Briefing September 10-16, 2023

   

DELHI

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Former speaker Akbar Lone at his official residence in Srinagar.

In science, teachers have been telling students for decades now that ‘matter is indestructible’. The change is that it applies to political science too. Kashmir’s foot-in-mouth politician, Akbar Lone faced the music for his utterances in the assembly when he shouted pro-Pakistan slogans. A key petitioner against the abrogation of Article 370, Roots in Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit group approached the Constitution Bench in an intervention application with the newspaper clippings of the 2018 sloganeering creating a situation that his own counsel, Kapil Sibal said he may represent him unless he submits an affidavit as directed by the 5-judge bench. The affidavit was submitted finally even though the petitioners and the top government lawyers had reservations. The bench has already heard the two sides on Lone’s issue and also on the main petitions. The verdict is reserved.

Srinagar recorded 9.2 mm of rain in August 2023, which is 86 per cent deficit. The earlier record was 8.8 mm in August 1998 and 2.7 mm in August 1987.

SOPORE

Manoj Sinha

Speaking to a gathering at Dak Bungalow Sopore, a town that was ravaged while declining from the ‘London of Kashmir’ to the ‘capital of militancy’ Lt Governor Manoj Sinha urged the people to stop giving any kind of shelter to “terror supporters” and leave the rest to police and other security forces. “The top priority of our administration is to break the backbone of terrorism, and I have only one appeal to the people – don’t safeguard such elements and do not provide shelter to them,” he said. He said several generations have lived in fear, and the reason behind it was that a few “conflict profiteers” had hijacked the aspirations of the entire Jammu and Kashmir. “For our and our families’ interests, we have taken a pledge to end that system here, and I want your support to completely uproot this system.” LG added: “Those who misled you and who only created stone-pelters here and gave Sopore names like Kandhar, you must decide for yourselves whether such people have benefited you or done injustice to you and the future of your children.” He admitted that despite having the largest fruit mandi in Asia, Sopore has been the victim of neglect for the last four decades. He promised a change. “If we want to make our city beautiful and restore Sopore to its 1970s glory, we have to change.”

BSE’s Registered Investors Summary shows that in September 2023, Jammu and Kashmir had 614109 stock market investors.

KUPWARA

In yet another racket, the Jammu and Kashmir police arrested five individuals involved in a fraudulent job racket. Acting on a complaint, they apprehended Nazir Ahmad Khan, who had allegedly deceived a youth out of Rs 70,000 with promises of a job in the Military Engineering Service (MES). With support from Military Intelligence (MI), Kralpora Police Station initiated legal proceedings and seized counterfeit appointment letters as evidence during their investigation. The accused disclosed the identities of four accomplices, and further arrests are expected as the case unfolds. The scam had defrauded eight jobless youths from North Kashmir, accumulating an illicit sum of Rs 25 lakhs.

In Jammu and Kashmir, 1545 companies were registered in 2018-19, 494 in 2019-20, 820 in 2020-21, 1056 companies in 2021-22, and 1015 in 2022-23.

ANANTNAG

Reyaz Ahmed Sheikh, a teacher at a state-run middle school in Anantnag was one of the 75 teachers who bagged the National Teachers’ Award 2023. Sheikh has played a pivotal role in promoting girls education in the area where parents were initially reluctant to send their daughters to school. When Sheikh joined the school in 2009, there were only 37 students including a few girls. Undeterred, he met parents and created innovative teaching materials to make education engaging. His efforts paid off as enrolment has now jumped to 100 with 70 percent of them girls. Sheikh ensured orphan students’ needs were met so they could study. Sheikh’s school is a model school now. To receive the award, he took his mother to Delhi. In Srinagar, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha gave awards to 11 exceptional teachers. Five teachers were awarded silver medals and a cash prize of Rs 50,000 each for their outstanding services in the field of education while six others, including a specially-abled teacher, were given certificates of appreciation.

Now Udhampur Railway Station is `Martyr Captain Tushar Mahajan Railway Station’.

KARGIL

Dr Farooq Abdullah was re-elected the president of the National Conference by the party delegates on December 5, 2022: KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) is ecstatic that its “marathon” legal battle gave it what it “deserved and wanted” and eventually forced the Ladakh administration to reschedule polls. The oldest party of the region was denied its electoral symbol – it has been used since 1939, for the LAHDC Kargil polls. It went to the High Court and won. The government appealed against the order in the Division Bench and the party won. Finally, the government went to the Supreme Court where a division bench upheld the earlier orders and imposed a cost on the Ladakh administration. Now the polls for the 30-member (26 of them elected) Council will take place on October 4. It remains to be seen if the NC-Congress alliance retains the majority (16).

A group of Rotary Club of India surgeons conducted 546 surgeries (ENT, ophthalmic, orthopaedics, gynaecology and general surgeries) in Shopian in four days. They will camp in the area till September 13.

NYOMA

Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is flying to Nyoma in eastern Ladakh on September 12, to lay the foundation stone for an IAF station. To be built by BRO, the project would cost Rs 214 crore and will be operational within two years. On the banks of the Indus and at an elevation of 13700 ft, Nyoma, the last significant town almost 180 km from Leh, borders Chinese Chinese-controlled territory of Tibet. The spot already has basic facilities for the landing of helicopters and special operation planes like C-130J. Now, a 2.7 km runway will come up over 1235 acres.

A court in Kupwara awarded a 20-year rigorous imprisonment to two narcotics smugglers – Syed Ishfaq Shah and Khursheed Ahmad Gojar, in a case involving recovery of 15 kgs of brown sugar in Karnah.

JAMMU

Pandurang Kondbarao Pole

The Chief Electoral Officer has reserved 33 per cent of wards in the 77 municipal bodies – 40 in Kashmir and 37 in Jammu – for women. Apart from two municipal corporations in Srinagar and Jammu, there are 19 Councils (one each at district headquarters except Jammu and Srinagar and one at Sopore). In SMC, 25 wards stand reserved for and in JMC 25 wards for women, 10 for Schedule Castes and two for Scheduled Tribes. No Wards is reserved for SCs or SC women in any of the 40 ULBs in the Kashmir division. Seventy-seven ULBs in Jammu and Kashmir have 1119 wards. Of them, 358 (almost 33 per cent) have been reserved for women.

Power secretary H Rajesh Prasad power tariffs in Jammu and Kashmir are lowest but revenue loss is 55 per cent, the highest in India.

POONCH

LG Manoj Sinha handing over the appointment letter to a widow, whose husband was killed in a fake encounter in Amshipora Shopian in July 2020. Pic: DIPR

LG Manoj Sinha handed over appointment letters for government jobs to family members of three civilians killed in a fake encounter by an army captain in Shopian in 2020. The jobs, given on compassionate grounds, were given to Shareen Akhter, widow of Mohammad Abrar (a resident of Tarkassi, Kotranka); Mohammad Arif, brother of Mohammad Imtiyaz, (Dhar Sakri, Kotranka), and Farayaz Ahmed, brother of Mohammad Abrar of Kotranka. The labourer trio were killed at Amshipura, Shopian on July 18, 2020, by Captain Bhoopendra Singh, who labelled them as “terrorists”. General court-martial proceedings, completed earlier this year, recommended life imprisonment for Singh, a decision subject to confirmation by higher army authorities.

The Government of India has created 94 faculty posts and 244 non-faculty posts for the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Kashmir.

KUPWARA

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir

Noor Ahmad Shah V/S Union of India and Ors, Justice Sanjay Dhar of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has ruled that a person who has fought against militancy is not eligible for freedom fighter’s pension under the SwatantrataSainik Samman Pension Scheme (SSSP scheme). The petitioner had sought a court direction to the government authorities to include him in the category of freedom fighters because he has rendered exemplary services for the government while fighting against various militants in his individual capacity. He pointed out that he was also conferred an appreciation certificate by the Army. Responded refused to oblige him for he lacked the eligibility criteria and the court upheld the respondents.

DODA

Gh-Nabi-Azad--Indira,-Sanjay,-Rajiv-Congress by MK Creations
Ghulam Nabi Azad

The inclusion of Ghulam Nabi Azad in the 8-member committee set up to study the idea of one nation, one election has given the former Chief Minister’s erstwhile colleagues a new axe to grind. His erstwhile disciple and now Congress chief in Jammu and Kashmir, Vikar Rasool has termed it as an affirmation that he is a “pure BJP and RSS man”. Congressmen are asking how the top opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge fails to make it to the panel, unlike Azad. PDP has also talked almost in the same language. While NC has refused to discuss the nomination, the BJP has cautiously reacted positively. Azad has left Congress and runs his own political party.

IMAM SAHIB

A local worker packing apples.
A local worker packing apples. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

In an interesting incident of its kind, the Jammu and Kashmir Police filed an FIR against unknown miscreants who damaged apple orchards belonging to two brothers in Wacuhallan village of Imam Sahib. During the intervening night of September 2 and 3, Gulzar Ahmad Mir and his brother alleged some unknown persons attacked their 8-kanals orchard and thrashed the trees thus destroying almost 350 boxes of apples. It is a rare incident of its kind as people usually do not damage the crop. Earlier in the seventies when apples were not very abundant, growers would guard their orchards during the night as thefts were not uncommon. Police said they are investigating the case.

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