Briefing February 28 – March 6, 2021

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GULMARG

Artists perform at the inaugural function of the 2nd Khelo India National Winter Games, at the ski resort of Gulmarg, Friday, February 26, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Unlike previous years when the tourism industry in Kashmir suffered a severe dent, the tourist footfalls, mostly domestic came as a relief to the hospitality sector. This year’s snowfall brought with it a huge influx of tourists across the country and the tourism department also busied itself with sports events, winter festivals, adventure related activities, Bollywood celeb visits. Lately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the second Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg and said that the event is a step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports. Athletes from 27 states and Union Territories are competing in the games which will conclude on March 2. He was addressing over 600 participants including international players through virtual mode. Khelo India International Games Festival, Prime Minister said signifies that Jammu and Kashmir is touching new heights in peace and development. Meanwhile, Sonmarg was thrown open amid reports that Dal Lake is among 12 sites termed iconic tourist destinations.

 KULGAM

Muslims perform the last rites of Sikh man in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Thursday, February 25, 2021. KL Image: Special Arrangement

In remote Damhal Hanjipora, when Surinder Singh, 75, died at his Pombay residence, the locals gathered instantly to ensure a decent funeral of the senior citizen. Quite a few people from minority community live in the village and the locals gathered to ensure the mourning family does not face a problem. This, however, is nothing new. Elders from Sikh and Pandit minorities who stayed back and died were mostly created by their neighbours.

 REASI

It was a miraculous escape for Secretary Rural Development and four of his colleagues when the chopper they were flying in developed some technical crisis and had to make an emergency landing. They were flying from Reasi to Kishtwar when the snag interrupted the flight. The flying machine landed at Jyoti Puram in Reasi. One official survived with some injuries and all others were safe.

SRINAGAR

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday addressing a press conference at her residence in Srinagar. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Last week when the PDP announced that Mehbooba Mufti was re-elected as the party president, it triggered a barrage of commentary. A social media post said: “OK, you are the president, but where is the party?” A newspaper cartoon showed Mehbooba Mufti taking the crown from her head and placed on her replica image. This sade commentary was indicative of the state of politics that Kashmir is witnessing. PDP, off late, has faced a chain of defections to create the Apni Party. Its leader’s continue to desert the party. The last one who quit the party was Peer Mansoor. Those who have not left are either keeping a low profile or rest in detention.

KISHTWAR

An alto car bearing registration number JK 06-8421 met with an accident near Gujjar Hostel in Chatroo area of Kishtwar district on Sunday, February 21, 2021

A pall of gloom descended in Kishtwar when in a tragic road accident a family lost its three members. The vehicle they were travelling in skidded off the road and fell 300 feet down the gorge when they were on their way from Doda to Chingam. When it reached Gujjar Hostel Chatroo, the driver lost control over the steering near a curve. A woman, her son and her daughter were killed. The roads in Chenab region are notorious for road accidents as the area is hilly, roads are in bad shape and people are speeding or taking norms for a ride.

SRINAGAR

Representational picture

The speculations, queries, anxieties of class 10 students were finally answered when Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE), declared results on February 26. As soon as results were declared, the phones did not stop to ring. The sweet shops witnessed a rush as relatives, neighbours, and friends poured in to congratulate teachers and students. This year, as pandemic prevented students from attending the schools and forced to avail slow speed internet, the overall pass percentage was recorded at 75 per cent with girls outdoing boys by the slightest margin. The pass percentage of boys stood at 74.04 per cent while those of females was 76.09 per cent. 75132 students – 38340 boys and 36792 girls had written their examinations of whom 56384 were declared as qualified. But the morning turned out to be mourning for many as 18626 students who failed.

KASHMIR

The seasoned twigs sorted and graded, ready for sale. It is the basic raw material in wicker works. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Kashmir Willow Wicker products are set to eye a larger market through e-commerce platforms like Amazon and  Myntra under the World Bank-funded Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP). For the Willow Wicker Project Ganderbal, domain expert having vast experience in working with natural plant fibres KADAM has been engaged in the development of the cluster. The project will lead to the creation of self -sustaining Producer Company (PC) of the artisans that would be directly linked to the markets. Besides, under the Willow Wicker Project self-sustainable enterprises of the artisans which would be connected with the markets at national and international levels would be created.

LAGRIPORA

a file photo of Suhail Ahmad Ahangar, the cop who was killed in Baghat attack in Srinagar on Friday, February 19, 2021.

Suhail Ahanger, one of the two cops who were killed in a hit and run attack by militants in Baghat, was orphaned when he was seven months old. His father, Mushtaq, was gone missing during the early days of militancy in October 1990 much before Suhail was born. Interestingly, he had been deputed to Srinagar – after being transferred from Jammu only two days before his killing. Now his two minor sons are in the same state as he himself was. Suhail was raised by his grandfather, Muhammad Abdullah. Mushtaq was a floor mill employee where the security forces were also camping and was being frequently questioned.

LAL CHOWK

A day after the foreign envoys visit concluded, the Baghat attack triggered yet another debate – the abuse of Pheran, the Kashmir cloak that is part of the dress and a cultural symbol, by militants, As muscular voices about banning the garment were broadcast, there was an instant response – a few officers of the paramilitary forced some commuters to remove pherans. On social media, pictures were flooded with instances in Lal Chowk and Hari Singh High Street where pedestrians were asked to remove the traditional cloak. Historically the garment was denounced as Mughal design to induce laziness in Kashmir while this is for the first time, the new narrative frames it as a weapon.

GANDERBAL

In a gruesome and shocking crime, a doctor and five of his “associates” were arrested for the illegal termination of the pregnancy of a minor girl. The girl was subjected to the compulsive delivery of the baby by a doctor, which could have killed the infant. Cops overseeing the investigations said the victim girl revealed that her family members took her to the accused doctor’s clinic in Sopore for abortion.

BANIHAL

Train service resumes In Kashmir valley after 11 months on Monday February 22,2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The Kashmir train running between Banihal and Baramulla is back to business, almost a year after it stopped operations. Traversing a distance of 137 km, the train has 17 stations on the route which wore a deserted look for more than 11 months.  Following the Covid-19 pandemic and even before the rail services was suspended on March 19, 2020. But the train service in Kashmir has been witness to sudden screeches and halting. Earlier, the train service was suspended in August 2019 after the reading down of Article 370. The service was subsequently restored after 100 days. Similarly, in 2016, after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani, the services remained suspended for over six months.

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