News Notes



It was done to prevent the people from watching an anti-Islam film, but when the state home department invoked the powers under section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 for blocking social networking sites like Facebook and video sharing website YouTube, all the opposition parties united sensing the pulse of people against the governments gag and infringement on the freedom of speech.

The immediate response from the service providers was to block all the cell phones and jam internet services on September 22 when Kashmir observed a complete shutdown against the blasphemous film. The services were restored later that evening.

The issue was raised by opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Legislative Assembly expressing concern over blocking of social networking sites on mobile internet connections across the state saying it could agitate Kashmiri youths.At the outset of the Question hour, Mehbooba Mufti raised the issue of blocking the two sites on mobile internet connections saying besides blocking access to the two sites, the servers have been slowed down.

While the two sites cannot be accessed from mobile internet connections, the same are available on broadband connections through fixed telephone lines and GPRS connections.

Kashmir is presently surviving with lowest internet speed as authorities blocked certain social networking websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The restrictions have started playing havoc with speed as certain operators have deliberately reduced the speed of the bandwidth to prevent people from downloading and uploading huge files.

The civil society and separatists have ridiculed the state government over curbs on Facebook and YouTube and the intended regulation of the internet traffic in Jammu and Kashmir. Veteran separatist, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said it was done “to prevent Kashmiris from reaching out to the international community” and to “further limit the freedom within the state.”

Tunnelling To LADAKH

For the better connectivity of Ladakh region which remains cut off for six months during winters, the foundation stone for the boring tunnel at Z-Morh was laid down last week by Union Road Transport and Highways minister, C P Joshi in presences of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi.

Terming the foundation laying of Z-Morh tunnel as a first step towards opening Ladakh area to traffic throughout the year, Rahul said the foundation for Zojila tunnel to be laid next year would be yet another important milestone to achieve the goal.

The union government has approved the state government’s proposal of boring tunnels at Z-Morh and Zojila Pass to make Ladakh area accessible throughout the year through an upgraded road communication and last week’s foundation laying of Z-Morh tunnel was a part of the proposal.

The tunnel between Sonamarg and Gagangir known as Z-Morh tunnel will be 2-lane, 6.5 Kilometer long with parallel escape tunnel. The carriageway width for tunnel will be 8 mtrs and that of escape tunnel 3.5 mtrs. The project is expected to be completed in August 2018. The tunnel will be built at a cost of Rs 2,717 crore out of this Rs 36.48 crore will be spent on land acquisition, rehabilitation, resettlement and pre-construction. The foundation stone was laid for the 6.5 km long tunnel to be constructed on built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

At present, Ladakh remains cut off from the mainland for six to seven months during winter due to heavy snow fall on Jammu-Srinagar-Zojila-Kargil-Leh and Manali-Sarchu-Leh routes that connect Leh to the mainland.

Another tunnel at Zojila Pass, about 22 kilometers from Z-Morh tunnel, is envisaged to provide all weather connectivity to Ladakh region. The two-lane, 13 km long tunnel is likely to cost over Rs. 5500 crores. Whether it is a strategic or political decision remains to be seen!


It took almost a year for the police to solve the shocking murder of a five-year-old girl who, according to police, was killed by her own father for grabbing ex-gratia relief and a job.

The case has, in fact, shaken the collective consciousness of Kashmiri society. The police last week charged the man for killing his minor daughter in Kupwara for want of ex-gratia relief and a job. With his arrest, the cops claimed to have solved the case.

The father of the deceased, Muhammad Shafi Malik of Ticker, was arrested on charges of murdering his five-year-old daughter Asra Shafi on March 26 last year. The throat-slit body of the victim was found just 50 yards away from her house on that day. The accused Malik is a Panch in Ticker Village.

Police said the motive behind the heinous crime perpetrated by father was to “grab the government sponsored ex-gratia relief and a job.” The accused, the police alleged, mercilessly slit the throat of his daughter on the fateful evening of March 26 last year.

He later informed the police about the murder of his daughter. The accused had taken the axe under Pheran (traditional Kashmiri gown) and slit the throat of his daughter. Police had also recovered weapon of assault (axe) used by the accused, sources said.

The father had lured his own daughter for candies and murdered her just some meters away from his house. After sometime, he had raised an alarm that his daughter had been murdered. The police said the accused confessed to the crime after sustained interrogation. People are asking can anyone really kill his own daughter for money!


After a huge uproar for empowerment of Panchayats by different political parties, which includes Congress party, by implementation of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India and protection of Panchayat members from the militants, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula, the Election Authority under Panchayati Raj Act, announced elections to the posts of chairpersons of 143 Block Development Councils which would be held on November 7.

The gazette notification for the BDC elections would be issued on October 10. The candidates can file their nominations till October 17. Scrutiny of nominations would be held on October 18 while October 20 has been fixed as the last date for withdrawal of candidature. Polling and counting would be held on November 7 and the results would be declared on the same day.

The election would be held for 143 BDCs including 77 in Kashmir Valley and 66 in Jammu region. Any person of the particular block, eligible for contesting the election of Panch, can contest the election of BDC chairperson.

The Electoral College for the BDCs comprised 33,500 Sarpanchs and Panchs. Out of a total of 4098 Sarpanchs, 2145 were in Kashmir division and 1953 in Jammu division while out of 29,402 Panchs, 15,767 were in Kashmir divisional and 13,635 in Jammu division. The elections will be conducted through ballot boxes and ballot papers and not through the Electronic Voting Machines. The ballot papers would be used as this was part of the State Panchayati Raj Act. To conduct the elections, the CEO has appointed 143 Returning Officers, 145 Assistant Returning Officers, 145 Presiding and 290 Polling Officers. Voting would be held from 9 am to 3 pm while counting would start immediately after the completing of voting on November 7.

Opening LOLAB

They all met to promote tourism in valley in a remote part of valley but every one did not agree on how to do it and most of them questioned the timing of the event. The State Tourism Department in collaboration with the Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) organized a three-day Lolab-Bangus-Drangyari festival at Chandigham to promote these tourist places.

Jammu and Kashmir government has opened up many virgin tourist places to the outside world which, due to the militancy in state, were kept a no-go areas for the tourists. This time, the tourism department opened the picturesque Lolab valley in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district for visitors.  Surrounded by lush green forests and gushing streams, Lolab valley is famous for centuries old Kalaroos caves and Satbaran monument. The government has decided to market these caves for attracting tourists to the scenic spot.

“It is a historic day for people of Kupwara that Lolab valley has been brought on the tourism map of the state,” Minister of State for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani said while addressing a seminar ‘Booming Times— Incredible Challenges’ at Lolab. It remains a challenge for the government to sustain and maintain tourism boom which Kashmir has witnessed for past few years. A mammoth monumental site called Satbaran (seven doors of carved stones) which depict carved architecture has become a focus to bring Lolab on tourism map.

The tourism department of Jammu and Kashmir, in a bid to highlight the importance of many tourist places in the valley, has been organizing many festivals recently but the question remains: do these festivals yield anything and at the time when tourist flow in the valley is at its lowest ebb.

Brand New LAW

Defaulting Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC) will now face six years imprisonment in J&K, a new bill tabled by the Omar Abdullah government suggests. The new law will take care of the chronic defaults by fraudulent companies and cheating gangs that have sprouted in the state in the last 20 years.

A large number of unauthorized financial companies started their businesses in recent years, Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather said these companies closed their shops soon after duping the gullible public of hard earned savings worth tens of crores of rupees. The minister said these looters were bogus companies who promised fanciful returns but fled with deposits and never returned.

The proposed law is aimed at regulating these companies and ensuring they are brought to book in case they default. While they can go to jail for eight years for any default, the new law proposes to take over the properties of the company promoters.


It was Rahul Gandhi’s observation in the recent Congress Working Committee meeting that the killing of two sarpanches in Kashmir was a ‘serious issue demanding attention that set the ball rolling.

But in an embarrassment to Congress general secretary, the panchayat leaders in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday walked out of a meeting with him. Expressing their displeasure, the panchayat leaders said they were angry with the Congress leader as they were not offered anything at the meeting.

“We told him that if the other party (NC) was not listening to it, why doesn’t the Congress walk out of the government? How long can people be expected to watch this drama where Congress leaders say the amendments should be extended while the NC refuses to do so?” Shafiq Mir, Poshana sarpanch and convener of the J&K Panchayat Coordination Committee said after the meeting.

Talking to mediapersons after the fiasco, the Gandhi scion prevaricated questions on the walkout by the panchayat leaders but reiterated that he was in Jammu and Kashmir “to build bridges”.

“Hopefully we will be able to build another tunnel…Panchayats are not getting the rights they are entitled to,” said Rahul.

The sarpanch protests have threatened to turn into a major face-off between Rahul and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, though the two have denied any rift. Rahul had, at a meet in Delhi with a sarpanch delegation from Srinagar, said that the state government needed to provide greater security to the local village body leaders.

The sarpanch leaders demanded that they be issued gun licenses so that they could take care of their own security.
On the other hand, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed serious concern over the apparent ‘conspiracy’ aimed at diluting the stake-holding if local business in the decision making about J&K economy.

The Chamber said that it was shocking for them that Congress leader and the business delegation that accompanied him interacted with the members of a Delhi based business fraternity that lacks representation in the state business circles.


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