Issues that dominated the year of 2016

Issues that dominated the year of 2016

January: Peerbagh youths killing
The year 2016 was welcomed by a mysterious killing of a 21-year old Owais Bashir Malik of Peerbagh on January 13. The youth went missing on January 12, and next day, his dead body was recovered near Railway Bridge Humhama in Srinagar.
The killing triggered fierce clashes between youth and government troops in Peerbagh and its adjoining areas for the following days. According to police officials then, from last one year, Owais Bashir Malik was in touch with Ishaan Majeed of Bandipora, presently residing at Barzullah who would pose and act like a girl by the name Umaira of Wanbal Nowgam. Ishaan was talking hours daily on phone with Owais and with his few family members.
A special investigation team (SIT) headed by Syed Fayaz Ahmad, SDPO Magam was constituted under the overall supervision of SSP Budgam to investigate the case in a time bound manner. They also arrested four persons, including three constables of Government Railway Force (GRP), in connection with the murder of Owais Bashir.
The mysterious murder case led several controversies after forensic experts questioned the police account into the death of 21-year-old engineering student.

February: EDI encounter
Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) hit the headlines in February following the 48-hour long gunfight that began on February 20.
On February 20, a group of three militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba attacked a CRPF vehicle at Pampore on Srinagar-Jammu highway. Two CRPF men including Head Constable Driver R K Rana and head-constable Bhola Singh were killed in the shootout while eight CRPF men were injured.
The militants later took refuge in a nearby spacious government EDI building on the highway. More than a hundred EDI employees, students and prospective entrepreneurs were inside the building when the attack took place.
An employee Abdul Gani of Pulwama district was also hit by bullet in his abdomen in the shootout. He was removed to the SMHS Hospital where he succumbed later. The slain is survived by three-daughters and a wife.
As the operation was underway, scores of people in spite of the Police advisory blocked the highway and clashed with the government forces in several parts of the town. Two youth were hit by bullet after forces tried to disperse them.
The army and Special Forces cordoned off the building and fired mortar bombs. The militants responded with automatic gunfire and hand grenades. During the ensuing battle, three Indian soldiers, including two captains and a Special Forces operator were killed. On the second day, troops launched a final assault and killed all the three militants held up in the building.

March: NIT or NEET
In March, a Supreme Court verdict which stated that the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) as the single window exam for admission to all medical colleges created a new controversy. Jammu & Kashmir that enjoys special status under article 370, the verdict created not less than a big storm as all the sections here including pro-freedom leaders opposed the move saying the order would further erode the autonomy enjoyed by the state under Indian Constitution. The verdict led several demonstrations across the state demanding exclusion of J&K from the said verdict.

April: Handwara Incident
The Kashmir remained on boil in April after allegations emerged that an army man had molested a girl in Handwara town of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Heavy clashes and protests erupted at various places in Handwara and other districts of Kashmir demanding action against the accused.
During the following days, the army released a video showing the girl telling police that she had not been molested by an armyman, and that a local youth had slapped her. But the people alleged the girl had made the statement under pressure inside a police station.
A 19-year-old Nayeem Qadir Bhat, a well-known cricketer who played for Star XI was also among the four persons killed by the forces during clashes that followed the incident.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had then said, “A time-bound inquiry should be followed by an exemplary punishment of culprits. Such incidents shake the confidence of the people and adversely impact the efforts of the State government in consolidating peace dividends.” But up till now the inquiry has not been completed.

May: Sainik/non-local/Pandit Colonies, Industrial policy
Anger brewed in May when three more controversial issues surfaced in the Valley. The government said that it would set up transit accommodation to facilitate the return of migrant Pandits to the valley. Apart from that it also said that government would build colonies for retired sainiks in Jammu & Kashmir.
The order led widespread condemnation from all quarters and also became a reason for divided pro-freedom leaders to for form a joint resistance front to counter the government plans.
The government was also planning to allot land to non-state businessmen and industrialists, the order to which it later backtracked from following the strong reactions against it.

June: Joint pro-freedom front to resist government plans
The pro-freedom leadership’s efforts to join hands together and come under single umbrella made the majority of headlines in local dailies. The leadership decided to fight “treacherous” plans by forming joint resistance front that also led following uprising from July onwards.

July: Killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his two associates
In July, Kashmir witnessed the raging anti-India uprising after a popular Hizb commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani along with his two associates were killed during an encounter that erupted in Bamdoora area of Kokernag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The Valley witnessed fierce anti-India demonstrations and clashes between forces and civilians that led to the killing several people and hundreds injured in following clashes.

August: Mass protests and Pellet terror
The uprising that erupted on July 8, continued in August with clashes intensifying day by day. The shooting by Indian forces on civilian protests led to the killings of many more while as several other were blinded after troops resorted to indiscriminate pellet firing. Up till now, more than a thousand people have been hit either in one or both eyes.

September: Arrest spree and Pellet Terror
The month of September witnessed massive arrest spree of people, particularly youths, allegedly involved in stone-pelting and mobilization of protests during the uprising. The official documents reveal that more than 11,000 persons were arrested by police and more than 500 having PSA slapped on them.

October: Media gag
After banning newspapers for three days in July, the government banned the “Kashmir Raeder” for “inciting violence” and “disturbing peace in Valley” on October 2, birthday of Gandhi ji. The order received widespread condemnation from journalistic fraternity at local and international level.

November: Examinations
In October, in the midst of raging anti-India uprising, Department of Education issued order that said, it would hold examinations for 10th and 12th classes from mid-November in Kashmir region. The government subsequently issued datasheets for holding exams.
The order again received condemnations and dozens of protest demonstrations were held in entire Kashmir against the order. The students took to streets demanding the exams be postponed till March 2017 which government refused and remained adamant on its decision. The exams were later held as per the issued government order.

December: Revised protest calendars
The protest calendars that pro-freedom leadership was issuing weekly during the past more than five months became talk of the town when few quarters in valley demanded more relaxation in the weekly calendar.
The protest calendar also for the first was issued for two back to back weeks with maximum days having full-day relaxation. The government also lifted ban on Kashmir Reader.

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