Last time when Pakistan had to justify its nuclear test before the world, its foreign minister read out the statements that Dr Farooq Abdullah, the then Chief Minister, had made in follow up to Pokhran. More than two decades later, some of his statements are part of the dossier on basis of which a case of his detention under Public Safety Act has been made out. The 21-page dossier lists 27 charges, 16 police reports, three FIRs and 13 statements, he has made. Restricted to his home since August 5, Dr Abdullah, the five-time Chief Minister was formally arrested on September 14.
Accused of fanning the emotions of general masses against India, the dossier, according to Indian Express mentions his December 2016 speech at his father’s grave where he suggested Hurriyat factions must unite. In July 2019, speech, he said: “If Article 370 is temporary, then Jammu and Kashmir’s ties with India are also temporary.” His reference to Kashmir as “this nation”, is another charge, besides his statement over February 14 Pulwama attack has been mentioned as “reflecting his sacrilegious agenda by insulting valour of brave forces”. In his August 5, statement, the dossier said, he “crossed the limits of guaranteed freedom of speech and expression” by calling for “an uprising” in the state. Of the three FIRs recorded in the dossier, two have been fled in J&K and one in Delhi.
For the first time since the Siachen glacier was occupied by the armies of India and Pakistan, the Indian army has launched a drive to clear the glacier of mounds of waste. Launched in January, so far, 130 tonnes of waste was brought down. It includes 48.4 tonnes of biodegradable garbage, 40.32 tonnes of non-bio-degradable and non-metallic waste and 42.45 tonnes of metallic scrap. The presence of army is creating 236 tonnes of waste on the fragile glacier a year. The idea is to clear the glacier of all wastes in next 15 years. Besides, the army is planning to permit domestic tourists to the belt.
It a new twist in the display of Laxmi, the Vaishno Devi shrine will have a gold plated gate. It will be formally installed during the Navratras. The “golden entrance”, according to Shrine Board has been carved with pictures of gods and goddesses. “The golden entrance has a dome, three golden flags and a huge ‘golden chattar’, besides pictures of Mata Vaishno Devi, depicting her nine looks like Mahagauri, Sidhidarti, Kalratri, Chamunda,” officials told reporters. “At the right side of the entrance, a tall golden picture of Goddess Laxmi has been printed and on the left side, the aarti (special prayer chamber) of the goddess has been placed and at the centre of the dawar and a 25-kg bell made of silver and gold has also been hung.” Vaishno Devi is one of the wealthiest north Indian shrines that is visited by around 10 million pilgrims a year. The golden installation required 12 kgs of gold, 1100 kgs of silver and 1200 kgs of copper.
Kashif Siddiqi, a top British Asian footballer, who is part Indian origin and has played for Pakistan as well, was signed by Real Kashmir Football Club, Guardian reported. The unorthodox loan move from League One Oxford United to Real Kashmir FC will see Siddiqi, 33, playing in Kashmir, a conflict spot that is in news for many months now. The player has said his ‘loan move’ is a proof of his commitment to the wider importance of the game. In 2013 he co-founded with former Chile international Elías Figeroa the Football For Peace charity, which runs a number of programmes around the world that use the game to address social issues. In UK, the group tackles knife crime and gang violence. He is slated to address the UN general assembly on his work, this week. Real Kashmir co-founder Sandeep Chattoo has said the decision is beyond the game: “Kashif is a unique player who will fit right in and we hope that his football for peace efforts will align with our mission and continue to bring hope and joy to the region.” Peacemaking has real worries. “Of course, I’m a bit worried. I’ve been following the news and know that things are really difficult there at the moment,” Siddiqi was quoted saying. “But I know what this club means to the youth of Kashmir, and I know that football can make a difference to their lives, as difficult as they are.”
In an interesting development, also related to the Real Kashmir FC, a documentary on the Club by BBC Scotland has been nominated to two categories at British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards Scotland. The documentary focused around the journey of David Robertson to Kashmir was aired by BBC Scotland earlier 2019.
More than 37 deaths were reported after 5.8 magnitude earthquake Mirpur on September 24. Officials said 579 people survived with injuries in the quake that was also severely felt in Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 1619 houses have been destroyed by the quake. United States Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at a depth of 6.2 miles, in Jatlan village in Mirpur outskirts, barely 30 kms from Jammu and Kashmir. Al Jazeera reported that freighted people – the area was literally decimated on October 8, 2005, stayed outside their homes overnight. The earthquake has led to the sinking of almost 3 kms of a major road. Most of Mirpur lives in Bhiringham (UK).
For a cosy winter sojourn, the CRPF would be setting up over 40 pre-fabricated huts and improving infrastructure in existing private houses and hotels they are living in. The prefabricated shelters would be insulated with Poly Urethane Foam (PUF) to insulate the interiors from the winter chill. The paramilitary will acquire over two lakh coir mattresses for its jawans deployed in Kashmir. Earlier, they would sleep on a darri (thin mat), according to The Hindu. The CRPF, since 2003, operate from “a little over 100 small hotels and houses abandoned by Kashmiri Pandits”.
Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad – Kashmir’s only Chief Minister, who has not been arrested, visited parts of Kashmir for 6-days after being permitted by the Supreme Court, has termed the situation “very bad.” He said the state administration did not permit him to even visit 10 percent of places he wished to go. “There is no sign of freedom of speech in Jammu and Kashmir,” he told The Indian Express. After being sent back from Srinagar airport thrice since August 5, Azad finally got permission from the Supreme Court to visit parts of the state. He will submit his report to the Court.
The West Midlands Police in Britain are investigating the 2017 British Muslim of the Year over his Jihadi remarks in a Kashmir related protest. SumairaFarrukh, 38, a journalist and businesswoman has been filmed using the controversial word at a rally outside the Council House (standing on the steps of landmark Victoria Square) on August 31, saying: “There’s only one solution which is Jihad. No protest, nothing. Just Jihad.” A resident of Bordesley Green, she has been saying that she is the chief executive of a Muslim TV channel, Noor TV. Farukh, who is also working with the British army in getting Asians into the forces, has said that Jihad in Islam is not essentially a violent fight.
Kannan Gopinathan, the IAS officer who resigned from the coveted service in August, in protests against curbs on freedom of expression in Jammu and Kashmir, was stopped from visiting Jaykar Knowledge Resource Centre (JKRC), the library at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), The Indian Express reported. Gopinathan said students wanted him to visit the library but there was a confrontation between the students and library officials. Gopinathan was in Pune to deliver a talk at SPPU campus. The idea was dropped after library officials sought a formal request.
Debunking peace claims in Kashmir, a 5-women group has demanded Home minister Amit Shah to restore Article 370 and withdraw army and paramilitary forces. They released a ‘fact finding’ report after visiting Kashmir. The members – Annie Raja (wife of CPI leader D Raja), KawaljitKaur and PankhuriZaheer (National Federation of Indian Women), PoonamKaushik (PragatisheelMahilaSangathan) and SyedaHameed (Muslim Women’s Forum) – spent a week in Kashmir till September 21, and visited Shopian, Pulwama and Bandipora. Alleging torture and excesses on people, the group has sought withdrawal of police cases and release of youth. Insisting that an estimated 13,000 arrests have taken place, the group, according to The Hindu alleged extortions also. They mentioned the women were facing more problems.
Almost seven months after the police arrested them on charges of sedition for their Facebook posts in the aftermath of Pulwama blasts, the three Kashmiri students are finally out on bail, The Indian Express reported. HarisManzoor, 20, GawharMushtaq, 21, both students of the Spurthy College of Nursing and ZaqirMaqbool, 23, a student of Chinai College of Nursing, were arrested on February 16, on the basis of a complaint by the Spurthy College principal, BanuDharmarajan, who claimed their anti-army message on Facebook triggered a campus brawl. The court had earlier denied them bail. After the police filed the charge-sheet, the court bailed out the trio. But they will have to stay put in Bangalore till the trial concludes.
It was literally an Iltija (request) in Mumbai. Though silent after her mother lost the throne, Iltija Mufti, one of the two daughters of Mehbooba Mufti was quite vocal during the ongoing crisis. Apart from pursuing her mother’s detention – she says she is proud of it, the young Mufti has revived her mother’s twitter account and is quite newsy.
Insisting that BJP must follow Vajpayee and not “mis-steps of Congress, at the India Today conclave Iltija did a lot of straight talking. In a bid to answer to the questions, she asked many uncomfortable questions: Whether India was Gandhi’s India or Godse’s India? Why are UP and Bihar (in comparison to Kashmir) doing so bad despite being ruled by BJP? Is Jammu and Kashmir a colony of India? Do you want to persecute minorities now for unfinished business of partition? Do you win over hearts through brute force?
India Today published on its website, a series of newsy quotes from her speech:
“They say those who ruled Kashmir is responsible for the current situation in the state. My grandfather was CM for four years and my mother for less than three years. How can they be the ruling class? Such blame game helps them justify what they are doing. They call it preventive detention. How many people have been arrested for lynching across the country? Haryana is the rape capital of India. Will they arrest all the men of Haryana because they could be potential rapists?”
“Kashmiris have been caged for last two months. Nobody talks about the constitutional harakiri committed by the government. If it has been done for the welfare of the Kashmiris, why were they not consulted? … You talk about the future; can we talk about the present first? Can we talk about the humanitarian crisis, economic crisis, psychological crisis, the human trauma that people have been subjected to?”
“It’s a fight for their land, their culture and their identity. BJP wants to engineer demographic change in the only Muslim majority state in India.”
“If others do reservation for jobs, it’s fine. But if Kashmir does, everyone becomes terrorist and stone-pelters. BurhanWani had a reason for becoming a militant.”
“You showed more feelings when Chandrayaan-2 rover failed. In Kashmir, nine million people have been incarcerated. Do you not feel empathy for them?”
“Modisahab can meet his mother; I have to seek Supreme Court’s permission to meet my mother. Modi released butterflies on his birthday. He should free Kashmiris too.”
“I’m proud that my mother is in jail. Today, those who fight for rights are in jail and those who violate are outside.”
“Kashmiri women are much more emancipated than women anywhere else in the country. Our infant and maternal mortality rate is better than most states.”
“The government says Article 370 was a stumbling block and that its removal will the pave way for development. In 2014, we were told acche din aayenge, aagayeacche din…aagaye?… They [the government] did it [abrogate Article 370] because they had to show 100 din main humne abrogate kardiya…”
“In a civil society you have a debate. Kashmiri are part of this debate. You did not even consult them [on the Article 370 move]. How can you justify it and sell them the dream of a future?”
“How would you feel if in Mumbai you would need a curfew pass to move around in your own country?”
The young Mufti whom Mufti Sayeed would take to the secretariat along was running her mother’s social media for most of her last six months in office. She says she is not talking as politician but whatever she talked is not apolitical as well.
She has not stopped. Her latest tweet was about Prime Minister’s Houston event: “Ironic that a move ostensibly taken to secure “special interests” of J&K gets cheered on everywhere except in the state that it meant to benefit. While people in Kashmir have been gagged, mass hysteria is orchestrated elsewhere to justify this decision.”
The reporters from India and Pakistan met their ultimate anchor in White House when President Donald Trump literally humiliated them. He mocked at them, apparently for nothing. When one Pakistani reporter went non-stop on Kashmir, Trump continued laughing and commenting “I like this reporter”. He later asked him: “Are you from his (Imran Khan) team?” Finally, Trump told him he was not asking a question but giving a statement. “I’ll – let me put that one down as a statement, if you don’t mind,” Trump told him and the reporter thanked him! Then, another reporter asked: “Other than Pakistan and India, the Kashmiri people are suffering the last 50 days. They will talk later on, but right now there was human rights violation in Kashmir. Fifty days lockdown – no Internet, no food, nothing. So, you know, what do you want to do for the Kashmiri people?” Prompt came Trump’s reply: “Where do you find reporters like this? (Laughter) These guys are fantastic.”
In almost similar fashion, a Delhi reporter asked a complementary question over the Pakistan terror status. “But isn’t there a bigger issue, sir? Pakistan state-sponsored terror – is there a roadmap to deal with Pakistan state-sponsored terror?” Trump’s response was interesting: “Boy, you have great reporters. I wish I had reporters like this. (Laughter) You’re doing better than anybody I’ve ever heard. Where do you find these reporters? This is a great thing.”
Print identified the Indian reporter as India Today’s GauravSawant saying Trump’s comment made the reporter “instantly (in)famous”.
A former IIT Delhi professor Vipin Kumar Tripathi, 71, who had a six-year stint in an American university, created news when he started distributing pamphlets titled Disquiet of Kashmiri Masses and Jubilation in Rest of India Test Our Soul among commoners. Telegraph reported that the old academic walked 5 kms to distribute the pamphlets between his Sarvodaya Enclave residence and HauzKhas Metro station. It irked many. A car driver at Moolchand Flyover snatched a bunch of 150 pamphlets from his hand, while shouting at him: “Are you a Pakistani? You are committing treason! If you were not an old man I would have hit you hard”. Since BabriMasjoid demolition, the former physicist has been writing pamphlets and travelling long distances to distribute them. His latest pamphlet asks the government to restore Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood and keep in abeyance the presidential order revoking its special status. He and 82 others have signed a memorandum that they want to submit to the President and are waiting for an appointment. “The impact of the government’s actions in Kashmir has been worse in the rest of India than the hurt caused to the people of Kashmir. In the rest of the country, people’s minds have been poisoned so much that they don’t want to listen to any reasoning. This runs counter to national unity,” the newspaper quoted him saying. “Those who supported the pamphlet were meek. Those who did not like it were assertive, aggressive and abusive.… (Just) five to six of those who did not like it were not abusive.”
More than 500 Indian scientists and scholars have urged the Narendra Modi government to lift the restrictions imposed in Kashmir, insisting – in a joint statement – the government was “duty bound to uphold the rights and protect the welfare of all citizens”. They termed the communication gag and the detention of Opposition politicians and dissidents as “deeply undemocratic”. The signatories include top scholars from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research; the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research in Calcutta, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram; the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Statistical Institute; several Indian Institutes of Technology and other academic institutions, including many universities. “Whatever views one might hold about these individuals, a fundamental norm in democracy is that the party in power does not have the right to lock up its political opponents when they have not even been accused of any crimes,” the signatories said. “In our institutions, we have witnessed students suffering because they are unable to maintain contact with their families (in Kashmir).” This is perhaps first time when the scholars and scientists, who usually remain apolitical, felt compelled to go public on an apparently political issue. Reports said the concern was so overwhelming that more than 500 signatures came within less than 24 hours.
In yet another appeal signed by 150 students and members of the academia, the government was asked to end the communication blackout to the academic and research spaces as it has severely impacted them. A statement initiated by noted academics B Ananthanarayan (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), GautamMenon (Ashoka University, Sonepat), Jayant Murthy (Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore), Rahul Siddharthan (The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai), ReetekaSud (NIMHANS, Bangalore) and MukundThattai (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore) says that while all the residents of Kashmir deserved to be heard, the lack of communication from academic institutions in Kashmir is especially concerning. Highlighting the crucial role that the internet plays in conducting and communicating research, the statement says that not only are the scientists in question unreachable but “even the University of Kashmir’s domain (uok.edu.in) has disappeared from Google’s search results for the university”. It said the communication blockade has “dealt a devastating blow” to the academic intuitions.
Meanwhile, Newsclick reported that the Kashmiris studying at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have refused to meet Swami Adityanath, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. He had desired an interaction to explain “the positives” of the abrogation of Article 370. They have said they did not want to get into ‘photo-op politics’ and also it would endanger the lives of their parents back home.
While Jammu and Kashmir is yet to come of the August 5, shock, G Kishan Reddy, a member of Prime Minister Modi cabinet, announced a survey of “around 50,000 temples” in Kashmir. He alleged some of these temples were destroyed, and idols were defaced. Official state government information (2012) suggests Kashmir had only 438 temples of which 208 were “damaged over the years”.
Sabah Hamid, a Kashmiri American who was a communications specialist and a programme officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation resigned in protest against the Foundation’s decision to honour Prime Minister NarendraModi. He was bestowed with the annual Global Goalkeeper award for building 110 million toilets for the poor in five years. “Being Kashmiri makes it personal,” she told TRT World when asked if her being Kashmiri influenced her decision, “But that wasn’t the sole reason”. She said for the last 50 days she swings between anger and despair because of the lockdown and communication blockade.