Kashmir, where hope and despair flit back and forth

first_imgThe gains made through the Army’s ‘Operation All-Out’ that left 212 militants dead in Jammu and Kashmir this year have been offset by the unprecedented local support to militancy, with the youth from the Valley joining its ranks in south Kashmir.Why is it a worry?The disturbing figures of November, from police data, show that at least six more local youths joined militant ranks. This happened despite the soft-approach adopted by both the Army and the police towards the locals. Armed local militants are offered the option of surrendering even while encounters are raging. They are allowed to return to a normal routine without facing any charge in police stations or forced to hand over weapons, as was the case in the past. Yet, over 150 local militants continue to be active in north and south Kashmir. As the count of the dead mounted, the Opposition National Conference (NC) sought an apology from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for failing to stop violence against civilians.The NC alleged that over 60 civilians were killed in 2017, including women and schoolchildren. Most of these civilian deaths were reported during counter-insurgency operations, especially when the people converged on the encounter site to help the trapped militants escape. Over 70 local militants were killed in such operations.According to a police assessment, around 117 locals, the highest number in the past decade, joined militancy this year. The ostensibly less militancy-affected districts in north Kashmir also showed an upward trend, with locals picking up arms: four from Kupwara, six from Baramulla and seven from Bandipora joined the ranks of militancy. This comes after the official figure of the number of local boys joining armed groups dipped to 23 in 2011.How can it be tackled?One of the biggest success stories of the security forces this year was the return of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recruit Majid Khan, 22, in Anantnag, a central district in south Kashmir. Khan, an ace footballer who bears a resemblance to English cricket all-rounder Ben Stokes, was fast emerging as a poster boy for militants. His return and the subsequent efforts of the security agencies to wean away other youths was a welcome trend. It helped that families released emotional videos to recall their sons.Over 60 youths, according to the police, have been pulled away from militancy in 2017. However, after the surrender of Majid, around a dozen cases saw the “silent return” of armed youths back to a normal routine. The rounding up of at least three local injured armed militants from encounter sites also earned the good faith of the locals for the security agencies.Will carrot-and-stick policy work?Besides extending the carrot, the security forces dented the capabilities of the militant groups to strike by regularly zeroing in on their top operational commanders, especially the LeT’s Abu Ismail and Abu Dujana, both foreigners.Several battle-scarred local commanders, including Arif Lelhari, Junaid Mattoo, Bashir Lashkari, Sabzar Bhat, Shahbaz Shafi alias Rayees Kachroo and Aijaz Mir, were killed. One top-prize, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Abdul Qayoom Najar, was killed while he was infiltrating through the Line of Control at Uri in Baramulla to revive the militant ranks in north Kashmir.With the capabilities of the LeT and the Hizbul Mujahideen dented this year, the security agencies grapple with a new challenge: resurgence of the dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammad and pro-al-Qaeda ideology group, led by local commander Zakir Rashid Bhatt alias Musa, who left the post of divisional commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen for being “too soft.” As Jammu and Kashmir stares at 2018, the State continues to slip into the hands of more hard-line militant groups in the absence of confidence-building measures to address the larger political question. The appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the Government of India’s Special Representative has raised hopes over the dialogue process, but will he be able to take everyone along?last_img read more


Opening of EP Hotel an Economic Boost for Mobay – Bartlett

first_img He said that beyond the jobs generated, there is spin-off for manufacturing and other sectors from the use of locally made furnishings, and other products and services. “So, you can see how this property is adding dimension to Jamaica’s tourism product while producing a magnificent multiplier effect as its impact ripples through the Montego Bay community and beyond,” he noted. Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the opening of the S Hotel has created an economic boost for Montego Bay. Story Highlights Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the opening of the S Hotel has created an economic boost for Montego Bay.He said that beyond the jobs generated, there is spin-off for manufacturing and other sectors from the use of locally made furnishings, and other products and services.“So, you can see how this property is adding dimension to Jamaica’s tourism product while producing a magnificent multiplier effect as its impact ripples through the Montego Bay community and beyond,” he noted.“This is what we mean when we talk about strengthening the linkages between tourism and other economic sectors so that more Jamaicans benefit from tourism’s success and more of the tourism dollars stay right here the country,” he pointed out.Mr. Bartlett was speaking at the official opening of the European Plan (EP) property located on the Montego Bay Hip Strip on Gloucester Avenue on January 26.Unlike all-inclusive hotels where meals and most services are covered in one package, EP hotels focus on accommodation, with meals and services at additional costs or accessible outside of the property.The Tourism Minister noted that EP properties like the S Hotel create economic opportunity for surrounding communities – restaurants, shops, craft markets and attractions – as “guests tend to spend on services provided by local businesses outside the hotels.”“EP models are ideal for the more adventurous traveller; those seeking immersive vacation experiences and genuine engagement with the local community,” he pointed out.“They want the freedom to wander around town and discover eateries popular with locals, purchase authentic handicraft and experience the unique way of life of the destination,” he added.The Minister said that the Montego Bay Hip Strip offers a prime setting for EP hotels and he wants to see more investors “set up shop” along “this important stretch.”“I am referring not only to accommodations but shops, attractions and eateries,” he said.“Of course, current activity on the Hip Strip augurs well for the future. I am pleased to see hotels being refurbished and restaurants like Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records opening to join the veterans like Margaritaville, Blue Beat Ultra Lounge and Pier One in providing a variety of exciting entertainment offerings to both visitors and locals. I look forward to further developments,” he said.He noted that the area is on the Government’s radar for further development.“After all, it is the perfect location – a stone’s throw from Doctor’s Cave Beach, just five minutes from the Sangster International Airport and within walking distance of some of the best nightlife, restaurants and shopping,” he noted.The Minister added that he is looking forward to “a greater coming together of the public and private sectors to recreate a vibrancy on the Strip not seen since its heyday”.last_img read more


PHOTOS: Nine Night for Former Prime Minister the Most Hon. Edward Seaga

first_imgScenes from the traditional ‘Nine-Night’, held in memory of former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, in Tivoli Gardens Square, Western Kingston, on Wednesday (June 5). Mr. Seaga, who passed away on May 28 at age 89, was Western Kingston’s Member of Parliament for 43 years, from 1962 to 2005. Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, addresses the hundreds of persons attending the traditional ‘Nine-Night’, held in memory of former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, in Tivoli Gardens Square, Western Kingston, on Wednesday (June 5). Mr. Seaga, who passed away on May 28 at age 89, was Western Kingston’s Member of Parliament for 43 years, from 1962 to 2005. Mr. McKenzie, who served as a Councillor for Tivoli Gardens during Mr. Seaga’s tenure, is the current Member of Parliament. Labour and Social Security Minister, Senator he Hon. Shahine Robinson (left), and Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, were among the hundreds of persons attending the traditional ‘Nine-Night’ event, held in memory of former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, in Tivoli Gardens Square, Western Kingston, on Wednesday (June 5). Mr. Seaga, who passed away on May 28 at age 89, was Western Kingston’s Member of Parliament for 43 years, from 1962 to 2005. Mr. McKenzie, who served as a Councillor for Tivoli Gardens during Mr. Seaga’s tenure, is the current Member of Parliament.last_img read more


Riding Profile DesnethéMissinippiChurchill River

first_imgAPTN National NewsDesnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River is one of the largest ridings in Canada.It’s bigger than the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.There are more than 43,000 eligible voters in the riding and more than half are Metis or First Nation.The incumbent is Conservative Rob Clarke.As APTN’s Larissa Burnouf reports, the election is shaping into a bitter battleground between the Liberals and Conservatives.last_img