Briefing (November 24-30, 2019)

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JAMMU

Dr Nirmal Singh

The BJP leader continued acting as the Speaker of a house whose most of the members are in jail, even after re-organization of the state into two union territories. He attended the office on November 4 after the government shifted its base from Srinagar to Jammu following the darbar move.

Singh’s continuation as the Speaker of an assembly, whose complexion was changed by the central law in August, was being questioned by the people at various levels, outside Kashmir. It was openly being said that the Jammu University right-wing historian was creating a bad history. On November 13, Harsh Dev Singh, Panthers Patty leader and former minister had termed Singh’s continuation on the Speaker’s post as “an insult to the constitution and the prevalent laws”.

After the issue was examined, the Lt Gov’s government decided that his tenure had ended on October 31, when the state formally became two Union territories. Notification was issued in the middle of November.

Singh was Speaker since May 2018. “Nirmal Singh was appointed as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the erstwhile state of J&K under Section 57 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and continued after the dissolution of Assembly under Section 58,” the law department notification reads. “Whereas, the President of India, while exercising the powers under Section 73 of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019, suspended the provision of sections relating to Legislative Assembly, including the appointment of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and his continuation in the office on October 31, 2019. Whereas, the matter has been examined in consultation with the learned advocate general of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the legal position, which has emerged in that the Speaker of the legislative assembly of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir cannot hold the said office after the re-organisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the UT of Ladakh with effect from October 31.” The notification deemed that Singh has ceased to hold the office of Speaker of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir with effect from October 31, 2019.

For 1356 vacancies (1184 for women) in BSF, 50K youth moved applications in Jammu and Kashmir

DELHI

The TV media was caught in an embarrassing situation after a retired Major General, SP Sinha suggested “rape in return for rape” to avenge, according to website The Print, the “atrocities against Pandits.” The remark, according to The Telegraph was rebuked instantly by fellow panellists who demanded an apology, but the retired general stood by his opinion and even found some support from audience members.

The comment has triggered a serious debate within the army veterans and indications suggest that the Army Headquarters may consider drafting a code of conduct for its retired personnel.

“Veterans need to show a degree (of) self-discipline and restrict their comments to professional matters,” Lt Gen H S Hooda was quoted saying. “The media too must share the blame as some channels deliberately call these veterans who shout, scream and take a biased stand on issues. Channels continue to call them because they want to telecast a high-pitched debate and increase their TRPs.”

Retired lieutenant general Vinod Bhatia, former DG military operations, branded Sinha a person who makes “obnoxious statements for momentary fame.” Syed Ata Hasnain, who earlier headed the Srinagar based 15 Corps, called the man a “loose missile”.

Sinha’s sad commentary came handy to Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Imran Khan’s Special Assistant. She tweeted that the comments “showed a fascist and immoral mindset”.

Since 2015, Doda and Kishtwar lost 334 lives to road accidents as 1906 survived injured

ALIGARH

On basis of the complaint moved by Hindu Mahasabha leader Ashok Pandey, police in AMU have registered an FIR against an assistant professor under IPC’s Sections 153-A and 505 (2) for “promoting enmity” between different groups. The teacher, identified as Huma Parveen, 34, had shared a post on her Facebook wall that reads: “Sach mein sampark toot jana kitna khatarnak aur dukhad hota hai, chahe Chandrayaan ho ya Kashmir (Truly, how dangerous and painful can snapping of communication be, whether it is Chandrayaan or Kashmir).” Police have found the post “inappropriate” as the complainant believes the comment indicates the professor “did not consider Kashmir an integral part of India”.

Huma, who teaches Mass Communication, is married to Naeem Shaukat, a Kashmiri. They have a baby girl who lives in Kashmir with her father. “I was heartbroken, as I was not able to contact my husband during the clampdown in the Valley,” The Times of India quoted Huma saying. “I had not written anything inappropriate and only shared a few posts written by others. I have a young daughter and my emotions of losing connection with family can’t be described in words.”

DELHI

Home Minister Amit Shah told the parliament that situation in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s youngest UT, is “fully normal” and that the prevailing curbs on internet connectivity since August 5, will be lifted “whenever the local authority deems it fit.”

“People in this House were predicting bloodshed but I am happy to inform that no one has died in police firing,” Shah said. “Incidents of stone pelting have declined from 802 last year to 544 so far this year.”

Shah said participation of 99 per cent of students in the 10th, 11th and 12th class examinations and the functional health care infrastructure are indicators of the normalcy. He said 93,247 landlines and 5.9 million cell phones are operational in the erstwhile state.

As for the internet, “there are activities by Pakistan too in Kashmir region, so keeping security in mind, whenever the local authority deems it fit, a decision will be taken (on resuming internet services),” Shah said and added that he is ready for a one-hour discussion on Kashmir. While Urdu and English daily newspapers and all TV channels were functioning, Shah said 36,192 cases were filed in the High Court and judgments in over 52,000 were delivered since August 5.

In the first two days of the winter sessions, Amit Shah and his junior, G Kishan Reddy, shared a lot of statistics with the twin houses.

Details tabbed in the House by the custodians of the Home Ministry suggest that 5,161 “preventive arrests” were made in Kashmir since August 4. Of them, 609 persons are still under detention including 218 stone pelters.

Reddy said the security agencies arrested 765 persons in 190 cases of stone-pelting since August 5. Till August 5, year 2019 had seen registration of 361 cases of stone-pelting.

In 2018, there were 1458 incidents of stone pelting in which 3797 persons were arrested. There were 1412 incidents in 2017 in which 2838 arrests took place. Year 2016 witnessed the highest number of 2653 stone pelting cases in which 10571 arrests were made.

Apart from the data being at variance with itself, it excludes 400-odd people arrested under Public Safety Act, The Indian Express pointed out. It also excludes political leaders and party workers who remain under house arrest or detention. These include three former chief ministers.

Replying to a question by TMC MP Parasun Banerjee on the use of pellet guns to quell protests in the Valley, Reddy said: “Pellet guns have been used as a matter of abundant caution, only to deal with severe law and order problem, to avoid civilian casualties.” He also skirted other questions asked by Banerjee on “the details of inputs considered before the decision to revoke Article 370 was taken”.

Between August and October, Reddy said Pakistan resorted to 950 incidents of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC).

A PIB handout said that during last six months Jammu and Kashmir was visited by 3410219 tourists, including 12,934 foreigners who spent Rs 25.12 crore.

Reddy said NIA has charge-sheeted 18 persons in the terror funding cases so far.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate has taken possession of 13 properties worth Rs 1.22 crore belonging to the persons allegedly involved in a terror funding case registered against Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM) chief Syed Salahuddin and others. The properties are located in Anantnag, Sopore and Bandipora. ED invoked Prevention of Money Laundering Act for attaching the properties upheld by the adjudicating authority. Those accused were identified as Mohammad Shafi Shah, Talib Lali, Muzaffar Ahmad Dar and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone.

Interestingly, a day after the normalcy claims were broadcast by the TV, Kashmir – after two days of open markets, returned back to the 3-hour morning routine. Commercial transport was thin even during morning hours when markets opened to close around noon.

BARAMULLA

After studying journalism at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, Baramulla’s Mehvish Rather, 25, quit an advertising job in Mumbai to become a filmmaker. Her debut documentary Kandurwan: Baking History was screened at the just-concluded Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF). She moved from Mumbai to Baramulla in March 2018 to become a full-time filmmaker and started shooting for two documentaries. Her another documentary is Wahsah Waza: Backyard Chefs, that tells the story of Kashmir cuisine.

Shooting was a challenge. “Both kandurwan and wazwan are male-dominated fields,” Rather told Indian Express. “I was probably too young to be taken seriously by them; I realised that after a few failed attempts of trying to establish a rapport with them. The process became easier when I took my mother along.”

Schooled at St Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, Baramulla, Rather joined St Stephen’s College, Delhi, in 2012 to study English. Later, she took a filmmaking course in the Jamia. Her decision has paid off as both the documentaries have been well-received in the festival circuit.

Kandurwan: Baking History won best short film award in Do Pao Film Festival Portugal and adjudged as the best short documentary in Top Indie Film Awards in Japan. It has been selected for the Food Film Festival Bergamo in Italy, NukhuFest in New York, River to River Florence Indian Film Festival in Italy and Ethos Film Festival among others. Wahsah Waza: Backyard Chefs was premiered at Film Southasia in Kathmandu recently. What was interesting, however, was Rather was unaware of her film’s selection in the DIFF’s screening schedule for many days due to the lockdown. Rather is currently working on a feature-length documentary on Sufism.

MUMBAI

Kashmir will take time to come to terms with the August 5, reality. But the Bollywood’s neo-entrants will not wait. Come January 26, the masala film Kashmir: The Final Resolution will be out. Revolving around the abrogation of Article 370, the film tells the story of how the special status was an obstacle in Kashmir’s development. Yuvraj Kumar, a Mumbai-based filmmaker, also the director actor of the film has said he has shot 80 per cent of the film. One of its numbers Chui Mubark has already been released on the YouTube. Rippi Koul, who is cast in the lead role, is making her acting debut with the film. Hritik Koul, another Kashmiri actor, will also be seen in the film.

SRINAGAR

India’s diplomatic war gets into air waves. Last week, Joint Secretary (I&B) Vikram Sahay flew to Srinagar. On Sunday, he had a meeting with representatives of the cable operators in Srinagar. In the meeting, he directed them against beaming any channel that is uploaded from Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and Malaysia. These countries have been termed as “hostile Muslim countries”. A notification was issued later. Besides, a major manufacturer in India has been asked, according to sources, not to entertain any order from Kashmir for the supply of Dish antennas that capture free to air channels for private watching. Earlier, in July 2018, the government had directed cable operators not to broadcast 34 channels.

CAMBODIA

India and Pakistan are leaving no forum without fighting over Kashmir. The latest was in Cambodia. A BJP leader Vijay Jolly was escorted out by security personnel at the Asia Pacific Summit in Cambodia after he tried to interrupt a speech by a Pakistani legislator on Kashmir, Scroll website reported. “A video tweeted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the party of Prime Minister Imran Khan, showed Jolly furiously coming to the front of the hall while raising his voice during the speech, saying Jammu and Kashmir was not the topic of discussion at the summit,” the website reported. “Soon enough, security personnel were seen dragging Jolly outside the hall.” The speech was being delivered by Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly. The Asia Pacific Summit took place in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

KUPWARA

As a “goodwill gesture”, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has repatriated a 32-year-old Pakistani national who had crossed into Kashmir through the Line of Control (LoC) in May. Identified as Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Pajkote in PaK, he was repatriated via Teetwal on November 21. He had been arrested near Dilar check-post in Karnah on May 18. Doctors reported that Ahmad suffers from a mental disorder.

SRINAGAR

Prominent earth scientist Prof Shakeel Ramshoo has been conferred Satish Dhawan National Award for 2018 by the Indian Society of Remote Sensing, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). His “outstanding lifetime contribution to the development and application of space technology for earth and environmental sciences” fetched him the honour that carried a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a medal and a citation. In 2013, he got National Geoscience Award conferred by the President of India, and earlier in 2009, he got the Kasumigaura International Prize conferred by the Government of Japan. Ramshoo has PhD in water resources engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and MS in Space Technology from the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand. Currently, he heads Geoinformatics in the Kashmir University. He is busy implementing Rs 10 crore project envisaging establishing Center of Excellence in glaciological and climate change studies in the western Himalayas at the Kashmir University. He already has established the first National Ice Core Laboratory for paleo-climatic studies in Himalayas at the Kashmir University.

KATHUA

It is classic case of its kind. A couple in Kathu’s Nagri area had conjugal issues. They would give vent to their frustrations normally but recently they did a strange thing. The lady was harshly beating her girl child, said to be less than six years of age. The entire sessions was recorded by her husband on the cell phone. He quickly uploaded it. It triggered lot of hate and anger. Finally the Childline Welfare Committee lodged a protest, forcing the police to act. Now the couple is in detention –the mother for beating the child and the father for recording the video and not rescuing her. Well deserved.

UDHAMPUR

A shopkeeper would have undisturbed nights after he installed a CCTV at his shop, Sanjay Trading Company, near Domail Dhar Road. The electronic surveillance did not help as one night, in last week, the thieves barged in. As he reopened the shop, he found things scattered. He started looking for the DVR of his CCTV. Along with many things, he found that missing too! Now, police is investigating the intelligent thievery gang.

WASHINGTON

Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri – known for his book Urban Naxals, and his wife, actor and producer Pallavi Joshi, are currently in the US for the first schedule of their film The Kashmir Files to record interviews of displaced Kashmiri Pandits. Pallavi was seen wearing a Dejhoor which is considered in close resemblance to the Hindu mangalsutra. “Slowly, we are going through cultural transition. Pallavi Joshi in Dejhoor – a traditional Kashmiri Mangalsutra. The difference is that women wear it even after husband is no more,” Vivek wrote on the Instagram. The Kashmir Files envisaging migration of KPs is being projected as #KashmirUnreported. The couple is touring across USA, UK, Canada and Germany to dig out real life stories as a part of their research for The Kashmir Files.

The visit has already triggered a controversy. Media reported a strong resentment to Vivek’s scheduled visit to Rutgers University, where he is delivering a lecture on “the genocide of Kashmir Pandits”.

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