Cookbook author turned novelist, Monica Saigal

Monica Saigal, a Delhi-born cookbook author turned novelist, published her novel A Kiss in Kashmir, set against the enchanting backdrop of Kashmir. Sharmila, a middle-aged single mother from Washington, DC, travels to Kashmir to plan her daughter’s wedding. As the picturesque landscape captivates them, Sharmila begins to open her heart to a new romance. Saigal emphasises the importance of featuring a woman of colour as the protagonist, explores the pivotal role of food in the narrative, and shares her aspiration to leave behind meaningful stories. The novel weaves a tale of late-blooming love and second chances, resonating with the emotive storytelling of Nicholas Sparks.

Indian Railways will be operating three special trains from Katra (February 27), Udhampur (February 16) and Jammu (February 22) to Ayodhya.


Representational image

With drones becoming new challenges on the LoC and the International Border, there have been two issues to be tackled. One, how to locate the drone and, second, how to shoot it down. IIT Jammu has developed a pioneering sound-based drone detection system to address the escalating threat of drones used for smuggling arms, ammunition, cash, and drugs from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir. Professor Dr Karan Nathwani, Electrical Engineering department, designed the system, which relies on sound technology to detect drones by analysing their unique acoustic signatures. Costing approximately Rs 4 lakh, the system is not only cost-effective but also user-friendly, eliminating the need for cameras or radar. The development took less than a year, and the technology can be incorporated into a comprehensive anti-drone grid system for security forces on the IB and LoC.

The Parliament was told that there were over 2,90,098 pending cases in the district courts and 44,753 in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir.


The tons of rubble and debris at the spot where MG Hector showroom exists in Malik market Jammu. After initial resistance, authorities made arrests and later sealed the area and undone the encroachment on state land in February 2023. KL Image: Special Arrangement

A Joint Committee of senior bureaucrats and experts in Jammu and Kashmir has ruled that no compensation should be paid for structures on encroached state land, even if they suffer damages from natural calamities. This decision follows the National Green Tribunal’s order, which highlighted the government’s inaction, leading to the illegal occupation and construction. The Joint Committee emphasised that these structures are illegal, and constructed with connivance, and both private owners and public servants cannot absolve themselves of responsibility. The absence of rules raises concerns, and the committee urges caution, fearing that compensation might set a precedent for further encroachments. The matter has been submitted to the National Green Tribunal for guidance.

In 2023, 102 Bollywood, South Indian films and web series were shot in Kashmir.


Earthquake in Chenab Valley led to cracks in lot of buildings on June 13, 2023. This is a school building at Suldha in Drabshalla. KL Image: Special Arrangement

The cracks have returned to Chenab Valley. Numerous residential structures and a mosque in Gatsu hamlet of Doda have developed cracks, compelling residents to seek refuge in temporary shelters. The affected residents, blaming the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) for the damage, allege that ground sinking during road widening caused structural issues. District authorities pledged to monitor the situation and, if necessary, relocate families to safer places. The affected residents, facing fear of wild animal attacks, demand prompt and proper rehabilitation.

Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will see the deployment of 635 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) companies for holding general elections.


A Rohingya Muslim overwhelmed by emotion near Kolkata, India.

Women trafficking from Bangladesh and Myanmar is gradually snowballing into a major issue. In Kashmir, the State Investigation Agency conducted searches at 18 locations in Srinagar as part of an investigation into transnational human trafficking. Special teams, aided by Srinagar police, seized incriminating material and documents, including identity cards, bank papers, and digital devices, from various HR consultancies. The case involves the illegal trafficking of foreign nationals into India, particularly from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Vulnerable individuals are trafficked under the guise of employment opportunities, sold to illegal human resource agencies, and exploited as domestic helpers, maids, and babysitters, often leading to sexual exploitation. Last year, the police arrested individuals, including Rohingya Manzoor Alam, in connection with a human trafficking network in Bandipora. The accused facilitated marriages with locals in exchange for monetary gains.

250 specially-abled children from Jammu and Kashmir visited Delhi and Agra under Watan Ko Jano programme organised by the Social Welfare Department.


In anticipation of the general elections, the banned Jamaat-e-Islami is back in focus. Last week, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids in terror funding cases involving various members of the party. The agency said it seized incriminating materials, including identity cards and bank papers, pointing to illegal fund collection from within India and abroad. Simultaneously, Apni Party President Altaf Bukhari urged the JeI members to focus on religious duties rather than politics, citing the historical misuse of JeI in politics.

A Kashmir Court in Handwara sentenced a man to 10 years imprisonment for sexually assaulting a minor.


Zojila pass in winters (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

In the avalanche-prone region of Zoji La, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is preparing to install a remotely operated avalanche warning and monitoring system. The system comprises a network of infrasonic sensors, which detect sound waves or stress vibrations beyond human audibility. A DRDO scientist explained, “The network will be deployed along the Sonamarg–Zojila–Tangdhar axis to detect and monitor avalanche activities in the area prone to natural uncertainties.” These sensors, equipped with data acquisition and processing units, and real-time data transmitting modules compatible with GSM and satellite communication, will be strategically positioned in the designated field locations. Zoji La is the main pass on the Srinagar-Ladakh highway and falls in one of the ten most dangerous highways on earth. Now, a tunnel will bypass the perilous pass.

The number of GST-registered dealers in Jammu and Kashmir has expanded from about 72,000 in 2018 to 1,97,000 in 2023


Resident Adil Manzoor Langoo was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in connection with the killing of two Punjab carpenters, Amritpal Singh and Rohit Masih, in Srinagar’s Shala Kadal area. Both the carpenters had returned from Punjab on the same day and were attacked near their rented accommodation. Amritpal died instantly, and Rohit succumbed to injuries in the hospital. Langoo apprehended on February 13, confessed to disposing of a cell phone and other materials in water-bodies along the Ali Jan road. Now, a joint operation with the Navy’s MARCOS aimed to recover these items. Langoo, allegedly radicalised online by a Pakistan-based handler, attacked on February 7, marking the first target killing in Kashmir this year. The police recovered the used pistol after his arrest.


Mumbai cricketer Sarfaraz Khan with his bride in Shopian village on August 6, 2023.

Sarfaraz Khan’s impactful debut in international cricket for India during the third Test against England at Niranjan Shah Stadium in Rajkot was accompanied by a heart-warming focus on his Kashmiri wife, Romana. As Sarfaraz impressively faced England’s bowlers, Romana, adorned in abhaya, and his father, Naushad, expressed tears of joy and pride in the stands. The poignant moment occurred when Sarfaraz reached his maiden half-century, acknowledging his family with a blown kiss. Legendary cricketer Anil Kumble contributed to the emotional atmosphere by presenting Sarfaraz with his Test cap, making him the 311th recipient, a ceremony that moved the family to tears. In the broader cricket landscape, Jammu and Kashmir cricketers Omar Alam and Samiullah Beigh are set to play in the Indian Veteran Premier League, representing the Red-Carpet Delhi franchise alongside cricket legends.


Family conflicts in Kashmir have taken a distressing turn, with recent incidents showcasing the alarming trend of lives being lost in such disputes. Kashmir was rattled when news surfaced of a 65-year-old man, Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh, losing his life in a scuffle between two families in Bonizil Haripora. In a separate incident in Pattan, a man named Muzaffar Hussain Dar, aged 30, was critically injured after being attacked by his younger brother in Hanjiveera village. The injured was subsequently referred to Srinagar for specialized treatment. These incidents underscore the gravity of familial conflicts in the region, prompting concerns about the changing dynamics within families and the need for preventative measures and community awareness.


In a tragic fire incident in Tajnihal village, Ramsu (Ramban) three teenage sisters were burnt alive in the upper storey of their house. The fire broke out around midnight, and despite attempts by family members and neighbours, the girls couldn’t be saved. Fire tenders couldn’t reach the area due to road connectivity issues. The victims, identified as Bisma Banoo (17), Syqa Banoo (15), and Sanya Banoo (9), were daughters of Abdul Latief. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


UNMOGIP Office in Srinagar (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha expressed the government’s intention to examine the possibility of “winding up the office of the United Nations in Kashmir,” particularly referring to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) office in Srinagar. Responding to a query about closing UNMOGIP, Sinha acknowledged the sentiments and stated that the government would consider the matter. This follows his earlier promises, including the reopening of cinema halls, dismissal of government employees involved in terror-related activities, and hoisting the tricolour at Lal Chowk. Sinha emphasised the need to respect sentiments while indicating a willingness to address the issue.


Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha presenting a Saffron tray in full bloom to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on November 13, 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is anticipated to visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 20 to inaugurate major development projects worth thousands of crores. The visit includes the distribution of 1.08 lakh appointment letters to youth during the last Rozgar Mela of the current government. Modi will address a rally in Jammu and unveil projects such as AIIMS at Vijaypur, the highest railway bridge in Reasi, Devika Rejuvenation project in Udhampur, IIM Jammu, and Shahpur Kandi. The visit aims to boost BJP’s prospects in the Union Territory for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, targeting three seats this time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here