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Argentine rear admiral appointed head of UN Kashmir observer group

His wide experience also includes stints as Argentina’s military attache in Russia, Marines Infantry commander and Education Department Chief of the Navy Warfare School…reports Asian Lite News

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Argentine Rear Admiral Guillermo Pablo Rios as the head of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) which is charged with monitoring the shaky ceasefire in Kashmir.

The UN announced on Wednesday that Rios will take over from Major General Jose Eladio Alcain of Uruguay the leadership of the 111-member operation based in both the South Asian countries.

Rios was the Argentine Joint Staff’s General Director of Education, Training and Doctrine.

He has served in two peacekeeping operations, UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East, and supervised UN demining operations in Angola.

His wide experience also includes stints as Argentina’s military attache in Russia, Marines Infantry commander and Education Department Chief of the Navy Warfare School.

The UNMOGIP began operations in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir following a Security Council resolution the previous year.

While India allows UNMOGIP to operate in the country in accordance with the Security Council mandate, it maintains that the operation is redundant because under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 between late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue with no role for third parties.

In 2014, India ordered the UNMOGIP out of the government building it was lent and it moved to a commercially leased facility.

The 111 personnel under Rios’s command include 43 military experts from ten countries and 68 civilians.

ALSO READ-US seeks possession of Venezuelan 747 grounded in Argentina

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Mission success in empowering Kashmir youth

New Delhi reached out to J&K youth without involving any power-brokers and in three years it has achieved phenomenal success in its mission to empower a common man in J&K…reports Asian Lite News

Addressing unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir remained a big concern for 70 years. In the absence of a private sector, the people used to do anything to get a prestigious government job as it was considered as a guarantee for a secure future.

But to get a government job in the erstwhile J&K state was not that easy for a common man as it was a privilege reserved for influential people. The recruitment processes were not that transparent. The candidates who carried one or other recommendation were preferred over the meritorious aspirants. backdoor appointments till 2019 were a norm in the Himalayan region.

In October 2018, the then J&K Governor, Satya Pal Malik, blew a lid over a big job scam in J&K Bank. He revealed that 528 selected candidates were replaced with political appointees during the regime led by Peoples Democratic Party.

In an interview to a national news channel, Malik had stated that about 40 young applicants had approached him saying they had cleared all examinations and figured in the selection list of the J&K Bank but were replaced by relatives and workers of the politicians.

“When I took up the matter with the JK Bank Chairman, he informed not only 40 but all the 582 candidates recruited by the bank were replaced with the political appointees recommended by leaders from different constituencies,” Malik had said.

He had stated that many people filed RTIs to get their papers and check the score but the Bank refused saying they don’t come under the purview of Right to Information Act.

The Khadi Village Industries Board (KVIB) recruitment scam during Mehbooba Mufti’s tenure had left the former J&K chief minister embarrassed as her cousin Aroot Madni was appointed as Executive Officer in KVIB allegedly through a backdoor. The KVIB selection list was cancelled in 2019.

Last month when reporters asked J&K Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, about the employment scenario in J&K, he stated that “there was a wrong perception that there were no jobs in the Union Territory”.

“Let me tell you that the J&K government has given the highest number of civilian jobs in its history last year. Jobs are there but they are not in the market for sale,” he had said.

Recently, J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, cancelled the recruitment of Sub-Inspectors in J&K Police after some aspirants alleged that the process was not carried out in a fair manner. The complaint of the candidates was acted upon promptly and an enquiry committee was set up. The panel pointed out discrepancies in the selection process. Without wasting any time, LG Sinha, cancelled the list, and made it clear that no one will be selected through a backdoor.

29,806 provided Govt jobs

During the ongoing Parliament session Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai informed the House that from August 2019 up to June 2022, 29,806 aspirants were recruited by the J&K Government and nearly 5.2 lakh jobs were created through self-employment schemes.

Even today, the prestigious government jobs in J&K are the most preferred career choice. Whenever vacancies are announced thousands of aspirants fill up the application forms. But after the abrogation of Article 370, a big change has occurred in the Himalayan region, the jobs are provided on the basis of merit and not on recommendations. Anyone who meets the criteria and qualifies the written exam, interview achieves the feat of being employed by the government.

Self-employment schemes

The youth in J&K have realised that the government cannot employ everyone and they have to strive for their sustenance. During the past three years, the government has introduced numerous self-employment schemes to help the youngsters to set up their ventures.

The “Mumkin” (livelihood generation) scheme has helped unemployed youth to procure small commercial vehicles, on a subsidised basis, to establish a sustainable livelihood line in the transport sector. As a special incentive under this scheme, the government contributed Rs 0.80 lakh or 10 per cent of the On-Road Price of Vehicle (whichever is minimum) per beneficiary and an equivalent amount is contributed by the vehicle manufacturers. Discretion to choose the type of vehicle is left to the youth under scheme guidelines.

The “Spurring Entrepreneurship Initiative” scheme is based on the theme Youth Enterprise with Innovation (YouWiN)/ Champion for Innovation program for encouraging young entrepreneurs’ especially young women towards innovations in various enterprises. The broad aim of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to the youth for establishing their business units.

The “Tejaswani” (Radiant) scheme is aimed to promote entrepreneurship among young women. It envisages giving financial assistance up to Rs 5 lakh to young women for setting up gainful self-employment ventures, suited to their skills, training, aptitude and local conditions. The financial assistance is given to women between the age of 18 to 35 years having qualifications of 10th standard or above.

Another programme “Sahyta” has been rolled out to provide a special financial assistance program for youth in distress. Financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh can be provided under the scheme to youth in distress for setting up gainful self-employment units. For purposes of this programme, the term youth in distress would mean any person between the age of 18 to 40 years who has lost any next of kin/family member in insurgency-related action, cross border shelling or mine blast incident in Jammu and Kashmir and shall include any such person who or his/her family member has suffered permanent incapacitation in such incidents.

The “Young Innovators Programme” is aimed at exploring new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service. It is not just the invention of a new idea that is important. It is actually “bringing it to market”, putting into practice and exploiting it in a manner that leads to new products, services or systems that add value or improve quality.

This programme aims to enhance young people’s learning and development through a range of non-formal learning activities with a focus on pioneers’ experimentation and innovation in education, entrepreneurship, art, research and cross-sectoral partnerships.

Under sector specific scheme for dental professionals a customised financial support is being provided to dentists for setting up dental clinics. An amount of 8 lakh is provided as financial assistance under this scheme for setting up their venture.

Another scheme “Rise Together” envisions promoting community-based entrepreneurship optimally to generate jobs, and income and promote the spirit of social service among new-age young entrepreneurs in the Himalayan region. Under the scheme, the eligible youth groups are provided with financial assistance to the extent of Rs 20 lakh comprising of upfront subsidy component minimum of Rs 2.5 lakh or 10 per cent of the project cost and a loan provided by the Bank, 70 per cent of the project cost to the extent of Rs 17.50 lakh.

To fill in the gap between demand and supply of skilled workforce and to create a strong environment for professionals and technical skill development in Jammu and Kashmir the government has roped in prominent organisations like ICICI Foundation, Tata Technologies Ltd, Primal Foundation, Wipro etc., for working on upgrading skills of youth in the sectors having high employability potential like banking & financial services, digital marketing, media management etc.



Azadi propaganda punctured

After August 5, 2019-when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated the erstwhile princely state into two Union Territories- things changed rapidly for the youngsters. They were provided with the opportunities to shape up their careers and strive for a better life. Massive awareness campaign about the government schemes aimed at shaping up the careers of the youth led to many youngsters coming forward to grab the opportunities provided to them. Utilizing the energies of youth for positive things punctured the “Azadi” propaganda.

The youngsters in ‘Naya J&K’ — the foundation of which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah three years ago — rejected the ideas of separatism and sedition. They shun the labels of being stone-pelters and violence mongers, and boarded the wagon of peace, prosperity and development leaving Pakistan and the terrorists sponsored by it exasperated.

New Delhi reached out to J&K youth without involving any power-brokers and in three years it has achieved phenomenal success in its mission to empower a common man in J&K. He is being provided with government jobs as well as the avenues to start his own venture. The void that existed for seven decades between a common Kashmiri and New Delhi has been filled in “Naya J&K”.

ALSO READ: Impact of Abrogation of Article 370 – Kashmiris Welcome Business

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Impact of Abrogation of Article 370 – Kashmiris Welcome Business

One thing that has made a big impact on the lives of the ordinary people is that the Kashmir Valley is witnessing an exponential increase in the tourism flow due to the successful campaigns to attract maximum tourists towards the region. And ordinary Kashmiris are embracing the rise in business …. Writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

Three years ago, on 5 August 2019, the Parliament of India voted in favour of a resolution tabled by Home Minister Amit Shah to revoke the temporary special status, or autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. In the Hindu majority Jammu region, people held widespread “massive celebratory” demonstrations over several days with the distribution of sweets, bursting of firecrackers and dancing. In Ladakh, the Buddhist organizations celebrated the removal of Article 370 provisions and making the Ladakh region a separate Union Territory. The people in Leh and Matho celebrated 15 August as a day of “independence from Kashmir” and welcomed their Union Territory status.

Kashmir-Army Soldiers along with locals take part in Kargil Vijay Diwas Tiranga boat rally in River Jhelum during the celebrations of Kargil Vijay Diwas in Srinagar-Umar Ganie (13)

The impact of the Revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir encompassed a year without high-speed Internet, changes in the politics and bureaucracy of the region, priority of counter-insurgency & counter-terrorism operations, new domicile rules, talks of restoration of statehood, judicial lethargy, and decline in stone-pelting among other things. But one thing that has made a big impact on the lives of the ordinary people is that the Kashmir Valley is witnessing an exponential increase in the tourism flow due to the successful campaigns to attract maximum tourists towards the region. And ordinary Kashmiris are embracing the rise in business.

As per figures collected from Kashmir Tourism Department,  the number of tourists between January and 15 May 2022 jumped to 700,000, the highest in the last 10 years. With every passing year and gradual return of normalcy the number of tourists visiting Kashmir is also rising. This is more than four times the 125,000 people seen in the same period last year. between January and 15 May 2022, it saw 700,000 visitors, the highest in the last 10 years. As per the Union tourism ministry, around 1.42 lakh tourists visited J&K during February alone. Such is the rush this time that hotels are fully booked till mid-Aug this year. On 4 April, the Srinagar Airport saw its busiest day ever in history, with 15,014 people travelling on 90 flights in and out of Kashmir. And in Srinagar, almost all 60,000 hotel rooms that can accommodate nearly a lakh visitors are booked until the first week of June.

And the most important part is that unlike the propaganda meted out by Pakistan, ordinary Kashmiris have welcomed the tourists and the business they bring wholeheartedly. Athar Yamin, the owner of Earth Explorers Travel and Tours, told Firstpost that he hasn’t seen this rush before. His family has been in the travel business since 1975. “We are simply not able to manage things. This is beyond our capacity! We have to decline hundreds of queries, because there is no accommodation,” he said.

Sharada Peeth. Pic credits Wikipedia

In a first ever, the Ministry of Civil Aviation approved the five flights a week between Srinagar-Sharjah. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight on October 23 last year, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the United Arab Emirates after around 11 years.

Ohana Holidays, a Srinagar-based travel agency, is swamped with the number of bookings doubling since March. Its owner, Mehreen Ali Chat, is moving fast to expand operations. “We are burdened by work and are left with no option but to expand the hiring,” she said, adding that she is hiring around 12 more employees to handle coordination and reservations.

To boost adventure tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has launched J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth. “The initiative is aimed at transforming 75 villages of the Union Territory known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance into tourist villages,” a statement said. Highlighting the objective behind the initiative, the statement said that government is adopting best practices recognising the uniqueness of each village and showcasing the landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural diversity and heritage, local values and traditions, besides encouraging film shooting and offering financial incentives as well as ensuring a digital platform to all these villages. The objective of this unique youth-led sustainable tourism initiative is to strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Added to the tourists enjoying the beauty, weather and culture of Kashmir, are those who are on holy pilgrimage taking the total visitors to Kashmir through the sky! After a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government announced the Amarnath Yatra on a “much bigger” scale this year. According to an estimate over eight lakh pilgrims have yet visited the cave shrine in south Kashmir, till now. And expectations are that the numbers will continue to rise. The move will further bolster tourism in Kashmir. “We are utterly happy and our business is booming, and we are praying that the situation stays normal throughout the summer,” Gulzar Ahmed, 48, a local transport facilitator, said.

Before the abrogation of Article 370, the shadow of Islamic militancy meant that Kashmir’s beauty remained inaccessible and unexplored for security reasons. Anti-national sponsored militant forces try to present a picture of heavy handed bevarior on part of Indian security forces. But the fact is that in law and order, not a single person died in police firing after the revocation of article 370 and stone pelting incidents came down. The real fact is that in Kashmir now as a Union Territory, directly controlled by Delhi, the scope of separatists in the functioning and decision-making even in internal affairs gets marginalised. Pak’s deep penetration in the institutions of the state also comes to an end.

During her reply to a recent debate on Jammu and Kashmir Budget in the House, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “We were shown fake normalcy since 1947 under the garb of Article 370. Now, after the removal of 370, Kashmir has real normalcy.”  The rise in tourism and the manner in which local Kashmiris are welcoming visitors indicates that for the vast majority, the concept of ‘normalcy’, is rising business opportunities combined with security cover.

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Massive Push to Infrastructure & Development in J&K

Three years after the Central government abrogated Article 370, ending the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), bifurcating the state into the two centrally-administered union territories (UT) of J&K, and Ladakh began a new phase in Kashmir’s history, encouraging the people of the state a future of development and peace. Today Kashmir is well on its way to become a model state with investments, infrastructure, tourism, social welfare and agriculture showing unprecedented growth in the three years since being freed from Article 370 … writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

August 5 marks the day when Article 370 was abrogated in 2019. While a section of the media talks about the release of political prisoners, restoration of internet & phone connectivity, and lifting of the curfew are important issues, for ordinary Kashmiris the concept of ‘normalcy’, largely evolves normal functioning of schools, colleges, health services, government offices etc. Beyond the narrow interpretation of the state of ‘normalcy,’ real normalcy can be found in the thriving business and infrastructure that is being built in J&K.

Three years after the Central government abrogated Article 370, ending the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), bifurcating the state into the two centrally-administered union territories (UT) of J&K, and Ladakh began a new phase in Kashmir’s history, encouraging the people of the state a future of development and peace. Today Kashmir is well on its way to becoming a model state with investments, infrastructure, tourism, social welfare and agriculture showing unprecedented growth in the three years since being freed from Article 370.

According to information provided by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, 1,41,815 new works/projects have been taken up under various sectors/schemes in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since 2019. Kashmir is in fact poised on the cusp of a massive economic push with record investment proposals worth Rs 31,000 crore under consideration. The project construction and procurement activities are creating significant employment opportunities for skilled as well as unskilled labourers, engineers, transporters and small businesses in addition to those engaged in the supply of material, equipment and tools in the private sector. It is estimated that this investment has generated employment of about 1,169 lakh man-days in the UT of J&K.

The central government has notified a new scheme worth Rs 28,400 crore which is likely to provide employment to over 4.5 lakh people. Six agreements with global investors were signed at EXPO2020 Dubai in January 2022 for investments in real estate, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare, and manpower employment sectors among others. The quantum jump in the budgetary allocation is a piece of evidence of how seriously India wants to bring peace through development in otherwise restive J&K because of the perpetration of terrorism from the Pakistani side. The new government is continuously taking policy initiatives for the development of J&K.

There is considerable progress on the infrastructure front. More than 53 projects are at different stages of completion at a cost of Rs 58,477 crore in various sectors such as roads, power, health, education, tourism, agriculture, and skill development. Twenty-one of these projects have been completed or substantially completed. Projects languishing at various stages numbering over 1,192 projects worth Rs 1,983.77 crore were completed, including five projects which were incomplete for more than 20 years, 15 projects for more than 15 years and 165 projects for more than 10 years. These include roads nearly 11,517 km in total length, 1858 roads and 84 bridges.

A multi-pronged plan has been put in place to transform Kashmir into a premier educational hub in north India. Besides improving existing schools and colleges, new educational institutions are rising across the territory. Premier educational institutes like IITs and IIMs are already functional. Over 22 colleges and two new cultural universities are on the anvil. At the micro level, students are being offered better-endowed scholarship schemes, helping those from the minorities as well as poorer sections of the society.

With an aim to improve the physical infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has accelerated the pace of execution of Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) projects. Official data suggests that the expenditure has reached up to Rs.34,653 crore ending October 2021 resulting in fast-moving improvement of physical infrastructure here. As per the data, 21 major projects have been completed/substantially completed and nine projects are likely to be completed by this financial year.

In respect of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana(PMGSY), J&K has moved in the overall ranking in the country from 9th place in 2016-17 to 3rd position in 2020-21. A dedicated policy for the maintenance of road infrastructure has been approved by the UT government during 2021-22.

In another significant achievement, J&K has achieved 100% household electrification under the Saubhagya scheme before the target date and 3,57,405 beneficiaries have been covered. The government has also embarked on a path of smart metering and around 20 Lakh consumers shall be covered under Smart Metering Programme. As of now, the Installation of two Lakh metres is already underway and the installation of another six lakh is being finalised under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme.

Further to improve the power infrastructure as well as distribution in Jammu and Kashmir, Government is committed to increasing the power generation of J&K as the UT has vast potential for Hydroelectricity. Power projects with 3500 MW capacity are going to solve most of the power woes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Improvement in health services has been dramatic with national health schemes and projects establishing themselves in far nook and cranny of the valley. National medical insurance schemes are now reaching even the most remote, and poorest, sections. Kashmir is the only Union Territory with universal health insurance coverage for up to Rs 5 lakh per family. Besides premier medical institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Cancer Institute along with two new medical colleges in Udhampur are changing the health scene in Kashmir. Mega private hospitals are already planning to enter the state. The first one would be Apollo Hospitals which plans to set up a 250-bed hospital, an initiative which the hospital administration hopes would sow the seeds of Kashmir being known as a global health tourism destination.

The Pakistan-sponsored insurgency that broke out in the 1990s wreaked havoc on the culture and heritage of the Himalayan region. Since the abrogation of Article 370, the government has devised a scheme for ‘Revival, Restoration, Preservation and Maintenance of Ancient Cultural Heritage’ in J&K. Under the banner of ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’ Government of India has embarked on a mission to revive, restore, preserve and maintain ancient sites and protect its cultural heritage.

J&K has been connected with the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ movement as the culture of the Himalayan region is being promoted among the people of other states and vice versa. In the recent past, many cultural exchange programmes of artists with other states and UTs have been organised to develop the connection that had been missing during the past 70 years. J&K has its own peculiar and varied cultural, social, historic, architectural and religious significance of the past embodied in the heritage sites. The present regime has worked out a comprehensive plan to restore the pristine glory of the heritage sites to make future generations aware of their legacy.

Kashmir is known for its handicrafts throughout the world. Its carpets, silks, shawls, basketry, pottery, copper and silverware, papier-mache, and walnut wood are most sought after. The cottage handicrafts industry provides direct and gainful employment to around 340,000 artisans. A new plan for global cooperation has been launched with Germany, one of the biggest patrons of Kashmiri handicrafts, as the focus.

The thrust areas are IT & Technology, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Manufacturing, Hospitality, Defence, Skills Education and Tourism sectors. Some of these have sought 15-year tax holidays on investment in militancy-hit areas, which the state is considering. Among the 31 companies which are eager to invest in the Valley include Reliance Ammunition Limited, Sree Cements Limited, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited, Krishna Hydro Projects Pvt Ltd, Universal Success Enterprises Singapore, Cheema Boilers, Indian School of Business, Prakash Amusement Rides and Fun World Pvt Ltd, Bestech India Private Limited, LM Energy and Software Pvt Ltd, Cure Fit Health Care Pvt Ltd, Precision Industrial Systems, Ace International, etc.

A violence-marred state is fast becoming a great investment destination to look out for in the days to come. In short, it can be said that the government with the help of the central government has boosted the infrastructure as well as other developmental aspects in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In coming years the Union Territory will be transformed both in terms of development as well as economic means as a large number of projects and schemes are underway here which will change the entire economic landscape of Jammu and Kashmir.

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Nightmare in Paradise

This dilapidated road heading towards the village is an evidence of poor connectivity in the area, which has adversely impacted access to health facilities for the residents…reports Sameer Ahmad

Poru Kalnag village in the Kokernag area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district is around 40 km from the district headquarters. A remote area located on a hillock, this village has around 250 households with a population of 1,100. Overlooking the beautiful mountain range of Pir Panjal, the view here may be scenic but the village lacks even the most basic facilities, especially health care. The fact that there is no road connectivity to nearby hospitals and medical centres further compounds the situation.

“The village has witnessed the deaths of at least 10 people en route to the hospital. The government has forgotten us, and failed in delivering even basic health care. There is no proper road connectivity and patients and their attendants are forced to walk 6 km to get to the main road before they get transport to reach the sub-district hospital, which is 12 km away,” says local resident Qasim Boker.

This dilapidated road heading towards the village is an evidence of poor connectivity in the area, which has adversely impacted access to health facilities for the residents.

Narrating an ill-fated incident, Boker said” “In 2010, Mirza Akhter, a 30-year-old mother of two daughters, died on the way to the hospital. Before that, she had led a normal life. It was a hot summer day and she began experiencing chest pain. Her family members tried to get her to the nearby hospital on a cot carried by the locals. Unfortunately, she died before even reaching the road. Had there been proper health facilities here, she might have survived.”

“In 2018, Bibi Boker (27), who was suffering from kidney failure, died on the way to the hospital. In 2021, Abdul Aziz Lone (60) and Mohammad Abdullah Bimla (70) both died on the way to the hospital due to high blood pressure,” added Boker.

“We are only being given hollow assurances”

Since Poru Kalnag village is located on hilly terrain, it also witnesses the frequent movement of wild animals. Locals find it very dangerous while treading the hilly routes in the dark, in case of medical emergencies.

“In 2019, local resident Ghulam Nabi Lone lost two children in a single incident. His sons, Arif Ahmad (22) and Sameer Ahmad Lone (19), died after they slipped into a deep gorge near the village. Their neighbours tried to ferry them to the hospital on cots but unfortunately, both of them died on the way,” Aijaz Ahmad (28), a village panchayat member, informed.

So grim is the situation here that the residents find themselves struggling for even the most basic facilities.

“We don’t even have a medical store here, leave alone a proper health centre. Even for basic check-ups such as blood pressure or blood sugar, we are forced to walk for miles. It gets worse during the harsh winter. School children, senior citizens and patients are the worst sufferers of this neglect by the local authorities. The government is falsely claiming to have connected all the villages with the tehsil and district headquarters,” Bokar pointed out.

“We visited several administrative offices and apprised higher officials about our grievances, but all our pleas have fallen on deaf ears as no one is taking our plight seriously. We are only being given hollow assurances,” Ahmad added.

“In case of emergencies, there is every chance of fatality”

Chief medical officer (CMO) of Anantnag, Doctor Mohammad Zagoo informs us that the Government of India has launched the National Health Rural Mission (NRHM) to address the health needs of the vulnerable sections of society. He explains that under the public health umbrella, the sub-centre serves as the first level of contact with a community of 5,000 people. For a lower population of 1,000, the first responders are Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), who provide medical aid to the needy, especially to women and children.

Maryam Bibi (45), an ASHA worker in the village, is witness to the miseries of the people. “The residents face a lot of hardship in summer as well as in winter. In the event of a snowfall, which could be three to four feet high, approaching the main road takes hours due to the slippery conditions. I mostly deal with pregnant women in this area and have so far, helped out in at least 400 deliveries at their homes. In case of medical emergencies, there is every chance of fatality as the patients do not reach the hospital on time,” Maryam informed 101Reporters.

Maryam Bibi, an ASHA worker, has facilitated over 400 deliveries in and around the village of Poru Kalnag.

“In 2018, Parveena Banoo (28) a pregnant lady went into labour, and as the family was carrying her towards the hospital, she delivered twins on way. One of the babies died immediately due to the lack of proper medical attention during the delivery. There are many such horrendous tales of deaths, but who listens to the woes of such ill-fated people,” she added.

“All medical facilities available”, claims BMO

Meanwhile, Doctor Gowhar Ali, block medical officer (BMO) of Kokernag, claimed: “We treat almost every patient at the sub-hospital in Kokernag, as nearly all the facilities are available. We conduct general surgeries, deliveries, lower segment caesarean section (LSCS) and, if needed, patients are kept under observation too by admitting them into our health facility.”

Dr Ali also supervises the sub-district hospital at Kokernag.

Local politician and advocate Mohammad Saleem points out that the right to health is a fundamental right that has been granted by the Constitution of India to every citizen of this country. “As a political worker, I will raise the issue with the administration,” he promised.

Even in these modern times, people from far-flung areas are dying due to lack of basic health care. The government claims to have done a lot in terms of developing health facilities in rural areas, but in villages like Poru Kalnag, when people fall seriously ill, they’re not sure if they will even make it the hospital,” Saleem commented on the dismal state of affairs.

ALSO READ-Kokernag suffers without water

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Kashmiri journalist stopped from flying to Sri Lanka

Hassan, who has done his PG from Turkey, told reporters that he was going to Sri Lanka to report the present crisis in that country for the Guardian newspaper…reports Asian Lite News

Kashmir journalist Akash Hassan, put on the ‘no fly list’ by J&K Police, was to fly to Sri Lanka on Wednesday when his boarding pass was cancelled and he was offloaded from the aircraft.

Hasan belongs to south Kashmir Anantnag district and is the second local journalist restricted from travelling abroad.

Photojournalist Sanna Irshad was stopped from travelling to Paris on July 2 where she wanted to go to attend a photography exhibition. She has won the Pulitzer for her work as a photojournalist.

Hassan, who has done his PG from Turkey, told reporters that he was going to Sri Lanka to report the present crisis in that country for the Guardian newspaper.

“Immigration officials at IGI airport New Delhi barred me from boarding a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. I was headed to report on the current crises in the country,” Hassan wrote on twitter.

“The immigration officials took my passport, boarding pass and have made me sit in a room for last four hours,” he said.

He said he was questioned for four hours and afterwards, given his boarding pass with a red rejection stamp.

The ‘no fly list’ prepared by J&K Police, according to sources, contains names of journalists, writers, academicians etc from Kashmir whose travel abroad is deemed to be against the country’s interest.

Meanwhile, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said it is no secret that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government wants to crush journalism, the fourth pillar of democracy.

“Immediately after CJIs remarks on the role of journalists in a democracy, @AakashHassan was barred from travelling abroad. Its no secret that GOI wants to crush the very backbone and fourth pillar of our democracy because of its intolerance to the truth,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said in a tweet.

ALSO READ-GALLERY: Kargil Vijay Diwas in Kashmir

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Kashmir:  An alcove of Sufis and Saints

He strived for Hindu-Muslim unity always. One of his prominent poems is “Duniyahas Aaye Baeji Baeji, Samith Karo Baejiwath”, which translates as We had come to the world so that we may live together just like brothers…reports Asian Lite News

Kashmir Valley is famous all over the world for its natural beauty, green meadows, Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam, snow-capped mountains, apple and almond orchards, crafts and tourism, elegant Pashmina shawls, culture, heritage and hospitality. Amir Khusrao’s poetry is the best way in entire globe to describe the incredible beauty that nature has bestowed upon Kashmir.

“Agar Firdaus Bar Roo-e-Zameen Ast

Hameen ast-o Hameen ast-o Hameen ast”.

“If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”.

However, Kashmir is equally known as “Pir Waer” an alcove of Sufis and Saints. To establish an atmosphere of peace, love, compassion, togetherness, brotherhood, and communal harmony in Kashmir, Sufi Saints travelled great distances. The development of the Kashmiri ethnic identity has been significantly influenced by the Sufi humanistic philosophy.

The Kashmir valley’s socio-religious harmony, manifested in the form of a particularly rich and distinctive composite culture known as Kashmiriyat throughout the medieval period, was the result of the Sufis’ genuine promotion of humanism at the time.

Pandits and Muslims in Kashmir share a number of rituals and beliefs related to Sufism and both groups place a great deal of devotional value on the many Sufi shrines that dot the Valley. For many years, different communities coexisted peacefully in Kashmir.

Sufism’s dedication to the tolerance and non violent ideals of Islam, as prescribed by the Holy Quran, fosters religious harmony and brotherhood. Sufism as a whole offers a solution for improving the religious tolerance of a multi religious society like Jammu and Kashmir.

Sheikh Noor ud Din Noorani RA, the famous sufi saint of Kashmir spread his teachings or message through poems, commonly known as shruks. His poems have four to six lines each and evolve around religious themes, highlight moral principles and often call for peace.

He strived for Hindu-Muslim unity always. One of his prominent poems is “Duniyahas Aaye Baeji Baeji, Samith Karo Baejiwath”, which translates as We had come to the world so that we may live together just like brothers.

Likewise, the teachings of all other sufi saints promote peace, harmony among communities, and brotherhood. However, Kashmir is becoming a source of misery for both residents and non residents because of the uncertainty that has persisted for a decade and been promoted by fringe groups, The extremism is pulling apart the fundamental foundation of all of these things.

It is pertinent to mention that the ongoing conflict in Kashmir has fuelled the flames by shattering Kashmiriyat and communal harmony, which led to mass killings, genocides, and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.

Religious fanatics have proliferated in Kashmir over the past few years, demanding that Islam be brought back to its original purity. Out of a population of around 8 million, they currently boast of having more than 1.5 million followers. Foreign forces with a malicious religious agenda want to eradicate Sufi tradition and replace it with Extremism.

Sufism is a subset of Islam that Kashmiris have long accepted, as opposed to political Islam, in which Muslim Sufi saints’ advocated religious tolerance and pluralism.

As funded and spread extremist Islam made significant inroads into Kashmiri society, the insurgency there purged the society of its native characteristics. A variety of groups were active in Kashmir and it was simple for them to deceive the gullible people in Kashmir.

The gentle Sufi teachings are losing their resonance in Kashmir as some elements are bringing their own rigid form of Islam, and when many Kashmiris are setting aside their spiritual growth in favor of the rest of the things.

The mainstay of Kashmir’s tolerance and coexistence has been our Sufism, which has come under attack from forces opposed to tolerance and coexistence.

This is something that we, the people of Kashmir, must keep in mind. We cannot have a peaceful, tolerant and progressive society unless Sufism is brought back to its age-old splendour.

If the lost culture of Kashmiriyat/Sufism is revived and the gun culture is reduced, peace may return to the Valley. This realization and self-action must come from the state’s citizens.

For the benefit of their future generations, adherents of a Sufi Islam must find their voice. If the nation needs to find a solution to the Kashmir crisis, it might be time to leave them in limbo to make room for the moderate voices.

In this hour of crisis, the people of Kashmir must unite and support the administration’s efforts to impose peace in Kashmir, in order to put Jammu and Kashmir on the path of development and put an end to the senseless killings and bloodshed.

I urge Kashmiris not to stray from their native identity, ethos, and culture and succumb to extremism, an alien ideology. Let’s work together to bring back Kashmir’s peace and tranquility.

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Kashmiri twin teen sisters selected for Wushu World Championship

The Wushu journey for Ayeera and Ansa started in their school, Tiny Hearts, Tangpora, Srinagar. The girls say their teacher Umer Sir introduced them to Wushu. “We did not know what Wushu was. We practiced punches at school because it was fun,” laugh the two sisters…writes Siraj Ali Quadri

Kashmiri youths are shining in almost all sports. Girls are rubbing shoulders with boys in the toughest competitions like wushu, a form of martial arts. Ayeera Chisti and Ansa Chisti, twin sisters from Srinagar, have won laurels for their achievements in their teenage years.

Both the sisters have been selected to represent India at the Wushi World Championship to be held in Georgia in the first week of August.

Both the sisters are national level Wushu martial arts players.

The first moment for glory for the sisters came in 2021 when they won medals for the fifth time in the Junior National Wushu Championship. While Ansa bagged gold and Ayeera won bronze in their respective age category held at Lovely Professional University Jalandhar, Punjab.

Ayeera Chishti earlier won gold in 17th Sub junior national Wushu Championship held at M.A Stadium Jammu in 2018, bagged silver in 18th Sub junior national wushu championship held at LPU Punjab in 2019, silver in 18th Junior national Wushu Championship held at Chandigarh in 2019 and bronze in 19th Junior national wushu championship held at Fatehbad (Haryana) in 2021.

Ansa Chishti won gold in 18th Sub junior national Wushu Championship held at L.P.U Punjab in 2019, bagged silver in 19th Junior national Wushu Championship held at Fatehabad (Haryana) in 2021, bronze in 17th Sub Junior National Wushu Championship held at M.A. Stadium Jammu in 2018 and silver in 65th National School Games 2019-2020 held in Ranchi, Jharkhand in Wushu U/17 girls.

Ayeera and Ansa hail from an educated family. Their father Rais ul Hassan Chishti is an engineer by profession, posted at the Baglihar Hydro Electric Power Project. Their mother Dr Jahanara is Assistant Professor in Tibbia College, Kashmir. The girls are multi-talented. They have excelled in painting, dancing, academics and also sports. “We are blessed with these two girls,” say their proud parents.

The Wushu journey for Ayeera and Ansa started in their school, Tiny Hearts, Tangpora, Srinagar. The girls say their teacher Umer Sir introduced them to Wushu. “We did not know what Wushu was. We practiced punches at school because it was fun,” laugh the two sisters.

A year later, the sisters got to know that there were classes for Wushu and other martial arts at the Indoor Stadium in Srinagar. They joined Wushu classes. “It is here that we learnt that Wushu is different from other martial arts. This sport is about kick punch and throw,” the sisters told a local Kashmiri newspaper.

Since 2016, the duo has been training in Kashmir under the guidance of their coach Asiff Hussain.

Speaking to the Rising Kashmir Chishti newspaper, Asif Hussain said that he is happy that his students Chishti sisters have proved their mettle.  “Ansa the furious girl plays outstandingly with every single opponent she faces. Till now, she has beaten every opponent with a good margin of score. She has beaten five states back-to-back in finals. She beat a champion from Haryana within 2 rounds in 2020,” he said.

He said that Ayeera Chishti has recovered from an injury she had suffered and she will bring honour for the country at the Wushu World Championship in Georgia.

(The Author is Journalist and associated with Dainik Bhaskar)

ALSO READ-Kashmir witnesses tourism boom

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India News Travel Travel & Tourism

Kashmir witnesses tourism boom

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight on October 23 last year, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the United Arab Emirates after around 11 years…reports Asian Lite News

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Saturday said the Kashmir Valley is witnessing an exponential increase in the tourism flow due to the successful campaigns to attract maximum tourists towards the region.

According to statistics of the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department, March 2022 broke the 10-year tourist arrival record in Kashmir, signalling that the tourism industry is finally on the path to recovery, a statement said.

As per the Union tourism ministry, around 1.42 lakh tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir during February alone, breaking the seven-year record.

Remarkably, on April 4 this year, the Srinagar International Airport recorded busiest day ever in history, with 15,014 people travelling on 90 flights in and out of Kashmir.

Notably, for the first time, the Ministry of Civil Aviation approved the five flights a week between Srinagar-Sharjah.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had inaugurated Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight on October 23 last year, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the United Arab Emirates after around 11 years.

To boost adventure tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday launched J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth.

“The initiative is aimed at transforming 75 villages of the UT known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance into tourist villages,” a statement said.

Sinha said that the youth-led sustainable tourism initiative will strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Highlighting the objective behind the initiative, he observed that the Jammu and Kashmir government is adopting best practices recognising the uniqueness of each village and showcasing the landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural diversity and heritage, local values and traditions, besides encouraging film shooting and offering financial incentives as well as ensuring a digital platform to all these villages.

“The J&K administration is giving special focus on the tourism sector, and the region has started witnessing significant growth in terms of increased number of tourists and creation of tourism-related infrastructure.

“A dedicated focus is also being laid on bringing unexplored religious places of Jammu on the religious tourist map to attract more tourists,” a statement said.

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Defence India News

Centre’s nod for ‘BRO cafes’ at border locations

The scheme provides for the development and operation of wayside amenities in a public-private partnership mode with agencies, on a license basis, which will design, build & operate the facility as per guidelines of BRO….reports Asian Lite News

Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the setting up of wayside amenities at 75 locations across 12 States and Union Territories on different sections of roads with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

The amenities are intended to provide basic amenities to the tourists on different sections of roads which will lead to boosting economic activities in border areas, besides generating employment for the local people. These wayside amenities will be branded as ‘BRO Cafes’.

“The BRO has its reach in the remotest border areas and besides addressing strategic needs, it has been instrumental in socio-economic upliftment of the Northern and Eastern borders. This has resulted in an increased tourist influx in these scenic locations, hitherto inaccessible,” stated the Ministry release.

It further said, “In order to provide conducive and comfortable transit of tourists on these roads located at harsh climatic and geographical conditions, the need to establish multi-utility wayside amenities along with the major tourist circuits in these regions was recognised. Since the inaccessibility and remoteness of these roads preclude widespread commercial deployments, the BRO, by virtue of its presence, took it upon itself to open such facilities at remote places,” stated the Ministry release.”

The scheme provides for the development and operation of wayside amenities in a public-private partnership mode with agencies, on a license basis, which will design, build & operate the facility as per guidelines of BRO.

“Amenities like parking for two and four-wheelers, food plaza or restaurant, separate restrooms for men, women and differently-abled, first aid facilities like MI Rooms etc. are proposed to be provided in these wayside amenities,” the Ministry stated.

The selection of licensees will be done through a competitive process.

In Jammu and Kashmir, it will be in TeePee, Tragbal, Hussaingaon, Km 95, Km 117.90, Km 58, Galhar, Siot, Bathuni, Budhal, Kapotha, Surankot.

In Ladakh, it will be in Matiyan, Kargil,Mulbek, Khaltse, Leh, Hunder, Choglamsar, Rumtse, Debring, Pang, Sarchu, Agham, Nyoma, Hanle.

In Himachal Pradesh, it will be in Km 8.5, Km .5, Km 11.8, Sissu, Manali, Kharo, Sumdo. In Punjab, it will be in Fazilka.

In Uttarakhand, it will be in Darkot, Km 61, Km 57.44, Bhaironghati, Birahi, Gwaldham, Pandukeshwar, Manera bypass, Nagni and Kamand.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the cafes will be made in Daporijo, Bame, Koloriang, Pasighat, Menchuka, Moying, Thumbin, Yinkiong, Tippi, Durga Mandir, Km 79, Tenga, Rama Camp, SelaTop, Tawang, Jengthu, Hayuliang, Wakro, Changwinti.

In Assam, it will be in Tezpur Town and BP Tinali. In Nagaland, it will be in Jakhama. In Sikkim, the cafe will be in Kupup Dett.

In West Bengal, it will be in Melli.

In Rajasthan, such cafes will come up in Tanot Dett, Sadhuwali Vill, Birdhwal and Arjansar. (ANI)

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