SONAWAR

Acting swiftly on an 8-minute Facebook video showing some youth being baptized by a Christian priest Chander Mani Khanna, the police registered a case and detained all the seven converts.

In India, Christian missionaries are increasingly being accused of using money to buy converts, an allegation they usually downplay. 2001 census suggests that they grew phenomenally in J&K – from 8481 in 1981 to 20299 in 2001. Earlier restricted to Jammu and Srinagar, Christians now exist across the state. In Islamabad they had jumped from 36 to 290, in Pulwama from zero to 625, in Baramulla from 106 to 527, in Kupwara from 19 to 545, in Poonch from 48 to 238 and in Srinagar 209 to 1529. Interestingly, of the 3757 Christians living in Kashmir only 480 are females indicating that most of these are conversions. Only 123 of their members fall under 0-6 group. In Budgam where 178 Christians live only six are females. In Kupwara they have only 11 females for 534 males and in Srinagar where they have a sizable population of 1592 only 151 are females. In Kargil there are 71 Christians of them only one female.

FARIDABAD

India’s clean energy giant NHPC is not unwilling to sell its power projects 390-MW Dul Hasti and 690-MW Salal to the state government if it pays the bill. NHPC chief A B L Srivastava told reporters that J&K government has sent a letter to the central government in this regard but no decision is taken so far. If Irrigation Minster Taj Mohi-ud-Din’s statements are taken at face value, then the state government is willing to purchase the projects on basis of the agreements with NHPC. But a civil society group led by industry lobbyist Shakeel Qalander says before the two parties go for a deal, there is the requirement of NHPC first proving that it owns the projects. Can it happen?

SRINAGAR

It was a Himalayan embarrassment when cops took five children to the court last week. It included sixth grader Mohsin Majeed Shah and Burhaan Nazir from Noorbagh and Nalahbundpora. They were rounded up on October 23, booked under various sections of RPC and produced in the court after eight days. The judge asked cops their age and they had no reply. They were directed to send them to homes set up under Juvenile Justice Act 1997 after a lot of hue and cry.

MUMBAI
After over 500 aspiring Haj pilgrims were cheated by a tour operator, the police are gunning for its owner in Mumbai. Its three bank accounts in Srinagar stand frozen. On the eve of the departure, the company Hajeej India closed shop and fled. It was not mere blocking of around Rs 15 crores of capital but the failure of individuals in performing the pilgrimage. There were protests for many days forcing police to act. Interestingly, however, the company did fly a minister and his wife, a police officer and his wife and a government lawyer and his wife. The company that many think is illegal is hinting as procedural problems at different level, a claim that lacks buyers. Off late, Haj specialists have mushroomed in Kashmir.

GUPKAR

It is a headache that Abdullahs’ are unable to manage. The newly elected spokesperson of NC Dr Mustafa Kamal has opened a front against almost everybody. While his opposition to the PDP and Hurriyat does not matter, it is his consistent campaign against coalition partner Congress and the army that is giving father (Dr Farooq Abdullah) and son (Omar) sleepless nights. He admits his brother is angry with him but continues to hit at ‘gutter worms’ (read Congress) almost every day. He believes army is lobbing grenades around. Congress is upset with him so is Omar and Farooq. Amid demands of his ouster by Congress, some of the Congressmen have informed the high command that Kamal’s assertions are part of NC’s effort to improve its popularity graph! Who knows? Last time when Kamal continued attacking Congress, Farooq termed him ‘my father’s mistake’. Later, he made him the additional secretary general of the party and the spokesman.

JAMMU
A new election is round the corner. It is for the four seats of the legislative council – two each for Kashmir and Jammu, which would probably be filled after 40 years. Booths were set up at block level in all the 22 districts, as the Electoral College comprises of panchs and sarpanches – 1966 Sarpanches and 13,760 Panches in Jammu and 2164 Sarpanches and 15,959 Panches in Kashmir. Each of them will have to cast two votes. Once these four seats take the strength of the Council to 34, it will still be short of two seats that are reserved for urban local bodies. These seats were filled in January 2005 with the election of Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and Micky Singh and are lying vacant right now. Elections for ULBs are yet to be announced. Prior to the election of 4 Council berths, the panchs and sarpanchs will have to elect the head of block development council, a process slated to start in November.

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