Briefing September 27 – October 3, 2020

The population with domicile certificates is about to reach 2 million

Paramilitary CRPF started moving in a group towards the stone-pelting crowd in Srinagar’s old city on June 5, 2019, minutes after the Eid prayers were over. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

MHA says the situation is improving: Militancy related incidents fell from 443 in July 2018-August 2019 period to 206 between August 2019 and August 2020; the stone-pelting incidents nosedived from 703 to 310; civilian deaths fell from 54 to 45 and the number of security men killed in Jammu and Kashmir were down from 125 to 49. MHA credits reading down of Article 370 for all this.


Lt Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurates Women’s T20 Cricket Tournament on September 19, 2020

Sports seem to be the top focus of Manoj Sinha, the Lt Governor Jammu and Kashmir. In a series of visits he met and interacted with a number of sportspersons in south and central Kashmir. He also inaugurated various sports events. Besides, he had a long meeting with the top cricketer Suresh Raina who is keen to help in training sports talent in Kashmir. Raina actually visited various places including Tangmarg where he met the cricketers.


Leaders from Leh seeking the implementation of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India in Ladakh for protecting their identity and demography met the Home Minister Amit Shah on September 26, 2020. On his assurance, they withdrew the decision of boycotting the October 16, LAHDC polls.

A year after breaking into street dance over the reading down of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Leh is in repenting mood, these days. Though happy that they are a Union Territory sans the legislature, all the political, religious and cultural parties in Leh have joined hands to seek protection to the distinct culture and demography under Sixth Schedule of the constitution of India. The group had BJP participation too. As the all-party political class started asserting over the demand, the BJP leader Ashok Kaul, termed it non-sense, thus adding fuel to the fire. They have decided against contesting for the now-disempowered LAHDC polls, scheduled for October if their demands are not met. This is a new crisis at a time when the Indian and Chinese troops are in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation over Ladakh borders, not far away from Leh. BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav’s two visits to the region did not help douse the anger. Finally, the Home Minister Amit Shah invited the leaders to Delhi and gave them assurances. Now they will be participating in October LAHDC polls.


Asif Muzaffar Shah militant killed in Chrar-i-Shareef gunfight on September 23,2020.

Kashmir is home to countless stories that are worth a film. One could be about Asif Muzaffar Shah, a resident of Samboora, a volatile village in Pampore. During September 2014 floods, Asif was part of a group of youth who rescued a group of soldiers who were caught in the floods, not far away from Samboora. In response, the army had appreciated the resident’s efforts to rescue the soldiers. The family said they offered to pay them but Asif refused. Asif joined militancy later though the exact details are not known. He was active for 40 days. Now 25 and a graduate, he was killed in an encounter with the army along with another militant. However, his body was not returned to his family for burial. Instead, it was driven 100 km north to Handawra for burial, citing the Covid protocol. The family was permitted to be part of the burial that police managed.


CRPF officer who died of COVID-19 being cremated in Srinagar on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

With more than 1050 people killed by the deadly Covid-19, September witnessed an upsurge in cases by around 152%. In comparison to August, the new positive cases reported in three weeks of September is more than double. Even the deaths increased.  September saw a literal durbar move of the pandemic with Jammu reporting more cases than Kashmir. The hospitals in Jammu are now reporting Oxygen outages. A recent report said some officials were placed under suspension because of their negligence in managing the oxygen supply, the absence of which killed two people.


Teachers speak with students at Kothi Bagh Higher secondary school ground in Srinagar as schools reopened on Monday, September 21, 2020 after six months of closure.KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Schools in Kashmir opened last week but there were no students as the managements want the students carry permission by their parents. Fear-stricken, no parent is willing to take a risk. However, for students of major classes, it was a good outing. There was not much to do but they could interact with their classmates and exchange their lockdown experiences. Schools did follow the SOPs but sustaining sanitizers and other things on a long term basis is a challenging task because of the costs involved. The private school network is already facing a crisis. In government schools, it would require a long exerciser to manage funds. The education sector is now heading towards the examinations and all the major classes will have to write the examination, instead of online.


Auqib Javeed

Kashmir Police Chief has personally apologised to Auqib Javed and assured it will not be repeated. But the fact remains that he was summoned, beaten, humiliated for writing about the cyberbullying only to become the latest victim. In 2018, Auqib was grilled by NIA for some interview and now he was summoned to the police station for writing about cyber-bullying, a process that has bulldozed dissent on social media, especially the twitter. The report appeared in a Delhi news portal and was a major investigation on the issue so far. Officially, the police said they had issues with a photograph and the headline, and on a phone call from the police station, the editor obliged the police.


Jammu and Kashmir administration has started renovating and repairing the religious spaces. Those on the list include historical Raghunath temple situated at Fateh Kadal on Jhelum banks. The renovation will be funded under the Smart City Scheme and would be implemented by the Tourism Department. The religious spaces which have been prioritised include the Raghunath Temple (Fateh Kadal), Church at Drugjan, Imambada at Hasanabad and Gurdwara near HMT Zainakot. Each one of these spaces will require almost half a crore rupees each. Besides, the traditional ghats on the Jhelum are being revived.


A Krav Maga expert with his group of young students. Photo: Gulf News

A young Kashmiri has brought the Israeli self-defence skill Krav Maga to Kashmir. It is being used by the Israeli security forces. Ashfaq Wani is Kashmir’s first certified Krav Maga instructor. Krav Maga, according to reports appearing in media, is derived a grand cocktail of diverse techniques collated from aikido, boxing, wrestling, judo, and karate. Ashfaq was trained in the skill at the Krav Maga Training India (KMTI) in Hyderabad. The skill is in vogue in Italy and Austria. Ashfaq also masters jeet kune do, kung fu, Taekwondo, muay thai, judo, sanshou and MMA. He actually is a black belt in kung fu and taekwondo and a certified jeet kune do instructor.


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