January 2008 News

Norwegian untraced; buried porters identified

10 January 2008
The Daily Excelsior

jammu: While one person died and three more sustained injuries due to electrocution in Kaksarai area in the capital city here today, none of the eight Army porters dead bodies have been recovered from the LoC in Uri sector where 14 persons, including 6 soldiers, had died in a massive snow avalanche yesterday. Meanwhile, a Norwegian female tourist, who is missing from her hotel in Gulmarg since January 8th, was reportedly still untraced. Official sources said that with the beginning of Moharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar known for martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his associates in Karbala, some Shia Muslims were installing the black mourning banners in Kaksarai-Karan Nagar area in uptown this afternoon. Their metallic ladder touched a livewire by accident and four persons sustained critical injuries. They were identified as Qamar Ali Sofi S-o Ali Mohammed Sofi, Azhar Ali S-o Manzoor Ahmed, Muneer Ahmed Ganie S-o Ali Mohammad Ganie and Basharat Ali Sofi S-o Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, all residents of Chattabal. All the four injured were quickly rushed to the nearby SMHS Hospital. Later, two of the injured, namely Qamar Ali Sofi and Basharat Ali Sofi, were referred to SKIMS, Soura. Sources said that Qamar Ali Sofi succumbed to injuries while under treatment at SKIMS. His relative Basharat Ali Sofi was still serious but responding to treatment. Sources said that a Norwegian lady tourist, Francesca Rongne, could not be traced even two days after she went missing from her hotel, Green Heights, in Gulmarg. She is believed to have set off for a skiing expedition on the snow-clad alpine slopes on January 8th, within an hour of her checking in at Green Heights. Officials said that four different teams, including a ski patrol party of Kashmir Tourism Department, fanned out in different directions and continued their search for the third consecutive day today. According to officials, she had last year too disappeared alongwith two foreign tourists in the same area and had been rescued with her Israeli and Austrian friends after three days. Possibility of snow avalanches and presence of leopards in Gulmarg have added to the Tourism Department's apprehension about the 38-year-old lonely woman. Sources said that different teams of Army and Police were meanwhile trying to recover dead bodies of the soldiers and porters who had got killed under a snow avalanche near LoC in Bijhama area of Uri in Baramulla district yesterday. As already reported, six soldiers and eight civilian porters of Army had died in Bijhama and two more soldiers in another identical tragedy in Muthal Naar, Machhil. Sources said that dead bodies of two soldiers had been recovered yesterday in Muthan Naar and bodies of two more soldiers near Rajput Taikri in Bijhama. Efforts were underway to trace dead bodies of other soldiers and porters, believed buried under the avalanche. However, inclement weather hampered the operation on the second consecutive day today. Eight civilian porters of Army, who are officially still 'missing' but widely believed to be dead under snow in Bijhama, have been identified today as Balwant Singh S-o Ram Lal R-o Doda, Ghulam Mohammad Malik S-o Mohammad Dilawar Malik, Abdur Razaq Sheikh S-o Abdul Kareem Sheikh, Zubair Ahmed S-o Ghulam Qadir, Abdur Rasheed Mir S-o Abdur Raheem Mir, Abdur Rasheed Bhat S-o Abdul Jabbar Bhat, residents of Mayan Bijhama, Manzoor Ahmed Lone S-o Abdul Aziz Lone and Mohammad Ashraf Mir S-o Mohammad Abdullah Mir, residents of Lachhipora, Uri. Sources said that a BSF party today conducted a raid on the office of People's Democratic Forum (PDF) leader, Mohammad Abdullah Wani, in Bandipore and recovered a hand grenade. Formerly a member of the ruling PDP, Wani has shifted to Hakeem Mohammad Yasin's PDF earlier in 2007. It was not immediately clear whether anybody had been picked up for questioning or not. Sources said that Police in Sopore arrested three persons for their alleged connections to the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba and recovered two hand grenades from them. Troops of Rashtriya Rifles 55 Bn and 162 Infantry Battalion (TA) claimed to have apprehended three persons, namely Mohammad Yousuf Baba S-o Abdul Hazir Baba R-o Abhama, Arshad Ahmed Mir S-o Abdul Qadir Mir R-o Pakharpura and Muzaffar Ahmed Malik S-o Abdul Ganai Malik R-o Chrar-e-Sharief, Budgam. Officials called them as 'terrorists' of Hizbul Mujahideen. They said that Mohammad Yousuf Baba had surrendered in 2005 as a terrorist of HuM but was currently working with Hizb. He had reportedly brought the other two individuals from Budgam for fresh recruit in Hizb, they said and claimed to have recovered two hand grenades, six rounds of AK ammunitions and 150 gms of explosive from them. They have been handed over to Police Station Pulwama.

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