Amid fresh drizzle in March, it was a rain of awards over valley. Other than researchers, journalists and medicos, awards were bestowed on three papier machie and shawl exporters from Kashmir in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the handicraft sector. Figuring among 68 companies from all over India, the trio was honoured by the Union Government. Among the awardees is Mir Handicrafts Private Limited, based in Okhla New Delhi. Second awardee is Ali Muhammad Shirazi owner of Srinagar-based Siamese Exports Company. Third among the awardee is Kashmir-based export house, Akbar Art Gallery. With awards raining, one can only hope, let it be a great rain!
It was back to basics session. For the first time in JK’s history, the newly-elected legislators were imparted training in a day-long workshop by Parliamentary Affairs Ministry on the directions of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Parliamentary Affairs Ministry had roped in senior National Conference (NC) leader Abdul Rahim Rather, who has spent 36 years as a legislator, to give tips to the newly-elected legislators. After inaugurating the workshop, the chief minister called upon the first-time legislators to maintain the pride of the State legislature and admirably play the principle role of lawmakers so that the society functions in a much better way. It seems rookies now stand roosted for House job.
Amid pitched amnesty cry, the hanging of Kashmiri convict charged in child murder case was deferred by a month. The decision was a moment of respite for the family of Shafqat Hussain and for the civil society. Earlier, the family made heartrending appeals to the government, complaining of a flawed justice system. Shafqat’s lawyers say he was just 14 in 2004, when he was burnt with cigarettes and had fingernails removed until he confessed to the killing of a child. The news of his hanging started doing rounds after Pak PM Nawaz Sharif lifted moratorium on capital punishment in wake of terror attack on an army school at Peshawar. Since then, 48 convicts have been hanged. But in Shafqat’s case, many voices spoke in unison, including Fatima Bhutto, that there was no moment of reflection, no introspection, but only a knee-jerk call for vengeance.
It was a different band, baja and bharaat on the road of winter capital that instantly turned mood festive. Jostling for space, people were too desperate to have a glimpse of a parade of hundreds of eunuchs called from different parts of India to take out a colourful procession in Jammu. But before you think, it was any other eunuch parade, please hang on. They were in Jammu to offer prayers for flood victims! When a procession amid band tunes and dhol reached Raghunath Temple, the eunuchs took “holy water” from Raghunath and broke the mourning period. After prayers, it was time for celebrations after two eunuchs became groom and bride. The scenes were altogether different at Shaheedi Chowk Jammu, a stronghold of eunuch community that once had a patronage of Dogra ruler Hari Singh. No wonder, these eunuchs call themselves Rajwadi Kinnars!
The NC man from picturesque Pahalgam was once again caught in an awkward position! This time, Altaf Ahmad Wani, a lawmaker from Pahalgam was booked for allegedly manhandling Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), and his staff besides ransacking his office. After the CEO M Y Bhat filed a complaint with Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Anantnag against Wani and his coterie, the MLA refuted the allegations by vowing to tender resignation if proved guilty. Now, mulling to file a counter FIR against CEO, the ‘newsy’ legislator would be hoping that his latest event shouldn’t invite bad press akin to his Nigeen episode!
After red-facing moment, the controversial minister in Mufti’s cabinet is now mired in an implicit example of quid-pro-quo. The latest is: Health and Medical Education Minister Choudhary Lal Singh had rewarded a KAS officer by posting him as his Officer on Special Duty (OSD). The officer in turn had allegedly benefited Singh by not retrieving nearly 200 Kanals of excess land from minister’s possession in Hiranagar during his posting as Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) Kathua. Earlier, Lal was left humiliated after a lady doctor from Jammu filed a harassment complaint against him. Though she said she was “coerced” by various quarters to withdraw her charges, BJP was quick to apologise for its minister’s conduct. Many say the lady doctor hit the nail on its head by asserting: the arrogant mindset of politicians makes militants out of innocent youth and force young boys to throw stones. When you suppress people, culture of violence takes shape, she minced no words.
The Union Ministry of Finance has begun the process of negotiation for the first tranche of World Bank loan for J&K, tentatively sized at about USD 250 million.
The Army’s recruitment rally saw around 20,000 youth turning up for filling up of 55 posts.