Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was conferred the Padma Bhushan award and political heavens started falling within minutes. While the party’s first family kept calm, the divisions started reacting. Kapil Sibal said Congress does not need Azad’s services but the nation recognises his contributions to public life. Sibal and Azad belong to the G-23 group that sought internal reforms in the grand old party. It was actually Jairam Ramesh who indirectly lit the fire on social media. Sharing a tweet about former Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee declining the Padma honour, he commented on Twitter: “Right thing to do. He wants to be Azad not Ghulam.”
In the subsequent days, the honour triggered a lot of commentary with certain sections insisting that Azad will ‘do an Amarinder’ on the Congress party, in a phased manner. There were reports that Azad will soon float a new political party in Jammu and Kashmir, where there are fewer voters but more political parties now. These reports came within days after the pro-Azad section in Congress left most of the party positions in Jammu and Kashmir. Azad was already out of the party’s central disciplinary committee. Padma honour is being seen as just the beginning of a build-up in BJP’s battle against NC and PDP, the reports said. However, most of the G-23 leaders celebrated the award to Azad. There are even claims that he will be the next Vice President of India.
Personally, Azad remained calm and avoided reacting to the reports. There were many people who felt hurt by attacks on Azad. “If one of our colleagues is honoured, he should be greeted with warm appreciation rather than snide remarks,” Dr Karan Singh remarked. He asserted that he was “distressed at the unseemly controversy over the well-deserved Padma award to his good friend.” In the Narendra Modi era, Azad is the second Congress politician who got the Padam award. Earlier in 2008, Pranab Mukherjee was conferred Padma Vibhushan. He received the Bharat Ratna award in 2019. Azad, however, reacted to the “mischievous propaganda” that he had changed his Twitter profile. “Nothing has been removed or added to my Twitter profile,” he said, “The profile is as it was earlier.”
Four employees survived with injuries while fighting a fire in the highly inflammable Oxygen Plant of the JLNM Hospital. It caught fire while certain portions were being welded by a third party.
In a one-of-its-kind event, the Army allowed families of two militants – who are reported across the border, to unfurl the tricolour in Doda. The fugitives were identified as Nazir Gujjar alias Abu Manazil and Saleem Malik. While Saleem fled to PoK in 2000, Nazir followed him in 2003. The flag was unfurled by Nazir’s father Lal Din Gujjar and Saleem’s brothers Irfan Malik and Yaseen Malik at an Army camp. Company Commander of 10 Rashtriya Rifles presided over the function.
20 couples from various districts tied the knot in a simple mass marriage function organised by an NGO, Helping Hand Foundation, at Babdamb Khanyar (Srinagar).
After a heightened security set-up, Republic Day functions across Kashmir remained peaceful and incident-free. Mobile internet remained suspended and markets closed though there was no call for a strike. The major event took place in Srinagar where an adviser to the Lt Governor took the salute at the ceremonial march past and unfurled the tricolour in Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium near Sonawar. The functions were reported from all districts, tehsils, sub-districts and blocks. An official spokesman said the district official events took place in college premises in Anantnag, local stadiums in Bandipore, and Budgam, Qamria Grounds in Ganderbal and District Police Line (DPL) premises in Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Sopore, Shopian, Pulwama, and Awantipore. In all these functions in the periphery, the local heads of the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRI) – DDCs in districts and BDCs in blocks, presided over the functions and unfurled the tricolour.
After a hiatus of two years, a batch of 43 pilgrims left to perform Umrah last week. Expectations suggest that 100 pilgrims will be flying for special pilgrimage on a weekly basis
Controversy erupted at the Republic Day celebration in Ladakh where LAHDC Councillors boycotted the official event at Polo Ground after they were allegedly denied entry into the venue through the VIP gate. Though ADGP Ladakh, SS Khandare ordered attachment of a Sub Inspector Teswang Paljor and Constable Abdul Gani, who were on duty at the said gate, the political class is seeking a thorough probe and a strict action. The boycotting councillors saw the denial of their entry as a deliberate one to convey “our dis-empowerment”. They alleged they were kept standing for 15 minutes and denied entry following which they returned. “It is a bureaucratic rule and seems like a colonial era,” one councillor alleged.
While searching a vehicle, police said they seized 2-kg brown sugar worth over Rs 15 crore in Handwara and arrested two persons – Mohammad Yousuf Bhat (Rohama) and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat (Badan) Rafiabad.
After two mysterious deaths of two girls studying in Bangladesh medical schools, Kashmiri students somehow saved another student – a resident of Srinagar, second before he would choke to death. He had hung himself to the ceiling fan of his room after the management of the International Medical College Dhaka suspended him for six months. During an inter-semester football match, a Kashmiri student had an argument with a Bengali student. The issue was managed on the pitch itself. More than three weeks after the incident, the college issued a notice on January 26 suspending the Kashmiri strident for six months. Though the Kashmiri student community tried to make a reason for the decision with the college management, it did not help. The same evening, the boy was saved moments before he would die. He was rushed to the hospital where he made another attempt by using the oxygen pipe. This triggered a serious protest by the students forcing the college management to withdraw the decision. The students, however, insisted that they are facing a lot of problems more within campus than outside.
Of the 939 police medals announced across India; JK Police bagged a lion’s share of 115 for gallantry. Another 19 personnel were awarded for their gallant action in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a first, a coach Faisal Ali Dar was given Padma Shri for spearheading a campaign for martial arts in his area. Son of a technician working in the state health department, Dar, 33, would train kids at a local park. Dar had started as a wushu player in 2003 and was later trained by Kuldeep Handoo in Jammu. Though he did not get the best from the competitions, in 2008 he started an academy to train the new generation. For running his Ali Sports Academy he would work in apple orchards and fit TV dishes in the locality. He would charge Rs 50 from every kid from a month. Now he runs 18 sports – including wushu, taekwondo, rugby, canoeing, kayaking, volleyball, table tennis, badminton and football – by involving a chain of coaches in Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian, Budgam, Baramulla, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Srinagar, to train around 13,000 kids.
Abdul Razak, the former PDP member, who represented Shopian in Jammu and Kashmir’s erstwhile assembly died after a prolonged illness. He was 92. He had won the 2008 assembly elections. A resident of Zawoora, Razak is survived by his wife, six daughters – all settled, and a son. This is the second former lawmaker that PDP lost. A week earlier, PDP lost Yashpal Sharma, 76, in a cardiac arrest. He was a member of the Political Affairs Committee of the party.
Adil Teli’s journey as the fastest man to cycle from Kashmir to Kanyakumari was broadcast on History TV18’s programme, OMG Yeh Mera India. Teli last year made the Guinness World Record as the fastest man to cycle from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in a record time beating the previous record by about six hours. Teli is from the Budgam. He covered K2K in eight days, one hour and 37 minutes. He is the second Kashmiri to be featured by the programme. In 2019, the show featured football trick shot artist, Huzaif Shah.
On BJP complaint, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have arrested a father-son. They had shared a video from social media that BJP members felt insulting and approached the police. The identity of the father-son duo hailing from Chingas was not immediately known.
Jammu and Kashmir administration is going ahead with a new plan that will hand over the administration of premier hospitals associated with the Government Medical Colleges (GMCs) to lower and middle rung officials. There has been resistance from the GMCs in Jammu and Srinagar but the babus have seemingly decided to go ahead with the radical disruption. Doctors who have been teaching for years said the intervention will ruin the institutions and push the professional decision-makers aside and get the GMCs derecognised. They see it as a violation of the National Medical Commission’s guidelines. They see it happening for the first time in India.
The intervention envisages routing all the administrative files and flow of information through a new pyramid where the Administrative Officers to Personal Officers to Administrators are at the top. “It is a clear infringement on the rights and jurisdiction of the executive heads of the medical institutions ensured by the National Medical Commission and University Grants Commission,” the MFA said in a statement. They insist the plan is against patient care as the nuances of healthcare and medical education can better be understood by an administrative head from a medical background and not from administrative service.