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Sentenced, For Life

 Life-imprisonment-KolkotaOnce again Kashmiris were given step motherly treatment when Kolkata Court sentenced two Kashmiri youth to life imprisonment under Arms Act, when they have already spent 10 years in jail. But if any Indian is booked under same charges they get different treatment. Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to only six years imprisonment under same Act.

The two youth Sheikh Imran, 27, son of Sheikh Abdul Rehman of Karfali Mohalla and Sheikh Farhat, 13, son of Sheikh Ghulam Nabi of Bemina were arrested on December 19, 2003. They a were later taken to Kolkata where case was lodged against them under Arms Act. Both of them then aged 17 and 22 years respectively, were lodged in Kolkata Central Jail and are languishing there since last 10 years.

On July 15, 2013 a local court in Kolkata sentenced Imran and Farhat to life imprisonment. But the families of both youth accuse that Imran and Farhat were arrested from their residences on December 19, 2003 by local police in Parimpora during nocturnal raids. And later they were taken to Kolkata where they were implicated in a ‘false’ Arms Act case.

According to families of Farhat and Imran, the duo was working as salesmen on a handicraft shop in Kolkata and had left their jobs three months before their arrest from Srinagar. Imran and Farhat were among six persons sentenced for smuggling 25,485 bullets of AK-47 ammunition into Kolkata in September 2003.

The others convicted in the case include Syed Abid Imam, Sirush Momin (arrested in Meghalaya), Moidul Hussain and Sukoor Ali (arrested in Assam). All six were charged under the Indian arms act.

Both the families are now planning to file an appeal against the court order in high court soon. For both families the only hope lies with Mumta Banerjee to look into matter and deliver justice without any delay. They have appealed Kolkata chief minister to look into the matter and deliver justice to the families of these two youth.

Pertinently, the lifer has evoked sharp reaction from separatist and mainstream camps in Kashmir.

Writings From Kashmir

On Thursday another book was added to  history of Kashmir, Of Occupation and Resistance -Writings From Kashmir edited by a young journalist Fahad Shah. The book -on Kashmir conflict and politics – was released by noted Human rights defender, Parvez Imroz, Professor of law, Sheikh Showkat Husain, Smaeer Yasir and its editor, Fahad Shah.

   The 264 pages book is an anthology of several essays and stories written by various journalists, academics and activists. The anthology has been published by Westland Tranquebar Publishers.

Among several contributors, it has David Barsamian, Mridu Rai, Gautam Navlakha, Sheikh Showkat Hussain, Farrukh Faheem, Mohammad Junaid, Sameer Yasir, Showkat Nanda, Uzma Falak and Ather Zia.

Saima Bhat, a Kashmir Life staffer has also contributed to the book.

At the release ceremony, Parvez Imroz, Prof Sheikh Showkat, Fahad Shah and David Barsamian spoke about the book and the importance of such writings from Kashmir. The book is scheduled to be released in Delhi on 24 July.

The editorof the book claims it to be different from other works from Kashmir as it includes the stories that are written by locals like one piece is written by a grave digger from North Kashmir who has buried more than 235 unknown bodies in unmarked graves. The ordeal of a stone thrower. Book also has work from The Kashmir walla, an online news magazine.

Shah, a Kashmiri has studied journalism and worked as reporter, covering the Kashmir conflict. His magazine Kashmir walla got him selected as a finalist for the Manthan South Asia award 2011. His magazine has been described as ‘an insider’s storybook of life in Kashmir’ by Al-Jazeer. Shah has written for various national and international publications including The Christian Science Monitor, First Post, Tehelka, Hardnews and Socialist Worker.

Salaudin’s Body Guard Killed

Salahudins-Body-guardShakeel Ahmad Kasana might have never imagined that he will be killed like this!

It is yet not sure who killed him.

Shakeel, a resident of Kangan Ganderbal, succumbed to his injuries after a grenade exploded in Batamaloo. He was facing militancy charges and was undergoing detention under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Om Wednesday Shakeel, who was lodged in central jail Srinagar, was first taken to police station Panthachowk, and then the police vehicle carrying him was on way to Baramullah, to produce him before a court when it came under grenade attack.

Shakeel aka Obaidullah a bachelor, was arrested by Panta Chowk police in December 2012 vide FIR number 113/2012, 7/25 Arms Act. And police says that he was wanted by them in different arson, murder and blast cases.

The police have informed that Shakeel, bodyguard of United Jihad Council Chairman Syed Salauhdin, retuned Kashmir in 2003. He was having close affiliation with Hizb militants like Mushtaq Killer aka Jangi and Ghulam Nabi War, both of them have been killed.

But the Hizbul Mujahideen has strongly condemned the attack calling it a ‘fake attack’ by police.

Ramzan RELEVANCE !

To keep themselves relevant and to get away with Ramzan slowdown, the telecommunication companies in Kashmir have repackaged their products. Apart from selling faith-linked hello tunes, they have started a Zakat service where one can purchase a recharge coupon and a part of it will be deducted as Zakat.

The service is started by Valley’s second leading telecom company, Aircel.  Any Aircel customer purchasing Rs 139 talk-time will automatically be contributing four rupees as Zakat. The company has tied up with a Jammu based seminary Jamia-Zia-Ul- Quran that will get this money.

The other service that the telecom company provides is that the customer can contribute any amount of Zakat by dialing a particular number and the amount will be deducted from his bank account. This is in addition to the ‘Ramdhan Bonaza recharge’ available at Rs 786 and is worth Rs 1000 of talk-time with discount on ISD calls to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Bharti Airtel, the leader network provider in the region, is offering its clientele to watch prayers from the Holy Kaaba. The services include audio feeds from the shrines of Ajmer Sharif, Jamia Masjid, Delhi and Haji Ali Dargah. “Given the time constraints, all these are deferred telecasts,” a spokesperson said. Apart from offering a talk-time of Rs 786 for Rs 700 and many other products, Airtel is offering special Ramzan prayers and sayings of the Prophet  (pbuh)for Re 1 per day.

Vodafone also is playing the same marketing strategy. It has entered into a tie-up with Iqbal Memorial Trust to help needy students. The company will donate one paisa per call originating from Kashmir province besides Rs 10 on every new activation, during the month of fasting to the Trust.

Though the companies are reluctant in sharing their businesses but insiders say that it is aimed to get away with slowdown of Ramdhan.

Scholarships sans NGOs?

In 2011 when the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) announced a special scholarship scheme for J&K (SSSJK) to fund higher education of 5000 students a year for the next five years, it encouraged NGOs to play a supporting role in implementing the nearly Rs 1200-crore plan. But now, two years later, the ministry is desperate to do away with them.

The MHRD ministry has made it clear to the students that NGOs have no role to play in the scheme and the students are advised to approach MHRD or AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) for seeking admissions under the scholarship programme directly.

The concerned authorities say in last two years various NGO claiming to be consultants to MHRD have sent hundreds of students to various colleges across India after taking money from them. Most of the students could neither avail any scholarship not secure any admission. It hit the credibility of the scheme in the state. Some of these NGOs were backed by security grid of the state or various politicians having right connections.

This scheme is a part of larger project with aims at engaging youth by getting them out of Valley and settling them in other parts of India. The other schemes are Himmayat, aimed at drop-outs who are trained and deployed in the private sector; and Udaan, under which corporate companies identify the talent, take them to their campuses, train them and absorb them. A few thousand youth have availed the twin schemes in the last few years.

Students from families with yearly income of Rs 4.5 lakh can avail benefits from SSSJK after passing class XII. The scheme can fund 250 candidates each for medical or engineering professional courses and 4500 students for other general courses.

Every candidate can get up to Rs 30,000 per annum for tuition fees for general degree courses, Rs 1.25 lakh for engineering course or Rs 3 lakh for medical studies. Besides, hostel fees and incidentals will also be given for all categories of courses up to a ceiling of Rs 1 lakh per annum.

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