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Hockey coach dies in road accident in Jammu

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Jammu, Feb 5: A hockey coach died while three girl players injured when a car they were travelling in skidded off and rolled down on the road in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

“A car on way from Jammu to Poonch ferrying coach and players on Monday morning rolled down on the road near Manjakote in Rajouri,” police here said.

They said that the coach identified as Sham Lal Sharma, 65, resident of Poonch died in the mishap while three girl players suffered injuries and they have been hospitalised.

“The coach had accompanied the girls to Jammu to participate in the competition,” they added.

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Trafficked Bonded Labourers Rescued From Srinagar

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SUHAIL RATHER

Srinagar: A team of National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) has rescued bonded Labourers, from Srinagar district of Jammu and Kashmir.

NCCEBL, in colloboration with RaSTAFdn, New Dehli and in coordination with the district authorities of Srinagar, raided many construction sites in Nowgam and Hyderpora areas and rescued 11 illegally trafficked bonded labourers namely Sunil Kumar (18), Lale Sar Dharkar (50), Sital Dharkar (25), Jitender Dharkar (26), Munna Dharkar (20), Vakil Kumar Dharkar (23), Chandan Dharkar, Durga Kumar, Sonu (name changed) (13 Minor), Deepak Kumar, Monu (name changed) (17)Minor, Domi Kumar, Murliganj Bihar (20), said a statement.

“These bonded labourers were trafficked from Bihar by agents, Sanjay and Mohammad Amjad, both residents of Aradiya district of Bihar, who promised them work and later made them do forced work for contractors, operating buildings in Srinagar District of Jammu & Kashmir,” it said.

The statement said that these labourers were made to do work for 17 hours altogether without proper meals and any wages.
“Even minors were not spared and were forced to do work at construction sites at Nowgam and Hyderpora areas in Srinagar district and some of them contracted diseases due to lack of any basic amenity,” it said.
“Condition of minors was beyond pathetic. They had got reduced to mere skeletons when they should have been in school in a democratic country, which speaks high of free education and access to food,” added the statement further.

The labourers, it said, were beaten to pulp by the goons of the agent. They used to lock them up after gruelling hard work of hours and they were released in morning only, to face bondage again.

It added that their rehabilitation is a challenge due to lack of proper mechanism in India to provide rehabilitation to rescued bonded laboureres.

“Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 does assure same but implementation remains a tough challenge,” it said.

NCCEBL led by its Dehli team of Nirmal Gorana and Pulkeet Mehra was joined by its team in Kashmir comprising of its team members Advocate Faesal Qadri, Miss Shayesta Nazir, Afshan Nazir and Suhail Rather.

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First-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for international inquiry into multiple violations

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GENEVA (14 June 2018) – There is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir, who for seven decades have suffered a conflict that has claimed or ruined numerous lives, a report by the UN Human Rights Office published on Thursday says.
The 49-page report – the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir – details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces.
“The political dimensions of the dispute between India and Pakistan have long been centre-stage, but this is not a conflict frozen in time. It is a conflict that has robbed millions of their basic human rights, and continues to this day to inflict untold suffering,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“This is why any resolution of the political situation in Kashmir must entail a commitment to end the cycles of violence and ensure accountability for past and current violations and abuses by all parties, and provide redress for victims,” he said.
“It is also why I will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir,” said Zeid.
Noting the continuing serious tensions in recent weeks, including those stemming from a series of incidents in Srinagar, he called on Indian security forces to exercise maximum restraint, and strictly abide by international standards governing the use of force when dealing with future protests, including ones that could well occur this coming weekend.
“It is essential the Indian authorities take immediate and effective steps to avoid a repetition of the numerous examples of excessive use of force by security forces in Kashmir,” Zeid said.
The UN Human Rights Office – which, despite repeated requests to both India and Pakistan over the past two years, has not been given unconditional access to either side of the Line of Control – undertook remote monitoring to produce the report, which covers both Indian-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.
The main focus of the report is the human rights situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 – when large and unprecedented demonstrations erupted after Indian security forces killed the leader of an armed group – to April 2018.
Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries, the report says, citing civil society estimates that up to 145 civilians were killed by the security forces between mid-July 2016 and the end of March 2018, with up to 20 other civilians killed by armed groups in the same period.
One of the most dangerous weapons used against protesters in 2016 – and which is still being employed by security forces – was the pellet-firing shotgun. According to official figures, 17 people were killed by shotgun pellets between July 2016 and August 2017, and 6,221 people were injured by the metal pellets between 2016 and March 2017. Civil society organizations believe that many of them have been partially or completely blinded.
“Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the report says, noting that the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”
The AFSPA prohibits prosecution of security forces personnel unless the Indian Government grants prior permission to prosecute. “This gives security forces virtual immunity against prosecution for any human rights violation. In the nearly 28 years that the law has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir there has not been a single prosecution of armed forces personnel granted by the central government,” the report says.
There is also almost total impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances, with little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.
Chronic impunity for sexual violence also remains a key concern in Kashmir.  An emblematic case is the Kunan-Poshpora mass rape 27 years ago when, according to survivors, soldiers gang-raped 23 women. “Attempts to seek justice have been denied and blocked over the years at different levels,” the report says.
The report also points to evidence that the armed groups that have operated in Jammu and Kashmir since the late 1980s have committed a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings and killings of civilians and sexual violence. Despite the Government of Pakistan’s denial of any support for these groups, the report notes that a number of experts have concluded that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control.
The report also examines a range of human rights violations in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir which, according to the report, are of a different calibre or magnitude and of a more structural nature. In addition, the report says, restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and in Gilgit-Baltistan have limited the ability to obtain information about the situation.
Among the issues highlighted in the report is the constitutional relationship of these two “distinct territories” with Pakistan. AJK has effectively been controlled by Pakistan throughout its entire history. Pakistan’s federal authorities also have full control over all government operations in Gilgit-Baltistan, and federal intelligence agencies are reportedly deployed across both regions.
The impact of Pakistani counter-terrorism operations on human rights is detailed in the report, which notes the concerns of the UN Human Rights Committee at the “very broad definition of terrorism laid down in the Anti-Terrorism Act.” The report quotes a respected national NGO that found hundreds of people had been imprisoned under the Act in Gilgit-Baltistan, and that it was being used to target locals who were raising issues related to people’s human rights.
Among its recommendations, the report calls on India and Pakistan to fully respect their international human rights law obligations in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir respectively.
India should urgently repeal the AFSPA; establish independent, impartial and credible investigations to probe all civilian killings since July 2016 and all abuses committed by armed groups; and provide reparations and rehabilitation to all injured individuals and to the families of those killed in the context of security operations. Similarly, the PSA should be amended to ensure its compliance with international human rights law, and all those held under administrative detention should either be charged or immediately released.
The report urges Pakistan to end the misuse of anti-terror legislation to persecute those engaging in peaceful political and civil activities and those who express dissent. The sections of the AJK interim constitution that limit the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, and peaceful assembly and association should be amended. Any political activists, journalists and others convicted for peacefully expressing their opinions should be immediately released. The constitutions of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan should also be amended to end the criminalization of Ahmadiyya Muslims.   

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ReT Teachers held Sit in protest to demand release of salary in Ban

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SUHAIL RATHER
Bandipora, 13 June: Scores of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) teachers held a sit-in protest demonstration on Wednesday in Bandipora district against their pending salaries and other irregularities.The teachers assembled at main chowk and raised slogabd against PDP BJP government for failing to streamline the salaries.
The teachers, under the banner of J&K Teachers Forum and J&K ReT Teachers Forum assembled near Gulshan chowk Bandipora and raised slogans against the government.They said the government had not released their salaries for the past five months, causing immense hardships to them.Shouting slogans in support of their demands, they appealed the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to personally intervene into the matter and issue a necessary order for the immediate release of their pending salary besides streamlining the same by delinking the salary budget from the source of funding.While addressing the protest demonstration, Shareef Ud Din shah, President of the Teachers forum Bandipora demanded the immediate release of pending salaries. He said on one hand, government speaks about improving standards of education while on the other hand they are doing injustice with the teachers by denying them their salaries.He urged the Education Minister to fulfill their demand for delinking of SSA teachers salary from central source of funding and release of same from the State budget.The protesting teachers urged the government to delink and release their pending salaries. “We want our salaries to be streamlined and benefits of 7th pay commission,” said Hamid, a SSA teacher. “Our salaries are released in parts. We don’t want to come on the streets but the government has left us with no other option.”“We are being humiliated by the government. We won’t take this anymore. If our problems are not solved, we will launch a state-wide agitation after Eid,” said another protesting teacher.District President ReT forum, khalid Rafiq said that despite assurances from the education and finance ministers in the recent past, nothing substantial has been done so far. Khalid said that the teachers are performing their duties in far flung areas and facing many problems since their salaries are withheld. “The government has been resorting to dillydallying tactics with regards to our salaries and other demands including delinking of salaries and benefits of 7th pay commission and today we are forced to come on the streets at a time when we should be teaching in the schools,” said Khalid.Pertinently, the SSA teachers and the state government are at loggerheads over the government’s denial to grant the benefits of 7th pay commission to the SSA teachers.The agitating teachers demanded immediate release and streamlining of their salaries. “We and our families are facing hardships due to cruel policies of government and we are being mentally tortured every now and then”, said Arsalan Habib a teacher from Middle School Aragam.They threatened to stage state-wide protests if the government fails to release their salary till Eid.District President J&K ReT Teachers Forum , Khalid Rafiq also addressed the protesting teachers. He also demanded streamlining of their salaries and appealed the chief Ministet to personally intervene in the matter to resolvenit once for all. He also presented a charter of demands before the gathering which was endorced by the teachers.The protest demonstration was also addressed by Sheikh Showkat Hussain President JKTF Zone Quilmuqam, Arsalan Habib Bhat and others.

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