Briefing October 16-22, 2022

DELHI

PM Narendra Modi, HM Amit Shah

Kashmir has re-emerged as the main political fodder at the national level. The Twitter between the BJP and the Congress started with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi telling a public meeting in poll-bound Gujarat that he has solved Kashmir.  “Sardar saheb persuaded all the princely states to merge with India. But another person handled this one issue of Kashmir,” Modi said, without naming Nehru, India’s first prime minister. “As I am following the footsteps of Sardar saheb, I have values of the land of Sardar and that was the reason I resolved the problem of Kashmir and paid true tributes to Sardar Patel.”

In reaction, Jairam tweeted that Prime Minister once again “whitewashed real history” and overlooked facts to “castigate” Nehru. Citing historian Rajmohan Gandhi, Ramesh said Sheikh Abdullah championed accession to India because of his friendship with Nehru and respect for Mahatma Gandhi. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he said was okay with Jammu and Kashmir joining Pakistan till September 13, 1947, when the Nawab of Junagadh acceded to Pakistan. This lit the fire.

BJP minister, Kiren Rijiju shot off a series of tweets saying Maharaja Hari Singh was willing to accede to India as early as July Nehru rejected his request.

Jairam Ramesh

“This ‘historical lie’ that Maharaja Hari Singh dithered on the question of accession of Kashmir with India has gone on for far too long in order to protect the dubious role of JL Nehru,” Rijiju said, citing Nehru’s Lok Sabha speech on July 24, 1952, revealing Hari Singh approached him for accession in July 1947 itself, “a full month before Independence”.  Rijiju said while requests made by other states were accepted, that of Kashmir was rejected. “Nehru conjured up some ‘special’ case for Kashmir & wanted ‘much more’ than mere accession. What was that special case? Vote Bank politics?” he tweeted.

The Kashmir talk walked yet another mile when Home Minister, Amit Shah – after his Kashmir visit, accused Nehru of creating a “mess” in Jammu and Kashmir by introducing Article 370 in the Constitution, which was rectified by Modi. He was speaking at BJP’s Gaurav Yatra. “Due to the mistake of Jawaharlal Nehru, who inserted Article 370, Kashmir was in a mess… it could not be properly integrated with the rest of the country,” Shah said. “Everybody wanted the removal of Article 370. Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed it in one stroke and completed the integration of Kashmir with the country.”

To this Jairam reacted again. “Nehru didn’t dictatorially insert Article 370 in Constitution,” the Congress spokesman tweeted. “It was discussed, unlike notebandi. Patel, Ambedkar & Syama Prasad Mukhrejee did’nt object. Ayyangar who had worked in J&K drafted it. Nobody resigned over it. Amit Shah is as much a superspreader of lies as his Saheb.”

The show goes on. What is interesting is that Kashmir’s point of view is still missing.

The government has released Rs 322 cr for setting up of new medical colleges in Handwara, Udhampur

 SRINAGAR

Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey is the Chief Justice of the High Court for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Born on December 8, 1960, Justice Magrey enrolled himself as an advocate in 1984 and was appointed a judge in the High Court on March 7, 2013.  He served as Standing Counsel from 1986 onwards for the State Financial Corporation; JK Bank, SIDCO; SKIMS, Power Development Department; Service Selection Board and Wakf Board. He was appointed as Additional Advocate General in February 2003 and Senior Additional Advocate General in September 2009.

Till September 2022, this year, of 191 drone sightings, 171 actually entered into Indian territory through the India-Pakistan border along the Punjab sector and 20 in the Jammu sector.

JAMMU

The Frankenstein that the former Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir set in motion is resurfacing every time there is an activity. In a presser, he had said that the electoral roll revision will see the inclusion of 25 lakh voters in the list and it will include the people who live in Jammu and Kashmir as ordinary citizens. After it triggered a row, the government said it is not going to be the case and later removed the CEO. It helped PAGD to create a pan-JK political response. Many people in the political class thought it is over. However, PAGD still constituted a group to counter the initiative.

The issue cropped up again when Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Avny Lavasa issued an order about the Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls that ordered the revenue officers to locate the houseless population that lives in Jammu district for a year, issue them a certificate that will enable them to become voters. This triggered another tide with political parties strongly reacting to it. Termed it “colonial settler project”, Mehbooba Mufti said Dogra culture, identity, employment & business (sic)” will bear the first blow on the initiative.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Ms Lavasa, daughter of an Election Commissioner, then District Election Officer Leh, had directed the registration of an FIR in a bribery case involving the BJP and taken a tough stand against the army for dictating voting preferences on jawans, was caught in a different controversy in Jammu. However, after the political parties strongly reacted to the move, the government said she has withdrawn the order. The frequent recurrence of the issue indicates that Frankenstein has not died at all.

Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the premature retirement of 36 police personnel for their involvement in “criminal and corrupt activities”.

SRINAGAR

First-ever football match played under floodlights at Srinagar’s AstroTurf ground

Srinagar’s Woodlands House School has thrown its flood-lighted Astro Turf open for all budding footballers. Omar Abdullah and his colleague Nasir Sogamialso kicked the inaugural ball. Abdullah while kicking stumbled but dusted himself up and got up quickly. “It was great fun to kick a football around for a while. Thanks to the media team that held us to a well-fought draw,” Abdullah tweeted later. This is perhaps the first sports facility in the private sector that owns an astroturf and is willing to open it for youth, not on its rolls.

SOPORE

Sanctorum Institute of Education (SIE) in Sopore has started a Community Radio and it is being managed by a group of 15 boys and girls. Most of the young RJs have yet to pass the matriculation examination. Trained by the Chinar FM, already working in the belt, the Radio, school managers said, will help students develop a holistic personality. The students create content in many languages on a diversity of subjects and disseminate the same.

Altaf A Shah alias Fantoosh

DELHI

Altaf Ahmad Shah aka Fanstoosh died at AIIMS. Jailed in 2017 in a terror funding case in Tihar Jail, he was inflicted by renal cancer and was shifted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Later, the family went to the court and got him shifted to the AIIMS where he died within four days. Shah was flown home and was silently laid to rest.

 

DAL LAKE

On World Post Day, the oars of Shikara Post resurfaced in the Dal Lake as the Department of Posts launched services to take postal facilities including the booking of parcels to the doorsteps of dwellers in the lake. There was a houseboat in the lake for decades wherefrom the postal operations were taken place. As the couriers and the internet made communication better and the turmoil impacted tourism, the houseboat was pushed into disuse. With the lake becoming crowded with tourists, the facility has been revived.

WASHINGTON

Shefali Razdan being administered oath as US envoy on October 8, 2022. Born in Haridwar in 1971, the family moved to the US two years later.

Joe Biden administration has appointed Shefali Razdan Duggal as its envoy to the Netherlands. Shefali was born to a Kashmiri Pandit couple in Haridwar in 1971. She was barely two years old when the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she grew up and graduated from Sycamore High School. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Miami University and a Master of Arts degree in Media Ecology from New York University. She is married to Rajat Duggal since 1998. Apart from serving San Francisco Committee member of Human Rights Watch Shefali has served on the National Finance Committee of Joe Biden for President 2020 and also was a National Co-Chair of Women for Biden. Shefali also served as a Deputy National Finance Chair at the Democratic National Committee.

POONCH

Representational image

In raids at 18 locations across Jammu and Kashmir, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested a 60-year-old man, Ameer Mohammad Shamshi, who headed the Al Huda Educational Trust (AHET). NIA alleged he was diverting funds raised for charitable purposes to radicalise and incite local youth. It also claimed the Trust was a front group of banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). Those raided included Faqr Din, an Assistant Engineer in PDD at Mendhar. The raids were carried out at 18 locations in Rajouri, Poonch, Jammu, Srinagar, Bandipora, Shopian, Pulwama and Budgam.  “During the searches, several mobile devices and documents related to funding, properties etc. have been seized,” the NIA said. NIA searched the house of famous cleric Moulana Rahmatullah Mir Qasmi, who is the Rector of Darul Uloom Raheemiyyah, a major seminary in Kashmir.

SRINAGAR

Aamir Bashir (Filmmaker)

After 12 years of his last film, Kashmir filmmaker, Amir Bashir is back on the stage with Maagh (The Winter Within). The film was screened at the Busan International Film Festival for the screen-loving Korean audience. The film is also going to Bangkok, Thailand, and other locations overseas. The film features

Zoya Hussain as a domestic helper Nargis is in a state of inward grief amidst Kashmir’s harsh but majestic winter landscapes. It follows her desperate struggle to locate her husband, Manzoor, who was detained after joining the insurgency. In between, she faces newer challenges. The storyline was scripted by Aamir Bashir with Shanker Raman, who is also the film’s director of photography. His last film was Harud, the autumn.

SRINAGAR

Strong opposition was witnessed to the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s proposal to authorise departmental stores to sell beer and other ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages in urban Jammu and Kashmir. It is being seen as an effort to hurt the sentiments of Muslims. “They (LG’s administration) issued an order yesterday allowing the sale of liquor in departmental stores. In their ‘model’ state of Gujarat as well as Bihar, the sale of liquor is banned. But here, they have brought a separate law to hurt the sentiments of Muslims,” Ms Mufti was quoted as having told the reporters. “Religious scholars are being put behind bars and others outside are being maligned. The government policies have failed and if they keep pursuing wrong policies and continue with atrocities on the people, the results will be negative.”

The proposal suggested that the departmental stores having a total carpet area of a minimum of 1,200 sq ft, annual turnover of a minimum of Rs 5 crore in Jammu and Srinagar cities and Rs 2 crore in other urban areas will be eligible under the scheme. A chain of departmental stores with an annual turnover of more than Rs 10 crore will be eligible to apply for separate licences for each of its stores.

“It is preposterous and mischievous,” NC spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said. “This will not only indulge youth into a new addiction but will also have serious ramifications considering how easy its access has been made.”

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