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Hepatitis C cases surge as drug addicts switch to injectors

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jan 29:  Umar (name changed), 19, disclosed the secret of heroin addiction to his parents when he puked repeatedly and developed a deathly pale yellow color in his eyes.

After undergoing a serology test (the study of blood and other fluids from the body), at the drug de-addiction center at the Department of Psychiatry, SMHS Hospital, the teenager was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.

“I got hooked to heroine in class 12. I used to initially inhale the vapors from heating the solution of heroin. Later on, I took to injections to get a high of greater intensity. I would do this by sharing the needles among my friends,” he said.

 

Little did he know the new form of injectable addiction would lead him to a deadly Hepatitis C.

Similarly, 30-year-old Rashid (name-changed), a heroin injector, who was married for last one and half year, was rushed to the hospital last week when he retained water in his abdomen.

It was there, when the test reports showed that he suffered from Hepatitis C.

Kashmir has seen a rise in the cases of drug addiction especially that of heroin abuse in the past few years.

However, the trend is shifting. From heroin chasers to heroin injectors, the latter is showing predominance, resulting in diseases like Hepatitis C through the shared needles.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood.

Figures released by drug de-addiction center, Department of Psychiatry SMHS Hospital, reveal that the total number of drug abusers reported with Hepatitis C in 2019 was 31.

However, this year alone, seven patients are already confirmed with Hepatitis C even as January is yet to end. This number is double the average of three patients per month last year.

Dr. Yasir Rather, psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Srinagar said the number of patients at drug de-addiction center suffering from hepatitis C is increasing at an alarming level.

“They acquire the disease after using infected syringes while injecting drugs. This makes them prone to infections like Hepatitis C,” he said.

The doctor noted that the viral infection can cause significant complications, such as, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.


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Resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits utmost priority: Shah

Agencies

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New Delhi, Feb 18: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits was the utmost priority of the government and assured them on their phased resettlement amid adequate security in the Valley, from where they were forced to flee in late 1989 and early 1990.

The Minister gave the assurance to a seven-member Kashmiri Pandit delegation that met him for an hour at his residence around 12.30 p.m.

The delegation included Surinder Kaul, International Coordinator of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD); Utpal Kaul, GKPD India Coordinator; Anil Kachroo, GKPD USA; Taj Tikoo, President of the All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS); Dileep Mattoo, President Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch (JKVM); and AJKVM members Sanjay Ganjoo and Parikshit Kaul.

 

“The Minister promised to resettle all Kashmiri Pandits in their respective districts. He also assured that the resettlement process will be done in phases amid tight security,” Utpal Kaul told IANS.

Kaul said that the Home Minister also assured the delegation that the age limit for government jobs vis-a-vis Kashmiri Pandits will be increased up to 50 years and the government will help reclaim and reparation of their encroached properties in the Valley.

“All temples in the Valley will also be renovated,” Kaul said quoting Shah.

The delegation handed over a memorandum to him to thank the Union government for abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution relating to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The delegation members expressed heartfelt thanks to the Minister for maintaining a consistent position on its promise to rehabilitate the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley.

“The delegation also thanked the minister for abrogating Article 370 and 35A whose pernicious impact has destroyed the Kashmiri society, culture, civilization, economic progress and the ability to lead a peaceful life in the valley,” the memorandum read.

The delegation demanded the formation of an advisory council of Kashmiri Pandits to work under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs to come up with a plan for full restorative justice for the Kashmiri Pandits.

“The advisory council will have representation from mainstream community bodies, youth, women, eminent community think tank members, Jagati, rural and urban residents from the community and even overseas representation,” the memorandum added.

The delegation requested Shah to accept the community’s demand for a single concentrated rehabilitation plan, including employment and other rights, enshrined in the Constitution as well as restoration and rebuilding of temples, shrines and community assets, including crematoriums.

The Kashmiri Pandits also demanded setting up of a commission to investigate the cause of the genocide and ethnic cleansing faced by them in the Valley, with proactive steps to initiate legal proceedings and secure conviction of those responsible.

“The Minister gave a patient hearing to our demands and conveyed that rehabilitation of our community is an utmost priority with the government. He sought help from our community to compile a database of all the properties that have been either occupied or encroached upon so that the government can initiate redressal mechanisms to restore the property to the rightful owner,” the delegation said.

He assured the delegation that the temples, shrines and all other community assets will be restored and made operational at the earliest, it said.

Shah informed the delegation that a massive drive is underway to generate employment and ensure heavy investment in various sectors of the new union territory’s economy. (IANS)

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Student trio sedition case: Transfer case from Hubli to Bengaluru city: 24 lawyers approach Karnataka HC

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Feb 18:  A day after lawyers thrashed three Kashmiri students, a group of 24 advocates filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing the resolution of Hubli Bar Association prohibiting its members from appearing for accused, and prayed for transferring the sedition case from Hubli to Bengaluru city for free and fair trial.

 “That the ruckus caused in the Court premises and the resolution passed by the Bar Association effectively denies the accused their right to a free trial. These turbulent conditions put the physical safety of the accused at risk and may jettison public justice hence it is just and necessary for transfer of the case from that place. The transfer of the criminal case outside of Hubli to Bengaluru city will secure a free and fair trial”, reads the petition filed by B T Venkatesh and others.

The petitioners said the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association is illegal, without the force of law and violates the fundamental right of the accused under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India.

 

“The petitioners are all advocates practicing within the State of Karnataka. They are filing this petition as PIL, as the issues involved in this petition affect the right of legal representation of accused and the dignity of the legal profession. The issues raised herein affect the larger public interest and the fundamental right to all persons to legal representation,” reads the petition

The petitioners said the Hubli Bar resolution has resulted in the creation of an atmosphere of fear and intimidation due to which none of the advocates feel safe and secure to appear before the court. This has had a chilling effect on advocates coming forward to represent the accused, they said.

Three Kashmiri students studying Civil Engineering at KLE Institute of Technology in Karnataka on Monday were re-arrested on sedition charges and sent to judicial custody till March 2. They were first arrested on Saturday immediately after the college filed a complaint about a video in which they allegedly were chanting pro Pakistan slogans.

Earlier on Sunday, Karnataka police had released the students after they executed a bond under Section 169 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under Section 169 of the CrPc, an accused is let off when the investigating officer is of the view that there was no sufficient evidence to produce him before a court for remand.

 “There are quite a few lawyers ready to fight legal battle for the accused. But the condition in the court is not good. So we have filed a petition seeking for protection and the case is posted on Thursday,” said advocate Maitreyi Krishnan, one of the petitioners. 

Ahmad, brother of one of the accused students admitted they have committed a mistake but prayed for leniency. “We appeal to the government not to take any harsh step against them. Their career is at stake,” he said.

Nasir Kheuhami, spokesperson of J&K Students Association said they condemn their statement in the harshest of words. “We urge Kashmiri students to focus on their education. We appeal all students not to write provocative things on social media which could add fuel to the fire,” he said.

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All party meeting: NC, PDP, Cong say no to Panchayat polls till leaders are released

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Feb 18:  Efforts to convince political parties to participate in the Panchayat polls suffered a major setback on Tuesday when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Conference (NC) and Congress reiterated their decision to stay away from the election citing prolonged detention of its leaders.

Chief Election Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar held an all party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming election for vacant Panchayat seats in the Union Territory.

However, the representatives of National Conference, Congress and PDP told the CEO to release the mainstream leaders in order to their participation in the election.

 

PDP’s Surinder Chaudhary, who was flanked by Narinder Singh Raina, walked out of the meeting claiming that they are not allowed to conduct political activities freely in J&K.

“I walked out of the meeting, when we realized that Chief Election Officer was bereft of any agenda. I clearly told him that the meeting was called very late as two phases of Panchayat elections were already over. We demanded release of our president,” he said.

Chaudhary said they told the CEO that democracy is nowhere seen on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir. “Our leaders are detained under Public Safety Act. Only BJP is being allowed to carry out activities while security and vehicles of rest of the political leaders have been withdrawn,” he said.

National conference leader Ratan Lal Gupta said the party is of the view that the situation is not conducive for holding elections. “The meeting should have been called much earlier to know the view of political parties about holding the polls,” Gupta said.

Congress vice-president Ghulam Nabi Monga, who was accompanied by Party Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma, said they raised issues of freeing detained leaders and allowing parties to conduct political activities.

“We asked CEO to ensure releasing detained leaders, their free movement and lifting of restrictions on political leaders, if they want us to participate. Otherwise the government should defer or postpone elections,” Monga said.

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