Briefing January 23-29, 2022

GUREZ

Remote Gurez valley remains disconnected for most of the winter as the snow makes Razdan Pass impassable. But the internet has kept it alive and connected with the larger world. For the third consecutive winter, Gurez is holding the snow cricket tournament and it is being broadcast live on social media. A few years back, the local residents started playing cricket on a mat, laid on the frozen pitch and it emerged as a grand success. The field is located in the middle of Markoot, Achoora and Bagtore villages. The live broadcast has led many international crickets to comment on the tourney. Fakhar-e-Alam, a famous Pakistani actor, TV host and singer shared the video of the cricket match saying: “I wanna play cricket here with these guys….this looks so much fun.” It was re-tweeted by Marnus Labuschagne, adding: “How good is this”. Gurez residents said they hope the event triggers tourist inflow to the border region.

In the last 2 years, Geology and Mining department e-auctioned 384 minor mineral blocks and generated revenue of Rs 321 crore.

PUNJAB

Punjab Police

Neighbouring Punjab was in news in the Kashmir connection twice last week. In one case, a Ludhiana based Kashmiri handicraft seller was looted off his entire seasonal earnings. Hailing from Lolab, Irshad Ahmad said somebody barged into his rented space and took away his cash of Rs 4.75 lakh and shawls worth Rs 50 thousand. Adhampur Police is looking into the case. In another incident, three Kashmiri students in Mohali were beaten to the pulp by some local gang, for no apparent reason. Of the three, two are from Budgam and one from Baramulla. Police have cognisance after the videos and photos of the injured students were circulated widely on social media. SAS Nagar Police station is investigating the reports but the outcome is still not known.

In the last 2 months, under Article 113 of the J&K Civil Services Rules (Volume 1) of 1956, Jammu and Kashmir government terminated the services of 25 teachers after years of remaining absent from their duties.

LUCKNOW

Three Members Of Lucknow Family

Ramban Police on Sunday launched a search operation after three members of a family were reported missing at the Ramsoo belt of the highway. Alerted by a WhatsApp message, ten missing trio were said to be residents of Lucknow. While the operating was on, things unfolded in a rather shocking manner at their home. The trio including Mahmood Ali Khan, his wife Darakhshan and son Shavez Ali was actually murdered by Mahmood’s other son, Sarfaraz. Police had recovered three throat-slit bodies from three different spots but were unable to identify them. The WhatsApp message helped the police solve the mystery. Mehmood was a retired IOL official. They had been murdered on January 5, and the message flashed on WhatsApp was to mislead the police. It eventually opened up everything.

The government has received 4114 applications for land allotment from investors pledging an investment of Rs 44,327 crore that will generate 184100 jobs.

KISHTWAR

Snow does not kill in slides only. It can kill at home. Mutarif Bashir, a seven-year-old kid, had barely moved out of his home in Tilar (Madwa) when a thick blanket of snow slid down the roof and killed him.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department has been able to spend only 52% of the Rs 500 crore funds sanctioned PMDP for procuring a high-end security system to maintain law and order.

AGRA

Three Kashmiri students

It is about to be three months but the three Kashmiri engineering students arrested for allegedly cheering for the Pakistan cricket team, are yet to get bail. Arshid Yusuf, 21, from Chadoora (Budgam), Inayat Altaf Sheikh, 20, and Showkat Ahmed Ganai, 21, (both from Bandipore) were roommates at the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College (RBS) in Agra, where some students and rightwing activists accused them of cheering for Pakistan during a T20 World Cup cricket match on October 24, 2021. All three were studying engineering under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS). The students are facing a crisis as the lawyers in the concerned court have passed a resolution against offering the trio legal representation. Their bail applications have been postponed seven times, and a lawyer who agreed to represent them has moved to the Allahabad High Court. The trio is booked under sections 124 A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (1) (B), or statements intended to cause “fear and alarm”, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, and 66-F (cyber-terrorism) of the Information Technology Act 2000.

JAMMU

Brig (Retd) Suchet Singh, RSS

RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS), bigwig Brig (retd) Suchet Singh died last week. A Prant Sanghchalak of RSS, he was unwell for almost a year. Basically from Suchetgarh, Brig Singh remained active with the RSS activities post-retirement in 1997 and performed various responsibilities in the organization. Earlier, he was Director of the Sainik Welfare Board, and in 2006. In 2007, he became the co-province Sanghchalak and in 2008 he was promoted to Sanghchalak of Jammu and Kashmir. He was a key player of Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti that spearheaded the 64 days agitation in 2008, during which an economic boycott was enforced on most of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

DELHI

The government has shut down the Balti Service from All India Radio Srinagar. The programme was aimed at a “reach out project” to Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Baltistan regions. The closure came in 2022 after years of its broadcast from the shortwave radio transmission in Srinagar.  The direction came from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The capsule started on March 27, 1988, to counter Balti language programmes being aired from Radio Pakistan and Radio Trarkhal. It also catered to people living in the Kargil region of Ladakh and a small number of scattered Balti speaking people in different pockets of Kashmir. After the Kargil war, Home and Defence Ministries initiated a ten-minute news bulletin in the Balti language in addition to the 20-minute commentary. Local managers at the radio said they lack the adequate talent to cater to the capsule. If it is required, it can be done from Kargil.

SRINAGAR

A health worker takes a sample from a tourist for the COVID-19 test at a Tangmarg on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

With the Omicron variant of Covid19 triggering almost a mass morbidity, the government has extended the weekend curfew and now it started from Friday 2 pm. There has been a massive increase in the number of Covid19 positive cases and in fact a new daily record is created. There were more cases on one day than in the 30 days of July. What is interesting, however, is that while the numbers are increasing hugely, hospitalisation is not required in all cases. In fact, the demand for oxygen is too low. It indicates that the families are taking precautions at home to avoid the hospitals. Off late, most of the hospital staff is also contracting the virus. The numbers in Kashmir have already reached almost 2000. However, what is interesting is that the medical staff is taking off for five days and returning to their duties at the earliest.

DELHI

Kashmir photojournalist Rafiq Maqbool captures US forces in action in Afghanistan – AP Photo

Various Delhi based news channels are running a story for the last few days suggesting that part of the leftover arms and ammunition of the American troops in Afghanistan is finding its way to Kashmir. Though no such claim was made by the security grid in Srinagar, these channels are reporting that some video was released by some fugitive group showcasing their M4 carbines M249 automatic rifles, 509 tactical guns, M1911 pistols and M4 carbine rifles. It was in this response, these reports said that the Jammu and Kashmir police are acquiring US-made Sig Sauer 716 Rifles and Sig Sauer MPX 9MM pistols.

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