Briefing August 1 – 7, 2021

DACCHAN

Kashmir ecology has a tripping point. As the soaring temperatures reached a point, the weather conditions changed and it triggered a series of cloudbursts – short-duration, intense rainfall events over a small area, which is the outcome of unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm/h over a geographical region of approximately 20-30 square km. Usually taking place with an increasing frequency in July and August, the worst cloudburst took place over the peaks of Honzer village, almost a 5-hour walk from Sounder, the last village in Dacchan accessible by road from Kishtwar. The village was rebuilt after it was decimated by fire in 2007.

As the cluster of houses dotting the T-junction banks of a hill stream and a river, the rising levels of water had started pushing water in. This triggered an alarm and the residents from the safer belt of the village started the rescue. They were busy in rescue when there was a thud that coincided with, what residents said, “walls of water’ tossing the houses into the water with inmates and the cattle. Those washed away included a number of residents who were busy in rescue.

Seven houses were completely washed away and converted their space into a sort of a riverbed. Many other houses were seriously impacted by the flash flood. So far, nine dead bodies were recovered and 17 are stated to be missing. Of the 17 residents who survived injured, five are in the hospital fighting for life.

Given the godforsaken village is located deep into the Decchan belt (Wadwan, Madwa and Daccan) located in between Anantnag and Kishtwar, it took some time for the rescue teams to reach the place. The local army unit and police were the first to reach the spot and were later in the day (July 28) joined by SSP Kishtwar and volunteer’s from Ababeel, a group of volunteers from Chenab Valley. They reached so quickly that they participated in the funeral prayers of the last civilians whose body was washed ashore by the deadly currents. IAF could fly to Sounder on July 29, with official and rescue teams.

People who visited the devastated village said the poverty-stricken hamlet would require a lot of effort and resources to rebuild. The government has announced Rs 5 lakh for every single death that took place. Ababeel’s Imran who visited the hamlet said they have initiated crowd-funding to manage to rebuild.

The government will pay a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the next of the kin of a councillor if the latter is killed in a militancy-related incident.

SRINAGAR

Shahtoosh shawl through a ring (Image: Internet)

Shahtus is still in vogue. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said it raided two handicraft exporters and recovered four shawls from its stocks. The raids were the outcome of a complaint made by the Customs Department against Srinagar based Cashmere Fine Arts, run by Shabir Ahmad Gogeree and Delhi based Craft Harvest. The two firms are accused of exporting 32 Shatus Shawls.

DELHI

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken’s Delhi visit reiterated the fact that the two democracies with work with each other on Afghanistan and would try to learn from each other in managing the affairs of their respective countries.

The talks or at least the official conversation in the public domain was ambiguous and did not mention the K-word. “I made three important points,” Jaishanker was quoted saying. “One, that the quest for a more perfect union applies as much to Indian democracy as much as to the American one, indeed to all democracies. Two, it is the moral obligation of all polities to really right wrongs when they have been done including historically. Many of the decisions and policies you have seen in the last few years fall in that category. And third, freedoms are important. We all value them but never equate freedom with non-governance or lack of governance or poor governance. They are two completely different things.”

Strategic Affairs experts said it was mostly about Kashmir if not all. The visiting official was conveyed that “don’t come into my polity and judge me”. Delhi said India has a historical issue of Kashmir and the US has racial tensions. That is what the idea of correcting “historical wrongs” is all about especially the reading down of Article 370. They were told that India is fighting the “fake news” the same way that the US is doing and the latter must see the “big picture” and support it. On fundamental freedoms, Delhi said that “freedom is not anarchy”, and should not be “mixed up” with a lack of governance and poor governance.

Despite the divergence on all these issues, the two sides had a lot of consensus on Afghanistan. They did differ on Islamabad, however. While Jaishankar said Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty will only be ensured “if it is free from malign influences”, the guest stayed tight-lipped and neutral.

As many as 3841 Kashmiri migrant youth have moved back to Kashmir and taken up jobs under the Prime Minister’s Rehabilitation Package. Another 1997 youth selected from 26684 applicants in April will join them soon.

SRINAGAR

Actor Aamir Khan with his now-divorced wife, Kiran Rao, with JK Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on August 1, 2021. Khan is filming some sequences of his upcoming film in Srinagar after the Kargil schedule was over.

After spending some time in Kargil, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan was seen in Srinagar’s historic Amar Singh College. People in the know of things said he was identifying the location for his shoot in the coming days. A female aide was accompanying Khan and jotting down the instructions. As he was on the premises, a gathering of his fans assembled at the main gate and then the actor moved out in a car and waved towards them.

Khan has also identified two other locations for shooting, one at Boulevard and another within the premises of DPS, Srinagar. Some sequences of the upcoming Lal Singh Chadda are being filmed at these spots in the first week of August.

JAMMU

Mubarak Mandi complex is being seen as symbol of Dogra pride in Jammu. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

If everything goes as per the script, a portion of the historic Mubarak Mandi Complex will be converted into Heritage Hotel under Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society had earlier identified Zanana Mahal, the residential palaces situated in the eastern part of the heritage complex, having unique architecture and exquisite interior decorations in the form of wall paintings, mirrors work, decorative ceilings and exceptional spatial qualities. These women exclusive palaces are spread over 9419.35 square metres and have six buildings—Rani Bandrali Mahal, Mahal of Raja Amar Singh’s queens, Rani Guleri Mahal, Rani Charak Mahal, Mahal of Raja Ram Singh queens and Nawa Mahal.

Now the Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited will get in and identify a partner under PPP mode on Design Develop-Finance-Build-Maintain and Operate basis. Notices to see Expression of Interest is already out. Indications suggest that two buildings restored already and six other buildings presently being conserved will be used for setting up of State-of-the-Art Museum, library and convention centre for which the Union Culture Ministry has assured funds. This will be the first monument in India that will be utilised for commercial purposes.

Tensions are growing over the proposal and people have started reacting. NC leader Ajay Sadhotra said it must be protected as a well-maintained monument and G S Charak has said that government must avoid fiddling with the symbol of Dogra pride.

In Srinagar, Manoj Sinha administration has inked an MoU with the JSW Foundation, a social development arm of the business house JSW Group, for restoration and conservation of Mughal gardens of Shalimar and Nishat. The Foundation will assist and support, financially and technically, in preserving the two heritage gardens under its CSR. This will cost Rs 7 crore each.

CBI raided 40 locations in Jammu and Kashmir in the fake gun licence case.

SRINAGAR

A smart number revolving around the life and issues of the Shehr-e-Khas, the downtown, by comedian, prank artist, Musaib Ahmad Bhat broke the internet and he instantly emerged as a star. The well-read trader is passionate about the art and has faced a piqued situation at home initially. “Kashmir has seen so much that people have lost the art of smiling,” Musaib told Kashmir Life, “I see it worship if my art makes them laugh.” His number, one minute up, one minute down – baby, this is downtown, written and choreographed by Musiab personally has all its artists from diverse fields of life including the one who drives an auto-rickshaw. The video, edited professionally, details the life in the main city and offers tips of the crisis that make downtown’s iceberg. Hugely impressed by the response Musaib said he is working on two more numbers and will put in more efforts to make people happy.

SRINAGAR

President Ram Nath awarded a degree to a student during the 19th annual convocation of the University of Kashmir at Srinagar on Tuesday July 27, 2021

Srinagar witnessed movement restrictions in certain areas, especially the Boulevard road, the main tourist hub, as President Ram Nath Kovind flew on a 4-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir. Weather conditions prevented him to join the Vijay Diwas function in Drass so he flew to Baramulla garrison and later to Gulmarg. His only public function was the Convocation of the University of Kashmir where he said democracy has the capacity to reconcile differences and bring out the best of citizens while asserting that “Kashmir, happily, is already realising this vision.” Kashmir, the Reash Vaer, he said is a reservoir of wisdom and an unparalleled beauty but its outstanding tradition of peaceful coexistence was broken by violence.

 

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