Briefing May 30 – June 5, 2021



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Dr Khalid Shah’s therapy to treat brain tumour has now been acknowledged as one of the 12 technologies that will impact patient care in near future.

After working on cutting edge technology, Dr Khalid Shah and his team finally succeeded in getting a slot in this year’s 12 technologies that will impact brain tumour management in future. A Kashmir scientist, Dr Khalid heads Harvard Medical School’s Centre for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging while being a Principal Faculty at Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Dr Shah’s technology involves using genetically engineered cell including cancer cells themselves and turning them into turncoats and eventually guiding them to attack the very tumour. For this novel cell therapy, Dr Shah’s team developed and tested two techniques to harness the power of cancer cells. The “off the shelf” technique used pre-engineered tumour cells that would need to be matched to a patient’s HLA phenotype (essentially, a person’s immune fingerprint). The “autologous” approach used CRISPR technology to edit the genome of a patient’s cancer cells and insert therapeutic molecules. These cells could then be transferred back into the patient.

Jammu, Shopian and Ganderbal districts achieved 100% vaccination target in 45+ age group.


Gurdeep Singh Sasan

The NC lost its Jammu Provincial Vice President Gurdeep Singh Sassan to Covid19. After being treated in GMC Jammu’s ICU for around 20 days, Sasan had tested negative for Covid19 but died of post-Covid19 complicacies. With this, the NC lost four senior leaders in the Jammu region. Earlier, the Covid19 killed former lawmaker, Rashpal Singh. He was followed by another lawmaker, Kashmir Singh, an ex-MLC from Billawar and then Abdul Wahid Shah, a member of the assembly in the 1996 session from Gool Gulabgarh. The pandemic, however, was very kind in Srinagar. A number of the party leaders including the President and Vice President contracted the virus and fought it successfully.

Journalists are the high-risk group under Covid19 categorisation. In one week, more than 600 of them were inoculated across Jammu and Kashmir. 


National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Monday, March 22, 2021 chairing Provincial review meeting of the Party’s Parent, YNC, Women’s Wing, and segment in charges here at party headquarters. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

National Conference had history’s first virtual meeting of its Working Committee. Almost 80 leaders virtually discussed the issue for six hours. After the meeting, it issued a long statement insisting that there cannot be a trade-off between the development and the aspirations of the people. It said the peace will elude till Article 370 and Article 35A are not restored. However, it did not speak even a word on an issue that consumed a lot of time of the meeting – to end the boycott of the Delimitation Commission. The party leader specifically asked the question to the members and almost 99 per cent said the boycott must end and the party must articulate the demands of the people. In absence, they said, BJP is the only party that is talking before the Commission. The party president said he will set up a Committee within the party and then will decide. Political observers read a major change in this especially after Dr Farooq avoided keeping the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) active.


Dr Arun Kumar Mehta (IAS)

Arun Kumar Mehta, a 1988 batch (IAS) officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre has been appointed as new Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir after BVR Subrahmanyam was transferred to the Commerce Ministry at the Centre. In his more than three-decades-long bureaucratic career, Mehta has held key positions in the administration. Subrahmanyam, a 1987 batch IAS officer from Chhattisgarh, a choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was appointed as Chief Secretary soon after the BJPDP alliance was undone in 2018. Under his bureaucratic leadership, precedence was created when a state was dismembered, downgraded to a UT and disempowered by undoing Article 370.

Maruti Udyog Ltd will set up a 500 LPM Oxygen generation each in Srinagar and Jammu.


Ashraf Sehrai, who died of Covid-19 in GMC, Jammu on May 5, 2021, while being in preventive custody under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.

Sehraies’ are emerging a classic Covid19 case. Separatist leader, Ashraf Sehrie allegedly caught the infection in Udhampur jail and died in GMC Jammu on May 5, 2021. His son drove him to their Tekkipora home for burial. Police said there was sloganeering and registered a case against 20 people. On May 16, two of his sons Mujahid Sehrai and Rashid Sehrai were arrested and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for “raising anti-national slogans”. On May 27, both test positive. Jail authorities said they did not receive them because they had tested positive so the police are keeping the two brothers in a police lock-up in Kupwara.


Jamia Masjid Shopian. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur
Jamia Masjid Shopian. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

With the pandemic dominating the scene, the priority of the governance systems across India is to ensure that people stay home. But Jammu and Kashmir seem to be an exception. While people are scared of the virus, the forest officials – in Jammu as well as in Kashmir, are busy in evictions and “retrieving” the “encroached land”. In Zampathri (Shopian), almost 18 persons including five journalists were injured when the forest officials armed with lathis almost invaded the Gujjar belt. They have been living there for ages. With the forest officials resorting to such evictions, the rights the jungle dwellers have under Forest Rights Act becomes null and void well before it would be implemented.


In a heartrending incident, two minor girls; a three-year-old Dua Jan and two-year-old Arsheman Bashir and a boy, Sabzar Ahmad died after they fell into a pit in Narwara village of Beerwah. The trio had fallen into a pit while playing in Beerwah area, saying that they were immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors declared them dead on arrival.

Of Kashmir’s 8308 Ex-Servicemen (ESM), 1412 have volunteered to work in Covid19 facilities and 212 have actually been deployed.


In the last few weeks, shocking gender violence is being reported from this belt. In the latest case, a girl has approached Police at Mirbazar saying she was raped in a truck (JK18-9100) on National Highway, at Nipora near petrol pump, by one Mudasir Ahmad Ganie, son of Abdul Rashid Ganie, a resident of Banimulla. She identified his support as Manzoor Ahmad Naik, son of Ghulam Mohammad Naik, a resident of Gadol. Police have seized the vehicle and arrested rapists.

Police gave Rs 5000 each to 1848 of its personnel who contracted Covid19 since 2020.


The team of doctors at JLNM Hospital Srinagar did a successful operation on a Covid-19 patient on May 30, 2020. KL Image: Special Arrangement

By offering incentives to frontline health workers, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has put many others at a disadvantage despite the fact that they are also fighting Covid19 in the same hospitals. The Resident Doctors are actually running the main show in the hospitals but for many months they are seeking separate accommodation to prevent their families. They say more than 120 of them, and countless families of their members were infected. In another case, the government asked the medical school undergrads to work in hospitals. They are given Rs 12000. But they say they must also be entitled to the special package that was drafted for frontline workers. They have no accommodation. These issues are adding to the crisis of the people who are risking their lives for society at large.


The Brigader level flag meeting between the two armies in Poonch's Chakan-da-Bagh
The Brigader level flag meeting between the two armies in Poonch’s Chakan-da-Bagh in 2013

When they are aggressive even human beings do not matter. When they become friendly with each other, even bovines matter. Last week, the army sent back six cattle that had inadvertently crossed the LoC and come into Poonch. The six buffaloes were owned by a poor man on the Rawlakot side whose household depended on the milk he was selling. The armies established contact and the animals were formally handed over to the Pakistani army. The two armies are exhibiting a sort of friendliness after UAE brokered a peace deal that led to the revival of the moribund ceasefire of 2003. It is holding. The only tension is that there is no follow up.


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