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8 Civilians killed as mobs tried to attack some polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency

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Protesters vs Security forces, (representational Image) Wikimedia

Srinagar, April 9, 2017: At least eight civilians were killed and scores injured in firing by security forces as mobs tried to attack some polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency that on Sunday recorded a poor seven per cent voting in a by-poll — the lowest in the state in three decades, officials said.

The by-poll to the Lok Sabha constituency — spread across three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — was marred by widespread violence with police claiming that nearly 200 incidents of violent protests took place in central Kashmir.

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As the day began with small queues of voters outside polling booths, slogan shouting mobs attacked polling stations in Budgam, damaged EVMs and prevented voters from exercising their franchise.

Security forces tried to disperse the crowds with warning shots initially and opened fire at them when they didn’t relent, a police officer said.

Seven persons were killed at three places of Budgam district and one in Ganderbal, where protestors clashed with security forces.

“The security forces opened fire to protect the polling staff,” the officer said, alleging that mobs tried to storm many polling stations and destroy EVMs.

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The seven per cent voter turnout is the lowest in 27 years in the state. The constituency had in the 2014 general elections recorded 26 per cent turn out.

The by-poll was the first after the 2016 unrest, triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July last. Over 100 people were killed in five months of the unrest — the worst in six years of the troubled valley.

“It was an unfortunate day. Over 100 security personnel were injured. The turnout was 7.09 per cent,” Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told media persons.

He also said that re-polling will be held at 100 polling stations that witnessed early closure due to violence.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was the worst poll-related violence he had seen in his 20 years of political career.

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“Have contested six elections over 20 years and have never seen this level of violence in elections in Kashmir,” Abdullah tweeted.

Abdullah hit out at the state government over the violence and accused Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of failing to provide a conducive atmosphere for voting.

“Mehbooba Mufti is responsible for this situation. There is mismanagement,” he said.

Security was stepped up after separatists extended shutdown call till April 12 — election day in south Kashmir, the authorities also decided to suspend the internet services and postphoned the university examinations scheduled.

The stakes were high for opposition National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmed Khan who were the main contestants in the constituency. In all, nine candidates were in the fray.

The seat fell vacant after then PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned to protest alleged atrocities on people during the 2016 agitation. (IANS)

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NIA Raids Salahuddin’s Kashmir Residence in Terror Funding Case

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National Investigation Agency
National Investigation Agency team. IANS

New Delhi, October 26: The NIA on Thursday carried out searches at the residence of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin in Kashmir valley in connection with a six-year-old terror funding case.

An NIA official told IANS, “The agency carried out searches at the residence of Shahid in Soibugh village of Budgam district early in the morning today (Thursday) which has concluded now.”

“We have seized mobile phones, laptops, hard disks and several incriminating documents.”

The raid comes two days after the counter-terror probe agency arrested Shahid, 42, a state government employee, in Delhi after he was called for questioning at its headquarters in a 2011 terror funding case that pertains to terror money sent through hawala channels by militants based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to Jammu and Kashmir to instigate terrorist activities.

The NIA has alleged that Shahid over the years has been receiving and collecting funds through international wire money transfer from Hizbul Mujahideen militant Aijaz Bhat, a Srinagar resident now based in Saudi Arabia.

Shahid even during his questioning admitted having received funds from the members of Hizbul Mujahideen in the direction of his father. He had also revealed the names of his associates abroad associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen and involved in raising, collecting and transferring funds from abroad to India.

After his arrest, the NIA said Shahid was one of Aijaz Bhat’s several contacts who were in telephonic touch “to receive the money transfer codes”. The money was meant to fund Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA had filed two charge sheets against six accused in the case in 2011. Four of them – Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, one of the closest aides of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmad Dagga – are currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Two of the accused, Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Aijaz Bhat, are on the run and have been declared proclaimed offenders. Pandit, like Aijaz Bhat, has been an active Hizbul Mujahideen militant and is currently based in Pakistan.

Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, Ganai, Liloo and Dagga were arrested on January 22, 2011, and Rs 21.20 lakh was recovered from them.

After their arrest, Aijaz Bhat used to send money to Shahid.

The Hizbul Mujahideen chief’s son, according to an NIA official, received at least four installments of money in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.(IANS)

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Hizbul Mujahideen Chief Salahuddin’s Son sent to NIA custody

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Hizbul MujahideenSyed Salahuddin addressing news conference in Muzafarabad, capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. VOA

New Delhi, October 25: A court here on Wednesday sent Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s son Syed Shahid, arrested in a six-year-old terror funding case, to NIA custody till November 1.

Shahid, 42, a Jammu and Kashmir government employee, was arrested here on Tuesday after he was called for questioning at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) headquarters.

He was presented before District Judge Poonam Bamba, who during in-camera proceedings, allowed the NIA to quiz Shahid to uncover his terror links.

The NIA has sought the custody on the grounds that it needs to interrogate Shahid to unearth a criminal conspiracy of raising funds by terror organization Hizbul Mujahideen and Shahid’s role in it.

The agency told the court that Shahid was collecting funds from Aijaz Bhat, a Srinagar resident now based in Saudi Arabia and a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, on the direction of his father Salahuddin, who is on the run.

Shahid over the years has been receiving and collecting funds through international wire money transfer from Bhat, an NIA statement said.

The NIA said Shahid was one of Bhat’s several contacts who were in telephonic touch “to receive the money transfer codes”. The money was meant to fund Hizbul Mujahideen’s militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA has seized Shahid’s mobile phone and sent it to a forensic lab for analysis, whose report is awaited.

Shahid, who lives with his family in Soibugh village of J&K’s Budgam district, works as a village agricultural assistant in the state Agriculture Department. His contractual job was confirmed by the government in March this year.

The 2011 terror funding case pertains to terror money sent through hawala channels by militants based in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA had filed two charge sheets against six accused in the case in 2011. Four of them – Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, one of the closest aides of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Sidiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmad Dagga – are currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Two of the accused, Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Aijaz Bhat, are on the run and have been declared proclaimed offenders. Pandit, like Aijaz Bhat, has been an active Hizbul Mujahideen militant and is currently based in Pakistan.

Aijaz Bhat, according to NIA records, received arms training with the Hizbul Mujahideen in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in the early 1990s.

He never returned to Srinagar and began working for the militant group in Pakistan. He is said to have stayed in Sialkot before shifting to Saudi Arabia for generating funds for the group’s activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

An NIA official said the agency, through phone records, found that he was in touch with Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, a Srinagar-based lawyer, in 2011.

According to NIA, the lawyer separatist had procured over Rs 4.50 crore from Pakistan through hawala channels within three years after 2008 for funding militant activities in the Kashmir Valley.

Ghulam Mohammed Bhat, Ganai, Liloo and Dagga were arrested on January 22, 2011, and Rs 21.20 lakh were recovered from them.

After their arrest, Aijaz Bhat used to send money to Shahid. The Hizbul founder’s son, according to an NIA official, received at least four installments of money in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Shahid is the third son of Salahuddin, who also heads the United Jihad Council, the amalgam of Kashmir militant groups based in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan.

Salahuddin unsuccessfully fought the 1987 Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. He then crossed over to Pakistan and founded the Hizbul Mujahideen — the largest militant group in Jammu and Kasmir. Salahuddin has five sons and two daughters, who are all employed by the state government.

Shahid’s arrest — it is the first time any member of Salahuddin’s family has been arrested — comes a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision to start a dialogue process in Jammu and Kashmir and named former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma to talk to all stakeholders. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC