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Award on ‘counter-insurgent’ causes stir in Kashmir
Srinagar, Feb 3 (IANS)
Published on 4 Feb. 2010 12:35 AM IST
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The award of Padma Shri to a “counter-insurgent”, who is facing trial for an attempted murder, has sparked a controversy in Jammu and Kashmir. While top officials, including the chief minister, say they did not recommend his name for the honour, the opposition and the common people strongly criticise the move. “We have not recommended him for the Padma Shri and I don’t know who recommended his name,” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters. The 60-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Mir alias Muma Kanna’s name appeared in this year’s Padma Shri awardee list announced ahead of the Republic Day. The announcement took everybody by surprise, including those Mir claimed had recommended his name. “The government of the state has not recommended his name for the Padma Shri award,” said Basharat Ahmad, commissioner/secretary of the general administration department in the civil secretariat. Muma Kanna, as Mir is known in his town and adjoining areas, is facing trial for an attempted murder as well as for other crimes. But Mir said he had done service to the country as he had helped the security forces catch thousands of militants. When contacted, Mir, who lives in central Magam district and works as a daily wager in the forest department, said: “I was not a militant. I worked as a source for the security forces and I have helped them catch more than 5,000 militants. This is the service I have done to the country.” Mir disclosed that his name was recommended for the award by Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, state Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir and the chief of the Right to Information Commission Wajahat Habibullah. While Farooq Abdullah refused to answer any questions regarding the controversy, the state agriculture minister said he had given the counter-insurgent a letter of recommendation, but certainly not for the Padma Shri. “He came to me some months back and asked me to give a letter of recommendation. I did that, but not definitely something which could get him a Padma Shri,” Ghulam Hassan Mir told IANS. Wajahat Habibullah, however, told reporters Tuesday that he had given him a recommendation. “I know him since I was the divisional commissioner in Kashmir and I have given him the letter of recommendation,” Habibullah said. But people here are baffled as to how an illiterate, counter-insurgent, whose name would trigger fear among locals, could get such a prestigious award. Meanwhile, heavy stone pelting in the Jammu and Kashmir summer capital over the death of a schoolboy three days ago triggered panic Wednesday and prompted the authorities to beef up security. Police and paramilitary reinforcements were moved into the sensitive areas of the old city early in the morning and the movement of pedestrians in some localities was restricted, police said. While separatists had called a shutdown Tuesday to protest the boy’s death from a tear gas shell Sunday, youths in the old city said it would continue for four days. There were clashes between the protestors and security forces, who resorted to tear gas firing and a baton charge. Shops and businesses are shut in the city and public transport is off the roads. As trouble spread to the uptown localities of Rambagh, Natipora, Nowgam, Maisuma and Batmallo, the authorities deployed more units of the security forces to quell the protests. Despite tight security arrangements, groups of stone-pelting youth took to the streets in parts of the old city in the afternoon and clashed with the police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troops who intervened to restore order.

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