Indian authorities alarmed over signs of increasing militancy in Kashmir

Kashmiri relatives and friends of slain Indian paramilitary soldier Sharief-Ud-Din-Ganaie mourn during his funeral at Nagam Chadoora village of central Budgam district on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Indian authorities alarmed over signs of increasing militancy in Kashmir

NEW DELHI: The involvement of two local Kashmiri boys in a suicide attack on a paramilitary camp in Indian-administered Kashmir on Sunday has rung alarm bells among security personnel and political experts who have rarely witnessed homegrown suicide bombers.
Fardeen Mohiuddin Khanday and Manzoor Ahmad Baba, age 16 and 21 respectively, were among the three suicide bombers who targeted the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Lethpora in Pulwama in Kashmir on Dec. 31 in which five security personnel were killed.
Khanday was from Hiana in Tral area of Kashmir and Baba from Drubgam in Pulwama district of the valley.
“It is a serious and worrisome sign,” said Suresh Paul Vaid, director general of police of Jammu and Kashmir.
Talking to Arab News, he said: “We are taking this matter seriously and are having high-level discussions.”
Masood Hussain, the editor of Kashmir Life, a weekly magazine from Srinagar, also expressed alarm at this development.
“This is the first time we have local boys going inside a military establishment and blowing themselves up. It is a new aspect of militancy that we have not witnessed before,” said Hussain to Arab News.
“This is the first time that the entire operation has been carried out by local boys. Security personnel here admit that this is a very disturbing trend in militancy in Kashmir,” he added.
However, Srinagar-based senior journalist, Yusuf Jameel, said: “It is not a good sign for Kashmir that young educated boys are joining the militants.
“This new trend of youngsters joining militants began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani, in July 2016 who was an icon for the new generation.”
Immediately after the attack on the CRPF camp, the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed released a video message by Fardeen who blamed what is described as “Kashmir’s occupation by India” and ravaging “the modesty of our women” as the reason for “the rise in militancy in the valley.”
Well-known Kashmiri academic, Professor Siddiq Wahid, called it “a response to force with force.”
“It proves once again that India’s use of state force against both civilians and militants is not the answer to the Kashmir conundrum.”
Wahid stresses that youth are being driven to this kind of extreme violence due to “the lack of dialogue, the Indian government’s taking the Kashmiris for granted, and the lack of international attention to a dispute that is among the most complicated in the world today and is at the center of three nuclear states.
“Prime Minister Modi’s insistence on the insignificance of dialogue, its denial of Pakistan’s role in the dispute, and its insistence on nothing short of total surrender by Kashmiris has added new dimensions and accelerated the critical aspects of the problem.”
Jameel said that the “desperation” among the youth is due to “the sense of injustice and the government is not willing to address that injustice.”


Experts: California wildfire is deadliest in last 100 years

Burned cars litter a road during the Camp fire in Paradise, California on November 12, 2018. (FP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Experts: California wildfire is deadliest in last 100 years

  • A century ago, the Cloquet Fire broke out in drought-stricken northern Minnesota and raced through a number of rural communities, destroying thousands of homes and killing an estimated 1,000 people

CALIFORNIA: Wildfire experts say the Northern California wildfire that has killed at least 48 is the deadliest in a century.
California officials say the fire burning in a rural area far north of San Francisco killed more people than any blaze in the state’s recorded history.
But the US government doesn’t closely track civilian casualties. and records from long ago are incomplete.
Stephen Pyne, a regent professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and author of “Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America,” and Crystal Kolden, a professor at the University of Idaho and expert in fire science, said 1918 was the last time more people were killed in a wildfire.
“For the modern era, this is definitely going to go down as the deadliest on record for the US,” said Kolden, who has studied wildfires for 20 years since she worked as a wildland firefighter for the US Forest Service.
A century ago, the Cloquet Fire broke out in drought-stricken northern Minnesota and raced through a number of rural communities, destroying thousands of homes and killing an estimated 1,000 people. The fire helped prompt the federal government to start developing firefighting practices and policies.
Pyne, who was a firefighter before he began researching wildfires in 1977, said US government agencies still don’t keep good statistics on civilian casualties from wildfires.
“Fire statistics are not very good because they’re remotely generated,” he said. “It’s very hard to find out even how many houses burned in a year.”