time the former princely state of Kashmir was threatened with division and a newly-created Pakistan was about to launch its first proxy invasion to annex it.

He has since lived through two more conflicts, and alternating spells of peace and confrontation.

“My mother told me that I was born in the month of Inqilab (revolution),” he says, using the term many Kashmiris use for partition.

“She told me it was just before the Hindu families in Keran and Tethwal started to flee across the (Neelum) river. The panic was caused by waves of armed Pathan tribal fighters who came up the river from Muzaffarabad.”

These tribesmen were part of a larger tribal militia raised and armed by Pakistan that was to descend on Srinagar, the region’s major city, from the north.

A year later, the fighting was over and Kashmir was effectively divided. Athmuqam, which fell on the Pakistani side, was left to carry on with its isolated pastoral existence.

Mr Butt’s earliest memories are of a place where there was not much else to do beyond tending cattle or playing hide and seek on terraced farmlands.

“There was no school in the village, and hardly a literate person. If someone received a letter, they would take it to Keran (12km away), where there was a post office and they could find a clerk to read it for them.”

If someone wanted to send a telegram, they had to travel to Teethwal, 50km away, where the only tele-printer in the entire valley was installed.

There was no road in the region and no transport. People used to travel on foot or on mules.

When he was about seven years old, his mother sent him to school. The primary school was 8km away and the middle school 4km beyond that.

“Life then was all about walking to school, walking back home, tending to cattle, helping on the farm, and finding time to play.”

He left school when he failed grade seven. “But I had learned to read and write. I was among the first literate people in my village,” he said.

Adulthood arrived with a bump in 1962, when several things happened.

That year, he got married to his cousin, then his mother gave him money to set up a grocery shop, only to die a few months later.

“She gave me 520 rupees to start the shop – it was the third shop in Athmuqam.”

In those days the road from Muzaffarabad came only as far as Nauseri, about 65km away. It was the nearest wholesale market.

“I brought six pony-loads of groceries on my first trip. We would walk the entire day from dawn to dusk to reach Nauseri. And it would take us two days to get home because the ponies needed to be rested.”

He started to get involved in local politics, and was influenced by K H Khurshid, a respected politician appointed president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 1959 who was seen as a champion of Kashmiri rights.

But Mr Khurshid’s career was short-lived, ending in 1964 when he fell out with the Pakistani establishment over the constitutional status of Kashmir, meaning the end of Mr Butt’s political activism.

But 1964 was also the year Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru died, and preparations for the second “tribal invasion” of Kashmir came, this time with local Kashmiris instead of tribal Pathans leading the guard, recruited by Pakistan. Pakistan’s military has never officially confirmed it ever commissioned such a force.

“The policemen went from village to village recruiting Kashmiri youth. People would fall in line, and the chief police officer would walk down the queue, sizing up each individual. He would touch those he chose on the shoulder and ask them to step into a separate line.”

The chief policeman patted Mr Butt on the shoulder.

“I told him I had a shop. He said all you need to do is accept the rifle and stay at home. I took the rifle. But weeks later they came and asked me to shut my shop and join training.”

He and his fellow recruits spent three months training in Muzaffarabad’s Nisar Camp. Most of them then infiltrated into Indian Kashmir, but some who could read and write were kept behind for clerical work at supply depots.

“I was posted at a camp in Athmuqam where I kept records of equipment and supplies. I was there until our forces were defeated in Kashmir, and India attacked Pakistan (on 6 September 1965).”

After the two countries signed a peace agreement in January 1966, the force was disbanded.

“Those who wanted to stay in the army stayed on, while the rest of us handed in our rifles and came home. I came home to my shop. It was still locked and there was merchandise in it.”

After the war, people in Athmuqam discovered that Indian forces had moved closer and set up permanent posts on high ground opposite their village.

“Until then, our shepherds had always considered those areas our land. The same thing happened in several places down the valley.”

For a while, peace prevailed. The road was gradually extended from Nauseri to Athmuqam, and further on. It was little better than the mule tracks it replaced, but it did bring transport and lifestyle changes for the area’s growing population.

Athmuqam emerged as the main town in Neelum Valley. A general hospital and several schools were built, bank branches opened and a telephone exchange was set up.

“We built a new house, and all of my children – a boy and two girls – went to university,” Mr Butt said.

But more conflict was to come, with the 1989 insurgency in Srinagar. Fresh hordes of private militiamen started to descend on Neelum Valley. This time the proxies were Islamic militants, organized by the Pakistani military to infiltrate Indian Kashmir.

The Indians, having occupied the valley’s high ground in 1965, had the settlements in their rifle sights. As the conflict intensified, so did retaliatory fire from the Indians.

“I can’t recall a worse time for Athmuqam. Everything that was built in 20 years was turned to rubble in 15 years of hostilities,” he said.

The hospital was destroyed, and so were schools and colleges. Farming activity became impossible. Nearly all the population moved to safer areas, such as Muzaffarabad, or to gullies higher up which were not exposed to direct fire.

Only a handful of people remained to look after their own properties. Mr Butt was one of them.

“Athmuqam was a lonely place then. You couldn’t find a soul to talk to. My brothers went away with their families, leaving their belongings in my care.

“In this neighbourhood only three households stayed behind. Our houses were damaged. We would eat and sleep in bunkers we had dug. Our orchards were destroyed.

“No children went to schools in those years. A whole generation missed out on education.”

Over the last 14 years, since the 2003 ceasefire, much of the infrastructure has been rebuilt. A generation of educated young people are now adults and the government is trying to promote the area as a tourist destination.

But peace is brittle. One incident of cross-border fire during the season scares the tourists away for months.

“Life has revived, but the danger is there all the time,” he says.

Mr Butt says his “innings” is nearing its end. He has had three operations so far, two of them during the last three years.

But he is glad that business has grown, and Athmuqam has grown.

“I’m lucky to have been born in freedom, and I hope our future generations will guard this freedom as a precious gift of God.”

The Hindu – President Ram Nath Kovind to visit Leh on Monday

The President’s visit will come amid the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam

Sandeep Phukan

New Delhi, 17 August 2017. President Ram Nath Kovind will make a day-long trip to Leh next Monday to honour the 14 Corps of the Army headquartered in Ladakh, amid the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam and just days after they clashed in the Ladakh region.

Mr Kovind will present the Presidential Colours, a rare military honour, to the infantry unit of the 14 Corps in recognition of its exceptional service. But the importance of the Supreme Commander addressing the troops in the border region will not be lost. However, sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan said the visit was a pre-scheduled one.

Ladakh shares an open border with both Pakistan and China. In recent times, the relations between Indian and Chinese troops have hit a rough patch here too, because of the stand-off at Doklam in the Sikkim sector.

Senior officers of the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army met at Chushul (Leh) met on Wednesday to ease the tensions after the troops were engaged in a scuffle and stone-throwing.

On August 15, Indian troops claimed that the Chinese troops along the Pangong Lake tried to cross over twice. They were stopped by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police before a skirmish started. One-third of the 135-km-long Pangong Lake is on the Indian side and the rest on the Chinese side.

Against this backdrop, a presidential visit assumes significance, though the Rashtrapati Bhavan sources told The Hindu that “too much” should not be read into it.

The last time a President visited Ladakh was in September 2010, when Pratibha Patil travelled to the strategic region after a cloudburst caused large-scale devastation.

BBC News – Why is Kashmir’s ‘special status’ under threat in India?

Jammu & Kashmir, 15 August 2017. India’s Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions that challenge a property law unique to Indian-administered Kashmir. According to this law, widely known as Article 35A, only long-term residents of the state can own land there.

Senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari explains its importance.

What is Article 35A?

Article 35A allows the legislature of Indian-administered Kashmir to define the state’s “permanent residents” and what distinguishes them. It applies to all of Indian-administered Kashmir, including Jammu and Ladakh.

All identified residents are issued a permanent resident certificate, which entitles them to special benefits related to employment, scholarships etc. But the biggest advantage for permanent residents is that only they have the right to own and, therefore, buy, property in the state.

All those who were living in the state as of 14 May 1954 when the law came into effect; and those who have lived in the state for 10 years anytime since, are counted as permanent residents.

The state legislature can also alter the definition of a permanent resident or other aspects of the law by a two-thirds majority.

How did it come about?

The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, first passed the law in 1927 to stop the influx of people from the northern state of Punjab into the state. Reports say he did this on the urging of powerful Kashmiri Hindus. The law still exists in parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

In India, the law in its current form was introduced in 1954. It’s part of Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants Kashmir a unique status within India. It allows the state its own constitution, a separate flag and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.

When the Jammu and Kashmir constitution was adopted in 1956, it ratified the then two-year-old permanent resident law.

What is its significance?

It protects the state’s distinct demographic character.

Since Indian-administered Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India, many Kashmiris suspect Hindu nationalist groups of encouraging Hindus to migrate to the state. This doesn’t sit well with Kashmiris given their tumultuous relationship with India, there has been an armed revolt in the region against Indian rule since 1989.

India blames Pakistan for fuelling the unrest, a charge Islamabad denies.

Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety but only control parts of it. Since India’s partition and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars and a limited conflict over the territory.

Why is it being debated now?

We the Citizens, a little-known non-governmental organisation, petitioned the Supreme Court in 2014 to abolish the law on the grounds that it was “unconstitutional”. The state government headed by the regional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has defended the law in court.

The federal government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has said in court that it wants a “larger debate”.

Before it was elected to power in the summer of 2014, the BJP had spoken in favour of revoking the special status granted to Indian-administered Kashmir. But now it’s ruling the state in a coalition with the regional PDP, which is unlikely to agree to a change in the law.

Also, constitutional expert AG Noorani says, the Indian parliament cannot “make laws” with respect to the people of Indian-administered Kashmir. Only the state government has the “absolute sovereign power” to do so.

What do those who defend the law say?

They say abolishing the law would dishonour the Indian government’s promise to protect Kashmir’s special status.

They also fear that it would open up the state for outsiders to settle, eventually changing its demographics.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted that removing the law would have “grave consequences” for Jammu and Ladakh.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned that it would destroy India’s fragile relationship with the state.

The News – No compromise on Kashmir: Khawaja Asif

Sialkot-Panjab-Pakistan, 6 August 2017. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Sunday mentioned the unending Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir and said Pakistan would never compromise on the Kashmir issue.

He said India had continuously been committing ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary. Durable peace between Pakistan and India was dependent upon resolving the Kashmir issue, he stressed.

Khawaja Asif, talking to the newsmen at a local office of the PML-N on the Paris Road, said Pakistan always had wished normal and friendly relations with all the neighbours, including India, but quite ironically New Delhi had never positively responded to the efforts made for the purpose.

He added that India was also involved in causing disturbances at the western border of Pakistan.The newly-appointed foreign minister said peaceful and friendly relations with Afghanistan had always been one of the top priorities of Pakistan but were not possible without an equally positive response from Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan had been fighting terrorism for the last many years and it was quite illogical to blame the country for having safe havens of terrorists.

There had been a marked decrease in terrorism incidents in the country, Khawaja Asif noted.The foreign minister opined that the Indus Waters Treaty was heading towards failure due to India’s hegemonic attitude and repeated violations of the accord.

New Indian Express – NIA detains Sikh lawyer in JK linked to separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani

Srinagar, 31 July 2017. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has extended its probe in the militant and separatists funding in Jammu and Kashmir and on Sunday detained a Sikh lawyer, who is associated with Hurriyat Conference led by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, after conducting raids at his office and residence in Jammu.

Sources said NIA sleuths conducted raids at the residence and office of Devender Singh Behl, a lawyer, in Baskshi Nagar area of Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, this afternoon.

They said the NIA sleuths thoroughly searched office and residence of Behl, who is associated with legal cell of Geelani’s Hurriyat, and confiscated some records.

It was the second raid by NIA in Jammu in connection with the probe into militancy and separatist funding. Earlier, the NIA had raided residence and office of a businessman in Jammu.

A spokesman of NIA confirmed the raids at the residence of Behl, a lawyer and Chairman Jammu Kashmir Social Peace Forum (JKSPF), a constituent of Hurriyat led by Geelani.

He said Behl, who is a member of the legal cell of the Hurriyat, is a close associate of a top Hurriyat leader.

“He (Behl) regularly attends funeral of slain militants in the Valley,” the NIA spokesman said.

He said NIA was investigating his role as courier as he is suspected to be involved in routing funds to the separatist leaders from Pakistan-based handlers.

During the searches, NIA team has recovered four mobile phones, one tablet, other electronic devices, incriminating documents, financial papers and some other articles, the spokesman said.

Sources said Behl was questioned during the raids.

“After the questioning, Behl was detained by NIA sleuths,” they said.

The NIA, according to sources, has summoned the younger son of Geelani, Naseem Geelani, for questioning on Wednesday.

Geelani’s elder son Nayeem Geelani has also been summoned by NIA for questioning in New Delhi tomorrow (Monday).

Nayeem, however, was today admitted in a hospital in Srinagar after complaining of chest pain.

It is now unlikely that he will visit NIA headquarters in national capital tomorrow for questioning.

A doctor by profession, Nayeem had returned from Pakistan in 2010 after spending 11 years there.

The NIA is probing militancy and separatists funding in the Valley and has already arrested seven separatist leaders Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh (Geelani’s son in law), Ayaz Akbar, Peer Safiullah, Mehraj-ud-Din Kalwal, Shahid-ul-Islam (Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s close aide and media advisor), Nayeem Khan and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate on July 24.

They were taken to Delhi, where a court granted their 10 day remand till August 4 to NIA for questioning.

Sources said the NIA sleuths are questioning them and seeking details from them about the funds being used for fomenting trouble and militancy in the Valley.

The NIA had registered case on May 30 against separatist leaders for acting in connivance with militants of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other groups and woman separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Millat for raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means including hawala for funding separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The separatist leaders were accused of fomenting trouble in the Valley by inciting youth to pelt stones on security forces, burn schools, damage public property and waging war against India.

The NIA had questioned separatist leaders and businessmen in Valley and conducted raids in May and June this year to unearth separatist funding.

The separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, who spearheaded over five months long unrest in the Valley last year after killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, have termed the arrests by NIA as “revengeful, arbitrary and illegal”.

Meanwhile, Geelani was today barred by authorities from conducting a presser on NIA raids at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar.

He later issued a statement in which he denied the allegations leveled against him, his family members and associates by NIA.

“The reports and details of properties prepared by NIA are not based on facts,” he said adding, “Indian authorities are resorting to character assassination of separatist leadership to defame and delegitimize the real representative character of separatist camp”.–1.html

Dawn – Adjournment motion in Senate to discuss AJK prime minister’s remarks

Ikram Junaidi – Tariq Naqash

Islamabad, Muzaffarabad, 1 August 2017. An adjournment motion has been moved in the Senate of Pakistan to discuss the remarks made by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider.

Mr Haider was quoted as saying on Saturday that judgements such as the one in the Panama Papers case against Nawaz Sharif would force the people of Azad Kashmir to consider whether or not to accede to Pakistan.

According to the video of his press talk being circulated on social media, Mr Haider uttered the allegedly controversial remarks after he turned his guns on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

However, on the same day, he said his statement was quoted out of context. Mr Haider assumed the office of AJK prime minister on July 29, 2016, for the second time in seven years, as a candidate of the PML-N, almost a week after the party swept general elections to the region’s Legislative Assembly.

Senator Sehar Kamran has submitted an adjournment motion in the upper house of parliament stating that the statement of the AJK PM was of vital significance for Pakistan’s national interest.