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.”


Pardoned Australian filmmaker to be deported from Cambodia

In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, right, is helped off a prisoner truck upon his arrival at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Pardoned Australian filmmaker to be deported from Cambodia

  • Ricketson repeatedly insisted he had no political agenda and his work making documentary films was journalistic in nature

PHNOM PEHN, Cambodia: An Australian filmmaker was awaiting deportation from Cambodia on Saturday after receiving a royal pardon for his conviction on spying charges for flying a drone over a political rally.
A spokesman for immigration police said that James Ricketson will be deported on Saturday morning, a day after being released from prison.
“We are now checking a flight for him,” Gen. Keo Vanthan told The Associated Press.
Ricketson, 69, was sentenced to six years in a trial his sympathizers described as farcical because prosecutors never specified whom he was spying for and failed to present evidence that he possessed or transmitted any secrets. He had been detained without bail since June last year in harsh conditions.
He was arrested after flying a drone to photograph a rally of the Cambodian National Rescue Party — the only credible opposition party that was later dissolved by the courts at the instigation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.
His pardon is the latest in a series of releases of political prisoners after the ruling party’s landslide victory in a July election that critics and observers said was deeply flawed.
Ricketson repeatedly insisted he had no political agenda and his work making documentary films was journalistic in nature.
His Aug. 31 conviction was met with only lukewarm public concern from Australia’s prime minister and foreign minister. Their public stance was criticized, but also led to speculation that an understanding might have been reached with Cambodian authorities for Ricketson’s early release.
Ricketson’s lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, said Friday that his client would go first to Phnom Penh and then travel to Australia.
“James will go back to his home country after he is released, but later he will be back to Cambodia because the pardon letter doesn’t bar him from re-entering Cambodia,” he said. However, there is no official statement guaranteeing he will be readmitted.
Ricketson had said during his trial that he wished to re-establish a project that he had launched before his arrest to buy some land to resettle several poor Cambodian families who have been living at a garbage dump. He and several character witnesses had testified that he provided financial assistance to several poverty stricken Cambodians.