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18-year-old female ‘suicide bomber’ held: Police

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 26: A Pune-based woman, alleged to be a suicide bomber, was detained by Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday night from South Kashmir, police said.
“We had an input about a suspect. Fortunately, after working on all the leads, we were able to apprehend the suspect on Thursday night,” Additional Director General of Police Munir Khan told reporters here.
Refusing to give any further details, Khan, who also holds the post of Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range), said, “We will be talking to her (suspect) and to our sister agencies. We will be covering every other lead to know what the facts are. After doing proper investigation, we will come to any conclusion.”
Central intelligence agencies had sounded the state police that a woman from Pune, identified as Sadiya Anwar Shaikh, had shifted herself to the Kashmir Valley and was in regular touch with ISIS operatives, officials said.
A high alert was sounded in the Valley two days ahead of Republic Day and a message was circulated that “there is a strong input” that an 18-year-old non-Kashmiri woman might “cause a suicide bomb explosion” near or inside the Republic Day parade in Kashmir.
“All are directed to please ensure that frisking of ladies at the (venues) is done meticulously and with utmost caution so as to thwart the designs of ANEs (anti-national elements),” the message, circulated on January 23, read.
Shaikh had been questioned by the Pune Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2015, when it came to notice that she had been radicalised after coming in contact with ISIS supporters abroad.
She was planning to travel to Syria, the ATS had then claimed. The woman, a Class XI student at a Pune college, was subsequently sent for a de-radicalisation programme by the ATS.


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Decoding rot in education: Over 1100 cr in kitty, JK failed to conduct ‘out of school children’ survey

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Feb 23: As much as the authorities say otherwise, the state of education in Jammu and Kashmir remains pathetic as key indicators show the government has repeatedly failed on improving school academic and management standards.

An official document of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) showing the progress under the Samagra Shiksha scheme spills the beans.

To begin with, the authorities in J&K, as per the documents, have not conducted any survey to determine the number of Out of School Children (OoSC) since 2016.

 

The last survey, 2016-17, had listed 52500 Out of School Children.

“Rate of mainstreaming of out of school children in regular schools is very low. J&K has not conducted/updated survey of Out of School Children since 2016-17. There is an urgent need to have a renewed focus on universal enrollment, attendance, and completion of elementary education,” reads the MHRD document outlining the status of the Samagra Sikhsa scheme in J&K for the year 2019-20.

The poor performance in determining OoSC is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to education indicators, the document reveals that 70 percent of upper primary schools have less than three subject teachers, while 90 percent of Secondary Schools have less than four subject teachers per school.

Moreover, the retention rate at secondary level, the document shows, is merely 56 percent.

“J&K may focus either on teacher’s rationalisation to meet requirements of the subject teachers or to recruit fresh subject teachers on priority,” the document reads.

The poor indicators are no wonder since at least 520 schools (both secondary and higher secondary) in J&K function without heads or principals.

“There are 418 Head Master/Principals’ vacant posts in Government Secondary schools and 102 in Government Higher secondary schools respectively which may be filled on priority,” the document.

This is besides the 3,952 vacant teacher posts in secondary schools across J&K.

When it comes to providing ICT tools for the students, J&K fares poorly here as well.

The document shows that as many as 455 schools in J&K have not implemented [email protected], a scheme that was adopted by the government of India in 1993.

The primary component of [email protected] is providing computer-aided education to secondary and higher secondary Government and Government aided schools, a must considering how education deliverance is technologically driven in this era.

Teacher training, the vital component of academics, too has hit a brick wall in J&K.

As per the document, there are 53 academic vacant posts lying in State (now UT) level Institute of Education (SIES) and 107 posts in the District Institute of Education (DIETs).

In addition, there are 2061 untrained teachers in Government Secondary schools, who do not meet the requisite professional qualifications.

Funds wise, J&K seems to be getting and spending plenty.

Alone under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, J&K received Rs 1151.70 crore in 2018-19.

For 2018-19, the government of India, as per the document, committed to providing Rs 1794.84 crore (Rs 1402.96 crore for elementary, Rs 359.25 cr for secondary and senior secondary, and Rs 31.92 cr for Teacher Education).

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Thanks to Project Tiger: Majestic Hangul gets a new lifeline in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Feb 23:  Majestic Hangul has got a new lifeline after Jammu and Kashmir government decided to adopt `Project Tiger’ model to arrest the declining population of the critically endangered animal in the valley.

Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, is a critically endangered species found mainly in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas in Kashmir. The male Hangul is characterized by the antlers and brownish red coat. The female Hangul do not have the horns. It is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian sub-continent and its population has been on a decline over the years.

On the directions of Lieutenant governor GC Murmu, Wildlife Department in collaboration with SKAUST has decided to follow the characteristics of Project Tiger to conserve Hangul for posterity.

 

Launched in 1973, Project Tiger is one of the successful programmes for saving the national animal from becoming extinct.

Professor SKAUST and Principal Investigator of the Project Hangul Dr Khursheed Ahmad said under new scheme of things Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of the animal in their natural habitats

“The Project Tiger envisages the setting up of tiger reserves to help in maintaining the population of national animal. In the same way, Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of Kashmir stag in their natural habitats,” he said.

Dr Khursheed noted that in a particular expanse of land will be identified in the habitat and marked as the ‘core’ area of the reserve.

“These areas will be kept free of all human activities. It usually has a legal status of National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary. No human activity is allowed inside the core area, including tourism. Grazing and wood collection are already banned in these areas,” Dr Khursheed said.

Wildlife Warden, Central, Altaf Hussain described the Hangul reserves as important areas for the protection and conservation of the Kashmir stag. “There will be a separate authority for Hangul reserves. Project is still in the formative stage and is likely to be initiated soon”, he said.

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Dogs’ day out at KU, literally

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Feb 23: Kashmir University has become a free zone for stray dogs as dozens of them are seen roaming in the main campus, feasting on the leftover food from the varsity canteens.

The canine fear increases manifold after dusk as scholars and students fear venturing out.

The campus has three gates, which are guarded 24×7. However, stray dogs, apparently, have a free pass to enter in and roam around anytime.

 

Be it the administrative block, the scholars’ hostel, or the Naseem Bagh end of the campus, these dogs are seen either ambling in groups or basking on the greens, as students, especially females, walk pass them, dreaded of getting bit.

“The leftover food produced in university cafeteria is thrown in open which attracts these dogs. They have created terror among the students as well as the faculty members,” said an official of the university on the condition of not sharing his name.

“There are around 200 dogs in the campus. The university has become breeding ground for them,” he said.

A professor at Kashmir University, who too wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Yesterday at around 5 in the evening I was leaving the university when I saw group of 8-10 dogs outside my department and I could not dare to walk. I went back to the department and requested my colleagues to escort me to my car.”

The professor said that students dread to walk alone in the campus.

“Students especially females who reside in hostels do not dare to venture in the campus after 5 in the evening,” the professor said.

Insha Wani, a female research scholar at Kashmir University said: “I am a science research scholar and we have to be in the department for longer to perform certain experiments in the laboratory. But due to the threat of canines, we leave earlier and this is affecting our research.”

She said that last year one of the students was injured when a stray dog chased him and he was later referred to hospital.

Media Advisor Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said: “University is aware of the dog menace and is trying hard to keep them away, but they manage to slip in as the gates are to be kept open for public movement.”

He said that they have taken the issue with all the relevant agencies for a number of times.

“Our proctor wing chases the dogs away on daily basis,” he added.

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