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    Srinagar: The fresh snowfall blanketed Kashmir Valley Friday, resulting in closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway besides disruption of normal life.
    An official of the meteorological department told a Kupwara in north Kashmir witnessed 11.7 mm of snow (when melted) from 0830 to 1730 hours today.  
    Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, witnessed 6.7mm of snowfall followed by Qazigund with the southern Kashmir area recording 5.6mm of snow.
    Pahalgam, one of the famous health resorts in Kashmir valley, had 5.2mm of snow while neighboring Kokernag area, had 2.6mm of snowfall during the time, the MeT official said.
    Aamir Ali, Coordinator Disaster Management Cell in Kashmir division said that Gulmarg received over one feet of fresh snowfall while its upper reaches including Affarwath had downpour of more than what was recorded in the plans of the world famous ski resort.
    He said that Tangmarg had about six inches of snow while most plains in the Baramulla district had snowfall ranging between four to six inches.  
    As per reports, he said, Shopian district in south Kashmir had about 4 inches of snow by this afternoon.
    Kulgam and Damhal Hanjipora areas had six to ten inches of snow on the ground while it was still snowing, Aamir Ali said. 
    Central Kashmir districts—Ganderbal and Budgam, also recorded snowfall and was more think on the ground in Gund Kangan and Khag.
    Budgam district alone had about seven inches of the snow by late in the afternoon, Aamir Ali, who is also On Special Duty with Divisional commissioner, said.  
    Besides historical Mughal road, the authorities have already directed not to allow movement of traffic on Sonamarg-Gumri road, Bandipore-Gurez road, Daksum-Kishtwar road, Kupwara-Machil, Keran, Tangdar, and any other road vulnerable from snow point of view.
     The snowfall disrupted normal life in entire Kashmir valley. The movement of traffic on the road was thin than the normal and those plying were seen moving at slow pace to avoid any mishap in wake of the slip associated with the snowfall.
    The weatherman has already predicted moderate to heavy snowfall in tomorrow also and had said that the weather would improve by Sunday afternoon.
    Valley cutoff
    Officials said the 300-km, Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed by the authorities due to heavy snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and other places which resulted in slippery road conditions and rendered the highway unsafe for movement of the traffic. However, no vehicles or travelers were stranded on the only road link on the only road link that connects Valley with the outer world.
    Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Highways, Ghulam Mohammad Wadoo said the traffic on the highway was suspended this morning due to the heavy snowfall around the 2.5 km Jawahar Tunnel. He said beacon has pressed into service its men and machinery to make the highway motorable.
     “Due to snowfall, not even 4/4 vehicles are working. We’re trying hard to restore the highway,” he added.
     

    13

    Melbourne: Sania Mirza moved to the second round of the Australian Open qualifiers with a straight-set win over Belarusian Iryna Kuryanovich here today.

    Ranked 145 on the WTA circuit, Sania scored a 6-4 6-2 win over Kuryanovich, ranked 61 places below the Indian, in the opening round of the women’s singles qualifiers.

    Sania broke her rival, playing her first Australian Open, twice in the closely fought first set and also dropped her serve once.

    The Indian continued to struggle with her serve and faced four breakpoints in the second set but managed to save three of them.

    The Belarusian was equally erratic and had to contend with seven breakpoints out which Sania converted three and sealed the win in one hour and nine minutes.

    Sania will next face Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko.

    15

    Washington: Already peeved by security pat downs, Sikhs in the US have been warned that they could now face 100 per cent screening of their turbans at American airports as the new imaging technology cannot see through their ‘pagris’.

    In a mass email alert to the community members, Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, told them that they should be ready for additional screening at all the airports.

    “Sikhs should now expect to be secondarily screened 100 per cent of the time at American airports, even after passing through so-called Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines,” it said.

    Although the Transport and Security Administration (TSA) publicly asserts on its website that its newest machines can see through “layers of clothing,” the TSA has made clear in both word and practice that such machines are not powerful enough to see through Sikh turbans.

    18

    New Delhi: On a day Home Secretary G K Pillai hinted at a 25 per cent reduction in security forces’ strength in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief General V K Singh today said they do not not feel the need to “cut down” their forces in the state.

    He also said it will be ensured that “extra pressure” is not put on his “already-stretched” deployments.

    “We have not yet felt that we have to cut down our forces. If they want to cut down para-military and police forces, I won’t say anything…

    “So when that is done, it will be ensured that extra pressure is not brought on our already-stretched deployments there,” Singh told a press conference on the eve of Army Day.

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    Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police organized a massive on the spot recruitment in Khanyar, Srinagar. Hundreds of youths thronged the venue and were upbeat about the participation.
    The Director General of Police, Mr Kuldeep Khoda along with Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Mr S. M. Sahai supervised the recruitment process.
    This is for the first time that recruitment has been conducted in the area. A number of Police Officers from the PHQ and the Srinagar district were present during the process.
    All the candidates who qualified the tests have been selected.

    12
    Durban: AB de Villers and JP Duminy notched up contrasting half centuries to propel South Africa to a challenging 289 for nine in the first cricket one-day international against India here today.
    Batting first after winning the toss, South Africa were looking good for a few more, but four wickets for just 56 runs in the last 10 overs somewhat foiled their plans.
    Duminy (73 off 89) and de Villiers (76 off 69) scored at will, picking the gaps and finding the boundaries with consummate ease, after Hashim Amla (50 off 36) gave the hosts a flying start with an aggressive half-century at the Sahara Stadium in Kingsmead here.
    Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharma finished with two wickets each, while Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra and Suresh Raina accounted for a victim each.

    17
    Itanagar: Notwithstanding Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s assurance on the stapled visas issue, two sportsmen from Arunachal Pradesh were given such travel documents that prevented them from boarding a flight today to Beijing.
    Indian Weightlifting Federation’s Joint Secretary Abraham K Techi along with a weightlifter of the state were taken aback when immigration officials at New Delhi’s IGI Airport stopped them and turned the two men away because of the stapled visas issued by the Chinese Embassy.
    Techi and the weightlifter, who were to visit the country at the invitation of Chinese Weightlifting Association president Menguang for the January 15-17 China Weightlifting Grand Prix at Fujian province, thereafter got in touch with the Chinese Embassy.
    The Chinese officials at the Embassy informed me that the ‘right’ visas have been issued to us, Techi told.
    “This is an insult and unnecessary harassment to Arunchalees,” Techi said.

    15
    Srinagar: A high alert has been sounded along the International Border (IB) in Jammu region amid fears of infiltration by militants ahead of January 26 celebrations.
    Jammu correspondent said that the Border Security Force (BSF) has sounded an alert along the 110 Kilometer IB that passes through three districts of Jammu, Kathua and Samba amid growing concerns of infiltration ahead of January 26 celebrations in the winter capital. The BSF is monitoring the night vision cameras to keep a close vigil on the movement of any suspicious persons on the IB.
    Besides it additional nakas have been laid along the IB to thwart any possible infiltration attempt.
    “As the January 26 approaches, the militants may try to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir to disrupt the celebrations. We’re very vigilant as the infiltrators can take advantage of fog and cold weather conditions,” Deputy Commanding General (DCG) BSF, Amit Sharma said.
    “Our men are constantly keeping an eye on the movement of any suspected persons on the. However, the weather conditions are not good. We can’t see anything beyond 20 metres,” he added.
    BSF, Sharma said was taking all the measures to secure the IB. He said his men were keeping round the clock vigil to foil any attempts of militants to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.
    Quoting official sources, correspondent said that security measures have also been beefed along the Line of Control (LoC) in twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch amid intelligence reports that suggest that the militants were planning to sneak into his side of the LoC.

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    Srinagar: Asserting that Kashmir issue was becoming more “dangerous and complex” with each passing day, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani Wednesday flayed India for adopting  its “traditional policy of force and intimidation to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris.”
    “Even after 64 years India seems to have no option other than force and wants to solve an issue which is getting more dangerous and complex with each passing day through the barrel of gun. But New Delhi has failed to see that Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom cannot be broken , and for the past six decades India has only succeeded in enforcing a temporary silence of the graveyard here through arrests, torture, killings and other acts of terror,” Geelani said in a statement issued to .
    Geelani said the state government’s “subservient and puppet role” had been proven when, according to him, New Delhi had “trashed” the National Conference Working Committee’s resolution regarding release of political prisoners in July.
    “The fact is that the Indian home ministry is running the affairs of the state and the sole purpose of the so called state government is to provide cover to India’s atrocities in Kashmir and hoodwink the world into believing that Kashmir has a democratically elected government,” he said.
    Reiterating the call for one hour protest after Friday prayers on January 14 and complete strike on January 15, Geelani said “calling protests and strikes is not our hobby but the only way of registering protest against oppression.”

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    Kolkata: Rejecting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s warning, the youth wing of BJP today said it would go head with its proposed ‘Tiranga Yatra’ from here to Kashmir tomorrow.
    “Opponents to this march know very well that if youth become aware of the Kashmir issues, they will lose political ground. That is why they are creating controversies on the march and trying to give it a political colour,” Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha National President Anurag Thakur said.
    He said, “The Congress is mainly responsible for the Kashmir problem. They messed it in such a way that it could not be solved even after 60 years.”
    Thakur said that the entire nation “is paying the price of its (Congress’) consequences.”
    Pointing that a solution lay in the constitutional framework and not on religious lines, he demanded abolition of Article 370.

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