Briefing January 16-22, 2022

ROOP NAGAR

Protest in Rajouri after Friday prayers against Roop Nagar Jammu demolition. Pic: Internet

In a 5-hour long drive, Jammu Development Authority (JDA) said it retrieved more than five acres of land after demolishing around 17 structures including houses and cowshed. Affected families, mostly Gujjars and Bakerwals, said they were in possession of the land for more than eight decades. The demolitions triggered protests. Political parties and community leaders are seeking a thorough probe into the JDA action. A general impression is that the operation was selective and targets were deliberately chosen.

The January 11, demolition drive came at a time when men had left to sell their milk and only aged and women were at home. MR Qureshi, a lawyer said the residents were not allowed to exercise other legal remedies after the petition seeking regularisation of the land under the Roshni Act became infractious. Revenue records suggest they were living on the spot, even before 1947, he said, adding there are entries in the revenue records.

“J&K admin’s selective demolition of houses in Jammu & rendering tribals homeless is yet another method to vent their hatred by targeting minorities,” Mehbooba tweeted. “Seemingly these communal policy decisions are sanctioned at the top. People need to stand up against such atrocities.” Add MY Tarigami, PAGD spokesman: “This is how ST (scheduled tribe) and tribal communities are being treated while the government claiming to be empowering them.”

Interestingly, JDA officials told the media they have already sold many plots of the land but were not able to give possession to the “legal owners” owing to the encroachment and legal battle.

The State Investigation Agency (SIA) has got a fresh cache of five cases to investigate. It includes the case of seizure of Rs 42 lakh from three persons near Nagrota on November 16.

LADAKH

Foreign ministers of India and China, S Jaishankar and Wang Yi

In the 14th round of talks between the Corps Commander’s of India and China, nothing much happened on the 20-month old standoff. The meeting took place at Chushul-Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the LoAC. Lt Gen AnindyaSengupta, the newly-appointed Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, led the India side and the Chinese side was represented by South Xinjiang Military District Chief Maj Gen Yang Lin.

This essentially means there will be no disengagement of troops from Patrolling Point (PP)-15, also known as Hot Springs. Both sides have almost 75000 troops each in the region.

“They agreed that both sides should follow the guidance provided by the state leaders and work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” a statement issued by the Defence Ministry said. “The two sides have agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.”

Against 3193 cases of crimes against women reported in 2019, the numbers jumped to 3515 in 2020. Rape cases jumped from 297 to 365, molestations from 1754 to 1452 cases and abetment to suicide from 172 to 123 cases.

KUPWARA

Khurshid Ahmad Wani, 33, a resident of Seadpora (Sopore) died in Kupwara district jail. Kralgund police station had arrested two sons of Ghulam Mohammad Wani on October 5, 2021, in FIR 52 of 2021 under sections 363 498 and 109 IPC. Unwell for some time, Khursheed was shifted to a hospital nearby where doctors declared him brought dead. This is the second death in jail in the last six months. Earlier, a Brath Kalan Sopore resident died there on June 14.

After completing around 1200 ‘languishing projects’ by pumping borrowed funds, work on 1000 projects has halted for lack of resources. The newly set up Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) was mandated to raise Rs 7152.49 crore for 2367 ‘languishing’ projects.

SUMBAL

Sajad Gul

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested Sajad Gul, a budding journalist, days after he posted a video of a slain militant’s family raising slogans. Arrested in an army raid from his Gund Jahangir home on January 5, he was later handed over to the police. Currently pursuing his masters in journalism from the Central University of Kashmir, he works for several Kashmir newspapers. Police accused the “so-called journalist” of using his Twitter for “anti-government news.” His activities were termed as “prejudicial to the security and sovereignty of the country.” The arrest has been widely condemned and an application for his bail is pending before the court.

In Srinagar, officials said they retrieved 113 kanals of state land at Zawoora and 70 kanals at Saidporabala. Administration in Ladakh granted Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of 14 soldiers who were killed in Operation Snow Leopard in Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on June 15, 2021.

BEJBEHARA

Mehbooba Mufti addressed party leaders on Monday, February 22, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Authorities have held 10 leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for violating the Covid19 norms. They had organised a small gathering at the grave of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on his sixth death anniversary on January 7. Acting against the organisers, the police have registered FIR 4/2022 under Sections 188 and 269 at police station Bejbehara. The case was registered on the recommendation of civil administration. Mufti Sayeed, former Home Minister of India, was Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, twice, last time in alliance with BJP. “COVID 19 restrictions apply only to PDP. Not to BJP’s protest in Kashmir yesterday, PM’s rally in Punjab or the mass poojas attended by hundreds of people to pray for his safety. Talks volume about J&K admin’s brazen bias against my party,” Mehbooba wrote in her tweet.

KASHMIR

Though the season first snowfall was too thin, given Kashmir standards, the social media was dominated by a series of photographs showing the would-be mothers from remote areas being taken by people on cots to the nearest hospitals. There were civilians, cops and in a case, even soldiers doing this. In at least one case, one woman gave birth to her baby literally on snow when she was on her way to the hospital in a makeshift stretcher.

SOPORE

Dr Mohammad Rashid Ahanger, died on January 12, 2022

A Model Town family is devastated after their son, Dr Mohammad Rashid Ahanger, died in his rented room in Bar Garden. He was pursuing his masters in SKIMS. Family sources said they got panicked after their son did not pick up the call forcing them to contact the house owner who broke the door and saw their son dead. Though he drove him to the neighbouring SMHS Hospital, he was declared brought dead. The young doctor is presumed to have died of a heart attack and is survived by his aged parents and a medico sister.

RAJOURI

Two soldiers were killed in, what is being said, in an incident of “mysterious firing” near the Line of Control (LoC) at Hanjanwali (Bhimber Gali). The slain duo belonged to Punjab. Sepoy Sarvjeet Singh had served the army for six years, Navraj Singh, for more than four years. Reports said the investigations have started involving both police and the army.

JAMMU

Youth Services and Sports office in Anantnag arranged a virtual session of Surya Namskar on January 14, 2022.

Kashmir landed into an instant controversy last week when the Manoj Sinha led administration exhorted upon heads of educational institutions to ensure that the faculty members and students “actively” participate in a virtual Surya Namaskar programme on Friday. This, the order said, was “to mark the holy occasion of Makar Sakranti on 14th January” for which the central government has desired to have a “large scale virtual Surya Namaskar” under Azadika Amrit Mahotsav. It triggered scathing criticism. “We are Muslims first and politicians later,” Syed Altaf Bukhari reacted, insisting it is unwelcome. Former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti said the circular was unacceptable.

“Why should Muslim students be forced to do anything, including yoga, to celebrate Makar Sankranti? Makar Sankranti is a festival & to celebrate it or not must be a personal choice. Would the BJP be happy if a similar order was issued to order non-Muslim students to celebrate Eid?” Abdullah tweeted. Added Mehbooba: “GOIs PR misadventures aim to demean & collectively humiliate Kashmiris. Forcing students & staff to perform surya namaskars by issuing orders despite their obvious discomfort with the imposition of something laden with religious connotations gives an insight into their communal mindset.”

“If tomorrow Muslim CM issues an executive order that everybody should observe fast on Ramzan, how will that sound for non-Muslim community members? Babus, should stop imposing religious practices over people, they have no right to interfere in these matters,” NC’s Umesh Talashi tweeted.

Though it is not known how many really participated in the virtual event but Farooq Khan, an adviser to LG, said it was voluntary.

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