Newsmakers

BOOKED: After over three months hunt, the police finally detained female separatist leader Asiya Andrabi along with her aide Sofi Fehmeeda. She was found in a house in Habbak belt of the city when a Special Operations Group (SOG) party raided the place. Andrabi and Masarat Aalam were spearheading the “quit J&K campaign” since the days when Syed Ali Geelani was under detention. Aalam is still at large. Andrabi and Fehmeeda have been booked under PSA and sent to Kotbalwal jail in Jammu.

CONSIDERED: The armed forces and security agencies are considering using laser guns to tackle the stone-pelting crowds in Jammu & Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is understood to have given the go-ahead for the selective use of the gun, which is non-lethal and temporarily blinds for nearly a minute, good enough time for the troops to nab the culprit. The beam is two to three metres wide. High-intensity water cannons, non-conventional pepper balls, chilli grenades and Taser guns are other options.

SUFFERED:
Railways in Kashmir have suffered a loss of over Rs 7 crore due to the unrest in the Kashmir Valley and the consequent damage to rail properties. The loss suffered as per a preliminary estimate was to the tune of Rs 7.64 crore as Railway tracks, bridges and buildings were damaged mostly between Qazigund-Budgam section, Minister of State for Railways E Ahmed said.

ENGAGED: In order to ease the ever growing traffic congestion, the state cabinet has accorded approval to the engagement of M/s RITES Ltd for preparing Comprehensive Mobility Plan for capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar. M/s RITES Ltd, a Government of India enterprise has been asked to provide comprehensive engineering consultancy and project management services in the transport infrastructure sector, which is pre-requisite for construction of network of flyovers and introduction of metro rail.

PARTICIPATED: Harud (Autumn), movie set in the contemporary Kashmir is all set to be screened in November this year at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)-2010. The movie co-produced by actor Aamir Bashir and Shanker Raman is set around the theme of enforced disappearance of a tourist photographer and how his family copes with it.

STOPPED: Asian Development Bank (ADB) has stopped second instalment of Rs.1410 crore loan to Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) on account of leadership crisis, lack of technical expertise, failure to achieve set disbursement targets and inability to complete projects within scheduled timeframe. ADB has refused to buy the most favourite argument of bureaucrats that situation was not conducive for carrying out the works. They squarely blamed ERA’s internal decision making procedures, delay in payments and weak monitoring.

INITIATED:
Revamping the Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for the youth (SKEWPY), the government has initiated number of steps to widen its reach. It has reduced the lower age limit by two years and added Rs 100 more enabling more unemployed to claim VSA. Now 1.52 lakh youth falling under 26-37 age group will get a monthly sum of Rs 600 to Rs 1200 per month for three years.  State owned J&K Bank has also agreed to offer loans to the new breed of state sponsored entrepreneurs without collaterals or any other tangible security.

RESUMED: The circulation of national newspapers was resumed in Kashmir for the first time after 32 days. Their circulation remained paralyzed because of the strict curfews-strikes imposed by the government and the separatists. Kashmir consumes thousands of Delhi based newspapers and the sales usually go up during crisis. This time, however, they had no access to this luxury as strict curfew implementation immobilized the hawkers.

KILLED: Violent protests broke out in Thathri tehsil of Doda district on Thursday evening after one of the local drivers identified as Rafiq of Nagni area of Kishtwar, beaten by the police station house officer jumped to death in river Chenab. Infuriated local residents gathered in the local market and attacked the police station.

EXPOSED: Unable to control the current civil unrest the government has reportedly sought the help of notorious Ikhwan (pro-government gunmen) leaders to deal with the situation. While confirming it, an Ikhwan commander Qaasim Khaar told Greater Kashmir that government sought his help to curb the ongoing unrest in the valley. PDP has termed it as a ploy to create Shia Sunni divide. The opposition party even labelled NC as Nawbdi (another name of Ikhwani) Conference. Government has furiously denied any plans of reviving Ikhwanis.

OFFERED: Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has put forth five conditions before New Delhi in order to start the dialogue. His conditions include recognition of Kashmir as a dispute by New Delhi, demilitarisation, repeal of draconian laws, release of political prisoners and booking of those among the army, paramilitary forces and the local police involved in murders. Only then a right atmosphere for a meaningful dialogue will be created, said Geelani. In case the conditions are not met he warned of intensified agitation. For the first time Geelani dropped the condition of tripartite dialogue as he even didn’t mention the name of Pakistan.

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