Briefing July 5 – July 11, 2020

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In the first half of the year ending June, in more than 100 counter-insurgency operations Kashmir witnessed 229 killings including 32 civilians and 54 armed forces personnel, according to JKCCS

USA

Democratic presidential nominee and former US vice president Joe Biden

For decades, the political parties in India and Pakistan have fought elections on Kashmir. Now, it seems the idea has gone beyond the seas. After August 5, when the Lok Sabha unilaterally removed the special status of erstwhile State, Kashmir found its mention in the election campaigns in Britain and now the same is happening in the USA. Last week, Democratic presidential nominee and former US vice president Joe Biden updated his website with his policy paper, Agenda for the Muslim American community for elections where he wrote, “India should restore the rights of people of occupied Kashmir” and he also expressed his disappointment over recent constitutional amendments that specifically target Muslims.

“In Kashmir, the Indian government should take all necessary steps to restore rights for all the people of Kashmir. Restrictions on dissent, such as preventing peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the Internet, weaken democracy,” reads the paper while outlining the policies Biden will pursue if elected president in November. He has clubbed Kashmir and Assam in India with the forced detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims in western China, and discrimination and atrocities against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

DELHI

Journalist turned designer Sugandha Kedia

In the fashion industry, the word Kashmir has always worked like magic. This time the word clicked for former TV journalist for Zoom and NDTV Sugandha Kedia, who is a self-taught fashion designer. Her Kashmiri shawls collection are the favourite in the wardrobes of Bollywood divas Shilpa Shetty, Dia Mirza, Karishma Kapoor and Europe-based award-winning fashion blogger Masoom Minawala Mehta. Working with at least 50 Kashmiri shawl weavers, she is working on her latest venture Dusala Kashmir.

Passionate about her new Kashmir project, which is a handcrafted brand featuring shawls, stoles, and scarfs, she had worked hard for one-and-half years before its launch in January 2020. Her research involved numerous trips to Kashmir and a lot of convincing women, who eventually turned out to be her main weavers. The entrepreneur eventually resorted to buying many of their handicraft pieces and later, requesting them to design for her. Her clientele is in the US, UK, and Australia. Her website shows the price of the shawls, hand-woven and fabric starts from Rs 2,500 and goes up to Rs 10 lakh. Specifically, a handwoven pashmina cost around Rs 10,000 while the price for hand-woven Kani made through a long process, spanning three years cost between Rs 98,000 and Rs 2.5 lakh.

UDHAMPUR

Protests against the sale of poisonous cough syrupy that killed many children in Jammu region.

Since the State Human Right’s Commission ceased to exist, all related cases will now be taken over by the National Human Rights Commission. Apparently, in the first case forwarded from the Jammu and Kashmir, the NHRC has issued notices to the Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary and union health ministry over the case related to the deaths of a dozen infants due to consumption of a spurious cough syrup manufactured by a pharmaceutical company Digital Vision in Ramnagar (Udhampur) in January 2020. Dissatisfied with the official response, a social activist Sukesh C Khajuria moved to NHRC on April 3 seeking its intervention for the action against delinquent government officials and compensation to the aggrieved families.

Besides, the NHRC has also issued a notice for the people of J&K and Ladakh, to intimate it about any custodial death within 24 hours and encounter death within 48 hours of the incident. It has sent a communication to the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and the commissioner secretary of Ladakh, where NHRC Secretary-General Jaideep Govind has requested them to pass suitable instructions to those concerned for compliance of all instructions issued by the commission, to send all requisite reports, including the post-mortem, videography and magisterial enquiry reports, in all custodial deaths and encounter deaths.

 GANDERBAL

Banned drugs seized from notorious drug peddler in north Kashmir’s Sopore

A study carried out by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) puts daily sale of drugs in Srinagar and Anantnag districts of Kashmir at Rs 3.7 crore. It says the two districts have 17,000 addicts. The official data reveals that Kashmir had 70,000 addicts by December 2018, including 4,000 women and some children. According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) in February 2019, 600,000 people i.e. 4.6 per cent of the total population of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir use opioid drugs, while 80 per cent of the drug addicts in Kashmir use heroin and morphine. To control the menace, police are making arrests on a daily basis. The recent was from Kurhama Ganderbal where around 800 Codeine Phosphate bottles were recovered from a cop. Posted at District Police Lines Ganderbal, he has been booked under FIR vide number 25/2020 under section 8/22 NDPS Act.

In 100 days, Jammu and Kashmir reported 135 Covid-19 deaths. The positive cases are not far away from 10,000. The recovery rate is absolutely high.

URI

A bear was shot dead by Shabir Ahmad after the animal attacked his father Nazamuddin, 75, at Shudwani Dardkote area in Uri leaving him critically injured. As the son failed to save his father from the beast’s clutches, he took his 12 Bore rifle and shot the bear dead. The injured elderly man was shifted to Sub-District Hospital Uri for treatment. Reports said he is behaving positively to the treatment.  

KUPWARA

It was a tragedy that people will take a long time to forget. Four young boys including two brothers were working on an under-construction well at Singhdan area of Krusan Wavura. As the work was going on the wall collapsed and the four persons fell inside the well. They all were retrieved and driven to the hospital where they were declared brought dead. The deceased were identified as Altaf Ahmad Shiekh (35) son of Ghulam Mohuddin Shiekh, Showket Ahmad Khan (30) son of Ghulam Hassan Khan, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan (25) and his brother Altaf Ahmad Khan (35) sons of Ghulam Mohuddin Khan, all residents of Dard Hari Sangdan. Manual well-digging is usually triggering such crisis in Kashmir because of loose soil.

POONCH

Panic gripped a Poonch village when three residents were arrested on suspicion for (mis)using WhatsApp. The trio, porters at a local army unit near Bhimber Gali, were rounded up for using the application while serving ‘sensitive’ unit and also getting added to some WhatsApp groups that had raised suspicion. So far nothing has come out of the investigations other than they were using the application.

KULGAM

Uploading militant pictures on social media has been a key identity of so-called new-age militancy. Last week, it was a mother and son in a group photograph with weapons. Almost two years old photograph clicked by the lady Naseema Bano – mother of slain militant, landed her in police custody under UAPA. Police alleged that the Rampura resident has recruited two youth into militancy in 2018 and was booked for “arranging arms, ammunition, communication and logistics for militants.” Her son, Tauseef Sheikh had joined militancy in 2013 and was killed in an encounter in May 2018 in Shopian. Reportedly seven members of Sheikh’s extended family were jailed in last three years.

SRINAGAR

PM Narendra Modi paying floral tribute to the CRPF men killed in Lethpora blast.

In Srinagar’s Malbagh, police said they a militant Zahid Daas who was involved in the shootout in which a 6-year old boy and a CRPF man were killed in Bijbehara. Dass was from ISJK, according to police.

In another instance, NIA said they have arrested Mohammed Iqbal Rather for transporting Pakistani bomb-maker Mohammed Umer from the Jammu border to Pulwama. Iqbal’s arrest is the sixth in the February 2019 case. Umer, according to a federal investigator, had fitted a bomb in a car that was driven by Kakpora resident Adil Ahmed Dar and exploded near a CRPF bus, killing 40 personnel, on February 14, 2019. Rather was arrested in September 2019 on Jammu-Pathankot highway and was in custody. The NIA took his custody from there only.

Prior to Rather’s arrest, the NIA arrested Shakir Bashir Magrey, Mohammad Abbas Rather, Waiz-ul-Islam, a girl, Insha Jan, and her father Tariq Ahmad Shah. 

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