News Notes


ZANSKAR conversions

Tension mounted in Zanskar region of Kargil district, when more than two dozen Buddhists converted to Islam last week amid sharp criticism from Buddhist Associations of Leh and Zanskar.

Zanskar, situated 464 km from the capital Srinagar, is a Buddhist majority area where only one thousand odd Muslims live among a population of 25,000.

In Padum area of Zanskar, 26 Buddhists from six families embraced Islam in Jamia Masjid amidst pro-Islam slogans in presence of Molvi Fayaz Ahmed and Syed Mohammad Shah. But the conversion didn’t go well with the Zanaskar Buddhist Association (ZBA) which threatened of “dire consequences and has warned of violence”.

A letter was sent by the organization to Molvi Fayaz Ahmed and Syed Mohammad Shah asking them not to accept these Buddhists into their fold. But despite that these Buddhist went ahead and accepted Islam.

Janph Wongdous, General Secretary of ZBA said, “We feel something fishy. How it is possible that six families at a time will shun their age old religion and that too in Buddhist majority populated area of Zanskar? Despite asking Muslims not to take them into their fold, they went ahead and there is every possibility that communal violence may hit the area.”

One of the converts, Stenzing Chozng told a local news agency that ZBA was making an issue out of nothing as the Buddhist Association “knew it well that we have embraced Islam voluntarily and nobody has forced us.”

Expressing concern over reported intimidation of new Muslims in the Zanskar area of Ladakh, the Hurriyat (G) had demanded immediate security measures for the converts.

The separatist alliance said that two of the neo-Muslims had been abducted, and called upon the government to recover them safe and sound.

Pranab Da’s VISIT

On his maiden visit as the 13th president of the Indian Union Pranab Mukherjee called upon Kashmir youth to leave

behind dark days of violence and conflict. He stressed in his speech, at the 18th annual convocation of Kashmir University, “No problems are ever resolved by violence. It only aggravates the pain and the hurt on every side.” He told the students of Kashmir University that India offers enormous opportunities for the youth of Kashmir.

There is a need for the Kashmir youth to adopt “greater tolerance” and contribute to the nation building. He admitted there are grievances and important issues which require “deft handling and speedy resolution”.

He called for nurturing the healing process with love, compassion and patience.

“Let a new dawn emerge. It is the time to move ahead with faith in collective future and confidence in the largest democracy in the world.” The president suggested J&K can set an example for the rest of India by showing “how the entire region can be transformed into a zone of peace, stability and prosperity.” The convocation that helped the University manage its backlog of awarding degrees since 2009 was an impressive function. Since there were 214 gold medalists, 234 PhDs, 399 M Phils and 21240 PGs, handing over degrees and medals to every single candidate was impossible. The President gave medals to a select few. Now governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will spend a whole day in the University in the middle of October to handover the degrees to every single candidate. But the convocation brought Kashmir to standstill as the separatist sponsored strike paralyzed Kashmir, especially Srinagar. Businesses, public transport, educational institutions, offices and banks remained closed. Authorities had converted the Naseem Bagh campus of the University into a literal fortress.

Prosecuting Big BABU’s

The State Vigilance Organization this week submitted challan in ‘Gulmarg Roshni Scam’ before Special Judge Anti-corruption, Mohan Lal. SSP in SVO, Ali Mohammad Bhat, in his capacity as SHO of Police Station VOK submitted the challan along with an Inquiry Officer. Among the accused, the then DC of Baramulla and now DC Srinagar, Baseer Khan, was not included in challan as sanction to his prosecution has not been received yet from Department of Personnel and Training of Government of India. Remaining 15 accused persons, who include nine beneficiary hoteliers and six serving and retired officials, were all present in the court when the challan in case FIR No: 8 0f 2009 (VOK) was produced. Awaiting sanction to prosecution from Government of India in favour of IAS officer, Baseer Khan, the SVO filed its challan against five serving and retired public servants, including Mehboob Iqbal, and nine hoteliers, including the most prominent Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, Mushtaq Ahmad Burza, Manzoor Ahmad Burza and Mussadiq Shah. The double bench comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar had while hearing a Public Interest Litigation directed VOK to file the challan within 15 days against the then Divisional Commissioner Mehboob Iqbal and apply for sanction with Government of India against then deputy commissioner Baramulla and present DC Srinagar Baseer Ahmed Khan for prosecution. These significant orders have been passed in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by two social activists viz., Sheikh Mohammed Shafi, son of Sheikh Abdul Rehman ex-MP and Prof S K Bhalla seeking prosecution of senior IAS/IFS/KAS officers against whom the State Vigilance Organization has sought sanction from the Government of Jammu & Kashmir and Government of India. On the other hand the General Administrative Department has also completed the process of prosecution sanctions against the accused in Rural Development Department Kashmir’s infamous Panchayat Ghar Electrification Scam of 2005. Sanction to prosecute a large number of then RDD officials would be communicated to SVO in a couple of days. On several complaints, Vigilance Organisation Kashmir (VOK) had conducted a preliminary verification and subsequently filed case FIR No: 18 0f 2005 and FIR No:19 of 2005 against a number of the public servants, including several BDOs and Treasury officials.

Poisoned DIET

While purchasing our fruits from the market we may never have noticed it but the fruits such as mangoes, papayas and bananas, are doing more harm than good to our health as half of these are ripened by a carcinogenic and banned toxic chemical. People in Kashmir consume more than 83,000 metric tons of imported tropical fruits. The fruit dealers procure tropical fruits, which are not produced in valley, in a raw form only to ripen them in the valley using calcium carbide. The chemical, used in gas welding of metal alloys, has been banned across the country for artificial ripening. The process of fruit ripening is chiefly regulated by a gaseous hormone ethylene (C2H2) produced and released by rapidly-growing plant tissues naturally. And the use of ethylene by farmers or dealers in artificial ripening of fruit is a universally accepted and standard phenomenon. But at the same time calcium carbide, which is used in artificial ripening, when dissolved in water produces acetylene gas which is analogous to ethylene in ripening process but at the same time carcinogenic in nature. This gas may affect the nervous system of human body and can cause various ailments. According to doctors free radicals from carbide play a major role in the ageing process as well as in the onset of cancer, heart-disease, stroke, arthritis and allergies. After increasing complaints by locals as well as health experts, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has started raiding various fruit markets and go-downs for the past some months but that has failed to stop the practice.


The Union government has refused to release funds for Rs 2290 crore Shahpur Kandi hydro-power project on river Ravi to Punjab Government as the J&K state has denied much needed 1525 acre land for this 206 MW project on the plea that the neighbouring State terminated 1979 agreement signed with J&K state for Ranjit Sagar hydel project and never provided agreed share of electricity and irrigation supply besides employment to the State. The refusal of the first installment of Rs 530 crore amount by the Union Ministry of Water Resources to Punjab government has caused major jolt to the neighbouring state as it had already started the process of tenders after preparing detailed project report and seeking approval. The denial of land by J&K state has sealed the fate of this prestigious power project of Punjab State. The Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control for J&K, Taj Mohi-ud-Din when contacted said that Punjab denied the 20 % agreed power share to J&K from Ranjit Sagar Power Project over river Ravi near Basohli in last 30 years besides 1400 cusecs of irrigation water. As per agreement, they had to provide 12% employment to J&K people and construct Shahpur Kandi barrage for providing irrigation water to State.


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