Briefing August 30 – September 5, 2020

Covid-19GMC Srinagar Conducts Second Round Of Sero-Survey For COVID-19 In Pulwama

Jammu and Kashmir continue to be in a state of crisis as the Covid-19 cases are still indicating an upward swing. Already around 700 people were killed by the invisible contagion as the cases stand at 36377. Though most of the infected – 28020 – have recovered and gone home, the rise in the new cases is the real worry. Now the districts at their own levels have started enforcing a new wave of lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. The dead include a former MLC and the infected includes an incumbent MP – both from Jammu. Srinagar tops the districts in the number of overall infections and the deaths.  


Manzoor Ahmad Ahnager

A 22-year-old Kashmiri youth, seeking help in the Capital for economically challenged brides in Kashmir, ended up being grilled by the Delhi police for 30 hours just for being found on the Rajpath lawns, The Hindu reported. Identified as Manzoor Ahmed Ahanger, a resident of Budgam, police recovered two IDs – his own Aadhar card and driving licence of his brother – from his possession that raised suspicion. He was then taken to Parliament Street police station for further investigation. A waiter in Jamia Masjid, he told police he was collected Zakaat to help brides in his village. He wanted to meet the Prime Minister or some senior minister. Did the police ask which bride has he helped?


Zahoor Ahmad, a pharmacist who was arrested by police and accused of being an OGW. The designated court under UAPA found no shred of evidence against him and set him free. The court passed serious remarks for an attempt to frame the man.

Setting him free, a court in Jammu has reprimanded the police for falsely implicate a junior pharmacist into the militancy-related case. Identified as Zahoor Ahmad, a resident of Marwah, he was arrested by police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in January 2020 after the police station, Dachhan charged him of supporting Hizbul Mujahideen and Jehangir Saroori, Kashmir’s oldest surviving militant. Saroori is active in Chenab Valley since 1990. The court observed that it could not find a single witness or statement which can be held against Zahoor, accused of being an OGW.


A cop rescued a lady trapped in flood in Kathua on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. Pic : Police

August was hottest in the last four decades and everybody was seeking relief. When the rains finally came, these came with a new crisis. Though Kashmir was not impacted hugely, Poonch lost huge infrastructure. Three persons were buried alive under by landslide. Two others were washed away by the floods in Jammu. Authorities at various places had to the mobiles air force to manage rescue. The Srinagar Jammu highway is still facing serious hiccups and the transport is hugely interrupted.  


Mourners in black robes facing police (not in picture) at Bemina on Saturday, August 29, 2020. This was the venue of a local Ashoora mourning that police disrupted. Almost half a dozen mourners are reported injured. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

For the first time after August 5, 2019, the authorities in Srinagar had to manage crowds, courtesy the yearly Ashura remembrance, related to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his colleagues in Karbala. Though restrictions were imposed across Kashmir, the Shia groups defied the restrictions at various places. There were protest mourning’s in Bemina, Budgam, and various other parts in Srinagar. Police used tear smoke shells at various places and carried out night raids and arrests at various places.  


Former Premier Dr Manmohan Singh and ex-Pakistan president Gen Pervez MusharaffA year after the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir is still in global news. While exploring best options for a solution to the Kashmir crisis, the report by the Washington-based think tank, US Institute of Peace (USIP) has suggested that the standoff between India and Pakistan over Kashmir can be resolved if the backdoor deal arrived in 2004-2007 between then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is implemented with mutual agreement from both sides. Funded by the US Congress, and reported in detail by IANS, the USIP report has expressed concerns over the Narendra Modi government’s decision to annex Jammu and Kashmir, changing the special status into two Union Territories, highlighting that the decision will “be sorely tested by the disaffection that has intensified among Kashmiris since August 5, 2019”.  The report has revealed that post-August 5, 2019, “most indicators of violence in Kashmir have been on the rise” and “the Indian government’s insistence on Kashmir being a purely domestic issue is a fiction maintained only by a large security presence.” As on date, the report claims that the four-point formula proposed by Musharraf, which was later fine-tuned during several back-channel negotiations, remains as the best available solution to the Kashmir conflict.


Days after joining militant ranks, Adil Rashid a resident of Awantipora qualifies BUMS 3rd, Sem, with distinction. He was later captured by army alive in an encounter in which three militants were killed.

It was the new pain for a family to see their son securing distinction in the third semester of a professional course. The reason, however, is different. A promising student since his school days, Aadil Rashid Bhat secured over 80 per cent, 897 out of 1100 marks, qualifying the Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS). But joy seems elusive. A resident of Charsoo-Batpora, Aadil few days before his results were declared had announced his entry into the rebel ranks. Known for his capabilities, his friends remember his as “genius.” His brother, Altaf, who broke the news of his results, said that Aadil always performed well in his examinations. He had got 94 per cent in tenth class and 90 per cent is twelfth class. A police officer serving in the area too believes that Aadil was a brilliant student but has “unfortunately chosen a different path.” He, however, argues that “surrender is always an option to resume the normal routine.” A few days later, he was captured alive by the army in an encounter in which three militants were killed. An army officer he valued the contributions that his parents have made in making him a doctor. 


Suresh RainaAfter opting for retirement from the formal cricket, Suresh Raina is desirous of promoting the sport in Jammu & Kashmir. Volunteering for the job to provide opportunities to the underprivileged kids of the erstwhile state, the former international Indian cricketer has written a letter to police chief Dilbagh Singh that he wants to give back to the game by doing his bit. Raina, 33, wants to promote the game in schools and colleges in rural areas. Earlier, Raina was invited by the police to develop cricketing skills. Known for his batting in the middle order, Raina belongs to a Kashmiri Pandit family from Rainawari in Srinagar. His father worked in the Army. A good singer, he hailed the move of abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Taking on to Twitter, he wrote, that it was a landmark move to scrap Article 370 and that he was looking forward to smoother, and more inclusive times.


BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav presiding over a meeting of his district leaders in Srinagar on August 28, 2020.BJP’s Kashmir point man and national general secretary Ram Madhav flew to Srinagar to, what sources said; “assess” the political situation after the main unionist parties decided to join hands for seeking restoration of Article 370. Known to handle the erstwhile state from the days of cobbling alliance with PDP, Madhav, his aides said was “compelled” to come for two reasons, “fear among the leaders of the right-wing party and start of political activities by other parties.” He is reported to have chaired a meeting of Kashmir based leaders and explore possibilities of proving security to the grassroots BJP workers. In the last two months, five BJP leaders were killed by militants in different parts of Kashmir. In his meeting that continued late-night, Madhav is reported to have heard a lot and spoke quite a little.


Syed Ali Geelani at his native village in November 2018 after his son in law passed away. KL: Image: Bilal Bahadur

Ailing for a long time and lacking age on his side, 91-years old separatist Syed Ali Geelani’s family is seeking “relaxation” and “space” for him. They have talked about the circulation of  “fabricated letters in his name and posts, comments and imaginary stories” through social media platforms. This, the family has said is “disturbing him and affecting his health very badly”. The “appeal” came from his two sons and a son-in-law.


As the virus went viral and started its onslaught on the human race, the world was plunged into a crisis. With no cure available, staying in became a matter of life and death. The fear of survival brought life to a near standstill in almost every part of the world where life exists. The customs changed across. Besides other dimensions of existence, religious rituals also got disrupted. The subsequent lockdown led to the closure of all religious places as the authorities formally ordered a ban on congregations. Finally, The historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar was thrown open on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 for prayers.

 After a gap of over five months, when Azaan, the formal call to prayer echoed from the minarets of Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid, it was an emotional arousing scene in the nearby localities. Subsequently, a large number of people, across all ages, rushed and offered the congregational Friday prayers at the fourteenth-century mosque. Closed due to pandemic, the historic, 600-year-old Masjid was reopened after 21 weeks. The decision was taken after the government ordered the reopening of religious places across Jammu and Kashmir from August 16 while asking the devotees to follow proper guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Adhering to the protocol, the mandatory arrangements of physical distancing, masks, and sanitizers were put in place. The prayers were led by Maulana Ahmad Sayed Naqashbandi, also known as Imam Hai. However, people on the occasion missed the signature sermon of Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest for more than a year now.

Now, most of the religious spaces are open across Jammu and Kashmir. People are taking precautions in ensuring that the contagion does not spread.

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