Briefing March 21-27, 2021

KASHMIR

Mutton shops in Srinagar.

After the months-long mutton stalemate between butchers and the government ended, it was wazwaan-eaters delight. Caught in the crisis over the price issues, the ice did not melt for longer this time. Though at few places it was sold at exorbitant rates, by and large, the consumers in Kashmir had to taste vegetarian recipes regularly. Finally, the stalemate ended when the administration re-fixed the prices at ₹535 per kg without offal and ₹490 with offal. Apple of the eye of Kashmiri cuisine, mutton, be it festival or funeral, goes with almost every dish. A huge mutton consumer region, valley as per the rough estimates consumes more than 50,000 tonnes of mutton in a year, which comes between ₹4.5 crore to ₹5 crore worth meat per day.

ISLAMABAD

File image of Gen Bajwa

Ever since they moved out of British slavery, Kashmir has remained the main dispute between Indian and Pakistan. In the last one decade, Pakistan’s Kashmir policy has been reactionary, besides other issues emanating between the two neighbours. But, this time there is a slight shift. While referring to “unlock” the potential of South and Central Asia, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said peace between two neighbours is important. A military man, he has suggested, to “bury the past and move forward”. Addressing a session of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue, Bajwa has said that the potential for regional peace and development always remained hostage to the disputes and issues between Pakistan and India- the two nuclear-armed neighbours. However, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has said that “Kashmir is key to the India-Pakistan relationship.”

SRINAGAR

Lt Gen BS Raju Hands Over Charge To Lt Gen Devendra Pandey

Strategically located and sensitive, the Chinar Corps (XV Corps) of has a new boss, Lt Gen Devendra Pratap Pandey. As his order was confirmed, he would replace Lt Gen BS Raju due for his headquarter posting at New Delhi. An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, General Pandey was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in December 1985 from Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He belongs to Amahiya near Gorakhpur (UP) where his father was a Professor in Gorakhpur University. General’s is also serving in the Army as an officer.  Well versed with counter-insurgency he has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and a Counter Insurgency Force in Kashmir. He has also been the first Director-General of the Territorial Army. In his long 35 years career, he has been decorated with Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Vishist Seva Medal among numerous other awards. In Kashmir, the XV Corps is entrusted with the responsibility of handling vigilance along 343 km of the Line of Control and hinterland operation in the hinterland of Kashmir thus covering a span from North of Pir Panjal to Zoji La Pass.

SONWAR

Secretariat

One among the first Kashmiri officers who got into coveted Indian Administrative Services (IAS) through lateral entry, Mir Nasrullah passed away. He was 95. A lecturer by profession, Mir was teaching Chemistry in the SP College when he married Shama Bakhshi, the daughter of then Prime Minister Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad. He later shifted to the administration, served at different positions and eventually became Chief Secretary in 1985. Mir was the first of the two Kashmiri officers who made lateral entry into IAS. He was even sent to central deputation where he served in the Housing and Urban Development Department. Post-retirement, he was Chairman of the Bombay Mercantile Bank. Laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard at Baran Pather Batamaloo, he, his family said was active and agile.

SHOPIAN

A view of an encounter site in Rawalpora village in Shopian where two militants were killed on Monday March 15,2021.

In its third month, the year 2021 witnessed the longest operation in south Kashmir’s district Shopian. Stretched for three days, the operation resultantly concluded with the killing of two militants who were holed up, besides leaving a trail of destruction in Rawalpora village. The slain duo included a top Jaish-e-Muhammad militant. During the long encounter, pitched battles between youth and security grid were also witnessed in which almost a dozen youth were injured in the police action. Reportedly, at least seven families have become homeless. Police, however, said they gave the militants a chance to surrender but militants refused to come down and lay down arms. Besides recovering other arms and ammunition, police said a US-made M4 rifle was also recovered.

NARBAL

All set to break the record, a cyclist from Narbal is aiming to break the Guinness Book of World Record for cycling from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Scheduled to start on March 22, morning, he aims to cover a distance of 3600 km in record time. The current record belongs to 17-year- old cyclist of Maharashtra, Om Mahajan, who in November 2020 covered a distance of 3,600 km from Srinagar to Kanyakumari on cycle in eight days, seven hours and 38 minutes. Earlier Adil has represented Jammu and Kashmir at the national level in cycling and also cycled nonstop from Srinagar to Leh, has been supported by Abraq Agro in sponsoring the entire journey.

KASHMIR

Almost a year after the Covid-19 pandemic struck, primary schools reopened from classes 1 to 5 from Monday, March 15, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Almost a year after being closed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, primary schools opened in Kashmir, finally. The first day witnessed varied colours of uniforms all over, but with change. Kids from nursery to Class 5th wore masks and were using sanitisers. While maintaining social distancing, the seesaws and slides suddenly came to life and the lawns all around were busy. However, amid reopening, there is concern among the parents. Any report regarding the spike increases anxiety. But as of now, formal schooling has taken over a long period of online classes.

HUMHAMA

First Night flight operated from Srinagar Airport

Part of the discussion for long, the first night flight was operated from Srinagar Airport finally by Go Air to New Delhi at 1915 hrs. Present on the occasion was Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce, Ranjan Prakash Thakur. He greeted the crew of the flight and other ground personnel. The officials said the start of night operations is the dawn of a new era as it will improve air connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir. This is believed to boost the tourism sector as well.

DELHI

JK Pradesh Congress President Ghulam Ahmad Mir and Congress Working Committee member Tariq Hameed Karra

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress has always survived in factions. Right now, however, the Congress from Delhi to Srinagar is busy ensuring that they mend fences within to deny any room to Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is being seen as a rebel. Last week, Congress’s Jammu and Kashmir president Ghulam Ahmad Mir and Congress Working Committee member Tariq Hameed Karra had a quite rare meeting, at the latter’s residence. This was their first one-to-one meeting since Karra joined Congress in 2017. Since then, they were always seen as two factions of Congress. The move was a quick follow-up to high command directed Mir to rope in Karra to counter Azad. Meanwhile, Congress in-charge General Secretary, Rajni Patil will spend a few days in Kashmir.

DIMAPUR

Dimapur police and Assam Rifles jointly rescued a Kashmiri truck driver and his helper after some unknown reprobates from the Purana Bazaar in the northeast abducted them. Identified as Arif Khan and his helper Wilson Naik, they were rescued from Thilixu village in Dimapur. Khan was on his way from Kashmir to Kohima via Gujarat. While returning, his truck hit a vehicle in Dimapur in a traffic jam. Rejecting his compensation, some people took him to an unknown place blindfolded where he was severely tortured.

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