Briefing – October 18-24, 2020


Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha (Image: DIPR)

Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha is doing his best to convey that he means business. The latest is that he will be offering the state chopper to the BPL patients who wish to fly to Srinagar for treatment from remote areas when they are cut off. He has already committed himself to a corruption-free governance set-up. Now he is speeding up the JK Health Insurance Scheme under which every APL family (15 lakh) will have the same benefits – Rs 5 lakh per family per year – that BPL have under Ayushman Bharat. Sinha has been the most mobile of the three rulers Jammu and Kashmir had since the transfer of N N Vohra.


Noor Bhat

Kashmiri tenants outside the valley were always facing one or the other tensions but the latest one is different. Earlier it was activists versus tenants. Now it is landlady versus a female student. Noor Bhat, a Srinagar resident who graduated from Amity University alleged her landlady broke open her flat in her absence and took out her furniture and other belongings including her passport and clothes. When she confronted the smoking lady, she beat her and called her terrorist. Noor recorded her photographs and put online. She gave her story in a series of tweets that led to the Delhi Commission for Women writing to police to register a case. The landlady has also filed a police case. The outcome may take time. However, the tenant has insisted that the two sisters from Srinagar have not been paying the rent and that there were many complaints against the two. A Delhi website has released a number of videos about Noor whose name is different.


Police was hunting him in Kashmir. After the SSB member went mysteriously missing from his battalion (14) in Nagam, Chadoora carrying a magazine of his service rifle, the first suspect were the militants. Police started hunting him. Within two days, the police finally traced Altaf Hussain at home. Now, police have registered a case against him in Manjkote Police station. He lives in Rehan Koteranka Rajouri.


Ghulam Nabi Azad

This fall was not so impressive for Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad. In order to see Congress emerge as a potent political force, he became a dissident. An old family loyalist, it was shocking for a man who was the party’s crisis manager throughout his life. He was even accused of being in league with the BJP. Finally, he lost his secretary-general position.  Back home, the High passed a verdict on the much-maligned Roshni scheme that underwent crippling issues during his era. As if this all was too little, now Covid-19 came visiting him. Get well soon, Azad Sahab.


File image of Zojila crossing (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

After the successful commissioning of the Atal Rohtang Tunnel, the Road Transport ministry started building the Zoji La tunnel that would bypass the perilous pass and make Ladakh accessible round the year. When ready, the 14.15 km tunnel will be the longest in Asia. The tunnel had to undergo a redesign that Nitin Gadkari said saved Rs 4000 crore.

Gadkari said this is the seventh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir. The road tunnels under construction right now include 8450-metre twin-tube tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal, 2968-metre 6-single tunnels between Ramban and Banihal; 450-metre tunnel between Khilani and Kishtwar. Others include 4.5 km Chenani-Anantnag tunnel, 10.2 km long tunnel at Sinthan Pass, Khakhlani Byepass tunnel, and the 10 km tunnel between Chhatru and Anantnag.


Kani Shawl

In order to give a flip to Kashmir handicrafts, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has roped in online retailer Flipkart. An MoU has been signed. The retailer will market handicraft and handloom products through its web-portal Samarth. The administration said the initiative during the Covid-19 pandemic will give the sector a flip. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, in whose presence the MoU was signed said the initiative is more beneficial to the Flipkart than to the artists given the kind of Kashmir’s unmatched, unique, world-class artistry. How the deal will be operationalized is still not known.


Nearly 1400 deaths after, though Kashmir seems normal apparently, it is hugely abnormal. In anticipation of winter, people have started taking flu shots and it is a roaring business right now. So far around 60,000, flu shots were consumed in Kashmir and every shot costs upwards of Rs 1200. The entire business is managed by two companies as the product is imported.


M Sharief Niaz

Senior Congress leader and former minister Mohammad Sharief Niaz died after a brief illness on Monday in Jammu. He was 75. He died in Jammu but his body was driven home for burial. Born on April 24, 1944, in village Changa of Bhalessa (Doda), Niaz was first time elected as MLA in 1987, after contesting unsuccessfully in 1983 from Inderwal He Jammu and Kashmir Law Minister in 1989. From 1992 to 1996, he remained a member of USERS consultative committee in the Northern Railway and was re-elected to the assembly in 2002. He became state’s power minister in Congress-PDP coalition. In 2007, Niaz was elected as a Member of Legislative Council for Doda.


While it was understandable that Kashmir will be part of the national elections on either side of the Redcliff divide but the brand Kashmir sees a low as Bihar has started using it. Modi government’s Minister of State (MoS) for Home Nityanand Rai has claimed that if Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is elected to power in Bihar then militants will escape Kashmir and take shelter in the state. He was actually quoted saying to a public gathering in Vaishali: “Militants whom we are eliminating from Kashmir will escape and take shelter in Bihar if RJD is elected to power in the state. We will not let this happen. I have been trusted by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.”

Even reactions were interesting. “I want to say that this is an insult to Bihar and Biharis,” Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Congress MP said. “There is no place for militants from Kashmir will take shelter in Bihar if RJD gets elected: Nityanand Rai, no matter who is in power in Bihar and who will come in power but militants from Kashmir will take shelter in Bihar if RJD gets elected. Nityanand Rai cannot take shelter in Bihar,” he said.

But do they know, Bihar is already in Kashmir.


Northern Army commander reviews security situation in Kashmir

Before being deployed in Kashmir, all the new fauji’s take a “psychology capsule”, media reports suggest. Introduced by Army’s 15 Corps Battle School (CBS) – a 150-acre facility in Khrew with multiple firing ranges, the 28-day training and orientation module sensitises them about the ground situation. It has been developed in conjunction with the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR). Soldier’s require only 14 days orientation if they have to be on LoC but if they are deployed in the hinterland, it requires 28-days. Media reports identified the capsule’s four tenets as “good faith and just conduct, minimum force, avoidance of collateral damage and impartiality and necessity of operations”. Though it trains almost 3000 soldiers a year, only 250 undergo the particular capsule.


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