Briefing August 15 – 21, 2021

MUZAFFARABAD

A huge female crowd in Rawlakot in a PPP gathering as part of the electoral campaign for Muzaffarabad assembly

In Kashmir, on the other side of the Line of Control, it is politics that seemingly has brought the region to embrace the new wave of Covid19. The region did not get the new government only but also a new wave of the pandemic. This was stated by none other than Pakistan’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC)’s chief Asad Umar saying the elections, concluded last fortnight, proliferated the Covid19 cases. He had recommended postponing the polls or a special vaccination campaign before giving people the right to vote, suggestions binned by Imran Khan Government. With the new government of PTI in place, the region is having a positivity rate between 25 to 30 per cent, according to Umar, maintaining “elections have acted as a super spreader event”. He has lamented: “The worst violations of Covid SOPs in the last one year have come from politicians.”

This has led the panicky administration to impose lockdowns again. The official decision has forced a weekend closure on markets for two days besides the 8 pm deadline for closing the shutters. All the shrines have been closed again and indoor weddings have been banned. Public transport and offices will now function with half of the capacity. Of about 1.1 million Covid19 positive cases, Pakistan has lost 24266 so far. The Kashmir region under its administration has seen 28347 positive cases, of whom 658 have died. This, however, has not changed the politics – Muzaffarabad is enjoying the Kashmir Premier League (KPL), a controversial t20 tourney that was barking news recently.

Of 34060 posts identified in various government departments since 2019, the government has recruited 2732 people, so far.

RAJOURI

It triggered tensions in communally sensitive Rajouri when a grenade was tossed inside the house of Jasbir Singh, a local BJP leader, resulting in the death of his 2-year old nephew, Veer, as six others survived injured. Singh, an ex-serviceman, lives in Khandli bridge Chowk in the heart of Rajouri. Protests broke out in the GMC Rajouri with family members and locals alleging the lack of facilities in the hospital and holding police responsible for inadequate security cover to the BJP leader.  Later, a shutdown amid small protests was witnessed in the Pir Panchal region town. The incident came days after the counter-insurgency grid started reviving the VDCs as the decision-makers detected issues following the withdrawal of part of the soldiers to the Sino-Indian Ladakh border. The BJP, however, continues to be the primary target of the insurgents. Last week saw the killing of BJP leader, Ghulam Rasool Dar, a village sarpanch and his wife in Anantnag.

On one day, a random sampling at Katra Railway Station led to the detection of 73 travellers as Covid19 positive.

SRINAGAR

The outcome of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Srinagar visit, dubbed by his adversaries as Wazwaan tour, was slightly different from what Home Minister has said earlier. After visiting Kheer Bhawani temple and the Hazratbal shrine, he spoke briefly to the Congress workers in which he demanded statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and subsequent elections. He did not mention anything about the binned guarantees that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed under Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution of India. The reading down of the two key articles was actually the conclusion of a process that Rahul’s grandfather had initiated. However, Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that Jammu and Kashmir did require guarantees for jobs and land and not Article 35A in toto, simply because the other states have similar guarantees. The scion of the influential Gandhi family had flown to Srinagar to attend G A Mir’s son’s wedding. At the reception, Rahul met Dr Abdullah, Dr Karan Singh and reportedly Lt Governor Manoj Sinha also. However, he flew to Delhi and did not meet the PAGD, for which an indication had come from the local Congress.

Nityanand Rai, India’s MoS Home told Rajya Sabha nine properties belonging to Pandit migrants (apparently encroached upon) were restored and 520 migrants returned to Kashmir after they were given jobs. So far two non-locals have purchased properties after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A

SRINAGAR

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan being interviewed by RJ Zainab, a special child for Radio DPS. Zainab is enrolled in the school.

B-town’s method actor, Aamir Khan is busy shooting the desi version of Forest Gump named Laal Singh Chadda. After finishing his shooting in Kargil, he spent many days in Srinagar with his own family and that of his former wife, Kiran Rao. He also had a photograph with Lt Governor, Manoj Joshi before being invited to attend the formal release of Jammu and Kashmir’s Film Policy. However, Khan would be remembered for something different – his interview with a blind student of DPS, Srinagar, Zainab, who is already an RJ in the campus FM station. School managers said Zainab had approached the Taray Zameen Par actor in Mumbai and he had promised to meet her when he was in Srinagar. Khan kept the promise. The interview was good and both were at their best. Khan actually shot some sequences in the DPS premises besides Boulevard and Amar Singh College. Wait and watch how the Gump gets into Chadda and descends down the Kargil peaks to Dal lake.

JK DGP revealed they have detected 57 cases in which youth travelling to Pakistan and returned to become militants. Of them 17 were killed, 13 are active and 17 are still in Pakistan. Where are 10 others?

NADIHAL

On July 14, 2021, an army convoy was passing through Nadihal when a woman was run over by a truck. Shopkeeper, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, 35, recorded the accident and put it on social media. He is now in jail in Jammu under the Public Safety Act. Bhat has alleged that the only crime he committed was to record the video. Police, however, has accused Bhat of shooting the slogans on the spot of the accident, an allegation his family has denied. His wife has told reporters that cops had taken him from his shop and later they got his call about his arrest and subsequent shifting to Jammu. She has claimed she lacks any detail about where her husband is. However, her immediate problem is to manage herself and their two kids. Bhat had taken a loan of Rs 35 lakh for a shop that is locked right now.

29 Gurez yaks had crossed the LoC on July 31 and the local diplomacy involving the army and civil administration helped them get back.

KATHUA

A Police Havaldar was killed when he was fired upon by a fellow cop inside the District Police Lines (DPL) Kathua. The incident followed a clash amid verbal duels. The deceased was identified as Havaldar Mohammad Yunus, a resident of Reasi.

KASHMIR

Representational image

In the biggest ever crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami that was banned by the MHA in February 2019, the federal investigator, National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided more than 60 locations in 14 districts across Jammu and Kashmir for two days. The raids followed, according to media reports in wake of allegations that its cadres are collecting donations in the form of Zakat, Mowda and Bait-ul-Mal “to be used secessionist activities and motivating youth to indulge in disruptions”. The raids were carried out in Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam. NIA has said it recovered a “large quantity of incriminating documents, electronic devices, mobile telephones”. In raids, Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister, saw “waging a war against Jammu and Kashmir”. Instead of fighting an ideology with a better idea, she tweeted, it is crushing contrarian thought with an iron fist. The media reported that the federal investigator had hired 140 vehicles to manage such a large operation. NIA had registered a case against Jamaat on February 5, 2021.

Over 42000 tribal students getting Rs 30 Cr scholarship this fiscal

LADAKH

Foreign ministers of India and China, S Jaishankar and Wang Yi

Days after Foreign Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Tajikistan, there was a bit of progress on the mutual disengagement at the LoAC in Ladakh in the 12th round of talks. Both sides agreed to disengage from point PP17A, located near Gogra Post. Earlier they had successfully disengaged around Pangong Tso. Both sides dismantled and mutually verified the temporary structures they had created in last more than one year.  After disengaging from Galwan Valley in 2020, the two sides created a buffer zone of 1.7 km on each side of the LAC. The same principle was implemented after disengagement from Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso in February 2021. China, however, is yet to pull back its troops from PP15 at Hot Springs. The PLA is also blocking Indian soldiers from accessing patrolling limits in the Depsang Plains, and some “so-called civilians” have pitched tents on the Indian side of the LAC in Demchok.

 

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