Briefing April 25 – May 1, 2021


Mouazin of Jamia Masjid Srinagar, Molvi Yasin Shah

Octogenarian Muezzin of historic Jamia Masjid Molvi Yasin Shah passed away after a brief illness. His voice calling for prayers in Kashmiri accent would reverberate across the neighborhood, evoking deep emotions. His recitation of the Quran and rendition of Naat would move people spiritually and emotionally. It was after his father’s death, that late Yasin Sahab had taken over the responsibility to be Muezzin. People across political ideologies condoled his demise and many dwellers of the old city took to social media and wrote elegies in memory of the voice they had grown up listening to.


Lt Governor chairs 40th board meeting of Amarnath Shrine Board

As the UT administration of J&K was expecting six lakh footfalls of pilgrims during the upcoming Amarnath Yatra, the Covid-19 spike has led the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) to suspend the registration process for the pilgrimage temporarily. However, there has been no call over the suspension of pilgrimage so far. Pertinent to mention, the cases across India are rising and the mutant virus has taken a lethal turn with people gasping for breath and hospitals running out of oxygen cylinders.

As coronavirus staged a comeback in J&K, with daily positive cases surging, the streets and market again witnessed the odd-even formula to tackle contagion and reduce rush and crowd on streets is back. In order to contain the contagion, shops, business establishments were asked by authorities to remain open on a rotation basis while public transport will ply with 50 percent of seating capacity in Srinagar district in view of Covid-19 containment measures. Last year after the crippling lockdown, markets were subsequently allowed to open with odd-even formula when cases started to recede. But major trade bodies have resented the government diktat of partial closure of markets at a time when the valley is battling economic loss due to previous successive lockdowns. However, they urged the government to get aggressive on campaigning and forcing people to adhere to Covid-19 SOP’s than to close markets.


In the Pattan area of district Baramulla, a video went viral on social media where three men donning PPE kits, looted rupees 2, 86,130 from a J&K Bank branch. It was a Kashmir’s Money Heist version implemented with proper Covid-19 SOP’s. Police finally, within 48 hours, traced the trio, and have also recovered the guard’s snatched rifle and the car used by robbers after breaking into a bank.


A young student in her living room connected with her teacher in an on-line class. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

After the reading down of Article 370 and pandemic lockdown, the resumption of the physical mode of education in J&K continues to face halts. Even though hopes were renewed as cases had started to recede in winters, but to the dismay of all as the positive cases started to surge the authorities had to close the educational institutions gradually. Now attending offline class daily seems a distant dream as the virus is raging relentlessly. Firstly it was schooling then coaching institutions which were closed, and now the government ordered the closure of all universities and colleges in Jammu and Kashmir till May 15. However, the varsity will remain open for the courses/programs that require the physical presence of students on account of laboratory/research/thesis work and internship, etc.


Rohit Kansal, IAS, the spokesman for Jammu and Kashmir administration (centre) addressing a news conference. Photo: DIPR

Known as a harbinger of news last year when pandemic gripped the UT, Rohit Kansal, principal secretary of power, and information and the official spokesperson of the government, tested positive for the Covid-19 last week. “After dodging the Coronavirus for the entire last year, I have tested positive today; have some symptoms- but my spirits are high. #WeShallOvercome,” he tweeted. Pertinent to mention, the On 9 April, Kansal had taken the first COVID-19 vaccine dose at Jammu’s Gandhinagar Hospital. Earlier, among politicians, NC’s father-son duo have tested negative much to their relief but Omar Abdullah’s had two contradictory results with one showing positive and another negative.

Days after testing positive for Covid-19, Kashmir University Vice-Chancellor Professor Talat Ahmad got admitted to SKIMS Soura. Suffering from bilateral pneumonia, a panic moment descended when the oxygen saturation level dropped and the VC was rushed to SKIMS. Soon, after Vice-Chancellor, three more top officials from Kashmir University have been tested positive for COVID-19. The varsity had to be shut as positive cases surged and virus proliferated within the campus. During the vaccination drive at the campus, the response recorded was abysmally low. The drive meant for above 45 years old, teaching and non-teaching staff, out of 1500 only 300 turned up for Covid shots.


A month ago it was gloom and last week it was a shock for people when police solved the case in north Kashmir’s Baramulla. Mohammad Altaf Malik, 34, was allegedly murdered by his wife Tasleema and her paramour Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a local apple trader. The relatives of the deceased had developed inkling and asked for the police to investigate the case. Married for over 17 years, Altaf had shifted to his in-law’s home at Ranji, Pattan in 2010 to earn his livelihood. It was the deceased’s brother Mushtaq Ahmad who had filed an application to investigate when he suspected his brother’s wife. After being questioned the duo admitted to the crime.


Cricketer Abdul Samad with his award during IPL 2020

Known for his hard-hitting ability in the lower order, J&K star cricketer, Abdul Samad, of the Sunrisers Hyderabad found a new admirer in West Indian batting legend, Brian Lara who predicted that Samad will be one of the stars of the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Talking to Star Sports, he said, “Young Abdul Samad. I know he has had just two innings, but I think he is someone who can pretty much be one of the shining knights at the end of the tournament.” Samad has a strike rate of 113 in first-class cricket, 128.45 in List-A cricket, and 146.45 in T20 cricket. Earlier, he smashed 63 off just 38 deliveries playing for Jammu and Kashmir against the Services in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in February this year. Last year also, it was hard-hitting ability against quality bowlers which brought him into the limelight and earned him admirers.


A picture had got viral on social media, wherein a local baker found a new way to woo customers by offering them a special discount in the month of Ramzan, and also kept the weighing scale at his shop so that the people did not doubt he ‘reduced the weight’ of rotis. The baker had started giving a 20 percent discount on account of the holy month of Ramzan. Much to the joy of his growing customers, he now sells the Rs 10 local bread ‘tchot’ for Rs. 8 and Rs. 5 one for Rs. 4 only.


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