'Sticky bombs' in heavily-militarized Kashmir sets off alarm bells

Agencies
February 28, 2021

Arrival of 'Sticky Bombs' in Indian Kashmir Sets off Alarm Bells | World  News | US News

Srinagar, Feb 28: Security forces battling a decades-long insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir are alarmed by the recent arrival in the disputed region of small, magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan.

"Sticky bombs", which can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely, have been seized during raids in recent months in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior security officials told Reuters.

"These are small IEDs and quite powerful," said Kashmir Valley police chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices. "It will certainly impact the present security scenario as volume and frequency of vehicular movements of police and security forces are high in Kashmir Valley."

The Indian government flooded Kashmir, already one of the world's most militarised regions, with more troops in August 2019, when it split the country's only Muslim-majority state into two federally administered territories.

The arrival of the sticky bombs in India-controlled Kashmir - including 15 seized in a February raid - raises concerns that an unnerving tactic attributed to the Taliban insurgents in nearby Afghanistan could be spreading to the India-Pakistan conflict.

Afghanistan in recent months has seen a series of sticky-bomb attacks targeting security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists. The attacks - some as victims sat in traffic - have sown fear, while avoiding substantial civilian casualties.

None of the devices seized in Kashmir was produced there, a senior security official said, suggesting they were being smuggled from Pakistan. "All of them have come via drone drops and tunnels," he said, asking not to be named.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, which each claim all of the Himalayan region but rule only parts of it.

India accuses Pakistan of backing the insurgency in Kashmir, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1990s. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it gives only moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiri people fighting for self-determination.

New Delhi has attempted to maintain a tight grip over the Kashmir Valley, where high-speed mobile internet was suspended for 18 months until earlier in February, but the insurgency has simmered on.

Officials said the bombs are particularly worrying because they can be easily attached to vehicles using magnets, potentially allowing militants to carry out assassinations or target military convoys that regularly criss-cross the valley.

In February 2019, a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into a convoy in Kashmir's Pulwama, killing 40 soldiers - the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region - bringing India and Pakistan to the brink of another war.

Police chief Kumar said that security forces were changing protocols to deal with the new threat. The measures included increasing the distance between private and military traffic, installing more cameras on vehicles and using drones to monitor convoys.

A difference between militants in Kashmir and Afghanistan is that the Taliban have tremendous ability to move around in urban and rural areas, which, along with the easier availability of explosives, make the bombs a potent threat.

The Taliban, which initially said it was behind some of the attacks, has since denied any involvement in the attacks.

"The Taliban has targets, can reach them, and kill them with impunity. The whole structure of the attack - and its endless repetition - is what makes the bomb effective," said Avinash Paliwal, a senior lecturer in international relations at SOAS University of London.

"In Kashmir, the space for such ability to manoeuvre with ease is limited."

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News Network
April 9,2021

Bengaluru, Apr 9: Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa today asked transport employees in Karnataka, who are on strike for the third consecutive day, to resume duty while asserting that the government will not meet their demand for wages as per the 6th Pay Commission. 

“Don’t be stubborn by listening to some people,” Yediyurappa appealed with transport workers. 

Government bus services remain largely suspended across the state, crippling life for many citizens who depend on them on a daily basis. Authorities have roped in private buses to tide over the crisis. 

“Wages as per the 6th Pay Commission cannot happen in the current circumstances. When you know we won’t do it, why are you expecting something like this? It’s wrong,” he said. 

The administration has met 8 out of 9 demands made by the transport employees, Yediyurappa pointed out. “What else is there to talk about? We’ve met eight demands. And, I’ll set right any shortcoming in the fulfilment of these eight demands.”

Laying bare Karnataka’s financial situation, Yediyurappa said 85 per cent of the state's revenue went toward non-plan expenditure such as salaries and pensions. “Even Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said in the legislature session that the government had just 15 per cent funds for development. This being the case, transport employees shouldn’t be so rigid,” he said.  

The CM also pointed out that the government pumped Rs 2,300 crore toward transport employees’ salaries in the pandemic-hit 2020. 

“When people are suffering (during a pandemic), is the strike justified? Employees should ask themselves,” Yediyurappa said.

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News Network
April 9,2021

Kozhikode, Apr 9: An Air India Express aircraft, flying from Kozhikode to Kuwait, had to make an emergency landing at the airport in Kerala early Friday, after the pilots received a warning about a fire in the cargo compartment of the plane.

Air-India Express IX 393, a Boeing 737 aircraft, which was carrying 17 passengers on board, landed back at the airport safely.

"It was a precautionary landing. After departure the pilot received fire warning, so he chose precautionary landing," said an airline spokesperson.

"Upon landing it was found that the alarm was false," the spokesperson added.

Air India Express, a no-frills subsidiary of national carrier Air India Limited, operates flights mostly to Middle East and SouthEast Asia.

In August 2020, an Air India Express flight from Dubai, carrying 191 people, skidded off a wet runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport and crashed into a ravine, breaking into two and leaving 21 people, including the two pilots dead and several critically injured.

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coastaldigest.com news network
April 8,2021

Kasarsgod, Apr 8: BJP Kerala Unit President K Surendran has alleged that there has been widespread irregularities in the collection of postal votes of the recently held Assembly election in the state.

Speaking to the media here on Thursday, Mr Surendran said many postal votes were collected in open cover without sealing them. This is in contravention of norms and opens up possibilities for manipulations.

He said neither the candidates nor their agents were informed the count of postal ballots under each constituency nor there is a total and clear count of postal votes.

It is the duty and responsibility of the Election Commission to ensure safety and transparency of postal votes, Mr Surendran said.

There are more chances for manipulation of special postal votes introduced for the 80-plus and others this time. Most of the officials who collected this belonged to the Left unions and had resorted to malpractice, he alleged.

The lose method of collecting such votes had helped the officials to manipulate the system, he added.

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