Briefing February 13-19, 2022

DELHI

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi receiving Russian Federation President, Valadmir Putin in Delhi on October 4, 2018. Pic: PMO

Diplomacy in Delhi and Islamabad is always busy on Kashmir but last week Moscow, South Korea and many other countries also involved. There were two major incidents that kept the media busy.

The first controversy started with the major global brands operating in Pakistan using their social media handles to endorse Islamabad’s Kashmir policy. It started with the South Korean motor company Hyundai and was quickly followed by PizzaHut, KFC and many others. This had never happened in India and Pakistan that the businesses were involved with Kashmir. As these Kashmir feeds went up on social media, there was a backlash in India, which is a huge market in comparison to Pakistan. It pushed all these global brands to quickly react, get the feeds removed, apologise and make a commitment that it will not happen again. The major crisis was for Hyundai – selling more than half a million cars in a year and that ensured the country’s foreign minister talks to his Indian counterpart.

With this crisis that started on February 5, was settled, another had started. This one was taken place in Berlin where a Russian TV (RT) affiliate, Redfish Media, categorised by social media giants as a state-affiliated media outlet. On the same day, it announced the streaming of its film Kashmir: Palestine in Making on February 11. As its trailer was shared by the media company, there was a massive virtual movement and it reached a level that the company removed the trailer and deferred the streaming of the film. It issued a detailed statement later saying that the security concern of its journalists was the key reason for making the decision. Prior to that Moscow’s Delhi embassy issued a brief statement saying the media company is not linked to the Russian government and their country’s Kashmir policy has not changed. However, there was no visible involvement of the MEA.

The film got linked to a meeting between China and Russia days ahead of the Pakistan premier flying to Moscow.

Of the 7 soldiers who were killed by an avalanche in the Chume Gyater area near Yangtse on Arunachal Pardesh’s Sino-Indian border, three were from Kathua – Havaldar, Yugal Kishore, Sepoys, Vishal Sharma and Arun Kattal.

LAHORE

Two Srinagar brothers living on either side of the Redcliff divide are at the centre of two federal investigators in Delhi and Islamabad. Zaffar Akbar Bhat is formally detained after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in a terror funding case. In Islamabad, reports appearing in media said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has filed a graft case against his brother Altaf Bhat, and 17 others for their alleged involvement in embezzlement of over Rs 100 crore funds in the Central Board of Revenue Employees Cooperative Housing Society. The two brothers living in Bagh-e-Mehtab run the Islamic Salvation Movement.

Interestingly, in Srinagar, now both the brothers are listed in the long charge-sheet that State Investigating Agency (SIA) filed in December 2021, regarding the admission of Kashmiri students in Pakistani medical schools. Nine others are also listed as accused in the case. The SIA alleged the two brothers were selling the seats. Zafar is already in jail and Altaf is absconding. Almost 40 students would find their way to various Pakistani medical schools for pursuing MBBS, every year.

Altaf Bhat has been living on the other side of the divide for many decades now. Apart from being the leader of Hurriyat Conference, he is a “prominent businessman” who, according to open-source information, heads “Al Jabbar Trust”, runs the Mazen Schools chain and publishes two newspapers.

In Karnataka, the epicentre of Hijab controversy, as many as 25000 students from erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir are studying, 10,000 of them in Bangaluru alone

CHADOORA

Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura

PDP leader Ghulam Nabi Hanjura has resigned as the general secretary of the party but said his membership remains. The reasons are personal. Nothing much is known.

Government-approved post-facto the construction of transit accommodation – 304 flats (2BHK) over 45 kanals of land at Vessu (Kulgam) and Sheikhpora (Budgam) districts at Rs 8982.46 lakhs. Vessu has 208 flats (2BHK) over an expanse of 30 kanals at an estimated cost of Rs 6462.65 lakhs (64.62 Cr) and at Sheikhpora 96 (2BHK) flats over 15 kanals of land at an estimated cost of Rs 2519.81 lakhs.

CHRAR-E-SHARIEF

Minaret Of Chrar-I-Sharief Shrine Tilted In Earthquake on Saturday, January 5,2022

February 5 tremors tilted the minaret of the Sheikh Nooruddin Wali’s mausoleum. Now, the Wakf Board said they have restored it. The shrine is a new structure. It was reconstructed after the town and the twin structures of the shrine went up in flames in 1995 summer. Immediately it was not known, why the minaret had been titled by a tremor not measuring 5 on the rector scale. Kashmir falls in the seismic zone 5.

MHA said 11,189 employees of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir were apportioned to the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.

SRINAGAR

Jammu and Kashmir Bank announced a net profit of Rs 173.95 crore for the quarter ending December 2021. It had posted Rs 65.94 crore in the Q3 last fiscal and Rs 111.60 crore in the Q2, ending September 2021. With this, the bank profits for the three quarters of fiscal 2021-22 stands at Rs 389.36 crore. A bank spokesman said the bank’s net interest income increased by 3 per cent to Rs 2935.73 crore thus improving the Net Interest Margin (NIM) to 3.67 per cent for the last nine months. Its cost of deposits has gone down from 4.21 per cent to 3.66 per cent. Bank’s CASA ratio continues to remain as one of the industry best at 56.32 per cent. Against gross NPA percentage of 8.93 per cent, the net NPA stands at 3.02 per cent. The provision ratio stands at 81.45 per cent. Its loan book has marginally improved and stands at Rs 68365.94 crore. Most of the increase in advances is in Jammu and Kashmir.

DOMANA

In a Jammu area, the Jammu and Kashmir Police revived the medieval tradition of telling society that an accused in a kidnapping case who was evading arrest for 15 years will have to face law finally. They went to the locality with the court order, pasted its copies on the walls and beat drums to seek the attention of the residents. The accused Vishal Kumar lives in Lale-De-Bagh are of Domana. Now the court has issued a notice of proclamation under section 87 of the CrPC.

The government of Jammu and Kashmir has restored the land of 610 Kashmir Pandit migrants in the last five years. The migrants were given a relief of Rs 753.89 crore during the last five years.

LUDHIANA

Punjab Police have arrested and charge-sheeted a Kashmir school teacher for allegedly trying to run over Border Security Force (BSF) personnel with his car near Haidon police post in Samrala. The incident was reported on February 6 evening. Identified as Hilal Ahmad Ture of Kanipura, he has been booked for an attempt to murder. Jai Kumar, a constable, survived with injuries in the accident. He is facing charges under Sections 279 (reckless driving), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC.

CHENNAI

The daughter of a small-time Srinagar city tailor, who survived a serious acid attack, last week, is now being treated in a Chennai hospital. Srinagar district administration said they are funding the treatment. Though the police have arrested the accused, the family said they had already informed the police about how the acid-thrower, Sajid, harassed their daughter. Sajid was actually engaged with the elder sister of the victim. His family delayed the wedding and it led to the cancellation of the possible relationship. In revenge, he started harassing her two younger daughters. Her mother has said that three days before the attack, Sajid had told her that if she did not marry him, he will deface her face. That is exactly what he did. Doctors said the victim may live as a blind forever.

RAJOURI

In a family when two brothers fought with each other, one of them lost his sons. Mohammad Hafiz, 46, and his son Mohammad Gafoor were attacked by his brother Mohammad Sharief and his family at Fatehpur village. They were running a land dispute. During the clash, both sides exchanged lathis, stones and sharp-edged weapons. This led to the murder of Hafiz as his son, Gafoor is struggling for life in GMC Hospital, Rajouri. Some arrests have been made but many are still on the run.

TEETWAL

A suspension bridge in Teetwal connecting divided Kashmiris.

On the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) was the medieval era university and temple, the Shada Peth. For years, India and Pakistan have been talking about granting the Hindu devotees from Kashmir permission to visit the shrine, a protected monument on the other side of the Karnah. Now, a temple has been proposed Teetwal on the banks of the Kishanganga river and Sringeri Shankaracharya Math in Karnataka is funding its construction.

Sringeri Math chief executive officer, Sri V R Gowrishankar conveyed that the Sringeri Math will offer full support to the noble initiative of the temple construction at Teetwal and offer a new Panchaloha Vigraha of Goddess Sharada for the installation,” a statement issued by the Math, last week, said. This was an outcome of the meeting with Math by Ravinder Pandita, who runs the Sharada Yatra (Sarvajna Peeth) Temple Committee.

LONDON

Lord Nazir Ahmad

In a sex abuse case dating back to the 1970s, Kashmir origin British lawmaker, Lord Nazir Ahmad was jailed five-and-a-half years. He was found guilty on two counts by the Sheffield Crown Court of sexual offences against two children. In March 2019, Nazir was charged with sexual offences against two children, two counts of attempted rape, and one count of indecent assault in the early 1970s. The victims were a boy and a girl. In November 2020, Nazir had resigned from the House of Lord’s days ahead a House Committee held him responsible for sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable woman, also a Kashmiri origin lady. He has been the first Muslim peer to be appointed to the House of Lords by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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