People, mostly tourists, broke into instant celebrations as ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 landed on the dark side of the moon, within days after a Russian probe was destroyed on touchdown. Prime Minister Modi termed it Shivshakti Point and announced August 23 to be the National Space Day. The rare success that put India among space leaders like the USA, China and Russia, came after Chandrayan-1 orbited the moon and the subsequent probe crashed. The Chandaryan-3 mission envisaged taking 3900-kg Rs 615 crore Lander Vikram and dropping 26-kg Pragyan rover on the lunar surface for conducting “in-situ scientific experiments”. The probe was launched on July 14. It will work for 14 days and then reactivate after a fortnight. Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti expressed their appreciation for ISRO’s decade-long effort that has finally come to fruition.Chandrayaan-3’s successful landing marks an important step in India’s lunar exploration plans.
The Jammu and Kashmir Bank has extended the free Group Personal Accidental Insurance Policy of Rs 25 lakh to all the employees of the Jammu and Kashmir government.
Of 218 candidates JKPSC selected for JKAS 2023, it was Anmol Rathore from a Bhaderwah village topped the list. Daughter of retired bank manager Rajiv Rathore and school Principal Jyoti Rathore, Anmol is a poet and has been a brilliant student. Born in Udrana village, she was schooled at GD Goenka School in Jammu and later graduated in law from the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar. She moved to the top slot in her first attempt. She has self-published two poetic collections – Songs From The Saffron Valley and An Unknown Face. Saurav Tagotra and Akshay Parihar secured second and third positions. Huzaif Rashid Shiekhzada is the Kashmir topper, falling at No 4 in the overall ranking. Hailing from Rawathpora Kupwara, he holds the fourth position.
The suicide rate has increased from 0.5 per 100000 before militancy to 13 now, one of the highest. Over 450 suicide cases were reported in Kashmir in 2020.
Millipedes are innocuous insects that exit in moist places and sometimes they can create an outbreak. This is what the Astanpora village witnessed last week where tens of thousands of insects invaded homes, contaminating food and attempting to get into children’s noses and ears. After a lot of hue and cry and not sleeping for many nights, various government departments started helping the residents. By now, it is controlled. Millipede outbreaks are reported worldwide but Astanpora was Kashmir’s first in many decades. Experts say millipede swarms often occur when conditions get too hot and dry, as they move in search of moisture.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has said more than 300 films and TV series have been shot in the region since the introduction of a new film policy two years ago.
Police data reveals a concerning spike in militancy activities in the Jammu region after the reading down of Article 370, even as the situation has improved in Kashmir. Out of 17 security indicators, eight like grenade attacks and IED blasts have risen in Jammu over the last four years, data published in various newspapers suggest. However, incidents like stone pelting have declined in Kashmir. The data also shows an over 5-fold increase in arrests of militancy-linked persons in Jammu and Kashmir post Article 370, reflecting improved intelligence and counter-terror ops.
LG Manoj Sinha laid the foundation stone for Rs 558.66 crore, 500-bedded Areesha Royal Hospital and 100-seat medical college in Srinagar’s MediCity. The company is owned by three Srinagar residents.
The army launched the first Kashmir Women’s Cricket League, with 12 teams from across the valley competing. Female cricket icon Mithali Raj and LG Manoj Sinha will attend the finals. The army aims to promote sports and empower Kashmiri women. The initiative provides a chance for women who were previously confined to homes to come out and play competitive cricket.
With 1.5 million tulips from 68 varieties, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden in Srinagar has been recognised by the World Book of Records as Asia’s largest tulip garden.
The website and social media accounts of Srinagar-based news portal, Kashmir Walla were blocked by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology without prior notice. This follows the 2022 arrest of its promoter and editor, Fahad Shah. Media watchdogs within and outside India have condemned the move. The closure coincided with the landlord asking the staff to vacate the office almost the same day.
Of about 40 historic ghats along the Jhelum River in Srinagar, 20 ghats have been restored to bring back their heritage value.
After spending many days in Leh and Kargil and meeting people around, Rahul Gandhi drove to Srinagar to cool his heels. On the last weekend, he was joined by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, for a few day’s stay in Srinagar. They arrived after many days of Congress reconstituting its powerful decision-making Working Committee by Mallikarjun Kharge. For the first time, there are two members from Kashmir in the Committee – GA Mir, apparently taking the slot that was left vacant after Ghulam Nabi Azad deserted the party, and Tariq Hameed Karra, who has been a permanent invitee earlier as well.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi (SMVD) Shrine Board is establishing a new Rs 450 crore 50-seat medical college in Kakryal as the existing premises will be given to the hospital for adding 200-220 beds.
The tumultuous situation notwithstanding, Kashmir is performing better on key socioeconomic indicators like healthcare and women’s empowerment. On metrics like child sex ratio (976 versus national average of 929), under-five mortality (18.5 vs 42 per 1,000), and women with 10+ years of schooling (51 per cent vs 41 percent), J&K fares better than national averages as per NFHS-5. The total fertility rate is 1.4 in Jammu and Kashmir against 2 for India, which is much lower. Jammu and Kashmir, however, lead India on the standard of living indicators like cleaner fuel access (deprivation: 32 per cent vs 44 per cent) and improved sanitation (deprivation: 24 per cent vs 30 per cent).
A record 3.68 million people participated in 42879 Independence Day events across Jammu and Kashmir on August 15, 2023.
Finally, the arid Kargil is India’s main apricot producer. In 2023, 31 tonnes of its prized Halman apricots were exported, building on 2022’s pioneering global shipments. With quality cultivation spanning 2303 hectares, it is India’s apricot capital now. The region accounts for 62 per cent of national production, underscoring its dominance. Dedicated farmers and organisations like Krishak Agritech have enabled the region to flourish globally. By leveraging its unique climate and showcasing exquisite local varieties, Ladakh has earned international recognition. Its apricot success paves the way for other local products to access global markets. Driven by entrepreneurship and innovation, the arid region has etched its name on the horticulture map.
A Srinagar court’s recent sentencing of two men to life imprisonment for a horrific acid attack on a young law student (now a government lawyer) in 2014 demonstrates that justice can prevail despite challenges. The court found the convicts Irshad Ahmad Wani and Muhammad Umar Noor guilty of voluntarily causing grievous hurt using acid, destroying evidence and criminal conspiracy. It held the charges were proven beyond doubt based on facts and evidence establishing their role in the premeditated attack. For attack survivor Sehar Nazir, this life term after 10 long years provides some closure on a painful chapter, though it cannot undo her suffering.
Jammu and Kashmir’s administration placed the services of a lecturer under suspension for appearing before the Supreme Court against the Government’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Budgam, has a law degree and teaches political science at state-run Higher Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar. He was found violating the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir CSR, Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1971, and J&K Leave Rules. The top court had granted him 10 minutes to speak on the matter.
As the polarising flick The Kashmir Files won the Nargis Dutt award for best film on national integration, the Kashmir political class and the film critics fumed over the happening. “There is not a single scene in that movie that depicts national integration…. Unfortunately, the movie only shows Kashmiri Muslims in a bad light. Not only that, a lot of agencies, including Jammu and Kashmir Police, have been shown in a very bad light,” NC spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said. “Nothing can be more ironic than this. A film that is peddling lies…creating divisions and thus disintegrating the country, that is vilifying and villainizing the J-K Muslim population, has been given an award for national integration,” added PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari. The award, part of the National Awards (2021), was decided by the 11-member jury led by Ketan Mehta.
Finally, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has issued the orders envisaging giving 5 marla free land to the eligible beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G). It said no non-native gets the benefit. Fearing settling non-locals under the scheme, the political parties had opposed the idea. The order said people residing on government land, forest land, farms, in possession of custodian land, or residing on land allotted by the government near Dachigam Park for agricultural purposes, are eligible for housing under PMAY-G but don’t have any land available for construction will benefit from the scheme. Still, the political parties in Kashmir are seeking clarity over the eligible beneficiaries insisting the right to domicile should be given to permanent residents only. “They need to tell us whether these domiciles are essentially those who were state subjects or new people who are not state subjects and have now gotten the domicile certificates. Because their intentions are under question,” PDP spokesperson said. JKNC spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said while the scheme is “not bad”, the decision should have been left to an elected government.