Briefing November 8 – 14, 2020


Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha (Image: DIPR)

It is winter and people are supposed to get busy in managing their harsh part of the year. However, the cold season is getting hot as the Manoj Sinha administration has announced an election. KK Sharma, who resigned as adviser and donned the role of Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commissioner, has already issued a notice. So an eight-phase by-election for 12153 berths of sarpanches and panches will be held for 24 blocks in 10 Kashmir districts and 53 blocks in six Jammu districts from November 28 to December 19. The counting will take place on December 22. The last elections to the panchayats were held in November-December 2018, in which 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected. More vacancies became available as some elected people died and so many resigned.  After the reading down of Article 370, the Central government has fully applied the 73rd constitutional amendment in Jammu and Kashmir. Now all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions will be formed in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time.

The same exercise on the same dates will be held across Jammu and Kashmir to elected eight members from each district to the District Development Council (DDC). The DDC are the brand new tier of the Panchayat Raj that will exist only in Jammu and Kashmir because, unlike any other place, they will be directly elected by people. Fearing that the “new politics” may elbow out the traditional politics in Kashmir, the PAGD has announced that instead of parties the joint forum will contest. The idea is to deny space to BJP and its proxies.

Showing signs of revival, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank has posted a profit of Rs 44 Cr in 2020-21 Q2 taking the half-yearly earning to Rs 50 Cr plus. It had posted Rs 916.81 Cr loss for the same quarter last fiscal.


Bhaderwah born actor Aly Goni with Jasmine Bhasin

Aly Goni, the 29-year-old Bhaderwah actor is entering reality television show Big Boss 14 just because he does not want to see his ‘best friend’ and former reality television co-star Jasmine Bhasin in tears. The Kashmiri born model and actor tasted fame after he appeared as a contestant on the MTV reality show Splitsvilla’s season 5 in 2012. With no looking back and touching success and fame, he appeared in several reality TV shows and language serials – Yeh Hai Mohabbatyein and Kuch Toh Hai Tere Mere Darmiyaan. Later, he appeared in comedy reality show Khatra Khatra Khatra. Last year, he took part in two hit shows, Khatron Ke Khiladi season 9 and Nach Baliye9, and in both, he emerged as a finalist. Now he is entering the Big Boss to help his friend. Goni has been frequently expressing his fondness for Jasmine. He recently wrote: “Pata nahi mera kya hota agar tu nahi hoti, tu hai toh I am alright.”


NDTV reporter Nazir Masoodi awarded

For his post-August 2019 coverage, NDTV’s Nazir Masoodi was adjudged the best English Television reporter by Indian National TV (NT awards) for 2019 in English across channels. “It was challenging to report Kashmir after August 2019 when all the newsmakers were behind bars and nobody was willing to come forward and talk,” Masoodi told Kashmir Life. “It was a reporting from the ground in the face of threats and intimidation but the truth had to be told because I personally think it was the second major event in Kashmir’s history after 1846 when Kashmir was sold and purchased.” He reported Kashmir at a time when the only official response would come in a press conference. Masoodi said that had he not been able to report the situation on the ground, he might have called it a day and given up the job of being a journalist. “This is an event that comes once in a reporter’s life when he has to tell the truth for history,” Masoodi said, thanking the jury that acknowledging his efforts. Nazir has been reporting Kashmir for around 25 years now.

Rs 480 is the official rate of mutton per kilogram


Various Delegations Call On PAGD At Jammu

Kashmir’s political class that has grouped under People’s Alliance on Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has finally moved out of Kashmir. In one move, they visited Kargil and got their support to their objective and then they moved to Jammu where the PAGD held a full-fledged meeting. They have already approached a section of the Kashmiri Pandits and there is a strong possibility to garner some support from the hardcore Jammu individuals and groups. Though the rightwing groups resorted to a symbolic protest against them with black flags, reports indicate there are lot many groups willing to have a common cause with PAGD especially on the issue of domicile, land and the jobs. In anticipation of the PAGD meeting, NC’s Dr Farooq Abdullah an Omar spoke to a good gathering of their activists in the Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan. Mehbooba, however, restricted her interactions at her residence. The Jammu meeting came after a number of leaders from Jammu attended the PAGD meeting at Mehbooba’s residence.


Dr Naveed Bashir Runiyal

With the onset of winter, as the Coronavirus positive cases and deaths, are surging. The contagion is not sparing even the medical staff. The latest casualty of the pandemic was a young doctor in Chenab Valley. General Physician, currently posted at the sub-district hospital Banihal, Dr Naveed Bashir, 37, contracted the disease and died almost a fortnight later. A resident of Maligam in Banihal, he was the son of a former Revenue Commissioner, Bashir Ahmad Runiyal who had contested last assembly election unsuccessfully. Naveed was the fourth doctor who fell to the wily contagion. So far two doctors died of Covid-19 in Kashmir and two in Jammu. Scores were infected and mostly recovered. Some even lost their close relatives after taking the infection home. Jammu and Kashmir has lost 1528 people to Covid-19, 103 of them in Kashmir.


The men behind the crime: (L to R) Vishal, Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Pravesh Kumar. KL Graphics: Aijaz Ganai

The parole plea of Sanji Ram, one of the convicts in the January 2018 gang rape and murder case of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua, was refused by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The crisis had led to the resignation of two BJP cabinet ministers and also fractured the relationship between the then coalition partners; BJP and PDP. Lately, Sanji Ram had requested for eight-week parole to attend the marriage of his son but the Division Bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Avneesh Jhingan asserting apprehensions of community clashes and protests in Jammu and Kashmir rejected it.  Earlier, a Pathankot court on June 10, 2019, had convicted six of the seven accused in the rape and murder case.

For the last three months ending October, Jammu and Kashmir has paid Rs 1360 Cr as GST


Government gunman Ghulam Mohammad Lone alias Papa Kishtwari patrolling with his men in Pampore in a file picture. Photo: Amin War

For families of countless victims, the death of Ghulam Mohammad Lone alias Papa Kishtwari marked the closure of their cases. He died of cardiac arrest. Earlier known as Mumma Lone, an employee at the state-run Joinery Mills in Pampore was basically a resident of a village in Ajas. During the 1990s, he worked as a counter-insurgent and became a synonym of terror. Though his actions against militants are still not known, he did kill countless civilians in and around Pampore. Though he and his wife contested Lok Sabha and assembly polls, he was eventually arrested while attempting a land grab involving the Frestbal graveyard in 2007. Once arrested, the families of his victims went to court and registered formal cases. He was facing trial but he died of cardiac arrest. His body was buried in his ancestral graveyard in Matipora area of Bandipora.


Deaths have never kept a calendar but now the abrupt deaths are emerging a routine. The heart attack is emerging as a big killer in the youngest population as well. In a heart-rending incident, a marriage turned into mourning when a bride died of a heart attack a day before her wedding. Shahnaza, 29, a resident of Srinagar’s Sultan Mohalla area of Saida Kadal according to the family members died without showing any distress signs. She died before reaching to the hospital.


Counter Insurgent forces ready to proceed at the encounter site at Rangreth area in the city outskirts where Hizbul Mujahideen chief Dr Saifullah was killed during an encounter on Sunday, November 1, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The counter-insurgency is in a fast pace right now. Srinagar city witnessed its ninth gun battle of 2020 last week and the man killed in the encounter was Hizbul Mujahideen top leader Saifullah Islam Mir. A resident of Malangpora, he had replaced Riyaz Naikoo in May. Known locally as ‘doctor, it is being said that he could not become a medical doctor and eventually earned a diploma in medical electronics from Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Pulwama in 2010, and later, another degree from the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology in Srinagar in 2013. In his village, he was being seen as a health professional. With his killing, police said the toll of the militants killed this year has crossed 200. What is newest in these brief encounters is that the counter-insurgent grid has secured as many as nine surrenders. Most of these have taken place during the encounters itself.


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