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Firm supposed to get artifact conservation project found inexperienced; tender cancelled

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By Irshad Khan

Srinagar Apr 02: Finding the selected firm incompetent for the project, the Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums (AA&M) has cancelled the tenders for over Rs 1 crore artifact conservation work.
The AA&M had earlier awarded Rs 1.36 crore restoration and conservation work of crucial flood-hit artifacts at the SPS Museum at Lal Mandi to the New Delhi-based ‘Sagar NGO’.
However, after a Jaipur-based firm raised questions over Sagar NGO’s credentials, the AA&M had asked the latter to produce the “original documents” of its work profile.
“In view of the controversies and little experience” of Sagar NGO, the Director AA&M has in an order issued Saturday directed that the firm’s selection for the project “be considered for cancellation and further action accordingly”.
Sagar NGO, the order reads, “has not done any work in natural history”, a necessary requirement for the conservation project.
The order has said that Sagar NGO “cannot do justice with the conservation of different artifacts housed in the museum”.
“Most of the works” carried out by Sagar NGO as per the AA&M “pertain to documentation and meager works in conservation of the artifacts”.
Post cancelling the tenders, Director AA&M, Mohammad Shafi Zahid however did not specify when they would float the new tenders for the project.
‘Art Conservation and Restoration House’, the Jaipur-based firm which had questioned the Sagar NGO’s ‘unfair’ selection for the project expressed satisfaction over the AA&M’s decision to cancel the tenders.
Proprietor of the firm, Maimuna Nargis asked the AA&M to float the new tenders for the project “without any delay”.
Any delay in retendering the project, Nargis said would put the artifacts at the museum damaged more than 3 years ago at risk.
“They (the artifacts) are lying damaged at the museum since 2014. They would get damaged further with the passage of time unless protected,” she said.
Nargis hoped that the AA&M checks the credentials of the firm before awarding to it the conservation project.
“Whichever firm they select, its work experience in the relevant field should be checked beforehand, because it is the question of conservation of hundreds of important artifacts at the (SPS) museum. The selected firm should have a degree in the conservation field,” she emphasised.
Raising questions over Sagar NGO’s selection for the project, Nargis said, was “only to caution the directorate”.
“I did not want any returns. I only wanted them to check the work experience of the selected firm. The thousands of artifacts related to art and culture should not have got damaged,” she added.
Earlier, Nargis had alleged that Sagar NGO lacked the required expertise for carrying out the artifact conservation project.

 
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Kashmir

No decision yet on resumption of Cross LOC trade

Govt working on installing truck scanners on trade routes

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Srinagar, May 18: Though they are unlikely to resume the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade soon, the authorities are working on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in the Kashmir valley and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on April 18 had suspended the cross-LoC trade in J&K, saying that it was being used for “funneling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”.
“As such there is no order to resume the LOC trade but yes work had started on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in Kashmir and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu,” said one of the top government officials.
He said if the trade resumed, the truck scanners will enable the customs department and other agencies to see what is being imported from the other side.
After suspending the LOC trade, the MHA had said that the issue will be “revisited” after a “stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism” that is being worked out is “put in place in consultation with various agencies”.
Cross-LoC traders and others associated with the trade are demanding the resumption of the business.
Traders has said that they support the government’s every move to put strict and transparent regulatory measure but suspension of trade that took a decade to establish itself is no answer.
“Over the past decade, cross-LoC trade has been our only source of income. Suspension of trade has affected our families. We request government to implement strict regulatory measures and continue trade simultaneously,” said one of the LOC traders.
In October 2008, as a confidence building measure, India and Pakistan agreed to carry out trade along the Line of Control through the Uri-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir and the Poonch-Rawalakot route in Jammu.
The two countries agreed on a Standard Operating Procedure.
The defining feature of the initiative was that there would be no exchange of money between traders – it would involve the barter system. If a trader in Pakistan sent across goods worth five lakh Indian rupees to a trader on the Indian side, that trader would send back goods of the same value as payment.
It is to mention here that the initiative was launched during the tenure of the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government, its seed was planted in 2004, in the peace process initiated by the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf.
Cross-LoC trade was the second confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan after a cross-LoC bus service, which was launched in 2005.
For security agencies, cross-LoC trade has always attracted strict surveillance. They have, over the years maintained that they seized weapons, fake currency and narcotics being transported from the other side.

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B’pora teacher still missing; family protests for whereabouts

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Srinagar, May 18: The family members and relatives of the missing Bandipora government teacher on Saturday held a demonstration here in Mantrigam Bandipora area of north Kashmir’s district seeking his whereabouts.
Eye witnesses said that family members and relatives of Mushtaq Ahmad lone a government teacher assembled here in Mantrigam area of Bandipora and blocked the Bandipora-Gurez road.
They staged a demonstration seeking Mushtaq’s whereabouts, who went missing on May 13 after he left home for duty to Government Higher Secondary School Chuntimulla and has not returned home till date.
Family sources said that they tried to locate him everywhere but couldn’t find any clue despite lodging missing report in Pathkoot Police station.
“We have called relatives and friends, however, there has been no trace of him so far,” the family members said adding “his phone has been switched off for a long time.”
The family members and relatives of Mushtaq urged deputy commissioner Bandipora and SSP Bandipora to help in locating their missing son.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer said a missing report in this matter has been lodged in police station Pathkoot and investigation has been taken up.

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Unabated killings even during Ramadan worrisome: PDP

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Srinagar, May 18: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday said it’s worrisome to witness that there is no letup in killings and bloodshed in Kashmir even during the holy month of Ramadan.
In a statement, PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said the unabated killings of civilians, militants and security forces in Kashmir has once again made peace elusive even during the ongoing sacred month of Ramadan.
He said the way in which precious human lives are lost in Kashmir, there are apprehensions that the government is in no mood to shun the muscular policy that so far has yielded no positive results.
Hanjura said that it has been the cardinal Principe of the PDP that muscular and iron fist approach is bound to fail in Kashmir as such measures have in the past only wreaked havoc and in the future also wouldn’t bring any positive change on ground.
He said keeping the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan in view, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti as the Chief Minister last year played a vital role in making GOI declare unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir. This year also, said Hanjura, the PDP President made a fervent appeal to both militants as well to the security grid to declare truce and respect the ongoing holy month. “It is hoped that good sense will prevail and the vicious cycle of violence and bloodshed is stopped at an earliest so that the people of Kashmir yearning for peace could heave a sigh of relief,” said Hanjura.

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