A revamped Lal Chowk was formally thrown open on August 14, 2023, by Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha. Image: DIPR JK

“Pictures of Lal Chowk have shown how Jammu and Kashmir is changing.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told HT Summit on November 5, 2023. “Today, terrorism is ending in the Union Territory and tourism is growing continuously. We are committed to taking Jammu and Kashmir to new heights.” Within days after the statement, a life-size cut-out of the Prime Minister was installed near Ghanta Ghar and has become an added attraction for tourists who take photos and selfies with it. The spot remains crowded with tourists who spend the evening in the area. Sometimes they shout slogans in praise of the Prime Minister and take group photographs with the re-laid Clock Tower. Authorities have placed a cut-out next to a hoarding which depicts a young doctor attending to an elderly man. The theme of the campaign is Buzurgon Ka Samman.

Over 990 officials, including two judicial officers, 541 employees from health and medical education, 128 from irrigation and flood control, and 83 from education have been asked to submit their appointment orders.


Doda is in literal chaos. First, a bus accident near Trungal killed 39 and hurt 22. The accident sparked demands, again, to realign the accident-prone 200-meter stretch of Trungal and Assar. Within 24 hours, Bhaderwah’s Chinote area burned, wiping homes, a guest house, and a food spot. As the smoke did not even settle, nature added to Doda’s woes. The National Centre for Seismology reported a 3.9 magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre within Doda. PM Modi pledged Rs two lakh for families of accident victims, Rs 50,000 for the injured. Jammu and Kashmir government also announced a relief of Rs five lakh for families of Doda bus crash victims and one lakh for the injured.

Between January and October, 1380273 visitors came to Kashmir including 8896 foreigners.


Once 2000, only 750 iconic Kashmiri houseboats were left sailing as the construction ban and craftsman shortage hit the luxury hospitality sub-sector. Last month, one houseboat sank in Jhelum. Last week five houseboats went up in flames and turned into cinders. Amidst this loss, three Bangladeshi tourists died in one of the floating homes. Residents said the fire was due to a short circuit. Officials remained tight-lipped saying they wait for the investigations.

Of sanctioned 1756 positions, SKIMS has 1021 positions including 115 faculty positions, vacant.


As the enrolment nosedive in Kashmir educational institutions is the new norm, the government is now clubbing some government schools in Kulgam for better roll per school. It left over 50 buildings vacant. Neglected, these structures, locals say, have become hubs for anti-social activities in multiple villages. The government’s school merging initiative in the Kashmir zone has left these buildings vacant and free for all. Locals suggested repurposing the abandoned structures into libraries or allocating them to other departments for community benefit.

Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a decline in its retail inflation rate, reaching a favourable 3.4 per cent in October


LG Manoj Sinha handing over the appointment letter to a widow, whose husband was killed in a fake encounter in Amshipora Shopian in July 2020. Pic: DIPR

In the fake Amshipora encounter, Captain Bhoopendra Singh was granted bail by the Tribunal and suspended his life imprisonment sentence. The 2020 Shopian encounter, labelled civilians as ‘terrorists,’ who were Rajouri labourers. Singh’s conviction, challenged for legality and procedural issues, faced the Tribunal, which suspended the sentence, questioning evidence validity. For the father of the deceased, doubly pained, Singh’s sentence suspension felt like putting a price on their sons’ lives, after twice attending court-martial proceedings. The Tribunal decision was hugely commented upon and the army asserted that he had been dismissed with no pensionary benefits.

Of 10 lakh people screened in the last three years, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir located 1.2 lakh diabetic patients.


Uncommon, but not so new to Jammu and Kashmir, a woman in Rajouri was charged with abandoning a newborn’s body. Investigation revealed that Parvaiz Akhtar, wife of Naheem Ahmed, gave birth at GMC Associate Hospital and discarded the newborn’s body in a rivulet on their way home from the hospital. Kashmir Valley has lately seen a rise in cases of baby dumping and abandonment, particularly affecting female infants and those with Downs’ Syndrome. Data discloses 52 cases of abandoned babies at LD Hospital from 2011 to 2023. Reports say about 10 babies are left at garbage dumps every month in Kashmir.

The administration has issued Geographic Indication (GI) labels to over 20,000 Pashmina shawls and 9,000 carpets to fight counter-branding.


India Ambassador to Egypt Ajit V Gupte with Lubna Nazir Shaboo in Cairo on November 14, 2023, after she crossed from Gaza into Egypt.

In Gaza, over 11,100 people have been killed by Israel; which is one in every 200. Among them, a Kashmiri woman Lubna Nazir Shaboo and her daughter Karima faced 40 days of hardship in the war-torn land. Finally, they crossed from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah border. India’s Ambassador, Ajit V Gupte, welcomed Lubna in Cairo. A Srinagar resident, Lubna, married to a Gaza professional, sought rescue on October 10, 2023—challenges mounted due to the closed-off Gaza Strip.

LG Manoj Sinha has announced the increase of seats in Ayurvedic Medical College Akhnoor from 60 to 100 as part of the administration’s commitment to strengthening preventive and holistic care infrastructure.


Following the introduction of e-rickshaws and e-buses in Srinagar, the government plans to launch battery-powered boats in early 2024. The initiative envisions a fleet of 32 battery-powered boats navigating Dal Lake’s five basins and the Jhelum River, connecting cultural spaces along the banks. The project aims to alleviate city congestion and reopen access to areas like Mughal Gardens. As public transport grows rapidly in the city, the challenge lies in managing traffic in a city already grappling with a poor traffic reputation.

The High Court has annulled Muhammad Saleem Dar’s detention under the Public Safety Act.


Over the past year or two, Kashmir has seen dozens of cases of impersonation. What was common to Kashmir now went to Samba. A man impersonating an army officer in the Samba district was arrested for attempting to assault a twelfth-class student. The accused, Sham Lal, pretended as an Army Colonel, enticing the girl and her brother to Vijaypur with promises of NCC enrolment and recruitment aid. In the night, he attempted to assault the girl, who promptly reported the incident to the police.

Out of a total of 147 colleges in Jammu and Kashmir, only 59 have managed to secure NAAC accreditation.


High-Density Apple: Workers picking apples in a high-density orchard in South Kashmir’s Pinjoora village in early September 2023. KL Image: Shuaib Wani

After a parched summer and a 20 per cent reduction in import duty of American apples, the Kashmir apple market finds itself in competition with Iran and Afghanistan at the Azadpur market. Over the past 35 days, 7,267 metric tonnes of apples have made their way into India’s largest fruit market from Iran and Afghanistan, contrasting sharply with the shipment of 89,000 metric tonnes of Kashmiri apples during the same period. Kashmir growers say that the influx of Iranian apples has led to a more than 40 per cent reduction in demand for Kashmiri apples.


Kanthalloor is set to emerge as the hub of saffron cultivation in Kerela as Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) are guiding the introduction of the spice crop in Vattavada, Kanthalloor and Vagamon. Ramamoorthy, A farmer based in the Perumala region HAS successfully cultivated saffron on 25 cents of land. Kashmir supplies the Saffron bulbs. The experimentation is taking place at Perumala, the highest point in Kanthalloor, at 5,000ft above sea level. Already in Gujarat, a start-up has successfully grown Saffron without water and soil.


It was Muslim neighbours who consigned to flames the mortal remains of Ashok Kumar Wangoo died at his Drangabal residence. There were plans to take the body to Jammu but later the last rites were carried out locally. The dead man’s relatives said the Muslims around joined the funeral in large numbers and did the last rite formalities.


During Adbi Markaz Kamraz’s annual conference at Srinagar’s Tagore Hall, the books of Prof Naseem Shafaie and Prof Shad Ramzan were formally released. Shafaie’s book, Be Wanith Zane Kus(To Whom Should I Tell) is a poetic collection and Shad’s book Shair The Sharah is a critique of the evolution and explanation of Kashmiri poetry in a historical context. Prior to the formal release of the books, two scholars each offered their reviews – one each in English and Kashmiri. The reviewers termed Naseem as “Habba Khatoon of contemporary Kashmir” and Shad as “Iron Man of Kashmiri literature”. Both the authors have been students of Kashmir stalwart Rehman Rahi and are contemporaries. While Shad taught at the University of Kashmir, Naseem retired as a college professor. Shad currently heads the Sahitya Academy operations in Jammu and Kashmir. 


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