Briefing April 16-22, 2023

   

NOWHATTA

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Jamia Masjid Srinagar on May 3, 2022, where Eid prayers did not take place after its management refused the conditions put by the government. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Amid the din that Kashmir is normal, authorities locked the Jamia Masjid Srinagar for Jummat-ul-Vida, the last Friday congregation for Ramazan, the Muslim month of fasting. Early morning, officials allegedly asked worshippers to leave the premises as the mosque managers were asked to lock it for the day. Even the shopkeepers were directed to not open shops for the day. Amid expectations that more than 100 thousand people would offer their prayers, the Zuhar timing saw a few women wailing at the locked main gate. The administration’s action was condemned by the political class. “It defies the authorities’ claim that ‘all is well now’ in Naya Kashmir,” one reaction said. Omar Abdullah tweeted: “We are constantly treated to claims of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir and yet the administration betrays its own claims when it resorts to locking up one of our holiest mosques thus denying people the chance to offer prayers on the last Friday of Ramzan.” Added Altaf Bukhari: “It’s a brazen violation of religious freedom.” Is it happening for Shab-e-Qadr and Eid? Wait and watch.

NOWGAM

prostitution, sex racket, Kashmir, soft leather trade,
A “sex worker” and a group of men who were arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police for running a prostitution centre in Srinagar on April 11, 2023. Photograph: JKP

Jammu and Kashmir Police, in two raids, exposed two prostitution centres in uptown Srinagar – one each at Bagh-e-Mehtab and Nowgam. In Bagh-e-Mehtab, two individuals – Irshad Ahmad Bhat ( Pampore) and Mohammad Shafi Hajam (Karimabad Pulwama) had taken premises on rent, where they were running the prostitution racket. When the police raided the centre, they recovered four female sex workers – all from Srinagar, and two clients. Police did not offer details of the clients, however. They later arrested the house owner who had rented the premises to the fresh traders. Days later, another centre was exposed in Nowgam, not far away from Bagh-e-Mehtab. Police said they were investigating the case when a link was generated to the next raid. This cartel was run by a couple – Shabir Ahmad Mir of Charlipora and his wife, Shazia, along with Adil Gulzar Hazar of Soura. Besides, two customers and a sex worker were also detained.

Only 28 Mumbai tourists were caught with fake Gandola tickets in Gulmarg. These were edited tickets supplied by their tour manager Makrand Anand Ghanekar.

UDHAMPUR

The ill-fated bridge that collapsed under the weight of a crowd on Baisakhi, killing a minor girl as 62 survived injured in Chenaini on April 15, 2023.

Baisakhi celebrations turned into a tragedy as revellers overcrowded a footbridge making it collapse under their weight at Beni Sangam in Bain village of Chenani. Anu Kumari, a 9-year-old girl died and 62 survived injured. A narrow steel bridge that can withstand a weight of less than a dozen people saw more than 100 people on it as a result of which it collapsed. The government has ordered a probe led by Deputy Commissioner Udhampur into the collapse. The government has asked to probe into the happening. Six seriously injured people have been shifted to GMC, Jammu.

42 new Industrial Estates spread over 48,301 kanals are being established in Jammu and Kashmir.

SAMBA

In a gruesome incident, Kulbir Singh, a resident of Dakhi Sumb village, killed his 21-year-old son, Jeetan Singh, and inflicted injuries on his wife and daughter. He attacked his son with a sharp-edged weapon and later targeted his wife Poonam Singh and his 16-year-old daughter Saloni with the same weapon (darat). He killed his son on the spot, while his wife and daughter received grievous injuries. Kulbir is a shopkeeper. Police have arrested him.

More than 300 thousand tourists visited Kashmir Tulip Garden on Zabarwan hills in 20 days.

DELHI

It is presumed that Dughalt was killed in a fort on way to Budgam. It is perhaps the same spot where the Mughals later constructed a Sarai, which is still there but in ruins.

Mughal’s were not the only tribe moving out of NCERT history books. Latest reports suggest that NCERT’s revised class 11th political science textbook has dropped a paragraph on Jammu and Kashmir’s conditional accession with the Union of India in 1947. The older version of the textbook read, “for example, the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union was based on a commitment to safeguard its autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution.”

But in the 10th chapter of the revised textbook, titled “The Philosophy of the Constitution”, the reference to Jammu and Kashmir’s conditional accession has been deleted by the authors of the textbook. It has also deleted a reference to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad from the first chapter of the book.

Kashmir consumed 150 truckloads of dates in 30 days of Ramzaan, market players said.

LONDON

Alastair Lamb, the British archaeologist-historian whose Kashmir-related research has dominated the discourse for many decades is no more.  At 93, he died on April 6, 2023. Lamb is one of the pioneer researchers who examined the British archives on Kashmir and generated a narrative that continues to remain unchallenged. His Kashmir books include Crisis in Kashmir: 1947-1966 (1966), Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846-1990 (1991), Birth of a Tragedy, Kashmir 1947 (1994) and Incomplete Partition: The Genesis of the Kashmir Dispute 1947-1948 (2002). Delhi believed Lamb was anti-India and influenced by Pakistan.

“Lamb was born on January 9, 1930, into a diplomatic family in Harbin, China, the only child of Lionel (later Sir Lionel) Lamb and his Australian-born wife Jean, née MacDonald. His father, a Sinologist who would end his career as Ambassador to Switzerland, was then serving in the British consular service in China where he and his wife were interned by the Japanese from December 1941 to August 1942,” according to a British newspaper. “Luckily they had managed to get their son away to Britain to stay with his paternal grandfather, Sir Harry Lamb, also a diplomat, in Sidmouth.”

From Harrow, the newspaper wrote, Lamb went up to King’s College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in History, followed by a doctorate on the British Indian border between the era of Warren Hastings and the 1904 Younghusband expedition to Tibet. This was published in 1960 as Britain and Chinese Central Asia: The Road to Lhasa 1761 to 1905. In 1959 Lamb moved to Malaya, where for nine years he was a reader of history at the University of Malaya and where a side interest in archaeology led him to investigate Hindu and Buddhist sites in Kedah and southern Thailand. This was followed by three years as a senior fellow in the Department of history at the Australian National University and four as a professor of history at the University of Ghana. During the 1970s he spent some time working in the office of the Pakistan leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; during the 1980s he was a reader of history at Hatfield Polytechnic.

In 1954 he married Venice Havinden, daughter of the graphic designer Ashley Havinden. She survives him with their two sons and a daughter.

More than 96% (1,69,564 ) of 175547 students from across Jammu and Kashmir who appeared for eight standard examinations were declared successful. In the Jammu division, 88,506 candidates appeared for the exam, out of which 86,132 candidates qualified. In the Kashmir division, a total of 87,041 candidates appeared for the exam, out of which 83,432 candidates qualified.

CHANDIGRAH

Almost four years after he ordered a missile to hit a battle IAF chopper that killed six IAF personnel and a civilian at the peak of India Pakistan tensions, a General Court Martial (GCM) has ordered the dismissal of Group Captain Suman Roy Chowdhury, then Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Srinagar Air Force Station. The incident was reported on February 27, 2019, within hours after India carried out an airstrike near Balakot inside Pakistan. The attack helicopter was struck by the IAF’s own surface-to-air missile when the chopper was on its way back to Srinagar from somewhere near Uri.

AMARNATH

Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Highways Minister with Jammu and Kashmir LG, Manoj Sinha posing for a photograph in the upcoming tunnel at Zoji La on April 10, 2023. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

This year, Amarnath yatra is going to be a 62-day long affair starting July 1. Meanwhile, Nitin Gadkari, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said a 110-km road from Khanabal to Panjtarni will be constructed at a cost of Rs 5300 crore. The DPR for the 73 km stretch from Khanabal to Chandanwari will be done in July 2023. The DPR for the 37 km stretch from Chandanwari to Baltal via Panjtarni at a cost of Rs 3500 will be done in October 2023. It includes a 10.8-km tunnel between Sheshnag and Panjtarni, Gadkari said the tunnel will reduce the yatra time from the current three days to just nine hours.

Gadkari in a tweet stated that 19 tunnels are being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 25 thousand crore.

RAJOURI

Doctors at Government Medical College Hospital in Rajouri have been busy arranging A-negative blood for one of the two Pakistani intruders, who was captured in an injured condition by the Army near the Line of Control during the night of April 8-9. The seriously injured man has been identified as Mohammad Tariq (23), whose both legs are fractured. His surgery will be carried out only after five pints of blood are arranged.  Tariq and Mohammad Shakeel (32), residents of Chanjal village, were arrested in the Shahpur area of Poonch. Their third accomplice, Mohammad Sharief Kohli (42), was killed. Army recovered 17 kgs of narcotics from the slain person’s body.

DELHI

G20 is Group of Twenty, an intergovernmental forum, comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU). It works to address major issues related to the global economy.

Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in wake of fast approaching G-20 Working Group on Tourism meeting scheduled to be held in Srinagar from May 22-25. He reviewed the area domination plan, zero terror policy, law and order situation, matters related to UAPA and other security-related issues, and reports in the media suggest. As per schedule, G-20 leaders will reach Srinagar on May 22 while the meeting on the Working Group of Tourism will be held on May 23. Sightseeing including a Shikara ride in Dal Lake, and a visit to Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary and Gulmarg is planned for May 24. The delegation will return on May 25.

“Such events cannot hide the reality of Jammu and Kashmir being an internationally recognised dispute that has remained on the agenda of United Nations Security Council for over seven decades,” a Pakistan foreign office statement has said, accusing India of “exploiting its membership” of the G-20 to advance its own agenda. Reports said that Pakistan has contacted the United States, the United Kingdom, and other G20 countries to try to prevent Delhi from hosting the high official-level meetings in Kashmir. It is said to be pressuring other G20 members including China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to stray away. However, MEA Spokesman, Arindam Bagchi said it is natural to hold G20 meetings in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, as these regions are integral and inalienable parts of India.

Apart from G20 meeting, a Youth Engagement Group meeting is scheduled to take place in Leh as well. The Youth-20 Summit or Y-20 is scheduled from April 26 to 28 in Leh, bringing together about 80 delegates from nearly every G-20 country. China, reports appearing in the media said, is staying out of the meeting in Leh in April and also a G-20 tourism meeting in Srinagar.

In Srinagar, security is on high alert to ensure an incident-free global event. Workers are working overtime to relay the road from the airport to Boulevard and Lal Chowk.

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