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Kashmir Unrest: Bloodbath Continues In Valley, 5 Killed Since Morning; Toll 66

Five people have been killed in Kashmir after security forces opened fire on Protesters in Budgam and Anantnag districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday taking the death toll to 66 since July 08.

According to reports, a youth Amir Ganie son of Muhammad Yusuf Ganie has been killed by Security forces in Larkipora area of Anantnag while scores have been injured, after they opened fire on the protesting people near the Larkipora bridge which connects Anantnag distrct headquarter to historic Verinag town.

Earlier in mmorning, four people lost their lives in similar accident in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Reports say that paramilitary forces opened fire on protesters in Arinpath area of Beerwah in Bugam district.

Out of four people killed in Aripanthan, three persons have been identified as Javid Najar, Mohammad Ashraf Wani – father of two, and Tauqeer Ahmad.

However, the fourth person is yet to be identified.

With these five killings, the death toll since July 9 has reached to 66.

China ‘Concerned’ Over Kashmir Clashes, Calls for ‘Peaceful Settlement’

Backing Pakistan over the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir Valley, China on Monday rakes up Kashmir issue and hoped that the situation will be “handled properly”.

According to reports, the statement issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry has impressed on India to address the Kashmir issue through peaceful dialogue by talking to “relvent parties”.

“China has taken note of relevant reports. We are equally concerned about the casualties in the clash, and hope that relevant incident will be handled properly,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in his remarks posted on the Foreign Ministry website.

“The Kashmir issue is left over from history. China holds a consistent stance and hopes relevant parties will address the issue peacefully through dialogue,” he said in response to a question on the recent Kashmir unrest.

Media reported that Lu’s comments come as a surprise to observers in Beijing as it is rare for China to comment on the developments relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

China’s comments came in the backdrop of ongoing turoil in restive valley where 42 people have been killed and over 1500 injured during the violent protests from past 11 days. The protests broke on July 8 in wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Terror Strikes Dhaka

Bangladesh’s worst hostage crisis ended on Saturday when heavily-armed commandos stormed a popular eatery in Dhaka in the diplomatic enclave and killed six terrorists who had been holding many people, including foreigners, captive for over 12 hours.

According to the reports, special commondos launching final assault around 7.40 a.m. local time to end the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic zone.

Tuhin Mohammad Masud, a commander of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) which stormed the cafe, said there had been a number of casualties, including six hostage-takers.

“We have gunned down six of the terrorists,” Mr. Masud told reporters.

A total of 18 people were rescued from the restaurant, a senior police official said.

Among the rescued are Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals. Some of them are injured, said Mohammad Jashim, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

An RAB official said at least five bodies were recovered during the raid, but did not confirm whether they were of hostages or gunmen.

The hostage crisis followed a Friday night gun-battle with police that left at least two senior officers dead and 40 people injured.

Fire-fighters rushed to the scene after the raid this morning with extinguishers, probably to put out flames from explosions. A medical team also rushed to the scene with stretchers.

According to unconfirmed reports, at least one foreigner has been shot during the raid inside the cafe.

Army men in armoured personnel carriers (APCs) had moved in with commandos. Over 1,000 rounds of gunshots were fired and almost 100 blasts were heard in the first half an hour of the raid, media reports said.

Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, nearly four hours after the hostage crisis unfolded, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity online.

It later issued a number of photographs of what it said were scenes from inside the restaurant.

The pictures showed what appeared to be a number of bodies lying in pools of blood.

Amaq also claimed that 20 people had been killed in the attack.

Heavy firing and explosions continued at least for an hour after the operation began. A resident of a building, just 50 yards from the scene, reported spotting snipers firing from their guns.

Shots were also fired from armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Grenades were also apparently exploded. Later, the APCs broke through the walls and entered the restaurant premises.

After hours of quiet at the Holey Artisan Bakery where terrorists were holding hostages, a fresh round of heavy gunfire rang out in the morning.

On Friday night, terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” barged into the Holey Artisan Bakery, frequented by diplomats and expatriates, and opened indiscriminate fire at around 9.20 p.m., local time.

The military-led rescue operation today was launched jointly by a navy commando squad, paramilitary BGB, elite anti-crime RAB along with special police units.

According to CNN, senior U.S. officials believe that the attack has been probably carried out by al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, which was declared as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. only a day earlier.

According to a local news channel, one of the persons being held captive, messaged his relative that the terrorists are using them as human shields.

A hostage was also seen tied up in a chair on the balcony of the restaurant.

The deceased policemen have been identified as officer in-charge of nearby Banani police station, Salahuddin Ahmed and Additional Commissioner of Police Rabiul, identified only by his first name.

An Argentine national and a local escaped after taking refuge in a nearby house when the gunmen entered the restaurant.

Police said they have detained two employees of the eatery for questioning.

A kitchen staff of the restaurant, who managed to escape, said several armed men entered the restaurant and took the chief chef hostage. “They set off several crude bombs triggering panic,” he added.

The Muslim-majority Bangladesh has witnessed a wave of deadly attacks on religious minorities and secular bloggers by suspected Islamist militants.

A 48-year-old Hindu priest was on Saturday stabbed and critically injured by unidentified assailants in Bangladesh’s Satkhira district.

Earlier on Friday, a Hindu priest and a Buddhist leader were brutally hacked to death by machete-wielding Islamic State militants while another Hindu man survived a bid on his life. (With Inputs Agency Inputs)

After Raghuram Rajan, Next RBI Governor Will Be One Of These 4 Short-Listed Candidates

The government has narrowed its list of candidates to become the next governor of the Reserve Bank of India to four and a new Monetary Policy Committee will be appointed soon, Reuters reported on Tuesday quoting a senior official.

The news agency reported that the move seeks to ensure policy continuity and reassure domestic and global investors after RBI chief Raghuram Rajan shocked markets 10 days ago by saying he would not seek reappointment in September.

The report added that sending a reassuring signal, the official said the list of candidates to replace Rajan had been whittled down to four – three of them central bank veterans; the other the head of the country’s largest commercial bank.

Here is The brief about the four contenders likely to take over as Reserve Bank Of India Chief:

Urjit Patel

Urjit PatelOne of the RBI’s four current deputy governors, Patel, 52, was reappointed in January for another three years. He has run the central bank’s monetary policy department since 2013 and is viewed as a leading contender for the governor’s job. Patel is considered as a ‘hawk’ on his monetary policy stance.

Rakesh Mohan

Rakesh MohanMohan, 68, had two stints as a deputy governor of the RBI. He also served as secretary at the department of economic affairs at the Indian government’s finance ministry and held positions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mohan was in charge of monetary policy, financial markets, economic research and statistics at the RBI.

Subir Gokarn

Subir GokarnGokarn, 56, also a former deputy RBI governor, currently serves as an executive director at the IMF. He looked after monetary policy during his three years at the central bank until the end of 2012.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

MINT Annual Banking ConclaveA high-profile banker, Bhattacharya has been at the helm of India’s largest lender – State Bank of India – since late 2013 and has earned praise from investors for her management of the bank’s mountain of bad debt. She was named in the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

Bhattacharya, 60, whose term as the chair at State Bank of India ends later this year, is perceived as another front-runner in the race.

PM Modi Leads Second International Yoga Day Celebrations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for treating diseases like diabetes through ancient spiritual discipline as he joined over 30,000 people for the second International Yoga Day celebrations in Chandigarh.

Dressed in while colored T-Shirt and trouser, Prime Minister led over over 30,000 participants, including defence forces personnel and school children, for the second International Day of Yoga celebrations here at the Capitol Complex amid tight security.

“I want to request trainers who are associated with yoga, from this public platform. From next year when we celebrate yoga day, in this one year, you continue to do what you do for yoga but focus on one subject and this is my subject — diabetes — Diabetes and yoga,” Modi said while addressing the gathering.

“All people belonging to the yoga field, whatever knowledge they have, they must continue with the rest of their yoga activities but this (diabetes) must be the main focus,” Modi added.

Expressing concern over rising number of patients suffering from diabetes, Modi asked yoga trainers to help in controlling the disease.

“In India, patients suffering from diabetes are rising. We might be able to get rid of this disease or not but with the help of yoga, diabetes can be controlled. Can we start a public campaign to suggest measures in yoga to the common man suffering from diabetes.

Prime Minister concluded his speech by saying,

‘Yoga is not only a way to get rid of a disease but it also guarantees wellness. For holistic development of lives, yoga is a great way’.

The Return To Nowhere

Tawqeer Hussain

Kashmiri Pandits are divided on the issue of returning to the Valley they fled in the ’90s. Very few are willing while most are unhappy about living in separate colonies built for them

May 27, Kokernag, south Kashmir. It is an unusual reunion. Elderly Abdul Razak Wagay is insistent that Sweeti Raina, his visitor, accepts ₹80. It is a sum that he had borrowed from Sweeti’s father before the latter’s family fled the Kashmir valley in the 1990s. Wagay makes an emotional attempt to convince the woman, who is visiting the Kokernag home of her Pandit family more than 20 years after it had bid it farewell.

“This is your money. Whatever I am today is because of what your folks did for me. We were like one big family, we all lived together like one,” Wagay’s voice quivers as he shoves a few crumpled notes into Sweeti’s folded palms. He breaks down when she finally gives in.

Wife of journalist Rajesh Raina, Sweeti listens patiently as Wagay recounts stories from the days the two families were neighbours.

“Our doors are open for you,” he says. “You even have a stake on our blood,” he adds, offering to share his house with Sweeti’s family.

This is not just an encounter between erstwhile neighbours but also a poignant reunion of two communities that had lived in peace and harmony before divisive politics and insurgency hijacked their lives in the ’90s. Threatened with violence, close to two lakh Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley on the night of January 19, 1990. Their homes were ransacked and torched. Across towns, these charred buildings are grim reminders of the horror the community suffered at the hands of radicals and separatists.

Despite scars that run deep, several Kashmiri Pandits still believe in the resilience of Kashmiriyat — a term that symbolises the inherent secularism of Kashmir. A witness to the moving scene between Wagay and his wife Sweeti, Rajesh says,

“This is Kashmiriyat. We will live together again.”

The Rainas, like the thousands of other displaced Pandit families, haven’t stopped dreaming of the place they once called home. The issue of the Pandits’ return grabbed headlines last month when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in response to Governor NN Vohra’s address in the Assembly, promised to bring them back to the Valley. This statement came soon after the Mufti government, under pressure from the Centre, identified land for building colonies for members of the Pandit community.

But are Kashmiri Pandits willing to return and live in separate settlements?

Sarla Devi (name changed, 56) lives in a colony for Kashmiri Pandits at Vessu, south Kashmir. She and her three children returned to the state in 2010, after the then prime minister Manmohan Singh announced a special package for those willing to relocate. Devi’s eldest son is the family’s sole breadwinner. Six years after their return to Kashmir, Devi questions the emotional choice she made. “We are separated from the rest of the population; it’s like living in jails,” she says. Her tirade against the militants who forced the exodus is ceaseless. “I had a two-storey pucca house in Mattan, also in south Kashmir. And then one dreaded night, sensing trouble, the entire family, along with scores of relatives, decided to leave in a hurry …we managed to pack our belongings in the shortest possible time and left for Jammu.” She reacts angrily to the news of the government’s decision to build more colonies for Pandits.

“We live under poor conditions. Two to three families share a space meant for one. I’d advise people to not return until the government betters the conditions of those who already have.”

Before disappearing into the damp, ill-ventilated room she calls her kitchen, to prepare tea for us, Devi recalls her husband, who had died in a refugee camp in Jammu. “His desire to return to his roots died with him. But it’s better that he didn’t live to see this house we’ve been allotted,” she says.

Housing nearly 1,500 people belonging to 416 families, the Vessu Kashmiri Pandit colony stands on National Highway 1, which connects Kashmir to the rest of India. According to local residents, the camp has only 216 pre-fabricated quarters, with 36 more under construction for the past three years.

“Our living conditions are dismal. It’s a grave violation of human rights,” says Sanjay Kaul, president of the colony.

“We are living like cattle. We don’t have privacy.” Kaul adds that even Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the recently deceased former chief minister, had been shocked at the conditions in the Vessu camps during a visit last year. “He immediately ordered the construction of more quarters, but no action was taken thereafter.”

Kaul was in Std VII when his family — settled in Luk Bawan, just six kilometres from the Anantnag district headquarters — fled the Valley in 1990. “We moved to Jammu overnight. I was too young to comprehend why we were leaving a comfortable home for a dirty tent in a refugee settlement. But I remember the journey to Jammu. It was difficult, especially for the old and the children. My cousins and I were huddled into the boot of a car and asked to remain quiet.” Kaul, too, returned to Kashmir under the rehabilitation package. “Today we are living under constant vigil. No one can enter the colony without being frisked and questioned at the main gate… Under these circumstances, even the locals avoid us,” he says.

He, too, has a word of caution for Kashmiri Pandits planning to return today. “I want to tell the Pandit community not to come here until the government takes proper measures to settle us. Living in guarded cages is far worse than being away from homeland.”

Same story, another day

Kaul’s story is echoed by many Pandit families in both Kashmir and New Delhi.

Satish Bhat, 46, lives in Kashmir Apartments in Delhi’s Pitampura area. With 80 flats, the residential complex that was built to safeguard Kashmiri culture in Delhi is now a symbol of unity among the migrants from the community.

A smile appears on Bhat’s face as he recalls his boyhood in Budgam district. “I would invite myself to my Muslim friend’s house for meals. Families celebrated Diwali and Eid together. Everything was just fine until those dark days arrived.” Blaming the National Conference and Congress parties for the turmoil in the Valley, Bhat questions why the parties remained as mute spectators when the Pandits were being herded out. “Where were they? What were they doing? Why didn’t they stop us from leaving,” he asks.

Unlike many among his current neighbours, Bhat didn’t snap ties with his Muslim friends in Kashmir. “In 2006, when I visited the Valley, hundreds of people gathered around me in my hometown. Each of them felt my loss. They hugged me and cried,” he says.

“It is wrong to blame the Muslims for what happened to us. Since the exodus, lakhs of Muslims have been killed. Did anyone care about that,” he asks.

He then narrates the story behind his family’s decision to leave Kashmir. In February 1990, a few unknown people had hoisted a Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) flag near the Bhat residence. The flag remained there for three days until a white one replaced it. Its appearance, too, was equally mysterious.

“The disappearance of the JKLF flag started to worry us because my brother was blamed for bringing it down. People told us that my brother was on the hit-list of the militants, and that we should migrate,” Bhat reminisces. A month later, the family left for good. Bhat dismisses Mehbooba’s claims of wooing the Pandits back to Kashmir. “They failed to protect us when we were living there, how can they protect us now? Instead of asking Pandits to return, the government should help us find our feet in other states,” he adds.

“Kashmir is a distant dream now. My children are studying in Delhi. I cannot ask them to return to a place they’ve only heard of; they don’t understand Kashmiri culture, so it is better they live in Delhi,” he says.

Fool’s paradise?

Veena Bhat is another resident of Kashmir Apartments in Delhi. A former resident of Hari Singh High Street — an upscale address in Srinagar — she is unforgiving of the ‘role’ Kashmiri Muslims played in the exodus of the Pandits. “We had a flourishing wholesale business in Kashmir, with hundreds of clients across the state. We were forced, harassed into leaving the Valley. When we resisted, we were threatened with guns,” she says angrily. Asked if she would like to return to Kashmir, she replies,

“Who will protect my children? Where were all the good Muslims when we were bombarded with threats over loudspeakers — that we should leave or face the music? If the locals had helped we would have been spared the ordeal.”

Her husband, Subhash, echoes their neighbour Satish Bhat’s misgivings about plans to build new homes for Pandits in Kashmir. “It’s too late for all this. They should think of what they can do for us in other states.” He believes that a party with overt sympathies for separatists cannot be trusted to execute a fair rehabilitation programme.

“We won’t live peacefully with Muslims, we will have fights. They should have created a sense of security back then… nothing can happen now. It is foolish to even entertain such ideas,” he says.

Most people in Kashmir are of the opinion that Pandits should return to the Valley, but are not in favour of separate settlements for them. Faced with stiff resistance from separatist elements within her own party as well as other political groups, Mehbooba faces the uphill task of creating a conducive environment for the smooth execution of her plan.

Back in Kokernag, Rajesh Raina is optimistic that his homeland will once again become a symbol of communal harmony.

“I shot this video clip today at Kokernag, the native place of my wife. Ek pehloo yeh bhi hai Kashmir ki tasveer ki (This is one of the many facets of Kashmir),” he posted on his Facebook wall, sharing moments from Sweeti’s reunion with her former neighbour.

(The story was first published in Hindu Business Line on June 10, 2016 |

Jumpei Yasuda: Captured Japanese Journalist Pleads For Help

The Japanese government said on Monday that it was doing all it could to secure the release of a Freelance journalist, Jumpei Yasuda, being held hostage by an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Reuters reported.

The statement from govt came after a photograph, apparently uploaded on internet, showed a man with long beard and dressed in orange suite holding a placard written in Japanese. “Please help me. This is my last chance,” said the sign, written in shaky characters and signed “Jumpei Yasuda.”

Jumpei Yasuda, a Japanese freelance journalist came to attention in March, when a video surfaced him reading message for his country and family. According to media reports, Yasuda was captured by a group called Nusra front in Syria.

While quoting Japan’s Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga, Reuters reported that the government was analyzing the new photo and believed it was Yasuda.

“Since preserving the safety of Japanese citizens is our most important duty, we are making use of a broad net of information and doing everything we can to respond,” Suga told a news conference.

Earlier in 2015, the Islamic State terrorists beheaded two Japanese nationals – a self-styled security consultant and a veteran war reporter Kejni Goto. The gruesome executions captured the attention of Japan but the government said at the time it would not negotiate with the militants for their release.

Meanwhile Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed source claiming to be a mediator for the Nusra Front reported that Yasuda would be passed to Islamic State if the government did not negotiate.

UK Grants Asylum To Maldives’ Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed

United Kingdom is reported to have granted political refugee status to former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, media reports quoting his lawyer.

A prominent human rights campaigner and Maldives’ first democratically elected President, 49-year-old Nasheed was allowed to go to Britain in January for a spinal cord surgery following a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India and the UK.

His lawyer Hasan Latheef claimed on Monday that Nasheed had been granted political refugee status, but the British government has not yet confirmed the reports.

“In the past year, freedom of the press, expression and assembly have all been lost. Given the slide towards authoritarianism in the Maldives myself and other opposition politicians feel we have no choice but to work from exile – for now,” Nasheed said in a statement confirming his exile.

Nasheed became Maldives’ first democratically elected leader in 2008, ending three decades of rule by former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and served for four years before he was toppled in what he called a coup backed by the military and police.

Nasheed was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges after being accused of illegally ordering the arrest of a judge in a trial that put a spotlight on instability in the Maldives.

His arrest lead to the massive anti-govt protests in the island-nation and has been widely criticized by the United Nations and various foreign governments.

Twin Attacks Leave Three Cops Dead In Kashmir

Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahiden on Monday claim the responsibility of killing three Jammu and Kashmir Police personals in twins attacks in state’s summer Capital – Srinagar.

According to the reports,the first attack took place in Zadibal area of Srinagar city, where a cop and Assistant Sub-Inspector rank officer was killed.

Police have identifed the deceased personals as ASI Nazir Ahmad and Constable Bashir Ahmad.

Reports added that, the second attack came within a few hours at around noon in Tengpora locality of city outskirts.

An official said that one cop was critically injured in the attack who later succumbed to his injuries.

His identity was not immediately known.

Soon after the attacks, security was intensified in and around the city.
Reports said that police and paramilitary forces erected barricades at many places to nab the militants.

Meanwhile, National Conference working president and former CM Omar Abdullah Monday termed the killings of three policemen in Srinagar as “worrying”.


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