Briefing February 14-20, 2021


Hokersar -The Heaven of Migratory Birds. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

After Hokersar wetland, the wildlife authorities had a humanitarian show at Dachigam national park, where they made arrangements of food for Hangul, the Kashmir stag.  As it snowed heavily this year, the officials witnessed that the deer came down to the park in search of food and they said that its movement increased this year so extra care was taken to ensure that they get enough food. The Hangul is the only surviving Red Deer sub-species in the Indian subcontinent. The magnificent mammal has been declared as a ‘critically endangered species’ by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Known for its giant antlers bearing 11 to 16 points, the Hangul has been hunted for centuries which lead to its population plunging to 150 (as of 2017). Once found in high altitude regions of Northern India, the Kashmir Stag is now confined to only Dachigam National Park in Kashmir and its population has remained endangered for last six decades now.


A Bijbehara resident, Muneeb Sofi, was deported from Qatar and then arrested from Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi by a police team from Kulgam. The police said that his role surfaced in FIR no 58/2020 U/S 13, 18, 19, 38, 39 ULA(P) Act. “An accused arrested in the said case disclosed that he along with other OGWs were collecting money for JeM from various districts in Kashmir and were handing over the collected amount to Muneeb Ahmad Sofi who was in Qatar and was in contact with an active terrorist of JeM Waleed Bhai R/O Pakitan for purchase of arms and ammunition from Pakistan. A lookout notice was published against Muneeb and a non-bailable warrant u/s 25 Police Act was obtained from the concerned court,” said police.


The Singh family of Udhampur (L to R)Harsh Dev Singh, Bhim Singh and Balwant Singh Mankotia. The tensions within led to Mankotia’s resignation.

Politics has proved, power is thicker than blood. Last week the family politics was again in the news when the president of a Jammu based political party, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), and a two time former MLA from Udhampur constituency, Balwant Singh Mankotia, resigned from his party. He remained tight-lipped why he was compelled to take such a decision but gave a hint when he said, “Had I not resigned, there was a possibility of the family matter becoming public…” He was re-elected as party president recently, a post which he is holding for the past over one decade. Pertinently, the founder of this party Bhim Singh is his uncle and Harsh Dev Singh is his cousin.


Basharat Ahmad Zargar, a Kashmir engineer who was washed away by the floods that swept a power project in Uttarkhand in February 2021.

The Kashmiri engineer, Basharat Ahmad Zargar, who went missing after a glacier burst wreaked havoc in Uttarakhand last week, was found dead five days after the incident. His family had also joined the rescue operation to trace him. A resident of Soura, he was working on a privately owned Rishi Ganga power project (130 Mw), which is on the upper stream of the Alaknanda river site and was the first to face the brunt of the avalanche. He had talked to his family the same day at 10 am, then his family tried to contact him again at 10:40 am but it was switched off. One of the eyewitnesses has informed the family that he tried to cross the river but the gushing water prevented him from doing so.


The Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden with his running mate Kamla Devi Haris. Photo: Twitter

The newly formed Biden administration has towed the earlier line and claimed that there is no change in the US’ policy on Jammu and Kashmir and welcomed the resumption of 4G mobile internet in the region. Ned Price, the spokesperson of the state department tweeted, “I want to be very clear there has been no change in US policy in the region.”

“We welcome the resumption of 4G mobile internet in India’s Jammu & Kashmir. This marks an important step for local residents and we look forward to continued political & economic progress to restore normalcy in J&K,” tweeted the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department.


Rapper Badshah and Shehnaaz Gill in Kashmir

As soon as Shehnaaz Gill reached Mumbai after her shooting in Kashmir, she posted a 45 seconds long video, summarising her two day trip with Rapper Badshah. The video featured Shehnaaz dressed in fancy-dress like attire dancing to 2000 film Mission Kashmir song ‘Bumbro Bumbro’. She had shared it with a tag line “When in Kashmir do it their way! Had to dance on this epic song at the heaven on earth…#Kashmir ♥️” But it went wrong when netizens trolled her who not only describing the video as “cringe” but also accusing Shehnaaz of cultural appropriation.


Shahid Farooq Malik

In a heart-wrenching incident, the body of a missing minor, Shahid Farooq Malik, 13, from Soibugh was recovered after five days from an apple orchard. He went missing on February 5. The police later reached the spot and handed over the body to his father Farooq Ahmad Malik, after completing medico-legal formalities. The locals who saw the body reportedly have said that the body had a cut on his throat. Meanwhile, two more minors, brothers also went missing from their home in Sopore area. Identified as Faizan Ahmad, around 14 years old and Rizwan Ahmad, aged about 12, sons of Muhammad Ashraf Dar of Nowpora village of Sopore-went missing on February 6 but so far there is no trace of the missing brothers.


Family members and relatives of slain Athar Mushtaq who was killed in an encounter’ at Hokersar last week stages protest in Srinagar on Monday, January 4, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, the father of Athar Mushtaq, who was killed along with two more youth, in the alleged Lawaypora encounter on December 30, has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) along with six more people, by the J&K police for organising a protest where they demanded the return of the body.  The FIR lodged under No. 07/2021, reads that Wani, his family members and locals assembled immediately after the noon prayers near Jamia Masjid in Abu Bakr village in Pulwama. Around five family members are among those booked under the UAPA.

Wani has been organising protests for the past one month demanding the body of the Class 11 student. According to the police records, Athar was an overground worker of the militants and not a categorised militant. Meanwhile, the families of other two slain have also contested the police version that their sons were militants or overground workers.


A view of Gilgit valley.

Fashion shows are incomplete without perfect lighting, ramp, models, and designers. But last week a short 2.31 minutes video clip became an instant hit on the internet that showed an open-air ‘winter fashion show’. It was an amateur catwalk by village urchins wearing traditional winter clothing. Most probably shot in Gilgit, Baltistan, the side of Kashmir, the young boys are walking the ramp on the famous Bollywood number “fashion ka hai ye jalwa…” The ramp walk starts with a boy wearing a blanket and carrying a kerosene lantern to symbolize the power outages in winter. He is followed by a boy carrying a shovel symbolizing the snow clearance during winter. The highlight of the show was a kid wearing an oversized coat walking the ramp and posing like a pro. Some boys try to emulate skinny models to walk the ramp elegantly. The video was shared by multiple users on Facebook and Twitter. On one Facebook page, it has notched 30000 views in just two days.

Some of the internet users mistook it as being shot in Kashmir and started pointing out that traditional kangri and pheran, which are important tools for people to keep themselves warm, are missing. Later, another user clarified that the video is from Gilgit where kangri culture is not in vogue. “They are kids from Khaplu, Gilgit-Baltistan. Video is by Gohar Balti,” reads the tweet.


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