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Briefing May 16-22, 2021

Police have registered a case against 20 people for ‘provocative sloganeering’ in Tekkipora (Kupwara) when Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai was being lowered into his grave on May 6. His two sons were booked in UAPA

JAMMU

Prof G M Bhat, top engineering teacher and innovator died of Covid19 on May 16, 2021.

In two days, Jammu lost five doctors to the Covid-19 contagion. These included Tahir Haroon Mirza, 51, who lived and worked in Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar and was infected at his place of posting at the Emergency hospital Chowki Choura in Akhnoor. Another doctor, a resident of Surankote in Poonch, Dr Mohammad Akram Malik also died of contagion. He was a former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Poonch.  The third doctor, also a resident of Poonch, Dr Basharat Hussain Shah succumbed to the lethal mutant contagion. He was an Indian System of Medicines Practitioner. Almost 24 hours later, two more doctors succumbed to Covid19 – Dr ML Sharma of Karan Bagh Gadigarh and Dr MK Raina of Trikuta Nagar; Dr Sharma passed away in the GMC Jammu and Dr Raina at ASCOMS Sidhra. In Kashmir, a frontline worker, Muhammad Ramzan, was lost to the contagion in Ganderbal.

SRINAGAR

Two DPS Budgam students, Sakhra Riyaz and Rahil Nabi, got fully funded scholarships for higher studies abroad. The school announced it on May 11, 2021.

A brief respite in the pandemic’s roller coaster ride. Adding feathers to the cap, Kashmiri students continue to achieve academic excellence and bag scholarships to prestigious universities abroad. Two students from DPS Budgam, Sakhra Riyaz and Rahil Nabi of class 12th received a full-ride scholarship to Qatar and the United States of America. In yet another achievement, an alumnus of DPS Srinagar, Taha Kaleem was selected as the Berkley Center-Pulitzer International Reporting fellow for summer 2021. He had secured admission to Georgetown University on a full scholarship in 2018.

As the DPS Budgam student, Rahil Nabi, has chosen to pursue his studies at Georgetown, he plans to undertake a bachelor’s in computer science and mathematics starting in August 2021 and envisions contributing to his school, and village by mentoring more students to pursue opportunities overseas as a computer scientist. Sakhra Riyaz received a scholarship of around US$65, 000 from George Town University to pursue her undergraduate degree for the next four years in international affairs which awards a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) degree. Similarly, as part of the fellowship, Kaleem will work closely with Pulitzer Centre staff and mentors to craft journalistic pieces reporting on Sufi religiosity and conflict resolution in Kashmir.

DELHI

A Kashmiri Pandit, Sanjay Raina and a Kashmiri Muslim, Adnan Shah, 19,  have joined hands to start a Twitter handle that helps critical Covid-19 patients in the Delhi-NCR region to get proper plasma matches. Shah is a journalism student from Kupwara and Raina, an established restaurant owner. On daily basis, they 250 to 300 plasma and eventually after 20 hours of work they manage 100 successful matches a day. The duo’s journey started when Covid cases began to rise in April. The two banded together to help a common Kashmiri friend find a hospital bed. This led to their Twitter handle @PlasmaNCR. Now, Dr Sameer Kaul of Apollo has joined the handle for free consultations.

GENEVA

Rich cornflower blue hue with a soft, velvety texture, which can retain its lustre in any light, is what makes Kashmiri sapphires rare. Grabbed for millions of dollars by admirers, a rare largest Kashmir sapphire was auctioned, sold for a whopping $3.88 million (Rs 28, 47, 04, 506) in Geneva last week. The 55.19-carat gem was formerly in the collection of Maureen Constance Guinness, a marchioness of the Anglo-Irish brewing family. Kashmir sapphires of more than 30 carats are very rare and it was sold alongside one cushion-shaped weighing 25.97 carats. According to Benoit Repellin, head of magnificent jewels sales at Sotheby’s in Geneva, Kashmiri sapphires are among the rarest coloured gemstones known to man. Following their discovery in the early 1880s, the mining lasted between 1882 and 1887, making such gems some of the most coveted on the market, according to Sotheby’s.

SRINAGAR

A perfect picture without life – a scene from a crowded Srinagar locality on May 5, 2021, at the peak of Covid-19 lockdown. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

In anticipation of Ramzan 2021, the pandemic resurfaced with its mutants. By the end of the month of fasting, Kashmir was deserted like 2020. The markets lost massively as they had invested in their inventory. There were no festivities and Eid congregations. Mostly, people offered prayers in local Masjids while adhering to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. The historic Jamia Masjid, Hazratbal, and major shrines were silent and closed for devotees.

Of 32,594 tourists, 25,956 landed in Srinagar in the first fortnight and 6,638 in the second fortnight. Last fortnight, hardly anybody came.

BARAMULLA  

In Kashmir, violence has emerged as a major communication tool. In a bid to enforce lockdown, cops even beat doctors. Violence is so alluring a tool that even civil administrators wish to use it. The latest to jump the bandwagon was Mohammad Ahsan, an Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Baramulla, who was seen beating men and women with a stick to enforce lockdown. Ahsan had joined militancy in 1990, surrendered and sat in a KAS examination and became an administrator, information available on social media said. Now his services have been placed under suspension.

SRINAGAR

The under-construction bridge, a key link to Shehr-e-Kashmir (Old City) with North Kashmir has collapsed. Known locally as Cement Kadal and located near Noorbagh, the construction on this bridge started in 2011. It jumped deadlines and cost escalations and finally fell under its own weight. There were, fortunately, no casualties.

DELHI

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Amid the Covid19 scare, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a meeting with farmers and it included one from Kashmir. Khursheed Ahmad Reshi, holding masters in English from Tengpora (Srinagar) who is into organic farming. Modi acknowledged his choice of farming as a profession as exemplary especially after having masters in English. Khursheed told Modi that he owns 26 kanals of land, out of which 12-kanal is a rice field and 14 kanals dedicated to organic vegetables. “The traditional farming did not yield much and that’s why I shifted towards organic farming. I tried to look for a job and when I failed, I dedicated myself to farming,” Reshi told Modi. “I grow capsicum, brinjal, cucumber and green chillies,” Resh said he and 30 other farmers collect the entire product at one place and then the agriculture department takes it in a refrigerating van to Lal  Mandi where there is an organic vegetable market.

LOC

India and Pakistan troops exchanging sweets on the day of Eid. This photograph shows the bilateral, engagement somewhere on Aman Setu in north Kashmir on May 13, 2021. The two sides have revived the ceasefire and stick to it.

Unlike the paramilitary forces, the rival armies guarding the Line of Control (LoC) on either side had a break this Eid. They did not exchange fire but sweets. The exchange of sweets took place at Chakan Da Bagh crossing point, Mendhar-Hot Spring, Titwal (Karnah) and Aman Setu (Uri). The rival armies have been exchanging sweets at each other’s festivals as a matter of tradition. However, when the two countries get into a cold war, the sweet exchange becomes the last priority.

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