Briefing December 5 – 11, 2021

GENEVA

Khurram Parvez

The arrest of Kashmir’s key human rights activist, Khurram Parvez, by the NIA on terror charges continues to dominate the civil liberty debate with the UN human rights body, OHCHR questioned his arrest and sought his release. Currently, in NIA remand, Parvez stands booked under the UAPA and penal code provisions that carry a maximum punishment of death.

“We are unaware of the factual basis of the charges,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN’s right body said. “He is known as a tireless advocate for families of the disappeared and has been targeted before for his human rights work.” The statement came after almost every major human rights watchdog strongly reacted to the arrest.

This led MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi to react saying the UN statement “betrays a complete lack of understanding of the security challenges faced by India from cross-border terror and its impact on the most fundamental human right of ‘right to life’ for citizens, including in Jammu and Kashmir”.As a democratic country, with an abiding commitment to promote and protect the human rights of its citizens, he said, India takes all necessary steps to counter cross-border terrorism. He accused the UN body of a bias for referring to “proscribed terrorist organisations” as “armed groups”. He said: “The statement makes baseless and unfounded allegations against law enforcement authorities and security forces of India.”

In almost two decades of human rights activism, Parvez has lost a leg in an IED explosion, was arrested twice, this time by NIA on November 22. His JKCCSS has collaborated with international human rights organisations and brought out a series of investigative reports about the state of human rights in Kashmir.

An early last century photograph showing the Kashmiri Pandit book writers in Srinagar. Photo: Internet

As many as 1678 Kashmiri migrants returned to Kashmir after reading down of Article 370 and took jobs under the PM Package of 2015.

PAMPORE

A man shows new Rs 2000 currency after exchanging old Rs 500 and 1000 denominations at Srinagar on Thursday 11 November 2016. KL Image Bilal Bahadur

In a sting operation, Delhi based TV Channel, India Today caught members of two Kashmir NGOs on record, offering Covid19 orphans for sale. Asrar Amin, of an insignificant Global Welfare Charitable Trust willing to offer an orphan pair for Rs 1.50 lakh for adoption. “We have so many orphans with us. But if one wants a Covid orphan, there’s no problem,” Asrar was filmed saying. “Kashmiri children are really beautiful, Mashallah!” He insisted that the money he is seeking is for his NGO. The investigation also showed Aijaz Ahmad Dar of Nobel Foundation from Pampore offering newborn Covid orphans, some of them reportedly lifted from hospitals for adoption. “Suppose there’s a newborn. We’ll get that baby lifted right away,” Dar had said. “We’ll take some gynaecologists, some MD (qualified doctor), whom I know, in confidence. We’ll ask them how much money they would want if there’s a death.” He demanded a million bucks, a head.

Though no sale had taken place but the intention was there. This triggered a chain reaction on social media. Various official organisations including the social welfare department and ICPS mandated to take care of the children got into action. So the authorities quickly followed it up. Police registered an FIR. The Pampore NGO was sealed and two persons were arrested. A DySP rank officer is investigating the case.

A day later, Chief Secretary Dr AK Mehta chaired a meeting and directed a host of civil and police organisations to ensure groups behind child and women trafficking are crushed. In the same meeting, a direction was issued to verify the records of nari ashrams, bal ashrams, NGOs and trust and orphanages for the last five years. Child welfare committees were asked to meet Covid19 orphans already identified by the government. The meeting was informed of around 6000 NGOs registered in Jammu and Kashmir, less than 1000 societies have been re-registered under the central law.

Coinciding with all these developments, the IAS officers Wives Association(IASOWA) launched a campaign to distribute winter stockings among orphan children. The drive was held at Banquet Hall in Srinagar in which blankets, thermals and socks were distributed among the underprivileged children. Chief Secretary’s wife, Dr Amrita Mehta, presided over the function.

Notwithstanding the number of NGOs registered with officials, the fact is that quite a few are working and their contribution to the social sector is immense. Various law enforcement agencies have already raided most of them and investigated their accounts and activities.

So far in 2021, 40 civilians were killed, 72 injured were injured in militancy-related incidents. In the last five years, 348 security personnel and 195 civilians were killed.

SHADIPORE

In freezing cold, more than 26000 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana reached Shadipore village for 12-days PushkarMela (November 21 – December 2). Assembling in the Narayan Bagh under tight security arrangements, they would take dips in the Jhelum water at the spot of its confluence with Sindh rivulet. The mela envisages praying for the dead members of the family and taking dips in the freezing waters. Organisers said the mela is held after every 12 years as per the Hindu calendar and the last one took place in 2009. BJP oversees the arrangements and its leaders visited and interacted with the pilgrims. Local residents participated in making arrangements including hot water for bathing and laying a boat bridge from the banks to the temple.

Pushkaram(Pushkaralu in Telugu and Pushkarain Kannada) is dedicated to worshipping 12 sacred rivers, one river in one year. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign, and the river for each year’s festival is based on which sign Jupiter is in at the time. The one associated with Sindh (Indus) is called Kumbha and was supposed to take place in April. Interestingly Sindh flows through Ladakh and not Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir reported 33 custodial deaths in the last five years. These included 7 in 2016-17, 4 in 2017-2018, 8 in 2018-19, and 5 in 2019-2020. So far, 2 cases with police and 7 judicial cases stand registered.

VARANASI

Federal Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has roped in four Khadi institutions from UPs Varanasi and Ghazipur districts for processing raw Pashmina wool and weaving it further into the woollen fabric. For a start, 20 Khadi artisans will get 30-day training in weaving and they would be supplied 200 kg of processed Pashmina wool from Leh. Ladakh produces 50-ton wool that fetches around 15 tons of wool worth weaving and the region barely uses 500 kgs a year. Pashmina, also called Cashmere is part of Kashmir identity and in the last two centuries, British India did similar experimentation with Pashmina in Amritsar.

Army Chief General M M Naravane near the encounter site in Poonch on October 19, 2021. The encounter involving an elusive group has led to the killing of nine soldiers.

MHA has revealed that in 841 days following the reading down of Article 370, the militancy related incidents fell to 496 in comparison to 843 cases reported in the same span of time prior to the abrogation. Between April 16, 2017, and August 4, 2019, 843 terrorist incidents led to the killing of 86 civilians and 78 army personnel. Between August 5, 2019, and November 22, 2021, 496 incidents led to the killing of 79 civilians and 45 army personnel.

LEH

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi visits the Army hospital, in Ladakh on July 03, 2020. He interacted with the soldiers who were injured in the June 15 clash with the Chinese army in Galwan valley. A PIB Photo

As the tensions between Delhi and Beijing continue over the Leh heights, it is getting into a sort of drone competition now. India has upgraded its Israel supplied Heron surveillance drones after using the US-supplied Predator for almost a year. The upgrade was inevitable as the Heron basic was without satellite communication and allowed only line of sight communication, would fly to a maximum of 28,000 ft, couldn’t operate in winter and its effective vision was limited to 7-8 km. So the army would fly two drones in tandem, one that ‘looked across’ and the other to act as a relay for communication to the ground controller. The Heron is all-weather capable and flies up to an altitude of 45,000 ft and does a variety of missions, including intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.

On the Chinese front, the news reports suggest that they are deploying missile and rocket regiments opposite the Eastern Ladakh sector. Besides, China is making new highways and airstrips to support the movement of troops. The Red Army is reportedly holding military drills at night, recruiting natives of the Tibetan region and is better acclimatised.

The two neighbours have been talking for 17 months and the new session is scheduled for later December. The talks have literally failed in ending the standoff.

A representation image

As many as 573 persons were arrested in Jammu and Kashmir under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2019 and 2020.

KHAG

Durga-statue-smuggled-out-of-Kashmir-and-recovered-from-Germany.
Durga-statue-smuggled-out-of-Kashmir-and-recovered-from-Germany.

Jammu and Kashmir police recovered an ancient sculpture of Goddess Durga and handed it over to the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums. It is said to be 13 centuries old. Carved on a black stone, the sculpture shows Durga seated on a lion throne holding a lotus in her right hand. Her left side of the arm is missing from the shoulder. Seemingly it has Gandhara School of Art influence.

PDD employees repairing the power supply lines. Pic: Internet

The government is supplying 1750 MW of electricity to Kashmir, an increase by 320 MW in comparison to last year.

 

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