Kashmir protests continue over Article 370’s revocation

Kashmiri protesters, some of them holding black flags, shout slogans in Srinagar on Saturday. (AN photo by Masrat Zahra)
Updated 11 August 2019

Kashmir protests continue over Article 370’s revocation

  • Some protesters with eye injuries from pellets admitted to different hospitals

SRINAGAR: For the second day in succession on Saturday, Srinagar witnessed protests against the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the constitution that grants autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 
The protest took place in Soura, in south Srinagar. Paramilitary forces chased the people and fired in the air. Protesters refused to talk to the media, blaming them not showing the real picture of resistance to the world.
On Friday also, the same area witnessed mass resistance with at least 20,000 people on the streets after the Friday prayer.
Scores of people were believed to have been injured. Some people with eye injuries from pellets were reported to have been admitted to different hospitals of the capital Srinagar. “We were going toward Eidgah (prayer ground) in a peaceful procession when the paramilitary forces started firing. There was no stone pelting.
“At first, they fired pellets and then they started firing bullets. Many people were badly injured.
“Among the injured were some old men and children. I saw a young girl also lying injured. I have been hit in my leg,” said the man.
The local government initially denied the report about protest. Later, it admitted that there was a “minor incident of procession and some injury.”
Talking to Arab News, S. J. M. Gillani, additional director general of police, said “it was a minor procession and there was no serious injury. We did not fire on any one. We used tear gas.”
However, a local photo journalist (on condition of anonymity) told Arab News that “paramilitary forces first fired in the air, and then fired indiscriminately toward the crowd, causing injures.”
“There are more than a dozen cases of bullet and pellet injuries,” the journalist said.

HIGHLIGHT

The local government initially denied the report about protest. Later, it admitted that there was a ‘minor incident of procession and some injury.’

On Saturday, the local administration relaxed the ban in the city to allow people to do shopping on the eve of Eid.
The valley has been under unprecedented clampdown since Sunday with all the communication networks remaining inaccessible.
The government has kept a close watch on the city to prevent any major violent reaction in the aftermath of the revocation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. However, anger on the street was visible everywhere.
“We are not Indians. We have been occupied by force,” said Samiullah Ashraf, a trader in downtown Srinagar.
“New Delhi thinks that after removing Article 370 the movement will go down. It will go up, quite the opposite,” said Ashraf.
“We are under house arrest, but the Indian media is forced to show to the world that there is normality in the state. This is not true,” Ashraf told Arab News.
Mudashar Rashid, a scientist, said: “The Indian government’s action is not only undemocratic but also against the spirit of secularism and the basic spirit of preamble.
“As a government employee, I have never spoken against the Indian government. But now I have put aside all decorum and I feel like revolting against what the government has done to the Kashmiris.”


South Korean justice minister resigns during finance probe

Updated 14 October 2019

South Korean justice minister resigns during finance probe

  • Cho said in a statement he was offering to resign to reduce the burden on President Moon Jae-in
  • The conservative Liberty Korea Party criticized Moon for sticking with Cho for too long

SEOUL: South Korea’s justice minister resigned Monday, citing the political burden of an investigation into alleged financial crimes and academic favors surrounding his family, a scandal that has rocked Seoul’s liberal government and spurred huge protests.

Cho Kuk has denied wrongdoing. But the law professor who for years cultivated an anti-elitist reformist image said he couldn’t remain a government minister while ignoring the pain his family was enduring.

Huge crowds of Cho’s supporters and critics have marched in South Korea’s capital in recent weeks, demonstrating how the months-long saga over Cho has deepened the country’s political divide.

Cho said in a statement he was offering to resign to reduce the burden on President Moon Jae-in, whose office later said he accepted Cho’s offer.

Cho’s resignation came as state prosecutors continued a criminal investigation into his university professor wife, brother and other relatives over allegations of dubious financial investments, fraud and fake credentials for his daughter that may have helped her enter a top university in Seoul and a medical school in Busan.

“I concluded that I should no longer burden the president and the government with issues surrounding my family,” Cho said in an emailed statement. “I think the time has come that the completion of efforts to reform the prosecution would only be possible if I step down from my position.”

Moon’s liberal Minjoo Party and Cho’s supporters, who occupied streets in front of a Seoul prosecutors office for the fourth-straight weekend Saturday, have claimed the investigation is aimed at intimating Cho, who has pushed for reforms that include curbing the power of prosecutors.

South Korea’s main opposition party called Cho’s resignation offer “too late” and criticized Moon for causing turmoil with a divisive appointment.

In a meeting with senior aides, Moon said he was “very sorry for consequentially creating a lot of conflict between the people” over his hand-picked choice but also praised Cho’s “passion for prosecutorial reform and willingness to calmly withstand various difficulties to get it done.”

Moon had stood firmly by Cho, whom he appointed a month ago despite parliamentary resistance. But the controversy dented the popularity of Moon and his ruling liberal party in recent polls, an alarming development for the liberals ahead of parliamentary elections in April.

The conservative Liberty Korea Party criticized Moon for sticking with Cho for too long. “Is President Moon Jae-in listening to people’s voices only after his and his ruling party’s approval ratings face the danger of a nosedive?” the conservative Liberty Korea Party said in a statement.

In South Korea, prosecutors have exclusive authority to indict and seek warrants for criminal suspects and exercise control over police investigative activities. They can also directly initiate criminal investigations even when there’s no complaint.

Critics say such powers are excessive and have prompted past conservative governments to use the prosecution as a political tool to suppress opponents and carry out vendettas.

The controversy over Cho has struck a nerve in a country facing widening inequality and brutally competitive school environments and has tarnished the image of Moon, who vowed to restore faith in fairness and justice after replacing President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached and jailed for corruption.

Recent polls indicate Moon’s popularity has sank to the lowest levels since he took office. In a survey of some 1,000 South Koreans released last Friday by Gallup Korea, 51% of the respondents negatively rated Moon’s performance in state affairs, compared to 43% who said he was doing a good job. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.