News Notes

Traumatized MERIT

CET-AsirantsJust four days after rewriting the history of first year MBBS results at SKIMS Bemina, a teenager Hovra Zahoor was driven into depression. A news item naming her and her friend Shiekh Burgees Ismail, as among the list of tainted students, was enough to “mock at her meritorious career”.

After dragging her name into CET Scam, an apology was tendered by the news agency and even Crime Branch clarified that the duo aren’t in the list of tainted students.

“But is the apology enough?” Asks the mother of Hovra Zahoor: “I mean, who is going to believe now that my child has been a meritorious student throughout. My child was almost pushed to commit suicide by such a reckless reportage. But she is a brave girl. What if she wouldn’t have been brave enough?”

The ‘grieved’ mother didn’t stop there. She told Kashmir Life that the image of her child has been ‘tarnished’ very badly.

“She has been topper throughout her career,” she said. “She stood at 4th positions all over the state both in her Class 10 and 12 examinations results. She was pushed at 111th rank in CET exam. She would have been among the toppers and eligible for admission Government Medical College but instead she had to settle with SKIMS as tainted students got top position in CET examination.”

On the other hand, Hovra Zahoor, who recently created history by securing 414 marks in her first year in MBBS is saying that she was dragged into controversy because of “recklessness and insensitive reporting” on part of certain individuals.

“If you ask me as why my name is there, my answer would be: I don’t know,” Hovra told Kashmir Life. “But I guess apart from reckless reporting, it might be the case of jealously as I am known face in view of my academics in the college.”

Her being known to the entire college is now taking its toll on her. “Obviously those who know me can’t cast a doubt on me. But my only concern remains as how I am going to shut the mouths of those who don’t know me. They might be talking behind my back. They might be spreading rumours.”

Her mother said that ever since the name of her daughter has flashed in print media, she is on anti-depressants. “Even the condition of her grandmother worsened ever since we heard her name in press.”

Hovra is not alone who is pursuing medical profession in her family, her father is a doctor working in Saudi Arabia. Besides, her elder sister is also pursuing MBBS in GMC.

During her CET entrance preparation, Hovra would gulp down coffees at length to stay awake. “She would study 22 hours a day,” said her mother. “She was a topper throughout her career, and yet she was made to pass through trauma.”

Life has changed for me after this episode, said Hovra. “My name in press for bad reasons is still playing at the back of my mind. But I won’t bow down so easily. I will make myself more resolute to achieve excellence so as to serve the society in the best manner.”

Moderate JOLTS

people-league-leaders-adressing-a-press-confrence-in-srinagar1A frontline separatist party, Jammu and Kashmir People’s League has alleged Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of patronizing one of its executive leaders, Mukhtar Ahmad Waza, who according to the party “embezzled crores of rupees” meant for the party.

In a press conference on Thursday, the party’s central council members alleged that Waza did not respond to the party orders when it decided to call him back from the said faction of Hurriyat as its representative.

“Waza not only rejected the party orders but also embezzled crores of rupees,” the party members told media persons in Srinagar. They added “we contacted Mirwaiz sahib and Abdul Gani Bhat, in this regard but unfortunately Hurriyat (M) is patronizing Waza only because of personal liking.”

The party members elaborated saying that Waza was selected as the vice chairman of the party when erstwhile Chairman and Hurriyat leader, late Sheikh Abdul Aziz was killed at Chahel, Uri while leading the “Muzaffarabad Chalo” march in 2008.

“Waza neither conducted party elections nor contacted the senior party leaders, he instead kept enjoying the patronage of Hurriyat (M) executive leaders and embezzled party funds worth crores of rupees,” Ghulam Nabi Waseem, one of the party’s central council members said.

League appealed Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, not to entertain Waza in the executive meetings because “he has lost the confidence of the party and he has no moral grounds to represent the party in Hurriyat (M).”

League also appealed the senior leaders of the party like Bashir Ahmad Tota, to come forward “for the cause and for safeguarding the League.”

People’s League, formed in 1974, is known as the oldest separatist party which faced split after split in the later years, especially after the nineties.

Senior separatist leaders, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Fazl Haq Qureshi and others were once the faces of People’s League.

Allegations of fund embezzlements by separatist leaders have come to surface from last one year.

Broken SILENCE

GMC students protesting in GMC campus on Thursday: Photo: Bilal Bahadur
GMC students protesting in GMC campus on Thursday: Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Medical students at Government Medical College (GMC) broke their silence on Thursday after what they call “bearing the brunt of bad name” ever since CET scam surfaced in the valley.

Students demanded an immediate cancellation of admission of “12 tainted” students of 2012 batch in GMC campus, who have reportedly received papers prior to CET exam last year. As the protest intensified, police party on spot prevented it to spill outside of the gates of campus.

“We aren’t going to join our classes till the tainted medical students won’t be shown the exit door,” Faizan Younis, president of students’ body in GMC told Kashmir Life. “This is hell, how can wrongdoings of few students earn a bad name to entire student fraternity of this college.”

Younis, a final year student, says CET scam has “demonised medical students” who are now being looked down upon by people in and outside the campus.

“Why should we all suffer in silence when the real culprits still walk with pride around campus,” he says. “No, this is not done. Authorities have to restore confidence in campus by cancelling their admission.”

The protesting students allege that senior doctors in GMC refer them as “peer’s doctors” or “backdoor medicos”.

“This is height of embarrassment,” Abid, one of the protestors, “This 2012 batch has around 100 students and 12 out of them have earned a bad name not only to their batch, but for entire student community at GMC. This is simply outrageous and atrocious. No, we can’t live with bad name. Tainted students must leave GMC.”

But the “depressive” phase inside GMC doesn’t end there. Those who have earned their spots in GMC by the dint of their hard work now regret their decision to join the campus.

“I curse my fate by choosing GMC over NIT,” Aaliya (name changed) of 2012 batch, said. “I had got selected in NIT as well, but chose GMC only to be the part of this shame episode.”

Activist AWARDED

Prof Babaiah receiving the award on the occasion: Photo: Bilal Bahadur
Prof Babaiah receiving the award on the occasion: Photo: Bilal Bahadur

On Tuesday afternoon, civil society members gathered in Srinagar’s Lala Rukh Hotel to give away the Robert Thorp Award, 2013 to a noted human rights defender of India, Dr K Balagopal posthumously.

The award was received by Prof Babaiah, one of the close associates of Dr Balagopal.

“He introduced us to Kashmir,” Prof Babaiah told audience comprised of media persons, students and activists. “He must have visited Kashmir at least 10 times, but never for a picnic. He would always stick to his job.”

The speakers who spoke on the topic: “Jammu and Kashmir and the role of Indian Civil Society” on the occasion remembered Dr K Balagopal as an “uncompromising” human rights activist, mathematician and lawyer.

“He was a staunch civil liberties activist in Andhra Pradesh,” Prof Babaiah continued, “He broke away from the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), with which he was associated since its inception in ‘80’s, on the issue of violence perpetrated by the erstwhile CPI-ML Peoples War.”

After the formation of Human Rights Forum, the speakers informed that he [Dr Balagopal] expanded his activities and visited areas undergoing intense social turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, West Bengal and Orissa.

“Dr Balagopal visited Kashmir in 2004 when a bomb blast in Kupwara killed Asiya Jeelani and badly injured Khurram Parvaiz,” Parvaiz Imroz, a noted human rights lawyer said.

“He lifted our confidence and resolved us to continue with the election monitoring process then.”

The award has been institutionalised after Robert Thorpe, who was born from a Muslim Kashmiri mother and British father. He was killed in 1868 after he entered into the valley to “fight for the rights” of common people.

Recorded history informs that Robert Thorpe’s father, Colonel Thorpe, a British Army officer, came to Kashmir on holidays, in 1833, and married Jani, the daughter of a landlord from Budgam district.

“Decades later, when a young Robert visited Kashmir to see his mother’s homeland, he was moved by the miserable poverty and repression the Kashmiris were living in under the Dogra regime,” Dr Altaf Hussain, a senior civil society member, said.

“He started writing against the oppressive Dogra regime in publications like ‘Friends of India’. He also held responsible the British for putting the Kashmiris under the tyrannical Dogra rule through the treaty of Amritsar.” Hussain said.

The Dogra rulers were disturbed by Thorpe’s criticism said another civil society member, Abdul Majeed Zargar and deported him from the state.

“However, Thorpe managed to sneak back, but died on November 22, 1868 under ‘mysterious conditions’ at the age of 30,” he said.

It is believed that Thorpe had to pay with his life for his outspoken criticism of the Dogra autocracy.

Filming FACTS

25kashmir1Vishal Bhardawaj, who is in Srinagar to shoot his upcoming film Hyder Monday met media persons at Taj Vivanta, where his cast and crew is staying, said  “I am not making a film on Kashmir for commercial reasons. It is an emotional subject for me. I want to depict the pain suffered by Kashmiris in last 25 years.”

Vishal said, “My first trip to Kashmir was in 2010 when I shot a few sequences for 7 Khoon Maaf, since then I am visiting regularly.”

When asked why a film on Kashmir Vishal said, “I genuinely tried to put myself in to an ordinary Kashmiris shoes before finalizing Kashmir as the subject of my film.”

This is the first Bollywood film where more than forty small and mid-size roles are done by locals. “My film is about Kashmir and Kashmiris only. There is not even a single actor from Jammu or Himachal or any other state.

Referring to yesterday’s incident when shooting was stalled in KU Vishal said, “You have to see it to understand my film. All I can tell you that I tried my best to remain truthful to the subject.”

Vishal said that if everything goes well, he might premier his film in Kashmir University campus. “My film is about Kashmir so it should be premiered here only,” said Vishal.

Hyder, is the first Bollywood which will be entirely shot in Kashmir. Shahid Kapoor plays lead character Hyder, who belongs to a middle class Kashmiri family. Veteran Bollywood actress Tabu plays the role of Shahid’s mother, a school teacher.

The film is based on Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet. At the start of the press conference Vishal said, “Kashmir is one of the biggest human tragedies of our times.”

Meanwhile, MLA Langate and President Awami Ittihaad Party (AIP) Er Rashid while condemning the police action on students in Kashmir University has asked the producer of film to understand the difference between film & the reality.

He said, “Whatsoever the reason be, yesterday’s incident must be an eye opener for biased Indian Media, intellectual class & common masses, who do never get the real version of happenings in Kashmir.”

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