Briefing June 21 – 27, 2020


Dr Parvez A Mir leading prayers at his hospital suit in Brooklyn. Photograph Time magazine

In the last week’s Time magazine cover story Contagion of Fear – One month inside a New York hospital as a virus took over the world, the key character is Dr Parvez Ahmad Mir, a Kashmiri pulmonologist and an intensive care expert. “I don’t think we’ll ever be the same,” Mir told Time after the loudspeaker went quiet, leaving only the hisses and beeps of the breathing machines. “We’ve seen so much death, so much chaos, so much catastrophe.” Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn where Mir is heading the intensive care department for many years now has treated more than 2000 Covid-19 patients of whom 300, mostly Latino and black with poor health insurance, died. He handled the patient who eventually became the first New Yorker who died of the Covid-19.

 “Having finished his rounds, Mir went into his office one afternoon in May, closed the door and removed his mask,” Time’s Simon Shuster wrote. “He’d been showing me around for almost a month. Yet this was the first time I had seen his face. It gave me a jolt, like finding a stranger in a familiar room, and it forced my mind to redraw the features it had invented for him. His nose was longer and his mouth wider than I had imagined. In this new company, his eyes seemed sadder than they had above his mask.” The report asserts: “Nearly all of them were strangers to Mir, but he did not think it strange to risk his own life for their care, nor even the lives of his loved ones.” The report has featured Mir leading prayers of the Muslim staff in the hospital during the Muslim month of fasting and working the whole day without eating anything.

 Mir is a Kashmiri doctor. The youngest son of former legislator late Mir Assadullah, a resident of Chareel in Banihal, Mir graduated from Government Medical College, Srinagar in 1980 and flew to the US where he completed his Internal Medicine residency at Wyckoff Heights Medical Centre. After training in Pulmonary Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, Northwell, he joined pulmonary and critical care at Wyckoff Heights Medical Centre, a department he now heads.

Dr Mir has mentored several hundred medical students, medical residents and pulmonary fellows and was awarded many times as the best Attending and Teacher of the year by the Residents in Internal Medicine training programme. Currently, he is the primary investigator in research protocols by Roche for use of Remdesvir and Tocilizumab in severe Pneumonia secondary to Covid-19 pneumonia and Approval in process for use Monoclonal antibodies.


The United Nations has verified the killing (8) and maiming (7) of 15 children (13 boys, 2 girls), between the ages of 1 and 17, by or during joint operations of the Central Reserve Police Force, the Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police (10), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (1), unidentified armed elements (1), or during shelling across the line of control (3), in the recently released report on the state of children in conflict spots. It has expressed concern over the arrest of 68 children between the ages of 9 and 17 by various security services in Jammu and Kashmir on national security-related charges, including one for actual or alleged association with armed groups. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while expressing his concerns over the instances of child casualties in Kashmir, has asked the Government to take preventive measures and end the use of pellets against children and their arrest.


After the killing of sarpanch Aditya Pandita in the south Kashmir, a video surfaced on the internet showing a woman sarpanch, Gulshana, pleading before unknown person pleading she will resign. Selected unopposed from Samipur, Zaingeer, in north Kashmir’s Sopore sub-district, the video was shot last week when she was intercepted on her way to Srinagar. “Please forgive me. I am a poor woman and will resign (as sarpanch),” she was seen telling the man suspected to be a militant in the video shot in an orchard. The video had gone viral on social media. Reportedly she was released later but she has not filed any complaint with the local police. The police, however, have registered a case but the outcome of the investigations, if any, is not known


Ali Mohammad Sagar with his son soon after released from detention. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Finally, after ten months, National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar walked home after his PSA order was revoked by the High Court. Soon after, the PSA of PDP’s Naeem Akhtar and NC’s Hilal Lone was also revoked. Now, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is the only mainstream politicians who remain detained under PSA. The administration had in April shifted her to her official residence at Fairview Gupkar Road from a guesthouse in Srinagar.


Corpses of the two brothers in an ambulance in Sidhra (Jammu). They died while attending the cremation of their uncle who died of Coronavirus. Authorities have launched a probe to find out why the two brothers collapsed and died. The family alleges they died of massive dehydration as they were made to wait for a long time in their wearing PPEs. Photo: Excelsior

The scene on the banks of River Tawi at Sidhra looked filmi but it was real. The family of 65-year-old Coronavirus victim, who died at GMC Jammu, were taken to attend the last rites of the deceased. As the last rites were about to start, two of the nephews, aged 40 and 35, of the deceased fell on the ground and died. A magisterial probe has been ordered in the case but the families have alleged that the duo died due to “dehydration” in PPE kit amid soaring mercury as the day temperature was around 42 degrees Celsius. The son of the deceased also fell unconscious but he was immediately shifted to a hospital where his condition is said to be stable.

The family accused the administration of refusing their request for last rites of the Covid victim at Shakti Nagar crematorium and it all happened because the administration had not identified the proper place for the last rites that caused the delay, resulting in “dehydration” of two persons in PPE kit under the scorching sun.


Zahoor Ahmad, a bus driver, who converted his bus into a mobile vegetable shop to sustain his family

Though the Coronavirus lockdown is eased, the transporters are yet to resume their routine. Suffering since August 2019, the transporters are facing immense hardships. Last week, two buses were seen selling fruits on the Batamaloo route and on Barbarshah bridge. Both the drivers had heart numbing stories to share that their families were at the verge of starvation. Instead of approaching government or charity groups for help, they said they converted their buses into carts and make some money to feed their families.


Hilal Basit Dar has gone missing while trekking in Kangan along with his friends.

A PhD scholar, Hilal Abdul Basit, has gone missing last week when he went trekking to  Gangbal peaks ion Kangan. He is yet to be traced and the rescue teams are on job. A resident of Bemina, he accompanied his five friends but while negotiating an ascent he felt fatigued and told the group that they should move ahead and he will wait for their return. As they returned, they found Hilal missing. Now police and Kashmir’s trekking club is busy in searching him in the mountains. Meanwhile, police have retained his friend for investigations.


Two Gurez youth Feroz Ahmad Wani and Noor Mohammad Wani paraded before media by Pakistani media in Gilgit on June 12, 2020. Photo: Pakistani media

A video surfaced last week on YouTube, in which two missing youth from Gurez, Feroz Ahmad Lone, 29, and Noor Ahmad Wani, 24, were seen blindfolded in Lines Gilgit on the other side of the Line of Control. The arrested duo was missing since November 2018 after which their families had registered formal complaints with the police. SSP Gilgit Mirza Hassan alleged that the duo was forced into spying and pushed into Gilgit across the Line of Control (LoC) after being disguised as shepherds. Their families in Srinagar have confirmed that the duo is their wards. Now they have gone to the police with this evidence and are keen that the people who pushed them across the LoC must bring them back. The individuals who pushed them across has manufactured stories indicated the two have died.

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