Briefing (February 09-15, 2020)

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SRINAGAR

Kashmir’s most prominent actor Zaira Wasim, who quit acting early 2019, appeared on Instagram, after days of return of 2G, and posted a set of highly uncomfortable questions. The note said there is a “false and uneasy semblance of calmness” in Kashmir. Sharing a picture of a single white flower, Zaira wrote on Instagram, “Kashmir continues to suffer and see-saw between hope and frustration. There’s a false and uneasy semblance of calmness in place of escalating despair and sorrow. Kashmiris continue to exist and suffer in a world where it is so easy to place restrictions on our liberty. Why do we have to live in world where our lives and wills are controlled, dictated and bent? Why is it so easy to have our voices silenced? Why is it so easy to curtail our freedom of expression? Why aren’t we ever allowed to voice our opinions, let alone our disproval’s to decisions that are made contrary to our wishes? Why is it that instead of trying to see the cause of our view, our view is just condemned ruthfully?”

“What is so easy to curb our voices so severely? Why can we not live simple lives without always having to wrestle and remind the world of our existence. Why is that life of a Kashmiri just about experiencing a lifetime of crisis, blockade and disturbance so abundantly that it has taken away the recognition of normalcy and harmony from the hearts and minds?” she added.

Zaira continued, “Hundreds of questions like these-unanswered; leaving us bewildered and frustrated, but our frustrations find no outlet. The authority doesn’t make the slightest effort to put a stop to our doubts and speculations but Stubbornly tend to go their own way to confine our existence mired in a confused, conflicted and a paralysed world.”

The actor, last seen in Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky Is Pink, urged people not to believe the “unfair representation” of facts or media reportage which shows that all is well in Kashmir, but “ask questions”. She wrote, “But I ask the world, what has altered your acceptance of the misery and oppression we’re being subjected to? Do not believe the unfair representation of the facts and details or the rosy hue that the media has cast on the reality of the situation. Ask questions, re-examine the biased assumptions. Ask questions. For our voices have been silenced- and for how long….none of us really know!”

The Jammu & Kashmir Bank has posted Rs 49.64 crore profit for the Q3 after recorded a loss of Rs 894 crore in the first half of fiscal 2019-20.

CHINA

Coronavirus has put the entire world on edge so Kashmir is no exception. The reason is Kashmiri students studying in China. So far 21 students –

14 from Kashmir and eight from Jammu, have returned home. However, no one has returned from Wuhan province, the epicentre of Coronavirus. At least in 11 cases, authorities have taken mandatory samples for tests, seven from Jammu students. In Wuhan alone, around 32 students from J&K are believed to be studying. Earlier, a Kashmiri student was one of the 10 persons from India who was prevented from boarding a special AI flight because of high body temperature. PTI quoted Manzoor, the Kashmiri student saying that he has normal body temperature and is fit to travel. One media report said that around 20 Kashmiri students who had flown from Hubei University of Medicine in Shiyan city of China are being quarantined at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) base Hospital in Chhawla, Delhi.

JAMMU

After drones, reports appearing in the media said the Jammu and Kashmir police are planning to procure all-weather Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for anti-militancy operations. An order is being placed to purchase two hi-tech RoV mini vehicles that can be used for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and surveillance purposes. These can be used in conducting room intervention during anti-militancy operations and the police wants them to be cable of looking inside an aircraft. Police requires machines that can climb up and down staircase slope of at least 45 degree along with 8kg of load with minimum two speeds in all weather conditions. The RoV must have two video cameras — front and rear with infra-red capability, minimum 3-meter range, 10 X zoom and PTZ (Pan, Tilt and Zoom) fusion camera having a capability to recognise human form factor at minimum 200 meters range. The two machines would cost Rs 2.60 crore.

ISLAMABAD

On February 5, when Pakistan observed the day in solidarity with Kashmir – incidentally Srinagar joined it by a strike, Imran Khan flew to the assembly in Muzaffarabad where he termed abrogation of Article 370 as “a fatal mistake”. He said his government’s efforts on global front will continue. Pakistan’s national assembly passed a resolution asking Modi government immediately reverse its actions of August 5 and October 31.

There were, however, two instances that indicated the other side of things. One was Khan’s address at a Malaysian think-tank International Affairs Forum on Vision for Regional Peace and Security at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies where he regretted that Muslim countries at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) could not come up with one voice against blatant human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

“The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole in the OIC summit meeting on Kashmir,” Khan was quoted saying. “The only solution is that Muslims must come together on something like what is happening in Myanmar and Kashmir, when someone is only being persecuted because of their religion.” Though OIC has a meeting on February 9, in Jeddah, the organisation has indicated its unwillingness to have an immediate meeting on Kashmir.

The other thing was that a Intercontinental Hotel at Kabul refused space to Pakistan for observing February 5. Pakistani media suggested that it was done on the directions of the Kabul government. This showed the state of influence that Pakistan enjoys in its ‘strategic depth’. Pakistan’s Kabul embassy is unable to use its main gate as protesters have blocked it by pitching tents outside.

Rs 30,757 crore that finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman announced for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are statutory grants that the Finance Commission has routed through the Ministry of Home Affairs.

SRINAGAR

In order of priority, the biggest news that Kashmir market consumes these days is that of arrests, re-arrests and releases. Authorities last week set free noted business leader and civil society activist Shakeel Qalander. His colleague Dr Mubin Shah had already been freed by the court. Now Yasin Khan is the only major business leader in the jail. In case of Mian Qayoom, the Bar Association President who survived a heart attack in Agra jail and was shifted to Tihar, the government has extended his detention by issuing yet another Public Safety Act. In Jammu, the NIA has got a remand of a fortnight in case of DySP Davinder Singh. Interesting part is that he has pleaded before the court that he should be sent to Kathua and not Kot Balwal because he has a life risk in Jammu jail. Reason: some of the militants who he has arrested can attack and kill him.

Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has released scholarships worth over Rs 1 crore to 1363 students belonging to the Baridar families. Since 2003, it has extended Rs 6.30 crore to 12,668 students.

NAGROTA

Police have rewarded three civilians for helping cops during the January 31, Nagrota encounter that led to the killing of three Jaish militants even as the follow up operations are still going on. The militants were detected when an alert cop uncovered a cavity inside a truck (JK03F-1478). It quickly led to the encounter in which one cop survived was injured. The cop traced blankets and shoes in the middle of the truck that was supposedly carrying the medicines. Police arrested Sameer Ahmed Dar from the truck. Cousin of the February 2019 Pulwama suicide bomber Adil Dar, police said they have established Dar, having masters in geology, was connected with his mastermind through a virtual private network (VPN). Dar’s real brother, Manzoor – a Lashkar militant – was killed in 2016, according to police chief, Dilbag Singh.

Dar, who drove the truck, had, according to police picked up the three militants from Dayala Chak (Hiranagar) at 2 am. He was accompanied by Sartaj Ahmed Mantu and Asif Ahmad Malik, both residents of Kakpora. On basis of the interrogation of Dar and his two colleagues, police raided various spots in south Kashmir and arrested four other “operatives”. They have revealed that they had transported three militants almost 40 days back.

SRINAGAR

Accompanied by R R Bhatnagar and Farooq Ahmad Khan, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Lt Governor Girish Chander Murmu visited various places in Srinagar including the Hazratbal shrine. Earlier, he presided over a meeting related to the security. He called for perspective planning and integrated development of Srinagar city in meeting at SKICC in which he reviewed Smart City projects. During his visit to the shrine, Murmu directed using modern methods for preservation of Dal Lake.

MUMBAI

Jammu and Kashmir residents, Asim Riaz and Mahira Sharma, are in news for having a visible disconnect in the reality game Big Boss despite sharing the roots. Jammu-born model Asim is being seen as the “ultimate poster boy” as Mahira adds to the “oomph factor”. With basic education at Jammu, Asim, (born July 13, 1993) has featured in many TV commercials including Blackberrys, B’lue and Numero Uno. His elder brother, Umar Riaz is a doctor.

Mahira is also from Jammu. In 2016, she bagged the role of Shilpi in YARO Ka Tashan and was featured in many comedy serials like Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, besides romantic drama Kundali Bhagya and Naagin 3. Besides, she was also featured in the Punjabi music videos Nikk’s relation, Love you oye, Lehanga and Gal karke.

The on screen relations between the two have not improved despite she once terming him her brother. Even Mahira’s mother called Asim her son. Meanwhile, legendary WWE wrestler John Cena extended his support to Asim Riaz. Using Instagram, the wrestler said: “Only a winner in life can identify the true winner! #AsimRiaz is the clear winner by popularity votes endurance everything! Not bhalu”.

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