Briefing March 28 – April 3, 2021

MIDAIR DISCLOSURE

by Mohammad Sayeed Malik

Mohammad Sayeed Malik

In 1996, the then Prime Minister, Inder Kumar Gujral, headed the Indian delegation to the UN General Assembly annual session in New York. I was in the accompanying press team.

On our return flight from New York to New Delhi, Gujral held the customary interactive session with the media persons. Replying to a question about his meeting in NY with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief, Gujral revealed that one of the demands forcefully pursued by Nawaz Sharief was that the Government of India allow ‘informal’ export and sale of Indian-manufactured machinery via Dubai for use by the Sharief family for their Pakistan based sugar mill which was getting outdated.

 Pak PM wanted the machinery be exported from India without the mandatory ‘Made-in-India’ label and at concessional export/import duty.

IK Gujral
IK Gujral`
Mian Nawaz Sharief

For understandable reasons, the deal was sought to remain off-the-record from India’s official record of the New York summit.

 Gujral said he had assured Nawaz Sharief that he would certainly look into his request when back home and would do his best to satisfy the latter.

Gujral shared it on “off-the-record” basis, morally disallowing its disclosure in the media.

After this extraordinary disclosure, not many in the media team were left with an appetite for questioning Gujral (about meeting with his Pak counterpart) although most of us had decided to seek clarification on several Kashmir-related issues.

Gujral got the hint and with a smile on his face got up and returned to his exclusive cabin on the Air India Boeing, leaving us wiser than before.

(Malik, a former editor of Business and Political Observer, is a respected senior journalist. This brief snippet was lifted from his Facebook wall.)

In 44 days, 21331 RSS volunteers approached 637098 homes in Jammu and Kashmir and collected more than Rs 17 crore for the Ram temple.

 DELHI

Army Chief M M Naravane with Lt Governor Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha in Srinagar on September 17, 2020.

Army chief MM Naravane has disclosed that despite the de-escalation on Pangong Lake, the Chinese threat has not entirely dissipated. He suggests the need to demarcate the Line of Actual Control. On Pakistan, Naravane said ever since the ceasefire came into effect, “it is for the first time in about five to six years that the LC has been silent” and it “really bodes well for the future” as it will “contribute to the peace and stability”. He said the move was prompted by the “futility of duels on the LC which was not resulting in any forward movement” and Pakistan was “facing internal problems” and extended an olive branch. Expressing cautious optimism, he wants to wait and see how things develop before making any concrete assessment. Naravane said the post-August 2019 statistics on the security situation in Kashmir show the condition in the Valley is getting better.

“We do not have any de-radicalisation camps of any kind. So, I don’t think we should get that impression that we are herding any local people together in some camps somewhere and trying to brainwash them,” Naravane told the India Economic Conclave. “Nothing like that is happening on the ground. But yes the youths are prone to join the militant ranks for various reasons, including, you know it is a very romantic kind of a thing to hold a gun, take your photo and put it out on social media. So that remains a concern.”

SRINAGAR

Peoples Democratic Party President (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti arrives at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in connection with an alleged money laundering case, at Rajbagh in Srinagar, Thursday, March 25, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Finally, Mehbooba Mufti, the PDP president is back in news. While the police have refused to issue clearance of her passport renewal, the former Chief Minister was grilled for around five hours by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money-laundering case. She told reporters that she was questioned over two issues — one pertaining to the sale of her ancestral home in her hometown Bijebehara and the other related to how she spent the secret funds while she was the chief minister.

“Second, (they asked) where I spent the secret funds as the chief minister, about the money given to the widows and the procurement of the list of beneficiaries,” she said. “I have nothing to hide. My hands are clean. That is why it took them two years to find (a case to book her). Now they are raising questions on my father’s land and how much money was spent on his graveyard.” On March 19, Delhi High Court had refused to stay the summons issued to her by the ED. Talking to reporters, she alleged that anyone opposing the incumbent government was “hounded by trumped-up charges” like sedition or money laundering. “Dissent has been criminalised in this country. The ED, CBI and the NIA are being misused to silence the Opposition tactically,” Mehbooba alleged.

 Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have opposed issuing clearance to her passport renewal citing an “adverse report” against her. Her passport expired in May 2019 when she was in detention. She later went to court where the police filed its response. 

AMRITSAR

The Permanent Indus Commission of India and Pakistan met after two years in Delhi for two days in March 2021.

Before crossing over to Pakistan after a “successful” meeting with their Indian counterparts, the Pakistani delegation of the Indus Commission paid their obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The World Bank brokered Permanent Indus Commission on the water sharing between the two countries had its meeting for the first time after three years. The return to table essentially indicates a warming up of the relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. In the meeting, the Pakistan delegation raised objections to the designs of two Jammu and Kashmir Chenab basin power projects Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai. “We are trying to resolve issues and objections related to the treaty via bilateral talks. We hope that the dialogue related to the treaty will continue, and our potential problems will be solved,” head of the delegation, Syed Mohammad Mehr Ali Shah told reporters. The CVPP owned 1000-MW Pakal Dul is being set up at Drangdhuran village since May 2018. The JKSPDC owned 48-MW Lower Kalnai is being set up on another tributary of Chenab in the Kishtwar district. Islamabad wants India to reduce the height of the water storage capacity of the Pakal Dul dam by five meters and wants its spillway gates should be 40 meters higher than the sea level. India has refused to entertain the request.

JAMMU

Prof Bhim Singh National Panthers Party supremo accompanied by party colleague Anita Thakur interacting with the members of the PAfGD in Jammu on Saturday, November 7.2020

The last time when Dr Farooq Abdullah led a PAGD delegation and invited Bhim Singh, hell broke loose. Last week, DR Abdullah was seen cosying up to the again Panther on his party’s foundation day. In his intervention, Abdullah asked the Jammu people to support JKNPP “as it fights for their cause” and suggested Congress to strengthen the party. The event had members from almost all political parties. He said Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to keep J&K an independent state with cordial relations with neighbouring countries India, Pakistan and China. “Today we have a situation that our children will not get employment but employees will come from outside,” Abdullah said. “What development is the government talking about when youth do not have jobs?”

 GANDERBAL

Muslim men carrying the hearse to the cremation ground in Ganderbal village on March 21, 2021. Kl Image by Umar Raina

Muslim residents in Wussan village performed the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit on Sunday.  Radha Krishan had stayed back unlike most of the Pandits who migrated in 1990. The majority community managing the last rites of the Pandits is quite normal in Kashmir. There are quite a few Pandit families who did not migrate and live far away from their clans and relatives.

SAMBA

A Gujjar family in Samba alleged that a group of people attacked the family and made a bid to kidnap their daughter.

Police said they are investigating an alleged attack on a Gujjar Muslim family living in Samba. They have petitioned police claiming some unidentified people attempted to molest their daughter and the bid was resisted. The man was injured in preventing the attack and shifted to the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital Jammu for treatment.

Police said they have registered a formal case (FIR 90/2021) under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).

JAMMU

Lt Governor addressing the first batch of MBBS students of GMC Doda

All the new Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) in Jammu and Kashmir have been accredited for Diplomate of National Board (DNB) courses in various departments that will enable them to get two PG candidates in the certified stream every year. This will get 30 Super Specialty and Broad Specialty courses and fetch 58 seats to Jammu and Kashmir. The NBE granted GMC-Doda two berths in Anaesthesia, GMC-Kathua in Community Medicine and two seats in Paediatrics, while two were GMC-Anantnag in the department of Dermatology, and provisional accreditation has been granted to GMC-Rajouri in Orthopaedics. Besides, GMC-Jammu was granted accreditation in Hospital Administration and Psychiatry departments. GMC-Srinagar got accreditation in Dr NB Neuro-surgery and SKIMS Srinagar in the Anatomy and Physiology departments.

SHOPIAN

A 6-month-old girl suffering from pneumonia was allegedly given nine doses of an expired antibiotic injection in a state-run Shopian hospital. Officials said they are investigating the case. Mohammad Iqbal Kataria, a resident of Devpora said his daughter Bazila Jan, barely survived after the injections.

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