CONFLICT KIDS: These frozen frames were the most striking of the pictures hot in 2017. While in two cases (right and left), the infants lost their mothers to conflict, in the third frame, it was the father, a police man, who was killed on duty.
Recognising their ‘decades of campaign for human rights in Kashmir’ two Srinagar based rights activists, Parvez Imroz and Parveena Ahangar, were awarded Norway’s Rafto Prize 2017.
Zehru Nissa, the health reporter for English daily Greater Kashmir bagged ICFJ’s Global Health Reporting Award 2017 for one of her reports that detailed the lack of gynecologists in Kashmir periphery. She was one of the six reporters selected from among 130 participants.
A Kashmiri law student, Sameer Rashid Bhat, won prestigious Rhodes scholarship, 2018, which entitles recipients to study a subject of their choice at Oxford University for one year. An alumnus of Iqbal Memorial Institute, Srinagar, Sameer, is presently enrolled at Gujarat National Law University. He is the first Kashmiri to bag this scholarship.
The portraits drawn by Ishfar Ali, a constable in J&K Police, were showcased at Australian High Commissioner’s residence in Delhi. Ishfar joined police in 2011 after obtaining a bachelor in Fine Arts at Kashmir University. Now the Australian embassy is planning to fly him to Australia for honours.
A brief video recorded by a teenager in Budgam on a re-poll day enraged Kashmir but it became the first evidence how locals in Kashmir were used as Human Shields by the counter-insurgency grid. Identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Chill in Beerwa’s Arizal belt, later became an acute depression patient and was the centre of debate at prime time shows for many months. And now state is denying him compensation sought by state human rights commission.
It was a sigh of relief for three Kashmiri families to see their sons released after a long wait. Accused of waging war against the state and attempt to murder, two out of three youth booked in 2005 were acquitted after 12 years. Muhammad Rafiq Shah, Muhammad Hussain Fazili and Tariq Ahmed Dar were accused of killings 67 people. In February this year, Patiala House Court acquitted Shah and Fazili, however, convicted Dar. Though the maximum sentence in his conviction is ten years, he has already spent twelve years behind the bars.
In 2017, the militancy related death was recorded highest for the decade. A total of 393 persons, including 100 civilians, 215 militants and 78 armed forces personnel have been killed, so far. The civilians included 57 persons who were killed by militants. The JKP has started an ‘operation all out’ under which they claimed to have killed the militants. Besides, in 13 weapon snatching incidents 34 weapons were looted, out of which 4 were recovered.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) dominated the later part of the year. So far, NIA has summoned around 25 Kashmiris including pro-freedom activists, leaders, businessmen, a photojournalist and a KU scholar, in connection with “terror funding case”. Till now, only senior advocate and Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom was given a clean chit. Others still wait for anytime call to the headquarter in Delhi where home ministry has credited NIA raids for decreasing the stone-pelting incidents.
Khalid Bashir’s book Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative, published by Sage Publications, generated lots of interest in Kashmir as it also questions Kalhan’s Rajtarangni by terming it an incomplete document. The 412-page paperback book is a thorough analysis of the historical sources on which Kashmir’s historic narratives are based. Equally important was Jaffna Street: Tales of Life, Death, Betrayal and Survival in Kashmir by Mir Khalid, a city boy who grew up in the shadow of the crisis and remembered things so clearly.
In a shocking incident a deputy superintendent of police, Ayub Pandith, was lynched to death in Nowhatta area on Shab-e-Qadr, after some people caught hold of him outside the Jamia Masjid. The incident shocked Kashmiris irrespective of their ideological divide or affiliations.
Atiqa Bano, the lady behind Kashmir’s first private museum, MirasMehal, breathed her last this year. Bano, a noted educationist, heritage activist and former Director Education and Libraries, collected antiques from across Kashmir for her privately owned museum, which had some rare books and manuscripts. She had preserved what Kashmir has left long back.
In 2010, details of Machil fake encounter shocked Kashmir to the extent that an entire summer was consumed in unrest leaving over a hundred young boys’ dead. What exactly had happened that in April 2010, army lured three people to Kalaroos village in Machil near the Line of Control (LoC) promising jobs as porters. All the three were instead handed over to 4 Rajputana Rifles who killed them in a fake encounter. Later Army claimed they have killed three Pakistani militants. Once the police busted army’s claim, army ordered a court of enquiry, which handed over life sentence to nine of its men including a colonel in September 2015. But in July 2017, armed forces tribunal’s suspended the life sentence of the five accused. The suspension of punishment means the accused, Colonel Dinesh Pathania, Captain Upendra Singh, Havildar Devinder and Lance Naiks Arun Kumar and Lakhmi, will soon walk out of jail. The sixth convict, Abbas Hussain Shah of Territorial Army, is already on bail.
Post Trump, everybody wanted to see how new America will behave with the Kashmiris. But what happened was shocking and embarrassing for all Kashmiris. Two snowshoe sportspersons participated in the world Snowshoe championship in New York. But only one sportsperson returned and another, Tanveer Hussain, was detained for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. He is still there proving his innocence.
For the first time in Kashmir’s history, Srinagar boycotted elections in April, 2017. Only 7.12 percent adults came out to vote. It was the lowest ever turnout recorded in Kashmir. The exercise saw killing of seven youngsters by government forces in Budgam district.
After a year, the Romeo-Juliet of Ladakh managed to visit their hometown. The bride, StanzinSaldon, a Buddhist, and the groom, Murtaza Agha, a Muslim, who fell in love while living in Jammu, decided to get married in 2016, secretly. Fearing backlash from their respective communities they were living separately. As their love story became public, both Muslims and Buddhists accused each other of foul play. The police and courts also intervened. Now they are married and happy but their love story found space in the pages of New York Times.
For complete year Rohingyas were in news. First, their living spaces went up in flames and they recreated their tin-sheet-cardboard homes. Off late, when right-wingers failed in creating a narrative on demographic shift involving state subjects, they pushed the debate towards the Burmese refugees. They were dubbed security risk and some lawyers went to court with plea for their deportation.