Briefing May 24 – May 30, 2020

ANANTNAG

Samoon distributes tablets among meritorious students

With schools shut, the suspension of non-performing teachers also came to a halt but last week Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, the principal secretary school education department, reached to his tweeter handle and place under suspension the Chief Education Officer Anantnag, minutes after completing his Sehri. “Shocked to know; middle school monghal Ang has 15 teachers & 13 students; those who don’t teach don’t deserve mercy; Director to explain why teacher deployments not rationalised despite directions of HLG; CEO Ang being placed under suspension for others to follow or face action,” Samoon wrote at 4.58 am. His tweet got him 1.5k likes, 112 retweets and 446 comments with netizens appreciating him and informing about the mess in the education department. He, however, has his own share of tension. When Samoon distributed tablets to visually impaired students saying they can use the internet now, he had no answer to the people asking him: where is the internet?

NAWAKADAL

Firefighters and locals try to douse the flames as several houses caught fire during gun-battle between militants and counterinsurgent forces in Srinagar on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

When two militants including Junaid Asraf Khan son of Ashraf Sehrie, and Tariq Ahmad Sheikh of Pulwama, were killed in Kani Mazaar, Nawa Kadal, it left a trail of destruction with 21 families coming on the road after their homes went up in flames. While people started asking about how a gun battle can destroy a cluster of homes, the local Masjid Committee assessed the losses at around Rs 15 crore. The committee has initiated crowd-funding to rebuild the homes. Residents even alleged loot of their homes before they were razed in the fires. Three counter-insurgent personnel were also injured in the encounter. However, it was a minor who died many hours after the encounter was over. Basim Ajaz, the 12-year old son of Ajaz Ahmad of Chota Bazar was injured at the encounter site while clearing the rubble when he came under a collapsing wall. The only son of his parents, Basim died in the hospital.

DEHRADUN

Digging old social media posts has become a new norm. Last week, a third-year engineering student, Mohsina Showkat, at JB Institute of Technology (JBIT), Dehradun, Uttrakhand, was suspended by the college administration for her “anti-national and anti-social activities” on her social media posts that she allegedly has uploaded after February 14 Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy. The college’s administration has called for an investigation in the matter as the student has claimed it was done from a fake account. The college statement reads. In Kashmir, a cleric was arrested and denied bail for leading the prayers of a militant, almost 700 days after.

BUCHWARA

Helplessness. As patients were confirmed positive on Monday, May 18, 2020, the SMHS ambulance ferrying them to the CD Hospital dropped them on the roadside in Dalgate. It was after some time that the CD hospital staffers helped them get into the Covid-19 Special Hospital. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

As the Coronavirus pandemic is gripping the whole world, the number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir is surging. With more than 1500 active cases, Anantnag is topping the list with almost one-third of them. There were 20 Covid-19 deaths so far. On May 21, two elderly ladies passed away one from Budgam and one from Bemina. With only ten deaths reported till May 12, the figure jumped to 20 deaths in just nine days with highest deaths reported from district Srinagar at six deaths, followed by district Anantnag and Baramulla with four deaths each.

BOSTON

Sunayana Kachroo

Boston-based Kashmiri poet, lyricist and writer, Sunayana Kachroo’s latest video Khanmaej Koor – Maa Main Bhi Tujh Jaisi Hi, a fusion between Hindi poetry and a traditional Kashmiri song, accompanied by Guitar and Violin was released last week. The artist released Yumbarzaloo, the Kashmiri-Urdu song last year which was released by Zee Music. The song was penned by her as well. It was fused with a traditional Kashmiri wedding song, which evokes the emotions of a bride as she gets ready to leave her home to begin a new life. This Kashmiri Bidaai song also featured in the film Raazi.

 DELHI

P Chidambaram

As the lockdown 4.0 was announced, the former finance minister P Chidambaram, who also handled Kashmir when he was a home minister, reached to his twitter to write about “lockdown within a lockdown.” His tweet is in reference to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he questioned the role of courts in protecting human rights in J&K. “I cannot believe that for nearly 10 months, the courts will shirk their Constitutional duty,” he tweeted while hoping that “rest of India would understand the enormity of injustice faced by those in detention”. He also tweeted, “As we began Lockdown 4.0 yesterday, my thoughts were with the people of Kashmir who are in a terrible Lockdown within a Lockdown. The worst sufferers are Mehbooba Mufti and her senior colleagues who are still in detention in a locked down state in a locked-down country. They are deprived of every human right.” He added: “I cannot believe that for nearly 10 months, the Courts will shirk their Constitutional duty to protect the human rights of citizens.” Meanwhile, Concerned Citizen Group also voiced their concern. In a joint statement, they said, “India is using lockdown to further its agenda in Kashmir.”

LADAKH

A TV grab showing soldiers from China and India engaged in a brawl.

After a verbal brawl and some blows between the Chinese and Indian forces on the Line of Actual Control (LoAC), the issue is still hot on Ladakh-China border where reportedly India has built a road on the north of Ladakh near Galwan river area to which China warned of ‘necessary counter-measures.’ There were two unsuccessful rounds of talks between Indian and Chinese local military commanders at Pangong Tso. The Indian Express reported that there has been a movement of troops to eastern Ladakh following the construction. “The Chinese have moved troops to the area, pitched 70-80 tents and parked heavy vehicles and monitoring equipment. This falls in SSN or sub-sector north under the Army, while areas south to it are in the Hot Springs sector under the ITBP.” At Pangong Tso as well, the Chinese have deployed additional boats on the lake and stopped the movement of Indian soldiers beyond Finger 2 on the northern banks of the lake. Chinese have doubled their number of boats in the lake.

DALGATE

Zubair Iqbal

Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed Zubair Iqbal as the new Managing Director of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank for a three-year term. He was appointed as PO of JK Bank in 1989 and seven years later, Zubair resigned in 2006 to join the HDFC Bank. He rose to the position of the regional head in HDFC Bank and is now the MD of the bank. R K Chibber continues to be the Chairman and the non-executive head of the Board.

KISHTWAR

RSS activists Chander Kant Sharma and Anil Parihar

The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has arrested a militant, Rustam Ali, for the killing of RSS activist Chander Kant Sharma and his PSO. The militant was arrested by JK Police from the Hanjala area of Kishtwar. Earlier JKP on September 23 arrested Hizbul Mujahideen militants Nissar Ahmed Sheikh, Nishad Ahmed and Azad Hussain, in connection with the same murder cases. BJP state secretary Anil Parihar was killed in 2018, while senior RSS functionary Sharma and his PSO were shot dead in April last year.

GANDERBAL

Forces personnel at the site of encounter in Srinagar on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

A day after two militants were killed in Nawakadal encounter, two BSF personnel were killed when militants attacked a party of 37 battalion of the paramilitary forces near Pandach area. Reportedly their weapons were also taken away by the assailants. Next day, in another attack a policeman was killed and two others were left injured in Prichoo Pulwama. The slain cop was identified as Anoop Singh of IRP 10th battalion.

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