Briefing May 14-20, 2023


Finally, Srinagar has a premium pedestrian market at Polo View where visitors can purchase handicrafts, dry fruits, and computers and have easy access to street food. Part of the Smart City project, the illuminated tree-lined market has electric supply wires underground and separate underground sewerage and drainage networks and a façade improvement. It is the same street on which Kashmir Press Club exists that is now converted into a police office. A Rs 5-crore investment has given a gleaming new look to what was already a picturesque street in the lap of Chinars at the city centre. Manoj Sinha, who threw the market space open, said it must give a metropolitan feel. The market was already a known shopping space for natives and visitors. It was established by the erstwhile Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1954 after some of the major shops on the Bund were destroyed in a conflagration.

In the last three years, 2145 cyber fraud cases were reported as the police recovered Rs 4.49 crore in 51 FIRs.


It was a shock for almost everybody when a predator fish, alligator gar, was discovered in Dal Lake. A non-native, endemic to North America, the fish tumbled on a weed-removing machine of the Lakes Conservation Management Authority (LCMA). Authority’s research and monitoring head, Masood Ahmad said the discovery was unprecedented and he will check with the fisheries department and Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) about the impact the predator presence can have on the lake ecosystem. “It can be a mischievous act as well. Our department has neither reared nor stocked such fish,” Joint Director, fisheries department, Abdul Majid Tak said, insisting they are trying to figure out the source and if there were any more such fish in the lake. Though these fish cannot attack humans, they grow up to eight feet and can be dangerous to indigenous fish species. The discovery triggered a lot of humour and satire on social media and people highlighted its discovery as a coincidence with the G20 event in Srinagar. “That thing is here for the G20 visit. Let him go, he must be late,” somebody wrote on Twitter, terming the fish a “G20 aqueous delegate”. Some scholars believe it seems to be an “unwanted aquarium pet”.

GMC’s Mental Health and Neurosciences department study has revealed that about 33,000 syringes are used by drug addicts in Kashmir on a daily basis and the monthly expenditure of a drug addict is around Rs 88,183.


Finally, the Government of India addressed the concerns of the apple producers in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir by restricting the free import of apples with cost insurance, and freight (CIF) prices less than or equal to Rs 50 per kg. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a notification stating that the import of apples is now ‘prohibited’ wherever the CIF import price is less than or equal to Rs 50 per kg. The import of apples will remain free if the price is above Rs 50 per kg (under the WTO pact) and below that, an import duty of 50 per cent will be levied. It will not be implemented on imports from Bhutan. In the wake of autumn imports from Iran, the apple growers – mostly from Kashmir, were demanding an imposition of 100 per cent import duty on apples, mandatory universal cartons for packaging and removal of GST on all commodities related to apple production. While the notification was generally welcomed, some said the move make little impact and wanted an increase in Rs 50/kg minimum import price (MIP) bracket for the restrictions or a minimum support price (MSP) for the home-grown apples.

In the last five years, more than 1270 persons died in different road accidents in Jammu and 8000 survived injured.


Vijay Bakaya, IAS officer turned politician

Vijay Bakaya, former Chief Secretary, who now heads Durga Nag Trust has said that not a single marla of the trust’s land has been sold. He was responding to the “canards” spread by “vested interests”. In 1983, the land was leased out to the Shri Trith Ram Amla by the Trust management led by Sham Lal Saraf. The lease established a company M/S Equinox Real Estate Pvt Ltd. In 2010, a new lessor was executed with 20 years extendable by another 20 years. In 2013-14, Mohammed Shafi Tramboo was included as a Director in the company on payment of the required fee to the trust and soon after he took over the company. The company constructed a hospital on this land and gave the management to the chain of Paras Hospital.

Home Department has sanctioned the appointment of 607 personnel for strengthening the Anti-Infiltration Grid (Tier-II) at 42 border police posts across Jammu and Kashmir. These include 39 Sub Inspectors, 50 Assistant Sub Inspectors, 88 head constables and 430 selection grade constables and constables.


A file picture of wild boars

Hoards of wild boars are running riot with the agriculture in north Kashmir. Reports of damages to the crops and trees came from Chalkloo, Rafiabad’s Kandi belt, Handwara, Langate, and Bandipora. At night, the boars destroy crops. Mohammad Maqbool Baba, a top wildlife official told reporters that they cannot do anything as these wild boars move in huge herds. These herds were seen in Uri, Rafiabad, Handwara, Kupwara and even in Sunderwani Bandipora areas. “I saw around 12 wild boars in my paddy field recently,” Muhammad Ashraf of Chakloo village said. “They destroyed whatever seedlings we have planted over four kanals of land.” Wild boars are non-natives and were never seen since 1983. Their sightings have increased since 2013. They were first introduced in the region during the time of Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846-1857) for hunting purposes.

More than 2500 mobile toilets are being deployed on the twin tracks – – 940 at the Baltal axis and 1,345 at the Pahalgam axis – leading to the Amarnath cave shrine for the 62-day yatra. These will be managed by 1370 sanitation workers and supervisors.


A Punjab court has started a trial of Shubam Sangra in the sensational kidnapping, gang rape and murder case of 2018 involving a minor Gujjar girl. The trial started after he was declared an adult by the Supreme Court in November 2022. Sangra was among eight accused arrested in the case that led to the resignation of three BJOP cabinet ministers in the BJPDP government.  With Sangra being tried finally, the quest for justice for the girl takes a decisive turn. The case was transferred to a Pathankot court on May 7, 2018. The special court on June 10, 2019, sentenced three men to life imprisonment “till last breath” — Sanji Ram, special police officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar. Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma were convicted for the destruction of evidence and handed down five years in jail and Rs 50,000 fine each. They are out on parole. The seventh accused, Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanji Ram, was acquitted.

A 4-lane bridge will come up with an investment of Rs 102 crore on the Chenab river near Akhnoor. The bridge, third on the river, is part of the Rs 5100 crore Jammu-Poonch four-lane highway project under the Prime Ministers’ Package.


A representational image of Power Transmission line

In two separate incidents involving the negligence of the power department, two people lost their lives and three survived injured. In Awanta Bhawan, COPD patient Muhammad Aslam Mir was on a home ventilator. The power department snapped electricity to the area, which in turn disrupted his oxygen supply in the wake of protests against the installation of smart meters. Within hours as the inverter exhausted Mir died. In Pahalgam’s Lidroo area, a fallen high-tension wire killed Mehrajuddin Reshi as two others survived injured. He tried to save the cowshed that caught fire by fallen wires and died. Two others who attempted to rescue him are admitted to the hospital.

Most of the 269 Rohingya refugees imprisoned in the “Holding Centre” at Hiranagar Sub Jail in Kathua for the last two years were on hunger strike demanding their release.



With climate change making an impact, cloud bursts and lightning incidents are quite frequent in Kashmir. Last week a young couple that was on its way from fields to home died when lightning struck them. They were identified as Hilal Ahmad and Rozy Jan, both in their mid-twenties. Hilal died on the spot and breathed her last while being driven to the hospital. Within hours later, two more persons died in a similar incident – Taja Begum, 50, and Muhammad Sultan Chopan, 57, both residents of Khan Sahib (Budgam) were killed while they were tending to their herds in Doodpathri belt.


In a bid to earn for their families, a group of brave women have broken the glass ceiling and gone too deep into a domain held by men for centuries – the wazwaan, Kashmir’s all-mutton, mouth-watering cuisine that is an identity symbol now. Akhter Jan, 26, one of the group’s members from Ganderbal who is pursuing a master’s in rural development, said that they had to resist the social opposition for choosing a manly career. While the 10-member women’s group are yet to cook at any grand Kashmiri wedding, the group has cooked for smaller functions like engagements, firsaal and religious feasts like niyaz. Encouraged by the government under National Rural Livelihood Mission, they took off in 2020 summer when they cooked vegetarian food for Amarnath yatris in a rural hut.


JET PACKS Representational Images

The Army may turn its combatants into Iron Man to bolster its surveillance capabilities on the border with China and Pakistan and use it against militancy in Kashmir. It may get jet-pack suits for some of its soldiers, reports in the media suggest. Jet pack suits propel the wearer in the air through engines running on gas or liquid fuel. According to the January 2023 tender floated by the Army, the jet pack should be able to carry a person weighing at least 80 kilograms. It should be able to fly at a speed of at least 50 kmph for at least eight minutes. Recently the Army Airborne Training School (AATS) in Agra got a demonstration from a British company, Gravity Industries. Its owner ex-marine and innovator Richard Browning demonstrated the technology, flying it over water bodies, roads, and fields in Agra.


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