Briefing May 26 – June 1, 2024



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Advocate Zahid Ali

Lawyer Zahid Ali, the former spokesperson of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) has been arrested after his surrender before the police in Srinagar in connection with an attempted jailbreak in 2019. Identified as Ali Mohammad Lone, a resident of Nihama Pulwama, was arrested on May 16, and booked under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Ranbir Penal Code. The Jammu and Kashmir Police have accused him of being part of a conspiracy involving arson, rioting, anti-national slogans, and stone pelting at Srinagar Central Jail. This comes in the wake of media reports that the organisation has is willing to contest future elections if the ban imposed on the outfit in 2019 is lifted by the Centre. There were some reports in which some senior Jamaat leaders cast their vote and flaunted their indelible ink mark. Lone had recently been released from custody in April after five years of detention under the Public Safety Act. The court had imposed costs on the police for retaining Lone.


A file photo former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti with Syed Altaf Bukhari. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

After a long time, the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti resorted to a personal attack on the BJP-supported Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari, alleging his involvement in funding militancy in Kashmir with money from Pakistan. “The first-of-its-kind attack on tourists in Pahalgam should be investigated with a focus on the role of a party which brought Hawala money in large quantities from Pakistan for funding militancy,” she said in Poonch, a day after a tourist couple was injured in a militant attack. “I do not wish to name anyone but if you inquire, you will come to know who is behind the funding of militants and (separatist) leaders. The connections are still intact, and they will use those connections to do anything to ensure low polling in Kashmir.” Erstwhile PDP treasurer Bukhari’s candidate, Zafar Iqbal Manhas is pitted against Mehbooba.  BJP was unhappy over the allegation. BJP’s Ravinder Raina criticised her remarks, suggesting elections should focus on policies and agendas rather than allegations.


Alama Iqbal Library Kashmir University

The High Court has ordered the University of Kashmir to compensate a BA student, Abdul Basit, with Rs1 lakh for being unfairly declared ‘failed’ despite passing marks on re-evaluation. Justice Javed Iqbal Wani criticised the University’s misapplication of a revaluation rule (“Statute 10”) which reduced Basit’s marks from 40 to 34, compelling him to retake the examination. Basit’s petition, filed in 2019, argued that his rights were violated by the University’s arbitrary actions. The Court found the rule inapplicable in this case, highlighting the University’s illegal and unreasonable conduct. Consequently, the University must pay the compensation within four weeks.


Notwithstanding its “paradise” packaging, Kashmir valley and parts of Jammu look like hell these days as it is experiencing an intense heatwave, with the weather predicted to remain hot and dry for the next week. Srinagar recorded its hottest day at 31.6°C, which is almost six degrees above normal. In Jammu, temperatures reached 41.2°C, with predictions of exceeding 44°C soon. The Meteorological Department foresees no major weather changes until the end of May, aside from isolated thundershowers. Farmers received advisories for managing crops and livestock amid the heat. The highest recorded temperature in Jammu on May 26, 1984, was 47.4°C.


Mirwaiz Umar Farooq with his late father Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq. Image Source: Internet

Now, there is a case against Mirwaiz Umar Farooq too. An Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)  FIR claims officials colluded with beneficiaries to allocate evacuee land unlawfully, resulting in significant state losses. He denied allegations against him and six others, terming these accusations as an attempt to “malign and harass” him. He highlighted that his residence in Nigeen was legally purchased and built by his father in 1973 and has remained unchanged since then. The cleric who mostly is prevented from delivering sermons from Jamia Masjid argued this accusation is part of ongoing propaganda against him, referencing similar false allegations from 2018 that were later disproven. He stressed that if there were any genuine issues, proper procedures should have been followed to inform him instead of directly booking him in the case. The ACB’s investigation suggests widespread corruption among Custodian and Revenue Department officials, dishonestly allocating evacuee land for personal gain.


Article 370
Five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that is currently hearing the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370, three days a week.

As anticipated, the Supreme Court has dismissed petitions to review its decision upholding the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. A five-judge bench, including Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, found no apparent error in their December 11, 2023 judgment. The bench affirmed that Article 370 was a temporary provision and that the President had the authority to abrogate it. The Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act but noted the assurance of restoring Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood. It also upheld the creation of Ladakh as a separate Union Territory. Petitioners argued that Article 370 had become permanent, but the Court clarified that Jammu and Kashmir’s internal sovereignty was the same as other states after its 1947 accession to India. The Court directed the Election Commission to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 30, 2024.


Ajay Devgn was spotted filming a scene for Rohit Shetty's upcoming 'Singham Again' in Old City's Zaina Kadal area of central Kashmir’s Srinagar district.
Ajay Devgn was spotted filming a scene for Rohit Shetty’s upcoming ‘Singham Again’ in Old City’s Zaina Kadal area of central Kashmir’s Srinagar district.

These days, Bollywood is at its best. Scenes for the anticipated masala flick Singham Again were shot at the iconic Ghanta Ghar in Lal Chowk, marking the first major film production in the Valley since the abrogation of Article 370. Earlier a scene for Haider was also shot here. The shooting of the scene at historic Zaina Kadal was also news, the other day, a day after Rohit Shetty, the director of the film, met LG Manoj Sinha. Over 300 films have been shot in Jammu and Kashmir in the past four years, showcasing a revival of the local film industry supported by the Film Policy 2024. Bollywood stars Ajay Devgn and Jackie Shroff are in the lead role. The flick indicates that Singham Again will show Devgn finishing the militancy in Kashmir, a routine Bollywood storyline.


Kapil Sibal

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal commented that the abrogation of Article 370 was a “political decision,” asserting its unnecessary nature since 99 per cent of Indian laws were already applicable in Kashmir. Speaking at the launch of the book Covert: The Psychology of War and Peace, Sibal questioned the necessity of Article 370’s revocation, suggesting it was primarily a political move to demonstrate government action. He expressed scepticism regarding the likelihood of assembly elections in Kashmir unless substantial changes occur in the political landscape. Sibal highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the region’s future, particularly regarding elections and the implications of government policies.


Imran Ansari

A police officer was allegedly assaulted by Jammu Kashmir Peoples Conference leader Imran Reza Ansari and his supporters at a polling station in Pattan (Baramulla) during the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls. Media reports suggested that Ansari and his supporters allegedly disrupted the polling station, leading to a confrontation with the SHO, Khalid Fayaz, who intervened. Fayaz sustained injuries, including a fractured nose. Medical authorities confirmed the injuries and transferred the victims to GMC Baramulla after initial treatment. Despite the disturbance, security personnel showed restraint, and arrests were made later. An FIR has been filed against Ansari and his supporters.


A 45-year-old mute woman from Kashmir on the other side of the LoC, was apprehended by the Army in Rajouri. The detainment occurred in the forward Pukherni village in the Laam sector late on Sunday night. The woman, a resident of Sakhi Nath village in Kotli district was suspected to have unintentionally crossed into the line. She was later repatriated on humanitarian grounds.


Amidst heightened tensions in Kashmir, a former sarpanch linked to the BJP was killed, while a tourist couple from Jaipur was injured in separate attacks. The former sarpanch, Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh, was fatally shot at his home in Shopian, drawing a large crowd for his funeral. Concurrently, a tourist couple, Tabrez and Farah, were attacked in Pahalgam, sustaining severe injuries. Their children, unharmed, are in shock. While Tabrez’s condition remains critical, Farah is stable. The assaults have prompted widespread condemnation, with Lt Governor Manoj Sinha condemning the attack. Despite police attributing the attacks to militants, Kashmir politicians demand a thorough investigation, suspecting broader motives given the timing vis-a-vis the delayed elections for the Anantnag-Rajouri seat. Meanwhile, Farah has appealed to the Prime Minister to arrange an eye donor as her husband has lost his eyes.


A retired Superintendent of Police (SP), Mohammad Aslam Sheikh, was arrested for violating the Official Secrets Act by publishing sensitive information, including copies of First Information Reports (FIRs), in a book. Sheikh, who retired a few years ago, had a decorated career, rising from an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) in 1986 to SP. Originally from Udhampur, he currently resides in the Gandhi Nagar area of Jammu city. Sheikh is being questioned by the police regarding the matter.


High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh (KL Image- Raashid Andrabi)

The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court quashed a sexual harassment case filed by an Indian Air Force (IAF) woman pilot against a Wing Commander following a settlement between the parties. Justice Rajnesh Oswal noted that continuing the investigation under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code would be futile post-settlement. The FIR was registered in 2021 after the complainant accused the officer of demanding sexual favours, making objectionable comments, and inappropriate touching. During the petition’s pendency, the accused sought a settlement, which the complainant accepted, leading to her no objection to quashing the FIR. The court directed that the matter not be publicised. The woman officer had moved the High Court against the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for an allegedly unfair inquiry. She detailed multiple harassment incidents and criticised the ICC’s procedures under the POSH Act, arguing they were biased and violated her rights. She had sought a fair inquiry and the transfer of the accused to prevent further harassment.


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