Briefing October 31 – November 6, 2021

JAMMU

Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha chairs the Administrative Council meeting at Srinagar on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

In a departure from the policy in vogue, the Jammu and Kashmir administration sacked eight employees including four JKAS officers and a Block Medical Officer (BMO). This is the first time that gazetted officers were sent home. Those sacked under Article 226 (2) of the Jammu Kashmir Civil Service Regulations include Ravinder Kumar Bhat, Mohammad Qasim Wani, Noor Alam, Mohammad Mujib-ur-Rehman Ghassi, Dr Fayaz Ahmad Banday, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Rakesh Kumar Pargal, and Parshotam Kumar. This rule permits the employer to prematurely retire an employee if he has completed 22 years of qualifying service or attained 48 years of age. This rule was earlier invoked by erstwhile elected governments also.

In Doda, the Jammu and Kashmir’s road accident capital, 12 persons were killed and 14 survived injured when an overloaded mini-bus JK17-4021 rolled down into the gorge at Sui Gawari on Batote-Kishtwar Highway.

DUBAI

Three Kashmiri students booked under sedition charges for ‘celebrating’ Pak’s win over India in T20 Match

Cricket has emerged as a new crisis for Kashmir as cheering for a team was linked to patriotism and eventually to the security of the state. For the first time in history, an employee was dismissed for her WhatsApp status over the match praising Pakistan after India’s defeat in the ICC’s ongoing T20 World Cup. Safiya Majeed was an Operation Theatre technician with the GMC Rajouri. In the dismissal order issued by GMC Principal, Dr Brij Mohan said her WhatsApp status ‘seems to be disloyalty towards nation’.

That is just a fraction of the crisis. In Srinagar, the video clips of students in GMC, Srinagar and SKIMS Srinagar, dancing over Pakistan’s win over India, went viral and quickly led to the registration of a case under UAPA. In the quick fallout, Jammu saw the rise of stars in their two medical school students who quickly jumped into the newsroom for their courage to counter these celebrations. They alleged that they were threatened for doing what they believed in.

But the more serious situation was reported from Agra where the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath ruled that celebrating Pakistan’s win in cricket would be seen as seditious. The announcement came after three Kashmir students – Showkat Ganai (Bandipore, Arshad Yusuf and Inayat Altaf (Budgam), enrolled with Agra’s RBS College of Engineering, were booked under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups) and 505 (creating or publishing content to promote enmity). Section 124A (sedition) by police at the Jagdishpura police station for celebrating India’s loss in the pitch. Later, police have added IPC Section 124-A also.

India captain Virat Kohli hugs Pakistan opener Rizwan after Pakistan beats India by 10 wickets in T20 World Cup at Sharjah on October 24, 2021. Pic: Twitter

The trio, two of them aged 20 and one 21, were also remanded in 14-day judicial custody by an Agra court, where a video shows they were being hackled while being transported after the presentation before the court. In Srinagar, the families of the trio want authorities to forgive the youngsters. All the three were studying with the government support under PMSSS.

The family of Showkat Ahmad Ganai, who is in the fourth year of his B Tech, said they are so poor that they can not afford to go to fight his case in UP. Arshad Yusuf was raised by his mother in abject poverty with the help of local charities. Their college has rusticated the trio and is now seeking action against the outsiders who had forced their way into the campus. UP is slated to go for polls soon.

The RBS Educational Group was started by Raja Balwant Singh, the King of Awagarh in Etah, in 1885 as a school, and has since grown. RBS runs seven colleges in UP, looked after by Singh’s family members.

The political class in Kashmir resorted to making noises over the incidents but continues to be on the margins of the governance. The police said they are investigating the case against the hostel wardens and unknown students and have made a couple of visits to gather more information.

CRPF got 524 kanals and 11 marlas of land for establishing battalion camping sites at Brah (Shangus), Jummo (Pahalgam), Subhanpahari (Bijbehara), Allowpora Sheikhpora (Keegam), Zawoora Baderhama (Shopian), Oukhoo (Kakapora), Kadlabal (Pampore) and Koil (Pulwama).

RAJOURI

A herd of sheep being grazed in the periphery

In a shocking development, the sheep wool rates have nosedived to the 1980s’ thus triggering a serious crisis for the Jammu and Kashmir herders. With almost 80 lakh kilograms of wool being produced in Jammu and Kashmir, the territory is India’s No 2 wool producer. Right now, the wool rates have fallen to Rs 30-35, a kilogram, a rate that was prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1980s. This has created a situation that the herders are offering the fleece to the shearers instead of money. Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir had an impressive system to manage these tensions. The government would procure wool at support price, retain it till the market would improve. Now that infrastructure ceases to exist. Interestingly, Jammu and Kashmir lacks the capacity to process even five per cent of its wool production. Officials said the crisis is the outcome of the swelled inventory with the weaving sector as a result of Covid19 and the market situation will improve soon.

SRINAGAR

Lt Governor attends commemoration of the 75th year of Air Induction of Indian Army In Kashmir. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

On this Infantry Day – October 27, the government planned an event at the Old Airport in Budgam in which the scene of the first war over Kashmir were enacted.  Lt Governor Manoj Sinha presided over the function. He said the perception that tribals raided Kashmir in October 1947 is wrong as it was the Pakistan army attempting to wrest Kashmir. He said the stories of the war must be told to the new generation. On the occasion, paratroopers demonstrated a skydiving display and a drama performance depicting the events of invasion, the resilience of Kashmiri people, the role of Maqbool Sherwani and Kashmiri women militia were showcased. However, the news was grabbed by the statement of Air Marshal Amit Dev who said in the years to come, the other Kashmir will be part of India fully. “We don’t have a plan as of now but it will happen one day as the people of Kashmir from other side of the border are not being treated fairly”, the Air Officer Commanding in Chief said.

KASHMIR

Representational image

For the last week, the federal investigator, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) continued raiding across Kashmir, mostly the residences of outlawed Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) workers. The focus, according to details being revealed in the media, is to investigate the financial issues. At various places, the NIA questioned various people as well. All these raids were carried out in a case registered on February 5, 2021. These raids were the follow up to 61 raids carried out by NIA in August.

SRINAGAR

A group of non-local workers waiting for vehicles to reach home. The intense cold and a series of killings were key to their early return on October 18, 2021. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has extended the benefits of SRO-43 to the families whose members are killed in Jammu and Kashmir. It was done in the cases of the persons who were recently gunned down in targeted attacks. The SRO-43 is a provision that gives the next of the kin a right to get a job, usually a class-IV job, in case the police certify that they were innocents. The other option is to get a one-time relief of around Rs 5 lakh. The provision was started by the then Divisional Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah after the Mashali Mohalla massacre during the early 1990s. Most probably, the SRO 43 was invoked by the administration to offer financial help to the families of the workers who were recently killed in a series of attacks.

SRINAGAR

Jammu and Kashmir Cements Ltd Factory at Khrew Pampore. KL Image

The crisis-ridden Jammu and Kashmir Cements is ceasing to exist. The Administrative Council (AC) – the defector cabinet of the Lt Governor’s administration, has approved the proposal of the Industries and Commerce Department regarding the complete sale of the fully-owned PSU through ascending e-auction from qualified bidders. The decision was taken in view of a sharp decline in production and revenues from 2012-13 of the PSU in red. Winding up of the loss-incurring PSU will open up 240 kanals of land in Khrew, which can be utilized as an industrial estate by J&K SIDCO.

ZAINPORA

Shahid Aijaz from Anantnag was killed in Zainapora on Sunday, October 24,2021. Pic: Facebook

With the debate shifting from civilians’ killings to the cricket craze, the murder of a young labourer, Shahid Aijaz has seemingly been consigned to history. On October 24, Shahid, 18, was coming home along with two of his relatives, after spending five days apple picking in Babpora orchards. The police claimed he was caught in the crossfire during which a weapon snatching incident took place, a claim rejected by the family. He lived in the Nowpora area of Arwani. Interestingly, reports said, Shahid’s younger relatives – one aged 13, another 15, who accompanied him, have allegedly been put in custody since his killing, the relatives said.

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