Two TV reporters – Muhammad Arif Urfi (Geo TV in Muzafaraabad) and Pawan Bali (CNN-IBN Jammu) joined hands to create a 12-minute documentary that tells the stories of people divided by the line. Titled ‘A Journey Through River Vitasta’ (and not Jhelum), the film sponsored by British NGO Conciliation Resources has an Islamabad resident Altaf Mir, now in Muzafarabad, saying he sits on the river banks because it gets him the fragrance from home. It also has the story of Zarina, who left Muzaffarabad and crossed over to J&K leaving her then one-and-a-half-year old son. The film has 109-year old Nawab Din who comes to meet his daughter in Rajouri by trans-LoC bus after four decades of separation.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are assured treasures that are usually stuffed with around two million bucks when full. With around 500 ATMs operational across J&K, taking away this easy money must be dream for many. Last month, somebody barged into an ATM kiosk in Barzalla with a gas welding machine but fled as he failed to open the chest. Earlier, somebody with better grey matter went to an ATM, fed the password and fled with Rs 14 lakh. Police interrogated almost everybody but there are no clues so far. Last week, somebody came with a much innovative idea. He came with a truck and took the ATM home. Police did register a case and investigations are presumed to be in progress but the machine is missing. This must be the first such case in Kashmir, though a similar attempt was made in Pampore in 2005 as well.
Ferocious Chenab is a huge divider of the Doda- Kishtwar- Ramban region. Though the Baglihar project has concerted the gorge into a dam, it has not helped in the creation of infrastructure that would help the people inhibiting two shores of the river to cross it as frequently as they would like. Bridges, cable stayed culverts apart, there are cradle boxes – wooden boxes using ropes to shuttle between two shores, connecting various areas. There are only four such boxes operational – two each owned by state government and private investors, at Trungal, Assar, Marsoo and Nasib Nagar. Three more have been proposed at Makri, Mandol and Malwas. Reports suggest that more than 100 thousand residents still require these boxes costing around four million bucks each.
Home Minister P Chidambaram summoned the seven cell phone operators and asked them to provide real time access to the intelligence agencies to the VOIP and Facebook communications so that the facilities are not misused by anti-nationals. A few days later he revealed to reporters the consensus within central government that if J&K withdraws the Disturbed Areas Act, the AFSPA will automatically go. Chidambaram believes Omar needs to take the issue to Unified Headquarters and create an area-specific consensus on lifting DAA.
A make shift arrack that houses the record room of DD was destroyed in a devastating mysterious fire last week. At least one official was reportedly injured. While the police might be routinely looking into the cause of fire, reports that the fire erupted within days after DD authorities received around 17 RTI applications seeking details of certain capital intensive in-house programmes. The records were shifted to the barrack in recent past and allegations talk of a plot and a purpose. CBI is already investigating a number of cases of Srinagar’s own ‘Mundi’ house.
While working on film ‘Rockstar’, Music maestro AR Rahman and director Imtiaz Ali were treated to some sumptuous Kashmiri cuisine recently. One of the line producers from the valley is a relative of Imtiaz who invited them to his home and served ‘authentic Wazwan’ cooked by the lady of the house. As the shooting was over, the entire team including Ranbir and Nargis had a full course.