Archives  >  2019  >  August  >  12th

Kashmir, Not Normal

1. What’s the story?

Almost a week after India’s landmark repeal of Article 370, the situation in Kashmir shows no sign of simmering down. Even though communication has not been fully restored in the valley, there have been sporadic news of unrest, police-civilian clashes, pellet wounds, business losses, and more.
Tell me more.
On Saturday, Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital got its first pellet victim since the Government’s announcement regarding Article 370 last week.

“I reached the corner of the lane, which connects my home with the main square. Even before I could figure out what was happening, I saw one CRPF man already in a position to shoot,” Akeel recalled.

It was a shotgun loaded with a metal pellet cartridge, and before Akeel could turn back, pellets shot out of the barrel towards him. Most of them pierced his eyes and face.

“I screamed in pain, everything in my sight seemed broken into pieces. The shooter ran towards me and when he realised that I was badly hurt, he left me there,” said Akeel, wiping tears from his eyes.”

The Indian Government had also indefinitely imposed Section 144 on the valley last week. On Sunday, that was set to be relaxed for six hours in deference to Monday’s Eid. (Quick recap: Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code prohibits the gathering of more than four people in public places.)

“The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday evening said that the situation in the state has remained normal so far and no untoward incident has been reported. The announcement came on the eve of Eid festival in the state. The Poonch administration also announced that it would relax Section 144 … for six hours to enable people to step out ahead of the festival and make purchases.”

Amongst other distressing news trickling out from the state, traders have reported losses of thousands of crores due to the forced shutdown that shows no sign of ending.

“The trade community in Srinagar has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 1,000 crore in the past week due to the restrictions imposed after the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370 and divided Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, stakeholders claimed Sunday.

“Bakeries and livestock dealers have been the worst-hit by the restrictions as people are not able to come out of their homes to make purchases. The bakery owners stand to suffer losses to the tune of Rs 200 crore as their products have a lesser shelf life,” he said.”

Banks have also reported running out of cash, and there is a shortage of medicine supply.
So, what next?
The world is watching – especially Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, cancelled the Samjhauta Express last weekend due to Kashmir-related developments. In retaliation, Indian Railways has also cancelled its side of the journey.

“The railways run the train on Sundays from Delhi to Attari and back, while Pakistan used to run the train between Lahore and Attari. Passengers used to change trains at the Attari station.”

Watch this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Who else should I be looking at?

Sandeep Pandey, that’s who. The Magsaysay Award-winning social activist was put under house arrest in Lucknow on Sunday to deter him from organizing a protest march against the revoking of Article 370.

“In a single stroke of decisions, the Indian government has revoked Articles 370 and 35A that gave Jammu and Kashmir notional automony and split the state into two Union territories. While there are questions about the legal soundness of these decisions, their moral illegitimacy lies in the fact that none of the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir have been consulted.

Mainstream and moderate political leaders have been put under house arrest, all means of communication cut, curfew imposed and massive army troops deployed in the region for a few days before the government’s announcement of the decision in parliament. This means that communication among even the normal peace-loving people and their leaders is severely restricted, their mobility constrained, and no news is coming out of the region…” he said.

3. What more?

Dr Vallabh Kathiria is India’s top cow official. According to him, cows are linked to more than 20 ministries, including external affairs and aviation.

“One evening in July, visitors who had come to have a meal at Gujarat Bhawan in central Delhi were greeted by a genial-looking man who had just returned from a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. “I am the chairman of the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog,” Dr Vallabh Kathiria announced, with a wide and friendly smile, before he sat down at a table.

A surgeon and former Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Rajkot, 64-year-old Kathiria knows that few have heard about the National Cow Commission that he heads. He is determined to change that.”

4. Anything else?

Kerala is underwater again. Even though the incessant rains stopped on Saturday, the death toll has reached 46, with lakhs of people displaced. More than 50 people are still missing. More than 80 landslides have also been reported across the state in the past few days.

“Saturday is crucial for the state as it plans to open sluice gates of a major dam, Banasura Sagar, that will get more water to already heavily flooded Wayanad.”

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5. Is that all?

Until the late 1980s, cannabis was legal in India. Use of this substance can be traced back to the Vedic times, and still remains part of certain Hindu rituals and traditions. “Before India signed the Single Geneva Convention of 1961—which classified cannabis products and opiates as narcotics—ganja, charas, and bhang were sold through government outlets, as per a system laid down by the British government…” Here is how it really was to smoke up in India before the criminalization of marijuana.

“Because we were students and didn’t have much money, we would buy a pudiya (a parcel/packet) for three bucks. This would make us five joints. What we got was really good stuff and not like the crap you find today. I usually went near the Jama Masjid area to find the pusher I bought from and the process was very chill. Sometimes, he would be sitting with a cop outside his house and they’d be smoking a chillum together. They were all very helpful. They would often ask us to sit with them and smoke.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at all that’s being said about the apparent suicide of disgraced money manager and alleged sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, who was lodged in a jail in New York, was found unresponsive in his cell on Saturday.

“The financier, who once counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on 6 July and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14, from at least 2002 to 2005.”

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