Now, Bird Detentions

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For all these years, the security grid was supposed to guard a border in J&K that was neither well defined nor visible. After using massive manpower and lot of gunfire, they could not seal it against the movement. Finally, they created a huge serpentine, fence that made the LoC visible for the first time though many kilometres short of the line that military cartographers had sketched. It was still porous and they brought the best hardware from Tel Aviv and Washington to make it more efficient.
Now, when they were somewhat satisfied, a new crisis emerged. Last week, the people in two different Jammu areas caught two pigeons who were marked. One bird was tracked very close to a hotel in Katra and caught. It had names of two persons (read suspected militants) and phone number stamped on its tail. The names were that of Raja Muslim Shehzad and Haji Sarwar with numbers 03456694817 and 03003371014.
As the security grid was busy analyzing the bird, disturbing news broke – another bird was caught. This time it was from Datyal in Pallanwalla sector, not far away from the international border. This pigeon had been painted yellow and reddish and carried a PaK’s mobile phone number 03316190250 on its tale.
The birds were caged, sent for analysis and the report is awaited. But the ‘marked’ pigeons “being flown” into J&K are a new headache for state’s security grid. They now have to guard the fence, the LoC, the rivers and obviously the skies. The security grid is debating the motives but they are ignoring the larger reality that in the neighbouring Sialkote, pigeon flying is a popular sport and May is the peak time of the betting in a year.

Minister Is Hurt
Getting IT into the governance has been a slogan for almost everybody since Dr Farooq Abdullah replaced the longest gubernatorial spell in J&K. There were efforts with massive mortality so nothing could be done in physical terms.
Federal government, many years back, planned Common Service Centres (CSCs) for states as the retail shops for various governance, educational and commercial products. Nobody in the government touched the scheme for years. when a senior bureaucrat suggested J&K bank to father the baby in the state, and J&K’s only listed company grabbed the chance after taking the government on board.  
It worked on the project day and night and within less than a year almost half of the CSCs are ready and in fact over one third of the 1100 are actually up and running. It took the main brief from the scheme, innovated and improvised it and linked it to a peculiar product within the bank. Initially there was resistance from the RBI and, as usual, bureaucracy in Srinagar. But once these IT shops emerged in distant locations, there was a mixed response of envy and desire. As the federal IT ministry termed these Khidamat Centres as the models in India, the RBI jumped and asked the J&K bank honchos to accept the business correspondent status for this network.
Last week when the Bank signed a series of MoUs with a number of universities and educational institutions, state’s IT minister was hurt. Not because the bank did what his government was supposed to do. But he found his department missing in the show. Hurt he should be, because his department needs to do a lot to get counted. Instead of not working to roll out services that must go to the people through these CSC, he should work to make it happen now. He said he has Rs 39 crore for IT. He needs to decide if this money remains unspent or creates a wonder that matches Khidmat Centres.

Madam’s Priorities
Initially it was dished out from civil secretariat that apart from gracing an occasion in Jammu, Congress president would be inaugurating the Sangharmal Complex in Srinagar and handing over papers to the boatmen who would have to leave the Dal lake and live in Rakh-e-Arth. Finally, it was said barring the Jammu programme everything is cancelled and a bit later it was Srinagar visit that was termed to be over.
No one in the government or in the faction ridden Congress is in a position to explain. What we know is that the central security agencies briefed the congress saying Sangharmal is too small and commercial that it would be cheap for Congress president to inaugurate. For Rakh-e-Arat, it was said it is too early for handing over the orders.
But why the cancellation of her Kashmir visit? A top hotelier said she has been advised not to fly to Srinagar because the security will force a crippling effect on tens of thousands of tourists who live in Dalgate-Shalimar belt, the main tourist hub of the city.
 The media is suggesting that it was plainly the quarrelsome Congress factions that have made her not to visit Kashmir, at the moment. The multi-polar J&K Congress leaders are desperate to prove themselves to be capable of running and ruining the coalitions in the J&K irrespective of which party is saddled in the driver’s seat.
An arm chair analyst says Mrs Gandhi being a very sensitive lady has decided against visiting Kashmir at a time when first anniversary of the Shopian case is being observed. Whatever the case the separatists in Kashmir are not withdrawing the strike call for Saturday.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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