Kashmir is shivering under the lowest temperatures in last 16 years. But that has not dispirited the Vale. As parts of the Dal lake in Srinagar froze, there were a boating competition and many athletes including females participated.
The competition organized by the J&K Kayaking and Canoeing Association included Dragon Boating and Sea Kayaking. Some of the athletes who participated in this camp would attend the forthcoming National Dragon Boating and Sea Kayaking Championship which is scheduled to be held in Mumbai in the last week of January. For many watchers, it was interesting to see that they broke the frost on the lake surface and paved way for boat peddling in the water-body.
Again, Kashmiri students studying in Madhya Pradesh (MP) are accusing the state apparatus of harassment. They are increasingly being asked to get credentials verified by the J&K police. Though the visits by policemen have increased on the eve of Republic Day but the students allege it is just a routine. In a number of cases, the students have rang up their families back home informing them about the police raiding their residences, seeking character certificates and taking away their I-cards for verification. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had written detailed letters to his counterparts against the harassment. However, police says when they get reports of harassment they do intervene. In one case, IGP Kashmir’s intervention led to the release of Qaiser Ahmed Dar in Bhopal after nine days.
Mass media is constantly fighting to ward off the pressures that the situation mounts on it for one or the other reasons. But now there is something that seems to be out of control. Now the dogs are chasing the newspaper hawkers during wee hours and the insiders in the trade say it is alarming. While the canines chasing hawkers is routine, there have been instances in which they were actually attacked by the dogs. In certain areas, this has delayed the distribution of newspapers in the morning. Srinagar is a proud owner of 100 thousands dogs and all the efforts to control the canine population that the government initiated, failed. A newspaper quoted a hawker saying that he continued with the job even when he was scared of protestors and security men but the dog chase is making him a frightened pigeon during the wee hours. Hawkers start working soon after the midnight.
The snow did not block the Srinagar-Jammu highway only; even the Jhelum Valley Road was blocked. There was no trans-LoC bus movement this week. Authorities cancelled the service because of snowfall that blocked the roads within the valley. But the trade continued without any interruption because the traders had enough of stocks to send and receive from either side. This is for the second time since the trans-LoC bus started that it was cancelled. Last time it was immediately after the 2005 earthquake when the bus remained cancelled for a long time because of the landslides.
The cricket team that won the army conducted cricket tourney the Kashmir Premier League (KPL) last summer is now in Kolkotta. It has already trounced one of the host teams. KPL was participated by192 teams from across J&K and Srinagar Sherdils were the winners. This year the team was taken to Kolkata where it played in the Eden Gardens. They are playing many matches including the ones against CC&FC and a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
For an image makeover, police started cleaning snow from the roads. It made good pictures. But they apparently forgot to clear the rooftops of its Commando School at Lethpora that collapsed. One policeman Vikramjeet Singh, a resident of Samba, was killed and many others were injured when it caved in, into the dining hall. Out of 27 injured, 15 had major fractures and were shifted to various hospitals in Srinagar. Enquiry has been ordered into the incident that IG Kashmir will preside over. Mohammad Ayub Wani, a resident of Padshahibagh was also killed when he was clearing snow from the roof of his house.