After more than 18 months of a live-in relationship, Sushmita Sen has started gradually releasing details of her romance with Kashmiri boyfriend, Rohman Shawl. Currently, in quarantine with her two daughters, Renee and Alisah, Sen is 15 years elder to him. Shawl, a model, is only 29. The erstwhile beauty pageant queen revealed that Shawl had sent her a direct message on Instagram that played the cupid eventually. This is exactly what she said in a recent interview: “Because of this serendipity! I don’t check my DMs because I was so technically challenged that I thought if I open a direct message that means I’ve allowed the person to start communicating with me. Of course, I learnt that’s not the case later but, at that point, I was shouting at somebody in the house because they had just broken a glass. I had a touch screen phone in front of me, and I was just scrolling direct messages and while saying something to them I pressed and opened this message and there is a gentleman there, playing the guitar and saying the loveliest things. There was this very good looking, sweetheart of a man who just very honestly and very unaffectedly was telling me something. So I responded back to him and forgot about it. From there started a conversation because I actually believe niceness begets niceness. Initially, he kept hiding his age for some reason. I would keep asking him, ‘so how old are you? You look so young!’ And he would just go – Ah, you guess! And then I realized how young he was and why he didn’t want that to get in the way of this conversation. We did not really choose this, it was chosen for us, it was very destined.”
Currently, in quarantine, the two have been posting photographs of their joint exercises at home on social media. While Sen is teaching him Bengali, Shawl is teaching her basic Kashmiri. Now when Sen is planning a return to the cinema, the fate of the relationship remains to be seen.
Whenever the Coronavirus pandemic will be recalled in the history of Kashmir, two names will always resonate for a quick response – the Deputy Commissioner and the Mayor of Srinagar. Duties apart, the formal politics which has been put on the back burner in Kashmir after August 5, is back for the SMC. The Srinagar Municipal Corporation is turning out to be a new platform for the horse-trading. Initially, it was alleged that the Mayor and some corporations moved a no-confidence motion against the former deputy mayor Sheikh Imran, then under arrest, and was dethroned. This happened despite the fact both the mayor and his deputy had a photo session claiming that they are a part of the same party. And now, when Sheikh Imran is out of the jail the no-confidence motion is again in the news this time against the mayor Junaid Mattoo, who once claimed to have the support of most of the corporations of the municipality. Regardless of who wins and who loses, Kashmir has no winners.
After being in news for her formal FIR against her social media post, independent photojournalist Masarat Zahra has won the 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has said that the images depicting conflict in Kashmir and its toll on local communities were praised by the jury for their “humanity” and her particular focus on the stories of women. The jury has appreciated Zahra’s work in The Caravan, The Washington Post, TRT World, Al Jazeera, The New Humanitarian, Religion Unplugged and several other media outlets. Zahra has previously exhibited at the annual Photoville festival in New York with her portfolio, “Journalists Under Fire.” The award honours the memory of German photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed in 2014 in Afghanistan. This award carries prize money of $20,000 which is awarded annually by the IWMF. The award coincided with the new media policy that Jammu and Kashmir administration issued and was adversely commented by the political parties.
The relation of a killing spree with South Kashmir is unending. Last week at least three persons were killed by unidentified gunmen, which was other than the routine encounters, now so common to the region. The first casualty became the pandit sarpanch Ajay Pandita (Bharti) who was killed in his orchard in Lukbawan, Larkipora in Anantnag. Huge condemnations poured in across the globe for Pandita’s killing. The second was Tariq Ahmad Paul in Pinjora Shopian and the third was Adil Yousuf Zargar, a resident of Pulwama.
It took almost a year to clear the file of lawyer Javaid Iqbal Wani for the appointment of a judge. Son-in-law of Kashmir Bar association in Srinagar Mian Abdul Qayoom, who is presently lodged under PSA in a New Delhi jail, Wani’s file was cleared by the President of India last week as the judge of the common High Court to J&K and Ladakh. With his appointment, the strength of High Court judges has increased to 13 against the total strength of 17.
Wani, a gold medallist in Law from the Kashmir University had started practice in 1990. He had been practising in Jammu and Srinagar Wings of High Court. He had also served as Additional Advocate General from February 2019 to December 2019.
Bringing laurels to home Kashmir, a Kashmiri doctor brought immense happiness to a Turkish family by carrying out a difficult surgical intervention that helped the conjoined twins – the Siamese twins – to separate. The operation involved a series of surgeries, which was done by a group of 42 doctors and led by a Kashmiri surgeon. The surgery was done in London. The family of the conjoined twins was sent to the British capital in December 2019 for the high-risk surgeries only after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and First Lady Emine Erdogan intervened personally. Identified as Derman and Yigit, the 2018 twins were conjoined at the crown of the head. They were unable to crawl without hurting each other and were not in a position to face each other.
When the world is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and opened many jails to stop its spread, a Kashmiri lady, Hina Bashir Beg, who was arrested along with her husband, in March in New Delhi for alleged ISKP links, has tested positive for the virus. Coincidentally her bail plea was also scheduled for the same week but that was rejected by the court. Reportedly Beg, under the custody of NIA, developed symptoms during her interrogation, after which the entire team of investigators has reportedly been sent to quarantine. The court has referred her to Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital for treatment. Her husband Jahanzeb Sami, however, has not shown any signs of the infection yet. They couple was also accused of instigated protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The life of Kashmiri students studying outside Kashmir is getting tough. This time it was almost after 100 days, the three Kashmiri students, Basit Ashiq Sofi, Talib Majeed and Aamir Mohi u ddin Wani, studying in KLE Institute of Technology in Bengaluru, got bail. These three students had allegedly released a video on social media singing Sahir Ali Bagga’s Pakistan Zindabad song. Reportedly they will not be allowed to go back to Kashmir until the investigation is completed by the police. It was a local lawyer BT Venkatesh, practising in Bengaluru High Court, who took up this case voluntarily when the Hubballi Bar Association was dead set against them getting representation. It was their college principal who lodged an FIR against the students after their video was uploaded on social media. The students had got admissions under the Pradhan Mantri Special Scholarship Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir students; the AICTE has also cut off all financial aid given to them. Their stipend and hostel charges were also stopped. Within three days of their bail, the police have placed under suspension the investigating officer for delaying the charge-sheet.
For the first time, a local Kashmiri has become a chief area manager in an Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS). After completing his primary schooling in his native village of Nagam in Chadoora area, Saqib Yousuf, secured admission in National Institute of Technology, Srinagar in electronics and communication stream after qualifying the AIEEE exam in 2010. After completing his engineering degree, he chose to prepare for the UPSC Civil Services exam despite having secured campus placement. He cleared the exam in his second attempt and was allotted IRTS. He has been posted as chief area manager for Srinagar.
Turkish songwriter, Turgay Evren, based in Istanbul, has dedicated his song “Kashmir is my name” to Kashmir. It was sung by American singer Della Miles, who is known as Michael Jackson’s and Whitney Houston’s vocalist, was an instant hit on the internet.