Briefing – February 21 – 27, 2021

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MUMBAI

Marathi singer Pranjali Newaskar who has recorded many Kashmiri songs

Marathi singer, Pranjali Newaskar has lent her voice to the popular Kashmiri prayer and lyrics by Mahjoor. So far, she has sung Sahibo and Haa Gulo. “I liked this concept of singers from two different states singing songs such as Shamima Akhtar in Marathi and I would sing in Kashmiri. This is a good medium to bring people from two different States together. It will contribute to national integration,” Newaskar was quoted saying. “First of all, I listened to the songs repeatedly and wrote them down in Devnagari. Then I recorded the songs in my voice and sent them to native Kashmiris in Pune to suggest corrections such as proper pronunciations. Later, I started learning the basics of the language. I understood the lyrics, words and their meanings, which not only helped me in singing but also to express the feelings and emotions behind them. It is a tough language to learn.”

HYDERABAD

Aasaduddin Owaisi is chief of Hyderabad based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and is in the parliament for the fourth time

The 4-time MP, Assaddudin Owaisi might be accused of dividing Muslim votes and helping BJP indirectly but in Kashmir, he was topping the charts last week, courtesy of his speech in Lok Sabha on Kashmir. He was one of the many lawmakers who spoke on the bill that integrated the Jammu and Kashmir cadre with the AMGUT. He reiterated that Art 370 was a constitutional breach and the BJP government lacks a will to honour its statehood promises. He regretted that the Muslim majority state has non-local officers in abundance – only 12 are Muslims amongst 58 IAS officers, 7 in 66 IPS officers are Muslims and only 220 are Muslims in 523 middle rung bureaucracy. He pricked BJP’s ‘backward’ Kashmir narrative by asserting that unlike 21.92 per cent of the population that is BPL across India, in Jammu and Kashmir, it is only 10.13 per cent. Owaisi accused the central government of internationalising Kashmir by denying permission to India lawmakers and instead of flying the foreign diplomats to Srinagar. He believes the ban on the 4G internet was undone after 550 days under US pressure.

BANDIPORE

It was just a coincidence that when three car-borne persons, later identified as soldiers including a local, attempted luring a minor girl with money and she started running that the residents could notice and stop them from an apparent kidnapping bid. Police were informed and the trio was arrested. Though police have not disclosed the identities of the trio, citing “sensitive nature”, they have registered a case under sections 341 (wrongful restraint) 363 (kidnapping) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offence) at Ajas police station. Abdul Majid, the father of the minor said their daughter was on her way to tuitions when locals informed him. He is unsure if his daughter, still in a state of shock, will be able to continue her studies. After the incident, Majid alleged that the army raided their residence and searched it. Police have not disclosed the motive behind the attempted kidnapping or explained the raid later. The defence spokesman has not offered his version to any media, so far.

 DELHI

Meeting of delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Three NC MPs – Dr Farooq Abdullah, Husnain Masoodi and Mohammad Akbar Lone, boycotted the delimitation panel meeting tasked to redraw the boundaries of assembly and Lok Sabha segments across Jammu and Kashmir. They are associate members. However, BJP lawmakers, Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma attended the meeting and urged the Commission to “give special attention to the difficult terrains while carrying out the delimitation exercise”. Media reports suggested that the BJP members suggested that delimitation of constituencies shall be practicable, be for geographically compact areas and must consider physical features; existing boundaries of administrative units; facilities of communication and public convenience. They sought attention for difficult terrains. Former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai heads the panel and it is mandated to redraw constituencies in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland also.

The three NC MPs had written to Justice Desai saying that they would not attend the meeting as the delimitation exercise was being conducted under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, whose legality is under challenge. They said the Act was “palpably unconstitutional” and had been enacted in “disregard and violation” of the mandate and spirit of the Constitution.

GUPKAR

The ‘wall of kindness’ emerged on Kashmir’s power street, Gupkar Road, and quickly landed in a controversy. Pic: Twitter

Kashmir’s power street, Gupkar Road, where most of the former Chief Ministers’ live, gives out signs of disempowerment. Last week, it was in news for the security grid restricting the family members of one Chief Minister and preventing them from moving out for a day. A few days later, a ‘wall of kindness’ appeared on the road on the eve of the visit of 24 envoys to a guided tour to Srinagar.  The wall, a non-local concept of informal charity involves people donates clothing and those requiring the same taking on their own. The concept became quite popular in Kashmir. But an army-initiated wall emerging on the most powerful street tells a story beyond clothing.

LAHORE

Twitter logo

Kashmir is the key factor that has created a crisis for social media. With India and Pakistan keen that their storyline should not be obstructed by social media, Twitter is facing a mess. As the micro-blogging site, restricted certain Twitter handles, apparently on the directions of the Government in Delhi, now Pakistan has grilled a Twitter representative for free speech, Pakistani media reported. Two months after the Twitter team was grilled by a team of lawmakers in Delhi, it was Islamabad doing the same. “During a special hearing held here at the Parliament House, (Kashmir) committee chairman Shehryar Khan Afridi led the questioning of George Salama, who heads Twitter’s regional office in the United Arab Emirates,” The Dawn reported. “Mr Afridi asked Mr Salama about Twitter’s policy on human rights and freedom of speech and whether Twitter regulations did not conform to the United Nations charter on freedom of speech and freedom of expression. George Salama says voices of minorities will not be silenced.”

NAIDKHAI

Hilal Akbar Lone

Hilal Lone, son of MP, Mohammad Akbar Lone, has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly delivering a hate speech at a rally during District Development Council elections in Bandipora. The lawyer, who is expected to succeed his father, was already in custody since December 25, 2020. After the registration of a new case, he was formally arrested from there. Response from Omar Abdullah was quick: “The BJP has a completely different standard when it comes to hate speech from its own leaders. They can call for hands to be cut off, people to be murdered and it’s fine. Hilal Lone makes a speech and anti-terror laws are used to book him.”

SRINAGAR

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have seized  61 vehicles, five houses, six shops, and the land of some individuals and associations in 46 militancy-related cases. Offering details, a police spokesman said: “Under this Act, 61 vehicles — two trucks/trailers, one tipper, four Alto 800 cars, two Hyundai Creta, one Maruti Echo, one Baleno, four Santro, one Asta, two Wagon R, one Mahindra Quanta, one Auto (Tata Zip), two Maruti Swift, 18 Motor Cycles, five Scotties, two Autoload carrier, three Alto K10, one Maruti 800, one Load carrier (207), two Tavera, one Ambulance, one Tata Tiago, one Ford Figo, two Echo ambulance, one i20, and one Dutson — have been seized.” The Creta car, he said, belonged to Sofi Fahmeeda, a Dukhtaran-e-Millat activist. “Rs 3,70,000 cash, cheque worth Rs 50,000 were also seized. Besides, immovable property including five houses have also been seized. The houses seized include those of Mehmooda Begum, mother-in-law of Asiya Andrabi, six shops belonging to Nazir Ahmad Wani of Pulwama in case FIR number 39/2020 under section 18, 19, 39 ULA (P) Act and 1 Kanal, 06 marlas of land.”

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