Briefing June 23-29, 2024

   

SRINAGAR

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Senior photojournalist, Nissar Ahmed working in the hindu from Jammu and Kashmir.
Senior photojournalist, Nissar Ahmed

Veteran photojournalist Nisar Ahmed, who spent over three decades documenting the diverse and critical events in Kashmir, passed away on June 19, 2024. His legacy in capturing the region’s essence lives on through his work. Ahmed has been associated with the national daily The Hindu for the last thirty years. He was battling stomach cancer for almost 10 years during which he underwent three surgeries. He breathed his last in the SMHS hospital. Survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter, Ahmed’s demise has prompted condolences from various journalists’ organisations and political parties. Before joining The Hindu as a photojournalist, Ahmed worked for al-Safa and later The Kashmir Times. He was a great human being and always supportive of everybody. His entry into journalism was the outcome of a situation in which tourism as a sector collapsed. He was a tourist photographer earlier. The Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) has expressed grief over Ahmed’s death.

On two days before Eid, the transactions from Jammu and Kashmir Bank were at Rs 3217 crore, which means total spending was upward of Rs 1500 crore.

SAUDI ARABIA

The Hajj pilgrimage has been marred by a heat wave, with international media reporting more than 1000 deaths, including 10 from Jammu and Kashmir. Indian authorities confirmed around 65 deaths. A diplomat revealed that some deaths were due to natural causes and others likely to weather conditions. Nine of the dead are women. These include a banker couple from Rawalpora – Manzoor Ahmad Rangrez, a retired bank officer aged 62, and his wife Rifat, aged 57, who were lost and were traced dead. Pilgrims have been asserting that the host country has not made basic arrangements which led to the massive deaths. More than 18 lakh people have performed Hajj in 2024.

Ladakh has been allocated 22 seats as part of the central government’s ongoing reservation scheme for engineering, technology, architecture, and pharmacy courses in AICTE-approved institutions nationwide.

NEW YORK

Dr Mubarak Hussain Syed, a Kashmir-born neuroscientist, has been honoured with the prestigious 2024 McKnight Scholar Award, recognising him as one of the top 10 young minds in neuroscience. Each recipient, including Dr Syed, will receive a grant of US $75,000 annually for three years to propel their innovative research endeavours aimed at unravelling the complexities of the brain. Syed, an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico, will delve into understanding the genesis of various neuron types from neural stem cells (NSCs) and their role in shaping adult behaviours. Utilising a fruit fly model, the ‘fly guy’s’ research will elucidate the molecular mechanisms governing neuronal differentiation and behavioural outcomes.

NMC reinstates 180 MBBS seats at GMC Jammu, previously penalized for admitting four candidates fraudulently, deducting eight seats from the allotted quota.

LONDON

In the lead-up to the UK General Election on July 4, Conservative candidate Marco Longhi faces scrutiny for a campaign leaflet suggesting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election heralds “tougher times” for Kashmiris. Targeting British Pakistani and Kashmiri voters, the leaflet has ignited debate over its appropriateness and potential divisiveness. Longhi asserts Modi’s policies threaten Kashmir’s autonomy, contrasting his advocacy with Labour opponent Sonia Kumar. Critics, including Labour’s Rajesh Agarwal and Anneliese Dodds, denounce the leaflet as divisive and urge action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Longhi defends his stance, claiming genuine concern for Kashmiris. This episode reflects a wider trend of religious polarisation within British Indian communities, exemplified by past election tactics and recent Leicester tensions. British politicians invoking Kashmir like their counterparts in India and Pakistan have happened earlier as well.

Kashmir consumed 60,000 livestock, valued at approximately Rs 72 crore, on Eid.

PATTAN

Sajad Lone and Imran Raza Ansari in a press conference in Srinagar.

Shia leader Imran Reza Ansari, General Secretary of the People’s Conference, gained attention after a viral video captured his frustration, symbolised by throwing a teacup, which sparked criticisms amid speculations about its connection to the party’s recent electoral setback. However, the All-Jammu and Kashmir Shia Association clarified that the footage was old, from a religious mediation event, not post-election. Meanwhile, Engineer Rashid’s landslide victory over Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone in the parliamentary poll, winning 15 out of 18 Assembly constituencies within the Baramulla parliamentary constituency, has triggered reflections on political strategies within the defeated camps. Amidst this, the Association vowed to take legal action against those misrepresenting the video, urging vigilance against misinformation.

The approval of the Chhatergala tunnel project heralds a transformative leap in Jammu and Kashmir’s infrastructure, promising to revolutionise connectivity and reduce travel time between Lakhanpur and Doda to four hours with an estimated cost of Rs 4,000 crore.

BENGALURU

A 30-year-old employee of Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC), Faheem Firdous Qureshi, originally from Kashmir, was arrested for allegedly posting pro-Pakistan comments on social media platform X. BIEC filed a complaint, presenting evidence of Qureshi’s objectionable posts, leading to Madanayakanahalli police action. Qureshi’s posts, viewed by hundreds, expressed support for Pakistan during a cricket match against India and contained derogatory remarks against Indians. The case was registered under Sections 505(1)(B) and 153B of the Indian Penal Code, concerning statements likely to cause fear or alarm and assertions prejudicial to national integration. Qureshi, in custody, has resided in Bengaluru for 11 months. Investigations are ongoing, with authorities probing the matter further to ascertain Qureshi’s motives and the potential implications of his actions.

JAMMU

The Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested Hakam Din, aiding militants in the Reasi attack, guiding them to the site and providing food and shelter. The attack, occurring on June 9, claimed nine lives and left 33 injured. Din, arrested from Rajouri, confessed to facilitating the attackers and was booked under various sections of the IPC, Arms Act, and UAPA. He disclosed the assailants visited his residence thrice before the assault. Jammu Kashmir police have detained 150 individuals for interrogation. Investigations reveal the militants infiltrated from the International Border to Udhampur and beyond, with the police seeking to apprehend additional suspects linked to the module. The arrest signals a significant breakthrough in the case, shedding light on the operational intricacies of the fugitives behind the heinous attack. In a separate arrest, two persons – Ashiq Ali and Maskeen Ali, both residents of Bathal Chak (Hiranagar), were arrested for guiding the militants.

PAKISTAN

Retired Pakistani Brigadier Ameer Hamza, allegedly the mastermind behind the February 2018 fidayeen attack in Sunjwan, Jammu, was assassinated by unknown assailants near Lilla Interchange, District Jhelum. His wife and daughter were injured in the ambush. Hamza, former DG of Emergency Services Academy, was targeted while travelling with his family, with the attackers showing no apparent motive. Linked to the 2018 Sunjwan Army camp attack orchestrated by Jaish-e-Mohammad, which claimed five Army lives and injured ten others, his assassination adds a new layer to the complex dynamics of regional security.

DELHI

Harpal Singh Bedi

Renowned sports journalist Harpal Singh Bedi, known for his illustrious four-decade career, passed away at 72. Hailing from Srinagar, his journey from a curious child to a respected journalist was inspirational. Despite humble beginnings, his quest for knowledge led him to JNU, shaping him into a distinguished figure. Admired for his insightful coverage, he left an indelible mark in sports journalism, covering numerous prestigious events. His warm personality endeared him to colleagues, earning him the title of a mentor and friend.

KISHTWAR

In a tragic occurrence, a young couple, Mintu Kumar (27) and his wife committed suicide by hanging themselves in separate locations. Mintu, residing in Kathua, allegedly took his life in a room at Hatli Morh, while his wife, in Kishtwar, also ended her life. They reportedly coordinated their actions over a video call. The motive behind their decision remains under investigation. Mintu’s body was sent for postmortem, and legal proceedings commenced, with Kathua Police initiating an inquiry. This heartbreaking incident sheds light on the complexities of mental health and underscores the need for greater awareness and support for those in distress.

REASI

Northern Railways successfully conducted a trial run on the world’s highest railway bridge over the Chenab River in Reasi district. This trial paves the way for train services between Udhampur, Katra, Reasi, Srinagar, and Baramulla. The 1,315-meter-long bridge, standing 359 meters above the Chenab River, surpasses the Eiffel Tower by 35 meters and will enhance rail connectivity in the region. The trial involved a 46-km electrified section from Sangaldan to Reasi, passing through nine tunnels. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project aims to integrate the Kashmir Valley with the Indian Railways network, boosting accessibility, economic activities, and social integration. The 272-km-long railway line from Udhampur to Baramulla involves 38 tunnels (combined length of 119 km), and 927 bridges (combined length of 13 km).

KUPWARA

A gas cylinder explosion inside the district jail today injured nine inmates. The injured, identified as Syed Tawseef Gilani, Shahjahan Shah, Jameel Ahmad, Ashiq Hussain Teli, Khursheed Ahmad Bhat, Ghulam Rasool War, Javid Ahmad Bhat, Hilal Ahmad Malik, and Javid Ahmad Malla, were hospitalised. Four inmates with serious injuries were referred to a Srinagar hospital. Jail authorities are currently assessing the situation.

LOS ANGLES

The writer, journalist, and filmmaker Priyanka Mattoo

Twenty years ago, Priyanka Mattoo left Michigan for Los Angeles, escaping unreciprocated love and an undesired legal career. In LA, she thrived, building a close circle of friends and enjoying the city’s vibrant lifestyle. As a former talent agent at UTA and WME, Mattoo represented emerging comedy talents, but sexism and dissatisfaction led her to pursue writing. Her memoir, Bird Milk & Mosquito Bones, chronicles her life from Kashmir to multiple countries, eventually settling in Michigan. Mattoo’s diverse career includes producing, writing, and founding the all-female podcast network, Earios. Inspired by other South Asian voices, her writing explores parenting, Hollywood, and cultural identity, with more works forthcoming.

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