Erdogan signalled to the Taliban regime, which has barred women and girls from education in the name of Islam that and most work, that it would be accepted internationally if it gave up the restrictions…reports Arul Louis
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again raised the Kashmir issue saying that resolving it through dialogue by India and Pakistan will lead to regional stability.
“Developments that will pave the way for regional peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia will be the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Kashmir through dialogue and cooperation between India and Pakistan,” he said on Tuesday at the high-level UN General Assembly meeting.
“Turkiye (Turkey) will continue to support the steps to be taken in this direction,” he added.
His latest comment was mild as it had been the last two years and by avoiding references to UN resolutions or a direct mediation offer, it was closer to India’s position that the Kashmir dispute was a bilateral matter.
In 2020, Erdogan called the Kashmir situation a “burning issue” and criticised the abolition of the special status for Kashmir.
The previous year, he had asserted that “despite the resolutions (UN) adopted, Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir”.
Last year, only Erdogan and then-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan were the only two leaders to refer to the Kashmir issue while the 191 others ignored it despite Islamabad’s lobbying, showing its isolation in the UN.
Erdogan signalled to the Taliban regime, which has barred women and girls from education in the name of Islam that and most work, that it would be accepted internationally if it gave up the restrictions.
“The transformation of the interim (Afghanistan) government into an inclusive administration in which all segments of society are fairly represented will pave the way for Afghanistan to be positively received in the international arena,” he said. He criticised China for its treatment of the Uyghur minority, who are mostly Muslim.
“We will continue to express our sensitivity regarding the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Uyghur Turks, with whom we have strong historical and humanitarian ties,” he said.
Erdogan said that the Security Council “has ceased to be the guarantor of world security and has become a battleground for the political strategies of only five countries”.
The increased tourist footfall has not only invigorated the local economy but has also given rise to new opportunities….reports Asian Lite News
In a monumental step towards progress and transformation, the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 has led to the earmarking of 75 new development destinations in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
A top official said that these promising initiatives, currently in progress under the guidance of the Tourism department, have ignited a spark of hope and excitement among the local population, paving the way for positive changes in their lives.
“Since the historic decision in February 2021, when India and Pakistan mutually agreed to halt the frequent exchange of firing on the Line of Control (LoC), the picturesque valleys and meadows of the Uri border town in Baramulla, as well as Keran, Tangdar, and Tital border areas of Kupwara district, and Gurez in Bandipore district, have undergone a remarkable transformation. These areas, once nestled away in remote corners, have now become thriving hubs of activity, witnessing a significant surge in tourist footfall,” he said.
The initiatives, he said driven by the Tourism department, aim to leverage the natural beauty and cultural heritage of these regions, creating a harmonious blend of development and preservation. “As new infrastructure takes shape and facilities are upgraded, the locals are embracing the prospect of a brighter future with open arms,” the official said.
“This is a dream come true for all of us,” said Roshan, a street vendor in the Uri border town. His sentiment resonates with many, capturing the collective excitement that courses through the veins of the community. The air is thick with anticipation, as residents look forward to the positive impact these developments will bring to their lives.
Farida, a young entrepreneur from Keran, voiced her optimism, saying, “We’ve waited for this moment for so long. It’s like a new dawn breaking over our town.” Her words echo the sentiments of a population that has faced challenges and uncertainties for years, now finding solace in the promise of progress.
The LoC, once a symbol of tension and conflict, has been transformed into a bridge of peace, allowing the valleys and meadows to flourish. Tourists from various corners of the country and beyond are flocking to these areas, eager to experience the unspoiled beauty and rich cultural tapestry that this region has to offer.
“Every step I take here feels like a step towards serenity,” said Aroshi, a tourist from Mumbai, as she marvelled at the breathtaking landscapes at Gurez Valley.
The increased tourist footfall has not only invigorated the local economy but has also given rise to new opportunities.
Small businesses, hotels, and eateries have sprouted like wildflowers, catering to the influx of visitors. “We’re witnessing a renaissance of sorts,” noted Bilal, a local artist from Gurez, his eyes reflecting the joy that these changes have brought.
The locals of these border areas said that the abrogation of Article 370 has set the stage for a brighter future, but it is the resilience and enthusiasm of the people that have truly brought these initiatives to life. “The government’s vision, combined with the dedication of the locals, has led to the transformation of once-remote areas into beacons of hope and growth,” they said.
Ishfaq Ahmad, a local of Dawar Gurez said that the 75 new development destinations stand not only as markers of progress but as symbols of unity and determination, illustrating the potential that lies within the hearts of those who call this breathtaking region their home. (ANI)
Sinha inaugurated the first day shooting of TV serial ‘Pashmina’ ( The traditional Kashmiri shawl weaving yarn) at the Zero Bridge in Srinagar on Friday…reports Asian Lite News
Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha said on Friday that over 300 movies and TV serials have been shot in Kashmir after the launch of the new film policy two years ago and this has resulted in the revival of film tourism in the union territory.
Sinha inaugurated the first day shooting of TV serial ‘Pashmina’ ( The traditional Kashmiri shawl weaving yarn) at the Zero Bridge in Srinagar on Friday.
He said on the occasion that J&K is once again emerging as a favourite film destination.
“The era of 1980 when Hollywood and Bollywood films were shot in Kashmir is returning.
“The revival of film tourism will help J&K’s economy grow and provide youth livelihood opportunities”, Sinha said.
In contrast to the last many years, no suspension of mobile phones or internet services was announced anywhere in the Valley…reports Asian Lite News
After 33 years since separatist violence started in J-K, authorities on Tuesday did not impose any restrictions and invited the general public to attend the main I-Day function in Srinagar city without any special entry passes.
Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, Kashmir Divisional Commissioner on Monday invited the general public to attend the main Independence Day function in Srinagar city without any special passes while no restrictions were imposed anywhere in the Valley.
Officials said that the identity cards, which the general public carries, would be enough for them to enter the Bakshi Stadium, the venue of the main Independence Day parade in Srinagar.
It was also announced by the Railways that the train service between south and north Kashmir districts would operate as usual on Tuesday.
In contrast to the last many years, no suspension of mobile phones or internet services was announced anywhere in the Valley.
Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha will hoist the national flag and take the salute at the parade at the Bakshi Stadium. District development commissioners will hoist the Tricolour and take salute at parades in each district while civilians have been invited to attend those functions as well without any restrictions.
Aerial surveillance and drones have been deployed in addition to police and paramilitary forces to secure the venues of the Independence Day parades as large public participation is expected at these functions.
Army’s I-Day gift
The Army has given an Independence Day gift to the locals of Danna village, the last village on the Line of Control in Machhal sector of J&K’s Kupwara district by dedicating a bridge across a rivulet.
The Army said in a statement on Tuesday that the 115-feet long bridge has been named as ‘Bhagat Bridge’ in memory of Late Major Bhagat Singh, Veer Chakra, who laid down his life defending this sector in the 1965 War.
“Danna Village is also known as Bhagat Village in memory of the brave son of India. The event was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony signifying the bridge’s official opening for use by the villagers. Ribbon was cut by Sep Mian Gul Khan, a 90-year-old 1971 war veteran and a proud resident of the area in presence of Indian Army personnel and other local dignitaries,” the Army said.
“The bridge has been constructed by painstaking efforts of Indian Army engineers who persistently toiled for two months in spite of incessant rain and adverse conditions to provide succour to locals from the difficulties related to lack of road and bridge across Machhal Nala. This bridge is testament of the Indian Army’s commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir be it defending the borders or supporting them towards building a prosperous and peaceful Kashmir.”
The dedication event was attended by children, women and elders of seven villages who got benefited by construction of the bridge.
Tricolour flies atop famous clock tower in Lal Chowk
Jubilant Kashmiris holding the National Flag and the tricolour flying high at the iconic Ghanta Ghar in the heart of Srinagar’s Lal Chowk today have disproved the statement made in 2019 by Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, that if article 370 is tinkered with, there would be no one left in Kashmir to hold the tricolour in their hands.
Upbeat Kashmiris have now decided to carry forward the vision of Prime Minister Modi to make India a developed Nation by 2047. Four years after 2019, Jammu and Kashmir is decked up to celebrate the 77th Independence Day.
On Sunday, hundreds of youths in Srinagar carrying tricolour in their hands busted the myth of anti-national elements that youth in Kashmir want ‘Azadi’, a dream sold out to them for many years by the terror proxies of Pakistan.
South Kashmir, once considered a hotbed of militancy, saw huge participation of people from all walks of life in a Tiranga Yatra rally under the banner of the “Meri Mati, Mera Desh” campaign.
“Today the sky of Kashmir shines with the tricolour,” L-G Manoj Sinha said on Sunday after flagging a Tiranga Yatra rally.
A new area of peace, prosperity and development ushered in Kashmir four years after the Centre revoked Article 370, which gave special rights to the people of Kashmir.
Hartals, strikes and stone pelting have become a thing of the past, and peace that remained elusive after two decades of militancy has been ushered in. Schools, colleges and Universities are functioning normally round the clock without any disturbance for the first time.
A high-profile international G20 event was held recently in Srinagar for the first time after the abrogation of article 370, signalling the dawn of a “Naya” Jammu and Kashmir.
According to government data, over one crore tourists thronged the valley in the year 2022. Experts attribute this unprecedented surge of tourists to the peace brought about by the Centre’s decision of August 5, 2019.
BJP National Secretary Tarun Chugh who is also party in- charge for Jammu and Kashmir said on Sunday, “Jammu and Kashmir is no more the terror capital of the country. It is the tourism capital where locals are looking for progress and development”.
Hundreds of people joined the Tiranga Yatra in Srinagar chanting “Vande Bharat” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. The Yatra spanned over 5 km in Srinagar city.
Since 2019, when the Centre abrogated Article 370, the J-K administration has launched a crackdown on high-profile corruption cases involving top politicians, bureaucrats and prominent businessmen.
As per security establishment, there has been a significant improvement in the overall security scenario in the valley during the last 4 years. With top militant commanders killed by security forces, insurgency which was kicking and thriving over the last 30 years, has been controlled with minimal loss of civilian lives.
Thousands of Kashmiri youths have been recruited into different categories of government jobs; Rozgar melas have been periodically held in different districts to address the issue of unemployment; youths have been imparted training under various Central schemes; today a youth in Kashmir can think of starting his own business under multiple Central schemes.
As per the government data, the union territory has received investments worth Rs 2200 crores and generated more than 10,000 jobs in one year under its New Industrial Policy 2021. As per the data revealed by the NIP, 5,327 investment proposals worth Rs 6,600 crore were received. The last time region witnessed such a massive investment was in 1947.
Panchayat and block development council elections have witnessed remarkable participation demonstrating the growing fervour in the region.
Detractors who had been exploiting the youth of Kashmir for their own interests at the beck and call of their ISI handlers based in Pakistan have been exposed and taken to task.
IAS officer Shah Faesal said in a message on his social media account that article 370 for many Kashmiris like him is a thing of the past.
“Jhelum and Ganga have merged in the Indian Ocean for the good. There is no going back. There is only marching forward.”
The decision to abrogate Article 370 has led to the complete political and economic integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country for the first time since 1947. (ANI)
The delegates briefed MP Andrew McDonald about the restrictions on freedom of expression, press media, and publications in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan…reports Asian Lite News
A high-level delegation of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) has met with British Labour Member of British Parliament Andrew McDonald at Middlesbrough in the United Kingdom and discussed several pressing issues concerning human rights, lack of basic facilities, land grabbing, occupying tourists resorts, hilltops and lack of infrastructure in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit Baltistan.
The members also highlighted the discriminatory practices that prevent Kashmiris from participating in elections unless they pledge allegiance to Pakistan. The UKPNP delegation that met the British MP McDonald on Monday was led by party’s chairman Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri. The delegation included Central Spokesman Sardar Nasir Aziz Khan, Senior Leader Mahmood Kashmiri, President of UK Europe Zone Sardar Amjad Yousaf, Secretary General United Kingdom Zone Raja Sarfraz, Secretary of Information Sardar Tikka Khan Tahir, Rizwan Siddique, Usman Khan and others.
The delegates briefed MP Andrew McDonald about the restrictions on freedom of expression, press media, and publications in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan. They also expressed concern over the resurgence of extremist and radical groups recruiting youth for jihadi activities, leading to the forced disappearance of 22 young boys by a banned outfit, which has prompted protests from their parents and loved ones seeking their recovery, as per an official release.
The delegation shed light on the plight of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, which are administered by Pakistan and suffer from deprivation and underdevelopment. Protests have been ongoing against shortages of flour, wheat, essential food items, inflation, electricity, and hefty charges in electricity bills.
The UKPNP members also highlighted the exploitation of natural resources, denial of royalty, lack of industry and job opportunities, and the persecution of human rights activists and pro-Kashmir, pro-people, and pro-peace activists, who are often forced to leave their native places and seek refuge abroad.
According to the release, the meeting served as an opportunity for the UKPNP delegation to advocate for the rights and well-being of the people in the region and draw attention to the urgent need for international support and attention to these critical issues.
The concerns raised by Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri regarding the environment and land grabbing in PoK, as well as the impact of CPEC and other mega projects on climate and weather, are serious issues that require urgent attention. It’s crucial for the international community to come together to address these challenges and protect the lives, wildlife, and environment in the region. Collaboration and action are essential to safeguard the affected areas and mitigate the devastating effects of such activities, according to the official release.
The Labor Member Parliament Andrew McDonald assured the delegates that the people of PoK, Gilgit Baltistan should be entitled to live their lives with peace and harmony, emphasizing that without the rule of law, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement, the region cannot achieve lasting peace and stability, as per the release.
Sardar Shaukat and the delegates thanked the British member of parliament for giving the time and this opportunity to share their views. (ANI)
The government has put in determined efforts to revive the tourism sector and dispel the negative image surrounding the region…reports Asian Lite News
The successful ‘Tourism Working Group Meeting’ of G20 delegates held in Srinagar from May 22 to May 25 this year marked a turning point for the tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
The summit, which saw the participation of representatives from the world’s most influential economies, has not only strengthened international relations but also served as a catalyst for the resurgence of tourism in the Himalayan region. In the first six months of this year, as per official figures, over 15000 foreign tourists arrived in Kashmir, which was more than the last year. The visitors also included tourists from European countries.
Pertinently, after 1990, when a Pakistan-sponsored insurgency broke out in J-K, tourists stopped visiting Kashmir as the gun-totting terrorists wreaked havoc in the region.
Kashmir, once known for its picturesque landscapes and warm hospitality, became shrouded in a cloud of fear, with concerns about terrorism and instability dominating global perceptions.
Abduction of five Western trekkers:
Abduction of five Western trekkers–two American nationals, Don Hutchings and John Childs, two Briton Keith Mangan, and Paul Wells, and a Norwegian national Ostro in 1995 from Pahalgam in South Kashmir–by a terror outfit, Al-Faran led to most of the countries issuing advisories to their residents to stay away from visiting the terrorism hit region.
Among the five kidnapped foreign nationals, only John Childs could escape from the clutches of his captors while four others were murdered by the terrorists.
Till August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s so-called special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories — countries like the US, Australia, Britain, and others used to issue advisories to its citizens, asking them to refrain from visiting J-K.
However, during the past three years, the scenario has changed. J-K has witnessed the arrival of millions of domestic tourists, who have become unofficial ambassadors of the region. They have showcased the region’s rejuvenated tranquillity to the world.
The government’s sincere and dedicated efforts in restoring peace and stability to Kashmir after decades of Pakistan-sponsored turmoil have not gone unnoticed. As a result, tourists are now venturing into far-flung areas, including the frontier regions, which were once considered out of bounds due to the fear of terrorists.
The government has put in determined efforts to revive the tourism sector and dispel the negative image surrounding the region.
For the past three years, the authorities have worked tirelessly to restore peace and stability, ensuring the safety and security of both locals and tourists. Their efforts have yielded positive results.
The fear of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and separatists that used to prevail in Kashmir has diminished significantly.
G20 summit renews interest:
The improved security situation combined with the successful hosting of the G20 summit has instilled confidence in foreign countries.
The positive message conveyed by the participants of the G20 meeting has had a far-reaching impact, generating a renewed interest in the region.
The G20 summit in Srinagar served as a platform for international delegates to discuss important global issues, including economic cooperation, climate change, and international security.
Srinagar hosting such a prestigious event not only highlighted the beauty and cultural heritage of J-K but also showcased the region’s potential as a tourism destination.
The participants had the opportunity to experience the warm hospitality and scenic landscapes firsthand, leaving them with a positive impression to share with their respective countries.
The increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting Kashmir post the G20 summit has elated the stakeholders. They are hoping that foreigners would revive their connections with Kashmir in the coming days.
Following the successful conclusion of the G20 summit, the government has launched an aggressive marketing campaign to promote Jammu and Kashmir as a safe and desirable tourist destination.
The Tourism Department has been in touch with top travel agencies, embassies, and global media outlets to showcase the rejuvenated Kashmir to the world. Social media platforms are being effectively utilized to spread captivating visuals and stories of the region.
The mega G20 tourism meet in Srinagar caught the attention of international media, with many of them highlighting India’s efforts of showcasing the restoration of stability and normalcy in Kashmir.
The tourism sector, which suffered a major setback due to the decline in arrivals after 1990, has experienced a revival post abrogation of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution of India.
The surge in tourist activity has created numerous job opportunities for the local population, leading to increased income and overall economic growth.
To sustain and further capitalize on this positive trend, the government is working hard to improve infrastructure, ensure the safety and security of tourists, and promote J&K as a tourist-friendly destination.
Efforts are being put in to enhance connectivity, improve accommodation facilities, and provide quality services to visitors.
After 2019 the government has invested in enhancing the region’s infrastructure and connectivity. Roads have been upgraded, and transportation facilities stand modernized to provide convenient access to tourist destinations.
These improvements have contributed to enhance the overall travel experience for visitors. The ease of transportation and improved amenities are allowing tourists to explore the enchanting landscapes and cultural treasures of Jammu and Kashmir.
Frontier areas become tourist hotspots:
For 30-years places like Gurez, Karnah, Uri and Kupwara near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, were inaccessible due to the prevailing security situation. However, these areas have experienced a remarkable transformation after J&K’s transition from a State into a Union Territory.
These areas were relatively unknown to tourists but now they are emerging as popular destinations. Gurez, known for its picturesque valleys, crystal-clear rivers, and vibrant meadows has become a tourist hotspot.
Uri, situated in the Baramulla district, is another area that has witnessed a surge in tourist arrivals. This town, located near the LoC, is blessed with natural beauty and a serene ambience. The mesmerizing views of the snow-capped mountains and the glistening Jhelum River make Uri an enchanting place to visit.
The town is also home to historical sites such as the famous Baramulla Fort and the ancient town of Salamabad.
Kupwara district, with its scenic beauty and untouched landscapes, is also attracting a growing number of tourists.
Surrounded by dense forests and majestic mountains, Kupwara offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers. The Lolab Valley, one of the prime attractions in the district, is renowned for its meadows, streams, and captivating beauty.
The Bangus Valley, famous for its grassy meadows and sparkling lakes is also becoming a must-visit destination in Kupwara.
The surge in tourist arrivals to these areas is a testament to the peace and stability that has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir.
Travellers from across the country and even abroad are now venturing into these once-untouched territories to experience their natural beauty and cultural diversity. The echoes of tourism and development are reverberating through the valleys and mountains of Gurez, Karnah, Uri, and Kupwara.
Homestays, a new addition:
In 2022, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched 75 home-stays in rural areas owned by Self Help Group (SHG) members of Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM) in partnership with OYO Group under the project ‘Crown of Incredible India’.
Since then there has been no looking back as more than 200 homestays have come across Jammu and Kashmir.
Seventy-five villages in J&K known for their unique landscape, cultural diversity, and heritage value have been selected to expand the tourism ecosystem to rural areas of the Union Territory.
The homestays have all the basic room amenities, and great views, and provide an opportunity for travellers to experience beautiful rural landscapes and nature in its truest form.
All records broken:
Notably, Jammu & Kashmir recorded its highest influx of tourists in 2022, with official figures recording the numbers at 1.88 crore.
The record-breaking tourists visiting the Union Territory was the highest in 75 years of India’s Independence.
Introduction of international flight connectivity and night landing facilities at Srinagar International Airport and expediting the work on the 270-km long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has brought Kashmir closer to the world during the past three years.
A comprehensive Film Policy announced to lure filmmakers back to J&K and its picturesque locations for film shooting has led to Bollywood returning to the Himalayan region.
Foreign countries maintain silence:
In recent years, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a remarkable transformation with the return of peace and stability. The government’s relentless efforts to restore the pristine glory of J&K have not gone unnoticed.
As a result, foreign countries have maintained a noticeable silence and refrained from issuing any advisories against their citizens visiting the region.
For a long time, Jammu and Kashmir faced security challenges that led many foreign countries to issue travel advisories, cautioning their citizens against visiting the region.
However, in the backdrop of the peace that has returned to Kashmir and the concerted efforts of the government, the situation has taken a positive turn.
The restoration of peace has not only been acknowledged by the locals but has also garnered attention on the global stage.
The reduction in incidents of violence and the improved law and order situation has been instrumental in changing the perception of Jammu and Kashmir as a risky destination.
The silence of foreign countries in not issuing travel advisories can be seen as a vote of confidence in the efforts made by the government.
It reflects the growing trust and belief that the region is now safe for tourists to explore and enjoy its natural beauty and cultural heritage. The government’s relentless efforts have focused not only on security but also on restoring the pristine glory of Jammu and Kashmir. (ANI)
Tourists enjoy peaceful Shikara boat rides, explore floating gardens, and witness the harmonious coexistence of nature and architecture through the favourite Mughal Gardens…reports Zehru Nissa
Summer capital Srinagar continues to captivate the hearts and minds of tourists from around the world, despite newer attractions being added every year for the explorers and leisure seekers.
Known for its breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, Srinagar has long remained on top of travelers’ itineraries.
Despite the challenges posed by high travel and boarding costs Srinagar is a must-visit destination for those seeking an immersive and unforgettable experience, tourism operators and planners say. Nihal Sharma, a tourist from Mumbai, shared his experience, saying, “Visiting the Mughal Gardens in Srinagar was like stepping into a dream. The meticulously manicured gardens, vibrant flowers, and the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas created a surreal and serene ambiance”. Sharma summed up his experience by saying, “Srinagar is a destination that surpasses all expectations. Its natural beauty, architectural wonders, and warm hospitality create an unforgettable journey that lingers in your memories long after you leave.”
Nestled in the picturesque Valley, Srinagar boasts awe-inspiring landscapes that seem straight out of a fairy tale. With the serene Dal Lake as its centerpiece, Srinagar’s beauty is unrivaled and has been the center stage of hundreds of Bollywood movies.
Tourists enjoy peaceful Shikara boat rides, explore floating gardens, and witness the harmonious coexistence of nature and architecture through the favourite Mughal Gardens.
Srinagar’s architectural wonders reflect its diverse cultural influences and historical significance. The majestic Jama Masjid, built in the 14th century is a traet for those interested in history of the City. Mohsin Khan from Meerut shares his excitement, saying, “As a history enthusiast, visiting Jamia Masjid in Srinagar was a dream come true. The intricate architecture and the sense of serenity within the mosque left me in awe of the city’s rich historical legacy.”
The Hazratbal Shrine, revered as one of the holiest Muslim shrines, attracts devotees and tourists alike. Khan said it was his long cherished wish to visit all the shrines and mosques in Srinagar and experience the spiritual exhilaration.
For many tourists, the Shankaracharya Temple, situated atop a hill, provides a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings, apart from providing a religiously significant experience.
In addition, the architectural marvels blend seamlessly with the city’s natural beauty, offering a unique and unforgettable experience. Sonali Thakkar is one such tourist who arrived from Bulandshahar to visit Shankaracharya temple before she went on her journey into the mountains of Sonamarg.
Srinagar has been called a melting pot of cultures, making it a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. Barkha Guha from West Bengal shares her enthusiasm, saying, “Since childhood, I had dreamt of traveling on a Shikara boat in Srinagar. It was a surreal experience gliding through the tranquil waters of Dal Lake, surrounded by floating gardens and the majestic Himalayas. Srinagar has truly lived up to my expectations.” The traditional Kashmiri cuisine, with its aromatic flavors and delectable delicacies like Rogan Josh and Kashmiri Pulao, is a culinary delight that leaves a lasting impression on the taste buds, says Guha.
Over 13,000 perform Amaranth Yatra on day 4
Over 13,000 have performed the ongoing Amarnath Yatra on its 4th day while another batch of 6,107 pilgrims left Jammu for Kashmir on Wednesday.
Officials said over 13,000 Yatris had ‘Darshan’ inside the Amarnath cave shrine on Tuesday, and since the Yatra started on July 1 a total of over 50,000 had performed the pilgrimage so far.
“Another batch of 6,107 Yatris including 4,680 males, 1203 females, 31 children, 154 Sadhus and 39 Sadhvis left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 244 vehicles for the Valley this morning,” officials said.
Yatris approach the Himalayan cave shrine either from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route which involves an uphill trek of 43 Kms from Pahalgam base camp or from the north Kashmir Baltal base camp which involves 13 Kms uphill trek.
Those using the traditional Pahalgam route take 3-4 days to reach the cave shrine while those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having ‘Darshan’ inside the cave shrine situated 3888 metres above the sea-level.
Helicopter services are also available for Yatris on both routes.
The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The ice stalagmite structure wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.
This year’s 62-day long Amarnath Yatra started on July 1 and will end on August 31 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.
To protect the pilgrims from high altitude sickness, authorities have banned all junk food at the free community kitchens called the ‘Langars’ that have been set up along both the routes of the Yatra. The banned items include all bottled drinks, halwai items, fried foods and tobacco based products.
The welfare initiatives have not only addressed the immediate needs of the people but have also created a favourable environment for long-term growth and development….reports Asian Lite News
Post abrogation of Article 370, ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’ has written a new chapter in its history under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Himalayan region has become a part of the PM’s dream which he has envisioned for India in 2047 and it is striving hard to contribute towards India’s endeavour to emerge as the topmost country in the world.
Pertinently, the government after August 5, 2019, when the Centre announced its decision to revoke J&K’s so-called special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories, has left no stone unturned to implement the people-friendly schemes in the region. The hard work done by the officials is paying dividends. It has led to the improvement in the ground situation in J&K as the region has witnessed holistic development during the past three years.
Implementation of schemes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and the Swachh Bharat Mission, has brought about positive changes in the ground situation. Additionally, initiatives like the Ayushman Bharat scheme have revolutionised healthcare accessibility.
Other key initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Amrit Sarovar, SVAMITVA scheme, and Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav have helped in improving the infrastructure, enhancing connectivity, promote rural development, empower citizens, and commemorate the country’s rich heritage.
These efforts stand as a testament to the government’s unwavering dedication towards building a ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir.’ During the past three years helmsmen have focused on putting J&K on the path of peace, prosperity and development.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) has played a vital role in providing housing for all in Jammu and Kashmir. The government’s increased funding and strict timelines for completion have resulted in the construction of houses at an unprecedented pace.
Thousands of people have benefitted from this initiative, which has brought them closer to the dream of owning a home.
Advanced technologies, including geo-tagging, have been employed to ensure transparency and accountability in the allocation of houses. This has eliminated corruption and facilitated the smooth transfer of funds through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
These measures have not only accelerated the construction process but have also instilled trust among the beneficiaries, who now have a sense of security and assurance.
Swachh Bharat Mission
The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has brought remarkable achievements in terms of sanitation and hygiene in Jammu and Kashmir. The campaign gained momentum in the Union Territory after the scrapping of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution.
It led to the construction of a large number of toilets across the region. Access to clean and functional toilets has had a profound impact on the lives of the people, especially in rural areas, by improving sanitation practices and ensuring a healthier environment.
Through the SBM, the government has instilled a sense of cleanliness and hygiene consciousness among the population, leading to a positive change in behavior. The construction of thousands of toilets across J&K has not only contributed to public health but has also had a significant impact on the dignity and well-being of individuals, particularly women and children.
Ayushman Bharat Scheme
The government’s efforts in J&K have also made healthcare accessible through initiatives like the Ayushman Bharat scheme. This ambitious healthcare program has provided financial protection and quality medical services to the people of J&K. It has brought a significant improvement in the healthcare infrastructure and services available in the region.
Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, numerous hospitals and healthcare centers have been established, ensuring access to affordable and quality healthcare. The provision of health insurance has provided a safety net for families, protecting them from financial burdens during medical emergencies.
The strides made in healthcare accessibility have particularly benefited the economically weaker sections of the society. The scheme has brought about a positive change in people’s lives by empowering them with access to medical services that were previously inaccessible or unaffordable.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has been instrumental in transforming the rural road network in Jammu and Kashmir. Under this flagship scheme, the Central government has invested substantial funds to connect remote villages with all-weather roads, ensuring improved accessibility and connectivity. The PMGSY has played a crucial role in enhancing economic activities, healthcare access, and educational opportunities for the rural population in the region.
Amrit Sarovar, an ambitious project focused on the development of infrastructure and tourism in Jammu and Kashmir has revitalized and transformed the region’s water bodies, including lakes, rivers, and ponds.
It has led to cleaning and preservation of the water bodies, development of waterfronts, promotion of eco-tourism, and providing recreational facilities. By preserving and enhancing these natural resources, Amrit Sarovar has not only given a boost to tourism but has also promoted sustainable development and preserved the ecological balance of the region.
The SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme has proven to be a groundbreaking initiative. It has empowered rural citizens by providing them with property rights and ownership records. Under this scheme, comprehensive property surveys have been conducted using drone-based technology, and property cards have been distributed among the residents.
This has brought about a paradigm shift in land governance, enabling villagers to access credit, make informed decisions, and unleash the true potential of their properties.
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, a year-long celebration that marked the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, also left its mark in Jammu and Kashmir.
The region actively participated in this celebration, showcasing its rich cultural heritage, historical significance, and contributions to the freedom struggle. The festivities included exhibitions, cultural programs, art displays, and various events to educate and inspire citizens, particularly the younger generation, about the nation’s glorious past and the importance of patriotism.
Steps taken by the government in J&K have had a profound impact on the ground situation, leading to positive transformations in people’s lives. The comprehensive welfare measures undertaken have brought about significant improvements in various sectors, ranging from education and infrastructure to employment and governance.
The implementation of the centrally sponsored schemes has brought significant positive changes to the region.
These initiatives have strengthened infrastructure, improved connectivity, empowered rural citizens, preserved natural resources, and commemorated India’s independence. These initiatives have played a pivotal role in creating a prosperous and inclusive future for its people.
The J&K people have experienced a newfound understanding of democracy, freedom, and good governance. The past three years have provided them with tangible examples of the benefits of a well-functioning democratic system. As a result, discussions about concepts like ‘azadi’, autonomy, or self-rule have faded away, giving way to conversations about progress, development, and opportunities.
The welfare initiatives have not only addressed the immediate needs of the people but have also created a favourable environment for long-term growth and development.
The government’s focus on inclusive growth has ensured that the benefits of development reach every section of society, including marginalised communities and remote areas.
Tricolour flies high
After August 5, 2019, the administration has worked towards full integration of J&K with the country’ and ensuring peace, prosperity and development of the region.
The change in the ground situation in J&K is not only visible, but the people are also feeling it and the Tricolour is flying high in every nook and corner of the Union Territory.
Not long ago, J&K, especially Kashmir, was infamous for terror attacks, stone-pelting and shutdowns. Terrorists and separatists sponsored by Pakistan ran a parallel system in the erstwhile princely state.
They imposed shutdowns and orchestrated street protests to ensure that the fear prevailed. As of date there are no separatist-sponsored strikes, cinema halls have reopened, J&K Road Transport Corporation is running night bus service and people can be seen enjoying Shikara ride in Dal Lake at late night hours as well.
Denizens of J&K are also dreaming like the citizens in the rest of the country. The youth are moving with new ambitions.
Bold and brave decision taken by the PM Modi led regime to merge J&K completely with the Union of India brought J&K at par with the other regions in the country.
It promotes universal values, such as love, compassion, and humanity. The positive impact of Sufism on communities cannot be overstated. Sufi orders have acted as centers of social and spiritual cohesion…reports Dr Shehnaz Ganai
In the contemporary society, characterized by conflicts and tensions, there is no doubt that the teachings and practices of Sufism still remain relevant. Sufism, also known as tasawwuf, constitutes the mystical and spiritual dimension of Islam, which aims to forge a closer relationship with God through love and devotion.
At the heart of Sufism lies the conviction that spiritual enlightenment is the ultimate goal of human life. In this regard, one can only achieve profound insight and knowledge of God by undergoing a process of spiritual refinement, known as tazkiya al-nafs.
Through this practice, Sufis emphasise the crucial importance of encountering the divine directly, drawing from Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism. Sufism teaches us that God represents the ultimate reality, and that everything in this materialistic world reflects divine attributes.
As such, the goal of Sufis entails purifying the heart from all impurities in order to attain a state of spiritual enlightenment and divine love. It is crucial to note that Sufism is not limited to Islam but practiced by people from different religions and cultures.
It promotes universal values, such as love, compassion, and humanity. The positive impact of Sufism on communities cannot be overstated. Sufi orders have acted as centers of social and spiritual cohesion.
They have provided support for the poor and marginalised, emphasising the importance of compassion, kindness, and generosity as integral components of Islamic ethics.
Unlike that of today’s intolerant world, it encourages the development of interfaith dialogue and tolerance. Sufis have always remained open to the spiritual insights of other religions and have often collaborated with non-Muslims in promoting the values of love, peace, and harmony.
The teachings of Sufism have inspired and transformed individuals and communities, reminding them of the power of love and devotion in overcoming the difficulties and challenges of life. Sufi poetry and music continue to inspire people worldwide and serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of Sufism.
In Kashmir, the tradition of Sufism is centuries-old, characterised by numerous leading Sufi saints who have resided in the region. The teachings of Sufism have had an Immense impact on the culture and social fabric of Kashmir.
The tradition of Sufi poetry, music, and art has significantly enriched the cultural heritage of the region, playing a pivotal role in promoting social cohesion and inclusiveness.
Many Sufi shrines function as centers of learning, disseminating knowledge, and enabling individuals to make positive contributions to society. Various Sufi luminaries and poets have employed their spiritual insights to advocate peace and harmony among different faiths and cultures.
In the medieval era, Sufi scholars and poets played a pivotal role in reconciling Muslims and non-Muslim communities in Kashmir, promoting the transcendence of religious boundaries.
The teachings of Sufism stimulated transformational change in interpersonal relationships, and Sufi orders played an instrumental role in bridging differences between different communities.
The unique blend of Sufism and Kashmiri folklore has produced a rich and nuanced cultural heritage that transcends borders and cultures.
From the soulful melodies of Sufianay Kalaam to the passionate poetry of Amir Khusru, Kabir, Baba Bulleh Shah, Sheikh ul Aalam, Habba Khatoon, Rasool Mir, Wahab Khaar to name a few, have played a significant role in the religious and cultural history of Kashmir.
Their patterns or the themes include the importance of love and devotion to the Divine, the need to transcend the ego and worldly desires, and the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment through a direct experience of the Divine.
Sufi poetry and culture are deeply rooted in Islamic traditions and have played a significant role in shaping the religious and cultural heritage of the Islamic world. The way Baba Bulleh Shah expressed his feeling in lines has a deep meaning and a clear path for all of us to follow irrespective of religion.
“Padh padh ilm hazar kitabaan, apne aap na padhiya” by Baba Bulleh Shah, “Mere gaining knowledge without acting over it is like becoming a donkey that carries load of books without getting any benefit from it. And those who gain knowledge with the aim of acting over it, gets to go to their Lord with grace and favour.”
In the grand tapestry of human history, Sufism, as an expression of divine love, serves as a beacon of peace and harmony. With the arrival of the 12th century, the majestic land of Kashmir became a conduit for Sufism, as the message of divine love and beauty swept through the valley. Sufi icon Sheikh Nuruddin Noorani—known as Nund Rishi—left an indelible mark on Kashmir’s spiritual and cultural landscape by introducing Rishism, a Kashmiri variant of Sufism. His teachings emphasized the unity of God, love for all creation, and harmonious coexistence amidst religious diversity. The timeless wisdom of Sufism moulding the cultural DNA of Kashmir, has left a lasting imprint that emits an aura of tranquillity.
One cannot forget the deep spiritual insights and commitment of Lal Ded to the principles of Sufism quite visible in her famous poems, “I am a drop of the sea,” and “I have realized the truth within myself.” Habba Khatoon, known for her beautiful and lyrical poetry include “O nightingale, sing the song of my heart,” and “I have become a slave of love.” Be it Rupa Bhawani, Mehjoor, or others, all poets have used their poetry to promote the values of Sufism and spread its teachings among the people of Kashmir. Through their poetry, they have expressed their deep devotion to God and their commitment to the principles of spiritual purification and inner peace. These poets continue to be celebrated in Kashmir today, and their legacy remains an important part of the region’s cultural heritage.
Whether nestled in the picturesque valleys of Kashmir or reverberating in the alleys of modern metropolis, the enduring beauty of Sufism offers solace and transcendent wonder to all who seek comfort. As Kabir, the legendary Sufi poet, profoundly states:
“Kabira khada bazaar mein, maange sabki khair, Na kahu se dosti, na kahu se bair.” “Standing in the marketplace, Kabir wishes for everyone’s well-being; he is not friends with anyone but has no animosity either.”
KnG Group of companies encompasses healthcare, education, tech and cyber security, and home care, representing a diverse range of industries…reports Firdous Hassan
When Maninderjit Kala of Baramulla went to Australia in 2009 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism, little did he know anything about entrepreneurship.
Come 2023, Maninderjit who is popularly known as Mannu Kala, has emerged as one of the top entrepreneurs in Australia.
Kala’s name has figured among the Top Australia Entrepreneurs of the Year. A co-owner of KnG Group, Mannu was ranked 14 among the best 100 entrepreneurs in Australia this year.
“It is a great achievement for me to figure in the names of Australia’s top 100 entrepreneurs. My journey from journalism to entrepreneurship started in Khojabagh, Baramulla where I lived before moving to Australia to start my career in journalism. I always had that leadership qualities and entrepreneurial mindset, which got nourished in Australia,” he said.
KnG Group of companies encompasses healthcare, education, tech and cyber security, and home care, representing a diverse range of industries.
KnG was founded in 2020 by Mannu Kala and Dr. Anuj Gupta. It was aimed to create innovative solutions to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic. In 2023, Covax Australia was named KnG Healthcare, which has now become part of a conglomerate of companies, The KnG Group.
“We work on various projects of government in healthcare, education, nursing homes cyber security, technology, and energy sector,” Kala said.
Mannu’s journey as a successful entrepreneur has not been a cakewalk since he had to work on multiple ventures before setting up Australia’s leading firm.
“In 2011, I started a firm named dynamic pathology. It was followed by another firm Medlab Pathology in 2016, which extensively worked in the field of pathology. Being Kashmiri, we are tough and dare to face adversities. I worked very hard over the years and co-founded KnG Group to provide solutions in multiple fields to the government of Australia and other companies,” he said.
International Award Winning Entrepreneur Mannu Kala is now a prominent go-to- problem solver and leader in the health industry.
Kala’s company stands as one of Australia’s leading firms, known for its creativity, professionalism, and commitment to excellence. “I aim to work even harder so that I can contribute to my valley by spreading positivity about it,” he said.