Briefing April 3-9, 2022

SOPORE

Counter-insurgency continues to be a newsy and noisy affair. Days after the police said the properties where fugitives will be located will be attached under law. A few days later they clarified that though the property attachment is legal, it will apply only in cases, where the hosting will be voluntary.

Of a series of incidents that took place, a few were noteworthy. In Sopore, for instance, CCTV images showed a burqa-clad lady lobbing a petrol bomb towards the CRPF. Within hours, the police said they identified the lady and soon she was arrested. Identified as Hasina Akhtar from Baramulla, police said she was earlier booked in 2021 for pasting posters of banned Lashker-e-Taiba in Handwara. A class 10 pass-out from Hanafia School, Akhtar was arrested by Police in 2021 and she is on bail since December.

In Srinagar’s Rainawari belt, a brief encounter led to the killing of two militants. Police later identified them as Rayees Ahmad Bhat and Hilal Ahmad Bhat, both residents of Bijbehara. They said Rayees was a “former journalist” who used to run an Anantnag-based online portal called Valley News Service. An identity card showing him as the “editor-in-chief” of the portal was recovered from his body. “It indicates a clear case of misuse of media,” Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar tweeted.

However, the worst incident took place in Chandbugh village of Budgam where militants barged into the residence of an SPO, Ishfaq Ahmad Dar, and shot at him. A resistance by his brother, Umar Ahmad, a student, led to a scuffle, in which he was also injured. Within a few hours, both the brothers were declared dead. Thousands of residents joined the funerals and the entire belt went into mourning. As the two coffins were taken for burial, the women showered flower petals and toffees on them. People were angry and it led to the cancellation of the train services for the day. All the senior officers of the security grid visited the village and interacted with the family. All political formations condemned the twin murders.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached 16 properties worth Rs 4.69 crore owned by various arms dealers and senior bureaucrats of Jammu and Kashmir in the fake arms license case.

 PUNJAB

In an interesting development, reports in the media suggest, that the security agencies have flagged the operations of an NGO that has helped fund the construction of 200 mosques in the border districts of Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Pathankot. It is basically a Kerala-based NGO, Relief and Charitable Foundation of India (RCFI), which has funded the construction of three Faridkot mosques that caught the eye of the security grid. The offshore funds for the construction of the mosques are reported to have been diverted through two residents of Baramulla (Kashmir), who supervised the construction and paid the bills between 2015 and 2017. RCFI have spent Rs 70 crore for the construction of mosques and the funding was stopped by MHA in August 2021. However, RCFI has told a newspaper that since 2000, it is working to improve the quality of life for the most marginalised communities.

Kashmir has a fourfold increase in tourist footfalls in the first two months of 2022 as 163 thousand arrivals were reported

JAMMU

Babu Singh

Jatinder Singh, mostly known as Babu Singh, 64, has been named in a hawala transaction involving Rs 6.90 lakh. “One Mohammad Shareef Shah, a resident of Larnoo in Anantnag, was arrested from Gandhi Nagar area and Rs 6.90 lakh was seized,” reports quoting Mukesh Singh, Additional DGP was quoted saying. “During interrogation, Shah disclosed that he was tasked by Jatinder Singh, chairman of Nature – Mankind Friendly Global Party, to collect money from one Omer at Srinagar.” Shah has disclosed the names of his aides as Javed and Khatib of PaK and Farooq Khan of Toronto, Canada. Police have arrested Gurdev Singh and Shrief Sartaj of Jammu and Sidhant Sharma of Kathua.

NIA has announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty on four fugitive militants – Sajjad Gul alias Sheikh Saijad, Salem Rehmani, Basit Ahmed Dar and Saifullah Sajid Jatt. Two of them are from Pakistan.

AGRA

Three Kashmiri students

After more than 150 days, the Allahabad High Court has granted bail to three Kashmiri students who were arrested in October 2021 on sedition charges for celebrating Pakistan winning a T-20 World Cup cricket match. They were students of Raja Balwant Singh (RBS) Engineering College in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The college has already suspended them after the police registered a case on an application moved by BJP leader Gaurav Rajawat.

Jammu and Kashmir government said it has receives 4226 proposals worth Rs 47441 crore for land allotment under the new industrial policy. The investment will generate 1.97 lakh jobs.

PULWAMA

Three-Headed Sculpture Of Lord Vishnu Recovered From River Jhelum in Kakapora village of Pulwama on Wednesday March 30,2022

Jhelum, Kashmir’s main river is not the witness of Kashmir alone but is also hiding my secrets. The sand miners have recovered hundreds of items that belonged to the medieval and ancient eras of Kashmir. The more recent is the recovery of a multi-headed idol of Vishnu. The old idol was recovered from Lelhar which usually is the main source of ancient treasures. With the help of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the idol was shifted to SP Museum Srinagar. The idol is a unique specimen of Kashmir’s impressive stone carving. It is presumed to be from the same as are visible in the Avantipora site. It dates back to the ninth century.

SRINAGAR

A Srinagar court has admitted a fresh plea seeking an investigation in the murder of Satish Tickoo involving erstwhile militant, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate. The Tickoo family submitted the plea on March 30 through their lawyer, Ustav Bains who flew from Delhi. Tickoo was killed on February 2, 1990. The next hearing of the case is slated for April 16. Karate was arrested by BSF along with two others on June 22, 1990. In October 2006, he was released on indefinite bail after the Supreme Court quashed his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA). He was re-arrested by the federal investigator NIA in 2019 on charges of terror funding after the Pulwama attack.

DELHI

Governor Satya Pal Malik addressing his maiden press conference at SKICC Srinagar on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

With UP elections over, Kashmir’s most vocal governor, Satya Pal Malik has gone silent. His successor, Manoj Sinha has written to the CBI to investigate the claims he had made suggesting that Rs 300-crore bribes were on the table for clearing two files including one related to an RSS leader. “Bade Padh Par Baithey Huey Vyakti Ne Koi Baat Kahi Hai To Desh Mein Jo Sab Se Vishawniye Sanstha Hai Jaanch Ke Mamley Mein, Humney Swakriti Beiji Hai In Dono Prakarno Ki Janch Ke Liye’’ (As a person holding high office had said something, we have given our consent to the CBI for investigations in both the matters), Sinha told reporters. “Aur Janch Ke Baad, Doodh Ka Doodh Aur Pani Ka Pani Ho Jayega” (And truth will come out after the investigations).

Malik, used to be talking at high-pitch and attacking people at high places with impunity. Currently Meghalaya governor, Malik had alleged that in her era he had received two files, one pertinent to Ambani and the other to an “RSS functionary”. “One of the secretaries told me that these are shady deals, but he can get Rs 150 crore each. I told him that I had come to Jammu and Kashmir with five kurta-pajamas and would leave with that only,” Malik had said. “I alerted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who told me that there should be no compromise on corruption.” After the CBI started investigations, Malik has fallen silent.

DELHI

Home Minister, Amit Shah and LG Manoj Sinha in a security review meeting in Jammu on March 19, 2022

Home Minister Amit Shah has said Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held once the delimitation exercise was over and after consultation with political parties.  “We have no interest in keeping Jammu and Kashmir under President’s Rule,” Shah told Lok Sabha. He had made it clear that the first panchayat elections would be held in Jammu and Kashmir, then this would be followed by the delimitation exercise, after which Assembly elections would be held, and then statehood would be restored. Meanwhile two Jammu and Kashmir residents – Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Mohammad Ayub Mattoo – have urged Supreme Court to quash the Centre’s decision to conduct the delimitation exercise in the erstwhile state on the ground that the same was unconstitutional and illegal as it is sought to be undertaken through a defunct Delimitation Commission instead of the Election Commission of India.

As many as 34 individuals from Punjab and Delhi have bought after 2019 in Jammu, Reasi, Udhampur and Ganderbal.

KARGIL

National Conference (NC) leader Feroz Khan that was presiding over the LAHDC-Kargil with the support of the BJP, is in crisis as the latter has withdrawn its support. BJP said the decision to withdraw the support was taken after a thorough discussion with stakeholders and BJP executive members. BJP has six members in the council. LAHDC comprises 30 members of whom 26 are elected. 11 were from the NC, eight were from Congress, two were from PDP, one from the BJP and five were independents. Late two PDP men joined BJP and all the four nominated members were also from BJP. Initially, it was an NC-Congress alliance. Post-2019, it became an NC-BJP alliance. What next, nobody knows.

Jammu Kashmir has created a record of sorts by collecting a tax of Rs 15179 Cr in fiscal 2021-22. It is 25.38 per cent more than Rs 12105.95 crore collected in the last financial year. It includes Rs 11,163.95 crore o GST; motor spirits tax of Rs 1,829.73 crore; stamp duty of Rs 425 crore and Excise Duty collections of Rs 1,760.74 crore.

HANDWARA

With the brutal killer of the minor Awoora boy, Talib, behind the bars, it is now being revealed that Aamir Khan had actually been driven to madness by the suicide of his sister eight years ago. The young girl had committed suicide after Talib (who was born the same year)’s uncle had allegedly blackmailed her. One of the most challenging cases for sleuths, the police have worked overtime and exhausted all the means of investigation to prove that Aamir killed Talib. Both the families are close neighbours. It was only after the evidence was established by the police that Aamir lacked an option to deny his involvement. It eventually led him to give the dead body to the police. With police busy drafting the formal case – the charge sheet, which the requirement of motive led to further investigation. It was eventually revealed that Aamir had decided to avenge the suicide of his sister following her alleged blackmail by Talib’s uncle. Will it lead to the registration of a new case? Nobody knows.

JAMMU

Omar Abdullah with Devender Singh Rana and Surjit Slathia, the two senior leaders who deserted NC for BJP. This photograph was taken in Jammu at the funeral of Trilochan Singh Wazir, an NC heavyweight who was murdered.

Senior BJP leader, Devender Singh Rana – who quit NC in 2021, has revealed that the National Conference (NC) was ready to form a coalition government with BJP, after the 2014 assembly polls. “I was sent as a leader of a delegation to Delhi by my then leadership to persuade BJP to form the government with National Conference,” Rana told a public meeting in Doda. “We were ready to form a coalition government with BJP.” When reporters – at an informal event, asked Omar, he said Rana’s quitting has been a major personal loss, which he is unable to explain for himself. On allegations, I will send only one thing, he said. “Either he was lying for 20 years when he was in NC or he is lying now when he is in BJP,” Omar said.

DELHI

Farah Bashir, the author of Rumours of Spring received the debut AutHer award 2022 on March 26, 2022.

Farah Bashir bagged the best debut AutHer award 2022 for her Rumours of Spring: A Girlhood in Kashmir. The award was constituted by JK Paper and The Times of India in 2018. Farah’s book earlier figures in the long list of two major literarily awards – Tatalitlive and Atta Galata Banglore LitFest. “It was a surprise win because the competition was stiff,” Farah told Kashmir Life on phone from Delhi. “I hope with this recognition the coming-of-age story of young girls and women in conflict zones will reach more readers. May our children live in a world where we turn to reading and writing for the love of it and not to escape the brutality of war.”

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