Briefing July 12 – July 18, 2020

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USA

Kashmiri doctor couple, Khurshid Drabu and Lubna, in their US home. They are acquiring a church to create a Kashmir museum.

A Kashmiri couple Dr Khurshid Guru and his wife Dr Lubna Guru, are in the process of buying a 97-year-old vacant church in America at 650 Park Place in Niagara Falls, which reportedly will be converted into a museum and library of art, culture and history of Kashmir which will have over 1,500 paintings, books and artefacts of Kashmir, a collection worth US$ 2 million, collected over the years by the couple. Both are doctors – Khurshid serves the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Lubna is an adolescent and pediatric doctor in Lockport. Since 2005, they are living in East Amherst. They are also planning to buy two additional houses to provide residential space to visiting Kashmiri artists, scholars and contributors. Dr Khurshid Guru is the son of noted Kashmiri cardio-thoracic surgeon, late Dr Abdul Ahad Guru, who was killed by unidentified gunmen outside his house in Barzulla on April 1, 1993. The project details include two lakh dollars for the property, US$1.25 million for construction and improvement, US$250,000 for furniture and equipment and US$300,000 for other costs.

The 97-year old Church in Western New York is currently owned by Michael Suszek.

 BANDIPORA

Sheikh Waseem Bari, a portrait

One of BJP’s activist and promising leaders who had set up a strong base in the rightwing party in Bandipore, Waseem Bari was killed along with his father Bashir Ahmad and brother Umar Sultan. The assassination, first after August 5, that coincided with Burhan Wani’s anniversary, took place metres away from their home and the local police station. A core member of BJP and its state executive member, Waseem’s father and brother were also affiliated with BJP, according to the party leaders. A commerce graduate, Bari is survived by wife, two kids and a sister. Bari jumped into BJP after deserting NC. Police have dismissed from service and arrested all the 10 cops who were deployed to guard Bari.

GALWAN

A satellite image of Galwan valley

As the two nuclear neighbours China and India, engaged in a now almost settled faceoff over Galwan heights that killed 20 Indian soldiers, the Bollywood jumped in to cash in. Ajay Devgan announced he will be making a film on the Galwan Valley clash. The actor intends to start the shooting once the Coronavirus pandemic subsides. However, there is no detail about who is writing the story and what it will be all about. Earlier more than two Bollywood masala movies, on the February 2019 Balakote airstrike, were announced but so far apparently there is no progress on the projects. Patriotism apart flicks with security angle is big business. Go and watch Uri that made more money than the best of the Bollywood despite low cost and newcomers in its cast.

CHADOORA

Software developer, Tipu Sultan Wani

In retaliation when Delhi resorted to “digital strike” by banning around 57 Chinese apps in India, a student from Kashmir came with an alternative for at least in one case – ShareIt. A student of management studies, Tipu Sultan Wani developed an alternative app for easing the file transfer woes. The App FileShare Tool was released on Google Play Store last month and so far it has received a 4.8 out of 5 average star rating, while downloads have crossed over 5,000. This free app, reportedly works faster than the original app as it is without advertisements, can be used to share movies, documents and audios, without any limit. Besides this app, Wani, a resident of Chadoora (Budgam), has developed a number of other applications and on his LinkedIn profile he describes himself as the CEO of Travager.com, a site that compares deals on flights, hotels, and car hires. He also has a photo collage tool and a free VPN to his credit.

 NOWSHERA

At the face of it, Nepal is engaged in a crisis with Delhi. There is a lot of propaganda going on against each other. But life is normal. Last week, a Nepali soldier Havildar Sambur Gurung was killed on the Line of Control in Nowshera sector fighting for India. The continuous cross border skirmishes between India and Pakistan are going on for a long time now. Last week at least two women were killed when the shelling was reported at the three sectors of Qasba, Kirni and Degwar of Poonch district. At the same time, the UT administration in Srinagar finally started issuing the domiciles to the Gorkhas living in Jammu. They have been fighting initially for the Dogra Maharajas and later for the Indian army.

 GENEVA

 

UNHRC session in progress in Geneva.

Deeply concerned over Delhi’s silence over the details sought by the United Nations on state of human rights in Kashmir, four UN Special Rapporteurs have made public their third communication forwarded to MEA, since the day Kashmir’s special status was scrapped on August 5, 2019. The communication expressed grave concern over alleged excessive use of force, ill-treatment during arrests and detentions. The communication is seeking details and the status of 16 persons who were arrested in 2019, some of them later died, according to the communication. The communication has come jointly from the four Rapporteurers – Nils Melzer (Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment), Agnes Callamard (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), Fernand de Varennes (Special Rapporteur on minority issues) and Ahmed Shaheed (Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief). The communication has been sent to the Government of India on May 4, 2020, and made public recently, after 60 days of response time. Reportedly the communication includes the list of 13 cases from 2018 alone, in which four children were among eight civilians killed by members of the security forces. After the report of Kashmir in 2018, MEA has alredy conveyed the UN Human Rights Council that they will not be responding to any communication.

MUMBAI

Aabha Hanjura

Kashmiri folk and fusion artist Aabha Hanjura has released a festive song centered on Kashmiri traditions and history, Nundbane from her music album Sound of Kashmir. The song shot in Jaipur, is based on the lyrics by famous poet Mahmud Gami. Trying to be different with her songs, Nundbane, she says, brings vibrant Indian folk elements married with a Kashmiri sound, set amidst a very modern arrangement. The idea she says was to do justice to the song and see what the song really demands. She has included the authentic and rustic Kashmiri music instruments like rubab and tumbaknari in her album.

 AUSTRALIA

Carmen Greentree with her book based on her two months of abuse in a Srinagar houseboat.

A recently released book in Australia titled Dangerous Pursuit of Happiness is going to haunt the Kashmir’s tourism industry for a long time. The author Carmen Greentree, then 22, has painstakingly chronicled her excruciating past in a book, hoping to rest the demons that continue to haunt her. She has penned down her painful ordeal when she was allegedly abducted and held captive in one of the houseboats in Dal Lake and allegedly raped for two months before she managed to escape. She has accused a local Kashmiri houseboat owner for her ordeal. The accused was arrested and later set free as the lady skipped testifying before the court. The alleged rapists has denied allegations.

 POONCH

 As the Power Development Department (PDD)’s official website was hacked by the cyber attackers and the officials claimed that they will get all data back in ten days, an electric shock was sent to a poor farmer, Mohammad Hanief, son of Feroz Din of Guhrian Sheiklian village in Mendhar Poonch, when he was handed over a bill of Rs 10 crores only. Hanief sarcastically wished to pay the bill if God had been kind to him so that he could shore up the Union Territory’s revenues. Meanwhile, his bill was forwarded by his local Sarpanch to the officials who have informed that it was a computer error.

SRINAGAR

Cover-Illustration---Urdu-LanguageAfter the judicial debate over the halt in bi-annual Darbar move, now it is official language of Jammu and Kashmir that is in focus. After a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjay Dhar, have issued the notice to the UT administration for seeking directions to either declare Hindi as the official language or one of the languages in Jammu and Kashmir. The advocates Priyanshu Sharma and Aditya Sharma on behalf of the petitioners had submitted that the commonly used language in Jammu was Dogri and Hindi, which according to them is a compulsory subject up to class 10 and Urdu as optional. The petitioners have sought a direction to government to declare Hindi as official language in Jammu and Kashmir in terms of section 47 of the J&K Reorganization Act-2019. But there was no mention that in the other division of J&K, in Kashmir, Urdu is a compulsory subject and Hindi an optional language.

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