Ever since the Taliban took over, Afghanistan sounds so closer and familiar now. Almost every day, every newspaper is carrying a lot of news about the desert country. The first was that Delhi finally met a top Taliban official. Next came al-Qaida message to the Taliban in which they mentioned Kashmir. Now the latest is that Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that they have a right to “speak” on Muslims across the world including Kashmir.
“We will raise our voice and say that Muslims are your own people, your own citizens and they are entitled to equal rights under your law,” Shaheen was quoted saying by the BBC. “As Muslims, it was the group’s right to speak out for Muslims living in Kashmir and any other country.” However, he said, it never means “conducting armed operations against any country”. When a Delhi media house contacted the spokesman he said his statement was “twisted”. He clarified to News18: “Like India is concerned about Afghan Hindus and Sikhs, thinking there is a problem; the Muslim world is too worried about Kashmir in the same context.” In a quick follow-up, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the new Afghan rulers have indicated that they would be reasonable in addressing New Delhi’s concerns. “Our engagement with them (the Taliban) has been limited. It’s not that we have (had) a robust conversation. But for whatever conversation we’ve had so far, they’ve been sort of. At least, the Taliban seem to indicate that they will be reasonable in the way they handle this,” Shringla said. In the whole debate, however, the main question that Omar Abdullah asked remains unanswered: “Is the Taliban a terror organisation or not? If it is not, will you move the United Nations to have it delisted as a terror organisation, as right now you are presiding over the UN Security Council?” India presided over UNSC for August.
As many as 467 employees, all residents of Ladakh, have opted not to serve the region they belong to, unlike 12000 others.
As part of the Public Outreach Programme-2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to fly 70 of his 78 ministers to Jammu and Kashmir in the next nine weeks, four ministers a week from September 10. In 2010, 36 ministers were flown in January in six days. In these area-specific tours, the government plans a visit to every tehsil. On their return, they will submit a report to the PMO.
The ministerial visits follow the visit of 13 Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSCs) comprising around 300 Members of Parliament (MPs) even as half a dozen more PSCs are scheduled to visit in coming days. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also spent a week in Ladakh and Kashmir.
JK Bank is raising its equity capital up to Rs 1000 crore, a mix of debt and equity. The RBI has approved the Government of Jammu and Kashmir plan of infusing Rs 500 crore capital and permitted it to acquire 16,76,72,702 fully paid-up equity shares on a preferential basis, up to 74.24 per cent of the post issue paid-up voting equity capital of the bank. The bank will raise Rs 150 crore by selling 7.5 crore equity shares to the employees under the ESPS.
Two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over an all-party meeting; Mehbooba Mufti has said there was no forward movement. “I think, both at the national and the international level, they wanted to show that they are trying to reach out, and showcase this photo where everybody was in the same frame — especially those two parties whom they have been calling all kinds of names,” she told The Indian Express. “I had said… at least if you are able to release some people/ prisoners that would help”. She has said she does not see any assembly election around as the centre would not like to “loosen its grip on the decision making powers”.
As part of the maiden outreach, the decision-makers of Kashmir’s security grid comprising IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, GOC15 Corps, Lt Gen D P Pandey, GoC, Victor Force, Maj Gen Rashim Bali had an interaction with the families of active militants. Media reports said members from more than 80 families were invited. Earlier in February, Maj Gen Bali had held a one-on-one interaction with youth in Pulwama. General Pandey told the families that the army would work with the youth who shun arms and would “address their concerns”. He was quoted saying to the family members: “I appeal to you to pull out your children quietly from terror groups. And let me tell you that even during operation, if some boy is ready to surrender, I assure you that the army will do whatever possible, even at the cost of suffering injury, to get your child back.”
Abdul Rehmani of Kabul is 17. Apparently well before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, he accompanied his brother, an army officer to Delhi for his medical treatment. His brother is undergoing treatment for a bullet injury at RR Hospital in Delhi. Last week, authorities stopped a Jammu bound bus to vaccinate the passengers. There, they found Rehmani. Asked if he is an Afghan, why is he in Lakhanpur. His answer was peculiar: “I felt bored in Delhi, wanted to go home, so came to Kashmir.” Shocked to listen that there was a road going from Kashmir to Kabul, cops have registered a case against the homesick Afghan teenager.
The strategically located road linking Leh to the Pangong Lake via Kela Pass (18,600 ft) is the world’s highest motorable road. It reduces 41 km travel length by 41-km of travel from the traditional Zingral to Tangtse road.
Undoubtedly, in a historic move, Kargil would export its world-class apricots to Dubai. Despite being the primary cash crop of the region, Ladakh apricot hardly descended down the heights because some planners in horticulture felt they would bring disease, coddling moth with them. That was in 1986. The region, however, would sundry the apricots and sell them at a better price. Apricot is a fragile fruit with the least shelf life. The first consignment that Kargil supplied to Dubai is only 150 kilograms but it is a great occasion. Naveen Gahlawat, whose Krishak Agritech is helping Kargil sell its apricot said his group has so far sold 20 metric tones of fresh apricots after procuring it from 200 growers for Rs 30 lakh.
Home Minister Amit Shah has said that Rs 50,000 crore is expected to be invested in Jammu and Kashmir after the unveiling of a new central scheme for industries. He said this while launching a web portal for the registration of industrial units under the New Central Sector Scheme. The scheme aims to give fresh thrust to the industry and services-led development of Jammu and Kashmir with emphasis on job creation, skill development and sustainable development by attracting new investment and nurturing the existing ones.
The entire process under the scheme from registration, processing to submitting claims will be through the portal and there will be no human interface. Commerce Ministry expected investment of Rs 12000 crore in 1200 units. The scheme is anticipated to generate direct employment opportunities for about 78,000 persons along with employment in the primary sector including agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, animal husbandry and dairy, inland fisheries, etc through backward linkage including gainful engagement of women at household in craft, handicraft and handlooms.
Anything and everything that happens in Jammu and Kashmir is of some help to somebody. Last week, when the non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits came out with the routine procession on Janmashtami, top BJP leaders got into self-praise, insisting it was happening for the first time in 32 years. This had come handy for people desperate to prove BJP’s Naya Kashmir is better than Sheikh Abdullah’s Naya Kashmir. But the fact is that this celebration happens every year.
Police have arrested a cop, Irfan Manhas, and his mother for allegedly murdering his wife, Shahnaz Akhter, a resident of Keri Gulatta. Knowing that he will be caught, the cop had managed the murder well. With injury marks on her body, Akhter was recovered dead barely 100 meters from her house on August 24. The couple had three daughters and a son but had some family dispute.